Archive for December, 2008

Menu Mondays

December 29, 2008

Last week was a little insane with Christmas and my husband’s sudden determination to demolish our dining area and re-do it.
But we’re surviving (under a layer of drywall dust).

Hopefully I can get back into my kitchen (get it cleaned) and get to cooking this week.

Saturday: Staying in tonight since it’s a “home repair day”. Breakfast for dinner: leftover ham, eggs, and skillet potatoes, with homemade bread from my Christmas-present Breadmaker
Sunday: Ordering out for dinner while we watch football (and DH wears his Christmas-present jersey!)
Monday: Steak (My dad hooked us up with free Omaha steaks again — sweet), steamed broccoli, pasta or leftover scalloped potatoes
Tuesday: King Ranch Casserole
Wednesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce, yeast rolls
Thursday: New Years — I think we’re going out late-evening to see a friend’s band, so we’ll eat at home: Sausage sandwiches with green peppers and onions
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Need to make either an appetizer or a dessert for a neighborhood get-together. After all those Christmas cookies — I’m leaning towards appetizer!

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Monkey Bread…

December 23, 2008

…pull apart loaf….sticky roll…

Whatever you call it, it’s delicious.

This item is one of my family’s Christmas traditions — we always serve it Christmas morning for breakfast after opening gifts.

Even though we celebrated Christmas with my family a week early, we still had our breakfast!

I’ve discovered our recipe is a bit different than most, because of the inclusion of the cook-and-serve vanilla pudding. But personally, I love the vanilla undertones in the ooey goodness.

Monkey Bread
(Family Recipe)
2 loaves frozen bread, thawed )but don’t let them raise)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 small cook-and-serve vanilla pudding (NOT instant!)
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired
Directions
– Grease a bundt pan
– Pull 1 loaf of thawed bread into bite-sized pieces, and place in the bundt pan
– On the stovetop in a small saucepan, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla pudding, milk, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired
– Once everything is mixed and the consistency is smooth, pour over the bite-sized pieces of bread loaf in the bundt pan
– Pull the other loaf apart into bite sized pieces and place on top of the brown sugar/pudding mixture in the bundt pan
– Let raise on the countertop for 2-3 hours, or until bread reaches the top of the bundt pan
To make the night before and bake in the a.m.: cover the bundt pan with saran wrap after it rises, and place in the refrigerator. Remove in the a.m., remove the saran, and place in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes
To make right away: once bread reaches the top of the bundt pan, bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
– Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes, then invert it and “dump” it onto a platter.
– Serve immediately.

Oh-My-God-It’s-Good Baked Oatmeal

December 23, 2008

This is delicious! I made it on Sunday, and took a piece of it to work each day for breakfast. My co-workers were nearly crazy by the end of the week from smelling it!

Highly, highly reccommend making this — it’d be great if you had a small crowd to feed, OR if you just want to eat it all week long like me 🙂

I ate it warmed in the microwave, with cold milk down over it. Mmm…

Baked Oatmeal
(Swistle)

*This is a doubled recipe version of Swistle’s, because I didn’t want to deal with 1/2 fruits. It made a 9×9 square baking pan full of baked oatmeal goodness as the doubled recipe.

1 1/2 cups (or slightly more) milk
2 tbsp butter
1 cup regular oats (if you’re using steel cut, you’ll probably need more milk. no idea how much)
1 apple, peeled and chopped small
1 banana, cut into pieces
10-12 pieces of chunk canned pineapple (chopped up rings or crushed pineapple is fine too)
4 tbsp brown sugar (it was really sweet — you could probably make this amount smaller)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt (DON’T forget this, or it’s very bland!)

1-2 tbsp additional brown sugar
1/2 – 1 cup of nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatever), chopped (optional)

Directions
– Boil the milk and butter together on the stovetop
– Add the oats, stirring in slowly
– Stir in the chopped fruit, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt
– Cook and stir 1 minute
– Pour into a greased casserole dish (I used a 9×9 baking pan)
– Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes
– Remove from oven, sprinkle more brown sugar and nuts (if desired)
– Bake for another 5 minutes, or until bubbly

Menu Monday — late

December 23, 2008

Sorry so late, folks! We celebrated Christmas with my family near Pittsburgh this past weekend, so we’ve been super busy.

Add to that, DH decided to renovate our dining room — this week! — so evenings are packed as well!

