Monday, December 31, 2012

Bacon, Parmesan and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

 What could be tastier than Bacon, Parmesan, and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms? These luscious bites taste amazing and are easy to make. I only made half a recipe for my husband and I this New Years Eve, but am wishing I made the whole thing. These are seriously delicious!
I hope you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. My sweet husband bought me a new camera for Christmas! I'm so excited to learn how to use it, so please be patient with me; I have a long ways to go to be sure.
But back to the bacon and mushrooms now, these addictive little appetizers.
 You will need to clean and stem the mushrooms. Just give the stems a good twist and they pop right out of the caps. Chop the stems, some onion and garlic. Saute and stir in the cheeses. Spoon yummy filling into mushroom caps.
 Bake these Bacon, Parmesan, and Cream Cheese Mushrooms for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. You might want to make more than you think you'll need as they are so addictive.
 My pictures don't do these tasty gems justice, but I will learn as I go. But don't wait to make these stuffed mushrooms. Anytime you need a scrumptious appetizer, I think you'll be very happy with this recipe.
Bacon, Parmesan, And Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
I made half of this recipe.

2 strips of bacon, cooked
1/4 cup minced onion, I used red onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces small mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Clean mushrooms. I personally wash them, because I'm weird that way.
Remove the stems from the caps. Dice the stems, the onion, and mince the garlic. Dice bacon and cook in skillet until crisp.Drain on paper towel.
In about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease, saute the onion and diced mushroom stems until softened and tender. Add the garlic and add the cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted. Stir in the cooked bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the filling into the mushroom caps. Use all of it, even if you have to mound it up. Place stuffed mushrooms into a baking pan. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and filling is hot. Enjoy and Happy New Year to my faithful readers!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Turtle Bars

 Decadent and addictive, these delicious Turtle Bars are perfect for your holiday cookie trays. With a crisp, pecan infused shortbread-style crust that is topped with a thin layer of caramel, then topped with chocolate chips and more pecans, your taste buds will be in heaven. Really, these are to die for, and I got the recipe from Grace at A Southern Grace. She has some of the sweetest, gooeyest confections on the web. Today is my birthday and I was wanting a sweet treat besides cake, and these Turtle Bars really hit the spot.
 This is a major birthday for me, I mean it's like the 'BIG' one. I am the big '60'! I can't believe it; I remember when my mother turned 60 and I thought she was ssooooo old. Now I know how young she felt! Anyway, these Turtle Bars were are so good. The crust is crisp, with the butter and the pecans that are also ground in. There is a thin layer of caramel; wish there was a bit more, but there is plenty of flavor. Chocolate chips are sprinkled on the confection right out of the oven so they will melt and you can swirl through the chocolate some. Then topped will pecans makes these bars a perfect treat. Give them a try for the holidays, OK!
Turtle Bars
Adapted only slightly from Grace

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pecans, chopped

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips-I used Dark Chocolate chips that I had
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add crust ingredients to a food processor and process until fine crumbs. Pour into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan. Pack the crumbs firmly down evenly to form a crust.
Add  the 2/3 cup butter, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, and salt to a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until it begins to boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, and then pour evenly over the crust. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until all the caramel is bubbling. Don't over bake! Remove from the oven; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Let set for 2-3 minutes and swirl melted chocolate chips with a knife. Leave some whole if desired. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and press nuts gently into the chocolate. (I sprinkled a little coarse salt over the bar, but it sort of disappeared). Cool, cut into bars, and enjoy! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tiger Butter - A Yummy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Candy

Need some homemade goodies for gifts still? This Tiger Butter candy is easy and quick to make, plus it tastes amazing too. If you've ever used Almond Bark, you can guess how easy this candy is. Almond Bark is found on your grocers baking isle, close to where the baking chips are.
In this recipe, both vanilla and chocolate Almond Barks are melted. Peanut butter is stirred into the vanilla. The peanut butter flavored Almond bark is poured into a prepared pan.
Then the melted chocolate is spooned in stips over the peanut butter mixture.
I drag a knife through the candy to cause a marbleized effect, then run the knife through again in the opposite direction. You also could just drizzle the chocolate all over the peanut mixture if desired.
Now it needs to set and harden. My kitchen was rather warm because of baking, so I placed the candy in the refrigerator to harden. Then brake it into pieces and devour.Yum! This is a perfect gift for friends, family, teachers, mail carriers, whomever. My husband loves this stuff, so I may have to make another batch for gift giving.
Tiger Butter Candy
Recipe from a friend of my husbands

