Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Emma and I did lots of prepping tonight

There is nothing inexpensive or quick about a fondue night -- not if you absolutely have to have some of everything.  Emma and I spent all night prepping sirloin beef roast, chicken breasts, and veggies as well as making dipping sauces for our fondued food.

We used the fat and scraps from the chicken and the beef to make the beef and chicken stock for our bouillon.  Oh, did they taste good!  We placed the scraps of meat and fat in a saucepan with carrots, celery leaves, onion, 8 cups of water and two tsp salt (a separate saucepan for the beef and for the chicken).  Bring each pot to a boil and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Once cool, strain each broth to remove solids.  Tomorrow night we'll pour the broths into two fondue pots and add a Tbsp of minced garlic, 1/2 lemon sliced, and one bay leaf.  Once they are boiling, we'll use these to cook the beef (it's marinating in Teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds), chicken breast, and veggies (the potatoes and zucchini are my favorites).

We made Green Goddess sauce - so simple, but so good.  Melt 8 oz of cream cheese in 1/2 cup of milk.  Place the milk and cream cheese in a microwaveable dish.  Microwave on high for one minute.  Remove and whisk.  Continue to microwave until the cream cheese is completely melted (check every minute).  Add 1/4 cup of sour cream.  Add 2 Tbsp dried minced onions, 2 Tbsp dried chives, and 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley.  Add 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper.  Stir well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

We made plum sauce too, but I need to wait until tomorrow to try it.  I'll let you know how it turned out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We're Having a Fondue New Year's Eve

Our recent trip to The Melting Pot for Katy's birthday has me in the mood for fondue.  Is there any better time than New Year's Eve to break out a feast?  We'll be dipping bread, apples, and veggies in cheese fondue; beef, chicken, shrimp, ravioli, potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and zucchini in boiling bouillon; and chocolate fondue to finish things up.  I'll post recipes for cheese, bouillon, and dipping sauces once I get them all worked out.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Sending Christmas wishes from our home to yours.  May your holiday be filled with family and fun.

Wishing you a Christmas filled with smiles, joys and blessings.
Eddie, Karan, Luke & Emily Presson

A Family Favorite - Hamburger, Rice & Peas

Growing up my Grandma Kruse would make this casserole when we'd come to visit.  It was my sister's favorite, so we always called it Kim's Favorite Casserole.  Our kids love it too and call it Hamburger, Rice, and Peas.  It's a great one-pot dinner.  Meat, starch, and a veggie all in one dish.

1 1/2 lbs hamburger
1 small onion chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 1/2 cups white rice (uncooked)
4 cups beef broth
1 (12 oz) package of frozen peas (or one 15 oz can)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Brown the hamburger in an 8 quart stock pot with onion and celery. Season with seasoning salt and pepper to taste.  Drain any fat from meat and return to pot.  Add the rice, beef broth and peas.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer (covered) for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.  Stir in the Cream of Mushroom soup.

Looks like Christian is our poster child for peas!  I think he likes them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good Ole Fashioned Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is a treat on these cold, snowy winter days.  It's not made from a powdered mix, so it takes a little while to make, but it's worth the wait.

1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate (2 oz)
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
sugar to taste

Grate the squares of chocolate and combine with the sugar and salt.  In a medium sized sauce pan bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil.  Add the chocolate, sugar and salt to the boiling water and boil for about 3 minutes or until the chocolate is melted, stirring constantly.

Reduce the heat and add the milk.  Add more sugar if needed to sweeten to taste and then heat through.

Remove from stove and stir in the vanilla.

Whip with a hand beater until frothy.  Add a dash of cinnamon to the bottom of the cup before pouring in the hot chocolate.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Great Gift Idea - Borax Crystal Ornaments

Looking for a great gift idea for teachers, neighbors, co-workers, or even your postal carrier?  Try this project.  It's fun to do with your kids, and it makes pretty ornaments that sparkle as your Christmas lights twinkle on your tree.  I found it last year on P. Allen Smith's website.

What you'll need:
Pipe Cleaners (assorted colors - white too)
Borax (I used 20 Mule Team - do not use Boraxo Soap)
Blue food coloring (optional)
Jars large enough to submerge ornaments in Borax solution

Bend your pipe cleaner into your desired shape.  We did swirls as shown here and hearts.  To make it easy, we left about 1" of the cleaner untwisted and formed a hook for hanging.

