Friday, December 26, 2008

Bleu Burgers

We had tons of Christmas leftovers, but are we the only ones that crave something greasy and salty right after Christmas? Don't get me wrong, we will eat the leftovers, and we will enjoy them. Christmas dinner was excellent. It always is. But, tonight, I wanted a burger and fries.

You have seen my sweet potato fries before so I won't waste time on that. I will note that I cut these a hint thicker and longer and we liked them much better. There was a little more to them, if you will. Last time, it was mostly spice, and crunch; not as much potato.

For the was a "Bleu Burger". This was simple and pretty quick! While the fries were going in the skillet, these patties were sizzling away on the George Foreman. It have been a very long time since I have used the George Foreman, but when I began to complain that I only have one large burner on the stove, and needed to use a large pan for both the fries and the patties, Brett piped up and said, "where's the Foreman?" It worked out perfect! Thanks, honey!

1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese(or as much as you like...I actually eyeballed it)
1/2 of a medium red onion, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; separate into 4 equal patties; cook desire way (grill, George Foreman, skillet, etc). We had ours on WW buns with mustard. You could dress it up with lettuce and tomato I suppose, but the bleu cheese and onion was just perfect to me.
Note that the original recipe said to cook a hamburger patty as you like (which might include more ingredients), and top with crumbles of bleu cheese, and sliced, raw, red onion. Brett doesn't like onion unless its tiny and cooked, so he actually suggested combining it all into the patty the way I did.

Christmas Eve Breakfast

So, I don't make breakfast that often...not a "sit-down breakfast" anyway. My typical breakfast for the week is made on Sunday-I make either egg and cheese bagels, or egg and potato burritos...something like that. I make enough for the week, wrap them up, and stash them in the fridge. This way, I can grab that and some fruit and get out the door, and I definitely don't have to get up earlier. I'm not a morning person after all! Every once in a weekend, I'll make waffles (frozen ones), pancakes (from a mix), or scrambled eggs and toast (really, how hard is that?), or cereal. OK, I know you don't "make" cereal, but you get my point.

So after scoring such a fantabulous deal on my gorgeous, new, dishes (and silver Christmas tree centerpieces and sparkly place mats) this week, I had to set the table. Obviously, I then felt obligated to make a really special meal so we could enjoy this! Since Brett and I decided to do "our Christmas" on Christmas Eve morning, it was perfect...I would cook breakfast that morning. But wait, it had to be frozen, pop it in the toaster, or pour milk over it in a bowl breakfast. Something yummy. I realized I might have to go to some trouble.

I love instead of from-a-mix pancakes, I'd make homemade ones. And to "kick it up a notch" I would add fresh blueberries. Fruit salad would be on the menu as well-that is a must for a good well rounded breakfast. And, Eggs Benedict...Brett would be SO excited about this. It's his favorite, and goodness knows it's not something I just whip up at home.
I found the pancake recipe on Angela's blog ( The only thing I did different was add the blueberries.

So here's where my "going to trouble" came in...the Eggs Benedict. I had good intentions, I promise. But as Christmas Eve came near, the thoughts of this recipe scared me. The sauce seemed really easy to screw up, and I've never poached an egg. I didn't want it to be bad. I hope I don't loose any of my 3 blog followers for this, but...I chickened out. I ended up using a sauce mix, and just making over easy eggs. For the record, I did try to poach an egg, and it just didn't work out. I'm sure a couple more eggs later I could have mastered it, but I was getting excited and my dishes were waiting. The sauce actually turned out very good, the eggs were a good consistency, and it was perfect atop the Canadian bacon and English muffins!

