Friday, December 21, 2012

Pumpkin, Cranberry and Pecan Strata

Pumpkin and Cranberry Breakfast Strata

Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Strata

One of the things I love about stratas is that they can be made the night before.  And, since they take a while to bake, I can pop one into the oven and go out for a morning walk, and find breakfast ready when I get back, tasting like I’ve slaved away for hours, while the house smells amazing to everyone else just waking up. 

This is a great Christmas morning, or brunch solution as it can be made in advance and requires minimal fuss.  I initially came across this recipe on the Betty Crocker website.    

Here’s my version:

7 c. bread – cut or broken into 1 inch cubes (day old french bread is ideal)
½ c. craisins OR 1 ¼ c. frozen whole cranberries
½ c. toasted chopped pecans**
3 eggs
3 c. milk
2 c. cooked and pureed pumpkin OR 1 can pumpkin (15 oz. not pumpkin pie mix)
2 T. orange peel (peel of two oranges grated)
1 T. grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground nutmeg
½ c. brown sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
¾ t. salt

Maple syrup or vanilla yogurt for serving

Spray a 9” square baking dish with cooking spray and spread with half of the bread.
Sprinkle half of the cranberries, nuts, and ginger (fresh) over the bread, and repeat.

In a large bowl beat eggs, milk, pumpkin, orange peel, sugar, salt, spices and vanilla together. 

Pour over bread and cover with plastic or a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and refrigerate for 4 – 24 hours. (No longer than 24)

Heat over to 325* and bake covered for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 – 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm topped with whipping cream, yogurt, and/or maple syrup.

8 generous servings

**Toast pecans in the microwave for 2.5 +/- minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, then place in paper or plastic baggie and beat with a rolling pin.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Latkes - Potato Pancakes

Happy Hanukkah!
My family loves these, and while we aren't Jewish, since the calendar has lots of Jewish holidays, we use these holidays as excuses to enjoy these delicious potato pancakes.  

In essence, these are similar to large hash browns, except - tastier.  Especially when topped with sour cream and applesauce - the traditional way to eat them.  

5 lbs. russet potatoes (approx. 8) peeled, and grated - (cover with water while grating to slow down oxidation)
2 medium onions, grated
4 beaten eggs
1/4 - 1/2 c. flour
2 t. salt
Oil for frying

Remove potatoes from water and squeeze them to remove as much water as possible.  If desired, place between paper towels and squeeze to remove water.  
In a large bowl, mix potatoes and onions. 

Heat oil in a frying pan or electric frying pan.

Add eggs, flour, and salt to the potato mixture, and mix thoroughly with hands. 

When oil is hot enough for frying, place 1/3 c. mixture into hot oil.  Spread potatoes out so that it has a uniform thickness. 
Fry for approx. 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy, then flip and repeat.  

Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. 

These are traditionally served with sour cream and applesauce.   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turtle brownies

Oh My Goodness!
I saw a recipe on a Betty Crocker pop-up a couple of weeks ago and it looked pretty amazing.  While I was at the store today, I saw some of the ingredients that it needed, and picked them up.  However, when I got home, I realized that I needed to make a few alterations as I'd bought a brownie mix instead of a cookie dough mix.  (Yes, gasp - that's the first brownie mix I've bought in probably 12 years).
Full of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans, and smothered in caramel sauce, these are rich and oh, so delectable.  

I started out unwrapping 1 bag of caramels - approx. 50 caramels.

Following the directions on the brownie mix, assemble the brownies, and spread the batter into a greased 9x13" pan.  
Sprinkle batter with 1/2 c. chocolate chips, 1/2 c. butterscotch chips, and 1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans.
Bake at 350* as directed. 

Meanwhile, place caramels in a pan, along with 1/4 c. whipping cream, and 4 T. butter, and melt on low - stirring frequently.

Remove brownies from oven and allow to cool.  
Pour caramel sauce over brownies and top with additional chopped pecans and allow to cool.  