Mix together your crystal solution at a ratio of 3 Tbsp of Borax to one cup of boiling water.  Stir until the Borax dissolves.  Don't expect all of the powder to dissolve; some may settle to the bottom.  We used every glass we have in the house and poured the solution in.  Then we placed the hook of our ornaments over a pencil/pen and placed the pencil across the top of the glass, submerging the pipe cleaner into the solution.  Let them sit for 6 - 8 hours to allow crystals to form.  Remove them from the solution and allow to dry on waxed paper.

Let me warn you - don't spill the solution.  It will form crystals on your countertop.  And, that's difficult to clean up.  The crystals will wash out of your glasses when you run them through the Hi Temp wash in your dishwasher.

Tip:  If you use white pipe cleaners, you may add a couple of drops of blue food coloring to your solution to tint the crystals.

These take some time to make, but they aren't difficult, and they make very pretty ornaments.  They are inexpensive gifts and everyone loves them!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hot Dr. Pepper???

Anyone who knows me knows that Dr. Pepper is my vice in life.  It is my carbonated coffee first thing in the morning and my constant companion throughout the day.  I've been drinking Dr. Pepper since my high school days.  (Don't ask how many years that is!)

Tonight I had an e-mail from Dr. Pepper with a recipe for Hot Dr. Pepper.  I've never heard of such a thing, but I'm going to try it this weekend.  For all of you other brave souls out there, here is the recipe.

Pour Dr. Pepper into a saucepan.  Heat to simmering temperature or just below boiling.  Your beverage will appear to be boiling due to the carbonation.  Place a thin slice of lemon in bottom of cup and pour steaming hot Dr. Pepper over lemon slice.  A fresh slice of lemon is required to give the proper taste.

Hmmmm.  I'm just not sure about this.  I'll let you know what I think once I've tried it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Katy!

We celebrated Katy's birthday tonight at Ladies Night at the Melting Pot.  MM Good!   Now, Emily wants to celebrate her 17th birthday at the Melting Pot too. The food was really good - we had apples, veggies and bread to dip into a cheese sauce first, followed by a Caesar Salad, and then our entree of shrimp, beef, chicken and spinach and artichoke ravioli cooked in a wonderful boiling bouillon.  Dessert was dark chocolate with Bailey's Irish Cream with strawberries, pound cake, brownies, rice krispie treats, marshmallows, cheese cake, and bananas for dipping.  Ohhhh, so good!  

This motivated me to perfect the bouillon they use and maybe create a new one to use.  We have a couple of fondue pots.  Maybe we'll plan a Fondue New Year's Eve.  That sounds really good.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just One More Snack Mix

This is my last snack mix recipe this year - I promise!

2 boxes of Blue Diamond Pecan Nut Thins
1 box of Blue Diamond Hazelnut Nut Thins
1 box of Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins
3 bags (4 oz) Corn Nuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder

In a roasting pan break all Nut Thins in half.  Add Corn Nuts.  Combine oil and spices in a saucepan over low heat and stir until well mixed.  Pour over Nut Thins and Corn Nuts and stir.  Place in 250 degree oven and bake for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and pour out onto waxed paper to cool.  Store in airtight container.  This is very crunchy and very good!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A New Snack Mix - Buffalo Chex Mix

I had to try this one before blogging about it just to see how it would turn out.  I definitely am not disappointed - changed it up from the original recipe, but the changes are a bonus.   Don't think I'll have any trouble at all finding people to eat this snack mix.  The Ranch seasoning and hot sauce temper each other and make the perfect combination.

4 cups Rice Chex cereal
4 cups Wheat Chex cereal
3 (6.6 oz) packages of Cheddar and Pretzel Gold Fish crackers
2 cups peanuts
1 1/2 sticks butter
5 Tbsp hot sauce
2 packets Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
4 tsp celery seed

Combine cereal, crackers, and peanuts in a roasting pan.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, hot sauce, dressing mix and celery see.  When melted and combined, pour over cereal mixture and stir well.  Bake at 250 for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Store in an airtight container.

Ready for something sweet? Easy Fudge

1 (12 oz) bag of chocolate chips
1 (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Tbsp butter (cubed)

Place in glass microwavable bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove and stir.  Return to microwave and cook on high for 30 seconds at a time and then removing to stir.  Do this until mixture is completely melted.

Once melted, pour mixture into 9 x 13" pan that has been buttered.  Do not spray with a cooking spray.  This will make your fudge oily.  Use butter only.  Allow to sit at room temperature to harden.  Cut into serving size pieces and place in airtight container.

This is so easy . . . and so good!

My daughter Emily has made a few variations of this too.  She has used white chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips.  All are mmm . . . good!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm Just Hungry These Days!

