Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Star Wars Pretzels

Now let me just say I don't really think any of you should run out and make these... because trust me they do no taste very good, but I thought they were hilarious and wanted to share!

They come from this cookbook....

....and when you let a 3 and 5 year old make them they can be a little heavy on the salt, just a little FYI in case you ever attempt such a treat as these!

Divide a package of refrigerator bread sticks into eights strips. Shape them into the letters S-T-A-R-W-A-R-S. Brush the tops with water, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 minutes at 375. Then choke them down with a smile on your face telling your little Star Wars fan how great they are!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 3: Snickerdoodles

These are a fabulous treat any time of the year. Drop some red or green food coloring into the cinnamon and sugar mixture to make them extra festive!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Rolo Pretzels 'cause I don't Bake


Preheat your oven to 350

1. Upwrap your Rolos. Place pretzels on baking sheet. Top with a Rolo.

2. Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes, until the chocolate just begins to melt. The Rolo should be soft but not completely melted.

3. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and immediately squish the chocolate with another pretzel. Watch the caramel oooze out. YUM!

That's all there is and that's why I make them...hope you enjoyed my first post!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 2: Chocolate Bark

Two Ingredients:

1. Whatever your favorite chocolate is.
2. Whatever kind of nuts you love.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Mix in however many nuts you want. Pour over a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Spread as thin as you want. Throw it in the fridge so that it will harden quickly then break into chunks and try to share before you eat it all! It's that simple, really.

An easy way to make this look extra fancy is to take a contrasting white chocolate, melt it, put it in a pastry bag (or plastic baggie with a hole cut in the corner), then drizzle over the top of the bark.


White chocolate with peppermint pieces (chopped up candy canes actually.) Yum!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 1 : Lemon Snowball Cookies

This quick and easy recipe appealed to me because it wasn't a boring chocolate chip and it wasn't a way over done traditional Christmas cookie. By the last batch into the oven I finally figured out that it is better to let them cool just a bit before coating them in the powdered sugar mixture (I figured that out because I forgot about them!) And they taste much better after they are completely cooled, the taste of lemonade is a bit too strong when they are still warm.

Very easy recipe, but a little messy with helpers. Let's just say there is a lot of powdered sugar on my kitchen floor today and also all over everyone's shirts.

Lemon Snowball Cookies

2 sticks butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cup flour


1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoons Kool-Aid lemonade unsweetened drink mix powder
(mix these together in a bowl)

Cream butter, sugar and flavorings. Add flour and mix until a dough forms.
Roll into 1" balls and bake 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet at 350°F degrees for 15-18 minutes (they won't be brown on top!).

While cookies are warm, toss them in the lemon powdered sugar mixture and put on a plate to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

Cookie Week

Christmas time always gets me busy in the kitchen baking way more cookies and treats than we need. But it is one of my favorite parts of preparing for the holidays and I love having my little helpers in the kitchen as well as sharing all the goodies we make with our friends and neighbors. So I deem today the official start to cookie week here on this blog. Later this afternoon I'll kick us off with the Lemon Snowball cookies we made this morning for a cookie exchange we are headed to tonight. Please share whatever holiday treats you're working on at your house this week too! Maybe we can spread some inspiration, try something new, or just help you non-bakers get motivated to join in the fun!!

**Don't limit yourself to cookies either, anything yummy that you tend to sneak when the kids aren't looking classifies as a treat here!**

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leftover Rice

Rice is a pretty common side dish on our dinner table. The kids love it and will actually eat it without complaint(unlike everything else on their plate...) and when I'm disorganized and haven't been to the grocery store(which is all the time) a little rice on the side makes the meal seem a little bigger. My husband is pretty good about taking leftovers for his lunch, but the container of rice often sits untouched in the fridge long after the rest of the leftovers have been eaten. What to do with the leftover rice???

Here's what I do:

Pour it into a casserole dish (size depends on how much rice you have left!)
Mix in one can of cream of mushroom soup plus once can water or milk (the milk will make it extra creamy)
Add frozen vegetables (as much or as little as your children will tolerate.)

Pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes and ta-da a brand new dinner ready to serve.

What do you do with your leftover rice??

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Buttermilk Biscuits

Nothing beats the bulk mixes at WinCo. The quickest and easiest way to old-fashioned perfectly flaky buttermilk biscuits is as simple as adding a cup of water and stirring it up. Add some fried eggs and you are good to go. Now there is no excuse for not eating a big hearty breakfast every morning....well except maybe babies crying, toddlers fighting or someone whining about getting out of bed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Potato Soup

2 bunches green onions
1 stalk celery
red potatoes (5 lb bag or however much you want)
1-2 cups milk
1 cube butter
1-2 cups instant potatoes
1 teaspoon parsley
3 cubes beef bouillon
3 cubes chicken bouillon
salt & pepper (teaspoon each)

Cut up potatoes in cube size pieces. Cut celery and onions, combine in pan and fill with water just above potatoes. Add in salt, pepper, butter, parsley, beef and chicken bouillon. When the potatoes begin to soften turn down on low, stir in one cup of milk. Add 1-2 cups of instant potatoes depending on how thick you like it. (You can add up to 1 more cup of milk if it becomes too thick).