Good luck letting these cool before someone breaks into them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My soon to be New kitchen

You may be wondering where I disappeared to since my last posting in August.
The truth is, I've been shopping for a new kitchen.  And, after contracts for 5 different houses (4 of which fell through), if all goes as planned, in 34 hours, this will be my new kitchen!
The rest of the house is nice too, but let's face it - it is all about the kitchen for me, and I'm excited to start having some fun in this one!

So, now that I've got that off of my chest, once I finish getting those boxes moved, I'll be back with lots of amazing new recipes.
Happy cooking.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Luscious Lemon Bars

These are rich with the perfect blend of sweet and tang with lemon on top of a shortbread crust.
 I hope your family enjoys these as much as ours does.

1.5 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered (confectioners) sugar
3/4 c. cold butter

Place ingredients in a medium bowl, and cut in butter until crumbly (use a pastry blender or two knives).
Press into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13" pan.
(It will be very floury (is that a word?) but the little pockets of butter will melt while baking to form a fantastic shortbread crust.)
Bake at 350* for 15 minutes.
When it is done, it should look something like this:

4 eggs slightly beaten
1.5 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 c. lemon juice

Place eggs in a medium bowl and slightly beat.
Add sugar, baking powder, and lemon juice.
Mix thoroughly.
(After doing this several ways, I recommend doing this by hand rather than by mixer - it doesn't need to be super frothy or bubbly)

Pour over baked crust.
Bake at 350* for 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool, then cut into bars and sprinkle with powdered (confectioners) sugar.
Cover and refrigerate to store, but serve at room temperature.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sweet Potato Muffins

I hit the $1 section at our local Target the other evening - just browsing around.  There I found a couple of simple cookbooks, and as I thumbed through them, this recipe for Sweet Potato Muffins caught my eye.
(It could have been because I'd roasted some sweet potatoes just the day before, but they weren't as sweet as usual, and I was trying to think of some way to use them). 
These came out very moist and flavorful, with a nice crunch due to the advent of pecans.

3 C. flour
1 T. baking powder
1.5 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground nutmeg
1.5 - 2 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes or yams
1.5 C. sugar
3/4 C. milk
3 eggs
1/2 C. butter (melted) (or 1/4 c. chia)
1/2 C. chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl combine sweet potatoes or yams, sugar, milk, and eggs. 
Add dry ingredients, then butter or chia. 
Mix until well blended.
Stir in pecan.

Fill greased muffin cups half full.
Bake at 350* for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
Yield - approx. 4 dozen
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Hershey's Chocolate Cake - made with Chia

As I've been experimenting with chia - I decided to try it out in a chocolate cake earlier this week.
Here's what I found -
1.  No one could tell
2. The cake was very moist
3. The chia was a WAY better substitute for the fat - MUCH better than the applesauce substitute
4. No one had any idea that 1/2 of the fat had been substituted
5. Everyone loved it


Sunday, July 22, 2012


I don't have a new recipe for you.  But I've been busy experimenting this week and will have something soon. 
We discovered chia this week (yes, like your old crazy chia pet thing).  
These seeds are crunchy, mostly tasteless, and said to be the latest and greatest in health.  Trippy though, because once you add them to water, they create a gelatinous substance around them - kind of like a tapioca, and they can be substituted in recipes for 1/3 of the fat (so I've read), or for an egg (so I've read), or to extend dressings and almost anything else you could dream of (cutting down fats and oils).  They purport to have better/or rival the omega oils and nutrient levels of salmon, flax, spinach, and even broccoli.  

  I read a book about a tribe of indians in Norther Mexico who use these seeds as a staple for their 100+ ultra marathons, and have been intrigued ever since.  Lots of research, and we are trying them in lots of different things, trying to figure out (if) and how we like using them.  

