Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Caramel for Popcorn or Apple Dip

We are huge fans of popcorn, to say the least.  We go through boxes, and boxes, and bags, and bags of popcorn.  We usually eat our popcorn just buttered, but like like to switch it up sometimes with Kettle Corn or with this caramel.  The kids LOVE this caramel on their popcorn.  Sometimes I think they like it more than me....

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter and add sugar and salt, stirring until dissolved. Add corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Bring to a rolling boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly so that mixture does not stick or scorch.

*When I use the caramel for popcorn, I pop 2-3 bags of microwave popcorn (I like the buttery/salty taste that the microwave popcorn adds) and pour about 1/2 of the caramel over the popcorn.  Mix well and add additional caramel, if desired.  Pour onto a greased cookie sheet (or 2) and let cool, or make into popcorn balls.

Recipe adapted from my friend Rachel.

Linked on Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meaty Pasta Sauce

I don't think it's possible to have too many recipes for pasta sauces.   Here is another fantastic pasta sauce recipe.  One thing that I love about this Meaty Pasta Sauce is that it is nice and thick.  You don't have to worry about it running into all of your other food.   Oh,  and it's delicious!

2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons basil (2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon oregano (1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon Thyme (1 tablespoon fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large pot cook the sausage, onion, and garlic until well browned; drain fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. Mix in sugar and spices. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.   I cooked it in the crock pot this time on low for 6 hours.  I added all ingredients except the sausage at the beginning and cooked the sausage and added it the last hour.  Turned out super yummy!  And the house smelled fantastic.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad

I don't know about you, but I like LOVE Pinterest.  There's all kinds of good stuff on there.  This Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad is just one of the many treasures I've found.  Some people like thrifts store, yard sales, clearance sales (I'm quite the fan of clearance sales, too), for the treasures they can find.  I think pinterest is right there with them - full of treasures waiting to be found.

This Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad is so easy to put together if you can use a can opener and a sharp knife.  Just chop up everything and put in in a big bowl, then toss with the tasty dressing. The salad is perfect for the warm weather and was a hit with the family.  My hubby and I loved it and kids loved it after they picked out the things they didn't like.  Seriously, who doesn't like avocados?  That's okay, the ones that didn't like them gave them to me.  I guess that's still a win win.

2 cups diced or shredded chicken (cook your own or use a rotisserie chicken from the store)
1 bell pepper, diced (I used red)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can sweet yellow corn (or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed)
2 tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 ripe avocados, diced
1 cup crushed tortilla chips, optional

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon ranch seasoning
1 tablespoon taco seasoning

In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients together, excluding the tortilla chips.  In a small bowl combine all dressing ingredients and mix together.  Pour dressing over salad and stir to combine.  Top with tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Recipe from Greens and Chocolate.

Linked on Tatertots and Jello.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Old Fashioned Doughnut Muffins

I'm beginning to think there isn't a thing you can't make into a muffin.  These Old Fashioned Doughnut Muffins really do taste like old fashioned doughnuts!  The remind me of the muffins my mom made for us when I was a kid. 

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
1 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with muffin liners (I live in a high altitude area and can get 18 muffins out of the batter.  The original recipe says it makes 12).  In a large bowl, mix together butter, oil, and sugars until smooth.  Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Add baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt and mix until just combined.  Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until well mixed, then 1/3 of the milk and mix until well mix.  Repeat with the flour and milk 2 more times (until gone).  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups and bake for 13 to15 minutes, or until cooked through (the tops will be just golden and the muffins will spring back when you lightly touch them on the top).  Remove cooked muffins from tins and cool for 15 minutes on a cooling rack.  To make the glaze, combine glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Dip muffins in the glaze and let harden slightly before serving.  You can dip the muffins in the glaze a second time, if desired.

Recipe from Sweet Pea's Kitchen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

Yep.  You read that right.  Black Bean Brownies.  And the best part?  They still taste like yummy brownies!  And they're easy.  I guess that makes 2 best parts. :)   The brownies stay super moist and are full of fiber.  Gotta love that!

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 family sized box brownie mix (just the powdered mix)
1 cup chocolate chips, optional

Pour brownie mix into a medium sized bowl.  Pour black beans into a blender and blend until smooth.  And it's best to make sure they are smooth.  Nobody likes chucks of beans in their brownies.  Ew!  Pour pureed black beans into the brownie mix and stir until well mixed.  Add chocolate chips and stir.  Bake as directed on the back of the brownie mix box.

Recipe adapted from my neighbor Tiff.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I've tried and tried to come up with something clever to say about this White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, but I just can't seem to come up with anything.  At least not anything other than it's amazing!  It really is.  My daughter took some of the cupcakes we frosted with this White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting to a neighbor and the neighbor was at my door the next morning telling me the cupcakes were the best she has ever eaten.  Ever!

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt
2 tablespoons milk

Combine butter and shortening in a medium sized bowl and beat until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and salt and mix until well combined.  Add melted white chocolate and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe from The Royal Cook - an original!

Linked on Sweets for a Saturday and Tatertots and Jello

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hot Fudge Sauce

We spent the day at the splash pad and decided we needed to have some hot fudge brownie sundaes for a treat.  I asked the kids if they wanted to go out to the ice cream parlor for one, or go home and make lots of them.  Making our own won out when I told the kids they could have second if we made our own.  We headed home and made brownies and Hot Fudge Sauce.  I pulled the ice cream out of the freezer to find it all freezer burnt and nasty.  I hate it when that happens.  I told my little angels that before we could eat our sundaes, we had to go buy more ice cream.