Some people are shopaholics and can't stay out of the mall, but no, not me.  I can't seem to stay out of the grocery store.  Emily working at Dierbergs really doesn't help.  I keep having these must try ideas (mostly snacks, unfortunately).  I bought ingredients today to make two more batches of snack mix - that should carry us through the holidays.  I'm planning a variation of Chex Snack Mix (yes, that again) and a variation of the Chili Snack Mix.  My poor family will be snack mixed out this year - maybe I should start to torture the people at work.

I watched the movie "Julie & Julia" last night.  It was an okay movie, but not great.  I really expected to be inspired to learn French cuisine - nope.  I am inspired though to keep working and trying new things to become a better home cook

I have a quick and easy fudge recipe to post so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick Chicken Hot Dish - This is comfort food

This is a casserole my mom made for us when we were growing up.  We loved it then, and I make it for my family when I feel like some good homey food.

1 1/2 - 2 cups of chunked chicken breasts (great way to use up leftover chicken) or 1 (13 oz) can of chunk chicken breast
1 1/2 cups celery sliced very thin
1/2 medium onion chopped
3 cups cooked rice
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip
1/2 cup water
6 hard boiled eggs
3 cups crushed potato chips

Place six eggs in a small saucepan covered with cold water.  Place on high heat and cover pan.  When the water begins to boil, remove from heat and let sit for 13 minutes.  Run under cold water until eggs are cooled.  Peel and slice.  Set aside.

Place 2 cups of white rice into Pampered Chef Rice Cooker with four cups of water.  Place in the microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes.  Cook at 50% power for 15 minutes.  Guaranteed to make perfect rice every time.  You will have your three cups of cooked rice.

Place the chicken breast in a two-quart casserole dish.  Use a fork to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Add the celery , onion, and rice.  In a separate bowl, combine the soup, lemon juice, Miracle Whip, water, salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and combine well.  Top with the egg slices and then the potato chips.

Place in a 450 degree oven and bake for about 1/2 hour or until bubbly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wow! It's Time To Start Thinking About The Christmas Menu

We, like many others, have a blended family, and it's tough to get everyone together to celebrate the holidays.  We do our best to spend time with everyone, but that often requires several get-togethers.  I don't know about your families, but food usually seems to be the centerpiece of our gatherings.  Opening the presents may be the highlight for the little ones, but it seems the party always winds up in the kitchen for good food and conversation.

Check in frequently over the next couple of weeks for recipe ideas for your Christmas gatherings/parties.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Looks Like We Have Another Foodie

Christian has decided that he likes carrots.  Looks like another foodie in the making!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Roasted Carrots

Roasted carrots can be made two ways depending on how you like your carrots.  The first recipe is a good old standby, but the other is great if you have picky kids and you want them to eat their veggies.

16 oz baby carrots
1 small onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt

Toss carrots and sliced onion in olive oil.  Place in 9 x 13" pan.  Sprinkle with salt and parsley.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

To make it appealing for the kiddos, skip the onion, and drizzle with 1/4 cup of honey and grate 2 Tbsp of orange peel over the carrots.  Bake as directed above.

Note:  Not only the kiddos like the sweet version, I do too!

The Ultimate Baked Potato

I don't know about you, but this time of year when the weather just feels cold, I like the good ole comfort food.  This recipe is one of those feel good recipes.

6 large baking potatoes
12 slices of bacon (uncooked)
1/2 medium onion sliced into six thin slices
6 pats butter

Wash and scrub the potatoes well.  Slice potatoes lengthwise and salt well.  Place one onion slice and one pat of butter on top of one half of potato.  Top with other half.  Wrap with two slices of bacon.  Place on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for one hour.  (Turn over 1/2 way through cooking)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chocolate Syrup

For those of you who are do-it-yourselfers, give this chocolate syrup recipe a try.  It's surprisingly good.

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water

Boil 5 - 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of vanilla.  Watch carefully as you stir so the mixture does not boil over.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Wreaths

Need a Christmas cookie that is sure to be a hit?  Try this one.  Not only is it beautiful, it tastes good and it's easy to make.

1/3 cup butter
1 pkg (10 oz - about 40) marshmallows
1 tsp green food coloring
6 cups Corn Flakes cereal

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat.  Stir in food coloring.  Add Corn Flakes and stir until well coated.

Using 1/4 cup measuring cup coated with Pam, evenly portion warm cereal mixture.  Using buttered fingers, quickly shape into individual wreaths.  Dot with cinnamon candies.

Makes 16 wreaths.