Sep 6, 2008

Sweet and Sour Meatballs



I guess I should label this post just "Sweet and Sour Sauce," since the meatballs are just frozen meatballs from Costco, but the combination is what makes this meal so stellar. The sauce is straight out of Betty Crocker's Cookbook(a staple in our house), with just a few small modifications. We like to serve this over brown rice with a green salad as a side. I'm labeling this as kid-friendly because I've never met a child who didn't love this dish. I usually serve it when we have big group dinners with lots of kids because I know everyone will like it...and it is SO easy and flexible. It can be made ahead of time, frozen, microwaved, crock-potted, or whatever else you can think of and still taste delicious.

INGREDIENTS*:

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 can (20 oz)crushed pineapples** in juice, drained and juice reserved
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper***

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix brown sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan.

2. Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup; stir into sugar mixture. Stir in vinegar and soy sauce.

3. Heat to boiling over medium heat stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in pineapple and bell pepper.

4. Use sauce immediately, or cover and refrigerate for 2 weeks or freeze up to one year.

Betty recommends you serve this with pork, poultry or seafood. I usually cook about 30 Kirkland brand meatballs in the oven for 18 minutes and throw them in a crock pot, cover with sweet and sour sauce, and leave on the low setting until we are ready to eat. If I start the meatballs first and cook the sauce while they are in the oven, I can be done with this meal in less than 20 minutes. We use a rice cooker for our rice so all I have to do at dinner time is assemble the food on plates! So easy!

* The original recipe calls for half of what I posted above. When using this sauce for dipping, I would recommend halving it(like if you are having egg rolls), but for this dinner, you want a lot of sauce.
**if you don't have a can of crushed pineapples you can use any other kind of pineapples(sliced, chunks, tidbits, rings) and just cut them up. I prefer to use pineapple tidbits or chunks and leave them as they are so the sauce is a bit chunkier
*** I prefer red bell peppers for flavor and color. I usually use 1/2 of a bell pepper, diced.

Yummy Banana Bread

This picture was taken 2 days after I made the bread and it's sat in the fridge...so it got a bit shiny.

This is the best banana bread recipe I can find. I tried a bunch before adopting this one as my favorite. It is moist, sweet, and just the right texture. Plus, it has lots of banana flavor! One of the most important things is to use very ripe bananas. Over-ripe. You want as much sweet banana flavor as possible.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 very ripe bananas, mashed

DIRECTIONS:
1. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, whisk flour, soda, salt, and sugar. Mix in beaten eggs, melted butter and mashed bananas.

3. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for one our or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I like to add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon, but that can be done to your liking. Have some fun with this recipe - make muffins, mini loafs, or pour it all in one loaf pan and make a big moist loaf of banana bread. I always double this as my family will eat one batch in a day and I like to make it last at least 2.

Corn Dogs


I first have to comment on the small portions of side dishes...this was my daughter's plate. That said, we can move on!
My husband made these delicious corn dogs for dinner tonight. They were a hit! Well, except my son wasn't a big fan, but he's not much of an eater lately anyway. Initially Ian made the batter too thick(by adding a little extra cornmeal and flour) but then thinned it out by adding an extra egg and a little milk. I would suggest you experiment with the thickness of the batter. We like ours a little on the thicker side, so his alterations worked great for us!
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white sugar*
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
2 (16 ounce) packages beef
frankfurters
16 wooden skewers

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder. Stir in eggs and milk.

2. Preheat oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat(we used our deep fryer). Insert wooden skewers into frankfurters**. Roll frankfurters in batter until well coated***.

3. Fry 2 or 3 corn dogs at a time for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.
*He substituted honey for the sugar, which is why he added more flour and cornmeal. He thought the honey would make the batter too thin.
**Roll the hot dogs in cornstarch before dipping in the batter, it helps the batter stick.
***You can pour the batter into a deep drinking glass or a mason jar. That way, you can just dip the dogs in the batter and keep your hands clean.

Bubble Up Pizza


This is a family favorite not just in our house, but in my husband's family as well. Super easy and definitely a kid-friendly meal. My kids love to make this with me.
INGREDIENTS:
2 packages (3 oz) grand size tube refrigerated biscuits(should be 16 biscuits total)
15 oz pizza sauce

6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
Any other toppings desired - cooked sausage, ham, or ground beef, pepperonis, olives, pineapples, etc.


DIRECTIONS:
1. Quarter biscuits and place in a greased 9x13 pan. Top with sauce and toppings. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with cheese and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.

My only extra advice is to make sure the biscuits are cooked thoroughly before adding the cheese. We've had too many un-done biscuit centers...yuck.

Banana Bars



INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the frosting below.


INGREDIENTS:
1 (8 ounce) package cream
cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream
When Banana Bars have cooled completely, frost with above frosting. I found this frosting to be thinner than most - which made it light and delicious, but also didn't stay on the bars when they were room temperature. So I suggest chilling until serving. I also froze half(with the frosting on) and defrosted them in the fridge before serving.

Blueberry Cream Pie

Sorry for the poor picture....we need a new pie tin and I never thought to take a picture while I was serving it. I made this for dessert last week when we had some friends over. I got the recipe for the blueberry sauce from my friend Dawn, and modified(slightly) the crust recipe from my sister, Shannon. Then I just mixed some heavy whipping cream and a box of cream cheese for the topping...So yummy! This recipe is kind of a hodge-podge collaboration, so I apologize for the helter-skelter-ness. (That is SO totally a real word.) But if you can follow it and decide to make it, you won't be disappointed.

Pie Crust
INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter - cold
1/4 cup ice water(just enough to make dough stick together)
(above ingredients make one crust)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, add water until dough sticks together.

2. Shape dough into a ball. You can either use dough immediately, refrigerate, or freeze for later.

3. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place dough between two sheets of wax paper, roll out to a round disk, slightly larger than your pie pan. Fold into quarters, place in pie pan, unfold and press into pan. Prick bottom and sides of pan thoroughly with fork, bake 6-8 minutes.

Blueberry Sauce
INGREDIENTS:
1qt (4 cups) blueberries(I use frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
2-4 tablespoons cornstarch(for this recipe, use the full 4 tablespoons)

DIRECTIONS:
Mix berries and sugar in small saucepan, add cornstarch. Cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for one full minute.

Pour into warm pie pan. Chill in refrigerator.

Cream Topping
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix heavy whipping cream until it stiffens. Add sugar and vanilla and mix until sugar is dissolved. Chill.

2. Whip cream cheese in mixer.

3. Mix the whipped cream with the cream cheese...but I think I whipped it too long because it got a little softer than I would have liked.

4. Pour cream mixture on top of the blueberries and chill until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Fabulous Frenchbread



INGREDIENTS :
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 cups water
6 cups bread flour (I just use white flour)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (I've never used these)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with 2 cups water, 3 cups flour, salt, sugar and vegetable oil; stir well to combine*. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

3. Divide dough half. Roll each half into a 9 x 12 rectangle and roll up jelly roll style, starting at long edge. Seal edges and place seam side down on a large baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.

4. Use a sharp knife to slash each loaf diagonally 3 times. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

*I just mix it all in my Kitchenaid -including the kneading time- for about 7 minutes on the #2 setting, then put it in a greased bowl, covered with a damp towel in the warm oven. Other than that, I follow all of the directions and it turns out perfect every time!

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