Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chocolate Eclairs

My grandma used to make eclairs for special occasions. I begged her to make these for my wedding reception - which she willingly did. I should have just asked her to make me a lifetime supply, forget the guests! I love these babies. Really, they are the same thing as cream puffs, solely differing in shape.

I was running through some old photos and realized I made these, took photos, and then forgot to post the recipe. I've tried several recipes, and found that the following from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook is my favorite.
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1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1/8 t. salt
1 c. flour
4 eggs
Whipped cream, pudding, or ice cream for filling
Chocolate glaze

In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir till mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Spoon dough into a decorating bag fitted with a large plain round tip (1/2 inch opening). Pipe 12 strips of dough, 3 inches apart, onto a greased baking sheet, making each strip 4 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 3/4 inch high. Bake at 400* for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

*Cream Puffs variation - Drop dough by 12 heaping tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet. Bake as above.

Fill with whipped cream or pudding and frost with chocolate glaze. I recommend a vanilla pudding filling.

Chocolate Glaze
4 oz. semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
3 T. butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
dash of salt
3 T. hot water

Melt chocolate, and butter/margarine over low heat stirring frequently.
Remove from heat. Stir in sifted powdered sugar and hot water. Stir in additional hot water, if needed to reach drizzling consistency.

Spoon/drizzle over eclairs or cream puffs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Rolls

This is a pumpkin spice twist on classic Cinnamon Rolls.


¼ c. warm water
2 ½ t. yeast
¼ t. sugar
¼ c. melted butter
2 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin (or home processed pumpkin)
½ c. warm milk
1 pkg. (3.4 oz) instant pumpkin spice or vanilla pudding
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. cloves
¼ t. cinnamon
5 ¼ c. flour

Mix ¼ t. sugar, yeast and warm water in a small bowl and set aside to proof until doubled.

Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in mixing bowl, except for flour, and add proofed yeast mixture. Mix in flour until the dough is sticky, but cleans the side of the mixing bowl.

Place in greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled.


Punch down and if desired, allow to rise again. If time does not permit an additional rise, roll out onto a floured surface in a rectangle.

1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 T. cinnamon
1/3 c. butter softened in microwave for 10-15 seconds

Spread butter all over dough. This is easily done with a hand, or cover hand in a sandwich baggie to ease in clean up. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl, and spread over buttered dough.

Beginning on the long side, roll up tightly. Use a long strand of dental floss or thread and grip on both ends. Slowly guide the floss/thread underneath the roll and bring up at approx. 1-2 inches. Bring hands up, cross hands and pull tightly until the floss/thread is taut and has sliced the roll. Repeat this process.


Place slices on greased pan approximately 2-3 inches apart. Cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled – approx. 1 hour.


Bake at 375* for 15 minutes.

Frost while still warm with Cream Cheese Frosting
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Homemade noodles and chicken noodle soup


My friend made this for our family back just before I had surgery. While I've tried my hand at homemade noodles, my family raved about these. It took several tries and a couple of phone calls before I got it just right. Thanks to Sarah for sharing her recipe!

Egg noodles
1 c. flour
2 large eggs
salt to taste

Dump flour and salt onto the countertop and make a well in the flour. Beat eggs and pour them into the well. Mix with a fork, and then knead by hands until dough forms. Continue to knead for several minutes. Once it becomes smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Spread flour on counter and divide dough into several sections, taking care to keep everything wrapped except the portion being worked with. Roll out as thinly as possible using rolling pin. Using a pizza cutter slice into thin slices (1/4 - 1/2 inch) and desired length. Set aside and continue with all of the dough.

Chicken Noodle Soup
There are so many ways to make a chicken noodle soup. I try to start out with a roasted chicken - (even a rotisserie chicken's left overs) bones and all works great. If I don't have a roasted chicken, I'll use 4-6 skinned and de-boned thigh fillets or breasts. If I'm in a hurry, I'll use 2 cans of pre-cooked, canned chicken, juice and all.