24 ounces Vanilla Almond Bark
12 ounces Chocolate Almond Bark
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky

1. Melt the Vanilla Almond Bark in a large microwave safe bowl. Do it in 1 minute increments, so that you don't cook the candy and cause it to seize. Or melt candy in a double boiler if desired.
2. When completely melted stir in the peanut butter until smooth.
3. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl. It took about 1 1/2 minutes in my microwave.
4. Line a large baking sheet, ( 12x17 inches) with wax paper or parchment paper. Pour the Vanilla Bark mixture into the pan and spread it out evenly.
5. Spoon strips of chocolate over the melted Vanilla Bark mixture.
6. Drag a knife across the width of the pan to swirl the cany mixture. Then drag the knife across the length of the pan. Or, drizzle the chocolate over the vanilla,if desired.
&. Let the candy cool and harden. Keep away from the heat. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Pie with Crumb Topping

Cinnamon, how I love thee, especially in a homemade Cinnamon Apple Pie with a Crumb topping! My house smelled so delicious with the fragrance of apples and cinnamon while this yummy pie baked. I made this pie for Thanksgiving and then made it again last week because it is just so good, and because I forgot to take pictures of it earlier. The things we do for pictures! I've made variations of this Cinnamon Apple Pie with Crumb Topping for several years, but this last time I decided to use some oatmeal in the crumb topping. It was delicious, but not much more than just using flour. I love making a pie like this because I only need to make a bottom crust. I'm not a perfect pie crust maker, but the crust did turn out nice and flaky this time. You could use refrigerated pie crust, if desired, or a frozen deep-dish crust from your supermarket.
Peeling and slicing the apples consumes most of the time it takes to get this pie ready to bake. After you toss all the apples and filling ingredients together, you place the filling in the pie crust. While you don't have to arrange the apples, you do need to make sure there are no air pockets or gaps among the apples. Press them down slightly to fit, but heaping them up higher in the middle of the pie.
Then after mixing the topping together, it is just sprinkled over the apples. It may seem like there is too much topping, but use it all. It cooks down into a thin, buttery, crisp layer on top.
Let the pie cool, if you can, and then enjoy the fruits of your labor. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or some whipped cream if desired. I hope you enjoy.
Cinnamon Apple Pie with Crumb Topping
Adapted from here
I used a 10 inch pie plate for this pie with apples piled high. I like to mix tart and sweet apples in my pie, so I used about half Granny Smiths(tart), and half Galas(sweet). Golden delicious or other baking apples of your choice are fine. If you use all tart apples, you may need more sugar in the filling.
Purchased pie crust can be used if preferred. If using a frozen crust, buy deep-dish.

Crust: (my recipe)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) chilled, unsalted butter
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) chilled shortening
3-4 tablespoons ice water

7-71/2 cups of sliced apples. I used half Granny Smiths, and half Galas.
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon-I used Saigon cinnamon, but regular will work fine
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1 cup all purpose flour- (or use 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 cup oatmeal)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

For crust:
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add butter and shortening and use a pastry blender to cut them into the flour. Mix until it looks like a coarse meal, with butter being no larger than small peas. Drizzle ice water over the mixture; stir with a fork until moist clups form. Add more water if dough is too dry. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to about a 12 inch round. Transfer to a pie plate. Press dough into pan; trim overhang to 1/2 inch.. Turn edge under and crimp. Place crust in the fridge while preparing the filling.

For Filling:
Peel and core apples.Slice thin, about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice. Drizzle with butter. Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in the apples. Set aside and mix the topping.

For Topping:
Mix flour, salt, sugars and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times. Add chilled, cubed butter and pulse until mixture looks like sand.