Monday: steak, steamed broccoli, pasta
Tuesday: homemade mac and cheese, leftover ham, green beans
Wednesday: spaghetti with meat sauce
Thursday: we’ve already done christmas, so a relaxing leftovers meal
Friday: unsure — the dining room project will be in full swing!

Christmas Cookies 2008: Cut Out Sugar Cookies

December 15, 2008

Katie and Ashlee are right — these ARE the best sugar cookies! They were super-duper easy to work with, roll out, cut, etc, and they’re very tasty as well!

I wasn’t thrilled with the icing recipe I arbitrarily chose for these guys…so if you have a royal icing recipe that’s tried-and-true, please pass it my way.

You’ll also notice I have no patience for decorating. I like to BAKE. Not DECORATE. This results in my sugar cookies looking like a 4 year old probably iced them 🙂

I’m okay with that.

The Most Fabulous Sugar Cookies
(Good Things Catered by way of Ashlee)

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp lemon zest
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Powdered sugar, for rolling

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes.
-Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly.
-Add vanilla, almond, and lemon zest.
-Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt a little at a time.
-Do not over mix, this process should take about one minute.
-Chill dough for up to a week in the fridge, or roll out and cut right away.
-Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake cookies for 7-8 minutes.
-Wait until cookies are cooled before icing.

Ashlee says this makes 80, and Katie got about 30 on the recipe I saw on her blog. I did small-ish cut-outs and got about 50. It really depends on your thickness and the size of your cookie.

Funfetti Cookies

December 15, 2008

I made these because I was pressed for time, but needed a dessert to take to a gathering.
I don’t normally cheat with the frosting/cake mix, but ironically enough, the people I was feeding are so used to ‘store bought’ sweetness, they gobbled these right up! They loved them!

And they only took me 45 minutes from start until dishes washed and dried, to make!

Funfetti Cookies
(Pillsbury)

1 (18.9-oz.) pkg. Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 (15.6-oz.) can Pillsbury Funfetti Vanilla Frosting

Directions
– Heat oven to 375°F.
– In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened.
– Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With bottom of glass dipped in flour, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.
– Bake at 375°F. for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.
– Spread frosting over warm cookies. Immediately sprinkle each with candy bits from frosting.
– Let frosting set before storing. Store in tightly covered container.

Christmas Cookies 2008: Peanut Butter Blossoms

December 15, 2008
These are a traditional Christmas cookie — but my family and friends LOOOOOOVE them 🙂

They’re very easy to put together, and there’s just something incredibly satisfying about squishing that Hershey’s Kiss into the hot cookie fresh from the oven!

Hershey’s Peanut Butter Blossoms
48 Herhsey’s Kisses Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar

Directions
– Heat oven to 375°F.
– Remove wrappers from chocolates.
– Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.
– Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
– Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
– Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
– Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges.
– Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

*This recipe says it makes 4 dozen — but I got more like 3 dozen.

"Lighter" General Tsao’s

December 15, 2008

DH loves General Tsao’s (I’m positive I’m spelling that wrong…) so I thought we’d try this recipe at home.
But — like every time I try Asian-anything at home — it just isn’t as good as getting it at a restaurant. DH liked this, but I could’ve passed on it.

I’m not a big fan of ginger, and it’s a prevalent flavor in the dish, so that may be why.

“Lighter” General Tsao’s Chicken
(Martha Stewart)

1 ¼ cups long-grain rice
¼ cup cornstarch
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise (I used steamed broccoli instead for DH)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower (I used regular vegetable oil)

Directions
– Cook rice according to package instructions.
– Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and ½ cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.
– In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.
– In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).
– Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat.
– Serve with rice.

Completed Italian Cookies

December 15, 2008

Viola!

Menu Mondays

December 15, 2008

I’ve got lots of updates to make — and no time to make them! Hopefully soon!

Saturday: Baked off peanut butter blossoms, funfetti cookies, and cut-out sugar cookies, went to friends for dinner
Sunday: Baked oatmeal (oh my GOD is this stuff good), iced cut-out sugar cookies, Subway rescued dinner
Monday: steak, broccoli, pasta for dinner
Tuesday: stuffed shells, rolls, salad (?)
Wednesday: dinner out with DH for his work christmas party
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: on the road to spend the weekend with my family for early Christmas.