Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pineapple Salsa

I am super excited to grow my first garden this summer.
Like, so, so, so very excited.
I picture myself skipping out to my bountiful garden, picking ripe, colorful, delicious vegetables and placing them in a large basket, that I don't have yet, and making beautiful dishes with them.
All the daydreaming about my garden that is yet to come to existence (my germinated seeds are totally thriving and making me excited) made me have a craving for salsa.
So I stuck to the basic ingredients, but wanted to try to add a bit of sweet and had some cans of pineapple I picked up and decided, "why not?" Instead of lime juice I used the tasty pineapple juice and it was so. flipping. good.

I like everything with a kick, so I added three jalapeƱos and left the seeds of one of them in. But you definitely adjust to suit your liking. 

This made enough to make 2 1/2 jars...or 1 1/2 pints. 

Pineapple Salsa

1 cup tomatoes, chopped - or one pint chopped cherry tomatoes
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 jalapeƱos, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup pineapple tidbits
1/4-1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice

Mix all the chopped ingredients together, add the garlic and juice.
Either can or cover and chill for a few hours to let the flavors mesh together.
Serve with tortilla chips or on hamburgers or other meat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Biscuits & Gravy

I don't think there is any better comfort food breakfast dish than biscuits and gravy.
The best thing about biscuits and gravy is that they are hearty and filling enough that they can easily be made for dinner, which is what we normally do.
These aren't the healthiest of foods to make, but every once in a while you just need it.
I make a different biscuit recipe every time I make them, I like to experiment with them, I guess!
This last time I made the "Supreme Biscuits" from the trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
I love these biscuits because they never, ever fail. They are super easy since they are a drop biscuit, which means you don't have to bother with kneading, rolling, and cutting them out.
At first the hubs was totally against me baking up a drop biscuit for biscuits and gravy, but when he realized how fluffy and moist they were, he didn't care anymore!
These biscuits are great with honey drizzled over them as well! (We ate some like that also).
Or add some cheddar cheese and garlic, and you have a savory biscuit. You can't go wrong with these!

Remember when you make the gravy NOT to drain the grease. I know it is so tempting, but you need that to make the gravy! When you add the flour, I like to sprinkle the flour evenly over the cooked ground sausage, then add the milk. This way you don't have to worry about it clumping together in one spot in the skillet.

Biscuits & Gravy

3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 pound ground sausage
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450
In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar.
Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter and shortening until mixture is crumbly.
Create a small well in the middle of the mixture and add the buttermilk and heavy cream.
Mix together using a fork until it well combined.
Scoop out in rounded mounds onto an ungreased baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Meanwhile in a large skillet brown the sausage over a high heat.
When thoroughly cooked, reduce heat and sprinkle the flour evenly over the top.
Add the milk and mix well.
Keep mixing while cooking over low heat.
Gravy will begin to thicken, so watch closely and stir often so it doesn't clump together.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over split biscuits.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Cake

This cake is almost too easy to make.
It comes out scrumptious every time I make...which I am a bit embarrassed to say is more than ten times, at least.
If you have followed by blog at all, then you know that I have a soft spot for cinnamon rolls.
Take that goodness in a sliced cake form? Um...yes, please!
This is a super simple recipe that I believed originated from Pampered Chef, but I cannot confirm that exactly. But I know that it floats around on many cooking sites and blogs, and I figured, why not add it to mine?
Something that tastes this wonderful deserves to be shared over and over and over and over again until everyone finally breaks down and makes it!
I make it a lot for my grandpa, he really likes it.
But my daughter and even the hubs love this cake. So, you know it has to be good!
I'm sure you have everything on hand you need to make this cake and it is wonderful as a brunch item!

Cinnamon Roll Cake
{printable recipe}

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups powdered sugar
5-6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk and vanilla.
Mixture will be thick and not stir-friendly.
Slowly add in the melted butter and mix until completely combined.
Spread evenly into the greased baking dish.
In another bowl, beat together the softened butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
Drop by spoonfuls over the cake batter.
Drag a knife through the brown sugar to pull it through the batter.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
Place on a wire rack to start cooling.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.
Drizzle over the top of the warm cake and spread evenly over the top.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chocolate Chip, Pecan & Toffee Chip Cookies

I was rummaging through my cupboards (after I cleaned them all out...I'm doing the 40 bags in 40 days thing) and found some toffee chips I forgot I had. I also found a brand new, unopened bag of pecan halves that I must have bought for Thanksgiving, but it got shoved to the back of cupboard (surprise, I know).
So I paused and was thinking on what I should make - since I was madly craving a cookie.
Then it dawned on me.
Chocolate chip.
Toffee Chip.
I then decided to just "wing" the recipe and they turned out totally tasty!

They were thick and moist and salty and sweet and chewy and a bit crunchy and every bit of delicious I had hoped for.

Chocolate Chip, Pecan & Toffee Chip Cookies

1/2 cup Crisco or other shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (I love vanilla)
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup toffee chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.
Beat the shortening, butter, and sugars together until fluffy.
Add the eggs and vanilla.
Keep beating until foamy. 
Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt.
Beat until combined.
Mix in the chips and pecans.
Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, until puffy and brown on the edges.
Cool on wire racks. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crispy Beef

I made this last night for dinner and the hubs was a little leery. I could tell without him even saying he was.
He has never eaten crispy beef before - which took me by surprise!
I really loved this dish and even better - he liked it also!
The beef has a nice crisp on the outside and has a chew to the inside, it has just a tiny bit of a kick (I added red pepper flakes, of course) but it is just the right amount of sweet from the sweet chili sauce.
As all Asian dishes do, it comes together quickly.
I think that is why I love to cook Asian food so much - just use your wok and you have a meal in about 20 minutes!
The recipes with stir fry are always adaptable to suit your tastes. You could add some sliced peppers to this, or other veggies. I think Chinese restaurants add leek to their version. I opted just for some carrots and green onions.
You can also use about any cut of beef that you have.
I happened to have beef round - London broil in the freezer.
It was large enough that I only used half of it for this and I will save the other half for another recipe later this week.

