Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Cheese Balls with Crackers

Growing up, I remember always helping my Mother make cheese balls for friends & family. I would grate the cheese, my Mom would mix, then I would roll them around in the red powder. Now I have my own family, I decided I would carry on the tradition.


8 c. Mozzarella Cheese
8 c. Mild Cheddar Cheese
4 c. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
6 bxs of Cream Cheese
4 c. Pecans - chopped small
3 tbl. Minced Onions
3 tsp. Garlic Salt
2 tbl. Dried Chives (optional-decorative)
Chili Powder

In two large bowls, equally divide up the cheese, pecans, onion, garlic salt, & chives.

Mix ingredients by squeezing all together. 

Grab a hand full of cheese mixture, form into a fist size ball & place on wax paper. I usually make a few balls larger than others, because some of my friends have large families while others just have one or two in their family.

On a large flat plate, pour equal amounts of chili powder and paprika and mix with a fork.

Roll cheese balls in red powder mix until the ball is fully coated.  I was fortunate enough to have my friend help me with rolling while I formed the balls.  My son was at school & my partner was at work. :(

Individually wrap each cheese ball & store in the fridge until ready to deliver.  I wrap the ball separate because some people might want to put the cheese ball in the fridge & save it for later, but not put the crackers in the fridge.

Place cheese ball on a decorated paper plate, with crackers & wrap the whole plate with plastic wrap.  This year, I gave a cheese ball to the ladies who work so hard at the school, so I added a knife to make it easier for them to enjoy it while they were working.

I usually garnish with a bow & tags I have printed.  In the past I used sticky labels as my tag, but this year, I laminated my printouts so that they may keep the web address to the directions & ingredients that I printed on the labels.

This year, I used a different assortment of crackers. I am partial to Ritz, so I used Original, Garlic Butter & Whole Wheat flavors. I also like Wheat Thins, so I used Original &Tomato Basil flavors.  In the past when I would make the cheese balls with my Mom, she would use Ritz, Town & Club crackers. Of course that was way before they have ever made flavored crackers.

Next year, I am going to try using Pepper Jack Cheese... mmmm....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake Pops

I had decided to make these for my son's class & give them a little boost for the holiday spirit. :)

As I started making them, I asked myself, 'WHY did I start them again soo soon after making some for Halloween?!?!?!?' They turned out cute and were not so difficult as the first ones I did.

I started the day before on making my sugar gum paste feathers & heads. My son & I spent some time coloring the gum paste with gel food coloring.  We were trying to match the brown to the chocolate bodies but couldn't quite get it dark enough. I used a flower cookie cutter & knife to cut out the shapes for each of the feathers.  It worked well for my 9yr old son to cut the rolled out sugar gum paste with the cookie cutter & I used the knife cut the flowers into feathers.  In very random order I 'glued' three together with clear vanilla extract on a sheet of wax paper.  This took almost 24 hours to dry, but when they did dry, they were well stuck together. I did not think it would work at first but I didn't give up.   
My partner thought they
looked huge in a picture
so I captured my hand to
show the size.
My son was helping in the beginning but it proved a little difficult for him so I had him bake a chocolate cake while I did the gluing. 

I used both Orange and Yellow for the beaks.  They were very small. As soon as I rolled the head, I stuck the beak on the head so they could dry together. My son used a edible marker to color the eyes.  After they had dried to where they wouldn't smash when I would pick them up, I used red gel food coloring to paint the red snood on the beak.

The next morning, I crumbled the cake and added 1/2 a can of chocolate buttercream icing, mixing it well.  I stuck the bowl of cake & icing mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes for it to firm up.  I then rolled the cake mixture into balls and placed them onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. I then poked a hole into the top of each ball for the sucker sticks.  I melted a small amount of chocolate dipping candy, suck a sucker stick into the melted candy & then placed the sucker stick into the hole on the ball of cake.

After I had all the balls and sticks made, I froze them for about 2 hours so that when I dipped the cake into chocolate, they wouldn't fall off the stick.

The chocolate melt was still a little darker than the color of my turkey heads so I added some white candy melt to it and the color came out softer. I melted the candy according to the directions on the packaging.

In assembling all the pieces together, I had my partner help me.  I dipped while she placed the feather and heads on the body.  It was easier to have the feathers laid out on wax paper & set the cake pop onto the feathers rather than holding the cake pop upright & holding the feathers and head until the chocolate candy hardened.

