Monday, April 30, 2012

How To: Freeze Avocado

I love, love, love avocado and guacamole.  But most of my kids haven't quite come to appreciate this green miracle yet.  So I'm always stuck with too much and it always goes bad too quickly.

Enter:  Pinterest.

How many times has Pinterest come to the rescue?

Well, at least this once.

I found instructions on how to freeze avocado and I knew I had to try it.  Worked like a charm.  If you are a chunky guac fan, you may be disappointed in the puree texture; but it's still a great way to preserve this luscious goody and I'll suffer through using it to make smooth guac if it means no more throwing away avocado halves and leftover guac!

ripe avocado
fresh lime juice (1 Tbsp. per avocado)
zip top sandwich bags
wide, short glass
chopstick or pencils
cookie sheet

1.  Scoop avocado flesh into the blender.  To do this, I cut the avocado in half length-wise, around the pit.  Then I twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate them.  I cradle the pit half in my left hand and with my right hand I CAREFULLY chop down once into the pit to "grab it"...I use a small knife in case my insane klutziness gene decides to take over and dismember me.  With the knife embedded in the pit, I give it a slight twist and out pops the pit.  Usually.  Then I just scoop the flesh out with a spoon.

2.  Add the freshly-squeezed lime juice.  Puree until smooth.  Drool.  But not into the blender.  That's gross.

3.  Take the wide but short glass and place the zip top bag into it, then fold the zippy edges of said bag out over the edge of the glass.  Spoon some of the puree into the bag (just eyeball it being half to three quarters full).  Fold the edges back up, carefully squeeze out as much air as you can, and seal the bag.

4.  Lay the bag flat on a cookie sheet, opening the bag a tad if you see anymore air trapped inside.  Using the chopsticks or pencils, make a tic tac toe board on the bag....two sets of parallel lines.  Is that too math-y?  Okay, just do like this:

5.  Place in freezer until totally firm.  Then you can take it out and store it vertically so it takes up less space.  (Incidentally, this is a great way to freeze and store soups, sauces, etc.....flat first, then vertically like files.  Not that I actually get around to doing that.  But I've thought of doing that.  And I think I should get credit for that.)

When ready to use, take out a bag and snap off as many squares as you think you'll need (I used the edge of the counter as a fulcrum.  HA!  Fulcrum...that's all science-y.  Did I just blind you with science?).  I ended up sacrificing the original bag this way, but that's okay.  I just put the remaining squares into a new bag and placed them back in the freezer.

Source:  Traveling Spoon Blog via Pinterest

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cherry Bars

Photo by Anna

This is one of my favorite recipes and it survived from my college days in the 70s--okay I went to college in 1976 and graduated in 1980, if you must know.  I got it from my college roommate and it scores big time whenever I make it.  This is also really good with blueberry pie filling.  I am trying it with blackberry next time...

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling

Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla (or almond, a little less), 1 tablespoon water

1.  Mix all ingredients well, except cherry pie filling.

2. Spread 2/3 of mixture into buttered 9" x 13" pan--yes, buttered, not cooking spray.  There is a difference in taste if you spray.

3.  Pour pie filling on top and spread evenly.

4.  Spoon rest of dough, like dumplings, on top of pie filling.

5.  Bake at 350 for about 45-50 minutes .

6.  Let cool about 15 or 20 minutes and glaze while still warm.

Source:  Debbie Duke Cornell

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Shortcake

This is such a delicious idea that I don't know why I didn't think of it before.  The idea came from a dinner with our Sister Missionaries, one of which is allergic to strawberries.  I made a quick "chocolate sauce" for her pound cake and the rest of us wanted in on it.  This is the result.  You can spread the sauce over the cake, drizzle it over the top, or both.  It is a yummy twist to an already delectable dessert! 

