Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Sherri at!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Vacation!

Dear friends,
I'm taking a Christmas Blog Vacation from December 18th to January 2nd.
Have a wonderful holiday season!

*smile* Sherri

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge - Fudge Recipes

Hubby and I like a little peanut butter in our chocolate fudge. This holiday recipe makes a smooth and rich fudge and it's easy enough for a beginner; no cooking or thermometer required!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup chunky peanut butter
½ cup butter
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 2/3 cups powder sugar
½ cup cocoa powder

Grease a 13”x9” cake pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sift the powdered sugar using a sifter or a kitchen sieve, pushing the sugar through the mesh with a spoon. (This will prevent white lumps in the fudge.)

Put peanut butter, ½ cup butter, and milk in a large saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until peanut butter and butter are melted. Remove saucepan from stove. Add vanilla, sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder. With a hand-held mixer, beat at medium speed until smooth. Turn out into the greased cake pan. Spread evenly with a spatula. Chill in fridge for one hour or until firm.

Yummy variation: Add 1/3 cup chopped peanuts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tumbleweeds Candy Recipe - Christmas Candy Recipes

A blogging friend, Isabelle At Home, posted a recipe for this easy-to-make candy on her blog the other day and I thought "Wow! That looks good." so I decided to try it myself. Butterscotch and peanut butter mixed with peanuts and shoestring potatoes make a sweet-and-salty treat that's hard to resist.

Prep: 12 mins.  Total time: 42 mins.  Yield: 60 candies

1 package (11 oz.) butterscotch chips
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 jar (12 oz.) dry roasted peanuts
1 can (4 oz.) shoestring potatoes

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter; stir until smooth. Stir in peanuts and shoestring potatoes; blend until evenly coated. Drop tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined cookie sheets. Place in fridge; wait 30 minutes or until candy is firm. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

French Breakfast Puffs - Holiday Muffins Recipe

These delectable, quick-fix breakfast muffins taste just like old-fashioned cinnamon-sugar cake donuts, only better because they are baked, not fried. Tender, warm muffins rolled in melted butter and coated with cinnamon-sugar;
I give 'em two yums up! *smile*

French Breakfast Puffs

Prep time:10 mins  Total time:35 mins   Servings:10

1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10 regular-size muffin cups.
In a large bowl mix shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and the egg.
In a medium-size bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk to the creamed ingredients.
Fill muffin cups 2/3rds full.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the topping, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Melt butter in a shallow bowl. Roll hot muffins in the melted butter, then in the cinnamon-sugar.

Serve hot. Enjoy!

Yummy variation: Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped nuts to the topping.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How To Drizzle Icing - Icing cookies and cakes.

To easily drizzle icing over cookies, cakes and breads, use a slotted spoon. Fill the spoon with icing, letting the excess drip into a bowl, then move the spoon quickly over the item to be drizzled. Quick and pretty!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cream Cheese Bacon Crescents - Easy Appetizer

These savory and satisfying appeziters are quick and easy to make. The yummy flavors of bacon, onion, and cream cheese make them hard to resist. With only three ingredients, you can make-and-bake'em in 30 minutes; even faster if you substitute pre-cooked bacon or bacon bits!

Cream Cheese Bacon Crescents

Prep 15 min.   Total 30 min.   Serves 16 (2 cresents per person)

1 tub (8 oz.) Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Mix cream cheese spread and bacon until well blended.
Separate each can of dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise in half. (You will have two long and skinny triangles.) There will be 32 in total.
Spread each dough triangle with 1 generous teaspoon cream cheese mixture. Roll up, starting at shortest side of triangle. Place triangles point-sides down, on a greased baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 14 min. or until golden brown. Best served warm. *smile*

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Trick

Peeling boiled sweet potatoes for sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie? Try this handy tip: Drain off the hot water then immediately plunge the tubers into cold water. The skins will slip right off. No more burned fingers! *smile*

Friday, November 11, 2011

Salt and Pepper Shortcut

Seems I'm always adding salt and pepper to the foods I'm cooking so I decided to combine the two in one shaker. I keep it near the stove. All my seasoning is done with just a few shakes! *smile*

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baked Potato Soup - Crockpot Potato Soup

I found this crock pot recipe on Crock Pot Recipe Exchange and it sounded so good I thought I'd give it a try. A baked potato in soup form? What's not to love?
I did tweak the recipe a bit, cooking the bacon with the potatoes and substituting green onions for the chives. Green onions are usually less expensive and easier to find. This soup is yummy, flavorful, and the taste does remind me of a loaded baked potato. Try it, its spud-a-licious!

