Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Swap: Peanut Butter Surprise

I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to the three wonderful people who sent me cookies. They were all amazing. The Compost Cookie, Cardamon Cookies, and Chocolate Cookies with Candy Cane Creme. They were all amazing, and I can't wait to see the recipes as I will be hoarding them all! Haha.

I wish I could say I was better prepared. I know, I had so much time to be, right? Well, our oven went down and wasn't as amazing as it should have been anyway. I wanted to try and wait for the new oven, and I did when it was delivered on Monday December 5th. I made cookies from 7 AM until well into 2 PM. I made a batch of cookies, decided they weren't good enough, and went with a cookie I love and enjoy when I'm feeling stressed in the kitchen. I know I did a bad job, and I hope my cookie recipients weren't all that disappointed. Oh, and my husband mailed them. He told me what he did to package them. I was mortified. So, I hope they actually arrived in the condition they were meant to be in, and not scattered around the postal box.

I hope next year I'm not shunned from sending cookies, because I'm practicing my cookie making skills to make the most awesome recipe I can think of. This will probably be my last post for a while. I really love blogging. I love cooking and baking. But I don't love the kitchen I have to work in. Can you believe there are no windows in my kitchen? None. I have no natural lighting. There's a bit of space in our kitchen, but no counter space and my grandfather is always complaining I make too much of a mess when I try to do extra things outside of cooking for dinner. And I only want to make him happy. I'll still be making things! So when I come back around, I hope to be 100% better at what I want to do for the rest of my life! I want to share with everyone what I love most. =o]

Thank you!

3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 cup regular sugar
2 egg yolks, large, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 bag mini Reese cups

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, soda and salt. Set aside. Beat both sugars and butter until combined well. Beat in the egg yolks, egg and vanilla just until mixed. Slowly add flour mixture and mix. Take a good pinch at a time and roll into nice balls. Smoosh a reese cup into the ball dough, and re-roll to hide the candy inside. Lay on greased, sprayed or parchment lined cookie sheets about 2-inches apart. Bake until edges look light gold but centers are puffy looking and still soft, about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheets and then put on rack to finish cooling.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beef Enchiladas

I always thought making enchiladas would be hard to do, and messy, and just not something I'd want for a quick go-to meal option.

I was so wrong! I found a recipe on the inside of a specialty Velveeta, and completely fell in love. It's so easy, so quick, so yummy.

So, let's talk. I want to be able to get to the point where I post every day, or at least every other day. I want to try so many things, and experience so many things I'm missing! I work at a Wal-Mart bakery. I know. I'm surrounded by cheap, not-that-yummy treats all day long. I'll find those few things I really like and tell myself 'I can totally make this so much better at home!' Recently, I found these mini pumpkin pies with a little dab of cream cheese frosting. Oh my. I need to make these for my Thanksgiving table.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I need to focus on what I want to make! Last year, I made a big deal out of Thanksgiving because we thought my grandmother wouldn't be here to share another one with us. But! She's made it through another year! This year, we're really getting 95% of the family together to celebrate.

One more thing, too. This makes me a little bit sad and I want to know what other people say. My husband doesn't read my blog. Honestly, I want him to. I want to him to be involved in this part of my life that I enjoy so much. Since he's not in the kitchen with me, he could at least feel like he is when he reads my blog! Is it bad that it makes me sad he doesn't attempt to look at it?

Well, on to the main meal...

The simple, not too many ingredients!

If you can't find the Spicy Jack Velveeta cheese, they also have a white cheese that should be just as good! Maybe add a can of Rotel on top to melt with the cheese?

Spread half a cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, covering the whole bottom.

Add your onion and hamburger meat in a pot, and get it all nice and brown. You should probably chop your onions 100% better than I did. I need more chopping practice.

You'll add 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce to the mixture after your meat is done cooking.

The original recipe said to use corn tortillas. I've made this meal twice and used flour tortillas. I'll have to try corn one day just to see the difference.

I just pile my tortillas on a plate and put them in the microwave until warm. You can probably skip this step (unless you use corn tortillas, because they do need to be soft or else they tear).

Spread a heaping 1/4 cup of the meat mixture on a tortilla.

Roll up the tortilla nice and tight and place seam side down into your prepared baking dish.

