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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pretzel Dogs

Pretzel Dogs
(This picture could have been better had my son and daughter not snatch some up the second they came out of the oven!)

One of my husband's favorite things that I make is pretzels.  He loves them and always complains I don't make enough, even when I make double.  I saw this recipe HERE on Buns In My Oven and knew I had to try it.

In this case, I didn't have to change anything, she did an amazing job.

First I started by getting the yeast prepped.

Then made the dough.

After letting it rise, I cut it into 8 pieces with my pizza cutter sprayed with non stick cooking spray and then rolled my ropes out on my mat.  I love the dimensions on this thing makes it so much easier to mindlessly shape.

Once rolled, my kids helped me wrap them around the hot dogs.  

If you've ever made pretzels before or bagels, you've done the baking soda bath before.

Then into the oven.

Then prepare for deliciousness.  The only thing I change about this recipe is the quanitity.  Everyone wants seconds! 

You can print the recipe right off her page HERE.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

During story time last week, my son decided to "read" a cookbook.  He found my book Whoopie Pies and he begged and pleaded with me to make one.  We decided on the Chocolate Chip with Marshmallow Cream filling.  True to my nature, there was trial and error and we adjusted a few methods or ingredients to what worked best for us.

First we made the cookies.

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Cookie Recipe PDF HERE

Start with preheating your oven to 375*.
With all my cookies I don't do the mixing flour, salt and baking powder/soda together thing.  I always cream my shortening/butter (always at room temp) with sugars first.  Then I add eggs, vanilla and my little powders, salt/baking soda/baking powder.  I find that if you add them in with the liquid of the eggs and vanilla they get combined just as well as when blending with the flour first.  Except this way, you create less dishes.  I am all about less dishes.  I haven't met a recipe yet where doing this caused trouble.

But back to the baking.  In my Kitchenaid mixer (what would I do without that thing?!) I beat together
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. shortening
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar.
I let the mixture run a few minutes until it was light and creamy.

The next step calls for buttermilk.  I don't keep buttermilk as a standard in my kitchen.  Very rarely do I ever buy it, because I find, when baking, a simple mixture of vinegar and milk is a much cheaper way to achieve the same results.  So the recipe calls for 1/2 c. buttermilk.  Instead I pour 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar into a measuring cup and then fill with milk until the total measures 1/2 cup.  I let this sit for a few minutes and it "sours."

So to my bowl, I added
2 large eggs
1/2 c. poor man's buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
I mixed this until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl I combined 2 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. white vinegar.
When you do this, it will start to rise and foam so make sure you put it in a bowl or measuring cup larger than what is needed.  This is what gives it that light and airy texture.  Anyone remember the working volcano from science class in elementary?

I alternately added the milk mixture and 2 1/4 c. flour and beat just until combined.  Don't overbeat!
Then I handmixed in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips.

Now it's time to bake.  I love my stoneware.  I use it for all my cookie baking. They are always baked perfectly even, no burnt bottoms and doughy middles. I lined my stoneware pans with parchment paper.  Then I used a cookie scoop (mine scoops about 1 Tbsp. balls) and dropped 1 Tbsp of cookie dough onto the parchment paper with enough room for rising.

I baked only one sheet at a time at 375* until the edges began to turn brown.  Mine took about 11 minutes.
If you are using metal cookie sheets it will probably be less, maybe 10 minutes.  If you are using dark metal even less.  Know your baking equipment!  If most cookies are overdone at 10 minutes, either your oven runs hot or the pans you use heat faster, adjust the time as necessary.  I know stoneware takes a while to warm up, unless my pans are already preheated I always need to add a minute or two to most recipes.

Remove from oven and let stand on pans for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Cool cookies completely before assembling whoopie pies.    

While the cookies were cooling, I began with the filling.  We went with a traditional Marshmallow Cream filling.

Marshmallow Cream Filling Recipe PDF

The original recipe calls for Marshmallow Fluff but I'm all about store brand knock offs and mine came out great.
I used my hand mixer (my kitchenaid was dirty from the cookies ;) to beat together
1 1/2 c. marshmallow cream (a 7.5oz container = 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 c. shortening
I beat this until it was smooth and fluffy which took a few minutes.
Then I added
1 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
I kind of mashed the sugar into the cream mixture with the beaters so when I turned them on the sugar didn't poof everywhere.  After it was mashed down I beat it for a few more minutes.   It took about 3-4 minutes to get it fluffy, but I got a great forearm workout out of it.

Once the filling was ready and the cookies were cooled.  I put the filling in pastry bag fitted with a large open circle tip.  I piped the filling on the flat side of one cookie covering the whole bottom and then topped with a second cookie.

