Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Praline Thumbprint Cookies

No photo for these...the last thing I think about when these cookies come out of the oven is a photo!! They are too good not to eat up immediately!

This recipe comes from a local church cookbook and the woman who makes them every year at the holidays is a good friend of my sister. We started making them ourselves (we were tired of praying that Leslie would get some from her at cookie swaps! :) about two years ago, and they are heavenly.


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well at a medium speed. Add flour, mixing well. Stir in chopped pecans and vanilla. Shape dough into one inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb in center of each cookie to make an indention. Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes. Do not brown. Cool on wire racks.

Praline Filling

1/2 cup butter
dash salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Let boil 2 minutes. Remove praline mixture from heat and cool to lukewarm. Stir in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon til mixture is smooth. Spoon about 1/2 tsp. of the praline filling into each indention.

Enjoy with a cup of hot tea and a good holiday read.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Crockpot Chili

This is a great meal to put together in the morning and let it sit slow cooking all day. It's also great to assemble ahead of time and freeze...then just thaw the Ziploc the night before and plop in the Crockpot the next morning. This is an adaptation of the chili recipe that came with my Crockpot.

1 lb. ground beef, browned
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can pinto beans, undrained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
2-3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Cook on low for 5 or so hours.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, Tostito scoops, or rice.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brown the Beef

If you want to make life simpler in your kitchen, do some of your work ahead of time. I went grocery shopping this morning and bought 4 lbs. of organic ground beef. That's about what I buy for two weeks worth...two ground beef dishes a week. When I walked in the door, I immediately got out my big ol' family skillet and browned all four pounds of beef with about 1/2 of a large sweet onion. I drained it and now it is cooling.

I have labeled 4 freezer Ziploc bags for the meat once it has cooled. One will be for Crockpot Chili. The others are for spaghetti sauce, lasagna, and Cincinnati Chili. I will freeze the Crockpot Chili with all of the ingredients in with the beef...beans, tomatoes, spices. For the spaghetti sauce and lasagna, I just will split up the beef into their quart size bags to be ready for when I need it for sauce. For the Cincinnati Chili, I will just add the spices for that recipe, and freeze (in my cabinet I already have the tomato sauce and tomato paste for that recipe...and I took a Sharpie and put a big "X" on those cans so that I know they are to be used for freezer food).

Browning the beef ahead of time will save you time in the future because you only had to do it once instead of four times (which also decreases your dishwashing time!) and it also makes you know that you have meals planned and ready to go.

photos by dronir

Pecan Chicken Spread

As the holidays get closer, we always need some good stand-by appetizer or bring-to-a-party recipes. My sister has had this recipe for at least 20 years and it's always a crowd pleaser. It's original name was "Chicken Loaf", but let's face it...anything with "loaf" in it doesn't sound appetizing. So I renamed it. But it's just as delicious as ever.

1 1/2 cups cooked, minced chicken
1/3 cup minced celery
2 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. Heinz 57
1/2 tsp. curry
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Blend together cream cheese, Heinz 57 and curry. Add chicken and celery and stir. Form into ball or dome. Cover with parsley and nuts. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with crackers.

I know. Sounds weird to have Heinz 57. But trust me, this is awesome!

photo by fuzuoko

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Seasonal Freezer Cooking

I am back at freezer cooking again. I now have a "fall freezer cooking" menu which gave me the great idea to do "seasonal freezer cooking". For me that means to come up with a new freezer cooking menu every three months according to the season of the year and the cravings that come when those seasons arrive. I usually prepare about 14 meals which will then be rotated six times. This keeps my thinking and planning to a minimum and allows me to pick up meat on sale when I shop knowing what I will do with it once I get home.

So here is what we just finished up eating and what I will prepare again later today:

Sesame Chicken
Teriyaki Chicken
Honey Lime Chicken
Cincinnati Chili
Crockpot Chili
Spaghetti Sauce
Steak Kebobs
Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kebobs
Citrus-Lime Pork Chops
Crockpot Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin
Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Easy and tasty meals put together quickly and stored away in Ziplocs in my freezer. Which frees
me up for all the crafty goodness I am doing in preparation for Holiday gift-giving! Cooking now means more time for creativity later!

What's a few of your favorite fall meals?

photo by wwsjr

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

This is a great grilled pork tenderloin recipe that feeds a crowd. Marinate, grill and slice into thin medallions. I marinate the pork and then freeze it in a Ziploc until I need it! Kroger has their pork tenderloins on sale this week for $1.99/lb so stock up and freeze them!