I went to Walmart three days before Thanksiving to look for a way to display my gaggle of turkeys & I was pleasantly surprised to see the "fall" items on sale. I purchased a scarecrow for $.50!  Also found some small plastic pumpkins to throw into the mix.
I used the same basket that I had used for the Scary Cake Pops. I purchased a tan leafy material to cover my Styrofoam block. I found some 'straw' to use & ribbon with wire in the fabric section. 

The ladies in the school office thought it was sooooo cute. The next time I went to the office they wanted to know what I was going to make for Christmas.... Snow mans???  Sorry to say tho, they will have to be okay with my Holiday Cheeseballs....

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cheesecake Recipe

Because of the extreme panic of the-day-before-Thanksgiving-and-I-can't-find-the-cheesecake-recipe-anywhere, I am uploading this so that I can find it easily. Shhhhh....

Shortbread Crust
One 9” pie or 9½” or so tart crust
This rich, sweet dough resembles a shortbread cookie. Use it for cream pie, a lemon tart, a fresh fruit tart with pastry cream, or any other pie or tart with a creamy or buttery filling, or to make approximately eight 3½” tartlet crust. For tartlets, press the dough into your molds and bake until firm and golden, about 15 minutes, pricking with fork several times during baking.
If you make this in a food processor using cold butter, it will be firm enough to form into a crust at once; if made by hand with softened butter, the dough will require brief chilling before forming.
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. grease or butter the bottom, but not the sides of a 9” pie pan or 9½” or 10” two-piece tart pan. Dust the pan with flour, tilt to coat the bottom, then tap out the excess. (If using a tart pan, pop out the bottom, wedge it between your palms, and tap.)
Whisk together in a bowl or process for 10 seconds in a food processor:
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened if working by hand, cut into 8 pieces
Mash with the back of a fork or process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add:
  • 1 large egg yolk
Mix with a spatula or process just until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough is too soft and sticky to work with, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom and sides of the prepared pan, or roll it between sheets of wax paper and flip it into the pan. Do not attempt to crimp or flute the edge. Thoroughly prick the bottoms and sides with a fork. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. If you are filling the crust with an un cooked mixture that requires further baking, whisk together, then brush the inside with:
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
Return to the oven until the egg glaze sets, 1 to 2 minutes.

New York Cheesecake
15 to 20 servings
For many New Yorkers, this is the biggest and best cheesecake of all.  (If you are baking for New Yorkers, go easy on the lemon zest or leave it out entirely.) Do not be afraid of the extreme oven temperature – the surface of the cake will be golden, with a creamy interior. Preheat the oven to 400°F. lightly grease a 9” spring form pan.
Prepare the dough for Shortbread Crust.
Press of the dough, or slightly less, over the bottom as evenly as possible. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake until the crust is a light golden brown. 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Press the remaining dough about ” thick around the sides of the pan, making sure that it is attached to the bottom crust all around. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with:
  • 1 egg white, well beaten.
Refrigerate the crust if you are not filling it right away.
Have all the ingredients at room temperature, 68°F to 70°F. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
In a large bowl, beat until creamy, about 30 seconds:
  • 2½ pounds cream cheese
Scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters well. Gradually add and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes:
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (optional)
Beat in:
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Beat in 1 at a time, just until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beaters after each addition:
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
On low speed, beat in:
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Scrape the batter into the crust and smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes at 500°F, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°F and bake for 1 hour more. Turn the oven off, prop the oven door a jar with the handle of a wooden spoon, and let the cake cool in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool completely in the pan before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 hours, before serving. The cheese flavor is even more intense after 48 hours.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grilled BBQ Chicken Skewers

Prep: 20-30 minutes (depending on how much help you have) Grill: 10-30 minutes (depending on how many skewers you have)

1 pkg of boneless chicken breast or tenders
1 Red, Orange & Yellow Bell Pepepr
1 Jar of Dole Pinapple Chunks
1-2 Zuchinni Squash
1 pkg Whole Mushrooms
1 bottle Zesty Italian Dressing
1 bottle BBQ sauce
About 50 Bamboo Skewers - soaked in water for 30 minutes to prevent stick from burning on the grill.