To assemble  and bake the pie:
Toss the filling to redistribute the juices. Transfer the filling to the crust, mounding higher in the center of pie. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pie. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then REDUCE the temperature to 350. If pie browns too much, lay a piece of foil over the pie. Bake for another 40 minutes or more, until the top is golden, the filling is bubbling thickly at the edges, and a paring knife inserted in the center of the pie goes easily through the apples. It could take as long as 1 hour and 20 minutes to fully bake. When done, remove from oven and cool. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Russian Tea Cakes (Cookies)

 Crunchy, buttery, sugar-dusted, delicious cookies are the way to describe these Russian Tea Cakes. I have also seen these called Mexican Wedding Cookies, and also Swedish Wedding Cookies. There may be more names that I haven't heard, but whatever you call them, they are delish.
My Christmas baking is getting started finally. My granddaughters have both been sick, and since I watch them during the day, I haven't done any baking until now. I came down with the virus too, so cooking, or even eating wasn't too much of a priority for me for a few days.
My husband and I have always loved these crisp, buttery, pecan filled cookies, and they have gone over very well when I use them in gifts for our friends and family. They are also a perfect cookies to serve at a Christmas Tea, or to help fill a cookie tray that you may be taking to a gathering.
 The cookies are rolled into 1 inch balls and baked. Since there is no leavening, they won't spread out, so you can get quite a few on baking sheet.
 When done the cookies will be lightly golden and have a few cracks here and there. I really should have used parchment paper to line the baking sheets as the bottoms of the cookies almost got too brown. Hopefully I'll remember next time.
 After the cookies come out of the oven, they need to be rolled in sifted confectioners sugar, then set on a rack to cool. The sugar will melt slightly to the cookies. At this point they can be placed in air-tight containers and frozen, if desired. I've frozen them many times in order to save them until closer to Christmas.
 However, if you are using the cookies right away, roll the cooled cookies in confectioners sugar again and place on a tray, or in containers for gift-giving.
 These little Russian Tea Cakes almost melt in you mouth. The dough is not very sweet, but after they are baked and dusted with sugar, they become one of my favorite Christmas cookies to bake, and consume. This recipe came from an old church cookbook that I've had for over 35 years and has been a family favorite. If you need another cookie to add to your list you may want to give theses a try. Happy baking!
Russian Tea Cake (Cookie)
From Lynda's Recipe Box, via an old church cookbook

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
extra confectioners sugar for dusting the cookies

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter and the confectioners sugar. Add the flour, salt and vanilla. Stir until the dough all comes together. Then add in the nuts and combine.
Roll dough into about 1 inch balls and place on baking racks. Bake for 14-17 minutes until lightly golden. Add some sifted powdered sugar to a bowl and take turns rolling the hot cookies in the sugar to coat them. Place cookies on a baking rack to cool completely. Cookies may be frozen at this point, or placed in air-tight containers until ready to serve. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again before serving. Theses yummy cookies are sure to be a hit. Bet you can't eat just one!
For other cookie recipes, click here. You will find Brown Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, and many other cookies and bars for your holiday baking.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Corn Casserole for Thanksgiving

 I can't believe that Thanksgiving is only 2 days away! But I'm busy like many of you, cooking and cleaning for the big day. Thought I'd share an easy and delicious Corn Casserole recipe with you, just in case you are looking for one more side for the big meal. I got this recipe years ago from a friend, but I have adapted it somewhat. This dish is very good and is easy to double if needed. If you still need some more ideas for side dishes, click here. If you need a dessert, click here.
I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Be thankful for the blessings you've been given and enjoy your family and friends. Now here's the recipe.
Corn Casserole
From Lynda's Recipe Box
1 can cream-style corn
1 can whole kernal corn, drained - or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn that is thawed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 of a large bell pepper, diced -(sometimes I add both green and red pepper so it will look festive.)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 pound, (4 ounces), shredded cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sautee the bell pepper until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the flour until combined and stir about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a bowl add the creamed corn, the drained corn, cheddar cheese and eggs. Stir in the saaauted bell pepper mixture. Seqason with salt and pepper. Pour into a greased 1 1/2 to 2 quart casserole dish. Bake 50-60 minutes until firm and golden. My dish in the photo was a bit larger, so it baked quicker. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mediterranean Braised Green Beans