So, I cheated a little, but give me some credit on the pancakes...those were the real deal, and SUPER yummy. Brett really like blueberries, so he ended up with them on top of his as well! He approved the Eggs Benedict, and assured me it was delicious.
As far as the fruit, I added sliced bananas to a melon/pineapple/grape mix that I bought.
The mostly prepared fruit and easy sauce mix ended up saving me alot of time, and everything was still so good. I'm sure I will make REAL Hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict someday. All in all, this was all about my new dishes and table scape, right?? Not the food!! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oven Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato "Fries"

Since I was going out of town to see my mom, I wanted to cook up something to put in the fridge for Brett to eat while I was gone. Goodness knows, if I didn't, he might not eat!

This was simple and required few ingredients, so it was an easy decision. Oven Fried Honey Chicken, Sweet Potato "Fries" and Green Beans (which we out of a can!).

Oven Fried Honey Chicken
4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°F. In shallow bowl, whisk together honey and vinegar. Pour bread crumbs into separated bowl. Set bowls aside. Spray a foil-lined baking pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer. Roll chicken pieces in honey mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly (browned and crisp coating).

Sweet Potato "Fries"
(this was enough for two servings)
1 Large Sweet Potato
Canola Oil
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Season Salt

Wash and peel the sweet potato. Cut potato into thin strips about 4 inches long each. You can see from my photo that I wanted some about the size of a McDonald's french fry...this allows for crispier fries, and faster cooking. Heat a large skillet on medium high with about 1/4 inch deep layer of Canola oil. When oil is hot, drop in the "fries" in a single layer. Without stirring or adjusting, cook for about 4-5 minutes. Flip them, and cook for 4-5 minutes on the opposite side. You can watch them for doneness...when they begin to brown and crisp they are good to go.

Transfer fries to a napkin covered plate so the grease can drain off. As soon as you transfer them to the plate, before the grease has drained off, season to taste. I sprinkle, Chili power, Cayenne, season salt and salt. You can play with seasonings to your liking....just salt, more cayenne for heat, Cumin powder for some smokiness; I'm sure just some garlic powder or garlic salt would be good.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's on your table for the holidays?

Everyone has a Christmas centerpiece, right? In clearing off all of the excess clutter from our dining room table today, I wondered what everyone else had as their centerpiece for the holidays. I always admire how creative and festive people can get. Here's mine, and I'd love to see yours!
Mine is a handmade ceramic bowl, with decorative charms on it. Fore some reason, I don't do well with table runners, so I simply placed the bowl on a red charger. To keep in the color scheme I filled it with large mints and Peppermint Hersey's Kisses. This bowl is so much fun...not just for Christmas, but any time of year. You can change out the charms for practically any occasion you can think of. I've got Halloween charms, baby charms for a baby shower, wedding ones, 4th of July. Everyone always says how fun it is, and how great it looks on any food covered table.

Sharon is from Ft. Worth and makes these and other great homemade items

I love the cake stands too, but the bowl was more versatile. I've put anything from brownie bites to fruit salad, to sausage balls in mine.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

The name says enough, right?? I had to try these out for a potential Christmas dessert...

Cookie :
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 (1 ounce) bottle red food coloring

1/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounces marshmallow creme

Directions :
Preheat oven to 375°F Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating after each addition just until combined. Stir in food coloring.

Spoon batter in 1- or 2-inch diameter rounds, about 1/2-inch high, on the prepared baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between each round.
Bake at 350° for 7 to 9 minutes for 1-inch cookies or 9 to 11 minutes for 2-inch cookies, or until tops are set.

Cool completely on baking sheets on rack. Remove cooled cookies from baking sheets.
For the filling, beat together softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in one 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme.
To fill, spoon Filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides down.

To store: Refrigerate in airtight container up to 4 days. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 60 one-inch or 42 two-inch cookies.

These are so yummmy. Very sweet and very appealing to the eye. I didn't have quite the amount of food coloring I needed, so next time mine will be more of a bright red.

