Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bits 'O Brickle Brownies

1 /2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 (6 oz) bag Bits 'O Brickle (find this near the chocolate chips in the baking aisle)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside.  Cream butter with both sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat until fluffy.  Blend in dry ingredients.  Stir in Bits 'O Brickle.  Spread in well greased 9 x 12" pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 mins.

These are a quick and easy dessert when you need something quick to take to work to share, or when company drops in.  They are also a little bit different than your ordinary brownie or cookie.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mini Lemon Cakes

Easter is coming!  And these are so easy to make because you make them in the microwave.  I've made them several times.  They are refreshing and just so pretty!

Cakes
2 Tbsp butter, softened, divided
2 Tbsp sugar
2 small lemons, divided
1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 container (8 oz) sour cream

Glaze 
2 Tbsp lemon juice (from lemon used for cakes)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
Lemon knots (optional)

For cakes, brush six one cup prep bowls with 1 Tbsp of butter; sprinkle evenly with sugar.  Thinly slice one of the lemons.  Remove any seeds from lemon slices and place one slice into the bottom of each bowl; set bowls aside.

Zest remaining lemon using a grater to measure 1 Tbsp zest; set lemon aside for glaze.  Place remaining Tbsp of butter into a batter bowl; microwave on high 15 - 20 seconds or until melted.  Add lemon zest, cake mix, egg and sour cream; whisk 1 minute or until smooth.  Scoop batter evenly into prepared bowls.  Place bowls in a circle on the microwave turntable.  Microwave on high 4 - 5 mins or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Carefully remove cakes from microwave; cool in bowls 5 mins.

Meanwhile, for glaze, juice reserved lemon to measure 2 Tbsp juice.  Melt butter in small bowl. Stir in lemon juice and sugar; microwave on High 30 - 60 seconds or until boiling.

To serve, gently tap the sides of the bowls to release the cakes.  Invert cakes onto cutting board.  Transfer cakes to serving plates.  Drizzle glaze over cakes.  Ganish with lemon knots, if desired.

Yield - 6 cakes

Go Northwest Lions!!!

My son Luke's volleyball games start tomorrow.  The whole family is excited.  We can't wait to go and cheer them on.  Eddie bought me a mini bull horn to use at the games, but Luke has told me he'll disown me if I show up at a game with it.  Oh well, I'm loud enough without it.  I have to be their loudest fan.  The only other team I cheer for  with such enthusiasm is the St. Louis Rams.  Heaven knows they haven't given us much to cheer about in the last few years.

Send a little love their way with a "Go Lions" message in my e-mail "keplen@charter.net", on twitter at www.twitter.com/keplen, or on facebook (search for Karan Presson).  I'll print them and take them to the games.  The boys will love them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Weekend Shopping Experience

As many of you know, I love the Dierbergs shopping experience!  Shopping at Dierbergs is head and shoulders above the shopping experience at any other supermarket.  They have the best produce and the best meat.  The stores are clean and bright and the aisles are wide.  The employees are friendly and they will always offer to help you to your car.  You just don't find that anywhere else.  And . . . until last weekend, I thought Dierbergs charged higher prices for these premium options.

I actually went to Walmart to use a handful of "buy one, get one free" coupons on Saturday after I'd been to Dierbergs.  I don't usually shop at Walmart.  (Side note:  I saved $39.00 with my coupons and wound up spending only $202.00)  There were items I decided not to buy at Dierbergs because I assumed I'd find them cheaper at Walmart.  Wow, was I wrong!  Those items were actually more expensive at Walmart.  Gerber's Sweet Potato Puffs were $2.44 instead of $2.19.  Same thing with the Gerber's 'Li'l Crunchers'.  Moving on to Campbell's Soup.  Cream of Mushroom was $1.00/can at Walmart and $.92/can at Dierbergs.  There were several cuts of meats, as well as frozen shrimp that I compared.  Walmart was alway higher.  Walmart's days of being a less expensive alternative for groceries in the Fenton area are over.  Don't let them trick  you into thinking you're saving money.  Their produce is awful!  It is never fresh - it always looks days old.  Dierbergs pricing is always higher than Schnucks or Shop 'N Save.  Who ever thought Dierbergs would be less expensive than other grocery chains.

Can you even remember the last time someone at Walmart asked if you needed help to your car?