Cake - Pound Cake, Angela Food Cake or another cake of your choice cut into serving size pieces
1 Qt. Strawberries (fresh if available)
Sprinkle of sugar (optional)
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1.  Prepare Cake according to directions on package or recipe (or purchase pre-made) Let cool.
2.  Wash, Stem and slice strawberries.  Sprinkle with 1-2 TBLS sugar and stir with wooden spoon - this will cause the strawberries to "juice"
3.  Whip whipping cream until peaks start to form, add vanilla and powdered sugar, whip until stiff peaks form
(Note:  If you whip your cream too long, you will have a sweetened vanilla butter - not all "oops" are a bad thing)
4.  Heat Chocolate chips and cream in double boiler or in microwave just until melted - stirring to prevent burning let cool slightly
5.  Layer the dessert the way you like it.

Source:  A Jennie Original with a little help from my friends :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pulls (aka cinnamon crack bread)


1 unsliced round loaf sourdough bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  To make Vanilla Honey Butter: Whip butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar together until smooth; stir in honey and vanilla.  Set aside.

3.  Cut the bread lengthwise into 1/2" slices, without cutting through the bottom crust. Spread vanilla honey butter in between slices.  Rotate the bread 90 degrees and slice the bread again into 1/2" pieces, without cutting through the bottom crust. Spread more vanilla honey butter in between new cuts. This doesn't need to be perfect - just make sure there is lots of butter in between all the cuts. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Generously sprinkle in between all cuts. (You may have extra butter and cinnamon sugar.  It will just depend on how large your bread loaf is.)

4.  Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until bread is warm.  Unwrap cinnamon bread and place on serving platter.  Combine powdered sugar and milk - adding milk until you get the consistency desired.  Drizzle icing over bread and serve immediately.

Source:  Pinterest

Monday, April 23, 2012

BBQ Pork Spare Ribs (Country Style Ribs)

This is one of those family "meat n' potato" recipes that makes me really happy.  Nothing says Sunday dinner like the smell of this wafting through the house when you walk in the door after church.

5-6 servings

2 - 3lbs of pork spare ribs (aka country style ribs)
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2-inch pieces
16 oz. bag baby carrots
1 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 C. T Ketchup
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 C. water
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl mix the ketchup, Tabasco, brown sugar, mustard, and water. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Add oil to a ceramic or cast iron dutch oven, and heat on stove (med-high).

4. Season ribs with salt and pepper on all sides.

5. Add ribs to hot dutch oven and quickly seer them on all sides (ends included) to lock in the juices.

6. You have 2 options at this point. You can throw the potatoes and carrots in now and pour the sauce over everything, or let the meat and sauce cook for an hour and then mix in the veggies. The difference is that when the potatoes and carrots cook for 3 hours, they get quite soft and mushy (which some people like), but when they cook for 2 hours, they are more firm and stay together better. I personally like to let the meat cook an hour before I put the veggies in.  

7. Cover with lid and place in 325 degree oven for 3 hours. Don't forget to add your veggies after 1 hour of cooking if you reserved them- Take the dutch oven all the way out of the oven, place veggies inside and gently stir to get them down into the BBQ sauce.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fresh Spinach Salad

This is a delicious recipe. Be sure to allow enough time to chill the dressing for 30 minutes. You can either prep the eggs, bacon, and onion during the chilling time, or you can prepare them in advance so those portions of the salad will also be chilled once the salad is assembled.

1/2 C vegetable oil (I use EVOO)
1/4 C red wine vinegar (I prefer balsamic vinegar)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dried whole oregano
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. fresh spinach (I use the bagged, prewashed kind)
6-8 slices bacon, cooked and sliced (or you can buy precooked bacon crumbles or pieces, though I don't recommend bacon bits)
2 boiled eggs, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, sliced and separated into rings or chopped (I don't use the whole onion b/c it has such a strong flavor--just use as much as your taste-buds like)
grape or cherry tomatoes as desired

1. Combine oil, vinegar, salt, oregano, and pepper in a jar. (I have this awesome dressing emulsifier from Williams Sonoma.) Cover tightly and shake vigorously. Chill at least 30 minutes.

[Photo from Williams Sonoma]

2. Combine spinach, bacon, eggs, and onion in large bowl.

3. Add tomatoes to the salad. (You might choose to halve them for easy stabbing.) I don't toss the salad because doing so causes the toppings to collect at the bottom.

