"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pumpkin Mini-Muffins or Cake

This is a Fall must have for us. These mini muffins quickly disappear from the kitchen and please the palate. If you like pumpkin flavored goodies in the fall this is a must try for you! I got this recipe from my friend Lynnette when we lived in Connecticut several years ago, while Jack was in graduate school. Our kids took these to preschool for their snack to share and they were a hit there too. Lynnette has changed her recipe since giving it to me. The one posted here is the version I have always cooked, but I did check Lynnette's blog right before posting this and noticed that she has made a change in her recipe. She uses one cup of packed brown sugar and one cup white; everything else is the same.

Happy Fall Baking!

Pumpkin Mini -Muffins or Cake

2 cup granulated sugar or (1 cup white sugar/1 cup brown sugar)
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin (15 ounce can)

In a separate bowl, stir together, then mix in:
2 cups flour (9 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ginger

For muffins: line mini-muffin tins with muffin papers. Fill each cup about ¾ full with batter. Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from pans, cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.

For Bundt Cake: Pour into greased bundt pan, bake about 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Frost or not.

For Cake: Pour batter into greased 9 x 13 inch pan and spread evenly. Bake 30 to 40 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven. Test center with toothpick to ensure center isn’t undercooked. Cool completely before frosting.
(* I also noticed that Lynnette had used a chocolate drizzle frosting with this cake in her picture. Chocolate? Can't go wrong there!)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 (or more) cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon milk (if needed)

Beat on high speed of mixer until smooth and glossy. Add milk or more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency.

**I have now tried it with both chocolate and cream cheese frosting and I cast my vote for the cream cheese frosting by far.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Scott's Soccer Practice Bars

This recipe came from the back of a 25 lb bag of Western Family Sugar. Cameron and I whipped these up one evening for fun. I now know why Scott (whoever he is) calls this soccer practice bars! You need to go to soccer practice to burn off the cookies. We love oatmeal, we love chocolate, and we love peanut butter so you can see that these cookies don't look like much but they sure pleased our sweet tooth.

Soccer Practice Bars

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 cup old fashion oatmeal
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I used 3/4-1 cup mini chocolate chips)

Icing--combine and set aside
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
2 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and peanut butter and mix well. Stir in soda, salt, flour, and oatmeal. Press into a 9 x 13 pan.Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. (I actually mixed mine in like a chocolate chip cookie dough-oops). Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with icing.

Cool completely. Cut into squares and serve. Makes 24 squares.

Zucchini Casserole

Zucchini casserole is a southern cusine dish. I found this recipe when I goggled zucchini. We eat with Jack's sister and family often. This was a dish I tried to get rid of some of our zucchini and it was a hit with all the kids. They kept coming back and asking for seconds. I enjoyed it hot and the first day. I couldn't do it as a leftover though, but Jack and the boys seemed to like it. It is similar to a quiche in my opinion. I will probably make this one again next summer when we have zucchini coming out our ears again.

Zucchini Casserole

4 cups grated Zucchini (or other summer squash) --I used the yellow crook-neck summer squash
1 cup Bisquick mix
1/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (the sprinkle type in the bottle)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon parsley

Grate zucchini in large mixing bowl. (I used the slicing edge of my food proccessor. I thought grated would create a texture issue for the kids.) Toss with Bisquick

Mix oils, eggs, cheese, onions, and seasoning in a smaller bowl. Pour this in the large bowl with zucchini and stir together. Grease a 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. TIme will vary depending on the thickness of the mix.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zucchini Lasagna

This Zucchini Lasagna from Real Mom Kitchen was a hit with our family and extended families taste buds. It was a hit for me because it was quick and easy to assemble. I served it with a side of buttered angel haired noodles and a salad. It really hit the spot for everyone last night. This will definetly be going in our Zucchini keeper file. I added 3/4 cup more onion than listed and I used a different curd texture than listed and it worked just fine.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used 1 cup)
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 medium zucchini (1-1/4 pounds)
1 cup (8 ounces) cream-style cottage cheese (I used small curd)
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

