Friday, August 29, 2008

Zucchini Bread

My sister-in-law brought me 13 zucchinis from her sister's garden the other day. So I've been going through all of my recipes, pulling out all of them that have zucchini in the ingredients. I think I had six or seven really BIG zucchinis and the best way to use those are peeled, seeds removed, and shredded to go in zucchini bread!
Since I'm not going to be making about 20 batches, I like to freeze any remaining zucchini. All you have to do is put 2 cups of shredded zucchini in a labeled freezer bag, squeeze as much air out as possible, zip it shut, and put it in the freezer. Then you'll have zucchini ready throughout the year to make more bread! YUM!!!
I love my mother-in-law's zucchini bread, but out of curiosity, I was looking around to see if I could find a zucchini bread recipe that I might like better. I eventually came across a recipe from that was the highest rated zucchini bread and it was almost identical to my mother-in-law's. I thought I'd give it a try to see how the taste and the texture differed. When I tasted my first bite, I knew I hit the jackpot!

Here's what you'll need:

3 eggs
1 C. oil
2 C. sugar
2 C. zucchini, peeled, seeds removed, & shredded
2 t. vanilla
3 C. flour
3 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
Crumb Topping (below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 8"x4" loaf pans. Whenever I grease and flour things, this is what I use or the Pam version:

I consider it one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread! If you've never tried it, DO! No more floury crusts with the less-than-desirable flavor. Everything will come out of the pan so easily and you won't even be able to tell that any flour was used while greasing. It's great! I love it!!

Anyway, back to the instructions...
In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy (5 minutes, that's right, 5 minutes; doing so will make your bread so much lighter and more tender - do this with anything you want lighter and more tender like cookies, pancakes, cakes, etc.).

Beat in oil, sugar, and vanilla.

Stir in zucchini. Combine dry ingredients and stir into egg mixture.

Divide batter into 2 pans. Sprinkle crumb topping over both loaves and lightly press into batter.

Bake for 75-85 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Crumb Topping:
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. flour
1/2 T. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. chopped nuts (opt.)

Mix all together really well and sprinkle on top of batter, pressing in lightly, before baking.

If you like to add chocolate chips, like we do, ommit the nutmeg and half the cinnamon. The original recipe would also be good by replacing the zucchini with shredded apple! So if you have a plethora of zucchini (or even if you don't), give this recipe a try!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spaghetti Sauce

One thing I forgot how much I loved while living at home, was my Mom's spaghetti sauce. When I moved away to go to college, I just always bought the canned spaghetti sauce since that was quick and easy. I did that for years. Just a few months ago, I went through this whole I'm-cooking-what-my-Mom-cooked-for-me-growing-up thing. Has anyone else gone through that before? Anyway, I totally reverted back to my Mom's home cooking and this spaghetti sauce is one of the things I made and remembered how much I loved! When I took my first bite of it a couple months back, I was instantly upset that I had been missing out on this for years!! I now rarely purchase spaghetti sauce at the grocery store anymore because this is WAY better! And it's quick and easy to make. One of the reasons why I like it so much is because it is more sweet than savory. Kind of hard to imagine, but just try it. I LOVE it!!!

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 T. dried onion
Salt & Pepper
Garlic powder

Brown the ground beef with the onion, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Drain off grease.

Then add:

1 can tomato soup
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tomato soup can full of water
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil

1-2 T. brown sugar (If you don't want your sauce to be on the sweeter side, go with 1 tablespoon; if you're like me and like it sweet, go with 2. And you can use white sugar, but the brown gives it a deeper flavor.)

Cook together with meat and serve over noodles. Also good for homemade pizza and lasagna.

This is also great to make, let cool, pour into freezer bags and freeze for another day.  Just thaw and heat through.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


This is one of those recipes that I married in to. My mother-in-law makes these delicious bar goodies frequently and has made a fan out of me! To describe them, I would say they are like a chocolate chip cookie in bar form, but they have more of a blonde brownie texture to them rather than a cookie feel. They are SO easy to whip up and they feed A LOT! What's not to love about these?!