Baked Potato Soup
Makes 12 servings

3 3/4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 5 large)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cans chicken broth (14 oz. cans)
1/4 cup butter
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons pepper
8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled, divided
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or green onion tops
Sour cream (optional)

Combine first 6 ingredients in a 5 quart crock pot. Add 1/2 of the crumbled bacon slices. Cover and cook on High 4 hours or Low 8 hours or until potatoes are tender.
Mash with a potato masher until the soup is a chunky consistency and slightly thickened. Stir in milk, cheese and chives. Top servings with the remaining

crumbled bacon, extra cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Delicious with a grilled cheese sandwich! *smile*

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Make your own cake or cupcake toppers!

My hubby's birthday cake. He likes rockets!

Decorating cupcakes and forgot the cake decorations? It's easy to make your own!

What you will need:
Printed clip art
Wood toothpicks
Elmer's glue

1. Look for free clip art online appropriate for the occasion; birthday, holiday etc.
2. Print out the clip art.
3. Trim the clip art close to the design.
4. Place 2 or 3 dots of glue on 1/3 of the length of the toothpick.
(The remaining length will go in the cake.)
5. Place the glued toothpick carefully on the back of the printed
clip art and press down lightly.
6. Let it dry.

One thing I love about making my own is there's such a great selection of clip art available; you can make cupcake toppers on any theme imaginable. Your little boy likes trains? Make train cake toppers for his birthday. The possibilities are endless! *smile* 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins - Pumpkin Recipe

My mission this week was to make a recipe with canned pumpkin. My hubby is not a big fan of pumpkin bread; he says it's not sweet enough so I began my search for a pumpkin muffin recipe. This yummy-looking recipe was posted by Ree Drummond on These  are moist and scrumptious; perfect for breakfast on a chilly October morning! *smile*

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Prep time: 15 min   Total time: 35 min

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (heaping) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin pan.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold gently until mixture is just combined. Spoon into muffin pan, filling sections one-half full. Sprinkle the top of each unbaked muffin with the cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mix. Bake for 20 -25 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grocery Store Tip - Visit the Meat Counter

While at the grocery store today I picked up a family-pack size of hamburger. It's always a little less expensive in family-pack size you know, but I'm not too fond of having to divide it up into one pound portions when I get it home. Messy...ugh!

I stopped by the meat counter and asked the butcher if he would divide it up for me. He was friendly, happy to help, and divided the hamburger into neat, butcher-wrapped portions ready for the freezer. Score! I saved money buying the
family-pack and didn't have to divide it up myself.

Also, I found out they will custom cut a meat selection to my liking, and even custom season any cut with the marinade of my choice, at no extra cost. Check out your local grocery meat department and discover what services they offer! *smile*

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Casserole - Cheez Whiz Recipes

My Mom loves this broccoli casserole. She requested that I bring it to her birthday luncheon this coming weekend. It's also an easy family favorite for holiday gatherings. Broccoli and rice in a flavorful cheese sauce...num num!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Prep time: 20 min   Total time: 45 min

2 cups instant rice
1/2 cup milk
1 10 3/4 oz. can golden mushroom soup
2 10 oz. packages frozen broccoli florets (or 20 oz. total)
1 15 oz. jar processed cheese sauce (Cheez Whiz)
2 tablespoons chopped onion

Cook broccoli according to package directions until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, combine instant rice, milk, soup and chopped onion. Stir in broccoli and processed cheese sauce. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a 13" by 9" baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, until bubbly on top.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tartar Sauce Recipe - Two Ingredients

Out of tartar sauce? Mix together 1/4 cup mayo (or Miracle Whip) and 1/4 cup sweet relish. Add a little minced onion if you like. Quick and easy. Your fish will be happy! *smile*

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rice-A-Roni Recipes - Roast Beef Stroganoff

I had a box of beef Rice-A-Roni on the shelf so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. I went to Rice-A-Roni's website; they have quite a few good-lookin recipes to make with Rice-A-Roni and Pasta-Roni mixes. One thing that caught my eye about this recipe is one of the ingredients is a pre-cooked meat, deli roast beef.
I love it when I can save time by using meat that's already cooked! This dish was very good; creamy, beefy and satisfying. Try it, I think you'll like it! *smile*

