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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars

Something fun, quick, easy, and tasty for a quick dessert.

Salted Caramel Pecan Bars
Makes 4 dozen. From Southern Living

1 cup chopped pecans
12 Whole graham crackers
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons Whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single later in a shallow pan 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Stirring halfway through.

Line a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper; lightly grease.  Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in prepared pan, slightly overlapping edges.

Combine sugar, butter, and cream in a medium-size heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.  and stir in vanilla and pecans. Pour butter mixture over crackers, spreading to coat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbly.

Immediately sprinkle with salt, and slide foil/paper from pan onto a wire rack.  Cool completely (about 30 minutes). With a knife, cut bars.

**Chocolate-Peacan-Carmamel variation: Prepare recipe as directed until removal from oven. Once removed from oven, top warm bars with 1 cup dark chocolate morsels. Let stand 3 minutes, spread chocolate over bars, then sprinkle with salt and proceed with recipe as directed. Chill 20 minutes before serving.

** Our favorite (Tried this recipe out during Christmas 2014 season.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix Treat

I saw these on pintrest and they sparked my interest as a fun treat. At my house Muddy Buddies or AKA Puppy Chow or many other names are beloved and evil all at the same time.  My favorite is still the original Muddy Buddy flavors, but it didn't take long for these little munchies to disappear either.  

Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix 

9 cups rice Chex cereal
3 cups cinnamon chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pour Chex cereal into a bowl. Set aside. Combine sugars and cinnamon in another small bowl. Set aside.

In a microwavable bowl, melt the cinnamon chips. Heat for 1 minute then stir. Heat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir. Continue with additional 30 seconds until completely melted. Pour melted cinnamon chips over the cereal. Stir until cereal is well coated.

Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Toss to coat. Pour out the cereal onto a cookie sheet. Continue to sprinkle and toss the cereal with the rest of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pan-Seared Five-Spice Tilapia with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce

Recently I snatched a few free Cuisine at Home magazines from the Library.  I found a Tilapia recipe I wanted to try, weeks went by and I kept looking at it thinking I am going to make a menu this week, then the week would pass. Finally, I did it. It was scrumptious! A new 5 Star recipe at my home to add to the "fish" file.  Jack gave it 5 stars the kids agreed with lots of "yummy" and "MMMmmm's".

Mom! I think you are going to love this!

Pan-Seared Five-Spice Tilapia with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce
Source: Cuisine at Home Issue no. 73 February 2009, p 35
Yields 4 servings       Total time 15 minutes

Five-Spice Tilapia

1/2 tsp. Chinese Five-Spice Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, divided
1 lb. Tilapia Fillets (4-6)
2 Tbsp. minced Scallions (I had to omit because I didn't have them on hand)

Mix five-spice powder, salt, cayenne pepper with 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
Pat fillets dry, brush both sides with spice mixture. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high hear until skillet is lightly smoking.  Add fillets; sauce 3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with scallions. Serve with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce.

Per serving 201 cal; 13g total fat (2g sat) 57 mg chol; 1 g carb; 205 mg sodium; 0g fiber, 23 g protien

Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce
-Vary the amount of red pepper flakes to adjust the heat of the sauce to your liking.
Makes 1/3 cup ; Total time 10 minutes

1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (I used mixed from concentrate)
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Whisk marmalade, orange juice, vinegar, ginger root, and pepper flakes together in a small bowl.

Saute garlic in sauce pan with oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add marmalade mixture and simmer, stirring continuously, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt

Mandarin Spinach Salad
This colorful Asian salad can be garnished with store-bought chow mien noodles or homemade fried wonton strips. (This salad dressing is light and fresh! A good Spring/Summer dressing to mix things up.)

Makes 8 cups (4 servings) Total time 25 minutes

For the Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. rive vinegar
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. minded fresh ginger root
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
Pinch of salt

Whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, ginger root, dijon, sesame oil, and salt for the vinaigrette in a small bowl.