Here's what you'll need:
1 C. (2 sticks) butter
3 C. brown sugar
5 eggs
3 1/2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 T. baking powder
1/2 T. vanilla
2 C. chocolate chips
1 C. nuts, chopped (optional)

Cream together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs.

Add dry ingredients. Mix well.

Add chocolate chips and nuts. I don't do nuts, so there aren't any in mine.

Bake on a rimmed cookie sheet (jelly roll pan - about a 13"x18" pan) @ 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

These goodies really live up to their name - they are nice and soft and CHEWY! Yum, yum, yum!! Give them a try!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer Salad

There are only a few green salads that I actually like to eat. You know how it goes, right? When it comes to green salad, it's not like we actually say, "Oh, yum! I can't wait to eat that!!" Unless, however, it has yummy things in it, like this salad does. It also helps that this salad is SO incredibly easy to make and the colors in it are gorgeous!

Here's what you'll need:

A bag of baby spinich
1 lb. container of strawberries, sliced
1 can of mandarine oranges
Sliced or slivered almonds
Poppy Seed Dressing (recipe below)

Put a few strawberry slices, a few mandarine oranges, and a few almonds in the bottom of a salad bowl. Top with some spinich. Repeat with layers and finish with strawberries, oranges, and almonds on top. Serve with Poppy Seed Dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing

1 C. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. vinegar
1 t. poppy seeds

Combine and beat with electric beater well.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buttermilk Waffles

I have two favorite things to cook - breakfasts and desserts. I came across a new recipe from Everyday Food for buttermilk waffels. I thought, "Hmmm...I love my great grandmother's recipe for buttermilk pancakes. I wonder if I would love buttermilk waffles as much as the pancakes." So I gave them a try last weekend. All I have to say is, "WOW!!!"

I decided to make both buttermilk pancakes and waffles in case I wasn't pleased with the new waffle recipe. I made the mistake of eating a waffle first and then eating a pancake. Those waffles put my great grandmother's pancakes to shame!! Don't get me wrong, the pancakes are probably the best buttermilk pancakes I've ever had (a recipe that I'll soon be sharing), but the waffles are just a higher level of YUM!

Here's what you'll need:

2 C. flour (if I ever say flour, it means all-purpose, unless otherwise stated)
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 C. buttermilk
1/2 C. (1 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs (if I ever say eggs, it means large)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs; add flour mixture, and mix just until batter is combined.
Look at how pretty and fluffy this is!
Heat waffle iron. Spray with cooking spray. Pour batter on to iron. Close iron; cook until waffles are golden brown and crisp, 3-5 mins. Eat while warm or transfer to a rack set on a baking sheet and place in a preheated oven to 275 degrees to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I really like this recipe for chicken enchiladas. I got it from one of my closest friends, Nicole, while we were roommates in college. The reason why I like this recipe so much is because it is SOOOOO easy!! And it doesn't taste too bad either!

Here's what you'll need:

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 C. sour cream
1 can of chicken broth
1/2 small can diced chilies
3-4 T. salsa
2-3 C. cooked chicken
1 T. dried onions
12-18 flour tortillas
2 C. shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese

Mix all ingredients together (except the tortillas and cheese).
Dip tortillas in sauce, grab some chicken filling out of the sauce and put it in tortillas, sprinkle with some cheese, roll up and place in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Repeat until chicken filling is gone.
Now the number of how many enchiladas you end up with depends on how much filling you put in them. I usually put about 2 Tablespoons worth in each of my tortillas. If you like really moist enchiladas, make one pan and pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and cover with foil for half of the cooking time. If you prefer them more on the crispy side, you can make 2 pans and drizzle what's left of the sauce over both pans (there won't be much) and bake uncovered.

They bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Take them out of the oven and spinkle with more cheese and let bake another 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

This also makes for a great freezer meal, if you don't mind soft enchiladas.  Just assemble in a foil pan, cover tightly with heavy duty or freezer foil, label and freeze.  To serve:  Thaw.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes and proceed with the recipe from there.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Potatoes and Peas

Here is another recipe that was passed on to me from my mother-in-law. New Potatoes and Peas is one of my husband's favorite meals and one that he was raised on, being raised on a potato farm. Now this dish is not one of my favorites - I like it, but it's just not a FAVORITE. (I think this favorite dish of my hubby's is like one of my favorite dishes, bread and milk. It's a favorite because it was something we were raised on.) But I wanted to include this recipe so that others can get a taste of Idaho culture.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes
1/2 C. (1 cube) butter, diced
Salt & Pepper
3 T. cornstarch
3 T. water
1/2 (1 lb) bag of frozen peas

Cover potatoes, in a pot, with water and boil for 20 minutes.
Drain water. Pour milk until you can see only some potatoes. Add diced butter and salt and pepper to taste.
In a small dish, mix together 3 T. cornstarch and 3 T. water. (If you want to try a cool science experiment, combine 3 T. cornstarch and 2 T. water. If you slowly put your finger in the mixture, it is a liquid. But if you quickly hit the mixture, it acts as a solid. Kind of CRAZY!!) When milk is hot, pour in starch mixture. Stir and allow to thicken. If too thick, add more milk until desired consistency. Pour in frozen peas. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste again.

The last time I made this, I added some leftover ham chunks and it was really yummy like that if that's something you'd like to do. If you try this, just think, you're getting a good taste of Idaho.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fudge Nut Bars / Caramel Fudge Bars

When I married my husband, my whole world changed. New responsibilities, new way of living, and new foods from his mother. I was quickly introduced to the BEST homemade cinnamon rolls, new potatoes and peas, sloppy joes, chewies, and fudge nut bars, just to name a few. (And have no fear, these recipes are coming!) So today, I’ll be sharing my mother-in-law's Fudge Nut Bar recipe with you, just tweaked a little.

It’s kind of funny that I still call them Fudge Nut Bars because ever since I started making them, I have never once put nuts in. I even omitted them from my recipe. So I suppose I should call them Fudge Bars. No, no, that still won’t do. I have been converted to the optional way of making these bars by drizzling caramel on top of the fudge. Maybe the new name for these could be Caramel Fudge Bars. Ooh, that sounds yummy. PERFECT! We’ll go with that. Caramel Fudge Bars. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 C. butter, softened
2 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 C. quick oats
1 (12 oz.) pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. vanilla
½ C. Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel (This is the absolute BEST caramel ice cream topping! If you can find it, I’m so sorry!! Hershey’s Caramel ice cream topping will do.)

In a large bowl, mix together the 1 cup butter, brown sugar, eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla. Then add the flour, soda, salt, and quick oats. Stir until combined.

In a medium microwavable bowl, combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir until well combined and smooth.

You can microwave 30 seconds more if chocolate is not melted all the way after you have stirred it. Once melted and combined, add the 1 tsp. vanilla to the chocolate mixture and stir well.

Press 2/3 of the oatmeal mixture on a greased 15”x18” rimmed cookie sheet. Cover with chocolate mixture. Drizzle caramel on top of chocolate. Dot remaining oatmeal mix on top.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-30 mins.

If you would like to add nuts and call them Caramel Fudge Nut Bars, then add 1 cup of chopped almonds or chopped walnuts to the oatmeal mixture. And the caramel is totally optional. It’s still way good with just the chocolate! Try it both ways, drizzle a ¼ cup of caramel over half of it and see which way you like it better.

One way or another, this is an easy, yummy recipe that makes a lot of treats. Enjoy!

French Dip Sandwiches

My aunt sent me this recipe along with several other crockpot recipes (she is such a great resource when it comes good food, and pretty much anything else, for that matter). This was the first one that I tried because 1) everything about it sounded really good, 2) I had most of the ingredients, and 3) because it looked super easy to make. Little did I know how good it would actually taste when it was done. When the roast had finished cooking, I was amazed at how delicious the meat was, and then to have it soaking in that wonderful au jus made it that much better! I don’t know that I will ever go back to the old way of making French Dip Sandwiches with the deli sliced roast beef and the packaged au jus. Once you try this recipe, I think you’ll agree – this is WAY better!!!