Rice-A-Roni Roast Beef Stroganoff

Prep time: 20 min  Total time: 45 min
1 package (6.8 ounces) Rice-A-Roni, Beef Flavor
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound deli roast beef, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

In a large skillet, combine rice-vermicelli mix and 2 tablespoons of margarine. Slowly stir in 2 1/2 cups water and Special Seasonings packet; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 12 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Return to a simmer. Cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add beef; cook and stir until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and parsley. Serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tomato Paste - Easy removal from the can

Getting tomato paste out of the can be difficult; having to patiently scoop out the thick paste. Here's a solution: Open both ends of the can with the can opener. Carefully push the tomato paste from one end of the can to the other until it comes out whole. Much easier than digging it out with a spoon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cherry Dump Pudding - Pudding Cake Recipe

I've been making this easy cake with pudding recipe since the '70s. The moist vanilla cake combined with red cherries in a sweet cherry sauce is down-home goodness! The kids will have fun "dumping" the ingredients into the pan.

Cherry Dump Pudding
Prep time: 15 mins  Total time: 1 hr, 5 mins
Preheat oven 325 degrees   Serves 9

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 16 oz. can red sour cherries in juice (not pie filling)

Melt butter or margarine. Pour into a 9 in x 9 in baking pan. In a medium size bowl, mix together 1 cup of the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add the milk and vanilla blending well to make a cake batter. Pour the batter into the pan over the melted butter. Do not stir. Open the canned cherries. Pour juice and all on top of the cake batter. Do not stir. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar evenly over the top of the cherries. Again, do not stir. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 mins. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kitchen Tip - Apples and Carrots Don't Mix

Ethylene gas; hmmm...sounds like a new type of fuel found at the local convenience store doesn't it? Nope, it's a gas emitted by certain fruits and vegetables as they ripen. Produce such as carrots and kiwi fruit are sensitive to this gas and will quickly spoil and decay if exposed.
Let's discover who the evil-doers are:

The Perpetrators- these create ethylene gas: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, some citrus fruits, cranberries, figs, guavas, grapes, green onions, honeydew melon, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, mushrooms, nectarines, okra, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmons, pineapple, plantains, plums, prunes, quinces, tomatoes and watermelon.

The Victims- these do not like ethylene gas: Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.

Storing these two types of produce separately will save you pennies on the produce bill. *smile*

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Amish Breakfast Casserole - Breakfast Recipes

Bacon and cheese are two of my favorite things in life and since bacon was on sale this week, I just had to make something with it.
Wha la! Amish Breakfast Casserole.
This casserole is hearty and satisfying due to the hash browns and 3 kinds of cheese. It smells lovely baking in the oven. The bacon, onion, and eggs give it that "special breakfast" flavor.

Variations: If you’re an egg lover, add an extra egg. This recipe also works great with crumbled breakfast sausage. 

Amish Breakfast Casserole
12 Servings  Prep: 15 min. Total time: 50 min. + standing
1 pound sliced bacon, diced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 eggs
4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
1-1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/8 tsp black pepper
In a large skillet cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp; drain.
In a large bowl, slightly beat the eggs. Mix in the hash browns, 3 cheeses, and pepper; fold in the bacon and onion mixture. Spread in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plastic Scoops- kitchen tips

You know those plastic scoops that come in canisters of cocoa, cappuccino, and coffee? Don't throw those away! Wash 'em and keep one in your flour container for scooping flour. They work great for sugar, rice, and oatmeal too.
I keep one in my kitty's bag of food to fill her food bowl. *smile*

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stewed Tomatoes Recipe

Out of canned stewed tomatoes? It's easy to make your own.

Stewed Tomatoes
Prep time: 5 minutes   Total time: 15 minutes

1 16oz. can tomatoes, cut up

1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant minced onion
2 teaspoons minced green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon instant celery flakes

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Cool; add to the recipe. Also great served as a side dish. Serves 4. *smile*

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grape Dogs-Hot Dog Appetizer

When I told my hubby I was mixing together chili sauce and grape jelly for this recipe he said “What on earth?” I think he thought I was nuts! LOL! I have to admit, it sounds weird, but the final result is yummy. The tangy sauce paired with hot dogs, cocktail wienies, or meatballs makes a crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Grape Dogs
Approx. 32 Servings  Prep time: 5 min.  Total time: 30 min.

