Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cookie Cook-off - Pretzel Turtles

If you don't want to whole story... just skip to the end for the recipe.

My family is weird. We have a weird sense of humor, we do weird things (ask one of us about the game "endurance" we invented to amuse ourselves and keep the kids busy)...and we have weird kids. Well, some of the others have weird kids.

Periodically, in all our weirdness, we get together for family vacations. Inevidatibly, we have a cook off of some sorts. We did a hot cocoa off, a salmon off, and today we highlight the cookie off. Technically it was cookie, bar type or finger dessert.

I only have the recipe for mine and the popcorn chex mix, but will try and get the others to post theirs in the near future. So keep checking back.

I will be honest, I don't remember who made everything, but I will take a guess. This recipe is actually on the blog HERE. It is the popcorn chex mix and is very good. Everytime I make this I take home an empty bowl and many requests for the recipe. I want to think that Wendi made it for the contest.

Next was this yummy bar made by Steff. Don't have the recipe here yet, but I will bother her until she posts. It has oatmeal and was carmely (is that a word?)

Okay, either this one was Wendi's or Mom's. You can see a lovely carmel layer in the middle.

And I want to think that this was Gayle's. I could be wrong. Just know that this was also made with lots of love.

This year, I decided to go easy. I went with the pretzel rolo cookie thing-a-ma-bob.

There are no rules during the sampling and voting portion of the contest. So I thought I would try something to sway the votes in my favor.

Then things got ugly and someone replaced my note with this....

And the sampling begins. Each person gets ONE vote!

The votes are counted...

And I won! Mostly because all the kids thought it would be funny to vote for mine since it only took about 10 minutes to make, as apposed to those who spent quite a bit a of time and energy on theirs. After, we had some Rock Band time, followed by sledding.

Besides the poor marine animals hurt in the making of my desert... everyone had a pretty good time.

Here is the recipe for my Pretzel Turtles (aka) thing-a-ma-bobs.

Pretzel Turtles

20 pretzels
20 rolos
20 pecan halves

Prehead oven to 300 degrees

Arrange pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 4 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Yes, I was bored

I am trying out a few new backgrounds. If you see one you like... holler.

Cranberry Chicken

I think everyone has this recipe. If you don't, then you can thank me later for letting you "in" the loop. I made this for approximately 40 ladies at a Christmas dinner. It is pretty full proof and very tastey.

Cranberry Chicken

1 (16 oz) can whole cranberry sauce
1 (8 oz) bottle French dressing
1 envelope onion soup mix
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cranberry sauce, dressing, and soup mix. Place chicken breasts in a greased 3 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 13 baking dish. pour mixture over chicken and bake uncovered 45 - 60 minutes. Serves 8.

Apple Pie Filling - canned

I think I missed apple season, but since I was posting the cobbler topping, thought this should be included. Love this recipe from 2 friends, Alice and Kathy. You can this in quart size jars, then pull out and dump in your pan, add my favorite cobbler topping and you have a yummy warm dessert without much preparation. It is especially good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Pie Filling

4 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients and add 10 cups of water. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Slice tart apples and pack into 6 quart jars. Pour liquid over apples in jars using a knife to release bubbles. Leave 1" of head space. Wipe jar lips clean and process in a water bath (canner) for 20 minutes.

Remove from water and place on a towel to absorb extra water. Wait for ping of seal. Leave out overnight then put away.

I have also used peaches with success.

All time best - Cobbler Topping

This recipe is from my mother in law. It is the best cobbler topping E V E R. And I am not just saying that in fear that my mother in law will some day read this, I am sharing this because I like you!

You can put this on any kind of fruit cobbler you want, and know it will come out a success. I also just added a recipe to can your own apple pie filling. Just pour the apple pie filling in a pan, put cobbler topping on top and cook. A quick yummy, warm, Fall treat. Especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Cobbler Topping

1 cup pancake mix
1 cup sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 beaten egg
1 cube melted butter

Combine pancake mix, sugar, cinnamon and beaten egg. Crumble over top of fruit or cobbler filling. Pour melted butter on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until brown.

I will make a berry cobbler for dessert tomorrow and post pictures, just to get your mouth watering.

Cream Cheese Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Yep, another soup. It is cold and rainy here. I have 4 loaves of bread in the oven and this soup on the stove. Very creamy and hearty.

I used my bottled chicken instead of cooking some chicken breasts.

Cream Cheese Chicken and Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup diced carrots (about 2 regular carrots or a handful of baby carrots)
3 cups chicken broth
2-3 potatoes, peeled and finely diced (I like to leave the peels on red potatoes, if using them)
1 cup milk (1% is my milk of choice)
4 tablespoons flour
1 (8 oz. package) regular or light cream cheese
2-3 (about 1 pound) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced

In a large pot, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, until the veggies are slightly tender and the onions are translucent. Add the chicken broth and potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. In a liquid measuring cup, vigorously whisk the flour and milk together until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the soup, stirring quickly, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the soup begins to thicken slightly. Stir often to ensure the soup doesn’t burn. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave until it is very soft/melty. I usually place the unwrapped cream cheese on a plate and microwave it for one minute at 30% power. I like it really, really soft so it doesn’t leave lumps in the soup. Add the cream cheese to the soup in small tablespoon-size pieces. Let the pieces sit in the soup and warm through then whisk or stir the soup until the cream cheese melts and mixes in well. Add the cooked chicken and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Teriyaki Pasta Salad

Okay, my mouth is watering just looking at this picture. You have not tasted a pasta
salad until you have had this deliciousness!!! This is perfect for a girl's lunch but I have found
that the men don't have any problem gobbling this stuff up either. Be warned though, once you make it, you will CRAVE it - mmmmmm.