Hmmm!  Where do you want to shop?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Easy Tortellini Toss

We made this recipe at Katy's Come Cook With Me just as it's printed below.  It was good.  I made it at home for dinner recently and replaced the ham with chicken breasts and like it even better.

3 Tbsp butter (melted)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove (pressed)
1 cup 2% milk
2 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese (grated - about 2/3 cup)
1- 8 oz slice deli ham (1/2" thick)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 bag (16 oz) frozen cheese-filled tortellini
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 bag (6 oz) fresh baby spinach leaves

Combine butter and flour in saucepan over medium heat; whisk until smooth.  Add pressed garlic and milk to butter mixture; whisk well.  Mixture should thicken as it heats.  Add the cheese; whisk until smooth.  Dice ham and add  black pepper to saucepan.  Mix well and set aside.

Combine tortellini and chicken broth in a microwave safe casserole dish.   Microwave, covered, on high 12 - 15 minutes or until tortellini are tender, stirring every 4 - 5 minutes.  Add cheese sauce to baker, mix well.  Microwave, covered, on high 2 - 3 minutes or until heated through.  Stir in spinach; cover and let stand 2 - 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

This is very good, but when I replaced the ham with 1 lb of grilled chicken breasts marinated in 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of Italian Seasoning, it was even better.  I also replaced the milk with Half & Half for a creamier texture.

Mmmmm Good!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Berry-Pine Nut Chicken Salad

This salad was a hit at a recent "Come Cook With Me" .  One of our guests even tried it at home and sent me an e-mail to let me know it turned out well for her at home.  Thanks for the feedback Gwen!  Try this for your family too. . .

Dressing
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground pepper

Salad
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 bag ( 5 - 6 oz) Boston lettuce salad blend
1 cup blueberries
1 lb cooked chicken breasts
1/4 red onion (sliced thin)
8 oz sugar snap peas

For dressing, combine vinegar, jam and mustard and mix well.  Add oil, salt and black pepper.  Mix again and set aside.

For chicken, marinate your chicken breasts in 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp  Lemon Pepper seasoning.  Place chicken breasts on hot grill pan and cook for five minutes with grill press on top.  Turn breasts and cook for five more minutes with grill press on top.  Turn again and turn heat off.  Leave on burner with grill press on top for five more minutes.  Chicken will be perfect.

For salad, place pine nuts into 8" saute pan; toast over medium heat 4 - 6 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown.  Remove pine nuts from pan; cool completely.

Wash lettuce and berries.  Thinly slice red onion.  Slice sugar snap peas in half.

To serve, layer lettuce, chicken, peas, blueberries and onion in a large serving bowl.  Pour dressing over salad just before serving.  Toss gently to coat.  Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicken Fried Bacon - Have you ever heard of such a thing?

I seriously don't know anyone who doesn't love bacon.  This is a must try recipe.  I have not tried it yet, but do plan to try it Saturday.


6 cups flour                        2 Tbsp baking powder           
1 tsp salt                            1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper           
1 quart buttermilk               2 lbs bacon           
 vegetable or canola oil       Creamy Ranch dressing

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Place half of this mixture in a large, flat baking dish.  Pour half of the buttermilk in a separate large baking dish.  Dip each bacon strip first in the buttermilk, then in the seasoned flour.  Set the bacon aside on a rack for a few minutes to allow the flour to absorb some of the buttermilk to form a good coating.  For an extra crispy coating, dredge the bacon once more in just the flour mixture.  Heat a good inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan (or in a deep fryer) until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees.  Fry the bacon, a few strips at a time (you don't want to crowd the pan or fryer), until the strips are golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Drain the bacon on a rack.  Continue until all of the bacon is fried.  Serve the bacon warm (do allow it to cool a few minutes before serving as the hot bacon can burn) with the cold dipping sauce and plenty of napkins.   

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

For Your St. Patty's Day Menu - A Pot of Gold

This is a really good Irish Stew.  I found the recipe on VocalPoint.com (a website I visit often for ideas and coupons).  It uses lamb, but you could use pork or beef just as easily.

