Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients.  Mix well.  Add chocolate chips.  I put the dough in the fridge for about 2 hours.

I wanted to make large cookies, so I used my ice cream scooper to measure and scooped dough onto parchment covered cookie sheets.  I flattened each cookie a little before baking.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes (keep in mind my oven is fast).  Cool before removing from sheets.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hummus


I love hummus.  This is an easy recipe-no fancy food processor needed, I make it right in my blender.

2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup of tahini (roasted not raw)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

I put all of that in my blender and blend till smooth-I add a little water if it needs to get "unstuck" and thinner.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pita Chips




These are so easy and taste great with my homemade hummus.  If there are any left-my kids eat them up as soon as I remove them from the oven.

pitas
butter
coarse sea salt
Greek seasoning

Heat oven to 350.  
Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of pita bread.  If your pita is thick and you'd like thinner chip-like pita crisps, you can carefully, using a serated knife or simply by pulling apart, separate each piece of pita.
Place on bread on cookie sheets, butter side up.
Sprinkle seasoning and salt-don't go crazy! less is more!-over each buttered pita.

Bake in oven till bubbly and brown. Watch carefully as they burn quickly.  Usually mine are perfect in about 10 minutes.  I break them apart, or while they are still hot, I'll take a pizza cutter and slice them in wedges.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cocktail Wieners

My mom has made these every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my family loves them.

1 bottle chili sauce
1 jar red currant jelly
4 TBS brown sugar
1 package Lil Smoke Sausages

Mix first three ingredients on stove over low heat.  
Add sausages.
Heat through till hot.
Serve.

Monday, December 12, 2011

French Baguettes Using Bread Maker


I love these for the feta dip, or for meatball subs, or just because.

1 cup very warm water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 TBS white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 TBS water

Place first five ingredients in bread machine, in the order listed. Set on dough cycle.  When cycle is done, place dought in warm place for 30 minutes (or more if necessary), and let rise until doubled.

Once risen, punch dough down.  On a lightly floured surface roll (I use a rolling pin) into a 16x12 rectangle.  Cut dough in half to form two 8x12 rectangles.   Roll up each half tightly, long wise.  Taper end.

Place loaves on a greased cookie sheet.  Make deep diagonal slashes every 2 inches.  
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Mix water and egg yolk and brush on tops of loaves.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, December 9, 2011

White Cheese Dip


1 pound white American cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 TBS butter
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
cayenne pepper to taste

Place cheese, milk and butter in a sauce pan over low heat.
Cook and stir until cheese has melted.  (Don't walk away,  or it will burn!)
Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Add a little more milk if too thick.
Heat through and serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Personalized Photo Placemats-A Great Gift





I am always on the look out for cute place mats.  I just cannot use cloth mats!  I would have to wash them every day and I do not want to add to my laundry load.

The plastic ones I find always seem boring and outdated so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Using Picasa, I made a collage for each member of my family.  I selected a bunch of different photos of each of the children...great vacation memories, baby pics, funny faces, etc...created a collage, and then using the Text feature, wrote their names on them.  The kids love these place mats!  Each photo seems to bring up a topic of conversation at the dinner table.  "Remember when Dad made us hike up that mountain?"  or "We had so much fun at that reunion!"

You have heard me talk about using the collage feature of Picasa before...it is the same method I use for making my blog headers and my scrapbook pages.  It is so fun, easy and best of all free.   For a tutorial on how to make a collage you can go here, or here for a step-by-step easy video tutorial from Persnickety Prints.  You can also use a different program (i.e.Photoshop), OR just use a single picture if you don't want to bother with fancy digital stuff.  If you want to make it even easier, you could pick up a few 11 x 17 size papers, and have your children make their own drawings.

I called my local printer and decided to go with an 11 x 17 size.  That seemed to be a good size for a place mat, and it was easy and cheap for them to make color copies and laminate those color copies because it is a standard size.  The color copies were $1 each, and then to laminate each of them was $3.  $4 for custom place mats!  Not bad!  They also told me I could just email the collages to them, which made the whole process extra easy.

