Dec 31, 2011

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini and Cheddar Puffs



Ugh. Another one of the no-daylight-savings-I-wish-I-had-a-DSLR-camera series. But this is actually a pretty fancy looking meal. I like to serve it with a Waldorf salad. I've made it a few times for new moms home from the hospital and every time the recipe has been requested. The cheddar puffs are very similar to a cream puff, but with cheese and without the cream (duh!). Light and fluffy, but a savory flavor. 

Spinach and Tomato Tortellini

INGREDIENTS
1 (19 ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup shredded (not grated!) Parmesan cheese


DIRECTIONS:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil (you'll add the tortellini to the water later). 
Combine the tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, basil and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the mixture begins to bubble.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, milk and cream. Stir this mixture into the saucepan along with the Parmesan cheese. Heat through, then reduce heat to low, and simmer until thick, about 2 minutes.
Add tortellini to the boiling water and cook 3-4 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.
Pour the tortellini into the saucepan with the sauce. Stir to coat, and serve.


Cheddar Puffs

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper


DIRECTIONS:
In a saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cheese, onion, garlic powder and pepper; beat until mixture is smooth and shiny. Use a medium cookie scoop to drop dough 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets (or spoon out ~2 tablespoons). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Dec 30, 2011

Snickers Caramel Corn


I had a thought this morning that I feel is important to share with all of you. It's part confession/part illustration of how amazing this popcorn is. I was listening to the amazing Jason Mraz and I thought, "I need him to move in to my house. I need a permanent serenade-r. How could I get him to do this? The POPCORN!!! If I just pay him in this popcorn, he'll be sure to stay. Right? Then I could pretend I live in a movie where the perfect theme music comes on in all of the important moments of my life." True story. Morale of the story? This popcorn is amazing enough to convince Jason Mraz to move in with my family of 6. He totally would, ya know. Wouldn't you want to dive in to this and stuff your face, too?



 And it's whole grain (as all popcorn is) so it's totally healthy too. Right? The whole grain-ness cancels out all of the other stuff. Especially the butter. Oh and the sugar. And of course the chocolate, too. See? Guilt free never looked so good.

If I still haven't convinced you by my mindless blabbering (or if you just got distracted by the words chocolate, butter, and Jason Mraz) then just look at the pictures. And wipe the drool off your chin.



Snickers Caramel Corn
(adapted from How Sweet Eats)

1/2 cup unsalted butter*
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 cups air-popped popcorn (about 6 tablespoons before popping)
25 fun size Snickers

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Slice candy bars into sixths (in half, then into thirds).

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in sugar and corn syrup, whisking until dissolved, then let simmer (without mixing) until mixture begins to bubble – about 4 minutes. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes more until caramel is amber in color, this time stirring every 30 seconds or so in order for the sugar to not burn.

Turn off heat and whisk in vanilla, salt and baking soda. Gently fold in popcorn, turning it over and over again until it’s coated. Fold in about 1 1/2 cups of the candy bars, then spread popcorn on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping every few minutes to ensure that all the popcorn is coated. Remove from oven and top with remaining candy bars. Let cool completely, then break into bite-sized pieces. Or just eat while it's all ooey gooey. With a big glass of milk.

* If you don't have unsalted butter, just don't add the salt later in the recipe. Trust me on this...

*Featured on this sweets for saturday post. Thanks Lisa!

Dec 29, 2011

Cake Mix Oreos

 This is one of the easiest recipes you'll ever make! I am super anti-cake-mix as a rule, but this is one exception. Cake mixes are chock full or gross chemicals and things I can't pronounce... but so are Oreos, right? And even though I don't use cake mixes for baking cakes I'll never turn down an Oreo! These only use 3 ingredients for the cookie part and 4 for the filling. Super simple, super yum.

Homemade Oreos:
INGREDIENTS:
1 box Devil's Food cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all 3  ingredients until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls approximately 1 tablespoon each. I just use my medium cookie scoop and then slice each scoop in half. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 8 minutes, or until edges are firm. Don't over cook! Allow to cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire wrack until room temperature. Match similar sized cookies into pairs. Make filling:

Filling:
INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
Mix butter and shortening in stand mixer. On low speed, slowly add powdered sugar until combined. Add vanilla. Beat on low speed 1 minute, then high speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Using a pastry bag with 1/2 inch round tip, or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off, pipe about a teaspoon of filling on half of cookies. Place similar sized cookie on top. Smoosh while lightly twisting (kind of the opposite of opening an Oreo!) to make filling spread to the edges of the sandwiches. Dip in milk and devour!