In large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add tomato sauce and seasonings. Bring to boil; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut zucchini into 1/4-in. slices. In small bowl, combine cottage cheese and egg. In a greased 3-qt. baking dish, place half of the zucchini; sprinkle with half of flour. Top with cottage cheese mixture and half the meat mixture. Repeat layer of zucchini and flour.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and remaining meat mixture. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bajio Chicken-Salad or Tacos

This quick and easy crock-pot was a good change to our traditional flavored taco meats. This is on the sweet side. It is great on a salad and as a taco-take your pick! I will however recommend that is you don't like your taco's juice you might want to strain the portion of meat you will be using, straight from the pot it has extra juices that will make the tortilla drip with juice. We topped it with our favorite toppings: cheese, cilantro, tomatoes (or the Pico salsa), and avocados.

Bajio Chicken

5 chicken breasts

1/2 cup salsa

1 Tbsp cumin

1/2 cup brown sugar (more to taste, I added at least an extra 1/8 cup)

1 (4 oz. can) diced green chilies
6 oz.
Sprite (1/2 can)

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot and cook 1 more hour. Thicken the juices with a little cornstarch mixed in water.
Serve with flour tortillas, lettuce, cheese, black beans and any other taco fixings.
If you want it spicier rather than sweeter add a hotter salsa and more green chilies.

Pico De Gallo
30-40 grape tomatoes, cut in half or about 4-5 large tomatoes, seeded
(I just eyed what I thought looked like a good balance between the tomatoes and onions.
1 onion (you can use any onion, red, sweet, yellow. Sweet onions are my favorite!)
1 green pepper (I didn’t have a bell pepper so I left it our and it turned out a little sweeter than I think it would had I used the bell
1/2 bunch cilantro (I added a whole bunch-We love cilantro. If you don’t have fresh try adding dried cilantro)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice (I used concentrate from a bottle)

You can dice all ingredients by hand, or use a food processor. Put the tomatoes in the food processor ( if using grape tomatoes have them cut in half. If using large tomatoes have them cut into 4ths) Pulse until tomatoes are desired consistency. Pour tomatoes into a large bowl. Next put the onion in the food processor. Pulse until reached desired consistency. Add to tomatoes. Next process the green pepper and cilantro. Pulse to desired consistency. Add to tomatoes and onions. Add garlic, vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Stir and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, overnight is best. The longer you can let it sit in the fridge, the better it is because the flavors can meld together.

Zucchini Whoppie Pies

These little pies are RICH and Delicious. I got the recipe from Real Mom Kitchen who got it somewhere else! I love cooks who are willing to share their great recipes--THANK YOU LADIES! Another great find for those over grown zucchini's. These cookies are extremely tender and thin. I think next time I might increase the flour even more then I have noted here. They turned out great but I would like them to be slightly thicker, and a little more durable, but not tough!

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I added another 2 T. so total of 2 1/4 cups)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (I used something like 1/8 tsp. because nutmeg is not one of my favorite flavors)
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I used Pecans)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1 cup grated zucchini-squeezed
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Mix shortening and sugar. Add in egg. Mix. Add milk and mix.
2. Add in dry ingredients and stir.
3. Blend in the zucchini and vanilla.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350* for about 12-15 minutes, until the bottom gets browned.
Cool and sandwich cookies with cream cheese filling.
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Crock Pot Potato Chowder

picture of bread bowl and soup comes from realmomkitchen.blogspot.com none of mine came out in focus because our newer camera is out on loan for baby photo's and our old one just doesn't focus all the time. Hers looks 1000 times better than mine anyway.
Cameron is all smiles because he thought having your soup
in a bread bowl was the coolest thing ever!
Crock pot Potato Chowder recipe comes from $5 Dinners.com