4. If you have a dressing dispenser, I recommend keeping the dressing in it and adding the dressing to the individual servings (rather than tossing the salad with the dressing until it's well coated) because the salad shrinks dramatically once the dressing is added. You can imagine how soggy your leftovers will be if you add it all at once. If you don't have a dressing dispenser, you can use something with a spout, like a liquid measuring cup, and just whisk the dressing with a fork as needed.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Brew Family Cookbook (Tomatoes aren't part of the original recipe; I add them for color and flavor.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mini Berry Tarts

I really love spring. A fresh start in so many ways! One of my favorite spring activities is going to the strawberry patch and picking big, juicy fruit right off the bush. Most of the strawberries make it into our basket, but I will admit that a fair share go from vine to mouth in one swift motion.

Once we get the berries home, it's a race to see how may ways we can use them before they spoil. Among many of the strawberry dishes we have had over the past week were these little babies:

I bet you are glad you stopped by, because I am going to tell you how to make them!!! And once you do, share them at your spring brunch, or take some to a neighbor!

You will need some sort of tart pan, which looks a lot like a regular sized muffin tin, but with shallower pockets.

You could attempt to make the tart shells in a muffin tin, but I am not taking responsibility for stuck and broken shells. Just be sure to grease and flour the pan before you place your pastry in the cups.

Tart Shells:
6 T. sugar
2/3 cup margarine
1 1/2 T. cream
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 1/4 C. cake flour, plus extra if your dough seems too sticky

1. Cream sugar and margarine together in a medium bowl. Add cream, egg yolk, and vanilla/almond extract and mix until well blended. Add the 1 1/4 cups of cake flour. If the dough is really sticky, and doesn't come together or leave the sides of the bowl, add more flour in small increments until it does.
2. Remove dough from bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 min. to 1 hour.
3. Roll chilled dough out on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter or glass to cut circles about an inch larger than the tart pan cups. Transfer circles of dough to each cup, easing them into the bottom and up the sides. Press gently around the sides and cut away the excess dough on top. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more or until golden brown (watch them carefully for the color you want, they can over-brown quickly). You want the shells to be crunchy though, not soft.
Allow to cool before filling.
Makes 24 mini tart shells or one 9-inch tart shell*

* If you would like to make one large tart shell, roll out dough to 1 inch larger than the pan and gently lay the dough into the bottom and up the sides. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to seal the edges and cut away excess. Lay foil over the dough, gently pressing it against the bottom and sides. Pour 1 1/2 cups baking beads, dry beans, or rice on top of the foil (this is to prevent the dough from rising during baking) Bake this way at 350 degrees F. for 15 min. Remove foil and return the crust to the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Tart Filling:
1 C. strawberries
1 C. blueberries (*if you are making a 9-inch tart add another cup of berries)
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 T. sugar, divided
4 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed in the refrigerator (that's 1/2 of an 8 oz. container)

1. Rinse the berries and dry on paper towels. Cut the strawberries into quarters.
2. Beat cream cheese and 1 T. sugar until smooth. Add whipped topping and mix until well blended.
3. Spread filling into tart shells, and arrange berries on top of filling.
4. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 T. of sugar.

Source: adapted from a Lion House Pies recipe.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Navajo Tacos

Mr. Blue Eyes tells a story about how one of his history teachers was teaching them about the Sioux Native American Tribe. The teacher got up and wrote "Sew" on the black board (this was before white boards--when did I get so old?). No kidding. The man should have been fired on the spot. I know a regular Joe could have made that same mistake, but this guy was TEACHING the class. Fired.

What does this have to do with cooking? Absolutely nothing. But if you're going to make Navajo Tacos, you have to know how to say it. The "j" says the "H" sound. Don't let it tell you otherwise. Nava-hoe. Say it with me, now. Nava-hoe. Let's try it with the correct spelling. Navajo. Good.