Mediterranean Green Beans braised in the oven with onion, garlic in a rich tomato sauce. Pure deliciousness on a fork!
I have eaten green beans and tomatoes before, but have not made them myself. According to Cook's Illustrated, where this recipe comes from, green beans cooked this way can take awhile to get tender, because tomatoes will slow down the cooking time because of their acidity. I have learned something new! I also learned that baking soda added to this dish causes an alkaline environment where the fibers of the beans will soften and become tender. That is your science lesson for today folks. And yes, the beans are delicious, very tender but they still hold their shape since they were slow braised in the oven. I did have quite a bit of sauce in the beans, so next time I may cook more beans than called for. These green beans are pretty enough for any ones table, (and they smell fantastic while cooking too).  I'm not sure yet if I'm adding to my Thanksgiving table, but my husband gave them two thumbs up. Our kids look forward to my Green Beans Almondine every Thanksgiving, so we'll see. However, this dish is very company worthy, if you would like to try them.
Mediterranean Braised Green Beans
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated - serves 4-6
(I cut down the amount of olive oil from 5T. to 2T. And I totally forgot about stirring in chopped parsley before serving.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5 ounce can small dice tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
red wine vinegar to taste

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees F.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven 0ver medium heat. Add onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add water, baking soda, and green beans and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes and their juice, salt, and pepper.
5. Cover the pot and place in the preheated oven. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened and green beans can be cut with the side of a fork, 40-50 minutes.
6. Add a splash of red wine vinegar, to taste, if desired. It does brighten the flavors some. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.
What's your favorite way to cook green beans?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

 It's hard to beat Chicken Pot Pie, but it can be rather time consuming to make depending on your method. My son told me about this Chicken Pot Pie Soup last year, and at first I thought it sounded rather pointless. After all you may just as well make pot pie I reasoned. But I gave the soup a try and it is delicious and rather fun to serve with broken pieces of pie crust tucked into the bowls of soup. Yes, it tastes just like Chicken Pot Pie, but just in a different form. The thick, flavorful broth is full of vegetables, tender chicken and is real old fashioned comfort food. Give it a try this winter; it's a great soup to make during the holidays too. In fact, this soup will taste wonderful using some of your left-over Turkey from thanksgiving dinner.
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Adapted from Aaron McCargo, Food Network - 6-8 servings approximately
I cut out some of the fat from the original recipe, used cornstarch instead of flour, half and half instead of cream and changed spices.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 quarts (6 cups), chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 pounds cooked chicken- I use chicken breasts that have been baked, or simmered in water until tender
2 tablespoons oil or butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced-about 1 cup
2 stalks celery, diced
4 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in a little water to make a slurry
1 1/2 pounds frozen vegetables- I used fresh vegetables this time
3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, or sage, or herb of your choice- thyme is also good
1 store-bought pie crust, baked

1. Cook the chicken, or use a rotisserie chicken, or left over baked chicken. Bake 1 pie crust, according to package directions.
2. In a dutch oven, cook the onion and celery in the oil until just softened. Pour in the chicken broth or stock and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the frozen vegetables, and the diced potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes.
4. Mix the cornstarch with a little water to make a slurry. Pour half into the soup, stirring constantly. Add the rest if desired, to get the thickeness you want.
5. Stir in the half and half and the chicken. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add herbs to taste.
6. Serve in bowls garnished with pieces of pie crust. Enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

 Who doesn't love a great tasting meal from the Crock Pot? Theses delicious Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches will hit the spot anytime of year, but they were especially good during a very busy couple of days. I babysit with my 2 adorable granddaughters, ages 3 years, and the other is 4 months. Let me tell you, this grandma gets tired sometimes, so a tasty slow cooker meal is a real blessing. I usually make my own barbecue sauce for this, but was too tired to care last week, so I used our favorite bottled sauce and added a sauteed onion to the pot too. The sauteed onion really adds extra flavor to the meat.
 The result was a very flavorful and easy meal. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts this time, but boneless thighs will work just as well. In years past I've even used a whole chicken in the slow cooker to make sandwiches, but there is a lot of waste with the bones and skin. However it does work, either way you want to do it. This isn't a fancy meal, but sometimes you just want something easy on hand for those hectic days.
Slow-Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
From Lynda's Recipe Box
This is so easy you don't really need a recipe, but here's what I do. Made 8 large sandwiches for us, but can be stretched to make more. If you want fewer sandwiches, cut the recipe in half, or freeze some of the meat for another meal.