By the time we got home from the store (with a lot more than just ice cream - I seem to get sucked in every time!), it was dinner time.  My kids were heart broken that we couldn't have our sundaes until after dinner.  That left only one thing to do.....  Sundaes for dinner!

As I was debating if letting my kids have sundaes for dinner put me in the running for the best or worst mom of the year award, my sweet friend Lacey helped me to realize that we had all 5 food groups covered, so our hot fudge (black bean) brownie sundaes were a practically perfect food. :)  If only there wasn't so much sugar in them.  My kids were bouncing off the walls 2 hours after I put them to bed.  I'll consider that a lesson learned - hot fudge brownie sundaes should not be eaten for dinner.  I'll try them for breakfast next time. :)

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl combine dry ingredients and whisk until well combined and smooth. Combine milk, vanilla, and sugar in a medium sized sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted. Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (ours never last that long :))

Recipe adapted from my neighbor Peggy.

Linked on Sweets for a Saturday

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Microwave Cinnamon Apples

It seems like I'm always looking for quick, easy, and healthy snacks. These Microwave Cinnamon Apples are the perfect fit! My kids love cinnamon applesauce, but I don't like how sweet the store bought stuff is. Why do they have to take something so good and ruin it by adding so much sugar? Microwave Cinnamon Apples is my way of getting the best of both worlds - yummy apples and cinnamon without added sugar or other sweeteners.

My kids love Microwave Cinnamon Apples and ask for them for breakfast or a snack at least once a week. The kids love them and they are healthy. I think that makes them just about a perfect food. :)

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place apples and cinnamon in a microwave safe bowl and stir until apples are coated with cinnamon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the top to let the steam escape. Place in the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. Remove apples from the microwave and carefully remove the plastic cover. Stir apples and re-cover. Cook for 1 minute longer (Different microwaves will vary the cooking time. I like my apples tender, but not mushy.)

Recipe from The Royal Cook - an original!

Linked on Sweets for a Saturday.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pizza Crust

My kids love pizza. My hubby loves pizza. I kinda like the stuff, too. When I don't know what to make for dinner, I usually ask my family. If my hubby gives any input, it's usually pizza. But not the homemade kind. The takeout or delivery kind. When he suggested pizza the other night, my 6 year old was super excited.

"Yeah Mom! Pizza! Can we make our own? Please? Then we can make our own little pizzas!"

Her enthusiasm was contagious and we made our own pizzas. I made a big one for the hubby and big kids, while the little kids made their own. The crust was delicious! Slightly sweet and chewy.

1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 2/3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons oil
1 3/4 - 2 cups hot tap water
1 tablespoon yeast
Corn meal, optional

Combine sugar, salt, flour and yeast in a large bowl or in the bowl of a mixer. Add oil and water (start with 1 3/4 cup water and add remaining 1/4 cup if needed) and mix until it forms a soft, not too sticky, dough. Knead dough for 10 minutes (by hand or with a mixer). Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise until doubled (about 1 hour). When dough has doubled, punch down and shape into 2 pizza crusts (I used my pizza stone and sprinkled it with corn meal before putting the crust on). Top crust as desired (don't overload your dough or it won't cook well). Bake pizzas at 475 for 15 minutes, or until crust and cheese is golden.

Recipe adapted from French Logic.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Homemade Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

I love homemade macaroni and cheese. The stuff in the blue box just doesn't seem to cut it for me. I prefer the real stuff. Anytime I ask my 4 year old what she wants to eat for lunch, she always replies with macaroni and cheese. It never fails. On her birthday I asked her what she wanted for dinner and her reply was the same, macaroni and cheese. Since it was her birthday, I decided to give in to her macaroni and cheese addiction, but not from the blue box. She got Homemade Creamy Macaroni and Cheese and loved it! And I loved that it was fairly easy to make - it's all done on the stove top.

3 1/2 cups water
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (12 ounce) box elbow macaroni or other pasta (I used rotini)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Franks)
12 ounces shredded cheese (I've used mild cheddar, sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack)
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
Pepper to taste

In a large (12 inch) skillet, bring water, 1 cup evaporated milk, salt and macaroni just to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is cooked, about 10 minutes. Combine remaining evaporated milk, cornstarch, mustard, nutmeg and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add cheese 1 handful at a time, stirring after each addition until melted. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Mels Kitchen Cafe.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Asia's Chocolate Chip Chocolate Muffins

Holy cow!  Can I just tell you that summer is a little CRAZY with 5 kids!  Although I love having them all home, it will be nice to have a little break when school starts.  It's always a bit bitter-sweet when school starts.  This year I will be left with only 1 baby at home.  I can't believe all my babies are growing up so fast.

My sweet little 6 year old found this recipe and insisted on trying it out.  She was so proud of her muffins and has every right to be.  They are delicious!  Whoever came up with muffins is quite the clever one.  If you ask me, they are just cupcake without the frosting.  But that makes them "legal" in my house for breakfast and I don't have a single little one - or big one, for that matter - that will complain about eating dessert for breakfast. :)

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips - I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips since my little princess insisted on having mini muffins.

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan (I live in a high altitude area and was able to get 24 mini muffins and 11 regular sized muffins.  I probably could have gotten 18 regular sized muffins out of the batter with my altitude.)  Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk until combined.  Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  I cooked the mini muffins for 11 minutes.

Recipe from GirlsGoGames.  My little girl "won" the recipe and was so excited!

Linked on Sweets for a Saturday
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