This is what you'll get after rolling each enchilada. Now comes the good stuff...

Pour on the leftover enchilada sauce and slice up your Velveeta cheese to melt to perfection. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place into your oven for 20 minutes.

While your enchiladas are in the oven, prepare your side fixings. I didn't have any refried beans on hand, but they would be good with these, too!

I know you're probably thinking I have the weirdest counter accessories. We have maybe a foot and a half of counter space. And even that foot and a half is covered with my grandparent's medicine and random things my grandfather would go crazy if I moved anywhere else. Yes, it annoys me that those things are there and in my pictures, but that's the way things are and I'd never move something in a house that isn't mine.

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. Don't these just look so amazing? I think so. Make this for dinner tonight! I highly suggest it.

Yes, this is my plate. Yes, I do love my side fixings. It makes it that much more better. And you thought it couldn't get any better, right?!

Beef Enchiladas
Recipe by: Kraft's Velveeta Box

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups enchilada sauce
4 oz. Velveeta, sliced
8 8" flour tortillas, or 12 corn tortillas


Total Price of Meal: $7.98

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a pot, place your ground beef and onions in a pot. Cook the beef until completely brown, and onions are tender. Once cooked, add 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and turn off stove top.

3. In a 9x13 baking dish, evenly spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on bottom. Heat your tortillas if you like to get them warm (if using corn, they do need to be soft so they don't tear).

4. Working one at a time, place heaping 1/4 cup of meat mixture into tortilla and tightly roll up. Place in prepared baking dish seam side down, and repeat with each remaining tortilla.

5. Once every tortilla is done, pour the remaining 1 cup enchilada sauce on top to cover each enchilada. Place the sliced Velveeta all around to evenly melt over the enchiladas. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until nice and hot and cheese is melted.

6. Serve with your favorite sides, and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strawberry Vanilla Chip Cookie-ish Muffin Top Things

I've been thinking about making some cookies. It's something I haven't made in a very, very long time. And given the fact that I've signed up for the 2011 Cookie Swap, I need to up my cookie skills! I have plenty of cookie ingredients just waiting to be used!

I think for Christmas I might ask for some good quality cookie baking sheets and a Silpat or two. I see everyone using them, and I want one!

So, my intentions were to honestly make cookies. I wanted a chewy, amazing, summery cookie. What did I do wrong? I probably shouldn't have used frozen strawberries. Instead of dicing them myself, I stuck them in my blender on 'chop'. It just turned to yummy strawberry mush. It made my cookie batter really thin and runny.

My mom recently gave me two muffin top pans. She said she bought them, never used them, and never really planned to. New pans? Something I've never used before? I'll take it. I'm one of those people who go to stores during their 50% holiday sales and buy one of each cake pan.

I decided to take a recipe for white chocolate macadamia cookies (which is what I want to make someday soon..) I found on Tasty Kitchen and just change it a little bit.

The ingredients you need! I remembered everything this time around.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Enjoy the shadows? Yeah. I need to learn how to take photos.

Sugars and butter combined and mixed well.

Adding the rest of the wet ingredients, making it sloppy.

I kind of like this photo. I don't know. I just like it.

Adding in the flour mixture. At this stage, you can tell the dough is...still runny. Maybe I really did do something wrong, but I wouldn't imagine it holding up incredibly well. I'll never know until I make it again (properly).

After adding in the chips and strawberries, it became..this runny stuff! I thought it would still hold well and bake some yummy cookies. I did bake one batch like this, and the cookies came out very cakey but still so good. That's when I decided to make muffin top things!

This is a BAD picture of the final product. You can see my edges are too brown. It's my oven. I broke it a while back. It caught on fire, and it'll never be the same again. It's so time for a new one, right? Maybe for Christmas...

These are so good. You might be weird-ed out but they're good.

Strawberry Vanilla Chip Cookie-ish Muffin Top Thingies
Recipe adapted by: Tasty Kitchen

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups vanilla chips
1 cup strawberries puree

Staple Item
Staple Item

If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $4.30

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut out parchment rounds to fit each cavity in the muffin top pans.

2. Sift together the baking soda, salt and flour. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter and the sugars until well blended. Add in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and mix well until light and creamy.

4. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Stir in the vanilla chips and the strawberries by hand using a wooden spoon.