8 cups diced potatoes ($.80)
1/3 cup onion, chopped ($.18)
3 knorr bouillon cubes (these are two teaspoons in size $.10, now I used regular bouillon cubes so I needed 6 of them to equal the Knorr ones)
6 cups water
1 10 ¾ ounce can of condensed cream of chicken soup ($.59)
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese ($1.29)
½ lb bacon, cooked and crumbled ($.85)
Dried parsley or sliced green onions for garnish - optional

Combine potatoes, onion, water, bouillon, and chicken soup in the crock pot.Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until potatoes are tender. Add cream cheese to crock pot and blend.Top with bacon and parsley or onions before serving

Italian Bread Bowls

***This recipe actually comes from www.myrecipes.com !!
We tried these rolls from Melanie of sisterscafe.blogspot via realmomkitchen.blogspot.com.
It was a great and inexpensive dinner when paired with the crock-pot cream of potato soup.
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer-I used my kitchen aid), dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition until a soft but not sticky dough is formed (you may not need to use all 7 cups, I think I used 6 1/2 cups).
When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes (or let knead in an electric mixer). Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down, and divide into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal (or use silpat liners or parchment paper). Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Update**1/ 22/2010 These are pretty big bread bowls. A HUGE serving. I will make them into 12-16 bowls next time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Zucchini Brownies

Like everyone else who plants a zucchini plant or two (those are the crazy ones-like us!) Have to love all those great zucchini jokes that are out there. I loved this one because it hits close to home.
Where I grew up, the only time you ever locked your doors was when the zucchini ripened, so the neighbours couldn't "donate" theirs onto your porch. ~ Hermit
Sounds familiar to anyone else?

We love zucchini cookies, cakes, breads, fried, baked etc. This simple and quick Zucchini Brownie recipe comes from my sister Kelly's Kitchen. I have to admit I have eaten several to many of these moist and chocolaty treats every time I make them.

2 cups peeled and shredded Zucchini
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup coco powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2-1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

Mix zucchini, oil, vanilla, then add all dry ingredients. DO NOT USE A MIXER, hand stir!. Pour in to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

**If you double the batch it feels a large cookie/sheet cake pan.

Fresh Pear Crisp

6 Tablespoons unbleached flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or use 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup regular oats (or you can add 3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts)

6 medium pears (2 1/2 to 3 lbs) I didn't have enough to make the weight so I added to small green apples to the mix and it worked great!
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Topping: mix all ingredients, but the nuts in a food processor until resembles a course cornmeal, then add the nuts. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you prepare the fruit.

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the feeling: peel, quartered , and cut the pears into 1-inch chunks. (You should have 6 cups). Toss with lemon juice and sugar in a medium bowl. Scrape the fruit mixture with a rubber spatula into a 8-inch square baking dish or a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking until the fruit is bubbling and the tipping turns deep golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Serve warm. (The Crisp can be set aside at room temperature for a few hours and then reheated in a warm oven just before serving.)

I also tried a Peach-Raspberry version of this crisp. Follow the recipe for the Pear Crisp above, replacing it with 6 peaches (about 3 lbs), peel, pit, and cut into 1/3-inch wedges.
**This one was runny where the pear one was not. It was tart, yet still delicious.

Fresh Peach Dessert

This recipe is in our family cookbook with both my Aunt Julie and my sister Sherri's name by it. I am so glad that they both shared this recipe, because it is AWESOME! I have never served it when it hasn't gotten rave reviews. Last year I even had a husband contact me and tell me that I needed to give the recipe to his wife because it was a new favorite of his. I hope you have a chance to get some great peaches this fall season and give this recipe a whirl. You will not regret it!

1 small box Orange or Peach Jell-o (orange gives it better color)
2 cups water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch

Cook the above ingredients in a small sauce pan until clear. Cool, before adding 4-5 cups (6-8 peaches) fresh peaches. DO NOT LET SAUCE SET-UP when cooling.

Mix together in a seperate bowl:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 (12oz) cool whip

Lorna Doone cookies or white cake mix serves as the crust. (Sandies shortbread cookies work fine too. Just crush them so they cover the bottom of your dish better).

