Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cranberry Glaze Turkey Meatballs

I tried these earlier this week and I loved them.  I took a recipe I found online somewhere and made it my own, and I was super excited on how it turned out.  This is another really good dish to take to your superbowl party coming up!

Ingredients for Glaze
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
12oz. Cranberries (fresh or frozen)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. Orange zest
2 tsp. Cidar Vinegar

Directions for Glaze
Bring everything to a simmer in a pot.  Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer for 20 minutes.  Then take out of the pot and push through a strainer with a bowl on the opposite side to catch the glaze that's being pushed through the strainer.  Set aside.

Ingredients for Meatballs
2 large slices of bread
2 Tbs. Milk
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 1/2 lb. Ground Turkey
1/4 cup Cottage Cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. dried Fennel seeds
2 tsp. dried Parsley flakes
flour for dusting
Vegetable oil for cooking

Directions for Meatballs
Tear your bread into crumbs and then mix with milk.  Whisk an egg in a separate bowl.  Combine the egg and the crumbs to the rest of the ingredients in a big mixing bowl.  Mix everything together with your hands and then make into 2 inch round meatballs.

Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to a rippling stage.  Sprinkle flour on meatballs and then slowly brown on each side.  Once every side is browned on each meatball, pour the glaze over the meatballs.  Put a lid on and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, just until the meatballs are completely cooked and the glaze has thickened.  Serve over some Jasmine rice!  Yummy!!

Nummy Little Toffee Dip

With the Superbowl coming up this weekend I wanted to give you all a dip that will knock your friends socks off, and get you invited to that Superbowl party year after year!  It's my yummy, Nummy, Toffee dip.  Yay!  My mouth starts to water just typing it.  Okay here are the goods....

2 pkgs. Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups packed Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 bag Heath toffee bits
In your mixer mix everything together until smooth.  Serve with Apples, Graham Crackers, your fingers, ummm just about anything because it will taste nummy on anything!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentine's 2012

I have my girlfriends, sister, nieces, and mom that I do Valentine's day gifts for and this year I'm into mason jar gifts.  I wanted to show you what I'm doing to give you an idea and start getting those creative juices going.  the first

1. Cookies in a Mason Jar
Bake up your favorite cookie and then in the short and fat mason jars fill up with a couple and they decorate.  Get a white and re fabric and hot glue to the top, and add a bunch of red, pink, and white ribbon, and had a little tag from you.  Here's my example.
So easy and so fun!  I promise your friend will love it.  Another idea if you don't want to back.  Get a pair of V-Day socks, some chapstick, yummy lotion, and some peppermint oil maybe a puma stone and that makes a great gift!  Anything in a mason chair this year is big and you can make it look soo cute!

2.  Cake in a Mason Jar
Make your favorite cake, add a little in once it's cooked, add a little frosting, and then add more cake.  Close it up and add your cute note and ribbons.

My last Valentine's idea is
3. Smores in a Mason jar from a darling little site I cam across 
S’mores Cake in a Jar
makes 4 16-ounce mason jar cakes
for crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 stick butter
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter and mix in graham crumbs and salt. Mix until moistened. Spray 4 mason jars with non-stick spray and press graham crust into jars. I began by adding a tablespoon to each, and repeating until graham crumbs were gone. They don’t need to look perfect. I pressed the crumbs down firmly with the flat bottom of a clean screwdriver.

1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sour cream
for topping:
1 bag of large marshmallows
In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, cream, butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth. Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to mason jars one scoop at a time. You only want to fill them up about half way, and the batter should work evenly for 4 jars. Again – don’t worry if it is perfect. Place mason jars in a baking dish and add about 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cake is set.
Remove cake from the oven and press large marshmallows down on top, being careful not to burn yourself. There is no set number of marshmallows to use, I pressed down as many as I could, about 4-5 each. Heat the broiler on your oven and watching carefully, brown marshmallows for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not take your eyes off them! Serve immediately.

So there you do everyone!  This Valentine's you decorate that Mason Jar, and add something yummy, and all those girls in your life, and hubby/boy is going to love it too!  Here are so fun ideas.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mayo 5 Ways

Today has been a super fun day.  It's been one of those days where all the household chores are done, my hubby is at school and so I get to hang in the kitchen and create kind of day.  I have loved it!  

In my little creative cooking day I have come up with 3 recipes that I think will add a splash of flavor to a variety of different meals.  3 great condiments to go with anything!  I promise you will find a use for each of them.  Here's the first...
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
4 tsp. Lemon juice
1 cup Vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper

Mix all of those ingredients in a food processor to get your basic mayo.  That is what we are working with today.  Now that you have your mayo made, I'm going to give you 5 new mayo ideas to spice up the regular white stuff  :)

1. Garlic Mayo
In your food processor add to your mayo
2 minced Garlic cloves
Mix the minced garlic with your mayo that you just made from the ingredients above and use on Sandwiches, panini's anything that you like a little garlic kick to.