These were delicious and my kids couldn't be more pleased with the results.
I tried using a whoopie pan for these and I wasn't as pleased with the results as I was with my stoneware.  With my stoneware I definitely had to wait til it started to brown at the edges before removing them from the oven.  One batch I pulled out too quickly because it hit the 10 minute mark and they deflated almost immediately and we really enjoyed the puffy version better although taste wise both were good.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fall Harvest Salad

Fall Harvest Salad

So this is another creation from our Winder Farms produce box.  This week we got spaghetti squash (which I've never made before), fingerling potatoes (which my husband mocked until he tried them), lettuce, red onion, and some other things we ate much quicker than when I tried this recipe.  The recipe given again had lots of stuff I don't keep on hand and/or am not a fan of, so I tweaked it to come up with this.

The first thing I started with was the squash.  I had to have the hubby cut this sucker in half, it's NOT easy! (Or maybe I'm just a weakling in my current pregnant not able to run or train state.)  Either way it still took the hubs quite a few minutes and 3 knives before he got it open.  I wasn't quite sure what to do since I've never made spaghetti squash and I was wondering if maybe those strings around the seeds were what I was supposed to cook.  After a few google searches I cleared out the seeds and strings, just like when you take the guts out of a pumpkin.
Then I brushed the meat of the squash with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I lined a baking sheet with foil and popped this into a preheated 450* oven.  I set the timer for 30 minutes and got to work chopping.

I washed and cut the fingerling potatoes in half.  I put them in a bowl and tossed with olive oil and garlic salt and pepper.

Then I chopped the red onion, lettuce and chicken (I used some cooked grilled chicken.)

When the squash timer rang, I took it out and then put those potatoes right on the same baking sheet and back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Once the spaghetti squash is finished use a fork to scrape at it, and it will become stringy like noodles.

Then layer the salad.  I did lettuce, squash, potatoes, chicken, and onions.
I really found that this salad didn't need any dressing.  The squash, seasoned potatoes and onions really gave it plenty of flavor.
I personally did whip up a quick honey mustard vinaigrette, but if you use any dressing, use very sparingly, especially a vinaigrette.
You don't want it to overpower the taste of fall.

(I cooked the whole squash and used a little more than half, if you have a smaller family you can probably get away with only using half.)

**This recipe is gluten free. Verify all your ingredients are gluten free.**


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

When we lived in Roosevelt, one of the only decent places to eat was Cafe Rio which was about 30 minutes away but worth the drive and we made it often.  There were times we just couldn't make the drive and were dying for some deliciousness.  I found a couple of copycat recipes online and tweaked them to make my favorite meal.  The Cafe Rio Style Chicken and Cafe Rio Style Rice.  And I realized as I opened tomatillos in my Winder Farms order, that I've never posted the dressing.  That just won't do.
I found the recipe HERE from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  And other than adding a little bit more tomatillos and jalapenos and making poor man's buttermilk, I pretty much left it alone.  She did a great job!

I made this dressing the night before the chicken because I like to let the flavors get all combined and spicy.

I started by making poor man's buttermilk.  One Tbsp of vinegar in a liquid measuring cup and then enough whole milk to make 1 c.
I chopped up my ingredients, just so they'd blend easier.
I poured my "buttermilk" into my blender and then added
1 oz ranch dressing mix (or 3 Tbsp. if you buy in bulk)
1 c. mayo
2-3 tomatillos (they are green, near the tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed

I just blended that all up

and then poured into my jars.

Please note in these pictures the recipe is DOUBLED!  You will only need one jar for the recipe listed.
I ALWAYS make double of this, but one batch will make more than enough to feed everyone for a meal.  My hubby likes to put this on most everything including baked potatoes!  If kept sealed in the fridge this will last at least 2 weeks.  (I doubt it will last that long!)  Remember to stir before pouring.

**This recipe is gluten free. Verify all your ingredients are gluten free (especially soy sauce!!).**


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Thai Lettuce Wraps

So recently the hubs and I signed up for Winder Farms.  This deliciousness was sitting on my doorstep Monday morning as I was headed out for my run. 

I won't show you all our goodies, but we ordered a produce box as part of our order.


It is more expensive than Bountiful Baskets, but the quality is amazing.  I didn't use most of the produce until almost the end of the week and it was so fresh still!! I'm used to only buying berries the day I use them or they go bad by the time I go to bed!

They also provide a recipe to use your ingredients, which I think is a GREAT idea because so many times I get a new item and have no clue what to do with it.  This time they gave me a recipe for Thai Lettuce Wraps, but their recipe was full of ingredients I didn't have on hand and my grocery budget for the week was gone, so I decided to come up with my own.

I found a recipe on but it called for skewers and grilling and as a busy mom with a husband currently on nights, that wasn't going to happen.  Plus I was missing some of the ingredients and had others I wanted to use.  So I adjusted until I came up with something I was happy with.

