Friday, December 24, 2010

Ranch Snack Mix #105

One of my friends once made the best ranch snack mix from Taste of Homes magazine.  I was trying to find it.  I came upon this one, which is also from Taste of Homes, but it isn't the one she made.  I once had it and I remember baking it.  Since I can't find it, I'm going to go ahead and try this one.

The case:
1 package (12 ounces) miniature pretzels
2 packages (6 ounces each) Bugles
1 can (10 ounces) salted cashews
1 package (6 ounces) bite-size cheddar cheese fish crackers
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil

In two large bowls, combine the pretzels, Bugles, cashews and crackers. Sprinkle with dressing mix; toss gently to combine. Drizzle with oil; toss until well coated. Store in airtight containers. Yield: 6 quarts.

The ruling:  
It's so hard to make snack mix and not bake it, but there really isn't any need in this recipe!  I'm not saying this recipe is perfect, but it's so simple and has a good flavor.  I still think it can be improved upon but until then I will be making this one!  I made it to snack on for Christmas and everyone kept munching!

Lemon Delight Trifle #104

I found this while going through my old Taste of Homes magazines.  I love lemon cookies and this looked easy so I figured I could make it for Christmas Eve dinner.

The case:
3 1/2 cups cold milk
2 (3 1/2 ounce) packages instant lemon pudding
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 ounces Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 (12 -14 ounce) packages lemon cream-filled sandwich cookies, crushed

1.  Whisk milk and pudding for 2 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes or till soft-set.
2.  In another bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar till smooth. Gradually stir in pudding till blended.
3.  Set aside 1/4 cup each of Cool Whip and cookies for garnish. Fold remaining Cool Whip into pudding mixture.
4.  Place half remaining cookies in 3 quart glass bowl; top with half the pudding. Repeat. Garnish with reserved Cool Whip and cookies. Refrigerate till serving.

The ruling:
This reminds me of banana pudding with Nilla wafers, but it's lemon pudding with lemon cookies.  I thought it was tasty.  Michael thought it was lacking fruit, so he added strawberries and thought it was great.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Garlic Cheddar Chicken #103

I'm always on the lookout for a new chicken dish.  I've had this in my recipe box on pretty much since I joined the site years ago. 

The case:

1/2 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced (I just used 2)
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (used Panko bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
3.  In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.
4.  Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture. 
5.  Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. 

The ruling:
I've been on a surprising roll lately considering I barely cooked for 3 months.  I loved this chicken!  Besides using Panko instead of regular bread crumbs, the only other change I made was to dip the chicken in flour before the butter.  I even forgot to pour the extra butter over the top, which of course would make everything better!  About halfway through eating, Michael mentioned the only thing that might make this chicken better was honey mustard.  Boy was he right.  Honey mustard is the perfect pairing for this dish!  Next time, I'm going to try cooking the chicken a little less.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese #102

I grew up loving the famous blue box mac and cheese.  It wasn't until later that I realized the texture and flavor of the blue box isn't exactly ideal.  Don't get me wrong I still enjoy a blue box here and there, but it wouldn't be the ultimate mac and cheese for me.  Most mac and cheese recipes I've tried and enjoyed are baked.  While I've loved many of these, the creamy/runnier texture from my childhood was missing.  This recipe is from Alton Brown's Good Eats.  His ultimate mac and cheese was a baked one, but made this one as more of an after thought for those "people" who like the blue box.  I immediately knew I had to try the stove top recipe.

The case:
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

1  In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

The case:
Move over all other mac and cheese recipes.  Not only was this just as easy as the blue box to make, it is some of the best tasting mac and cheese I've ever had.  I omitted the dry mustard, but everything else was the exact same.  Besides cooking the pasta and shredding the cheese, this dish took about 5 minutes to create.  This is now my official go to mac and cheese.  This recipe is what creating this blog was all about.  I've been trying to find ultimate recipes for all of mine and Michael's favorite dishes, and this was a way for me to keep up with my thoughts about those recipes.  I know no matter how many mac and cheese recipes I make in the future, this will be the tired and true one for my kitchen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charleston Cheese Dip #101

Here is another recipe from Trisha Yearwood. 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped ( I omit)
Dash of cayenne pepper
8 Ritz or butter crackers, crushed
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1.  Preheat oven to 350*.
2.  In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green onions, and cayenne pepper.
3. Transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish.
4. Top the mixture with the cracker crumbs and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
5. Remove from the oven and top with bacon.
6.  Serve immediately with corn chips, crackers, or bagel chips.

The ruling:
Another winner from Trisha.  I'm officially asking for both of her cookbooks for Christmas.  I served this with Ritz cracker chips and corn chips.  It was absolutely divine with the Ritz cracker chips!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole #100

YAY!!!!  I've officially made my goal and tried 100 new recipes in 2010!  It seems like just yesterday when I watched Julie and Julia and decided to challenge myself.  It took a little longer than expected after the morning (aka all-day) sickness started, but I've done it!!! 

