Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Waffle Casserole

This recipe was given to me just over two years ago while I was pregnant with my daughter. She was pregnant at the time as well and we were all exchanging recipes, trying to come up with ideas on things that were easy to make for when our new arrivals came. Two years later, I save this in my holiday file for a great breakfast. I haven't changed her recipe at all, it's even in her own words. I will say that I have also made it with apple jelly instead of apricot jam, but you need to melt the jelly. Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your hubby's favorite breakfast!!

What You Need:

1 box plain frozen waffles (square work best, but round are okay)
2 lbs breakfast sausage (the crumble type, not smoked sausage, I use Jimmy Dean reduced fat)
1 chopped onion
4-5 eggs beaten (depending on how "eggy" you want it)
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
1 small bag chopped pecans (I think it's about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)

1 small jar apricot jam or preserves (10 oz)
8-10 oz maple syrup or pancake syrup
1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (depending on how much spice you want to balance the sweetness)

What To Do:

Cook the sausage, then add onion and cook a few minutes more. While those are cooking, toast the waffles and cut into 1" cubes. Mix all together in a large bowl. Add beaten eggs and poultry seasoning and mix well. Pour into your largest baking dish (needs bigger than 9x13, I think I use 10x14 or 10x16 or something like that). You can add the sauce either before the first baking (20 minutes at 350), or after the first baking when you add the pecans and bake another 10 minutes (total 30 minutes cooking, pecans may burn if you add them at the beginning).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun Bars

Another holiday time treat I like to make is Fun Bars. It's another one of those recipes where it takes longer to cook then it does to put together. It has very few ingredients too which is yet another reason why I make it every year. We travel to visit my husbands family on Christmas Eve each year. The whole family gets together for pierogi's, this sauerkraut and mushroom dish as well as a soup that hubby's Aunt usually makes. While I'm not in charge of dessert, I tend to make lots of different goddies for everyone to munch on. It also means that I'm in the kitchen most of the week before Christmas, so I like it when most of my treats are quick and simple.

What You Need:

a boxed cake mix (the regular kind, not a butter recipe or one with pudding)
1/2 a stick butter, melted
1/2 c water
1 c mini M&M's
1 c nuts (peanuts or walnuts work best)
3 c mini marshmallows

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 375.
Stir together the cake mix, butter and water. The mixture will be really thick and sticky so just do your best to get it all combined. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray and spread the cake mixture into an even layer as best as you can. If you wet your hands slightly, you can press the mixture into the pan fairly well without getting very messy. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the marshmallows on top, followed by the nuts and mini M&M's. Put back in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the marshmallows start to melt and hold the toppings on. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Crack - two ways

First off I have to say just how much I love not only the name but the treat as well. Basically it's nothing more then sugar, butter and chocolate. Sure you can throw in some nuts for you good measure and there is some sort of cracker in there too but in reality it's the biggest sugar high of your life. Hence the name. These two recipes aren't mine, however I did add my own spin too it. The first one comes from a post on the Craftster website and was how I was first turned on to it. The second comes from the Food Network's Claire Robinson. Click on thinks for the appropriate recipes. I've made adjustments because I use half sheet pans, so that's what my recipes are for.

For Version One:

1 c butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 (12oz) bag chocolate chips
1 c holiday colored M&M's

Preheat oven to 400 degree and line your rimmed baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat. Spray the foil with a bit of cooking spray. Line the saltines up to cover the bottom of the baking sheet. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes and carefully pour over the crackers, spread it out as best you can and then put it in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and if any of the saltines have shifted, very carefully put them back into place. Let cool for just a few minutes and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Once they've melted, spread to coat the toffee layer and then sprinkle the M&M's on top, pressing them into the chocolate slightly. Pop in the fridge to finish cooking completely. Brake into pieces.

For Version Two:

1 c butter (2 sticks)
1 c dark brown sugar

2 sleeves graham crackers (I used the cinnamon ones)
1 c mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degree and line your rimmed baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat. Spray the foil with a bit of cooking spray. Line the graham crackers up to cover the bottom of the baking sheet. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes, stir in the chopped pecans and carefully pour over the crackers, spread it out as best you can and then put it in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool just a few minutes before sprinkling the mini chocolate chips over the top. Pop in the fridge to finish cooling completely and then break into pieces.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How To Make: Homemade Mounds Candy

Chocolate and coconut.... Chocolate and coconut!!! Two of the best things in the world when combined is chocolate and coconut!! Mounds bars are probably my favorite candy, or at least in the top three. I love to stick a bag of the fun sized ones in my freezer and have them as an after supper treat. Making your own isn't quite as easy as opening a bag bought from the store, but it is more fun!