*I love refrigerating these for about 2 hours before serving. The cookies absorb some of the moisture from the filling and they become softer and yummier.



Dec 28, 2011

Southwest Corn Chowder + Lion House Angel Biscuits


My sister-in-law made this yummy soup for Christmas Eve a few years ago and I've been loving it ever since. She got the recipe from her sister-in-law in more of a "little of this, little of that" kind of format. I've cleaned it up a bit and added these fantastic Lion House Angel Biscuits. This is a large recipe so either serve it to a large crowd, or plan to have awesome leftovers. It freezes well, too! The soup is super creamy with sweet corn and a lot of flavor. The biscuits are light and buttery and amazing. This is the perfect way to heat up these cold, winter nights.

Southwest Corn Chowder

INGREDIENTS:
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken
2 (26 oz) family size cans cream of mushroom soup 
32 oz frozen corn
1 (7 oz) can green chilies [or two (4 oz) cans]
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
3 cups milk
3 cups water
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
16 oz monterey jack cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:
Sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes more. 
Remove meat from rotisserie chicken and add to pot, along with soup, corn, chilis, tomatoes, milk, and water. Cook on medium heat until heated through and slightly bubbly. Remove from heat and add cilantro, cheese, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Stir until smooth. Serve hot.


Lion House Angel Biscuits
(my notes are in italics)

INGREDIENTS:
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted (I use a whole dang stick... don't hold back!)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. 
Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Measure all the dry ingredients and stir together. Cut in the shortening with a pasty cutter or two knives. Add yeast to the buttermilk, then add this to the first mixture. Mix well with a fork, wooden spoon, or your hands. Turn out on floured counter and pat to desired thickness. (I make them about 3/4" thick.) Cut biscuits with a round biscuit cutter or glass cup. Dip biscuits in melted butter and place on greased pan. (Don't bother greasing... you've got plenty of butter going on.) Bake 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Note: You may bake these at once or leave on the counter for a while (30-40 minutes) before baking. They can also be frozen, unbaked, if covered first with plastic wrap and then foil. To use, remove from freezer and allow to thaw completely. Remove wraps and bake as instructed above. 

Dec 26, 2011

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

These little Christmas cuties were so fun to make! Once I saw the gingerbread men sprinkles, I knew what I'd be using them for. And I found a super fun Etsy store where I ordered the sprinkles and mini cupcake paper liners. I am a little sad that the liners got so dark when I baked them, but they were still really cute and even more delicious! I doubled the recipe, which made about 50 mini cupcakes. We brought them to my son's preschool Christmas party and left with two!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

INGREDIENTS:

5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners sprayed lightly with cooking spray (keeps the cupcakes from sticking to the paper).
Cream 5 tablespoons of the butter with the white sugar. Add the molasses, egg, and egg yolk.
Dissolve the baking soda in the hot milk. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture a little at a time. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared liners.
Bake for 20 minutes (12 minutes for mini muffins) or until slightly springy to the touch. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and remove to a rack to cool.

To Make Frosting: Cream the cream cheese and butter together. Beat in the powdered sugar until fluffy. Add the lemon extract and beat. When the cupcakes are cool, frost the tops with the frosting and serve.




Dec 15, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

I realize that you probably think this is the most unappetizing picture I could post of this recipe... it's not. Trust me, I took plenty more that looked even worse. Part of the reasoning behind the yucky looking pics is that we have no more natural evening light. The sun sets way too early in the Pacific Northwest wintertime. But the larger reason is that it's just not an attractive dish! But please believe me when I say that it is the best sweet potato dish you'll ever have! We have swapped this out for my Grandmom's canned yams and marshmallow dish that she served at every holiday. I just gagged thinking about it. And now we serve it with our Thanksgiving Turkey, Easter Ham, and sometimes just for dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

5 sweet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter - softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup butter - softened
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Puncture sweet potatoes with a fork, place on a sheet of foil, and bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until they begin to soften. Cool slightly, peel, and mash.(You can even do this part the day before.)
In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, salt, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sugar, and heavy cream. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, flour, brown sugar, and chopped pecans. Mix with a pastry blender or your fingers to the consistency of course meal. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until topping is crisp and lightly browned.


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