Also, before we begin: I am not using native Navajo Fry Bread. It's fairly easy to do and maybe someday I'll make a post of it, but today is not that day. I am not an experienced Fry Bread maker and so I stick to what I know--regular old yeast-risen dough.

Let's begin, shall we?

Meat Mixture Ingredients*:
1 Medium Onion
1 lb Ground Beef
2.5 - 3 cups Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
2 cloves Garlic, chopped (or use powdered)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dry oregano
2 tsp dry basil
2 cans Pinto Beans

1. In a Large pot, saute the onion in a Tbsp butter or oil, about 3 minutes, until limp.
2. Add ground beef and brown. Drain off any fat.
3. Add the chicken broth and all the herbs. Stir until combined. Add beans.
4. Set to simmer and stir occasionally. (I also do this in the morning and put it in my crock pot on Warm for dinner in the evening.)

Fried Scones Ingredients**:
Bread Dough: I use this recipe. You can also use Frozen Rolls--thawed, or whip up some fry bread yourself.
2 - 4 cups Vegetable Oil

1. In a Large Skillet, pour oil in until there's about 1/2"+ in the bottom. Heat the oil over med/high heat.
2. While the oil is heating, roll out a portion of bread dough on a slightly floured surface. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into sections. OR take a large handful of dough and work it flat into a disc shape (if you are using frozen rolls, for example).

3. When the oil is hot (and not until then!), gently place a section of bread into the oil. Let it cook about 1 minute or until lightly browned. It will puff up--and it's supposed to! Using tongs or two forks, gently turn it over. Be CAREFUL! Oil burns are NO FUN.

4. Remove onto a paper towel and keep warm in the oven, if needed.
Don't be fooled! I used paper towels between each layer, but that wouldn't look very good in a picture, would it?

Topping Ingredients:
1-2 Large ripe tomatoes, chopped
3/4 lb cheese, shredded (we use Cheddar)
1 sm bag (or 1/2 head) Lettuce, shredded
1 C sliced green onions
1 C sour cream
Salsa (if preferred. I like it. Mr. Blue Eyes does not.) :)

Layer a Scone, a ladle full of meat sauce, and the toppings you want onto a plate. Cut into it with a fork, or eat it by hand.

*I have found that sometimes the chicken broth needs a little thickening. It tastes great without the thickening, but it can be a little runny. This leads to soggy scones. Gross! Use a little corn starch and cold water (maybe 1/3 C corn starch to 1/4 C water).

**Scones are DELICIOUS lathered in a layer of honey/butter, too! We always leave some room for this delectable dessert!

Source: Modified from a good family friend, Janet


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Glazed Berry Medley Cake

I found this recipe on Pinterest! (where else?!) The recipe on Pinterest called for strawberries only. I had a bag of mixed that is what I used. I liked it, but I like all sweets! My kids thought this tasted kind of like Fruit - Loops! I think that was because I used the mixed berries. So, you choose what berries you'd like to use and see how you like it. It's a pretty cake, isn't ? And, it is yummo!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz plain or vanilla, greek yogurt
12 oz fresh strawberries (or frozen, or frozen medley of berries)
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan. Sift together the 2 1/2 cups flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in the lemon zest and set aside. ( I didn't have any lemons handy that day, so I used orange zest. It was pretty good. I think I might have liked the lemon zest better)

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs on at a time, then stir in 1 TB. lemon juice. As always, alternate beating in the dry ingredients, flour, with the wet ingredients, yogurt, mixing just until incorporated.

Toss the berries of your choice with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Carefully mix them into the batter so they don't turn to mush.

Pour the batter into the bundt pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 min., or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely!!! If you can't stand it any longer and you glaze this baby without letting it cool completely, the cake will soak up the glaze. So, let it cool completely!