3/4 lb  cubed boneless lamb (trimmed of all fat)
3/4 lb small red potatoes (quartered)
6 cups water
3 cups beef or chicken broth
3 medium carrots (sliced)
3 medium parsnips (sliced) - I'm not a parsnip fan, so I don't use them
1 pkg (8 oz) shredded cabbage - There is no chopping to do.
1 large onion (sliced)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped parsley - or 2 tsp dried parsley flakes

In a Dutch oven, combine the lamb, potatoes, water, broth, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, onion, bay leaf, thyme and salt.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Partially cover and simmer 45 minutes.  Stir in parsley.

Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally 45 minutes, or until lamb is fork tender.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.

This nicely feeds a family of four.

Tuesday Night TV

I just love Tuesday night TV.  My evening started with American Idol. Those who know me know I'm an Idol junkie.  My guess is after tonight's performances, Katie and Paige are headed home.  Crystal knocked it out of the park again.  She's definitely my favorite.  Tomorrow night we'll hear from the guys.

Glee was back tonight.  I just love that show!  I recognize so many of the personalities on the show from my own high school days.  I was a show choir kid - and we were pretty good.  Shout out to Winola High School.

When 9:00 rolls around, I'm off to Food Network for Chopped.  These poor chefs have to create a dish from secret ingredients in a basket. There is an appetizer round, an entree round and a dessert round; and a new basket of ingredients for each round.  Most weeks there are some really unusual ingredients - lots I haven't even heard of.  I usually get at least one new menu idea from the show.

Part of the items from Katy's party arrived today. There is still one package on the way and a couple of items backordered.  It's been a long wait for this shipment, but apparently there were many, many orders submitted on Feb 28th.  To those of you who ordered, you should have your items within the next day or so.   Thanks again for your orders.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What A Weekend!

Oh, the weather was beautiful last weekend.  We finally had a chance to spend a little bit of time outside.  Just when I thought my Snow Drops weren't going to bloom this year, they appeared.  It's so nice to see little yellow, purple and white flowers popping up. The tulips and daffodils are about 4" tall now.  I can't wait for them to bloom.  Even the day lillies are are poking through.  Ahhhhh - Spring will come.

We opened the doors and windows and let the house air out on Sunday.  It was 70 and just gorgeous.  Spent the day spring cleaning.  I still have lots to do, but it sure feels good to have the windows shined, a closet or two cleaned out, and the refrigerator cleaned from top to bottom.  I got all of the bedding washed and dried.  Is there anything better than sleeping in a freshly made bed?  I just love the Egyptian Cotton sheets.  They are so soft!

We have a huge To Do list for outside too.  We need to powerwash the house, wash the windows, powerwash and seal all three decks, put new mulch in all of the flower beds and the front yard, get the garden ready to plant, and clean up the patio furniture and grill.  That should use up a weekend or three or four . . .  We love to do this stuff, but it's just hard to find time to get it all done.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Strawberry Delight - A Refreshing Spring Dessert

One angel food cake
2 - 3 oz pkgs of Strawberry Jell-o
2 1/4 cups hot water (boiling)
1 - 16 oz tub of Cool Whip
1 - 16 oz pkg of fresh or frozen strawberries

Mix Jell-o and hot water until dissolved.  If using frozen strawberries, add them to the Jell-o mixture and stir until mixture is thickened.  (If you use fresh strawberries, thicken the Jell-o mixture with ice cubes.  Remove the remaining ice when mixture thickens and then add strawberries.  Fold in Cool Whip.

In a large bowl, break up the angel food cake into 1" pieces.  Add Jell-o mixture and stir well.  Pour into a 9 x 13" pan or a Trifle Bowl.  Refrigerate until set.

This is a cool refreshing dessert, and very pretty.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's March - Almost Spring - Oreo Cookie Bars

After a few days of sunshine, today was a disappointment.  I just hated to see the clouds come back.  We've seen too much of this cloudy stuff in January and February.  Shouldn't March be sunny and warmer?  I did see the first Robin today.  Spring should be close.

Today's recipe is Oreo Cookie Bars.  This is definitely a feel good recipe.  So easy and a hit with everyone!

1 pkg Oreo Cookies
1/3 cup margarine (melted)
2 cups chocolate chips (divided)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Crush cookies.  Mix with margarine.  Press into 9 x 13" pan.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.  Pour over cookie crumbs.

Sprinkle one cup of chocolate chips over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

This is so good!!!!

Hurry Spring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!