So stay tuned for nifty and tasty chia recipes!
After shopping around, while not cheap, I found some good prices on

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cooking with wheat - Tips


Tips for cooking with wheat

  • Wheat flour is heavier than white flour, so try using only 7/8 cup wheat flour for every 1 cup of white flour.  Keep in mind that it will need more leavening as it is heavier. 
  • In yeast breads, use more yeast and/or let it rise longer.
  • In baking powder leavened products, increase baking powder by 1 t. for every 3 cups of whole wheat flour. 
  • Recipes using baking soda need not be adjusted
  • In baked products using eggs, separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff.  Then fold in the whites just before baking. 
  • For extra lightness, an extra egg may be added - especially for waffles and cakes
  • Try substituting whole wheat flour into familiar recipes you know your family already likes.  Don't feel like you must use 100% whole wheat flour...mix half wheat and half white flour.  

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Looking for a healthier alternative, or someway to use that wheat food storage?
I love that these cookies don't taste (or look) like they are made from whole wheat.
I got this recipe from a church class on cooking with whole wheat several years ago.  I took them to my book club last night and they disappeared, but the best part was that no one could tell that they were whole wheat!

1 c. shortening
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. white sugar

2 beaten eggs

2 T. hot water
1 t. vanilla

1/2 t. salt
1 t. soda
2.5 c. whole wheat flour

6 oz chocolate chips (minimum - add as desired)
1 c. chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts - optional)
1/2 c. coconut (optional)

Cream shortening and sugars.
Add eggs, water and vanilla.
Sift flour, soda, and salt together and add to the creamed mixture.
Add chocolate chips and nuts, then mix.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350* for 15 minutes.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July Jello Jigglers

Okay - so I stole the photo while mine are still setting, but what a perfect treat to take to that 4th of July gathering - and the kids (and adults) can't get enough of this new twist on jello squares. 

1 large package raspberry jello (or your preference)
1 large package very berry blue jello (or your preference)
1 small package lemon jello
8 oz cream cheese - softened
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 t. salt
1 c. whipped topping (like cool whip)
1/2 bag miniature marshmallows (regular is fine too, mini just melt more quickly)

Place blue jello powder in bowl, and add 1 3/4 c. boiling water.  Mix until dissolved and pour into a 9 x 13" pan.  Place in refrigerator to set.

Place lemon jello powder in a bowl and add 1 c. boiling water.  Dissolve, then add miniature marshmallows- stir until melted/dissolved.
In a separate bowl combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and salt.  Once combined, add to marshmallow/lemon jello mixture.
Place in refrigerator until slightly set. 

Remove from refrigerator, add whipped topping, then pour over bottom layer once it has set. 
Refrigerate until set.

Place red jello powder in a bowl and add 1 3/4 c. boiling water.  Mix until dissolved, then pour over white/lemon layer, and refrigerate to set. 

Once set, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.  

Note - these can be made with any colors.  19 oz. crushed and drained pineapple can be added along with the whipping cream to the lemon mixture if desired.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Healthy Father's Day breakfast - Crunchy Oat & Wheat Waffles with Homemade Blueberry Syrup

Looking for a healthy Father's Day breakfast that's filling and tasty?

My in-laws make these waffles for us each time we come into town.  While these waffles are filling and ever so tasty, they are deliciously light and fluffy, and you'd never guess they were made from oats and wheat flour!  

1 c. boiling water
3/4 c. regular rolled oats
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1.5 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. vegetable oil
2 T. sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 1/4 c. nonfat butter milk OR 1 1/4 c. lowfat milk with 2 t. lemon juice added

In microwaveable bowl, boil water, then add oats and set aside for 3 minutes. 
In another bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. 
Whisk oil into the oats then add egg and white, then add buttermilk and mix. 
Add dry ingredients and gently mix. 

Cook in waffle maker - use vegetable cooking spray if needed. 
These work especially well in Belgian waffle maker.

Homemade Blueberry Syrup
1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 c. blueberries
1 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla

pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon

Place sugar and cornstarch in a medium sized saucepan, and mix using a whisk. 
Add water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. 
Add blueberries and bring back to a boil.
Add butter, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and serve.