3 pounds of boneless-skinless chicken breasts, or thighs
1 large onion
1- 18 ounce bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce, or use  your homemade sauce
salt and pepper

Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and lay them evenly in the crock pot.
Slice or dice the onion. In a skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil or butter and the onion. Saute the onion until it begins to brown around the edges. Then add the onion to the chicken in the pot. Pour the bottle of Barbecue sauce evenly over the chicken. Cook on low until the chicken breasts, or thighs, can be easily shredded with a fork, 31/2 - 41/2 hours, depending on how fast your crock pot cooks. When done, remove the chicken to a pan and shred the meat using 2 forks. Pour the sauce over the meat and serve. Or you can add the shredded chicken back to the crock pot if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

 Do you like chocolate and peanut butter together? Well, I do too, and so we love these easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars. Your kitchen will smell wonderful while these delicious morsels bake, which makes it really hard to let them cool before cutting. I must admit that I didn't wait; nope, I just had to have one, or two, before they cooled. I can say it didn't hurt a thing to cut these babies while warm, plus it made me very happy! These cookie bars are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, so I hope you'll give them a try.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Adapted from here.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened- I used unsalted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips-I used dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour and soda together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine both sugars, butter, and peanut butter. Mix until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture and stir in the chocolate chips. Press dough evenly into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan.
Bake for 18 - 22 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. I baked these bars for 21 minutes and that was too long. Next time I'll go for 18-19 minutes. They were not as gooey as I would have liked, but still soft and delicious. The middle may look too soft when you pull them out of the oven, but the dough firms up as it cools. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Broccoli and Orange Salad

 Crisp broccoli, toasted almonds, tangy oranges  with a yummy dressing make up this delicious version of Broccoli Salad.
I posted this recipe over 3 years ago not long after I started this blog and I decided it needed an update, especially the photo. This is one of my husbands favorites. We both love the citrus twist on this salad with the mandarin oranges, but if that doesn't appeal to you, they can be left out. Other nuts like pecans, walnuts, or sunflower kernels can be used instead of almonds. The dressing makes quite a bit, so sometimes I don't need all of it. It will depend on personal preferences, and how much broccoli you use. I purchase broccoli very often and love it in this salad, so hope you'll give it a try. It makes a pretty dish to add to any holiday table.
Broccoli and Orange Salad
From Lynda's Recipe Box-inspired by several recipes that I combined

6-8 sliced of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 pound or more of broccoli -I used about 5 cups of florets and diced small stems. Could use a bit more to use all the dressing.
1/2 of a small red onion, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries- Craisens
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
11 ounce can of manadin oranges, well drained - I often use fresh mandarins, or another variety of small orange
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1. In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, sugar and red wine vinegar to make the dressing. Set aside.
2. Cut up the broccoli, separating the florets into bite sized pieces, and slice the tender stalks also. Place into a large bowl.
3. Add the diced red onion, dried cranberries, almonds, mandarin oranges, and bacon. Add half of the dressing and mix well. Add as much of the remaining dressing as you want. Stir, cover and refrigerate at least an hour until chilled. Garnish with bacon or additional nuts if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pecan Pie Bars