These pieces are a little large.
They could probably be cut in half.
Drain pineapple juice from the jar of pineapples into a medium bowl.  Add bottle of dressing and bbq sause & mix with a wire wisk, set aside. Slice up chicken into bite size cubes.  Slice bell peppers & zuchinni squash into bite size pieces. Slice mushrooms in half. Put each of my veggies and chicken in their own bowls so when I am ready to skewer, I can grab what I need without digging for them; seperate bowls also makes it easier if you have others helping you skewer. 
Red, Orange & Yellow Bell Peppers are
sweeter than the traditional
green bell pepper.

Start skewering to where you are alternating between veggie & meat.  Place skewered meat & veggies into a large deep cake pan or turkey roaster. Once you have a layer of skewers, pour some of your bbq sauce mix onto the skewers. Continue layering & covering each layer with bbq sauce mix.

Cover pan(s) & refrigerate over night to marinate.

Place on medium heat grill for 10-15 minutes, rotating them about half way through. Skewers are cooked when you break one of the chicken pieces in half & it is not raw in the middle.  Discard leftover sauce that has touched the raw meat, since it may have picked up bacteria from the raw meat. 

I had many extra veggies after I finished skewering the meat so I sealed them in foil with a little butter, salt & pepper. Roasted them on the grill along with my skewers. It may be really hard, but refrain from eatting the veggies before they are cooked since you may have touched them with your hands that might have had raw chicken on them. 

I didn't have a chance to get a picture of them after they were cooked.  These are so good, I went straight to eating them & I was not thinking of pictures...

Squirt Butt Chicken

Many years ago on a camping trip, my Sister was in charge of dinner one night.  She brough her marinated beer butt chickens to cook on the open campfire.  Boy, was it GOOD! She even gave me one of the stands for me to make my own whenever I wanted to! (LOVE MY SIS!) But, alas I had to buy another stand because there was just no sense in cooking one when you can do two and have leftovers!  I'm not a fan of beer, I don't seen any sense in buying a 6pk of beer when I would only use 2 of the cans.  So I bought a 12pk of Squirt.  That way I can drink the rest at my leisure.  Of course, the first time I tried it, I asked my partner to bring home 2 chickens on her way home from work. Sure enough she brought me 2 turkeys, which worked out great figuring since I don't really like turkey.

2 - 5 to 8 lb chickens or turkeys
2 - cans of squirt (any soda would work since the liquid never touches the chicken)
olive oil or butter
3 tbls Garlic & Herb Grill Seasoning
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1.5 tbls Pollio Seasoning
2 tbls Whole Black Pepercorns
Cooking Spray
Large Turkey Roaster Pan
2 Beer Butt Chicken Stands

Thaw out the chicken according to the package directions.  Discard the neck and gizzards.  I ran the chickens under water to clean the off.  Pat dry with a paper towel. Line the turkey pan with foil for easier cleanup.  Mix in a small bowl the garlic & herb seasoning, pollio seasoning, salt & pepper.  Spray the stands with cooking spray. Open 2 cans of soda and drink about half of each & place cans in stands.  Place about a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns in each can & set cans inside of turkey roaster pan.  Pour a little olive oil on the inside the chickens & rub all around, even under the skin in places you can get to.  Grab some seasoning mix and rub all on the inside of the chickens.  Place the chickens on the stands through the chickens' rear end. Pour a little olive oil on the outside of the chickens. Use the rest of the seasoning mix & rub all over the outside of the chickens.  You can never have too much seasoning on these birds. Arange the legs & arms to make it look like they are sitting.  Fold over the neck skin so that it covers the neck hole & secure with a toothpick.  Marinate for an hour or two.

With help, place into a preheated 375 degree oven and cook until the meat temperature reads 180 degrees which is about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When fnished cooking, let sit for about 10 minutes so the juices can settle. 

You can also substitue any of the seasonings with what you are used to using for your chickens.

Scary Cake Pops

I was invited to a Halloween Party & I wanted to take something 'scary'.  I found some pretty interesting cake pops through pinterest but I had to combine quite a few methods to make my cake pops work & taste like I wanted them to. 