16 oz. bowtie pasta
10 oz. baby spinach
6 oz. craisins
2 - 11 oz. mandarin oranges
1 bunch green onion - chopped
1/4 c. sesame seeds
6 oz. honey roasted peanuts - DO NOT omit these!
2 c. cooked chicken or 1 bottled chicken

1/2 c. oil
2/3 c. teriyaki sauce
6 T. sugar :(
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and mix with chicken. Pour sauce over and
let chill for at least 3 hours. Add all other ingredients right before serving. Mix and enjoy!
(I sometimes mix up another half recipe of the sauce to mix in right before eating - I like my salad a little more moist and drippy, is that a word?)

Yummy Dip!!!

Tuscan Corn Salsa

Without fail, this has got to be one of the most requested recipes I make. Did I actually create it? No. I got this recipe from a wonderful friend and neighbor. However, she moved to Boise and in doing so gave up all rights and privileges to this amazing concoction. So, for all intents and purposes let's call this Wendi's Magnificent Tuscan Corn Salsa. Enough said, let's get to the good stuff. ( Sorry about the picture - I forgot until half way through our Halloween party. I guess it's better than nothing.)

3 tomatoes - seeded and diced
3 avocados - diced
1/2 bunch green onion - chopped
1 - 15 0z. can white corn - drained
1 - 15 oz. can black-eyed peas - drained
(these can be found by the canned beans, you may have to look hard to find them.)
1 pkg. Good Seasons zesty italian dry mix

Combine first 5 ingredients in bowl. Mix gently. Mix italian dressing according to directions
on package. Pour over ingredients in bowl and mix. Chill until ready to use.
Serve with Wheat Thins and/or tortilla chips.

White Chocolate Popcorn

No picture due to the fact I got a little lax watching my white chocolate and had a problem with it seizing. I do it in the microwave in a glass bowl, microwaving for 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Then as it starts to melt, I drop it down to 15 seconds, stirring in between until it is melted (it doesn't take to long). But I kept doing 30 seconds until it resembled a crumbly mess. So don't do what I did. Either watch it careful OR use a double boiler. And remember to check all utensils and bowl for moisture, because that will also cause the chocolate to seize.

I did attempt to mix it in to my popcorn anyway, and the flavor was definitely there. I am not a huge white chocolate fan, but my daughter loved it. I think next time I would try it with chocolate and maybe even drizzle a little white chocolate over the top before putting into the fridge.

Everyone who tried this recipe on a board I frequent gave it rave reviews and said that everyone cleans them out quickly when the take it places.

Krispie White Chocolate Popcorn

A bag of movie theatre style microwave popcorn popped
1 bag white chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
1-2 cups of rice krispies
1/2-1cup cup chopped pecans

Pour popcorn in bowl and check for unpopped kernals. Don't want anyone breaking their teeth. Now melt one bag white chocolate chips until smooth and creamy, add the 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Pour some of the white chocolate over the popcorn. Then layer in some rice krispies and pecans and stir. Pour more white chocolate over mixture, then the rest of the rice krispies and pecans and stir. Pour rest of chocolate over mixture. Do this quickly so the white chocolate mixture doesn't harden.

The purpose of layering is to keep the rice krispies and pecans from falling to the bottom. If you layer the ingredients, they are better incorporated and are more thoroughly coated.

Spread mixture on cookie sheet covered with wax paper and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or so (too long in the fridge makes the popcorn chewy!!!)
Keeps 2-3 days in a sealed container.

One thing that makes this so yummy is the rice krispies. There is a the lovely flavor of the white chocolate (peanut butter is so slight you really don't notice it), the buttery popcorn and the crunch of the rice krispies. Great textures and a tastey treat.

This would be a yummy neighbor gift for Christmas. Just put in a cute food bag or container with a fun note and deliver.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tomatillo Chicken Chili

I know, another soup type recipe. Sorry, this just looked very interesting and I had to try it. And I am glad that I did. I only used 1/2 the jalapeno, which was probably just right for my family. My kids said it tasted like I put lime juice in it. I think that flavor comes from the tomatillos.

If you haven't ever used a tomatillo before, this is what they look like.

They look like small green tomatoes with a green husk on the outside. They are usually NOT located by your tomatoes, but over where you would find eggplant and jalapenos etc. When you remove the husks, the tomatillo is slightly sticky, but wash off easy.

Even though this is called a "chili" it doesn't have any beans. Although I thought the addition of a white bean would be yummy. My sister in law isn't much of a bean fan, so I thought this would be a nice recipe for her. This chili has a thin sauce which thickens up as the tomatillos break down. The recipe make 5 bowl size servings or 8 smaller sizes. We served it with some crushed chips and sprinkled with Mexican cheese.

Tomatillo Chicken Chili

7 or 8 fresh tomatillos, quartered (husks removed) I cut mine in 1/2" pieces
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (I used 1/2)
2 T olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (I used my canned chicken or you can use rotisserie chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (I didn't have any so omitted it)
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (reserved until before you're ready to serve it)
1 tsp salt (I would taste and add salt accordingly at the end)

Brown chicken cubed breasts in olive oil. (If using canned chicken or rotisserie, just start to saute onion and garlic then add chicken at the end of cooking period). Add onion and garlic and saute. Combine all ingredients (except for cilantro and salt) in a pot and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Add cilantro and salt just before serving. You can serve with tortilla strips if you'd like. This also works well in the crock pot. Again, I think the addition of a can of white beans would be good also.

Hope you enjoy it as much as my family did. There was none left!