Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookie Exchange

So, I am finally posting my recipes from my cookie exchange. Sorry it's taken so long, but alas, here they are! Here's a picture of the assortment of goodies we had at my little party (not all of the recipes are posted)...

It was such a yummy party!!


My friend, Shanna, brough this dessert to my cookie exchange. I was totally wowed by how gorgeous they were and, even better, how yummy they were too!

Here's what you'll need:

1 sheet (half of a 17 oz. pkg) frozen puff pastry
1 (3.4 oz) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 C. milk
1 t. almond extract
1 C. whipped topping
2 C. stemmed and sliced strawberries
1/3 C. sliced almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw folded pastry sheet for 20 minutes. Open sheet and cut along folds to make three equal strips; halve each strip to make six rectangles. Space apart on baking sheet. Bake in center of oven about 15 minutes until well browned and baked through. Remove to rack to cool.

Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk pudding mix, milk, and extract for 2 minutes; fold in whipped topping and blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate. Carefully split each piece of pastry in half horizontally. Cover bottom halves with almonds, then pudding mixture and sliced strawberries, dividing equally. Cover with pastry tops. Dust with powdered sugar.

Pretzel Turtle Bites

This treat was my contribution to the cookie exchange. I got the recipe from my dad's wife. I love it for several reasons, 1) these are EASY to make, 2) they put together FAST, 3) and they are everything that a sweet treat should be - crunchy, chewy, sweet, and salty. You just can't beat that!! My kids loved to help make these as well. They did a great job unwrapping all of the Rolos, placing pretzels on the pan, and pressing the pecan halves into the warmed rolos. They were so proud that they could make these!

Here's what you'll need:

1 bag of small twisted pretzels
3 or 4 bags of Rolos
1 (1 lb) bag of pecan halves

Lay pretzels on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Top each pretzel with a rolo. Bake at 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Take out from oven and press a pecan half into each rolo. Let cool. These are so easy and good, perfect to give away at Christmas time!!

Carrot Cookies

My friend, Robyn, brought these delicious bites to my cookie exchange and everyone LOVED them. I've had them a few times before, but I've never gotten the recipe. These cookies have a strange sounding ingredient list, but put together, they are amazing!! I LOVE these cookies!

Here's what you'll need:

3/4 C. shortening
3/4 C. sugar
1 egg
1 C. cooked & mashed carrots
2 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 large orange

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat well. Add mashed carrots. Sift dry ingredients into first mixture and add the rind of the large orange. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet with a small serving spoon. Don't make the cookes too big; they are just bite size!  (I used my smallest cookie scoop.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes (watch them closely; you don't want them to get too done). After cookies are cooled, frost each cookie with powdered sugar moistened with the juice of the orange you grated. Enjoy! *These are the star shaped cookies*

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guest Chef

Since I didn't post anything at all last week, I'm hoping to make up for it this week! I'm truly sorry!! I was busy all last week preparing for my annual cookie exchange that took place on Saturday. It was so much fun and the rest of this week will feature recipes from my party.

But today, in making up for last week, I would like to introduce to you my first guest mom!!! She and my sister came to visit me a couple weeks ago and anytime my mom comes, we always cook up a storm! I love it!!!!! So the next two recipes are just two of the things we, no, she made while visiting. ENJOY!!


Some people consider granola a food that only "tree huggers" eat or campers eat while hiking. But, no, no, that is very wrong! Granola is one of those amazing, so-good-for-you, heart healthy foods that people really shouldn't go without. In fact, it is my husband's favorite breakfast "cereal." And you just can't beat it when you can make it at home. It is suprisingly easy to make, it makes a lot, and it tastes so good!! You've got to try this!

Here's what you'll need:

7 C. oatmeal
1 C. wheat bran
1 C. wheat germ
1 C. sliced or slivered almonds
1 C. powdered milk (dry)
1 C. flour
2 C. coconut
1 C. sunflower seeds
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. salt

1/2 C. brown sugar
3/4 C. water
1 C. oil
1/2 C. honey
1/4 C. molasses
2 t. vanilla

Mix together first 10 ingredients (everything in the first list) in a BIG bowl. Then, in a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water, oil, honey, and molasses and heat until sugar dissolves, but DON'T boil! Take the pan off the heat and add the vanilla. Pour over the oatmeal mixture and mix well until everything is evenly coated. Spread in a large, rimmed cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Carefully stir the granola, and bake another hour. Bake until lightly brown and aromatic. Let cool. Store in an airtight container, once completely cooled, to keep fresh. Can serve with raisins.

Yum! I always make this when my mom comes to visit!!

Corn Chowder

Growing up, my mom made this frequently and it's one of those things that make you feel warm and cozy inside. While she was here visiting, I asked her to make it, since she hasn't ever written down her recipe. After she made the chowder, she wrote down what she did. And now that I have a real recipe, I'm sharing it with you!

