Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Munchies - Sugar Cookies

I've seen that people make these cookies, but I never thought I'd be one of those people. And while mine aren't perfect, they're getting better and better. Not to mention these taste pretty good as well! So much better than store bought, or even restaurant bought. You can see the rest of them I made on the post for the Strawberry Cake!

I must say that Bridget at Bake at 350 has been a GREAT help when it comes to decorated sugar cookies! An invaluable resource (not to mention her cookies are AMAZING!!!). I'm posting the recipe for both the cookies and the royal icing here. Moving forward, I'll likely post all of the designs on Tuesdays, because once again, I've found a recipe that works - unless there is some great compelling reason to find another, I'm sticking with it!

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
Source: Bake at 350

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I've stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing
(This will cover 2-3 dozen 3.5 inch cookies in 2 colors; I usually double this recipe.)

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup (optional)
few drops clear extract (optional)

Monday Munchies - Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Some people enjoy making multiple variations of the same recipe even if they've found one that they absolutely love. I'm not one of those people. When I find a winner, I stick with it. I have a winner for my carrot cake and now I have a winner for a strawberry cake! It's PHENOMENAL. Of course most stuff from Paula Deen usually is! I made this cake for both Courtney's shower and Meredith's shower - they're both having little girls, so it's PERFECT!

Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Prep Time:15 min
Inactive Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:20 min
8 servings.

•1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
•1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
•1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (I used frozen strawberries for smoothies, etc. rather than in syrup - the extra sweetness is not necessary)
•4 large eggs
•1/2 cup vegetable oil
•1/4 cup water

•Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
•1/4 cup butter, softened
•1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
•1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed (once again I don't use the strawberries in syrup)
•1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
•7 cups confectioners' sugar
•Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

For the icing:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

Spread icing in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

These cakes were decorated with sugar cookies that I made. See other post for details!

Monday Munchies - Corn Dip

Last year I went to a party and my best friend Joanne brought this dip. Then on New Years Eve, I asked her to make it again. Then for this party, I decided I should just get the recipe and make it myself. And now so can all of you...

(This is another one that doesn't photograph well, but is really tasty!)

Corn Dip

2 cans MexiCorn or Fiesta Corn, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
16 oz sour cream
½ bunch of cilantro chopped
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 cups grated cheese
1 t cayenne
1 t cumin
1/4t lime juice

Mix and serve with Fritos (or celery). Best when made a day in advance and refrigerated. Serve cold.

Monday Munchies - Caprese Picks

SO EASY. SO IMPRESSIVE. SO GOOD. I had seen a friend of mine make a caprese pick at another shower, and they were great, but then I had the idea to add a tortellini at the end. I LOVED these things!

Caprese Picks

1 bunch of fresh basil
1 small package of cheese tortellini
1 bunch of small pearl fresh mozzerella
2 packages of grape tomatoes
Olive Oil
Large Grain Salt (Sea Salt from a grinder or Kosher Salt)

Cook tortellini according to package directions and let cool. On a toothpick, layer one grape tomato, one side of a basil leaf, mozzerella ball, other side of basil leaf and top off with a tortellini. I alternated them on the plate for presentation purposes and then drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt - that's it! So easy and somewhat healthy for you too!

Monday Munchies - Baked Caramelized Onion Dip

This is a dish that I somewhat made up on my own... I wanted a hot dip, and I wanted caramelized onions. Most of the recipes I found were for cold dips, or the onions weren't caramelized, so I threw in a little of this, and a little of that. While it doesn't look too good, it tasted awesome!

Baked Caramelized Onion Dip

2 Yellow Onions
1 TBSP olive oil
2 pkg softened cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
1 cup mayo
Sprinkle of cayenne (adjusted for your heat preference)
1 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded (shred your own if possible - it melts better!)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Chop onions into small pieces (but not minced, that's too small) and heat olive oil in a skillet. Cook onions over LOW heat for about 20 minutes until they are caramelized. While the onions are cooking down, mix the crean cheese, mayo and cayene with a mixer until smooth. Fold in cheeses gently. Once the onions are done cooking, let them cool for a bit and then fold them into the cheese mixture as well.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Serve warm with crackers or pita chips.

Monday Munchies - Chicken Salad

Another great recipe... Chicken + grapes + celery = sweet and crunchy! YUM! One of the ladies at the shower couldn't get enough of this dish - I think she asked me for the recipe about 5 times - and here it is... (sorry it took so long!)