Once cooled whisk together the remaining 2 TB of lemon juice and the powdered sugar, drizzle over the top of the cake, and voila!e

Sweet Tamale Corn Cakes



2 tomatillos, chopped (remove papery skin)
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies
1 green onion, chopped
2 T. fresh cilantro
1 1/4 t. granulated sugar
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. ground black pepper


1 medium tomato, diced
1 T. minced Spanish onion
1 T. minced, fresh cilantro
1/4 t. lime juice
1/2 small fresh jalapeno, minced
dash salt
dash ground black pepper


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 t. white vinegar
1 t. water
3/4 t. granulated sugar
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/8 t. onion powder
dash salt
dash garlic powder


1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
3 T. granulated sugar
1/8 t. salt
1/2 cup masa harina (corn flour)
2 T. all-purpose flour


1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 avocado, chopped
2 T. coarsely chopped, fresh cilantro


1. Prepare salsa verde by combining all ingredients in a food processor on high speed. Cover and chill.

2. Prepare tomato salsa by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

3. Prepare Southwestern sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5. Prepare the tamale cakes by chopping 1 cup of the frozen corn in a food processor until it's coarsely pureed. Combine pureed corn with softened butter, sugar and salt. Blend well with electric mixer until smooth.

6. Add masa and flour and blend well. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels by hand.

7. Measure 1/2 cup portions of the mixture and form it into 3-inch wide patties with your hands. Arrange the patties on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cakes are browned on the bottom. Carefully flip all cakes with a spatula and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until other side is browned.

8. While the cakes are baking, spoon a portion of the salsa verde onto a plate or platter (you may want to heat up your plate in the oven for a bit to help warm the sauce). You'll need to use enough salsa verde to coat the entire plate---it should be about 1/4 inch deep. Arrange the tamale cakes side-by-side on the salsa verde. Spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each tamale cake. Drizzle the Southwestern sauce over the cakes in a criss-cross pattern (use a squirt bottle if you've got one). Spoon some tomato salsa over the cakes, followed by the chopped avocado. Finish off the plate by sprinkling the coarsely chopped cilantro leaves over the top.


1. Use canned salsa (verde and tomato).
2. Make a "Southwestern sauce" using sour cream mixed with taco seasoning or other bottled
Southwestern condiment.
3. Make the El Torito Sweet Corn Cake recipe previously posted on this blog for the "cakes".

Source: Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hot Dog Buns

I'd been wanting to try this recipe for a while, since first seeing it on Annie's Eats (one of my favorite cooking blogs).  When I saw an idea for Mexican-inspired hot dogs on Pinterest, I figured now was as good a time as any to give it a shot!  (Incidentally, those Mexi-Dogs are coming in a recipe post soon.)

1 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees F)
1 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. salt
3-4 cups all-purpose flour
1 beaten egg with 1Tbsp. water
sesame seeds, optional

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast, and warm water.  Stir in the milk, oil, salt, and 3 cups of the flour.  Using the dough hook, mix until well combined.
  2. One tablespoon at a time, add in more flour (up to one cup) until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl or until it is no longer wet/sticky.  The full cup may not be needed.  I used about 7 tablespoons this time.  Machine-knead on low for 5-7 minutes; the dough should be smooth and elastic at this point.
  3. Turn the dough into a lightly-oiled bowl, turning over to coat the entire surface.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled, about an hour.
  4. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (I used a flexible cutting mat).  Use your kitchen scale (I used mine on "grams" for easier math!) to divide the dough into 9 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a ball, and then into a cylinder about 4 1/2" long.  Place on the parchment paper, flattening each bun just slightly.  Place the buns next to each other to where they almost touch.  (They'll kind of morph into each other as they sit there.)  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush bun tops with the egg wash; then sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Place the buns on a wire rack to cool.

  • Upon sampling the buns plain, we all thought they needed a bit more salt.  But eaten with the actual hot dog and fixin's, we didn't even notice.  Still I may try a little more salt next time.
  • If you don't have a kitchen scale, you really should get one.  I used to scoff at celebrity chefs who used them, but I'm a believer now.  I got an inexpensive one at Target that can be read with either grams or ounces/pounds.  I use both, depending on what I'm doing.
  • Parchment paper, too, seemed unnecessary to me at one time;  but after trying it, I have to admit that I love it.  Clean up is a breeze.  No more scraping things off the cookie sheet!
  • You can either cut the tops or the sides of these buns, but I prefer top-cut.
Source:  Annie's Eats

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Banana Date Muffins

I'm always looking for good recipes to use dates in because I ALWAYS have dates on hand for these.  I guess it's not a bad thing to only eat dates paired with bacon.  However, I'm trying to branch out.  These were easy to make and tasted yummy!