Oreo Truffle Bombs

This recipe was marked as one to try out for our family Christmas dinner. I have to try it out in advance to make sure it isn't awful that day! Talk of Oreo Truffle Bombs comes up alot on the boards of TheNest, so I figure with so many women recommending it, it must be a hit. It's pretty simple, and hardly a recipe. I found these so delightful, but super rich. Definitely not and everyday dessert, but perfect for a holiday dinner, or party.

1 package Oreo cookies
8 oz. cream cheese
white chocolate for dipping
semi-sweet chocolate for drizzling

Use a food processor or blender to break down and chop the cookies into tiny bits. I used a gallon zip lock bag, and a rolling pin and it worked just as well. Just get them crushed!

With your hands, mix the Oreo crumbs and cream cheese together. (tip: rub your hands together with a bit of cooking oil/evoo before digging in and it won't stick to your hands as much and it comes of much easier). Form Oreo mixture into balls. I'd say 1 1/2 inches each, about two bites worth! Place into the refrigerator to set for about 30 to an hour.

In the meantime, melt the white chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate. You can use a saucepan, but keep it low so it doesn't burn. After the Oreo balls are chilled and set, use a toothpick to dip each one in the white chocolate. Place these in a pan lined with wax paper, and pop them in the fridge so the chocolate can harden. Once the outside is hard, use a fork to drizzle the semi-sweet chocolate on the tops of them. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving.

You can see from the photos how I used my chocolate. I actually ran out of white chocolate and used the semi-sweet to dip the rest of my truffle bombs.

Other variations...Place a mini Oreo on top of the truffle after it is dipped. You could choose not to dip them at all, chop your chocolate instead of melting it, and roll the truffles in the chopped chocolate for more of a crumb coating.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

So it's late and earlier I was craving something sweet. One problem, there is nothing, and I mean nothing in the pantry. I was playing with this website that allows you to enter what ingredients you have, and inturn it tells you what recipes you can make. Up popped Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. Sounding a little too easy, I ran to my "Busy Woman's 3 and 4 Ingredient Recipe Cookbook". If this was for real, then it would be there right? Yes, and there it was! So off I went to gather the four things I needed, and in no time I had myself some delicious cookies. I even used the natural "Smart Balance" peanut butter, and it seemed fine. Oh, and it was crunchy, too. So feel free to try whatever peanut butter you wish, and enjoy!

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl, mix the sugar and peanut butter with a hand mixer. After blended, stir inthe egg and vanilla. In one inch balls, place dough on a greased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Use a fork to slightly flatten each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool, remove and store in an air tight container.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pizza Casserole

When I saw this recipe, I knew it would be cheaper and quicker than calling Papa John's and having a pizza delivered. It isn't a traditional pizza "pie", but my taste buds didn't know the difference! I always appreciate a recipe that agrees with my budget, AND leaves leftovers for the next day. Who doesn't like cold pizza??

1 lb ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 can of tomato sauce (about 7 oz.)
1 Package of Pepperoni
Cooking Spray
10 oz. can of refrigerated pizza dough
8 oz. part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a non-stick skillet cook onion and garlic until softened. Add meat and brown. Drain well.

Add tomato sauce to meat and heat through. You will want your meat more on the dry side as opposed to the saucy side. While the meat cooks, coat a 9x13 cooking dish with cooking spray. Unroll pizza dough and press into the bottom of the dish and half way up the sides. Pre-bake in oven for 5 minutes.

Remove crust from oven. Sprinkle a layer of cheese, then a layer of hamburger meat, a layer of pepperoni, then add a layer of cheese. Finish with a final layer of pepperoni.

Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 12 minutes until crust is browned and cheese is melted. The easiest way to cut this was with a regular pizza cutter!

Can You Cook?

I wouldn't say I'm a fancy cook, but I do enjoy being in the kitchen and trying new recipes. Is that enough to qualify me to type up all the recipes, take photos of what I cook and post it for others to see? I hope so! This is a new thing for me, and I think it's going to take some time for me to figure out this blogging thing, but I will try and even if no one reads it, I'm sure I'll get a kick out of doing it!