Friday, February 26, 2010

So Long ... Until 2012 Then

Sunday evening marks the closing night of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Here is a fun (and quick) dinner to celebrate the closing day at the Olympics.

Olympic Pizza

-Simply make your favorite pizza forming it into a 16 x 11 rectangle (instead of using the typical round pan). Using pepperoni, form the Olympic rings on top of the cheese.

Olympic Dessert

-Make 5 large cookies and ice with frosting. Use blueberries, pineapple tidbits, blackberries, kiwi fruit and strawberries to decorate.

You may just end up winning the gold medal for this festive meal!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Family Game Night

My Chris and I were invited to a family game night and so we decided to make this cheese dip that looked like a dice. Technically I think it is die but that sounds so harsh so we will just leave it as dice. Anyway... Chris actually ended up making this whole recipe and did an awesome job!

Cheese Spread Dice Recipe

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened, divided
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend or part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon milk
8 medium pitted ripe olives
Assorted crackers

In a large bowl, beat two packages of cream cheese, shredded cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce and parsley until blended.

Press into a plastic wrap-line 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove cream cheese mixture from pan; cut in half widthwise. Stack one on top of the other on a serving plate.

In a small bowl, beat milk and remaining cream cheese until smooth.

Spread over cube. Cut olives in half; arrange on top and sides of dice.

Serve with crackers.

Yield: 3 cups

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

National Tortilla Chip Day

I did not have a chance to try these before I left for my Florida vacation but I'm thinking when we get back we will definately try them! They sound scrumptious!!

Super Nachos by Rachel Ray

2 bags corn tortilla chips

Pico de Gallo Salsa
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup (2 handfuls) cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Beef and Beans Topping
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained

Cheese Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Additional toppings
Sour cream
Chopped scallions
Chopped black olives
Diced pimento
Sliced avocado, dressed with lime juice
Hot pepper sauces

Arrange the corn chips on a very large platter or use your broiler pan as a platter.

Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to marry.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, onion and peppers to the pan and saute 2 minutes, then add meat and crumble with wooden spoon. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper sauce. Cook meat 5 minutes, then stir in beans and reduce heat to low.

In a medium sauce pot, melt butter and add flour to it. Cook flour and butter 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in milk. When milk comes to a bubble, stir in cheese with a wooden spoon. Remove cheese sauce from the heat.

Pour cheese sauce evenly over the massive spread of chips and top evenly with beef and beans and the pico de gallo. Serve immediately or as is or, garnish with your choice of extra toppings.

Yield: 4 entree servings

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wonder No More

I read this in my Taste of Home: Simple and Delicious. I've wondered this before, so I'm sure someone else out there wonders too. Wonder no longer!

What's the difference between canned stock, canned broth and bouillon cubes?
The terms are used interchangeabley and refer to a liquid from cooking vegetables, meat, or fish in water. Technically speaking, stock must contain bones in addition to any meat and seasonings. Broth is made from meat and seasonings without bones.

As a result, it is technically incorrect to refer to a vegetable broth as a vegetable stock.

However, the two terms are fast becoming interchangeable in the vernacular. The technical differences are becoming less important in general use.

One cube or 1 teaspoon of bouillon granules dissolved in 1 cup very hot water is equal to 1 cup of canned broth or stock.

Now we can all sleep better at night for knowing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two Thumbs Up (or maybe it's actually 4)

I'm pretty impressed. I just bought a box the other day and went around dusting our room while my husband looked at me like I was crazy. (These are the ones with the handle and the duster part slides on the end. Almost looks like your old fashioned feather duster.) I think it did a really good job about getting into "tight spaces" (without me having to move knick-knacks) and getting dust out of "grooves" on stuff (picture frames especially). Again--a disclaimer: don't buy off brand of swiffer anything! When I use the off brand I can see the dust flying everywhere. Swiffer "traps and locks more dust and allergens."

I have to say I totally agree with Sissy. Swiffer is totally the best! Here at our house, we have the regular Swiffer sweeper, the Swiffer WetJet, the Swiffer for hardwood floors, and now the Swiffer 360 Duster. But we are talking today about the Swiffer Duster. Sissy is correct when she says that it gets into tight spaces and doesn't fling the dust around. You can actually see the dust on the "feather" part. When I mentioned to my Chris that I actually enjoyed using it to dust, he suggested that maybe I needed to buy 2. Hmmm... Now that we have it, there is no excuse for not dusting now. I give the Swiffer 360 Duster two thumbs up!