For the cookies: lay them flat in the bottom of a 9 x 13 cake pan and then top with the sweetened milk and cool whip mixture. Then top with peaches/jell-o mixture. Put in fridge until set up.

If you choose to use white cake divide it in half and put it into two cake pans (or a large sheet cake/jelly roll pan) and bake as directed (until a toothpick comes out clean); cool completely. Then follow the directions listed with the cookies.

Sherri's Frozen Peaches

My sister Sherri is an amazing cook and homemaker. In 2007 when I thought I would never be done canning all the peaches I called her asking for advise on anything else I could do with my peaches. She shared this great recipe with me. I have shared it with friends in Billings and here in Wyoming and it has become a favorite for there families as well. I have created a dessert soup out of it which I will post. I am so glad to have great resources like my sisters, my mom, and friends to glean from their great recipes. Thank you Sherri for a great recipe!

12 oz orange juice, diluted as directed on the container
6 oz lemon aid-DO NOT DILUTE! (Oops this year I used lime-aid--still tasted good)
1- 20 oz can crushed pineapple
3 cups sugar

Mix ingredients well and pour over 30 peaches, sliced.
Scoop into quart freezer bags and freeze until ready to use.

Sherri said that they love theirs over ice cream, making peach milkshakes, or they add a few ice cubes and some 7-up and make a smoothie.

I have made great homemade ice cream with it, as well as, the Peach Soup.

Homemade Peach Raspberry Jam

This is a family favorite that my mom has made for as long as I can remember. It does a fast disappearing act when she makes homemade bread or rolls.

6 cups mashed peaches
1 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 box pectin
6 cups sugar
1 teaspoon butter (must be butter not margarine)
1 pkg. raspberry punch powder (optional--it helps give it a nice color.)
1 cup Raspberries (fresh or frozen works)

Put all ingredients , but the sugar in a large pot bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute or until a rolling boil starts. Add the 6 cups sugar and boil for 5 minutes . Remove from heat add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour into hot jars and top with a hot lid and ring. No water bath needed. (This is called kettle canning)

Notes: my mother adds a few drops of red food coloring to make it have a nice color too.
* This recipe produces 7 pints and one half-pint or 6 pints and 3 1/3 half-pints.
** Raspberry Kool-Aid is hard to find now days. I tried this year(2009) to use the Raspberry Peach Crystal Light To-Go packet in place of it. I thought it was a perfect match seeing that both the jam and the punch powder are Raspberry-Peach.

Homemade Peaches, Pears, and Fruit Cocktail

Well as summer draws to and end and the crispness in the air returns it brings with it many memories for me. One of these memories is helping my mother can homemade peaches and pears. Others are the smells of mom making her salsa and chili sauces. After school when you entered the front door the house was filled with the aroma's of mom's labors. There is nothing like homemade and canned products. I have continued to follow in my mothers footsteps (thanks to her training and constant teaching-still!) I can homemade salsa, spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes, peaches, pears, fruit cocktail, and jams. I even did pints of green beans this year which was a new experience for me. I put up 106 quarts of peaches, pears, and fruit cocktail in a 24 hour period spread over 4 days. I tried to do it when the kids were napping or in bed. I quiet enjoyed the quite hours at night to think while my hands were busy. I am so grateful to my dear mother who has passed her knowledge on to me so that I can bless my little family with what I think are the best products we can be eating!
How to can you own peaches according to Joyce Parrish (my mom):
Peel and jar peaches. Pour medium syrup over them in jars to the neck of the bottle. You need to leave a good 1/2" head space for the processing to work. Before processing you can add 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla to each jar (optional, but sure gives them a great flavor). Process in a water bath for 10-12 minutes, no longer-it over cooks the fruit.
* My mom uses her syrup hot. I used my at room temperature this year do to kitchen space (or the lack thereof!) so I processed mine for 15 minutes.

FOR PEARS AND FRUIT COCKTAIL (combo of pears, peaches and a few pieces of canned pineapple chunks):
Use the Medium syrup covering fruit leaving the 1/2" head space and process in a water bath.