Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday Ritz Cookies

Here's an easy and delicious holiday cookie recipe:

You'll need:
Ritz crackers
Peanut Butter
White Chocolate (also called Almond Bark)

Melt the white chocolate to a creamy state in a pot. (Or you can microwave it, even easier).

Take the Ritz crackers and make little PB sandwiches with them. Sandwich a layer of PB between 2 Ritz crackers. Once you have as many of those as you want made, then dip each cookie entirely into the white chocolate. Let them dry and harden on a sheet of wax paper.

These are easy to make and SINFULLY delicious! Everyone always loves these- they're a huge hit for holiday parties! ENJOY!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Moist Banana Bread (w/ a GREAT crust!)

This banana bread comes out with a nice hard crust (sweet and delicious) and the inside stays moist for days. It's delicious and the ingredients are easy to find (even overseas, except for the vanilla which I brought with me). In fact, I just buy a bunch of bananas and wait for them to brown/soften and then everything else is already in our home, so I can make it whenever I find a free moment. Hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

PREHEAT OVEN to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
A - 1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar

B- 2 eggs
1 Cup of mashed bananas

C - 2 Cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

D- 3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

E- (THESE ARE OPTIONAL, I don't use any of these, but thought some of you might like to try it with these)
1/2- 1 cup walnuts
1/2 - 1 cup choc. chips or raisins

First combine A ingredients , then add B ingredients. In separate bowl, mix the C ingredients, then add them to oil and egg mixture. Add D and E and mix together.

Bake in greased loaf pans @ 180*C (350*F) for 1 hr. (1&1/2 hour in small ovens like we have overseas--toaster oven-size). Test for doneness w/ toothpick.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Everyday Pasta Casserole

This recipe is all about options, which is why it's so great. You can adapt it based on what you've got on hand and what you want for a particular meal.

A: Pick your pasta. 12-16 oz. of whatever you want: rotini, penne, macaroni, spaghetti, capellini, shells. Whatever you want.

B: Pick your sauce. 12-16 oz. of white sauce, spaghetti sauce (see the white sauce recipe here, or use the spaghetti sauce recipe in my lasagne recipe--the ingredients for it have an asterisk next to them.)

C: Pick a filler. You can do a layer of pre-sliced cheese (easy), or a layer of shredded mozzerella (a little work), or (my favorite) mix 2-3 eggs with 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (and oregano if desired)

D: Pick your topping. This can be really fattening like a top layer of sliced cheese with butter-saturated crushed Ritz or Saltine crackers, or it can be breadcrumbs, or it can be shredded mozzerella, or it could just be the butter-drenched & crushed saltines/ritz. Your choice.

E: Optional- Pick your veggie. Brocolli, Cauliflower, Tomatoes (allright, that's actually a fruit!);

F: ALSO Optional- Pick your meat. Ground beef, cubed chicken. Whatever you like

Cook your pasta (A). Make your sauce (B), or pull out the can of sauce you're going to use!. If you've chosen a meat (F), cook that as well. Then stir your pasta, sauce, and any meat or veggies (E) you've chosen all together.

Preheat your oven to about 190 Celsius/375 Fahrenheit. Layer half of the pasta mixture (ABEF) in a greased casserole dish. Do a layer of whatever filler you've chosen (C). Spoon in the other half (ABEF) and top with your topping of choice (D). Now cook until heated through. Depending on the thickness of your casserole and size of your dish, it will take approximately 20-35 minutes. ENJOY!

White Sauce

This is a great sauce recipe for pastas, casseroles, to pour over chicken, etc. It's pretty versatile, and you can change it to suit the flavor you desire.

1. Melt 2 TBSP butter/margarine over low heat.
2. Add in one of the following:
  • (this is my favorite) Good Seasons' Garlic & Herb seasoning packet
  • one Hidden Valley Ranch packet
  • condensed soup seasoning packet
  • 2 TBSP flour with at least 1 tsp of desired seasoning (rosemary, garlic, oregano, etc.) + salt & pepper to taste all mixed together
3. Stir together to form smooth paste.
4. Pour in 12-16 oz. (300-500g) milk
5. Add 8 oz. whipping cream (optional)
6. Melt in 2-4 oz. cheese if desired (any flavor- monterey jack, mozzerella, cheddar, hot pepper jack, it's all good!)
7. Bring to low boil. As it boils, it will begin to thicken. After 1-2 minutes of boiling (you should be able to visually see it thickening), remove from heat and set aside.

Now you can pour it over cooked pasta, use it in a casserole, or use as desired.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mom's No-Peek Chicken

Preheat oven to 325.