What You Need:

14oz bag shredded coconut
1 cup powder sugar
5oz sweetened condensed milk
2 bags of chocolate chips

What To Do:

In a bowl mixed together the coconut, powdered sugar and condensed milk. This does take a little effort to get it all mixed throughly. Alternately, you can place the powdered sugar and coconut into a food processor and pulse a few times to chop the coconut up finer, like you would find a store bought mounds bar, but I never feel like washing mine afterwards so I don't do this. Using your hands, shape the coconut mixture into small balls or semi flattened logs. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge for about an hour to set. This hardens them up a bit so it doesn't fall apart when coated in chocolate.
Heat the chocolate chips up in a heat safe bowl over barely simmering water until melted. Dip the coconut centers into the chocolate one at a time and place back on the parchment lined sheets. Let set on the counter for about 15 minutes, then pop into the fridge to finish setting. Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Here's another sweet treat to add to your goodies this holiday. Coconut Macaroons, is another easy recipe, with a few ingredients. Egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks and folded into sweet coconut and creamy condensed milked, then baked till nice and golden, makes a stick to your teeth awesome cookie. I am in love with coconut and I have a very hard time not eating them when they come out of the oven!

What You Need:

14oz bag of coconut
14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, room temp
1 tsp of cream of tarter
Pinch of salt

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 325 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray. Normally when I line my sheets with parchment I don't spray them, however these are a very sticky cookie and because the have no other source of fat (ie: butter or oil) they tend to stick to the paper too if you don't spray it.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut, condensed milk, vanilla and a pinch of salt. In another large bowl, start whipping the egg whites on low to medium speed. Once they become frothy, add in the cream of tarter and turn the speed to high. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Working in thrids, fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Once all combined, drop by rounded tablespoon full onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let cool before eating if you can!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Five Minute Fudge

I kid you not! It seriously only takes 5 minutes to make this delicious fudge recipe. Plus it only have 5 ingredients too. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, most likely some vast internet search, but I have been making this, and several variations for the last few years. See, I have 3 brothers in law and I swear they only put up with me because I can cook, and cook well. They also happen to be some of the hardest men to shop for when it comes to the holidays. One year I decided that I was just going to make them all fudge and be done with it. The following Christmas came and all they wanted was more fudge. Now ever year for Christmas I make a few different kinds, pack them into cute tins and they're all done. This recipe has become a life saver for me. I just made a batch this afternoon for one of the boys who won't be here on Christmas this year, but will actually be here tomorrow. It's something that's so quick and easy, I'm sure you'll be adding it in with your holiday baking in no time!

What You Need:

1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Line a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and just barely spray with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large, microwave safe bowl, add the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt. Place in the microwave for one minute. Give it a stir, and place back in the microwave for 30 seconds. Give it another stir and if it's not completely melted and smooth, place it back in the microwave for 30 more seconds. Once it's all melted and smooth, stir in the vanilla. Pour it into your prepared pan and place in the fridge to cool completely. I let mine set overnight to make sure that it's solid all the way through.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How To: Boil Shrimp

Few things are harder to cook right then shell fish. Most have internally thermometers, turning a bring red when done but shrimp are a little different. Yes they turn red, but they also become opaque, and go from being perfectly cooked to over cooked in mere seconds. They also tend to lack in flavor. By salting the water and adding in some lemon juice and lemons you can punch up the flavor a bit. You can add in dried chilies or even whole spices like peppercorns or coriander seeds.

What You Need:

lots of boiling water

What To Do:

Bring a lot pot of water to a boil. Once it's at a roiling boiling add in salt. You want fairly salty water, it should taste like the sea. Cut a lemon or two in half, squeeze the juice into the water and then add the lemons themselves into the water as well. If you water isn't boiling still, wait for it come back up to a full boil before putting in your shrimp. You'll notice that they sink to the bottom and start to change red almost immediately. Once the shrimp become opaque, start to just barely curl and float to the top, they're done. If you serving them cold, shock them in ice water as soon as you pull them out of the boiling water to stop the cooking. If you're eating them as part as a dish, pull them out a little before they're done and toss them with whatever your serving them with to finish the cooking.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

Southern Food and comfort food go hand in hand for me. I mean it's down south where you find heavenly fried foods, mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and flaky buttermilk biscuits smothered in gravy. Sometimes I wonder how these southern belles stay so skinny with all the amazing food. Chicken fried steak is something I could eat every day. It takes my favorite protein, fries it and then drenches it in gravy. Whip up some mashed potatoes and peas to go along with it and I'm in heaven! There are several types of steaks you can use like top or bottom round but I like using cube steaks. They stay pretty tender when cooking.

What You Need:

4 cube steaks
2 cups flour
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs onion powder
2 eggs
1 c milk
salt and pepper
oil for frying

For the gravy:
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk

What To Do:

Season the steaks with a little bit of salt and pepper. Mix the flour together with the garlic and onion powders. Mix together the eggs with the 1 cup of milk and set up a breading station. Take each steak and dip it in the flour, carefully shake off the excess, dip into the egg/milk and then back into the flour, just like you would for fried chicken. (Hence the name, Chicken fried steak!) Set the coated steaks into the fridge for 15 minutes so that the coating has a chance to stick and dry out a bit. In a large cast iron pan, heat enough oil to come about an inch up the side of the pan to 360 degrees. Carefully lay your steaks in and cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping once. Once done, remove to paper toweling to dry and very carefully remove all but 1/4 cup of the remaining oil. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of flour and let cook for a minute or two. Then slowly whisk in the milk, cooking until thickened. Season it with lots of pepper and serve over your steaks.
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