1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
1 cup grape jelly
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 packages (1 pound each) hot dogs

Slice hot dogs into 1 inch pieces. In a large skillet, combine the chili sauce, jelly and lemon juice; cook over medium-low heat until jelly is melted, stirring occasionally. Add hot dogs. Reduce heat; simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 1-1/2-qt. slow cooker.

Variation: Add a little hot sauce to turn up the heat.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Food Measurement Equivalents to Remember

Here's a few helpful measurement equivalents to keep in mind. I found these in an old cookbook; (what the heck is a gill anyway?) You never know, there may be a time when you are stuck on a desert island, with just a tablespoon, and find yourself having to cook dinner for the natives! Ha! *smile*

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon                         4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
5 1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup                          8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
10 2/3 tablespoons = 2/3 cup                       12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup
16 tablespoons = 1 cup                                 1/2 cup = gill
2 cups = 1 pint                                                 4 cups = 1 quart

4 quarts = 1 gallon                                          8 quarts = 1 peck
4 pecks = 1 bushel                                         16 ounces = 1 pound
32 ounces = 1 quart                                        8 ounces liquid = 1 cup

1 ounce liquid = 2 tablespoons                     Dash = less than 1/8 teaspoon

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monkey Caramel Rolls- Biscuit Recipe

These rich, caramely rolls are a snap to make with refrigerated biscuits. Let the kids help toss the biscuit pieces in the sugar. A fun and sweet breakfast treat!

Monkey Caramel Rolls

Prep Time: 10 min   Total Time: 30 min

Makes 10 rolls

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 can (10.2 oz) large-size refrigerated biscuits, (5 biscuit size)

Grease a regular-size muffin pan. In a bowl mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Use a fork to break up any brown sugar lumps. Spoon 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mixture into 10 muffin cups. Open biscuits. Cut each biscuit in half, making 10 pieces. Cut these 10 halves in two. This will make a total of 20 biscuit pieces.

Put biscuit pieces and granulated sugar in a bowl; toss the pieces to evenly coat with sugar. Place two pieces of dough in each muffin cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 16 to 21 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool 1 minute. Remove muffins from pan with a spoon. Spoon any caramel left in the bottom of the pan over the rolls. Serve warm.

Adapted from a Pillsbury recipe.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Freezing Ground Beef- A non-stick tip

When buying family-size packs of ground beef and dividing it up for the freezer use this non-stick tip- Tear off a piece of aluminum foil and place it on the counter. Tear off a piece of waxed paper and place it on top of the foil.
(This will create a barrier between the meat and the foil.) Wrap and freeze.

When you thaw the ground beef, the waxed paper will keep the meat from sticking to the foil. No more peeling the foil with your fingers! This will work for other ground meats as well. *smile*

Friday, September 2, 2011

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing- Salad Dressing Recipe

I just made this dressing and I can't stop eating my salad to type this, the dressing is so good! I usually avoid Thousand Island dressing at salad bars it looks so funky and orange, but this homemade version is delish.
Homemade salad dressings are simple to make but really impress family and friends. Make some and everyone will think you're a whiz in the kitchen. *smile*

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Prep time: 15 minutes  Total time: 15 minutes

3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 boiled egg, finely chopped
1/4 cup dill relish
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together. Chill in fridge. Makes 2 cups.

Adapted from a recipe by Johnson City Soda Factory Restaurant, Johnson City, TX

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baking Bread- Is it done yet?

Geez...I've had "bread on the brain" lately haven't I? Can you stand one more bread baking tip? Here goes...
Baking a loaf of bread can be tricky I've found. The funny thing is the bread can be nice and brown on top but still not be done in the middle...i.e. gummy in the middle. To avoid the "gummies", purchase an instant-read thermometer.
(They look similar to a knitting needle with a temperature gauge on one end.)

When the regular baking time is up, remove the bread from the oven. Place a kitchen towel on the counter. Tilt the pan slightly to the side onto the towel. 
The bread will slide out a bit so you can see the side of the loaf. Stick in the thermometer. The temperature in the middle should be from 190 degrees F to 210 degrees F. If the thermometer does not read at least 190 degrees F, put the bread back in the oven for another 10 minutes, then check again. 