5. Drop cookie dough using an ice cream scooper onto the prepared muffin top pans.

6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown. Cool on a cooling rack a few minutes after they have been taken out of the oven.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creamy Chicken Casserole

I didn't feel like making a big fuss for dinner today, so I found some ingredients I bought for an emergency day like today, and made one of my grandfather's favorite dinners. It's super simple, super fast, and super yummy!

The ingredients you'll need. I didn't show the chicken, though, which is the main part of the meal..

I was going to show more pictures, but I was in a hurry because I had to go pick up my husband from work and had to hurry and get it in the oven! You won't be disappointed with this meal.

Creamy Chicken Casserole
Recipe by: Kraft's Stove Top Dressing Box

1 1/2 pounds chicken, cooked, shredded
1 box stove top dressing for chicken
ingredients on stop top dressing box (usually water and butter)
2 15 oz cans mixed vegetables
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup


Total Price of Meal: $6.66

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Prepare your stove top dressing according to the box.

3. Combine all the ingredients except for the stove top dressing in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Mix until all chicken is coated and sour cream is blended in. Top the mixture with the stove top dressing, smooth to cover entire top. Place aluminum foil over the baking dish, and cook for 30 minutes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Opinion of Hooters Restaurant

Well, I haven't been able to post in a few days. It's been hectic around here, and too many things are going on! To be honest, I haven't even cooked anything for the past four nights! Tomorrow I need to get back on track. Today was totally my lazy day and I spent what little extra money I had to get pizza. I know, it's pretty sad.

So, to keep you up to date on everything, I thought I'd give you my opinion of Hooters restaurant. My husband's birthday was recently and it's where he wanted to go. Do you know why he wanted to go? Because it's somewhere I wouldn't want him to go. Yes, I am one of those women who does not want their husband to have an excuse to look at other women. The only thing that made it worse was our waitress was standing at our table whenever she was 'bored' and starting at my brother and my husband. Excuse me? Do I need to tell you to leave?

I'm not mean. I promise. She was kind of nice, I guess. And she did have hooters. Isn't that why people go there? Maybe I've always had a bad idea of Hooters because of how they portray the people that work there. It is a sports bar, I suppose. But I also thought it was meant for families, too? I have no idea. There were a lot of kids everywhere.

So? How was the food? The seating? The noise? The noise was expected due to the TVs blaring sports and the place was pretty crowded, and noise doesn't ever really bother me since we're one of THOSE families who are laughing so hard everyone can hear it and making jokes and trying to enjoy ourselves. The only time my family can get together and have a decent time is around the dinner table. When my brother and I were growing up, we didn't ever even sit at our own dinner table so going out to eat wasn't something we did too often.

The seating? Does Hooters not want people to stay very long? Bar stools. For every table. Really? Can I get a normal chair? At least have selections of booths against the walls with bar stool tables in the middle or something. Every one of us said we would have had a better time if our butts weren't starting to feel cramped due to the seats. Is that every Hooters?

The food...I've heard mixed reviews. I've heard people say the food is great, some will say the food is not so great. The five of us shared 50 wings, and 3 appetizers. I wanted to try fried pickles for the first time. They have to use bread and butter pickles because those things...were NOT good. We got boneless wings, half naked and half with hot sauce. We wanted to each get different sauces and dip them. None of the sauces were that great in my opinion. The wings looked totally weird.


All in all, I'd give them a 3.5 out of 10. It was a place all of us said we wouldn't want to go back to. Not even to stare at the Hooters.

Oh, and I made my husband a cake. He wanted an Australian recipe that I couldn't find with American measurements. I don't think I weighed it right. It came out super crumbly and not too great. =o[ Anyone have a good American version of Marble Mud Cake?

My cake decorating skills needs improving. Much.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dutch Apple Pie

I've been wanting to make this pie for a few days now. My friend Lisa had given me a whole box full of golden delicious apples and I need to use them all up before they go bad!

I know the recipe calls or only 3 apples, but I ended up using 5 (and not increasing any other ingredient). It made for a very tall apple pie!

The ingredients I used to make this awesome pie.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, melted butter and oats in a bowl for the topping. Reserve 1 cup for the top of the pie!

Spread the remaining topping in a 9 inch pie plate to form the 'crust'.

