Thursday, December 29, 2011

30 Minute Tacos

Once again I am back to making a new and different kind of Taco that is based on the same old regular street taco.  I came up with this recipe tonight and I'm loving it!  It's what we had for dinner at my house, and from start to finish it took me a total of 30 minutes.  Booya!

Package of Soft Taco Shells
2 lbs. Ground Beef
2 Garlic Cloves minced
1/2 onion diced
1 14oz can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 14oz can Refried beans with Green chili's
1 Taco seasoning package
2 tsp. dried Parsley
1 14oz can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 head of cabbage
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Mild Sauce

Taco Toppings
Mild sauce
chopped green cabbage
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)
avacado (optional)

brown the ground beef on the stove with onions, garlic and parsley.  When it's comepletely browned pour off grease.  Dump in your can of tomatoes with their sauce.  Drain and rinse your Kidney beans and dump them in.  Then add your refried beans and chilis.  Mix all that together and then add your Taco seasoning package.  Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Then assemble your Taco.  I heat up my taco shells and then place the meat on the bottom, sprinkle cheese, cabbage, and then add my mild green sauce.  Then wrap it up and enjoy!!  Easy and delicious!

Best Roll Out Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever

Best Roll Out Sugar Cookies
I have at least 4 sugar cookie recipes that I use on a regular basis.  I'm not a big cookie eater, but I'm a huge cookie baker.  One cookie that I love though, and that I will eat the entire batch of, is sugar cookies.  I have recipes that I have created with sour cream, some with almond extract, some with lemon oil, some with cream of tarter, and all of them with sugar.  I just love sugar cookies, and I think  you really need to experiment and make about 5 different recipes to find the one that is just perfect for you.

I know on this blog I have a few of my sugar cookie recipes.  I like sour cream for drop cookies, but this recipe is my favorite for "roll out" sugar cookies.  The cookies that you make, and then saran wrap and place in the refrigerator to get hard, all that good stuff.  This is just my favorite. 

I am the cookie lady sometimes at church for the little kids, and I always try to get to be the  cookie lady around a Holiday so I can make these sugar cookies and cut them into fun hearts for Valentine's, Pumpkins for Halloween, Clovers for St. Patty's and so on.  I promise your kids will love them, and if you love sugar cookies like me you will love these as well.  I will also post my icing that I use with almost every sugar cookie patch because I think it's just so dang good.  

Okay onto the Best Sugar Cookie Ever...Roll Out Version....
I just made these for our Christmas Party

Ingredients for cookies
1 1/2 cups sifted Powdered Sugar
1 cup unsalted Butter at room temperature
1 large Egg at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Almond extract (optional, but it really is going to make this cookie recipe)
2 1/2 cups all sifted Flour (plus more for rolling out and cutting.)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cream of Tarter

Icing Ingredients
1 lb. bag Powdered Sugar
3/4 cube Butter at room temperature
1 box (8oz) of Cream Cheese at room temperature
Tbs. of Milk (you are just going to slowly add 1 Tbs. at a time until you get your desired consistency).
1 tsp. pure Vanilla extract

Directions for Cookies
My Valentine's Day Cookies
In a mixer cream together your sugar, almond, vanilla, and butter until smooth and pale.  Mix in egg. Sift all your dry ingredients and slowly incorporate them into the cookie dough until well combined.  You are trying to form the dough into a ball that doesn't stick to the sides of your mixer.  You still want a little moistness, but not sticky.  If it is too sticky just add a spoonful of Flour until you get it to your desired consistency.

Once the dough is formed.  Separate into 2 sections.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for overnight or at least 6 hours.

After your cookies have sat in the refrigerator, pull them out and let them sit on your counter for about 15 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Take 2 cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper.  Coat the top of the parchment lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

On your counter sprinkle out about 1/3 cup of flour.  Unwrap one of your cookie dough's and place it in the center of the flour.  Sprinkle a little more flour on top.  Then take your rolling pin and coat that with flour.  You are now ready to roll out your dough.  I like to roll mine out to about 1/4-1/3 inch in height before I start cutting my cookies.  You make them as thick or thin as you would like. 

Plain old Circle cookie cutter with Neon Icing
Use your cookie cutters and cut out the shapes you want.  Place your cut cookies on the parchment paper cookie sheet and place in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are just turning very slightly golden.  When you pull them out they might look underdone but I promise that they are.

Remove from cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled.  Repeat until all the cookie dough is used. 
**Just a tip, if you don't want to use all the dough, this dough freezes great.  I will freeze it up to 3 months in my freezer and then I know I have cookies on hand in case any company comes over**

Directions for Frosting
In a mixing bowl mix together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.  Slowly add your powdered sugar until it is all in there.  You can add Tbs. of milk in with each addition of more powdered sugar.  Once all the powdered sugar is in, make sure it is the consistency you want, and if it's too think add more milk, if it's not thick enough add some more sugar.  Mix with a hand mixer until all the clumps are out and it tastes like you want. 