Just a note - my mom never made with with green chilies while I was growing up, but she likes to add them now for more flavor. Unfortunately for me, I didn't know that green chilies upset my stomach (now that I'm expecting) until I had some soup. So the next time I make this, I will be leaving the green chilies out.

Here's what you'll need:

1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled - reserve the drippings
7-8 large potatoes, peeled, diced, cooked, and drained
2 T. dried onion
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 C. milk
1 can evaporated milk
2 cans corn, with liquid
grated cheese
1 can chopped green chilies (opt.)

Mash potatoes with 1/4 cup butter, salt and pepper to taste. In a microwavable bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons of dried onion, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 cup of milk. Microwave for 2 minutes on High. Add that mixture to the mashed potatoes along with the crumbled bacon. Then add 1/4 - 1/2 cup bacon drippings, evaporated milk, corn with liquid, green chilies (if desired). Add more milk until you reach your desired thickness. Heat through to blend flavors, being careful not to burn it. Serve, topped with grated cheese.

Mmmm, perfect for those cold winter days!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cheesy Ham, Noodles, and Peas

I believe I mentioned that I make lots of freezer meals when I'm pregnant so that I don't have to worry about cooking when I have a new baby. Well, today's recipe is one of those meals that I made for such an occasion.

The trick to using pasta in a freezer meal is to cook the pasta for half the shortest cooking time listed on the package directions. The reason for that is because while it sits in the freezer, the pasta absorbs moisture from the other ingredients, softening them even more. If you cook the pasta too long, then you'll end up with mushy noodles when you thaw and cook them to eat.

Or, if you don't want to worry about freezing this meal, then just make it as is!

Here's what you'll need:

1 (8 oz) pkg. corkscrew noodles
2 C. cubed ham (or shredded if you want to use leftover ham)
1/2 a 1 lb. pkg frozen peas
1 C. shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup
1 C. sour cream

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain. Combine cheeses, soup, and sour cream. Stir in ham, noodles, and peas.
Place in a greased baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.

If you want to freeze this, cook noodles for half the time suggested on package. Drain. Combine cheeses, soup, and sour cream. Stir in ham, noodles, and peas . Place in a gallon freezer bag. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 45 minutes. Stir before serving.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Cheese Chicken Penne

The recipe I'm sharing today comes from Kraft Food and Family Magazine, just, as usual, altered a bit. Now, for anyone that doesn't get this magazine, I HIGHLY recommend it. You'll get to see what's new from Kraft, coupons, yummy recipes, great ideas for presentation, entertaining ideas, and the best part is that it's FREE!! To sign up, just click on the link on the right down below that says Food & Family Magazine!

Now for the recipe, this one is like something you'd order from a restaurant. We all really liked it and will definitely be making it again!

Here's what you'll need:

1 (12 oz.) pkg. penne pasta
1/2 (6 oz.) pkg. fresh spinach leaves
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 (26.5 oz. ) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 oz. (1/2 of an 8 oz. pkg) Neufchatel cheese, cubed
2 C. Mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, adding spinach to boiling water for last 1 minute.

Cook and stir chicken and basil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through. Add sauce and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Simmer. Stir in Neufchatel cheese.

Drain pasta and spinach; return to pan. Stir in chicken mixture and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake 3 minutes more.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Italian Chicken Fettuccine

I was looking at my last post on Saturday and realized that I started Pasta Week on Friday. I think with school being out and Thanksgiving, I was totally thrown off on what day of the week it was. WOWIE!! That's all I have to say about that! So here we go with an extra long Pasta Week!!

Today's recipe comes from a friend of mine, Holly. My family loves this recipe because it's so creamy and good! And another reason why I like it is because you can freeze the sauce, thaw it, warm it through when you're ready and serve over cooked pasta. I made several batches of this before I had my last baby and stuck them in the freezer (along with LOTS of other dinners) so that I didn't have to worry about cooking once the baby came. SOOOOOOOO very helpful!!

Another good thing about this recipe is that it is so easy and is made in the crockpot. Everyone likes crockpot recipes because you let the pot do all the work. It's great!!!

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cube (1/4 cup) butter (not margarine)
6 frozen chicken breasts
2 pkgs. Good Season Italian Salad Dressing Mix
2 (10 oz) cans cream of chicken soup
2 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese
1/2 C. milk
1 (16 oz) pkg. fettuccine noodles, cooked and drained

Melt butter in a crockpot on high. Add frozen chicken breasts (or you can use thawed chicken breasts and cook for 3 - 3 1/2 hours). Sprinkle with both packages of salad dressing mix. Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours (if using frozen chicken breasts) or until chicken falls apart, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken and cube. Set aside. Add soup, cream cheese and milk to the juice in the crockpot. Mix with electric mixer until smooth. Add chicken and allow to warm through. Serve over fettuccine noodles. Or if you want to freeze it, add the chicken and pour or scoop into a gallon freezer bag and freeze.

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