If using a roast chicken (this gives the best broth), I recommend making the broth the day before. Place chicken and bones in pot and cover with water, bringing it to a boil.
Allow bones to cook over medium heat until the meat falls off of the bones. This generally takes a couple of hours. Once the broth has cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight. During the cooling process, the grease will rise to the top and form a shell over the top of the broth. Simply scrape the grease off and throw away. Separate meat from bones and discard bones.

If using skinned and boneless thighs and breasts, cube chicken and place in pot covered with water, bringing to a boil.

Add the following
1-2 c. coarsely chopped (or whole baby carrots)
1 c. coarsely chopped celery
1 coarsely chopped onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 cans chicken broth
salt, pepper, chicken boullion to taste
1-2 T. lemon juice
1 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried parsley

Once mixture is boiling, add noodles. Cover and cook for 1-2 hours, until noodles are soft.
Crockpot method - combine ingredients in Crockpot and cook on medium for 5-6 hours, or high for 3 hours until the noodles are soft.

My biggest mistake in making this was not allowing the noodles enough time to cook. After a couple of flops, I called Sarah and she explained that they really need to cook for a LONG time, or else they'll be dense and not so tasty.
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Favorite Raisin Oatmeal Cookies


I have been craving raisin oatmeal cookies for quite a while. Now that my oven is finally fixed, we decided to make some as a family last night to send to our great grandpa for his birthday. He loves cookies and at 94, I think he is possibly entitled to as many cookies as he would like!

While I've tried several other recipes, this is my favorite. It comes from the Sunmaid Raisins website with a few of my own tweaks.

1 1/2 c. softened butter
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cardamom
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
6 c. oatmeal
2 c. raisins
2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter, sugars, milk, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix well.

Stir in oats, raisins, and nuts.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake 12-15 mintues.

To keep these soft and moist rather than hard and crunchy, take them out just before they are done. Remove from cookie sheets as soon as they come out of the oven. Cool on racks - they will firm up as they cool.

Store in airtight container along with a slice of bread. The bread will keep them soft and moist.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Grandma J's Congo Bars

My grandmother used to make these in mass quantities and store them in #10 cans with a slice of bread for freshness. We knew that we would always get a cookie before we left to go back home.
I used mostly butterscotch chips in this batch since I was mostly out of chocolate chips. Thanks to my mom for navigating the computer to send me her recipe!

Cream together
2/3 c. cooking oil, butter, or crisco
2 c. brown sugar

3 beaten eggs

Mix, then add
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. water

Combine and add to liquid mixture
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 1/2 t. baking powder

Finally, add
1 c. chopped nuts
1 c. chocolate chips/butterscotch chips etc.

Spread into 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 375* until golden brown - approx. 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back Again Soon

Two weeks ago my oven broke. Since then, I've been waiting for our local appliance repair company to get it together enough to make it to my home to repair my appliance. I am slightly bent out of shape about it, but wanted to let you know that I WILL be back soon!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day Dinner

Here's our traditional April Fool's Day dinner.
Much to my children's delight, our "spaghetti and meatballs" are the main entree, and our "cupcakes" are our dinner entree.

Our spaghetti is made from a slice of cake (anything BUT angel food cake will do) centered on a plate, then covered with small strands of frosting piped from a frosting bag (or a very stiff sweetened whipping cream). The entire concoction is then covered with a sauce made of blended fresh strawberries and a touch of sugar.
Our meatballs are 'chocolate no bake cookies' - rolled into balls before they completely cool.

For Dessert, I use the meatloaf recipe from Feet of Meat for our 'cupcakes' and cook it in muffin tins, and frost the (meatloaf) cupcakes with mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with chives. 

 Once a year folks!


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Strawberry Smoothies


I know that I've already posted some smoothie recipes, but when I made these this morning, my kids (the number one food critics) said that these were as good as ice cream, and that I should be a cook in the king's kitchen. High praise indeed - too bad we don't have a king!

Place the following ingredients in a blender
1 c. ice
7 fresh (medium/large) washed and hulled strawberries
1/2 c. sugar or splenda (more or less depending on your taste)
1/2 t. vanilla
3 c. milk

Blend all ingredients together and serve.
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