From here, I separate my frosting into 3-4 different bowls and make 3-4 different colors of frosting.  I love using my Neon gel food coloring and I normally will make pink, blue, and green.  Just fun colors that you can use with anything.  Then frost your cooled cookies, add sprinkles if you want and enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

French Toast Bread Pudding

I already have an overnight french toast recipe, but you can never have too many french toast recipes.  This is a new one that is more like cinnamon bread pudding.  It's to die for!  I use a different kind of bread and cream and it's just incredible!  I made it for breakfast today and my husband loved it!  Oh, and I kind of loved it too.  So here you go!

1 loaf of your favorite bread ripped up into bite size bits (I use cinnamon chip bread)
8 eggs
1 3/4 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Cinnamon + 1 tsp.
2 tsp. Nutmeg
dash of salt
6 Tbs. cold butter cut into chunks
1/4 cup brown Sugar

Coat a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray.  Put your bread chunks in the bottom. In a mixing bowl mix the eggs until pale in color.  Mix in sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, 2 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread making sure to cover each piece so everything is gooey.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

In the morning preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from the baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and brown sugar on top.  Place your chunks of butter randomly.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil and place back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  Your casserole is ready when it isn't "wet" anymore on the bottom.  You want it light and fluffy, but heavy. (if that makes sense)  You want the top to be golden brown.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut into squares and serve with warm maple syrup.  YUM!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Basic Marinara Sauce

If I could suggest one cooking tip to every person on the planet it would be to learn how to cook a basic Marinara sauce.  You should memorize the recipe so you know it where ever you may be.  Knowing a few basic sauces will make your life so much easier.  You will always be able to make dinner, which is something I love.  

Because Marinara is so versatile and you can use it with so many things, this was the first sauce that I chose to experiment with and make a recipe for.  I have a few different Marinara sauces that I use, but this is the one that I can pull out of my head no matter what, and 9 times out of 10 I will always have every ingredient on hand that I need to make the sauce.

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red Pepper (optional)
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Onion, diced
1 28oz. can Tomatoes with juices
4 Tbs. Tomato paste
1 Tbs. fresh Oregano, chopped or 1 tsp. dried
1 Tbs. fresh Parsley, chopped or 1 tsp. dried
4 fresh Basil leaves ripped up or 1 tsp. dried
3/4 cup dry Red Wine
Pinch of sugar

In a big pot pour your olive oil, and heat over medium heat until it is boiling a little bit.  Dump in your minced garlic, onion, and crushed red pepper.  Let simmer in that hot olive oil until the garlic is really fragrant.  Mix in your tomato paste and break it apart and get it smooth with the olive oil.  Next you're going to pour in your wine.  Once you pour in your wine you want the alcohol to really cook out.  What I do is pour in my wine and cook it until it reduces a little bit (about 5 minutes).  Remember that all of this is done over medium to medium high heat.  

Also, if you want a creamier, and a little thicker sauce you can also add 4-5 Tbs. cream cheese.  I use this every once in awhile because it just makes the sauce a little richer, and creamy.  It's a fun little twist on the basic sauce.

Once your wine mixture sauce has reduced dump in your can of tomatoes.  Let those simmer for about 5 minutes, and then you want to mash them up.  I use my potato masher to break apart my tomatoes.  Mix in your pinch of sugar (this will bring a really Nummy flavor of your tomatoes out.  A natural sweetness that most can tomatoes don't have).  Once I break them apart a little bit I'm going to turn my stove on medium low and cover.  You're going to let it cook until your sauce is thick.  I normally let my simmer for about 30 minutes.

Once it has gotten to your desired thickness you can use it for spaghetti, over meatball subs, a dip for crusty bread, just anything you really want.  Like I said, this is a great go to sauce and you can use it for so many things.  Just learn the basic ingredients and you can impress your friends anywhere you go, or you have a quick dinner if friends pop over during the Holidays.  :)  Merry Christmas Nummy readers!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Braised Short Ribs

I love short ribs.  I especially love them on a Sunday night for dinner with my family.  I have made short ribs a 100 different ways, but I always come back to my original.  It's a very easy recipe.  It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and then you put in the oven for 5-6 hours and you're done.  It's easy, delicious, and once you try it you'll be hooked for life.

Okay, now for this dish I don't have a set recipe.  Use however many short ribs you need for your family.  Place the short ribs in a baking dish with the fattiest side up.  I also always spray my pan with Pam or aluminum foil it.  Then you sprinkle on these ingredients:

Garlic Powder
White or Black Pepper
Seasoning Salt
Onion Salt
about 5-10 Bay Leaves
3 garlic cloves
Fresh ParsleyChopped

Then you're going to cover the whole thing with Beef Stock.  Just use as much as you need to cover however many ribs you used. I normally use 1-2 32oz. boxes.