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sherry
1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pinch garlic powder
2 (3/4 lb) pork tenderloins

Marinate 6-12 hours. Grill for 20 minutes.

photo by tiny bites

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roasted Potatoes

We love potatoes. They are inexpensive, filling, and extremely versatile. And with our busy lives and crazy economy, those are great attributes to have! Potatoes can easily be your main dish when baked and served with lots o' toppings....or as a hearty side dish...and it's really hard to mess these guys up.

Our long time favorite way of eating potatoes is to roast them. My sister got me hooked on these about 15 years ago. Back then we just quartered red potatoes, put them in a 9x13 pan, drizzled a stick of butter over them, sprinkled some poultry seasoning, and then baked at 450 for an hour.

These days I do the same exact thing...I just substitute delicious lime-pepper seasoning for the poultry seasoning. Delish... and a staple with our cheeseburgers.

Another recipe that I tried this evening is for Garlic Red Potatoes. These were more "elegant" and would be wonderful paired with sauteed chicken breasts.

4 lbs. red potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in a 9x13 pan. In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake COVERED 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. (I actually had to add another 10-12 minutes to that.)


Monday, October 6, 2008

Cutting A Red Pepper

You must run over to this blog and see how to cut a red pepper so that no pesky seeds are on your knife, cutting board, or pepper pieces.

Don't you just love clever cooking tips?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taco Soup

This is an old stand-by for the fall and winter. It's great when you can buy canned veggies on sale or buy-one-get-one free. It serves a crowd and is quite filling. We eat half and I freeze the rest!

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can diced green chilies
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix

Brown beef and onion in large pot. Drain. Add everything else (I drain the corn and rinse the black beans first)...heat through!

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, and if you have some, a sprinkling of cilantro!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Taco Chicken Wraps

Today I pulled out my Crockpot for the first time since winter. I am slowly moving away from my summer grill-dependence and towards the Slow Cooker to get autumn dinners prepared early in the day.

This recipe is one that I received at a Freezer Cooking seminar a few years ago. I had never tried it until today, but it's tasty and filling so it'll be a keeper for sure.

1 lb. frozen corn
3-4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning mix
16 oz. salsa
2 cans black beans

Tortillas, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce.

Layer all ingredients in Crockpot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Stir at 4 hours. Stir again at the end...when you stir this time, the chicken will break apart/shred and the mixture will thicken.

Serve with whole-grain tortillas and all the fixin's!

photo by MariSheibley

Vegetable Chowder

My tummy has been under-the-weather this week and everything I eat seems to make me feel bad. So as I was debating my lunch choices today, I thought:

"a bowl of simple soup is just what I need!"

So I reached for my More-with-Less Cookbook because I thought it would give me the best chance of a recipe with the ingredients I have on hand. And it delivered, as usual. This is a simple vegetable chowder that is easy to throw together for a warm, nourishing lunch.

1/2 cup rice, uncooked
3 chicken bouillon cubes
5 cups water
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
1 minced onion
1/2 cup finely cut celery
1 cup canned tomatoes
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes. Add when ready to serve:
1 cup milk
Heat almost to boiling and serve immediately.

No frills, just soupy comfort.

photo by peskymac

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cantaloupe Soup

I found this recipe in a Susan Branch Summer Cookbook today and since I have tons of cantaloupe on hand that needed to be consumed, I tried this! And we found it very refreshing!

1 large ripe cantaloupe
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Cut cantaloupe in half, remove seeds, scoop out flesh and put it into the blender with all other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Chill well and garnish with flowers.

Tastes like sherbet!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shrimp and Grits

I made Shrimp and Grits last night...a South Carolina favorite...for some dear friends. Right now I am eating the leftovers for lunch and I just had to jump on here and share the recipe with you.

The shrimp are cooked a la Paula Deen from this recipe. Bacon, shrimp, green onions, lemon juice, parsley and garlic. Super duper quick and easy.

But the best grits are "Old Post Office Grits" and here is the recipe:

1 cup water
1 cup grits
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (optional)...I do it without!

Combine 1st 5 ingredients and cook on very low heat until boiling while stirring occasionally. Add salt and butter and cheese. Cook for about 20-30 minutes. Put in crock pot to keep warm. If using stone ground grits, it will need to cook longer.

These are the richest, most divine grits. Is this meal healthy for the body? Probably not :) But healthy for the soul? Ah yeah.