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Cinnamon Rolls

I found this recipe on Rachel Berry's blog and they turned out really great.  Other than my pumpkin spice rolls, every cinnamon roll recipe I've tried has been somewhat disappointing.  Happy to finally have a staple cinnamon roll recipe - thanks Rachel!

While I've kept the ingredients the same, I made a few alterations to the combination and mixture process to  speed up the process (since I'm such a patient girl).
My daughter (and toughest critic) couldn't believe that I didn't buy the pastry part - and she recommended that I open up a cafe to serve these (even though cinnamon rolls aren't her favorite - love that kid!)

My photo is the naked/unfrosted version.  Once I got them frosted, they flew off the plate! 
Cinnamon Rolls

2 C. boiling Water
1/2 C. brown Sugar
1 C. butter or margarine
1/4 C. white sugar

2 Tbsp yeast
1/2 c. warm water
pinch of sugar

2 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
7 C. flour 

Boil water.  Add butter to boiling water and let sit to melt for a few minutes.  
While butter melts, in a small bowl bowl mix yeast, water, and a pinch of sugar and allow to proof for 5-10 minutes. 

Add sugar to butter/water and mix, then add 2 c. flour, one cup at a time to cool down mixture. Once mixture has cooled down (should be warm, but not hot), add eggs, baking powder, and salt, and then yeast mixture. Add 5 more cups of flour, mix thoroughly, cover and set aside to rise. 

  Carefully put raised dough on Oiled or floured surface and using rolling pin, roll out to 1/4" thick.  Brush dough with melted butter, and liberally sprinkle with brown sugar, making sure to cover the entire surface.Sprinkle cinnamon over entire surface. 
Roll tightly, and cut into 2" rolls. (I use dental floss for a clean cut) 
Place on a greased cookie sheet. 
 Cover with saran wrap that's been sprayed with cooking spray, and let rise.  
Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes.
Makes 24-30 rolls

Optional - nuts and raisins can be added to the cinnamon and sugar layer if desired.

3/4 C. Soft butter
3 C. Powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
1-2 Tbsp. Milk

Mix well with electric mixer - it should be thick and creamy.

*Rachel noted that refrigerating this dough beforehand (ie overnight) isn't as effective. 
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Crustless Coconut Cream Pie

I found this recipe on this week as I was searching for a coconut pie recipe.  I didn't want to bother with a crust so this was definitely experimental.  
I added a bit of extra flour and more coconut (2 c.) than the original recipe called for as it seemed a little too thin.
As I waited for it to cool, I initially thought that it was maybe too soft of a set, but my loyal eaters loved that half of the pie was chewy coconutty, and the other half was sweet custard goodness.  
3/4 stick butter, melted
1.5 cup sugar
2.5 T. flour
3 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 t. vanilla
1 - 2 cups shredded coconut

Mix butter, sugar and flour in a large bowl.
Add eggs and mix, then add remaining ingredients.
Mix well.
Pour into well greased, well floured 9" pie pan.
Bake at 375* for 45 minutes.
Cool for 3 hours, then serve.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Buffalo Wings Pizza

While visiting SLC, we recently had buffalo hot wings pizza. We had some fun experimenting and came up with this tasty rendition.  Hot wing sauce and all...yum  Can't wait to make it again!

Pizza crust
1 Tbs. dry yeast 
1 c. warm water
1 t. sugar
2 T. oil
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt

Mix all ingredients and set aside for 5 minutes. Oil pan or pizza stone, then sprinkle with corn meal (if desired), and push dough out out onto pan/stone (or cookie sheet.) Bake crust for 20 minutes at 400*. 

Remove from oven and cover with sauce and toppings (below) 

Toppings and Sauce
1-2 c. chopped or shredded cooked chicken
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. Frank's hot wing sauce
Shredded cheese (whichever you prefer on pizza or have on hand excepting goat, feta etc)
Any desired additional toppings (olives, mushrooms, onions) chopped

Place cream cheese in microwave safe bowl and soften (30 - 60 seconds) 
Add 1/4-1/2 c. Frank's hot sauce (to taste) to the cream cheese, and mix
Spread cream cheese/hot sauce mixture over crust with a spoon or spatula.
Add chicken and any desired toppings
Apply thin layer of shredded cheese
Drizzle remaining Frank's Hot sauce over entire pizza - more or less depending on your heat thresh hold. 

Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

**Variation: Blue cheese dressing (not mixed with hot sauce) can be substituted for the cream cheese sauce, and blue cheese crumbles can be sprinkled over the pizza after the hot sauce.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Root beer float cupcakes

My kids gave me a 101 gourmet cupcakes in 10 minutes cookbook by Wendy Paul for Mother's Day.
My kids have really enjoyed looking through all of the photos and the options.
I'm taking these in to school for a birthday and an end of the school year party.

1 white cake mix (unprepared)
1 c. root beer

Mix together and spoon into cupcake papers
(I know it seems weird - no eggs, water, or oil, but it really does work)
Bake at 350* for 15-18 minutes

Frost with Butter Cream Root Beer Frosting
1 stick butter
3.5 c. powdered sugar
1-2 t. root beer concentrate or flavoring (in the spice aisle at the grocery store)
3-4 T. milk

Beat butter until soft and fluffy - approximately 30 seconds
Add powdered sugar, and slowly incorporate
Add milk and root beer flavoring to desired consistency

Frost cupcakes and garnish with straw, pirouline cookie straw, and small white decorating beads for bubbles
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I originally found this recipe in a Betty Crocker cookbook I received when we were first married.  It comes in doubly handy when I need to feed a crowd, and when I have some ripe bananas on my counter that have passed the stage of raw consumption.  Over the years, this recipe has been adjusted with changes to the sugar, oil, nuts, and doubling it to fit an 11 x 15" pan.  
Reminiscent of banana bread, this can be served in bars, or as a cake, and with or without frosting.  

2    cups brown sugar
4    very ripe bananas (brown is okay)
2/3 cups vegetable oil (or 1/3 c. applesauce + 1/3 c. oil)
4    eggs – lightly beaten
2    cups flour
2    teaspoons baking powder
1    teaspoon baking soda
1    teaspoon ground cinnamon
½   teaspoon salt
½  cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350*. 
Mix bananas with brown sugar in large bowl. 
Add oil, then eggs. Mix until combined. 
Combine dry ingredients and add to the sugar and banana mixture – mixing until combined.  

Spread into a 11 x 15” pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  

Allow to cool for 1 hour before frosting with cream cheese frosting, and serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. cream cheese softened
2/3 c. butter, softened
2 t. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in medium bowl on low speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth.

Spread over banana bars after they've cooled.

Sunflower cake

I came across this idea and decided to make it for my birthday, but with dimension, so I adjusted this recipe (just slightly) - some of which I liked, some of which - well, not so much. 

Here's my inspiration:  Cute huh?  In an abstract artistic sort of way.
While I loved theirs, I wanted to add more dimension  so I used two cake mixes, a 9x13", a 9" round, and a ramekin to bake the cake batter in.

2 cake mixes, any flavor - mix as directed
Starburst candies - yellow and orange
Chocolate chips (1 cup)
Gummy bears

Grease and flour a 9x13", 9" round baking pans, and 1 standard ramekin.

Grease the outer sides of an empty ramekin and place in the center of the round cake pan (this will allow the cake to cook more evenly and will provide dimension for the center).
Divide the batter between all three pans, filling the ramekin (not the one inside the round pan) only 2/3 full. 
Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes.  Check at 20 minutes to make sure round and ramekin aren't already done.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pans, then remove from pans and allow to cool on cooling racks.

Place 9x13" cake on serving platter and frost with either a white base, or a chocolate base.
Using 9x13" as a base, place 9" round (which should be a ring once empty ramekin is removed from center) on top.
Frost with base frosting coat.
(Note - just because you might be sick of butter cream frosting and are too lazy to make more frosting is not an appropriate reason for you to use marshmallow cream - believe me - while in theory it looks good, it WILL NOT work as a base frosting for this cake - or any other for that matter - it will slowly slide and run right off of your cake and you will wish you'd listened).