*The original recipe adds a package of browned and drained bacon at the end. I often add broccoli florets and cheddar cheese instead. Really any vegetables can be thrown in at the beginning. Carrots and corn work well. It is a great recipe to make and eat off of for a few days or when everyone will be eating dinner at a different time!

***Since going vegetarian I made this with a couple of cans of vegetable broth instead of the bouillons and water and it was super awesome and very flavorful!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chocolate Syrup

One of my greatest consumer weaknesses is when Starbucks switches to cranberry red cups with silhouetted snow scenes and puts the Peppermint Mocha back on the menu. Give me a grande one of those beauties and everything is right in the grey and rainy world that is winter in Portland. But let's be honest...not only are those things expensive, but they have 430 calories and 49 grams of sugar. I have got to learn to make these things at home.
Starbucks will sell you their Peppermint [High Fructose Corn] Syrup, but I don't want to talk about that guilty pleasure. I am adamantly opposed to HFCS. But chocolate syrup should be a staple in every household. Frustrated at the two options for chocolate syrup in the grocery stores of (1) high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient, or (2) a tiny jar of super-expensive "organic" sauce, I set out to find a recipe to make myself. And as it turns out, it is surprisingly quick, easy and delicious! I found this recipe on a website I've since lost track of...something about loving chocolate. I use raw sugar, and I don't know what Dutch process cocoa is, but any unsweetened cocoa powder works. See? You can be flexible...as long as your not using corn syrup (bleh).

Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
Few grains of salt
1 cup water
2 tsp vanilla

In heavy-bottomed 2qt pot, combine sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk thoroughly to mix well. Gradually add water, stirring (not beating) with the whisk to blend thoroughly. Set over medium heat; stir frequently with whisk until mixture comes to a boil (there will probably be a layer of foam on top--this is OK). Boil three minutes, stirring frequently with whisk and reducing heat if syrup threatens to boil over. Remove from heat; pour into heatproof liquid measuring cup or pitcher of at least three-cup capacity. Cool briefly, then chill (uncovered) until completely cold. Strain through fine strainer into container of at least 2 1/2 cup capacity. Stir in vanilla. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

Friday, October 24, 2008

SW Sweet Potato Chickpea Delight

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 jar salsa
1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can corn
1 1/2 cups crushed yellow corn tortilla chips
1 medium white onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup cheese, grated (any variety of cheddar will do)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients; reserve a small handful of cheese. Spread into a shallow casserole dish. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, stir, and top with remaining cheese. Bake another 20 minutes or so, until the sweet potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. (Watch carefully, as the top will get crispy fairly quick, and you may need to stir occasionally to prevent burning.)

If desired, sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro right before serving.

**This recipe came from vegweb.com originally, but I've added and adjusted from the original recipe. I also use lots more cheese than the recipe states.


I used to be intimidated by the idea of making applesauce; until I realized that it is quite possibly the easiest thing in the world to make!! So even though it is super simple I thought I'd share how we do it at our house just in case anyone else is overwhelmed by the thought of it like I was!

1. Peel, core, and chop your apples. I toss them in a bowl of lemon juice and water to keep them from browning until I have enough cut to start a batch. (Some people don't even peel them.)

2. Put just enough water in the bottom of a pot to keep the apples from scorching. Fill it up with apple chunks.

3. Heat through until apples are soft. You can put the soft apples into a blender or processor for a smooth applesauce; we prefer to use a potato masher and leave the sauce a little thick and chunky.

4. Add a little sugar and cinnamon according to your taste preferences; then can it, freeze it or just eat it up! Easy as can be, Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baked Ziti

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium crooked neck squash
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
1 can (26oz) spaghetti sauce
1 jar Alfredo sauce
3 1/4 cups dry ziti (prepare according to package and keep warm)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Heat oil over med-high; add squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook until squash starts to brown. Add spinach; cook until water evaporates.

Blend in both spaghetti and Alfredo sauces, heat through. Toss with pasta and half of mozzarella cheese.

Pour pasta blend into a greased 9x13 baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Easy Veggie Combo

Super simple way to use up some extra veggies from the fridge!

3 cups sliced raw potatoes
3 cups sliced carrots
1 3/4 cups beef broth (I used veggie)
1 medium onion, chopped
In a slow cooker, combine potatoes, carrots and onion. Pour beef broth evenly over top. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 - 6 hours. Mix well before serving.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Easiest and Best Bread Ever!

Simple Crusty Bread
(makes 4 loaves)

1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast (regular, not rapid-rise)
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt (I use sea salt)
6 1/2 cups flour (I have used all-purpose and bread, both work fine)

In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2-5 hours.

Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit sized piece with a knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. **Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes.** (see note) Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it, loosely covered.

Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated knife. Slide onto stone. Pour 1 cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Note**If not using baking stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased non-stick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, or 1 hour 40 minutes if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for at least 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack** I use a stone, but I don't preheat the stone, I shape and let the dough rest directly on the stone and I still use the steam. I have also baked this on a bar pan or cookie sheet with no preheating and no steam. Most anything you do should work fine. It is seriously, so easy and you can't mess it up.

Note 2** Recently we've been replacing one cup of the flour with 1 cup of rice bran.

Note 3** The refigerated dough should keep for about a week.