For the Salad
8 cups baby spinach
1 can mandarin orange segments drained (11 oz.)
1/4 cucumber, seeded, sliced thinly into half moons
1/2 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup chow mein noodles or Fried wonton strips (optional)

Combine spinach, oranges, cucumbers, mushrooms, almonds, and scallions in large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette just before serving. Garnish with noodles

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1-Minute Ham and Egg Breakfast Bowls

My kids love breakfast foods and they also love to help in the kitchen from time to time.  Breakfast is one of those great learn to cook beginner foods for kids to learn to cook.  I clipped this recipe out of a magazine awhile back-it was an advertisement for the www.incredibleEgg.org.

These were quick simple.  I loved the shape of them when made in a ramekin they slip right out and would make the perfect english muffin egg sandwich.

1 Think slice of deli hame (1 oz)
1 egg, beaten
Shredded Cheese

Line the bottom of the 8 oz ramekin or custard cup with ham slices, folding ham is necessary.  Pour egg over ham.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds until egg is almost set, cook 15 to 30 seconds longer if needed.

Top with cheese. Serve immediately

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Korean Beef

I have an inspiring bunch of ladies I run with early in the morning.  I am so grateful to have them! We run and visit about many topics of interest. One morning I asked if any of them had cooked anything new that they liked lately.  Des said she had tried this Korean Beef recipe from pintrest and even her picky eater liked it! My kids aren't to picky so I thought I would give it a try. I searched pintrest for the said" Korean Beef" and found many to choose from-that's always hard to pick which one to print out. It was good, my family liked it!  I find that we are liking the things we can copy cat at home more than eating out and it saves lots of money. :-)

Korean Beef is a very standard dish. Nearly every Chinese restaurant sells it but it's usually made with flank steak and sauteed with broccoli. This recipe I adapted from http://elizabethbryant.blogspot.com/2010/05/korean-beef to our liking. Using hamburger as suggested makes this  recipe is less expensive and easier than a flank steak. I like to use as lean of beef as I  can get for this dish so it will be oily and gross.  


1 pound lean ground beef
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low-sodium or use regular and add 1-2 Tablespoons of water))
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (see note)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers (to desired spiciness original said 1/2-1 tsp.)
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, diced (don't skip this!)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger with garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions. 

Note: Fresh ginger doesn’t keep forever but it can be frozen.  I have found that it zest on my microplane grater really well when its frozen.  I almost prefer to use it this way. Or I also love my garlic twist -its not just for garlic it does wonders on ginger too! One of my favorite kitchen gadgets Jack has given me.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beef and Bean Oven Tacos

I tried this recipe for a quick Saturday lunch when the kids and hubby were all home and we were working hard preparing our yard for planting grass.  I like to prepare large batches of taco meat to keep in the freezer for quick meals.  So this recipe was super quick for me. I just took out a bag of my taco meat added the beans and tomatoes cooked until it had a chance to simmer together as suggested.  We will keep these in out quick, simple, and easy recipes for future use.  I think if you added a can of diced tomatoes with chilies added to it would give it a nice added kick if you like that sort of thing. Plan on trying those the next time around!

Beef and Bean Oven Tacos

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked black beans (I used one 15 oz can drained and lightly rinsed)
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
8 taco shells (used 12)
1 cup shredded cheese
Toppings or side suggestions: shredded lettuce, salsa, avocado or guacamole, and corn.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion over medium heat.  Once browned, drain well.  Stir in the black beans, taco seasoning, and diced tomatoes, and let simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Line up taco shells in a baking dish. Spoon meat mixture into the taco shells. Top with a few pinchfuls of cheese. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Serve with toppings and a side of veggies.
Makes 4 servings-(two tacos each)
Recipe From Costco Connection magazine, Courtesy of Erin Chase at www.5dollardinners.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Marshmallow Fondant

Can't believe my baby girl turn 4! She is such a joy to our family. She is our sweet and spicy all bundled in one.  She wanted and Elsa party and a Hello Kitty party. Seeing that we were having both a family and a friend party she was lucky enough to get both!  I tried something new I have never attempted before--homemade fondant.  I usually just buy the wilton stuff at the store, but this year I was feeling cheap and said it was to expensive.  It provided me with an opportunity to learn something new. the kids and I had fun doing this experiment together.  It taste far better than the store bought stuff anyway.