2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil (next time I'll try replacing the oil with applesauce)
2 eggs
3/4 -1 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. of cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan and set aside; you could also use baking cups if you like. 
2.  Mash bananas with a fork and mix well with remaining wet ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients until just combined.
3.  Fill muffin cups 1/2-2/3 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until done.
4.  Serve muffins with butter/jam or dress them up with some cream cheese frosting!

*While I thought these were moist and delicious, they tasted pretty close to regular banana muffins.  The date flavor was very mild.  Next time I make them I'm going to add at least 1 1/4 cups of chopped dates.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pam Rojas' Black Beans and "butter/oil" replacement tip

This is one of the best recipes that I have had for Black Beans. You can use Navy, Pinto, and Great Northern Beans as well and they are yummy. The health benefits of legumes and lentils is amazing. They are also a great source for lean protein.

This recipe comes from a friend (that obtained it from a friend) and put it in our Relief Society Cookbook. This is great as a side, in many Mexican dishes, wraps, salads etc. It also freezes well - just place desired amount in a zippy bag and Viola'.

1 - 16 oz bag dried beans Black, Navy, Pinto, or Great Northern Beans
3-4 garlic cloves minced
1-2 ribs of celery chopped
1 TBLS salt
1 1/2 tsp oregano or fresh equivalent
1/2-1 bunch of chopped cilantro (optional
6-7 cups water - Northern Beans take 9-10 cups

1. Rinse Black Beans in cold water removing any dirt or bad beans.
2. Place rinsed beans into large crock pot.
3. Add all ingredients in order to the crock pot and stir thoroughly.
4. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours stirring every once in awhile

Butter/Oil Replacement Tip:
This tip comes from my friend Sarah and I have expanded it a bit.

I substitute 1/2 or more of the fat in many cookies, cakes and some times brownies with dried beans. They work best in Oatmeal, pumpkin, and other "soft" cookies. This work very well in all types of cake.

1. Prepare beans as above leaving out all spices etc.
2. Freeze beans in zippy bags until needed.
3. When needed - thaw beans, puree in blender. Use euqal amounts to substitute (ie: If you are replacing 1/2 cup butter use 1/2 cup bean puree before the liquid is added). Puree pureed beans with at least 1 egg or other liquid in the recipe. This will help it incorporate better. Add to the recipe as usual.


Source: Sue Paries (beans)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Saren posted this family recipe on her blog last week.  I finally got a chance to make them and they are really good and have a healthy twist.  You can read her cookie story HERE.  I am only including the version that I used, but she has a lot of tips on add-ins and stuff.  After I finish this post, I have some dough to bake and then I am putting my cookies in the freezer for future enjoyment! 

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups quick oats
1 cup chocolate chips

1.  Preheat convection oven to 330 degrees. 
2.  Mix first 6 ingredients together.
3.  Add next 5 ingredients and mix well.
4.  Next add the oats and chocolate chips, one cup at a time, and mix.
5.  Drop by spoonful (or scoop) onto a cookie sheet.
6.  Bake for 8-9 minutes.  Take out when slightly brown on edges but still a little doughy in the middle.  Let cool on wire rack.

Source:  Saren Eyre Loosli, used with permission.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How To Make A Better BLT


1. Cut bacon in half.
2. Weave into a lattice pattern (either using 4 or 6 slices, depending on your bread size).
3. Place on a foil lined baking sheet.
4. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (depending on level of crispness desired).

Voila! No more bacon to come tumbling out of your BLT sandwich. Genius!

Source: Pinterest

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie

 We're big fans of Chocolate Chip cookies. Bigger the better, right? This cookie is so scrumptious, and... you can't go wrong with a Martha recipe.  It's crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. It'll be a while until I make cookies any other way...

