Monday, March 30, 2009

strawberry cheesecake bowl

I made this for Amy's celebratory dessert on Saturday night. It was fantastic and so pretty!

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 T. sugar
2 pkg. Neufchatel Cream Cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 pkg {3.4 oz} vanilla instant pudding
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Lite, divided
2 cups frozen pound cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 square Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate {I just used a handful of chocolate chips}

Combine berries and sugar and refrigerate until needed. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Add milk and vanilla pudding; blend until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip until well blended. Spoon half into 2 1/2 quart bowl or trifle dish. Top with cake cubes, then strawberries, then remaining cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with remaining Cool Whip. Melt chocolate in bowl and drizzle over the top. If you want to get fancy, you can even chocolate-coat a strawberry for the top. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

a Giada recipe, ya really can't go wrong with her!

1 lb. italian sausage {I added this}
1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes
2 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

{Cook sausage.} Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using a pair of kitchen shears or your finger tips. Add the zucchini, mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the other vegetables. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mix to combine. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully transfer the orzo stuffed pepper to a serving plate.

Crockpot Babyback Ribs

I've been using this method (scroll down), which a friend introduced to me, for a few years. It's good, but I always felt like there was something missing, and I wanted to get the ribs even more tender. I came up with this tonight, and it turned out wonderfully. It's already my husband's favorite way to have ribs!

1 rack of baby back ribs
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Kansas City-style smokey barbecue sauce (I used a jar of Trader Joe's brand)

Rinse ribs under cold running water, and then pat dry on both sides with paper towels. Cut rack in half. Season liberally with salt and pepper all over. In a large skillet, heat approximately 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until very hot -- oil should shimmer and just begin to smoke. Brown ribs on both sides for 1-2 minutes; when done, meat will release easily from the pan. (If it sticks, your pan isn't hot enough; increase the heat and wait until the ribs release without tearing meat.)

Place browned ribs in the bottom of crock pot, meaty side down. Add enough water to achieve about a 1/2 inch depth. Whisk vinegar and honey together; add to crock pot. Cover and cook on high for approx. 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. (I actually did mine for two hours on high and then two hours on low.)

Preheat oven to broil. Place ribs meaty side down on a wire rack inside a shallow baking dish (for easier cleanup, line dish with foil.) Slather top with barbecue sauce and broil about 4-5 inches from heat for 3-4 minutes. Flip ribs and repeat on meaty side.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

This recipe is from a family friend...who is the healthiest eater that I know. Sounds like a crazy combination, but they're awesome together and amazingly healthy... which makes them even better to me. I added some cheese on top before I baked them. And then topped with some guacamole.

3 cup peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 ½ cup diced onions
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh green chile
4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoon ground coriander

4 ½ cup cooked black beans (3 - 15oz cans)
2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
8 tortillas
Fresh Salsa
{I topped with 1/4 c. pepper jack cheese before I baked them}
Guacamole/Avocado {I did this instead of the salsa}

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sweet potatoes in medium saucepan with the salt and water to cover. Cover & bring to boil, simmer till tender, roughly 10 minutes. Drain, set aside.

While these cook, warm the oil in a skillet and add onions, garlic, and chile. Cover, cook on med-low, stirring a bit, for about 5-8 minutes. Add cumin, coriander and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

In food processor add black beans, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and cooked sweet potatoes; puree until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and mix in cooked onions and spices.

Put your burritos together, and then put them seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish or tray, and cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes. Serve with Salsa.

{Pictured with Rachael Ray's Tex-Mex Fried Rice... yummy!}

Cinnamon Rolls

I got this recipe from my mother, and we love it. Everyone I know who's ever tried it loves it.

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (more or less as needed)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick-acting active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract*
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract*
4 teaspoons milk (more as needed)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast. Heat milk , vanilla, sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon until just warm and butter is just beginning to melt (approx 110*-115*F), stirring constantly. Add milk mixture to flour and stir. Add eggs and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can (dough will be soft). Knead in enough flour to make a moderately soft dough (approx.3-5 minutes). Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half. Shape each half into a smooth ball and then cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each half into a 12x8" rectangle. Spread each with 3 tablespoons of the softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over each rectangle. Roll up from the short side. Seal edges; using a sharp, serrated knife, slice each roll into 8 pieces. Arrange slices evenly in a greased 13x9" baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350*F for 25-30 minutes until browned. Invert at once onto a wire rack and then invert again. Cool slightly.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, adding more milk as necessary to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over rolls.

*The point of the clear vanilla is, obviously, color. If you don't have clear, I'm sure regular vanilla extract would work just as well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork (or Chicken)

Dip chunks of pork (or chicken) in egg, then in a mixture of 1c. flour and 1 tsp. baking powder. Cook in oil.

2 c Ketchup
1/4 c vinegar
3/4 c sugar
chopped onion
2 chopped green peppers
1 can pineapple tidbits w/ juice

Steam until vegetables are tender. In needed thicken with cornstarch (I never do). Serve over rice.

*I never do the egg, flour step. I just brown the meat in oil. It saves a little time, and still is REALLY good!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Melt-in-your-mouth Caramels

3/4 cup butter
1 cup light corn syrup
2 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Butter the inside of an 8x8 disposable aluminum pan (they come in sets of 3).
In a large pot over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients except the vanilla. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat to medium and simmer. Stir occasionally. Cook until it is between 135 degrees and 140 degrees on a candy thermometer. (I like them soft but not gooey).
Remove from heat and pour in vanilla. It will bubble up, so make sure you have it in a large enough pot.
Carefully pour into the prepared pan. Chill for a few hours.
Remove from pan and cut into bite sized pieces. Wrap in wax paper or candy cellophane.
These stay good in the fridge for several weeks- but put them in an airtight container.

Amy's Favorites...

I'm a bit late in my post about my favorites, but here goes...

Aimee's Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Melissa's updated version of our Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Mel's Bakes Ziti. I loved it when I was laid up.
Jackie's Holiday Pretzel Treat
My Banana Bars from the Lion House Cookbook
January's Texas Sheet Cake
Mel's Molaskas