Friday, February 19, 2010

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Your heart is the strongest muscle of your body & beats about 100,000 times in one day! Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are our nation's No. 1 killer. There are ways to combat this statistic - 7 ways according to the American Heart Association. The American Heart Association has put together what it called "Life's Simple 7 Success Plan". The 7 ways are:

1. Get Active
2. Control Cholesterol
3. Eat Better
4. Manage Blood Pressure
5. Lose Weight
6. Reduce Blood Sugar
7. Stop Smoking

You can find out your heart score which is as an indication of your overall cardiovascular health. Your assessment will help you understand what simple steps you may need to take to improve your heart health and quality of life. From there you will be directed to specific action plans that will help you get informed, change your behaviors and more you closely to your individual health goals.
- Information taken from The American Heart Association website

To take your heart score go to:

Out of 10 my heart score was a 7.4. Got some work to do I guess.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cream Cheese Salsa Dip by Sissy

1 pkg very soft cream cheese
1 cup salsa (heat is up to you)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 box Triscuts or Wheat thins

Mix the first 3 ingredients together. Keep in fridge til ready to serve.


I made this for our Colts party (AFC championship). Colts won! There wasn't much dip left. Hmmmmm......................

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Been There, Tried It ...

When the Bounce Dryer Bar came out, I was enthralled. Not having to put in dryer sheets every load, it lasts for 2 months and tells you when it needs to be refilled (if I ever paid attention to it before chucking in a load of clothes in the dryer). Hmm... Sounds like it has the potential to be awesome. So I bought it. Here are my thoughts - if you've tried it, feel free to add your comments.

-It's very easy to install.
-You don't have to worry about adding a dryer sheet every load (although the first couple of loads I forgot and almost put a dryer sheet in anyway).
-There is no static in clothes.
-It takes the Harley hairs off of things and traps them in the lint thingy.

-My clothes don't smell like Bounce. This is the clincher for me. I l-o-v-e the smell of Bounce. This is one of the reasons we use Bounce and not the Walmart brand. So unfortunately for Bounce, I won't be using the dryer bar. Fortunately for them, they still sell the sheets.

Could be a pro - Could be a con:
-I'm nervous about my 2 months almost being up. What happens when the dryer bar doesn't fit into the holder. Will it break all off and now I will have chunks of dryer bar in my clothes??

Anyone else use the Bounce Dryer Bar?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

National Pancake Day

My Chris grew up on these German pancakes and now he is practicing making them for his daughter by making them for me. They take a little practice but the practice will definitely pay off because they are super yummy!

German Pancakes

6 large eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Beat eggs with electric mixer; add flour and milk alternately, small amounts at a time. Add salt and sugar; beat until blended. Pour enough batter in hot cast iron skillet to cover bottom generously; brown in oven.

Turn over into another hot iron skillet; place in oven.

Bake until puffy, crispy and brown; batter will rise up on sides of skillet, making shell. Spread butter on shell; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Spread with jelly. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

Monday, February 15, 2010

Did You Know ... ?

I love helpful little hints and ideas when it comes to the kitchen. I must add in a clause here though - I have not personally tried all of these kitchen tips and hints. Hopefully they are good ones and do work for you though. Happy Monday!

1. For cleaning smelly hands after chopping onions or garlic, just rub them on a stainless steel spoon. The steel is supposed to absorb the odor.

2. If you happen to over-salt a pot of soup, just drop in a peeled potato. The potato will absorb the excess salt.

3. Never put citrus fruits or tomatoes in the fridge. The low temperatures degrade the aroma and flavor.

4. Don't store your bananas in a bunch or in a fruit bowl with other fruits. Separate your bananas and place each in a different location. Bananas release gases which cause fruits (including other bananas) to ripen quickly. Separating them will keep them fresh longer.

5. To clean crevices and corners in vases and pitchers, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets. The bubbles will do the scrubbing.

6. After boiling pasta or potatoes, cool the water and use it to water your house plants. The water contains nutrients that your plants will love.

7. If your loaf of bread is starting to go stale, just put a piece of fresh celery in the bag and close it back up. For some reason, this restores a fresh taste and texture to the bread.