Also, don't be afraid. Pull out your trusty cast iron skillet. It makes the edges so crispy!

Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (9 ounces)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
-Add egg and vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated.
-Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined.
-Stir in chocolate chips.
-Transfer dough to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (I sprayed mine with just a little cooking spray), and press to flatten, covering bottom of pan.
-Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Don't overbake; it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into wedges.

This cookie would taste great with some Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. Yum!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Danny's Macaroni and Cheese

Have you ever had tomatoes in your mac and cheese? I hadn't until this recipe. I wasn't sure how I felt about the idea, but I love it!

1 8-0z. package elbow macaroni (I used corkscrew for fun)
1 14.5-oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 8-oz. package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until almost done--about 8 minutes; drain.

3. Mix cooked macaroni with tomatoes and shredded cheese. Pour into a baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

The original recipe doesn't instruct you to spray the baking dish, but you may want to.

Source: Submitted to by Debby. See her quote for an explanation about its name. (I'm guessing her husband is Danny.)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Just call me the Smoothie Queen. I can't get enough of them.
Here's one that I've made up.... it's quickly become a favorite of my husbands. (Go figure. He's from Maine. Anything with Maine Blueberries, he loves!!)

Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Serves 2
1 Banana
1 1/2 cup Frozen Blueberries (If you have a Costco close by, they carry frozen Wild Maine Blueberries, Wlyer's Brand... these are naturally sweeter and SO tasty!)
1/2 C. Vanilla Yogurt (if you have a 6 oz. container, that works too!)
1 C. apple juice


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

These are one of my weaknesses. I don't know why I don't make them more often since they really aren't  hard. Most times I just throw my bread dough ingredients in the bread maker and push a button. Then, an hour and a half later (you know, when the bread machine beeps telling me the dough is done), I roll the dough out and voila! I'm on my way to gaining 100 pounds. :) Just kidding. Moderation in all things, right? That's why I have to give them away. Makes you look like an AWESOME neighbor. Except when I'm greedy and keep them all to myself. Then I make my family happy because they get some, too. It's win/win, really.

Your favorite bread dough--from scratch or a thawed, frozen loaf of dough works too.
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) Butter
Several Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
Chopped Walnuts, Pecans, and/or Raisins (optional)
18" piece of thread

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a Large Rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.
3. Using a rubber spatula, paint the butter over the dough. Leave 1/2 inch unbuttered on one of the long sides of the rectangle.
4. Sprinkle cinnamon all over the butter. Keep it fairly light and remember to leave that unbuttered portion "clean".
5. Sprinkle Brown Sugar all over the cinnamon. I don't know if 1/2 Cup will do it. I just grab handfuls out of the bag and have learned how much I like. Experiment until you find how you like it. Just remember all your neighbors will love you for it.
6. If you want, now is the time to add the nuts and raisins. We do it both ways at our house.
7. Beginning on one long side, begin to roll the dough toward the unbuttered 1/2 inch seam. Once you reach the seam, fold it up and pinch along the roll so you close all the cinnamon-sugar in.
8. Take the thread and slide it under one end of the roll--about 2-3 inches. Cross the string over the top of the roll (like the very first step to tying your shoe) and pull the ends until the string cuts through the roll completely. Repeat till you have the whole roll cut into cinnamon rolls. I don't know why, but this is my very favorite step. Don't judge.
9. Lay the Cinnamon Rolls in a 9x13" pan about 1 - 2 " apart. (I actually use an 11x15 glass pan, but you don't have to). Cover and let raise for 1/2 hour.
10. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.


2 Tbsp Butter, softened
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 - 1/3 Cup Milk

1. In a small bowl, cut together the butter and the powdered sugar until the sugar takes on a slightly yellow hue.
2. Add the vanilla.
3. Gradually add milk and stir with a fork until you get a runny consistency. If the glaze is "gritty" add more powdered sugar and mix till smooth.
4. Drop spoonfuls of the glaze on each cinnamon roll right after they come out of the oven.