1- Grease baking dish.
2- Pour 1 & 1/2 cups of rice into the bottom of dish, spread evenly across the bottom.
3- Melt 1/4 cup of margarine or butter and pour over rice.
4- Mix 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and 2 cans of cream of chicken soup in a separate bowl.
5- Pour 1 soup-can-full of milk over rice.
6- Then spoon soup mixture over the rice
7- Press your chicken down into the soup mixture, so that they're at least halfway down into the mixture (you can use all varieties of boneless or boned chicken; it's all good! Just let people know if there's bones in it!)
8- Then take one packet of Lipton's dry onion soup mix, crush it inside the package (the glass base of a drinking glass can work great for crushing it nice and small), and then evenly pour the crushed mix over the top of the chicken.
9- Cover with foil.
10- Bake at 325 for 2 & 1/2 hours(it's called No-Peek because you DO NOT peek at it until the 2 & 1/2 hours is up!) .

ENJOY! This is my favorite recipe from my mom!

Melanie's Salad

I would like to call this one the Best Salad in the World, cause in my mind, that's what it is, but I feel I must name the salad for the person who introduced it to me.

~ 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, or one squeezed lemon
~ 1 finely chopped avocado
~ 1/2 tsp. celery salt
~ 1/2 tsp. onion salt
~ 3 chopped green onions
~ 1/4 cup vegetable oil
~ 1/4 cup of Romano or Asiago cheese
~ 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
(Or, you can strike the last 2 ingredients and replace with 1/2 cup of Italian Cheese blend)

Mix ingredients. Toss with romaine lettuce right before serving. (I like to garnish this with additional thin avocado slices because I'm an avocado-fanatic!)

Cheesy Spaghetti-Lasagna

~ 8 oz. finely shredded mozzerella
~ 8 oz. sliced mozzerella
~ 3 eggs
~ 8-12 oz. spaghetti noodles
~ parmesan cheese, as desired
~ 1 lb. beef
~ * 16 oz. tomato paste
~ * Basil
~ * Oregano
~ * Garlic Salt
~ * Sugar
~ * Water
* Can strike these ingredients if you just want to use approximately 20 ounces of canned spaghetti sauce.

Preheat oven to 375. Boil noodles according to directions on package. Cook beef until browned.

While those things are cooking, get a separate large mixing bowl. Take tomato paste and add enough water to make smooth, like a spaghetti sauce, approximately 1/2- 1 cup. Add basil, oregano, and garlic salt to taste (I like it with more oregano than garlic salt or basil, and more garlic salt than basil.). Add approximately 1 tbsp (up to 2 tbsp) of sugar (again, to taste). Once beef is browned, mix beef into this spaghetti sauce mixture.

In smaller mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs. Combine with finely shredded mozzerella. If desired, add in 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese as well. Mix together.

Once everything is cooked and ready, layer the lasagne in the following order:
1) spoon small amount of meat sauce mixture into the bottom of the 9 x 13 baking dish, just to lightly wet the bottom.
2) 1/2 of pasta noodles, smoothed out
3) 1/3 of sliced mozzerella, spread out across the dish (it will not cover the noodles)
4) 1/2 of meat sauce mixture
5) other 1/2 of pasta noodles
6) spoon and smooth all of the shredded cheese mixture out over the noodles.
7) other 1/2 of meat sauce mixture
8) top the whole thing with the remaining sliced mozzerella, and (if desired) sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top.

Cook uncovered in 375 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Cheesy Chicken Soup

Our family's favorite soup, bar none.

~ 5 cooked boneless chicken breasts (or 6-7 boneless chicken thighs), cubed or shredded (your choice; we preferred cubed)
~ 1 lb. Velveeta
~ 7 oz. can diced tomatoes with the juice in can
~ 1 can cream of mushroom soup
~ 1 can cream of chicken soup
~ 1 can cream of celery soup
~ 3 can-fulls of water
~ 2 cloves of minced garlic
~ 6 slices of cooked, chopped bacon (optional)

Combine ingredients and heat in a crockpot, 3-4 hours on high heat, 5-7 hours on low heat. This is one of those recipes you can make early in the day, during a child's nap or something, and let it sit all day. It makes enough that you'll be able to at least have seconds, and maybe thirds, depending on how much you eat for each meal!

My Most Versatile Chicken Recipe

Here's an easy chicken recipe, easily adaptable to create many different flavors. Each combination is simple and delicious.

Preheat oven to 350.
A: Ranch dressing (you can use the already-mixed kind or mix: 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of mayo, and 1 Hidden Valley Ranch packet to make your own). You will only want to use about 1/2 cup or less for the recipe, so set the rest aside.

A: 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup milk. Mix with whisk.

A: if all else fails, and you don't have enough for either of the others, choose one: mayo, water, or milk.
B: Crushed potato chips

B: Mix: 1/4 cup of Italian bread crumbs, 1/8 cup parmesan cheese

B: Mix: 1/4 cup parmesan cheese with 1 packet of Italian dressing seasoning mix

B: Crushed corn flakes

Directions: Choose one A grouping and one B grouping. Take boneless chicken breasts, thighs, cutlets, or fingers, and pat dry. Cover and coat with the A mixture. Immediately roll in the B grouping and put in metal or glass baking dish. Bake in 350 degree oven 20-35 minutes, depending on the size of your oven, and eat. Serve with rice, pasta or freshly-cooked vegetables.