This is what you'll need:

3-4 lb. Beef roast

1 can beef consommé soup

1 soup can of water

1 pkg. Au Jus dry mix

1 pkg. Italian dressing dry mix

Stir together the consommé, water, and au jus mix. Add the roast and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top. Cook on low in the crockpot for about 8 hours. Remove; shred meat. Place shredded meat on 10-12 large, buttered, crusty rolls. Top with provolone cheese, then broil open-faced until cheese is melted and bread is lightly toasted. Serve with juices from the crockpot for dipping.

Give this a try - you'll be glad that you did!

You can easily freeze the shredded meat in the juices for a meal another day.  Just place the shredded meat and juices into a gallon freezer bag, label and freeze.  To serve:  Thaw.  Heat through in a crockpot on High for a few hours.  Separate the meat from the juices and assemble your sandwiches, using the warmed juices for dipping.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

When it comes to cookies, I am a fool for chocolate chocolate chip! For years I have been using my usual chocolate chip cookie recipe and I would just add 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, which you can do. But when I came across this recipe from (adapted a bit), made specifically for chocolate chocolate chip cookies, I thought I'd try it to see if it were any better. Oh my YUM! These are definitely better!!
One thing that I've learned with cookies is that they have better shape when the dough is put into the oven COLD. If the dough is warm or the butter has been melted or softened (I know most recipes say to use softened butter, but don't), they turn out flatter or with more spread. So there are a few ways to avoid that. 1) You can use cold butter when you're creaming, just don't cream too long or else that will warm up the butter. Then bake all of the dough in large quantities using a double oven. 2) If you don't have a double oven, then put the dough in the refrigerator while you are waiting between batches. 3) You can even mix up the dough and let it sit in the refrigerator for a good hour to make sure it is nice and cold.
Here's what you'll need:
2 C. flour
¾ C. white sugar
¾ C. packed brown sugar
½ C. cocoa powder
½ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
2 eggs
1 C. butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2 C. semisweet chocolate chips (I really like using half semisweet and half milk chocolate. When I have extra sitting around, I LOVE to add white chocolate chips too!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy, then add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a good 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

And it's o.k. if two or three or four don't make it to the rack. It's just one of those things about making cookies - you have to eat some fresh out of the oven. It's one of life's sweetest pleasures!

Just so you know, I couldn't fit my cookie dough in the fridge since it was SO full, and my house is like a sauna, so these are a little flat, but oh so good! Give 'em a try!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stuffed Croissant French Toast

Today’s recipe is one that I came across about a year or so ago, and every time I’ve made it since then, we get a sweet glimpse of what Heaven is like! Now, there’s nothing very nutritious about this breakfast food, but boy, it is so worth it!! This original recipe came from some high-end NYC hotel so it’s a good one to make to impress others. I’ve tweaked it a bit to fit my liking and to me, it’s PERFECT! Here’s what you’ll need…

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
¼ C. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. Granulated sugar
1 C. chopped, fresh strawberries
8 large or 16 mini croissants
3 eggs
1 C. half & half or light cream
1 Tbsp. Packed brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, syrup, and sugar on medium speed until well combined.

Stir in chopped strawberries.
With a serrated knife, cut croissants in half horizontally, cutting to, but not through, other side.
Spoon cream cheese filling into each croissant.
In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half & half, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Using your hands, dip each side of filled croissant in egg mixture, being careful not to squeeze out filling. Cook filled croissants on a lightly greased griddle over medium heat about 1-2 mins. on each side. Some filling may leak out; be sure to wipe off griddle and grease again. Serve warm sprinkled with fresh strawberries, and drizzled with maple syrup. Serves 8.

When my husband says, "Honey, you have GOT to make those more often," then you know they are good!! Heaven, I tell you!
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