Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter and melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.
2. Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Spread melted chocolate over the crumb crust.
3. Chill for about 5 minutes, then cut into bars before the chocolate is completely set, then chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rice and Beans

We found this outstanding recipe combo in "Mice and Beans," a children’s picture book by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

16 oz dried pinto beans, washed and picked over
1 large chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
29 oz. chicken broth
29 oz. water

Combine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 hours, stirring often, until beans are plump and soft.

2 T oil
⅓ c minced onion
⅓ c minced pepper
1 ½ c long grain white rice, uncooked
14 oz. chicken broth
¼ c tomato sauce
1 ½ c water

Pour oil in large skillet. Add onion, pepper, rice, and saute over medium heat until rice is lightly toasted. Add broth, sauce, and water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Do not stir. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Serve rice and beans side-by-side or wrapped in tortillas.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Boursin Cheese Ball

16 oz. cream cheese – room temp.
4 Tbsp. Butter – room Temp.
1 tsp. lemon juice
4 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. diced fresh parsley
Nuts or parsley to coat the outside.

Combine all ingredients in a mixer. Shape into a ball and wrap in seran wrap and chill over night. Right before serving, cover with nuts or parsley. Serve with crackers.

Callie's Crockpot Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 cups chicken stock
1 Tblsp. dried parsley
1/3 cup butter
13 oz. can evaporated milk
corn (fresh, can or frozen)
salt and pepper to taste

Everything in crockpot except milk. Add milk and severeal tablespoons cornstartch to thicken soup one hour before serving. Cook 8-10 hours on low.

Top with cheese and crumbled bacon.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We have a hard time eating store-bought tortillas now. If you have never eaten fresh tortillas, you won't understand how much better these are. They really are easy to make and everyone should know how to make these. If you have fat, flour and salt stored for emergencies (and you should), it's a great resource. Think of all the things you can do with tortillas.

3 c flour
½ t salt
4 T butter or shortening or lard
7 oz. warm water

Combine flour and salt, cut in the butter. Add water slowly just until dough holds together. Knead until dough is quite smooth and elastic. You may prepare ahead to this point and wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, divide dough into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, press a piece into a disk, then roll it out as thin as possible (should measure about 7 inches in diameter). Toast the tortillas one at a time in a dry pan over medium heat, turning once. It takes about 2 minutes total (about how long it takes to roll out the next one). Serve warm, or allow to cool and store in plastic wrap. You can easily double the recipe if needed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ginger's Tortilla Soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 cans chicken broth
1 can (4oz.) green chilies (undrained)
1 can (28 oz.) diced or crushed tomatoes
2 chicken breasts (can be frozen!)

Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil. Add cumin and chili powder. Saute. Add 2 cans chicken broth, green chilies, tomatoes and chicken breasts. Boil for 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken to shred.
Drain and rinse 1 can kidney beans, drain 1 can of corn and add those and the shredded chicken to the pot.

Simmer for one hour.

When serving, add toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, lime, salsa, cilantro, avocado, tortilla chips.

QUESTION for those who are wiser in the kitchen than I - is there a reason I'm adding chili powder when there are actual chilis in the recipe?

NOTES - This recipe is pretty open to interpretation. You could use fresh tomatoes, fresh corn etc. less or more chicken broth, less or more other ingredients etc. I use 1 chicken breast and 2 cans of kidney beans. Or you could just omit the chicken. Also, I use a hand blender in the pot before I add the corn, beans and chicken back in. None of my family (including me) like chunks of tomato.

This meal is easy and delicious, it looks pretty and my kids love it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Best Ever Sugar Cookie

There are two camps of thought regarding the ancient art of sugar cookies. Well, three . . . but nobody can take thin and crunchy sugar cookies seriously. I mean, really.

If you like thick and poofy best-ever sugar cookies, go here, because this recipe does not make that kind.

Originally from my mother’s orange Betty Crocker cookbook, these best-ever sugar cookies remain flat during baking, producing a perfect canvas for decorating. If you remove them from the oven the instant the middle sets, they stay soft and chewy, even if you don't frost them. But of course you want to frost them, so use the frosting recipe at the link above. That is a good frosting.

3/4 c shortening
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt

Cream together wet ingredients, then add combined dry ingredients. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in fridge for one hour. Dust counter and pin with flour, roll out 1/4 inch thick, and cut into desired shapes. Bake at 400° on an ungreased cookie sheet for 6-8 minutes. Do not overbake. Frost if desired. Makes approximately 4 dozen.

It's easy to get perfect dough thickness with rolling pin rings.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rolling Pin Accessory

If you find it difficult to evenly roll out pie crusts or cookie doughs or what have you, we have the perfect kitchen gadget for you. Rolling pin rings slip/stretch onto the ends of pretty much any rolling pin and produce perfect, uniform thickness with no additional effort. They come in a set of four different thicknesses: 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 inches. We found our set years ago at a neighborhood kitchen specialty shop, but recently saw them for sale at Bed Bath and Beyond. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nanaimo Bars

A delicious dessert said to have originated in British Columbia. Good job, Canada!

½ c unsalted butter
¼ c sugar
5 T cocoa
1 egg beaten
1 ¼ c graham wafer crumbs
½ c finely chopped almonds
1 c coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 x 8 pan.

½ c unsalted butter
2 T and 2 t cream
2 T vanilla pudding powder
2 c powdered sugar

Cream butter, cream, pudding powder, and powdered sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 T unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Yields 20 servings.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cherry Nut Breakfast Cake

I needed to use up some leftover cherry pie filling. I got an idea from, adapted a coffee cake recipe I've had for years, added my own sugar glaze, and served it for breakfast (several times now; my kids love it).

1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk
1/4 c oil
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 c cherry pie filling

1/2 c chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
2 T softened butter
1 c powdered sugar
2 t corn syrup
2-3 T milk

Prepare the cake batter by sifting together the dry ingredients. Beat the wet ingredients together until blended. Combine the mixtures until moistened. Pour into greased 8 x 8 pan. Drop cherry pie filling by spoonfuls onto batter. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare glaze by creaming the butter and sugar. Add corn syrup, stirring to combine. Slowly add milk until glaze reaches desired consistency. Remove cake from oven and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Drizzle glaze over the cake and serve warm. Yields 16 pieces.