2. Red Pepper Mayo
In your food processor add to your mayo
1 jarred roasted red Pepper that has been patted dry
and 2 minced garlic cloves
This mayo makes an amazing spread for BLT sandwiches, great for covering a tortilla and then grilling with cheese to make a red pepper quesadilla.  Yum!

3. Herb Mayo
In your food processor add to your mayo
3/4 cup Freshly chopped Herbs of your choice
This makes a great spread for any sandwich, but it's amazing on an italian panini.

4. Caesar Mayo
Add to your mayo
2 minced anchovies
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
This is great when mixed with extra virgin olive oil to make a dressing on your salad.  It's also a great spread for baked chicken.  Take the spread and spread over chicken breasts, and place in the oven at 350 for about 35 minutes.  YUM!

5. Tartar Mayo
In your food processor add to your mayo
2 Tbs. Cornichons
2 Tbs. finely chopped Onion
This is a great spread for fish.  Fish tacos, fish fillets, fish sandwiches, anything with fish and this mayo is amazing!

So there you go!  Mayo 5 ways.  It's just fun to dress up a regular condiment and find new and yummy uses for it!  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kitchen MUST Haves

I know anyone that cooks or bakes has those staple items that we can't live without.  I have so many!  I wanted to share a few of my faves with you.  The ones that I keep on hand 100% of the time and probably have backups in case it's Sunday night and I'm cooking and realize I haven't restocked that particular item...I know I will have it in storage.  So here is my list for Baking and for Cooking.

Baking Must Have List

1. Americolor Food Coloring
         -Not only is this stuff the greatest food coloring you will ever try, it makes your colors POP like you would not believe.  It's more gel then liquid, and it's color is so vibrant.  It's a must have in my kitchen.

2. C&H Powdered and Brown Sugar.
         -I would not be able to live without loads of my favorite powdered and favorite light brown sugar.  I use these 2 sugars more than any other, and because of that I have had to find the brand that I think tastes the best.  I don't know how C&H does it, but they are amazing.  Their powdered sugar is so light and fluffy and perfect.  I have made my own from organic sugar, and I still go back to C&H because I just think that the frosting and dusting it makes is far superior to any other sugar out there.

3. Butter
         -We all know how much I love butter, but I kid you not, I could not bake anything without it.  My husband gets mad at me because it takes up the entire top shelf in my freezer, but I use it so much that I have to have it.  I promise that if you will use butter over margarine or shortening, your baking masterpiece will taste a thousand times better.  Nothing compares to the pure indulgent flavor of rich, creamy, and melty butter.

Cooking Top 3

1. High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
         -I am an EVOO addict.  I eat it constantly, and therefore I have sought out my favorite kinds. I guess I'm an EVOO snob because I don't buy it at the grocery store.  My 2 favorites are from Olio Olive Oil, and Mountain Olive Oil Co. in Park City Utah.  You can purchase these both online, and if you do I promise you will not be disappointed.  Since a large part of my cooking is made in Olive Oil, I have to have a good quality.  I also use it for breads, to line my pans so things don't stick, and so on.  If you will spend between $10-20 on your Olive Oil, it will make a difference and your food will taste amazing!

2. Cornstarch
         -Since I am constantly making gravy with leftover juices from my roasts, cornstarch is a must.  I use Clabber Girl.  I think she makes great products for a great prices.  I go through this stuff so quick, that I always keep some on hand and little in the storage so I always have it.

3. Herb Butter and minced Garlic
        -Since I do cook so much, I always need something to cook up my meat in or to rub over vegetables or anything else.  I have gotten in the habit to wash and reuse my glass cans that anything comes in.  My bouillon cubes that come in glass is one container I use.  They make it perfect for my herb butter.  Herb butter is just a bunch of fresh herbs chopped up and mixed with room temp. butter.  I then wrap the whole thing in saran wrap and freeze it.  I will take it out to put over veggies, to brown chicken in, to put under the skin of my turkey.  Anything.  Now, with the minced garlic, I prefer fresh.  I use garlic almost everyday so what I do is take one of the glass containers I have saved and washed.  Fill the bottom of the container with a little olive oil and mince up a whole head of garlic.  Then I put it in the olive oil and I use it over the next week.  I just keep the container in the fridge.  It saves so much time, and is delicious!
4. (I lied. I'm doing 4) and the last is Beef and Chicken bouillon cubes
          -This can be used to flavor ANYTHING.  I use it from soups, to rice pilaf, to roasts, to any dish that needs a kick of flavor.  I ALWAYS have these cubes in my freezer!!  