I did this about 5 years ago (using just a single picture that I brought in to be photocopied, before I was familiar with photo editing software) and the place mats held up for a good 3 years.  They are easy to wipe off with soap and water.  The copy place told me that they use 5mil laminate which makes them durable and sturdy.

Here are some tips and ideas:

1. I made a collage using the automatic "Mosaic" feature...that throws all your selected photos together into a collage automatically. (I chose plain white for my collage background.)  Once that collage was created, (after you hit the Create Collage button) I selected that collage, and also selected a scrapbook paper, pressed Collage again, and using the Picture Pile feature, centered the finished collage on the scrapbook paper.  That is how I got the scrapbook paper edge around the collage.

2. Sometimes the copier will cut off a small bit around the edges...ask!!!  The copy lady told me I would lose about 1/4"...it didn't matter because I had the scrapbook paper behind my collage, but without it, it might have.  Keep that in mind.

3. Remember in Picasa you can select your own custom collage size.  You just type in your dimensions.  (Horizontal size first.)  Again, I used 17 x 11 because it was cheap and easy.


4. I think for this size, I could have used less pictures.  I overloaded my own placemat and some of the pictures are tiny.  The ones that turned out best are the ones were I selected not more than 30 pictures.

5. And of course, the possibilities are endless.  Wouldn't it be cute to type in manner reminders?  Or the family dinner blessing?  You could make seasonal place mats also, with fun summer or fall colors, or a holiday theme.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cupcakes



A cupcake tip from my friend Melissa at 320 Sycamore:

This Wilton cupcake set is perfect for making boring cupcakes look cute.  Use the 1M tip and fill the disposable bag (that come with the kit) with your own frosting or store bought and just swirl that frosting on. It does take more frosting to decorate this way-buy two cans of store bought, or make a big batch of homemade.


Here's a great frosting recipe:
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
5 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
In a large bowl cream margarine and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add salt, vanilla  and sugar and milk and beat well.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bread Maker Doughnuts


You can easily double this recipe but this makes the perfect amount for us...about 8 doughnuts.
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 beaten egg
1/4 cup butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
8 cups vegetable oil (I used my deep fryer)

Place the milk and egg into the pan of bread maker and then add butter and dry ingredients in order listed, with yeast on top.
Select dough setting.
When cycle is finished, cut the dough into 8 pieces and form each into a disc.
Use a bottle top to punch out middle for doughnut holes.
Let the doughnuts rise on floured surface until at least doubled in size...this took hours for me, but all depends on air temperature.  And I wanted my doughnuts to be as light and airy as possible.
Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees.
Gently place a few doughnuts in fryer until they float and turn golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

I placed powdered sugar in a paper bag and shook each doughnut to coat immediately.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meatball Subs


A favorite at our house.

I sometimes use frozen meatballs when I don't have time but I use this meatball recipe when I do.
I sometimes buy baguettes when I don't have time but I try to make my own in the break maker.  I'll post that recipe soon.

2 slices white sandwich bread, cut into little pieces
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 pounds ground sirloin
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp parsley
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup milk
2 large beaten eggs
olive oil
1 jar of pasta sauce
baguettes or sub buns
mozzarella cheese

Place first 8 ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  (Yes, you'll have to use your hands to really mix it all together well.)
Form into 1" balls, refrigerate for about 15 minutes to ensure firmness and so they won't break apart while browning.
Pour olive oil into a frying pan, heat till medium, and brown meatballs on all sides.
Turn as needed till all sides are brown.
Place meatballs in sauce and cook until done inside, at simmer, for about 2-4 hours.
Remove each meatball and place cooked meatballs on baguettes, topping with extra sauce as you go.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of each meatball sub, and warm in oven until cheese is bubbly and bread is warmed.
I cut the baguettes into preferred serving size.