8. When making a soup, sauce, or casserole that ends up too fatty or greasy, drop in an ice cube. The ice will attract the fat, which you can then scoop out.

9. Freeze tomato paste in the can. Open both ends and punch out the paste. Wrap the frozen past in foil and freeze, then slice off what you need as you need it.

10. A jar lid or a couple of marbles in the bottom half of a double-boiler will rattle when the water gets low and warn you to add more before the pan scorches or burns.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love ... and Chocolate!

It's Valentine's Day, don't worry about starting your day off healthy. It's a day of love ... and chocolate!

Chocolate Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/ 2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/ 2 teaspoon baking soda
3 whole eggs, beaten
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
**See recipe below for a buttermilk substitute.**
3/ 4 cup chocolate chips
Vegetable spray (for waffle iron)

**For each cup of buttermilk, you can use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes. You can also use 1 cup of plain yogurt or 1 3/ 4 teaspoons cream of tartar plus 1 cup milk.**

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together the eggs and melted butter and vanilla, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir in the chocolate chips just until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the center of the iron. Close the iron top and cook until the waffle is crispy on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Good topped with fresh fruit and a little whipped topping for breakfast or enjoy with ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert (or maybe breakfast).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Might As Well Make Use Of It

It may not be "Valentines-y" but since some of you (like me) are getting hammered and I repeat, hammered, with snow, I thought I would share this recipe for Snow Ice Cream.

2 quarts snow
1 cup sugar (or less depending on how sweet you want it - I thought 1 cup was a little much)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon milk (or until it reaches the consistency you desire)

Mix all together and enjoy.

Ps: Once again, avoid the yellow snow.

I do not have a personal picture. We use sugar in the raw which makes the ice cream turn out brown (and gritty) and we all know brown snow ice cream is just not appetizing. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine Bingo

This would be a fun game to play either at breakfast or dinner as a family on Valentine's Day.

Valentine Bingo
*Bingo Cards
*Bingo words, cut into squares
*Red hots or a small candy, such as M&M's, for markers

Here are 3 different Bingo cards but feel free to make your own. Idea: add in children's names, special nicknames or phrases special to your family to the Bingo words. The last picture is the bingo words used on the cards below. Simply cut out and put in a Valentine's bag.

Just right click on the picture and choose save picture as to save to your desktop. Print from there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Get Warmed Up for Valentine's Day

Help your Valentine get warmed up for Valentine's Day by small but meaningful messages on a heart-shaped tea bag.

Cut two hearts out of red construction paper. Use a metallic pen to write a short message on one of the hearts. Next, remove a tea-bag tag and, at the end of the string, affix two hearts, back-to-back, using double-sided tape or a stapler.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Got the Munchies?

Last week I had planned to have recipes and ideas for the Super Bowl. However, there was a slight problem which began with this recipe. The Super Bowl may be over but I still wanted to share the recipe.

Applebee's Onion Peels

Creamy Horseradish Dipping Sauce:
1/ 2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ketchup
1/ 4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/ 8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/ 8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash garlic powder
dash onion powder

6 to 10 cups vegetable shortening
1 large white onion

1/ 2 cup all-purpose flour
1/ 2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1/ 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk

Make horseradish dipping sauce by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk. Mix until creamy then cover and chill the sauce.

Heat the shortening to 350 degrees in a deep fryer.

Slice the stem end and the root off onion, then, with the onion resting on a flat side, cut down through the onion, slicing it in half. Slice each half 4 to 5 more times in a spoke fashion to create wedges of onion. Separate the onion pieces.

Create batter by combining all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk in milk until batter is smooth then let the butter sit for 5 minute. It should thicken. Whisk batter again.

When the oil is hot dip each onion piece in the batter, let some of the batter drip off then drop the coated onion piece carefully into the hot oil. Fry 8 to 12 peels at a time for 1 to 2 minutes or until light brown. Drain on a rack or paper towels. Repeat until the onion is used up, stacking the newer batches on top of the old ones to keep them warm. When they're all done, serve the fried onion slices on a plate or in a paper-lined basket with horseradish dipping sauce on the side.

Serves 4 to 6.

Tidbits: While shortening works best for this recipe, you may also fry these with vegetable oil or canola oil. Just don't almost set your kitchen on fire though.

The picture above is what the Onion Peels should look like. The following pictures are how your kitchen should not look after making the Onion Peels!