 Pecan Pie Bars with a shortbread style crust, a sweet, creamy filling and crisp, toasted pecans on top; they're like pecan pie only without all the work!
My husband and I love pecan pie. His mother always made the best the best pies and her pecan was super delicious. But sometimes I don't don't like fussing with a pie. With bars you can just have a bite or two, or maybe more if you want.
 Pecan Pie Bars are a perfect take along dessert for Thanksgiving, or any others gatherings. Take them to a potluck, or to work as a treat for your co-workers. Make them for neighbors, or just make them for yourself - you deserve a treat too!
I made the crust in my food processor, but you can make it in a bowl using a pastry blender or fork also. Just cut the butter well into the flour ingredients. So addictive and so much easier than making pie. Hope you'll give these a try.
Pecan Pie Bars
Slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Crust Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter - 12 tablespoons

3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. 
2. In a bowl mix the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture is fine particles. Or you can mix this in a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Pour crust mixture into the prepared baking pan. Spread out evenly and press crust down firmly all over.
3. Place crust in oven and bake for about 20 minutes until just lightly golden around edges.
4.While crust is baking prepare the topping. Mix eggs, sugars, corn syrup, melted butter and vanilla together in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread the topping over the crust as soon as it comes out of oven.
5. Place bars in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the topping is set. If the topping jiggles, it is not done. If the topping begins to brown to much, loosely place a sheet of foil over the pan.
6. Allow Pecan Pie Bars to cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake

 Rich, decadent, dense chocolate. That's the only words needed to describe this yummy Flourless Chocolate Cake. I've been wanting to try a recipe for this type of cake for sometime, but wanted a small cake for just my husband and I. This was a perfect size. My only problem was that the recipe calls for an 8 inch pan, and all I had was a 9 inch. So, this cake was thinner than it should be, but it sure didn't affect the flavor.
Thankfully this cake was delicious. I've had some failures the last couple of weeks, and a couple of recipes that were just ok, so this made me very happy!
 This flourless cake is loaded with chocolate; chopped bittersweet chocolate as well as cocoa too. I added some cinnamon and vanilla to the cake, but couldn't really taste the cinnamon so guess I didn't add enough. I'll try again next time though. This cake is so easy to put together and doesn't bake very long. There is no flour, but the cake turns out almost brownie like and and very addictive, which is why I'm glad this recipe makes a small cake. For company I'll have to double the recipe. If you love chocolate and haven't tried a Flourless Chocolate Cake yet, you should. You really should give this a try!
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Epicurious and Gourmet

4 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)- I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon- my addition
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla- my addition also
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8 inch round baking pan. Line bottom of pan with a round of parchment paper, and then grease the paper also.
Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter until completely melted. Stir in the chopped chocolate and wish until the chocolate is melted. and smooth. Wish in the cocoa until smooth. Whip in the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla, salt and cinnamon if using. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes. Since my pan was too large, my cake was done in about 18 minutes. Top of cake will form a thin crust when done. Cool cake on wire rack for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the side of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Dust cake with cocoa powder if desired. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Soup Recipes for the Cool Days Ahead

 It's the first day of fall, my favorite time of year! That means soup weather is coming, so thought I'd give you some ideas. We are having a cool, fall-like weekend and soup sounds good to me. The above picture is White Beans and Ham which starts with dried beans. So yummy served with some Cheese and Jalapeno Corn Bread.
 My Corn and Potato Chowder with Butternut Squash and Ham is full of wonderful fall flavor! I love it served with Cornbread Muffins or some good quality bread.
 Who doesn't like Chicken and Noodle Soup? I used purchased frozen noodles in this soup to make it easier. This is perfect comfort food.
 Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew is one of our favorite cool weather meals. I do brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, because it adds  a lot of flavor. Throw the ingredients in the pot and just let it cook until done.
So easy.
 This Bean and Bacon Soup is delicious! It uses canned beans, which makes it a pretty quick soup to put together. Perfect for a weeknight meal.
 My Hamburger Stew is pure comfort food. This is one of my husbands favorites too. My mother and grandmother made this, so it's been in my family for many years.
 Homemade Chicken and Rice Soup is so delicious and satisfying. It is easy on the budget and quick to prepare which makes it nice for a weeknight meal too.
Last but not least is Pinto Beans and Ham. This is comfort food. Best served with corn bread I think.
Hope this helps you find something warm and tasty for cooler weather. Enjoy!