*You should know that I really just eyeball most of this stuff. Once you've made the recipe a few times, you'll know how each step should look according to your taste. And don't be afraid to play around a little. One friend told me she uses white sugar and orange peel zest instead of brown sugar and cinnamon. I've never tried it, but it sounds great!

Source: Adapted from a good family friend


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fiesta Lettuce Boats

I would call it a "wrap", except we decided it was much easier to eat it like a "boat" =)
Simple, healthful ingredients and it's on your table in about 30 minutes!  

1lb Ground Beef
1/2 Green Pepper, diced
1/2 Red Pepper, diced
1/4 C Diced Onions, or 1-2T dried diced onions
2 tsp Emeril's Essence BAM! seasoning (This stuff's good)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 Romain Hearts
1-2 C Shredded Cheese (We used colby jack)

Dice up your peppers and onions (or used dried like I did)
and toss them in with the ground beef.  Sprinkle on some BAM!
(It was really fun to say that) and cook until the beef is cooked through.
(Sorry...I forgot to snag a pic of the sizzling meat, but...) 
While the meat is browning, prepare your Romaine lettuce by 
slicing about 3-4 inches off of the bottom as shown above.  
Rinse the leafy greens in cold water and drain well.  
Fill your little lettuce boats with the seasoned meat, top with cheese
(and maybe a little sour cream, if you'd like) and enjoy!  

Asian Coleslaw

This is so refreshing and yummy. I found this recipe on pinterest and had to try it. I tweaked it a bit and it was great!

1/4 c honey
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c unseasoned rice vinegar
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 tsp oil
1/2 TBSP peanut butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1/2 TBSP ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced

4 cups prepared shredded coleslaw
2 cups prepared shredded carrots
1 red pepper,, thinly sliced into bite size pieces
1 cup pre-cooked, shelled edamame
2 med scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup choped salted peanuts (optional)
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro (optional -i did not add!)

I am not a cilantro fan, so that is the reason for the exclamation point.

Make the dressing by combining all ingredients in medum bowl. Stir until peanut butter is dissolved. Set aside.

combine all of the slaw ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss well. Let sit at least 10 minutes so vegetables have a chance to soak up the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary...I needed to add salt to this. Chill the slaw in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meatloaf Cupcakes

I recently found the ultimate meatloaf recipe (at least to our family).  Certain people in the family love it so much that, just today, it was requested for dinner today over pizza.  Pizza!  Yes, it's that good.

But I have no patience to wait for meatloaf to be ready for slicing and serving when it comes out of the oven.  I always end up with a mess because of that impatience.  So when I saw the idea of making meatloaf in a muffin tin (thanks again, Pinterest!), I knew this was the answer.

Kids seem to love the idea of a dinner cupcake;  and because it's a healthier version of a traditional meatloaf and because it is preportioned, it's a win-win!

Paired with mashed potato "frosting" this dinner cupcake is sure to please.  And if you do half potatoes, half cauliflower for your mashed potatoes (like I do) you can even sneak in some extra veggies!

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sage
1 slice bread, diced very small (I always use sourdough)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. Agave nectar*
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
2.  In saute pan, cook onion and celery in olive oil over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.  Set aside to cool some.
3.  In large bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, salt, pepper, and sage.  Add the bread and gently stir together until all the bread has been moistened.  Stir in the cheese and the onion mixture.  Crumble in the ground beef and combine with your hands until well mixed (DO NOT SQUEEZE to mix it together).  Divide equally into the muffin tin compartments and lightly pack down.

4.  In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients.  Spoon over the "cupcakes".  Bake for about 20 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into one of the cupcakes.  Allow to rest about 5 minutes before serving.

5.  Serve plain or top with your favorite mashed potatoes.

*Agave nectar is a natural sweetener made from the agave plant.  I use it for health reasons because of its lower glycemic qualities.  You can usually find it with the sugar substitutes in the grocery store.  For more information on agave nectar, visit this helpful site.

Source:  cupcake idea from Pinterest, recipe slightly adapted from Eating Well, Living Thin