If you don't have a wok, use a large skillet. But I highly recommend investing in a wok. You can pick up an inexpensive one at Walmart or Target for under $10. The way it heats and cooks just can't quite be replicated with a large skillet.

Crispy Beef

1 pound round beef, sliced into small pieces (about 1/2 inch wide)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated ginger (I use the kind in the squeeze tube - available in the veggie section)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (available in the Asian section - spring roll dipping sauce)
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots

Coat the sliced beef in the cornstarch.
Heat the wok or large skillet.
Coat the bottom with oil, let heat through.
Add the beef. ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes.
Cook until outsides are crisp and no longer pink.
Remove beef from wok and set aside in a bowl.
Add the soy sauce and sweet chili sauce.
Let heat through.
Add the green onions and carrots. 
Cook until sauce is bubbly and thickened slightly.
Add the beef back into the wok and coat well with the sauce.
Serve over rice.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Beef Lo Mein

I always say, "this is my favorite food."
And every time I totally mean it.
I have a favorite fried chicken, baked chicken, beef roast, pasta, etc.
This is no exception!

I had never had "homemade" lo mein until my hubs mama came to visit a little over two years ago and she made us so much delicious Asian food.
I may, or may not have - eaten most of this by myself.
I just couldn't stop myself!
It is seriously one of those Asian noodle recipes that are super easy once you realize what goes in it and get the proper ingredients.
The hardest part is locating good lo mein noodles.
I have tried several kinds since then and these happen to by my personal favorite. They are located in one of the Asian grocery store's refrigerated section. I buy several bags at a time and keep them in the freezer.
Our local Walmart and HyVee both offer prepared lo mein noodles in their Asian sections.

We also use a granulated chicken bouillon that we get at the Asian grocery store also - it is wonderful at adding flavor and tenderizing meat (especially chicken wings). It is a yellow canister, but you can use any you'd like I'm sure :)

My daughter is now getting in on the action and helping chop up green onions!

Beef Lo Mein

3/4 pound finely cut beef (roast meat thinly and finely chopped up...think little strips and bits like at the Chinese restaurant)
1 package prepared lo mein noodles
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 cup oyster sauce
Oil for skillet

Heat the oil in a large skillet.
Add the finely chopped beef.
Toss in the garlic, black pepper, chicken bouillon.
Cook beef until brown. 
Stir in the oyster sauce to coat the beef.
Add the chopped green onions.
Toss in the lo mein noodles, using two wooden spoons to mix everything together.
Serve with sriracha sauce.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

If you are on Pinterest, at all, then I know you have seen these floating around.
The epic cinnamon roll baked up in a waffle iron.
If you haven't seen it before, then I don't trust you saying you have a Pinterest account.
However, for those of you who either don't have Pinterest (or never utilize it for recipe searches) then this super simple recipe is for you!
Well, it isn't really a recipe...it is more of a way of using that waffle iron that is shoved in the deepest, darkest corner of your kitchen cabinets because you never really make waffles.
I mean, that's what toasters and frozen waffles are for, right?
Whoever is the genius that looked at their tube of refrigerator cinnamon rolls, then glanced at their waffle iron, and then gave it a go. I love you. Really. We need to be besties.

My daughter loved helping make these because they are too stinkin' simple to make. 
Just pop open a tube of refrigerator cinnamon rolls (I used Pillsbury Cinnabon - because, why not?), plop them in your greased, hot waffle iron, let them cook for about 7 minutes, pull them out and then ice them with the included frosting while they are still warm. 
Repeat, because believe me - these will disappear quickly!

I just keep picturing Donkey from Shrek, "I'm making waffles!"
Go. Now. Do it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blue Lemonade

My daughter recently turned five (the end of January) and of course she wanted to have a Frozen themed birthday. The movie hadn't been released on DVD yet, just yesterday, actually (we had to go get it first thing in the morning and she proceeded to watch it 7 times yesterday and once again this morning), so we focused on having things be blue in color. January birthdays just aren't as fun as summer birthdays. It is always cold, snow on the ground, gloomy out...just not too fun. So we decided to have a hot cocoa and finger foods party. It was a big success! The lemonade we made was a hit and super simple to make, so I decided to share it!

She chose everything on the menu:

  • Fried chicken wings
  • Egg rolls
  • Mini pigs-in-a-blanket
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • Chocolate covered pretzel sticks
  • Mini powdered sugar donuts
  • Blue Lemonade aka "Frozen" lemonade
  • Hot cocoa with marshmallows, cookie sticks, whipped topping
  • Homemade vanilla ice cream 
  • A marble cake

I like to make simple punch. 
I mean, like two-ingredient punches. 
When I was trying to think of a blue drink, the only thing I could come up with is blue Hawaiian Punch. I'm not really a huge Hawaiian Punch fan, so I decided to try adding it to lemonade. 
Success. Serious success. It was so tasty! Everyone loved it and it was the perfect color to please my daughter's obsession with Elsa and her blue ice dress. My drink server wasn't big enough to hold all the liquid at once. So I did half of this recipe two times, when it was almost gone I just added the rest. I made the lemonade up and kept it chilled in the fridge so it was chilled when I made it. 

Blue "Frozen" Lemonade

2 cans frozen concentrated lemonade
1 large jug blue Hawaiian Punch

In a large punch bowl or drink server, prepare lemonade as directed.
Pour in the jug of Hawaiian Punch in with lemonade.
Stir well.
Chill until ready to serve.
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