One of my favorite soups is creamy chicken and wild rice, so I was excited to see this casserole.  I can't wait to try the added ingredients of almonds and mushrooms. 

The case:
- 2, 4 1/2 oz cans, sliced mushrooms drained (reserve broth) or 16 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
-  1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cooked and diced
- 2, 6 oz boxes long-grain and wild rice mix, such as Uncle Ben's, cooked
- 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced pimento
- 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch casserole dish.
2.  If you use fresh mushrooms, saute them in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and reserve juice.
3.  In a large skillet, saute the onion in the remaining butter until tender.  Stir in the flour, cooking 2 to 3 minutes.
4.  Combine the mushroom juice with enough broth to make 3 cups of liquid.  Slowly stir the juice-broth mixture into the onion mixture.  Stir in the half and half.  Cook until the mixture is thickened.
5.  Add the sauteed or canned mushrooms, the chicken, rice, almonds, pimento, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour into prepare dish and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed.

The ruling:
This is the perfect comfort food casserole.  I omitted the pimento- not a big pepper fan.  Next time, I'll omit the onion as well.  I used less than what was called for and it still tasted too oniony for me. 

Cheese Muffins #99

This is the 2nd Trisha Yearwood recipe I've made.  Usually you see garlic and cheese in biscuits, so I'm very intrigued by a muffin recipe.  The original recipe leaves out the cheese and garlic, but who would do that knowing that its an option?

The case:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic

1.  Preheat oven to 400.
2.  With an electric mixer, mix butter and sour cream.  Add flour and mix well.
3.  Drop with large spoonfuls of dough into muffin pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with muffin cups.
4.  Bake 25 minutes.  (Or 15 minutes in mini-muffin pan)

The results:
Yummy!!!  I loved these!  Both the flavor and the texture were perfect!  I may even like these better than my normal cheese garlic biscuit copycat recipe- which says a lot!

Twice Baked Potatoes #98

My mom recently bought Trisha Yearwood's new cookbook, Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood.  Up until this point, I had no desire to even look at a Trisha Yearwood cookbook. She made a spicy corn dip for her Bunco party from the book.  I just had to try it.  Needless to say, it was delicious, so I  picked up and thumbed through the rest of the cookbook.  I discovered recipe after recipe that I wanted to try.  I decided to finish my 100 recipes today with three recipes from Trisha's cookbook:  Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, Twice Baked Potatoes, and Cheese Garlic Muffins. 

The case:
6 large baking potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups sour cream
10 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
salt and pepper
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Wash the potatoes and pierce them with a fork. Rub the potatoes with the olive oil and place them on a jellyroll pan or a large cookie sheet with a rim. Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes to an hour, or until done. Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut them in half lengthwise. Set aside. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 F.
3.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the potato flesh into a large electric mixing bowl. Add the milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until creamy.
4.  Divide the mixture evenly and spoon it back into potato shells. Return the potatoes to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with the bacon and green onion.

The ruling:
Michael says these are some of the best twice baked potatoes he's ever had.  I loved the bacon/cheese topping and the tangyness the sour cream added.  I used half and half instead of milk and actually used about twice as much as was called for.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saucy Island Sandwiches #97

I've done a horrible, horrible job of posting the new recipes I'm trying.  I've tried some good ones too!  The biggest problem I've had is taking the pictures before the food is eaten.  Urgh! Oh well I guess I can just pledge to start fresh.

This recipe was given to me from a good friend from church, Alberta Floyd.  She brought them to a Christmas party.  My mom made me try them even though I typically don't eat ham.   Boy, was I glad I did.  These are some of my favorite sandwiches I've ever had!  In fact I'm making them two days later if that shows you how much I like them.

My friends and I once had a Hawaiian recipe exchange.  If I could do that over I would definitely take these! 

The case:
- 1 cup butter
- 6 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp. yellow mustard
- 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
- 2, 12 oz Hawaiian sweet rolls, split
- 2,  8 oz Swiss cheese slices
- 1 lb sliced honey ham
- 2, 8 oz Provolone cheese slices

1.  Melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, honey, and poppy seeds.  Stir all ingredients over medium heat well combined.
2.  Arrange roll bottoms cut side up, on a rectangular baking sheet.  Brush with about half of butter mixture.
3. Top rolls with Swiss cheese, tearing to fit.  Do the same with ham and then provolone. 
4.  Brush cut side of roll tops with butter mixture.  Place over sandwiches.
5.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly. 

The results:
Yes, even when I made these, they were just as good.  The honey mustard butter mixture is out of this world delicious.  The flavor of the two cheeses just pushes this recipe over the top!  These are the perfect appetizer potluck dish!