1 cake box mix
Jar of cake icing
Candy Melts
Sucker Sticks
Sugar Gum Paste
Candy Eyes
Gel Food Coloring
Flower Foam board & half ball
Wax Paper

Bake the cake according to the directions on the box.  Once the cake is cooled, break off pieces of cake and crumble between your hands into a large bowl.  Add 1/2 of the jar of cake icing & mix well.  Cover bowl & refridgerate cake/icing mix for about 20 minutes.  Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper. Using a small spoon, scoop out the amount of cake/icing to wish to have your balls sized to & place on wax paper. Using a sucker stick, poke a hole the top of each of the balls.  In a small bowl, melt a small amount of candy melts; enough to dip a sucker stick into and place into the holes on the tops of each of the balls.  It doesn't really matter the amount because you can use that same candy melt later when you dip the cake pops.  Freeze the cakeballs for atleast 2 hours. 

For the Pumpkins, I used spice cake mix & cream cheese icing.  I used a whole jar of icing and I found that the cake balls were too sweet & too gooey for me.  Rolling the cake into the balls was messy.  For the Monsters, I used Chocolate cake mix & Chocolate Buttercream icing.  I used 1/2 of the icing and the cake balls came out tasting like brownies, which I like a lot more. Rolling the cake into balls was a lot cleaner.

For my pumpkins & monsters, I used sugar gum paste to make the pumpkin leaves & swirls & the mouths of the monsters.  This can be done days before or the day of.  I used a gel food coloring to tint my sugar gum paste to the color I wanted.  I bent wire to make my 'leaf' cutter. Rolled out the sugar gum paste flat and started cutting.  I used the round part on the end of a fork to make my leaf print.  I rolled out sugar gum paste into a long spaghetti like strand, cut it into small sections & swirled it to look like vine. I left my designed sugar gum paste out on wax paper to dry. (I suppose you could use the sugar gum paste while it is still moist, but I didn't want to risk having my colors run or blending with the candy melts or bending the sugar gum paste while I was trying to place them on/in the candy melt.  Leftover sugar gum paste can be stored in the freezer for years.

Once your cake pops are frozen, melt candy melts according to the package directions.  (I found a deep bowl worked best, for when I was getting low on my candy melt, I was able to tilt the bowl to where I had a corner to pool the candy melt.)  I added crisco(amount depends on the amount of candy melt you use) to thin the candy melt out & microwaved the candy melt on defrost for 30 seconds, stiring in between each 30 sec. interval. Since I noticed the candy melt was still too thick (it didn't pour off my stiring spoon as easy as I wanted it to) I added a little more crisco.  If you try to dip your cake pop into the candy melt and the cake falls off the sucker stick, then your candy melt is still too thick.  I kept a pair of chopsticks handy incase one fell off into the candy melt & I needed to 'rescue' it. If the candy melt was working fine for a bit & suddenly stops working as well, you probably need to microwave the candy melt again.

I tried to use gel food coloring to try to change the candy melt & I do not reccomend it. When I added it, my candy melt 'froze' up and it was no longer any good.  Change the colors of the candy melt by adding & mixing difference colors of candy melt.

Make a plan before you start. Once you dip your cake pops into the candy melt, depending on how you want the outcome to be; place cake pop directly onto a wax papered cookie sheet or stick the sucker stick into the flower foam to hold.

My pumpkins, I left on a cookie sheet; my monsters, I stuck into the foam.  If you are using decorative sugar gum paste and/or candy eyes - it is best if you stick to the gum paste before the candy melt 'cools'. But if you do it too soon, the leaves/vines/eyes/mouths will slide right off your pop.  I had help when making mine.  I dipped the cake pops & my partner placed the leaves/vines/eyes/mouths.  The cooling happens within 10-20 seconds.  Leftover candy melt can be saved. I poured my leftover candy melt into freezer ziploc baggies to save.

I wanted to have a cool & scary display for my hard worked cake pops.  I went to a local craft/quilt store & the lady happened to have an old apple basket in the back she sold to me for $2.  I purchased some material to cover my half ball & board of flower foam.  My selection of material prints was small, so I used a black rag I purchased to cover the material to make it look better.

I placed the green half ball where I wanted it on the white foam board after I cut it to size.  Covered it with my material and placed it in the basket to where it was wedged/hoving in the basket. I draped my black rag over the ball, foam & basket to give it a spidery look. I used a utility knife to make a slit through the material covering the half ball in the spots where I was going to place my cake pops.  I cut a piece of wax paper to the size of space I was placing the pumpkins in so that the cake pops wouldn't pick up any fuz from the black rag material. 