The hubs is on nights right now so getting all 5 kids fed, bathed, and ready for bed on time is quite the challenge alone but having dinner on time makes a world of difference.  So, I wanted to have this recipe on the table by 5pm.  Since I was planning on that I started with all my prep work while helping the kids with their homework.

I started by mixing up the sauce.
1/3 c. lite soy sauce
1/3 c. water
3 Tbsp. Lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp. Ground ginger
1 Tbsp. Sugar
I just mixed that all together and set aside.
(If you don't like the raw garlic taste {this sauce isn't cooked}, I suggest either just adding more to the meat mixture and omitting it in the sauce, or you can cook it up real fast before adding it.)

Then I got my veggies ready.  I washed and separated the lettuce, and shredded and thinly sliced my carrots, peppers, and cucumber.
(You can add whatever other veggies you want or have on hand.  Some suggestions are radishes, green onions, rice sticks, etc.)

I took 1 lb of ground beef and browned it most of the way.  Then I added 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic (you can go 1 if you aren't garlic fans) and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger.
I let that finish cooking and then I added 1 c. of cooked rice I had from the other nights dinner.

I let that cool for a minute.  Then I started assembling.  Once the prep work was done this was a super fast dinner.  You could always do almost all the prep before hand and this would be a quick meal.

Take a lettuce leaf and top with the meat mixture and then veggies, if you are rolling, do not overfill them or the lettuce will tear easy.  My husband and I ate them this way, dipping in our own bowls of dipping sauce.
  Beware - These are MESSY! But you'll be licking your fingers with deliciousness.

Little kids and bowls of dipping sauce don't always work well, so we went an alternate way for them.
I simply used their lettuce as a bowl, filled it up and then drizzled with the sauce.  At first I was afraid they wouldn't eat the lettuce this way, but they were using the lettuce to soak up the sauce and finish them off.

**This recipe is gluten free. Verify all your ingredients are gluten free (especially soy sauce!!).**


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Honey Crock Pot Chicken

Honey Crock Pot Chicken

I got this recipe from but had to tweak a few things to make it work.
I found these yummy looking guys on clearance at my local grocery store and chicken that is .79/lb is definitely for me!  

3-4 lbs chicken drumsticks (I had 11 drumsticks in my pkg.)
3/4 c. honey
1/2 c. lite soy sauce
3 Tbsp. ketchup
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained with reserved juice
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1/4 c. water

**If your ingredients are GF than this meal is GF, check your soy sauce and spices to be sure!**

1. I always start by spraying my crockpot with nonstick spray because it makes clean up faster. Then I dumped in all those chicken drumsticks.
2. In a bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger and reserved pineapple juice. Pour this sauce over the chicken.
3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours (make sure chicken is cooked through). Stir in pineapple chunks about 10-15 minutes before done.

*This is where preference comes in. The chicken is done, and delicious, the sauce is good but quite liquidy. If you don't want to wait, or use the crockpot to avoid extra dishes and steps, go ahead and eat now. If you want a thick sauce to pour over the top continue on.*

4. Remove chicken and pineapple and set aside (keeping warm). Pour sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
5. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk into sauce. Turn down heat and let cook until thickened.
6. Serve chicken on rice and top with sauce.

My kids all had seconds and some had thirds. My GF daughter says she loves delicious chicken meals like this that are gluten-free.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Warm Broccoli Spread

Warm Broccoli Spread

My husband cannot get enough of this.  He will eat the whole thing by himself and he is NOT a vegetable fan.  This is a broccoli spread so expect broccoli.  You can do a light version using light or reduced fat cream cheese, sour cream and cheese, but we go for the regular version.

I found this recipe in the Taste of Home Cookbook when I was looking for a new way to use up broccoli.
First add 1 pkg. cream cheese (8oz),  1 c. sour cream and 1 envelope Italian seasoning pkg to a bowl.  

Using a hand mixer beat together until blended.

I used fresh broccoli so I chopped up about 10 oz.
(if using frozen make sure it is chopped, thawed, drained and patted dry)

 Then fold in your 10 oz chopped broccoli and 1 1/2 c. of shredded cheddar cheese.

Once all mixed, spoon into a shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  (I used my pampered chef small oval baker without the spray.)

My daughter couldn't resist even before it was cooked.
Bake at 350* for 20 min.  Then sprinkle with 1/2 c. cheese and bake an additional 5 min. to melt cheese.

(Make sure you clean up as you go)

Hot out of the oven!!

Serve with wheat things

If you want a gluten free version, serve with gluten-free crackers.

My daughter's dinner gluten-free chicken bruschetta pasta and warm broccoli spread with gluten-free crackers.