Cover with aluminum foil, and place it in a 250-275 degree oven for 4-6 hours. Remember, Low and Slow.  I like my internal temp. to be 160 degrees.  You decide what you like.

I normally cook them for 4 1/2 hours and when I pull them out when they fall off the bone.  I serve my short ribs with a vegetable and a fruit salad.  My favorite is mashed potatoes, or corn on the cob, and Frog eye salad.
There you go!  Delicious, easy, and a staple for your weekend dinners.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs

 I don't about all of you, but I'm a meat eating girl.  I absolutely love delicious, juicy, and tender meat.  And out of all the meat out there, Baby Back Pork Ribs are my FAVORITE!! 

I usually cook mine on the grill outside during the summer, but in Utah I don't get the luxury of being able to BBQ all year round, so I came up with another great way.  The CROCK POT!  My favorite way to cook Pork because it's low, and slow, and turns out delectable!

The great thing about making BBQ in your Crock Pot is that it's super easy and preparation is FAST!  You can either use a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce or make your own.  Either kind is going to make your ribs turn out amazing!  This is seriously the easiest recipe I have ever come up with, and I just know you are going to love it!

2 Tbs. Sweet Paprika
2 Tbs. packed Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
1tsp. Honey
6 lbs. Baby Back Ribs
3 1/2 cups BBQ sauce

In a small bowl, mix together paprika, brown sugar, cayenne and S&P.  Rub this mixture all over both sides of your ribs well.  Arrange ribs in the slow cooker by standing them up against the wall of the stoneware pot, thicker side down and meaty side against the pot.  Mix together the Dijon mustard, honey, and BBQ sauce.  Pour BBQ mixture over the ribs, cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low.  They will fall apart when finished.

Now here is my favorite part.  YOU CAN'T PASS THIS STEP!!  This is what takes your ribs from delectable to down right extraordinary!!
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place a cooling rack on top of the foil.  Carefully remove your ribs from the crock pot and place on the cooling rack. Preheat the broiler.

Take your sauce that is on the bottom of your slow cooker and place in a pan on the stove over medium heat for 5-10 minutes (you want it to reduce).  Then pour 1/2 of the sauce over your ribs that are on the cooling rack.  Make sure the bone side is up, facing the broiler.

Place the ribs under the broiler and let broil for 3-4 minutes.  Take them out, flip them over and dump the remaining sauce over the other side.  Place back in the broiler for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and let sit for about 10 minutes before diving in.  I promise you are going to eat every last bite!!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crock Pot Honey and Apple Bread Pudding

I don't know about many of you, but I'm a bread pudding fanatic!  I absolutely love the stuff!  I have many recipes for it, but this one sounded so interesting to me.  It's not my own, I found it in a cook book.  Once I tried it though I was in love, and I had to share it with all of you!  It's from "Not your Mother's Crock Pot recipes".
 The other part of this recipe (The Rum Sauce) is all mine though.  I wanted something a little delicious and sinful to go on top of my already sinful dessert and thus came the rum sauce.  It's to die for, and I recommend using it every time you make a bread pudding recipe.  Once you try it, you'll never go back to eating bread pudding alone.  Okay, here are the recipes!

Honey and Apple Bread Pudding
8 slices of thick day old Bread
1/4 cup Cream
1 stick of Butter
3 cooking Apples (I use granny smith to cook with)
3/4 cup golden Raisins
1 cup Apple juice
1/4-1/2 cup Honey (depends on your personal taste)
2 Tbs. fresh Lemon juice
1 Tbs. grated Lemon zest
1 tsp. ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Coat your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.

Preheat your broiler.  On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cut your bread into slices (if it isn't already) and butter.  Place under the broiler until they are toasted to your liking.  (I like mine just a barely golden brown).  Remove from broiler, let cool and break bread into pieces.

Cut your apples into chunks.  (You can peel them or leave them with the skin on)

Put the bread in the Crock Pot and add the raisins and apples.

In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, apple juice, honey, zest, spices, and butter.  Pour over the bread evenly and make sure it is all well coated.  Turn your crock pot onto low and let cook for 5-6 hours or until your apples are soft enough for you.

Turn off crock pot when finished cooking and let stand for 15 minutes.  Serve with either whipped cream, ice cream, or my rum sauce which I will tell you how to make below.