The Halloween Party Hostess was really pleased with it & took a picture for me.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Pecan Pull Apart Bread

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup of warm water
2 tbl olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3 1/2 c flour

Carmelized Apples
2 - 2 1/2 c apples (peeled, cored & diced: I liked larger chunks)
1/4 c butter
7 tbl dark brown sugar (doesn't have to be dark)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c pecans (or nuts of your choice) (optional)
sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)

Glaze (optional)*
1 c powdered sugar
a tiny bit of milk

Pam Olive Oil Spray

In a large bowl, stir together yeast & water. Let sit for 5 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil/spray a medium bowl & set aside. Mix in the olive oil, salt, sugar, & flour. If you have a stand mixer, knead with the dough hook for 5-6 minutes or until elastic. If by hand, knead dough on a slightly floured surface unril dough is elastic, 7-10 minutes. Dough will be sticky but keep flouring the table as you knead. Place in oiled bowl & cover with oiled plastic wrap so that when the dough rises it will not stick to plastic. Allow to rise until it is doubled in size. I set mine in the sun & it was quick! 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature.

In the mean time, prepare the apples. Place diced apples in a medium sauce pan with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, & nutmeg. You can add the nuts at this point or layer them in when you layer with the apples & dough balls. Cook apples on medium heat until apples are cooked down & a sauce is formed. Remove sauce pan from heat & let cool until dough is ready.

Punch down the dough (I wasn't quite sure what it meant, so I gave it one good punch & the dough went flat). Grease/spray bundt pan. In the bottom of the pan, add a layer of nuts & apples with 1/4 of the sauce (you need to save half the sauce for dipping dough balls in & 1/4 for another layer). Tear off a small piece of dough about half the size of your thumb. Roll a quick ball, coat it in the sauce, place in the bottom of the bundt pan. Repeat until you have one layer of dough balls. Add a layer of apples, some sauce, & nuts. Continue with layering the dough balls. If you have sauce & apples remaining, just add to the top of the last layer.
Cover with plastic wrap & let rise until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300•
Now when I made it the first time, it said to cook @ 350 for 25-30 minuts or golden brown. I cooked it for 25 minutes & it was no where near getting brown. When I pulled it out of the oven, the outside was really hard! (That's why it worked so well with my soup)

Maybe it was my oven, not sure. I couldnt tell you how long I cooked it the second time, because I didn't time it. So, I checked it after about 10-15 minutes, if I could feel the top crust was becoming hard, when I pushed on it, it sprang back, it didn't stay pushed in, I knew it was done.
Mix the glaze while the bread is cooking in the oven. Add powdered sugar to a small bowl. Add a tinny smidget of milk. Mix. If it is really thick & not like slow moving molasses, it could use a smidget more milk. If it is too watery, add more powder sugar. Glaze should be somewhat runny, to slooowly run down the side of the warm bread but not too runny it doesn't stay on the bread.
Flip cooked bread in bundt pan onto a tray or plate & remove pan. Drizzle with glaze. Pull. Eat.

*3/26/2013: the last two times I have made this, I didnt use the glaze. Instead I made a cream cheese mix that was even better. I used one block of cream cheese, one cup of powdered sugar and about ½ c. milk. I mixed with a hand mixer or the KitchenAid, the cream cheese and the powdered sugar while slowly addung the milk. You only want enough milk to make the mixture slightly runny. Mix until no lumps are left and it is fluffy.

Slow Cooked Chili Beans

Prep: 30 minutes, Cook: 8 hours

1 lb pinto beans
1 lb ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes*
1 tbls fresh minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tbls brown sugar
4 tbls flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c chopped green onions (green parts add color)
4 tbls red chili powder
Enough water to cover beans in slow cooker
1/2 pkg Salted Bacon (Didn't think to read the package size before I tossed it)

In the slow cooker on low, add cleaned beans with water, salt, pepper, bacon & chopped onions. Leave for five hours.

Five hours later, brown beef & drain, sprinkle with garlic salt. Remove bacon pieces from slow cooker & discard (I don't like soggy bacon, do what you will with it). In a small bowl, wisk together 1/2 c of bean juice from slow cooker with flour. Remove remaining juice from slow cooker to where juice just covers the beans. Add tomatoes, garlic powder, brown sugar, red chili & beef to slow cooker. Add juice/flour mixture back to the slow cooker. Set for 3 more hours, or until beans are tender, stirring every hour.

Serve in a bowl, sprinkled with shredded cheese & garlic bread on the side.