Marshmallow Fondant (www.cakeboss.com)

16 oz mini marshmallows (don't buy cheap marshmallows)
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)

Yields 3 lbs fondant

Empty bag of marshmallows into a large, microwave safe bowl and add water. Microwave until the marshmallows are puffed up and looking soft. (About 2 minutes)

This is really important--while your marshmallows are in the microwave, use a paper towel to spread some shortening thoroughly to your wooden spoon.   Making marshmallow fondant is a sticky business, and this is one way to make it easier on yourself.

Stir in optional ingredients. Add your corn syrup and extract if using them. The corn syrup helps the fondant have flexibility after it reaches room temperature. The extract just adds flavor and helps cut the sweetness according to cake boss.com.

Adding color--if you want to color the entire batch you can add color now, rather than having to knead it in later.  Adding powdered sugar gradually begin to stir in the powdered sugar continue stirring and adding powdered sugar until you have used 2/3 of a bag. Stop when it becomes to difficult to continue string with the spoon.

Turn out onto a greased surface.  Keeping in mind that it is still going to be hot.  Carefully begin to knead with your hands, gradually adding in the rest of your powdered sugar.  You may not need the entire bag.  You'll know to stop when it stops absorbing powdered sugar. Keep your shortening near by so you can grease your hands as necessary. Double bag or plastic wrap and then put in an air tight container, to store until needed.

To things tine mentioned on sites I read about Marshmallow Fondant is that it doesn't loosen up with kneading like traditional fondant.  If it is to hard straight from the bad and can't be rolled out. Microwave for 5 seconds increments until it is kneadable.  It's important to not melt it.  You just want to soften it enough to be able to roll it out.  A liberal coating of shortening on your hands will asset with the kneading process.

Jill's Cake filling--I did an experiment and it turned out pretty good. I used this in the Hello Kitty cake. It was a cherry chip box cake with a raspberry/cherry filling.

1 1/2 cups strawberry puree
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup Jello (choose a flavor that goes with your cake flavor)
1/4 cup sugar.

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and good until the liquid is clear (sugars are dissolved) and it starts to get thick.  It will thicken more once it cools.  Cool and then spoon onto your cake.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yaki Udon

Our family has really developed a craving for sushi or Japanese cuisine. We give the credit to Jack for that! He has become quite the sushi maker and we the connoisseurs-aren't we lucky!   Jack recently made some "organic Udon authentic Japanese wheat noodles" they were great but I think a thin linguine will be a great substitute (One we will probably have to use more often then not.  We can't come by Japanese noodles easily in our parts.) When we get around a "World Market" we like to see what fun things we can try.  Jack picked noodles up and we tried the recipe on the back of the package. These were a huge hit at our table, so much so, that Jack had to make them again the next day for lunch.  The kids loved them and could eat the whole recipe by themselves if we would allow it.  Gotta love a recipe like that!

Yaki Udon
(Serves 5 according to package)

9.5 oz Hakubaku Udon Noodles or Thin linguine
7.5 oz Chicken breast, finely sliced
1/2 Medium onion, finely sliced (we used our favorite sweet onion here)
1 Carrot, finely sliced
3 oz Cabbage, finely sliced
3 Spring onions, cut on angle
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
Pinch of salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the Udon Noodles for 4 minutes, (for linguine according to package for al dente) drain, then rinse well under cold water. Put olive oil into frying pan and heat up.  Cook chicken thoroughly, then cook onion, carrot, cabbage, and noodles lightly.  Once everything is warmed up, add spring onion, pinch of salt, pepper, and soy sauce.  Toss in pan. Serve