Rum Sauce
1 1/2 cups Butter
1/4 cup dark Rum
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1 egg Yolk

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the rum.  Slowly whisk in the powdered sugar.  Temper the egg yolk and then slowly pour into the pan while whisking.  Bring the temp. up to 160 degrees, and you're done.  Spoon over finished bread pudding!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Homemade Caramels

I grew up with a Dad who made caramels every weekend from Halloween to Christmas.  He made them with nuts, with chocolate, with fruit, with sea salt (my personal favorite), with just about everything, and I give him props because they were always delicious!  I have never tried to make them because candy intimidates me to no end, but that all ended today.  I told myself that it's Christmas, and having to be a bit more frugal this year I needed gifts for my neighbors, so the caramel experiment was born.  
 I am pleased to say that it turned out great!  Not only are the caramels delicious, they are just as good as my dear old Dad's.  I was thrilled with the outcome! 

I have to be honest though, I didn't get it on the first try.  I made them, but didn't let them boil for long enough so after they had set up, I pulled them out of the 9x13 baking dish, and put them back in the pan and boiled them for another 5 minutes.  So if you make them and they're not done enough (if they're too sticky and still falling apart) just know that you can always reheat them and boil them again.  Just remember that with candy you need to use a wooden spoon and you need to stir it constantly.  I also didn't use a candy thermometer, but I'm sure that would have helped my problem.  I just don't have one, so I did without.  I mean come on, my Dad never used one.  ;)  If you are going to use one though my Dad said that you want the temp. to be 244 degrees.  Okay, on to the recipe!

1 can Sweet and Condensed Milk (the good stuff, eagle brand)
1 (or 2) tsp. Vanilla (I really like my Mexican vanilla so I use 2)
2 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 cup Butter

 In a pan melt the butter.  Then over medium heat combine all the ingredients except for the vanilla.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it comes to a rolling boil.  Once it starts to boil the caramel will change color.  It will get a light brown.  Let it boil for about 6-7 minutes.  After about 6 minutes get a cup of cold water and drizzle a little caramel into it.  Let it cool for a few seconds and then see if you can roll it into a small ball with your fingers.  If it still falls through your fingers it's not done.  If you can make it into a soft ball your caramel is finished or if it reaches 244 degrees. 

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Line a baking dish with parchment paper and pour the caramel into the baking dish.  Let set up either on the counter or the refrigerator until hard.  Then to cut into little pieces I take the entire thing out holding the parchment paper and then cut with a pizza cutter to get exact pieces. 
For your neighbor gifts, cut little squares and then roll them up in the parchment paper and twist on the ends.  Place in a a cellophane bag, tin, a cute Christmas bag, and tie with your little Christmas card.  Your neighbors will love it!  I've put a few of my favorite ideas on here.  Merry Christmas!

Swedish T-Ring Bread

I come from a wonderful family.  My father's side is all Swedish, and growing up I got to enjoy some amazing recipes that most people don't ever get to try.  I have a couple of favorites that I will share this Christmas.  December 13 is St. Lucia day in Sweden (the darkest day of the year) and they make a special saffron bread, so on Dec. 13 plan on that recipe from me.  It's a fun little tradition to start.  If you have ever seen a picture of a little girl wearing a crown of candles that is where it comes from.

Anyway, back to the T-ring bread.  This bread is easy and delicious.  I know "bread" recipes scare a lot of people because a lot of bread recipes can be intimidating or difficult.  I promise that ANYONE can make this bread though.  It's just a nummy, melt in your mouth kind of bread.  Eat it when it's nice and hot and you'll make sure to make it part of your Holiday traditions from now on.

2 C. Hottest tap water
5-6 C. Flour
1/2 C. Sugar
2 Tbs. Yeast (rapid-rise)
2 tsp. Salt
2 Large Eggs, room temp.
1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
1/4 C. Butter, melted
Cinnamon and Sugar

Icing Ingredients
4 C. Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 C. Butter, softened

In a large bowl or mixer, combine hot water and 2 1/2-3 C. of Flour.  Mix well.  Add sugar, yeast, and salt.  Mix until well blended.  Let dough rest about 5 minutes.  Add eggs and vegetable oil.  Add flour a little at a time and mix with a dough hook for about 5 minutes.  Dough should be soft and sticky.

Spread dough out on a floured counter.  You should be able to press the dough into a rectangle with your hands.  Spread with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.  (Don't butter the edges because it will be hard to close the ring).  Roll up the bread and seal along the edges.  Roll a twist in each of the sides and then attach the edges so you have a beautiful twisted wreath. 

Use the scissors and cut little slits in the top all around the wreath (I normally do about 5 slits).  Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise until it doubles in size.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until the top is very lightly golden.

Take out the oven and let sit while you make the icing.  In a bowl combine the powdered sugar. vanilla, and softened butter.  Very slowly add drops of milk until the icing comes together and is the consistency you like.  Drizzle the icing over the warm bread. 

I leave it just like this, but you can decorate with cherries and pecans.  Enjoy!