*Fresh diced tomatoes may be substituted for canned, just add them earlier.

Easy Grilled Garlic & Herb Squash

Prep: 5-10min. Grill: 5-10min. Yields: 2-3 servings

2 Yellow Squash
2 Zuchinni Squash
Webers Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning (or your favorite grill seasoning)
Olive Oil
Charcoal or Gas Grill

Prepare atleast 15 minutes before grill is ready. Slice cleaned squash lenght wise (so it doesn't fall through grill) about a quarter inch thick. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with seasoning. On medium to high heat, grill each side of the squash for 3-4 minutes.

Broccoli Coleslaw & it tastes like KFC!

I’ve recently come to like the coleslaw they serve at KFC. Never really liked any others I have tried.  I found the KFC dressing recipe online and made some changes to make it easier and not have TONS of leftover cabbage.  I also left out the lemon juice cuz of my food allergies.  Plus, I’ve got a thing for mushrooms.  :)

Prep – 5 min. Refrigerate – Several hours

5 c. Broccoli slaw – found at Walmart by the packaged veggies
1 tsp minced onions
5 medium mushrooms, sliced and diced like french fries
1/3 c. sugar
¼ tsp salt
pinch of pepper
¼ c. milk
¾ c. mayonnaise
1 Tbs white vinegar

1)   Place broccoli slaw and minced onions in a medium bowl.
2)   In a small bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients with electric mixer until smooth. Pour over vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly.
3)   Cover and refrigerate for several hours if you can wait that long.  Serve cold.  I refrigerated mine for about 30 minutes and it was still good!  The broccoli makes it crunchy. :)

Super Moist Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I found a recipe online for pumpkin cake but I always make changes to suit me.  :)  The original called for 2 cups of pumpkin but I didn’t want to have leftover pumpkin so I just put it all in and decreased the amount of oil.  I also added in the nutmeg.  I made some changes to the icing too. :)

Prep time: 15 min. Oven cook time: 30 min.
Preheat Oven @ 350°

2 c. flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 c. sugar
¾ c. vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
29oz canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

1)   Grease a 9x13in and 8x9in pan.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.  I made two so that I would have one to freeze for later. :)
2)   In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil.  Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, and then beat in eggs for 2 minutes with electric mixer.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in nuts.  Spread batter into pans. 
3)   Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out ALMOST clean. I don’t bake a cake to where to toothpick comes out clean.  I take the cake out of the oven right before and in the cooling process, the cake finishes itself and the cake is moist.  Cool before icing.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Cream Cheese Icing

 ¾ c. margarine or butter
16oz Philadelphia cream cheese (2 boxes)
4 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

1)   Beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended.
2)   Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat until creamy.

Leftover icing freezes very well, not lumpy/grainy like I thought it would be.  I tried once with Philadelphia name brand cream cheese and once with off-brand cream cheese and I found that I liked the Philly better.  The off brand made out to be gummier… egh.

My Dip

When I go to Mom’s house for a family get together, Mom asks, “Are you going to make your dip?”

Prep: 5 minutes

24oz sour cream
4.5oz can chopped green chili
1 Tbs minced onions
1 Tbs freeze dried chives
1 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp salt

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients. Refrigerate for one hour before serving, so the ingredients “mix” OR serve with your favorite chips or veggies right away!

Fried Cream Cheese Pie

I had a sweet tooth one day and I am not much of a cake/cookie/candy person. I’m all for pastries and I didn’t want to have to work really hard to make it. So I made this up…

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: less than 5 minutes

2 boxes cream cheese
2 cans of cherry pie filling I’ve not tried it but I’m sure it would work with fresh fruit too!1 pkg egg roll wraps
Olive oil

Making the wrap:
Have a small bowl of water nearby to use as a wrap sealer. Using a flat surface, lay out one egg roll wrap with one corner pointing towards you. Slice a ¼in thick square of cream cheese off and place near corner of the wrap. Add a spoon full of pie filling on the cream cheese. Take the corner closest to you and fold it over the fruit. Fold in the left and right corners. Dip your fingers in the water and rub a small amount of water on the corner furthest away from you (directions on the egg roll wrap package says to use a spray bottle, but I didn’t like how the spray bottle got dirty). Roll the wrap the rest of the way over the far corner & the watered corner will form a seal.

Frying the wrap:
Fry in a pan of olive oil until slightly brown. I use a sauce pan with enough olive oil to half way cover the wrap so that I can flip them.