If you're worried the bread is getting too brown, make a "tent" of a piece of foil and place it on top of the loaf while it bakes. 

Wha-La! Perfect bread every time! *smile*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spicy Sausage & Rice Skillet

This recipe is quick; taking about 20 minutes to make, start to finish. It's flexible too...if you like yours a little more spicy, use one can of hot, and one can of mild diced tomatoes and green chilies. If you like it less spicy, use one can mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, and one can plain diced tomatoes. Either way, it's great for a fast weeknight meal.

Spicy Sausage & Rice Skillet
2 cans (10 oz.) mild diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 cup water
1 pkg smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules (or 3 chicken bouillon cubes)
2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix tomatoes, water, smoked sausage, and bouillon in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 to 2 minutes or until the bouillon is dissolved. Stir in instant rice; cover. Cook on low heat 5 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle cheese on top. Serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5 Bread Machine Tips- Bread Recipes

I love my little Regal bread machine. It's such a time-saver. I especially like using the dough setting. To make a loaf of bread just remove the dough from the machine, plop it in a loaf pan, let it rise about 30 minutes, then bake. So easy! Here's a few bread machine tips I've learned along the way.

1. Always add your ingredients to the machine in the order shown in the owner's manual. Usually liquids are first, followed by the dry ingredients, with the yeast going in last. You want to keep the yeast away from the liquids until the kneading cycle begins.

2. Ingredients should be at room temperature. I measure my milk and butter ahead of time letting it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. This warms things up a bit and gives the butter time to soften.

3. Salt is necessary when making yeast bread because it controls the growth of the yeast. Salt also aids in the rising of the dough so always include the salt.

4. Make clean-up easy by spraying the kneading paddle with a nonstick spray coating before adding the ingredients.

5. Always remove the hot bread from the machine as soon as it is done, placing it on a wire rack to cool. If you leave the loaf in the machine, the outside may become damp and soggy.

Happy Baking! *smile*

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheesy Bean Dip- Dip Recipe

This yummy Mexican bean dip reminds me of cool weather and football games! With just four ingredients it's a cinch to make. Great for a game day buffet.

Cheesy Bean Dip
1 16 oz. can refried beans
1/2 cup chunky-style salsa
1 cup shredded cheese (Mexican blend or Colby-Jack), divided
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped

Mix refried beans, chunky salsa, and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.

Spread into a 9-inch microwavable pie plate; top with remaining cheese.

Microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes until dip is heated and cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with chopped green onions. Serve with chips. Enjoy!

For an easy snack serve leftovers on a warm flour tortilla.
If you prefer a hotter dip, add one or drops of hot sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Kraft Foods

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lemon Zest- How to zest the easy way...

Don't have a lemon zester? Here's a quick and easy way to make zest from lemons, limes, oranges etc. Use a potato peeler and "peel" the fruit being careful to peel just the skin, leaving the white pith underneath (you'll get nice, large pieces) then chop the peels on a cutting board. 

Sounds strange using a potato peeler doesn't it, but it works! I find it quicker and easier than using my citrus peeler. *smile*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hot Dog Octopus- Kid Recipes

Since it's back-to-school time here's a fun dish the kiddos will love. A hot dog octopus! Make him for lunch or an after-school snack. Prepare for giggles!

1. With a very sharp knife cut hot dog in half lengthwise, leaving about 2" intact at one end. This will be the octopus' head.

2. Carefully cut each of the long sections in half (lengthwise), then in half again - there will be the eight tentacles.

3. Boil the hot dog in water until the legs curl up and hot dog is cooked. 

4. Remove hot dog from water. Dry him off a bit.

5. Place Mr. Octopus on top of a bowl of heated pasta arranging his legs nicely.

6. Paint on a smiley face with mustard. *smile*

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sharpen Kitchen Scissors- How To

Are your kitchen scissors getting dull?
Use this handy tip to keep your scissors sharp.

What you'll need:

Aluminum foil
Kitchen scissors

1. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 15 inches in length.

2. Fold the foil lengthwise until you have a piece of foil measuring 5 inches by 15 inches. You'll end up with 3 or 4 layers of foil within the folds.

3. Take your scissors and starting at the left side, with your scissors pointing vertically, cut through the foil as if you are making a fringe.