Chicken Salad
Source: The Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6

1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken (I just used split chicken breasts)
2 stalks (to 3 Stalks) Celery, Chopped
3 whole Green Onions, Chopped
2 cups (to 3 Cups) Grapes, Halved
A Small Handful Of Fresh Dill, Minced
½ cups Mayonnaise
½ cups Plain Yogurt Or Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Lemon Juice
Kosher Salt To Taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Rinse chicken thoroughly and place in a large pot of water. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done (about 45 minutes to an hour). When you are ready, remove the chicken from the pot and place on a plate. With your fingers or a fork, pull all of the meat off the bones, chop into bite-sized chunks and set aside.

Chop all of your fruits and veggies and place them in a bowl with the chicken.
In another bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt (or sour cream), lemon juice, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs (dill, oregano, cilantro…whatever makes your skirt fly up) and if you’re feeling a bit brazen throw in a dash of cayenne pepper!

When the dressing tastes just right (you must taste test for appropriate saltiness especially), pour it over the chicken/veggie/fruit mixture and stir gently until everything is thoroughly mixed. If you are feeling naughty add a sprinkling of bacon bits.

Allow the salad to chill for several hours (or even overnight). Serve on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich or heck, eat it straight out of the bowl with a serving spoon.

Monday Munchies - Marinated Cheese

Simply put - this cheese is awesome and flavorful - I've made it many times and people tend to go back again and again. Who needs a basic cheese tray when you can make this so easily?!?!

Marinated Cheese
Source: Allrecipes

READY IN 8 Hrs 20 Min
Original recipe yield: 16 servings

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 (2 ounce) bottle diced pimento, drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons minced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cold

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the olive oil, wine vinegar, pimento, parsley, green onion, garlic, sugar, basil, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to blend. Set aside.
Cut the block of Cheddar cheese in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices to form squares. Repeat with cream cheese. Arrange cheese squares alternately in a shallow baking dish with slices standing on edge. You can arrange in a single long row, or 2 parallel rows depending on the size of your dish. Pour the marinade from the jar over the cheese slices, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
To serve, remove slices to a serving platter so they are still arranged in an alternating pattern. Spoon some of the extra marinade over the cheese, and serve with crackers.

Courtney's Baby Shower Menu

This past weekend I was one of the hosts at the baby shower for one of my best friends, Courtney. Isn't she too cute!?!?

I am so happy and excited for her and can't WAIT to meet Zoe!! This shower was a big 'un... lots of people there to love on Courtney and share in the excitement of what's to come. And lots of people = lots of food! This is the spread we had:

The things I made were:

Marinated Cheese (served with crackers)
Chicken Salad
Caprese Picks
Caramelized Onion Dip (served with crackers)
Corn Dip (served with Fritos)
Strawberry Cakes
Sugar Cookies
Spa Water

(Each of the above are linked to their specific posts, which include the recipes...)

In addition to all of that, we also had:

Dinner Rolls
Cream Cheese with Peppered Jelly (served with crackers)
Hummus and Pita Chips
Veggie Tray
Fruit Tray

There was definitely a lot of food, but a lot was eaten at the end of the day as well, which is always a good sign! Hope you enjoy the recipes...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Howdy strangers...

Ok - I know I've neglected the blog. As usual, I have good intentions, but life just doesn't allow me to do it all. And I'm ok with that.

I have SO many recipes to post. And they will ALL be posted TOMORROW. I want to clear out the back log. Plus, I've modified my nutrition plan and am on a pretty 'clean' eating program. A lot of this revolves around my goal for 2010 which was to live a life of ACTION and actually take the steps to fulfill the things I've been talking about for YEARS. So after Monday, many of the recipes posted here will have a healthy slant - I can't wait to share one morning breakfast with you - I love it! That might come next week... If anyone is interested in knowing the 'plan' or guidelines I'm following, they are from The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto

Other than that, it's March, which means it's Rodeo season, which means I am NEVER at home. Once again I'm on the Corral Club Committee (Club West) and I'm working at my friend's booth in Reliant Center, The Crystal Ranch. I'm up there at least 6 days a week - and the only day I'm not up there means I'm either at Young Life or Bible Study.

Ok - I'm signing off... I'll post the recipes tomorrow and then post when I have anything I deem 'important' to share...

Have a great week!