Top with a powderd sugar/milk glaze. I don't really measure for that. I have some powder sugar in a bowl, then add the tinniest bit of milk & mix. I keep adding milk until the glaze is slightly runny...

Something to do with all that squash!!!

I’ve been helping my Ma get rid of all that squash she’s been growing. I was shopping for olive oil and a lady there buying some too told me about frying carrots with olive oil and how good they tasted. So I mixed up my own concoction.
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 15 minutes

2 medium fresh yellow squash
2 medium fresh zucchini squash
1 handful of petite carrots
5 large fresh mushrooms sliced
½ Tbs minced garlic
½ c. sliced onions
Olive oil

In a large frying pan, sauté garlic, onions & carrots in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Slice up squash in a french fry like manner and add to frying pan. Cook until squash start to soften up & brown on the edges a little. Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are softened. Serve!

Beef & Green Chili Fried Wraps

I’ve never had much success with fried burritos using tortillas; the tortilla breaks and doesn't stay closed when I fry them. I even found a package of ‘ready to cook tortillas’ and they just didn’t work as well. I found these egg roll wraps in the produce section, and I have used them to wrap all kinds of foods.

Prep: 35 minutes Cook: 30 minutes
Makes about 40 rolls

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
4-5 medium potatoes
½ c. water
1 pkg of egg roll wraps
1 c. chopped green chili (2 small cans)¼ c. sliced onions
1 Tbs minced garlic
½ tsp salt to taste
Shredded Monterey and Colby cheese
Olive oil

Meat mix:
Dice up potatoes and cook until tender in a large nonstick pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. At the same time, in a medium frying pan, sauté in 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the garlic and onions. When the onions are soft, add ground beef and cook until done. Add meat mixture to cooked potatoes. Add green chili, salt & water. Heat uncovered on medium for 10 minutes or until water has cooked out.

Making the wrap:
Have a small bowl of water nearby to use as a wrap sealer. Using a flat surface, lay out one egg roll wrap with one corner pointing towards you. Place a spoon full of meat mix on one edge of the wrap. Add a little shredded cheese onto the meat. Take the corner closest to you and fold it over the meat. Fold in the left and right corners. Dip your fingers in the water and rub a small amount of water on the corner furthest away from you (directions on the egg roll wrap package says to use a spray bottle, but I didn’t like how the spray bottle became gooey). Roll the wrap the rest of the way over the far corner & the watered corner will form a seal. These are ready to fry now or save in the freezer and fry when you want them.

Frying the wrap:
Fry in a pan of olive oil until slightly brown. I use a sauce pan with enough olive oil to half way cover the wrap so that I can flip them. I’m sure if you had a deep fryer, it would work also.

Serve with Sour Cream & Guacamole or if ya be redneck: Ketchup.

Alternate suggestions:
Use ground turkey instead of ground beef
Use shredded beef or chicken
Use cream cheese instead of shredded cheese
Make an egg & chorizo mix instead of meat mix

Lazy Fruit Cobbler

My mom taught me this recipe when I was little, we would use the canned peaches we put away each year. Over the years, I’ve made some slight adjustments to it. One year while camping at Mineral Creek I had planned to make peach cobbler for dinner dessert. While hiking up the creek, we found a large patch of wild blackberries. Tonie & I gathered them in our emptied water bottles, and when we got back to camp, I made blackberry cobbler instead.

Prep-time: 5-10min Cook time: 40-45min Preheat oven: 350°

1 c Flour
1 c Sugar
1 c Milk
1 tbl baking powder
½ c melted butter or margarine -if you don’t want a cake like crust, use 1 c melted butter
2-3 c fruit (enough to later the bottom of your pan) -  or about 2 cans of peaches

Spray 9”x13” glass casserole dish with cooking spray. In you pan, add flour, sugar, baking powder & milk.

With a wire whisk, mix ingredients in the pan.

Spoon fruit evenly over the top of liquid mixture but do NOT mix (while baking, the fruit will sink and dough will rise).

Pour melted butter over the top. If you have juice from the fruit left over, pour that in too! Again, do NOT mix.

Place in center of the oven. Cook for 40 minutes. Top will be a golden brown when ready. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product. The cobbler was eaten by the time I remembered... :o(
If you’re using fresh fruit, mix ½ cup of sugar, and ¼ c water in with the fruit.