Place ramekin sized cake into the center hole of the ring, and apply a chocolate base coat.
Cover the chocolate coat with chocolate chips.

Unwrap yellow and orange Starburst candies, and microwave one at a time for 6-8 seconds depending on the strength of your microwave (mine took 6).
After microwaving, place between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out with a rolling pin.
Trim with scissors into desired petal shape and place on cake - pinching one end to add dimension.
Layer petals as desired.
Use alternating gummy bear pattern to frame cake sides.
Here's a link to the original ideas

Monday, April 30, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake or Fruit & Cake Shish-ka-bobs

Looking for an easy, kid & adult friendly, yet distinctive dessert?

I saw this on Pinterest, and wanted to try it. My husband was dubious at best, but commented to me later on that he was surprised and had really enjoyed these fruit and cake shish-ka-bobs.
My kids loved helping make these too.

These are so versatile - you could do just about anything with them and the variations are endless.  For a party or function, these could be served buffet style and guests could skewer them themselves, and chocolate dipping sauce could be served on the side - so many options!

  For strawberry shortcake ke-babs, use an angel food cake, strawberries, white & dark chocolate.

Any cake of your choice (any flavor, store bought or homemade, even brownies or bar cookie chunks)
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, bananas, pineapple - anything goes
Shish-ka-bob skewers
Melting chocolate or chocolate chips - white, chocolate, butterscotch (whatever you have, or want to use)
1-2 t. Shortening

Cut cake into cubes, approx. 1" x 1.5"
Slice fruit into bite size pieces (if necessary)
Slide cake cubes, and fruit onto skewers in alternating pattern
Place on cooling rack, with cookie sheet or paper below
Place chocolates in small microwaveable bowl, and add shortening
Heat chocolate at 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently
Using spoon, (or piping bag) drizzle chocolate over cake and fruit
Repeat with chocolate of alternating color if desired

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pico de Gallo

I really should be fired.

My sister asked me for a salsa recipe. She wanted one to can.
Fortunately, my friend makes salsa for me - in trade for my wheat bread. As such, I don't make salsa because his is amazing and he won't give me the recipe.

I do however make Pico De Gallo. Often. Very Often. I love the stuff - I could eat it by the gallon. I was horrified to discover that my blog was missing this recipe.

Once again, this is an 'un-scientific' recipe - meaning that I developed this recipe to perfection - according to my taste. Add more or less to suit your taste.

1 c. diced tomatoes
1 c. diced onion (white or yellow)
1 c. chopped cilantro
approx. 1/3 c. key lime juice
coarse salt

Optional: 1 - 4 finely chopped jalapeƱos (depending on how much heat you want)

Mix tomatoes, cilantro, and onion together in a bowl.
Add enough key lime juice (either from a bottle or freshly squeezed) to fill the bottom of the bowl approx. 1/4 inch from the bottom.
Add cumin and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.

* Key limes are a MUST. They have a very distinctive flavor which is key to this recipe. (They look like mini limes.)

**This pico de gallo is fantastic on black beans, eggs, or with rice. It adds a great flavor boost to just about anything.

Scrambled eggs with pico de gallo

Every time I make pico de gallo, I get excited because I know that I'll be having scrambled eggs with 'morning after' pico de gallo for breakfast.

The great thing about 'morning after' pico de gallo is that the juices mix together and it lends such a great contrast and flavor to the eggs.

Here's a link to amazing pico de gallo.

Crack eggs, and cook over medium heat moving constantly.
Just as the eggs begin to loose their moisture, remove from heat. 
Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with pico de gallo, and don't be shy, make sure to get some of the juice in there too.
Morning bliss.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Graham Cracker Cookies

My mom used to make these cookies for us as kids, and they are seriously the easiest cookies ever made & are great solution to left over frosting.
I had some left over frosting tonight and realized that this recipe is perfect for these. 
Perfect for a quick treat after school, or to send in a lunch box.
And did I mention that kids love them?