Stir the cornstarch, water and sugar until smooth and bring to a boil.

Stir constantly and cook until thickened. I know you can't really tell it's thick, but it is.

My super mountain of apples! I know, I shouldn't have added so many. I thought it might end up being a big melted disaster when I saw how big it was. I need to invest in a deep dish pie plate.

Sprinkle the topping evenly (as much as possible) on top of the apples, and set it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes!

Can I wait an hour for this to cool down? We'll see. I just wish I had some vanilla ice cream!

Dutch Apple Pie
Recipe by: The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/4 cups cold water
3 cups diced, peeled apples (about 3 medium)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Staple Item
Staple Item
Staple Item
Staple Item

If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $4.06

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, oats and butter. Set aside 1 cup for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into an ungreased 9 inch pie plate. Make sure to push the mixture up the sides too.

3. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and constantly stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and apples.

4. Pour into pie crust, sprinkle top with reserved topping mixture. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Best Mashed Potatoes

My husband loves...LOVES...loves mashed potatoes. He wants mashed potatoes for every meal. No matter what I cook. Pizza? Husband says 'Can we have mashed potatoes with it?' Chinese takeout? Husband says 'Can we have mashed potatoes with it?' So needless to say, I needed some killer mashed potatoes! This is how I make mashed potatoes when the time comes, every single time, and it hasn't failed me yet.

Most of the people I know in 'real life' do not make mashed potatoes from a real potato. It always comes from a box. If I made mashed potatoes from a box? I think the world would end. If you feel intimidated by making mashed potatoes from a real potato, have no fear! It's not as bad as you think. 45 is all you really need, plus you can always make them ahead of time and pop them in the oven when you really need them.

This, my friends, is one of the most valuable tools you need in the kitchen. It's so smooth. It peels so well. It's inexpensive. You need one.

Even though my recipe says 4 or 5 large baking potatoes, I just used all the little ones we had left over. So pretend you see 4 or 5 large potatoes and not a bunch of little ones, okay?

You put your cut up potatoes in a pot. Cover them completely with water. Then you boil! Yummies are on the way.

Mash up your potatoes real good with your masher. Then add all your ingredients one at a time, then mash and you'll get...

Deliciousness on a plate. Oh my. Don't you wish you came over for dinner tonight?

The Best Mashed Potatoes
Recipe by: Me

4 or 5 large baking potatoes, peeled, cut in half
1 stick of butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 heavy cream (or half and half or milk)
salt and pepper
1/2 stick of butter, softened, for topping

Staple Item

If an item says it's a staple item that means that I used so little of the full product that it wasn't worth the math to figure out each teaspoon, etc. Haha.

Total Price of Meal: $4.11

1. Peel your potatoes and cut out all the bad spots. Cut each potato in halves or quarters for faster and even cooking.

2. Prepare a big soup pot with water, and set on the stove. Dump (gently, unless you feel like getting wet) the potatoes into the water. Make sure all of the potatoes are completely covered! I always set my burner to high, but you can probably do medium-high with the same results, and boil your potatoes for about 30 minutes or more, depending on if the potatoes are done or not.

3. While your potatoes are boiling, set out 1 stick of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese to soften. After 30 minutes, test your potatoes to see if they are ready. Stick a fork in one potato, and if it slides in easily, you're good to go! Your potato should be soft enough it'll want to fall apart. I don't like lumpy mashed potatoes, and I'm sure you don't either.

4. Turn your burner to low, and drain your potatoes. Return your potatoes to the same (dry) pot, and get your masher ready! Mash your potatoes for about two minutes, then add in your softened butter. Mash it up real good, then add in your 4 ounces of cream cheese. After mashing in the cream cheese, add in the heavy cream and mash until no more liquid remains. You may or may not need to add more heavy cream. Turn your burner off (I like nice and hot mashed potatoes. Mmm.).

5. Now it's time for seasoning! Add in the Season All and pepper, or whichever makes you the most happy. Taste test the potatoes, and if all is to your liking, let's serve it up for dinner!

Tip: My home is like a restaurant and I make everyone's plate for them. I add about 1 tablespoon butter to each mound of goodness. If you're just setting the potatoes in a serving dish, make sure to add half a stick or more of butter on top so it can slowly melt all over! Butter makes the world go round. Didn't you know that?