Okay, anyway I will try to start making a post like this every once in awhile about my cooking tips and tricks.  I hope you all have a fabulous Thursday!!  And as always, Happy Cooking!

Sweet Potato Crock-pot Chili

With Chicken
This is the perfect winter time soup.  It's hearty, and meaty, hot, and delicious.  Yesterday it snowed at my house, and so I took a chili recipe that I got from my amazing sister in law and added a little smoke to it.  I love creating with basic recipes because you can do so much with them.  So here is an example of a recipe that I just added a little style to.  :)  Enjoy!

With Hamburger
(all of the cans are 14oz cans.)
1 lb. Hamburger, cooked and browned or
4 boneless, skinless, Chicken breasts cooked and shredded
3 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can Chili beans with chili juices (s&w makes them)
1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Fire Roasted diced Tomatoes, with juices
1 can diced Tomatoes, with juices
1 can Corn, drained
2 packages of Taco seasoning*
15oz. Salsa
1 tsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Basil
1 tsp. Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp. minced Garlic
1/4 cup dried Onion

*if you want a smokey flavor to the Chili add 1 pkg. of Taco seasoning and 1 pkg. of Fajita seasoning.  If you don't like smokey flavor just use the 2 pkgs. of Taco.

Mix everything together into your crock-pot.  Set on low for 8 hours and let cook.  Stir occasionally.  Serve with grated sharp cheddar cheese on top, a little dollup of sour cream if you like, and a slice of french bread.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Vanilla-Vanilla Cupcake

This recipe is for those people that love moist cupcakes that explode with Vanilla flavor.  I'm a huge cupcake girl, but I'm not a chocolate girl.  Vanilla is my favorite cupcake and so I tried and failed at so many attempts to make a delicious and moist recipe for cupcakes.  This recipe will knock your Vanilla sweet tooth socks off!  You will be craving these all the time, and probably make them even more.  Here you go Vanilla Lovers!

1 cup Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
1 3/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup Butter
2 large Eggs
1/3 cup Sour Cream (full fat)
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1 Tbs. Pure Vanilla Extract
2/3 cup Whole Milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Combine Sugar, butter, and the seeds from the vanilla bean.  Stir with the back of spoon to break up any stuck vanilla seeds.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Slowly mix in the sugar on low speed just until combined.
In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and oil until smooth.
Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix on medium speed until just combined.

Slowly pour in the milk.  This will turn your batter runny almost a liquid which is what you want.  
Pour a little over 1/2 into each cupcake liner.  Cook for 14 minutes and then check with a toothpick to make sure they're done.  If the cupcakes aren't done (the toothpick isn't clean) cook for 2 more minutes.  You don't want your cupcakes golden brown, you want them a cream color with specks of Vanilla showing through.
Remove your cupcakes immediately from the pan and cool on a cooling rack or on your counter.  Once they are completely cooled, you can frost them with my delicious Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (the recipe is below).  Enjoy!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks of unsalted Butter
6-8 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla

In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and mix until everything is combined.  You can leave it white or add food coloring to make the color you want.  So much fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Homemade Alfredo out of a Jar

I was experimenting yesterday with foods that come in a jar.  I love Alfredo sauce, but if you don't make your own it's normally gross.  I think it's a great thing though for busy Mom's to save time by using jar spaghetti sauce sometimes, so I wanted to come up with a way to make it taste like homemade.  I found some Alfredo sauce in my pantry, and thought I'd test it out.  No joke, I put it on the counter and my husband said "Are you serious?  That's going to be disgusting."  Yes!  Exactly what I wanted to hear, and prove wrong.  So here is what I did...

1 package Rotini
1 jar Ragu Alfredo Sauce
3 skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tsp. dried Oregano
1 tsp. dried Parsley
1 tsp. dried Basil
2 Garlic cloves minced
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
3 Tbs. Cream
dash of white wine (optional)
1 can mushrooms drained
salt and pepper

In a saute pan pour in the olive oil and cook the chicken thoroughly.  In a pan heat the Alfredo sauce.  Dump in the splash of white wine and heat up pretty hot for about 5 minutes.  Dump into the sauce the cheese, cream, garlic, herbs, mushrooms.  Cut up your chicken into bite size pieces, and add that to your sauce.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Once everything is combined let your sauce simmer while you cook your pasta according to package instructions.

Once your pasta is cooked drain it, and then in a pasta bowl mix your sauce and pasta together.  Sprinkle a little bit of Parmesan over the top and serve with some crusty garlic bread.  I promise you are going to be shocked at how much this is going to taste like homemade and be delicious!  It's so easy and will save you a ton of time, and actually a little bit of money too.  If you can get the ragu sauce on sale, this dinner shouldn't cost you over $10 to feed your entire family!  I love it!