4. Keep cutting a "foil fringe" moving from left to right. (This part is fun...kinda like popping bubble wrap. Ha!) The foil will be more difficult to cut at first but as you go along, you will notice the cuts getting easier and easier. This means your scissors are becoming sharper. Yay!

5. Keep cutting the foil until the scissors feel sharpened to your liking. *smile*

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits- (similar to Cheddar Bay biscuits)

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

My hubby's eyes light up when I tell him I'm making these for dinner and I get an extra squeeze...and what devoted wife doesn't want an extra squeeze from her main squeeze? *smile*
These are oh-so-good and simple to make. They taste very similar to the Cheddar Bay biscuits served at Red Lobster restaurants.

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups biscuit baking mix
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cold water

Italian Garlic Flavoring-
1/4 cup margarine
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet. Mix biscuit baking mix, grated cheese, and water together until it forms a stiff dough. Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet (I use a soup spoon- dough is 3 to 4 tablespoons in size). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until biscuits are light brown on top. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from cookie sheet and place on a large serving platter. 
While biscuits are baking, measure remaining five ingredients into a glass liquid one-cup measure. Microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to melt the margarine. Stir. While biscuits are hot, pour 2 teaspoons of the Italian garlic flavoring over the top of each biscuit. Serve hot. Makes 14 biscuits.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Recipe Review- "French Classics Made Easy" by Richard Grausman

Basque-Style Sauteed Chicken Breasts from the book
"French Classics Made Easy" by Richard Grausman

The nice folks at Workman Publishing emailed me the other day, asking me to try a recipe in the new cookbook "French Classics Made Easy" by Richard Grausman.

I must admit, I am a little intimidated by French cooking- it seems rather complicated. As luck would have it, I inherited a smidgen of French from my Mother's side of the family, so I rolled up my sleeves, conjured up my inner Julia Child, and gave it a try.

The Basque-Style Sauteed Chicken Breasts were wonderfully flavorful, and easy to do. Preparing the dish was very similar to making stir-fry, with the exception of covering the vegetables with a lid while they cook.

The sliced onions, cooking in butter, smelled divine. The prosciutto ham was easy to find at the local deli, and added a nice, robust flavor. As you can see from the photo above, the dish looks lovely on the table as well.

Thank you Mr. Grausman for making French cooking easy. I'm thrilled to add French cooking to my list of culinary accomplishments!

P.S. Not a paid ad-just wanted to try my hand at French cooking. *smile*

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dilly Dip- Dill Dip Recipe

A creamy, cool dip with the refreshing taste of dill... perfect with baby carrots, green pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, broccoli...any fresh veggie for dipping.

Dilly Dip
2/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup salad dressing
1 teaspoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
Mix all ingredients together. Chill in the fridge at least an hour so the flavors will intensify and blend. Serve with fresh veggies.

Variation: If you're not a big salad dressing fan you can use all sour cream. *smile*

Friday, July 22, 2011

Italiano Rotini Bake- Pasta Recipes

This is my go-to recipe when I want to make something quick that's a little fancier than plain ole spaghetti.  The twisted corkscrew shape of the rotini holds in more of the spaghetti sauce keeping the dish moist and yummy. Enjoy!

Italiano Rotini Bake
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
3 cups dry rotini pasta, cooked and drained
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 4oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside. Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain. In a large bowl combine the cooked pasta, cooked ground beef, spaghetti sauce, sliced mushrooms, onion flakes, and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese (1/4 cup). Spoon into a 13x9 inch dish; top with the remaining 1/4 of parmesan and the mozzarella cheese. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Variation: Substitute italian sausage for 1/2 of the ground beef. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Restaurant Supply Stores- Worth a visit!

Restaurant Supply finds- heavy white dishes, well-made
cookie spatula, and a German-made scrubby. What a cute face!
I've always been curious about restaurant supply stores...what they have inside, what they're like so I went to visit my local- Restaurant Equipment & Supply.
This particular store is open to the public.

My main purpose for visiting was to find white dishes for food photos. I was delighted to find white ceramic dishes sold by the piece. Yay! I didn't have to buy a whole set! 

The store carried some neat kitchen items that you can't find at your local discount store. Every size of cookie scoop you could imagine...every flavor of Torani syrup I think they make...several sizes of Microplane graters. I had a blast just looking around and discovering new things! 

On a frugal note, I was pleased to find better, restaurant-quality items at reasonable prices. Check out your local restaurant supply...I think you'll find it worth a visit. *smile*