Graham crackers - cinnamon and sugar or plain (whatever is on hand)


½ C Butter (1 stick)
3 ½ C Powdered Sugar
2 T Cocoa
¼ C Milk
1.5 tsp. Vanilla
Place butter in a small sauce pan and melt the butter. Add the milk and cocoa. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Heat just until boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Then, gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir until thickened.  Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before spreading on graham crackers.  Cool, then break into halves (may be refrigerated). 
Wrap by twos in plastic wrap.
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Carne Asada Taco Salad

A lighter and less messy version of carne asada (eaten with forks, not hands), or a great use for second day carne asada.

Layer ingredients in the following order:

Romaine lettuce - coarsely chopped
Crushed tortilla chips, or crushed tostada shells
Grilled carne asada
Pico de gallo
Sour cream

Serve immediately
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Carne Asada Mojo or Marinade

I lived in Guatemala for a while many years ago, and learned that Guatemalans love carne asada. 
I honestly never really understood what that meant since the translation is: grilled meat.  I mistakenly thought this meant any meat and couldn't figure out what the big deal was.  Many years later, living in Colorado with lots of friends from Mexico, I finally learned what carne asada really means.
Super thinly sliced skirt or flank steak.  Perfectly marinated, and "just" cooked on the grill so that it is tender and juicy. The meant is served in a corn tortilla with refried beans, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, & sour cream.

The easiest way to get the best meat for carne asada is to look in your area for a 'carniceria' (literally - meat market) ask them for 'aguayo' meat - this is the best for carne asada.  Then ask them to add their 'mojo' or 'marinade'.  They'll usually put the meat in a bag, add some marinade, and then you can let it sit in the fridge overnight or for a day or two.

If a carniceria isn't an option - Costco often sales carne asada (already in a marinade), or you can purchase thinly sliced flank or skirt steak and do your own mojo or marinade.

I usually have to slice my meat into halves or fourths just to get the thinness I need.
Here's a great recipe for the marinade/mojo (which tenderizes and adds great flavor)

Carne Asada Marinade or Mojo
1/4 c. key lime juice (the very small green limes)**this is key for the flavor
1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. white vinegar
4 garlic cloves - pressed or very finely diced
1/2-3/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 t. kosher salt (less if table salt)
JalapeƱo or seranno chiles, minced (optional - to taste)
1/4 t. crushed red peppers (optional - to taste)
2 t. sugar (more or less to taste)

Using a fork, pierce meat, and place in non-metalic (reactive) container.
Cover with marinade/mojo, and turn.
Allow to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes, then turn and marinate on other side.
This may be refrigerated overnight, but bring to room temperature prior to grilling.

Heat grill, and cook for 2-5 minutes each side (depending on grill), so that meat is cooked, but still tender.
Place on a platter and cover with foil, and allow meat to rest so that the juices flow.
Note that the acids of the vinegar and the lime help 'cook' the meat during the marinade.  Also, pureed kiwi can be added to the mojo as it contains meat tenderizing enzymes.
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Oven Roasted Vegetables

My kids LOVED these.  My daugther who doesn't like vegetables actually asked to take some of these in her lunch to school today - and she told me that she really likes them.

The great thing about this recipe is that it works with virtually any vegetable you may have on hand.

5 carrots - scrubbed and peeled, sliced diagonally
2 large potatoes - scrubbed and chopped into 1.5 x 2" pieces
1 large onion - coarsely chopped
4-6 Mushrooms - halved or quartered
7-10 Asparagus stems - cut into 2-3" sections
2 coarsely chopped sweet bell peppers (red or yellow for color)
3 T. olive oil
2 t. seasoned salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
Basil, thyme, or rosemary to taste

Heat oven to 375*
Combine all vegetables in a large bowl or pot.
Add olive oil and spices, and gently toss.

Pour into large 11 x 15" baking dish, and cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and gently stir.
Bake without foil for an additional 20 minutes or until tender.
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