Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chocolate Jumbles

This has always been one of my favorite bar recipes. It's got such a wonderful blend of smooth velvety fudge swirling around crunchy oatmeal cookie-like pieces. I've always gotten rave reviews when I serve them.

  • 1 cup butter, softened (you can also replace 1/2 of the butter with peanut butter for Chocolate PB Jumbles)
  • 2 cups brown sugar (I prefer dark brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
Chocolate Topping
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
Crust and chocolate layer in place
  1. Cream all cookie mixture ingredients together except the flour. Stir in 1 cup of flour at a time.
  2. Spread 3/4 of cookie mixture in greased pan.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan on the stove. Add milk and heat till smooth. Or toss the chocolate chips, butter, and milk in a bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Stir. 
  4. Spread chocolate topping over cookie crust.
  5. Top with remaining 1/4 cookie mixture
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Cool 15-20 minutes before serving.
I like to serve these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm...
Just before baking

Banana Muffins / Bread

This is my mom's banana bread recipe and I make it fairly often so I thought that I would finally post it here.
  • 1/2 cup shortening or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4-6 bananas (I usually use 5 large ones)
  • 6 Tablespoons cream (OR 3 tablespoons of light sour cream + 3 tablespoons skim milk)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pan(s). Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, bananas, and cream.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture one cup at a time.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts.
  4. Pour or ladle into pan(s). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 (muffins) or 30-40 minutes (bread).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu: June 20-26

The wedding gown, bridesmaids dresses, Jr. bridesmaid dress, mother's dress, and grandmother's dress all got picked up last week without a hitch. Gotta love the extra $$, but glad to have my normal schedule and extra room back. It's been an extremely busy weekend, which is why this week's menu is so late.
Midweek and Weekend Baking
I am hoping to get some baking done this week/weekend. I have enough bananas in my freezer for almost 10 batches of banana bread, and our church is having their Old Fashioned Sunday Celebration this weekend where I am entering a few things in the baking contest. So here's what I plan to make!
  1. Banana Bread - I'm hoping to do several batches so that I can freeze some of them.
  2. My Secret Recipe Cheesecake - as the name implies, I cannot share the recipe but you can find MANY really delicious cheesecake recipes on allrecipes.com.(I am entering this in the "Cake" category)
  3. Zucchini Brownies (I am entering this in the "Brownies" category)
  4. Chocolate Jumbles (I am entering this in the "Bars" category)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Menu: June 13-19

Trying to do more make ahead / "2-in-1" type meals this week as I have 9 dresses to finish and press for pickup on Friday.

  • Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, side salad, corn, and dinner rolls (I will make the rolls the day before, have the potatoes cut up and in water refrigerated the night before, and the chicken will be marinating in the fridge the night before so I just have to pop it into the oven in the morning.) 
  • Fajitas (I'm using the leftover roast from last week's menu for the meat, so it may end up being a little more of a shredded beef, onion, and pepper wrap...)
  • Meatloaf, Potatoes, and Veggie
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza (I'll be using the leftover roast chicken)
  • Chef Salad (Ham, chicken, cheese, croûtons, carrots, olives, boiled eggs, etc.)


My husband LOVES Mexican/Texmex food so I have to include it on my menus frequently. Here is my version of fajitas, and I usually serve it with some shredded lettuce, Mexican rice, salsa, sour cream, and refried beans on the side.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. beef or chicken, cut into thin strips
  • taco seasoning (I do add a little cayenne to it and substitute kosher salt for the sea salt)
  • 1 can sliced black olives
  • 1 medium onion, julienned
  • 1 small green pepper, julienned
  • 1 small red pepper, julienned
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Fajita-sized flour tortilla shells
  1. Wrap desired number of tortilla shells in aluminum foil and place them in a toaster oven or conventional oven to warm for a few minutes. (I usually preheat to 350 degrees and then to warm as soon as it's preheated).
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil; add meat and cook about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add peppers, onions, and olives, cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Add taco seasoning, stir; add water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tip 7: How to Peel a Potato without a Peeler

My aunt posted a link to this YouTube video by Dawn Wells (Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island) on how to peel a potato without using a peeler and thought it was a very interesting idea. In fact, I may try it the next time that I need to peel a potato.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Menu: June 6-12 (and Grad Party Idea)

Tonight is the night that my hubby graduates, YAY!!!! Can you tell that I'm just a little excited? We plan to have a small get together either late afternoon before graduation or after the graduation. It all depends on what time our families plans to arrive on Sunday. Here is what I plan to make for the graduation get-together today:
  1. Peppery Beef  or Pulled Pork Sandwiches (they are both perfect crock pot dishes for a base)
  2. Potato Salad or Coleslaw or Pasta Salad
  3. Relish Tray and Dip
  4. Meat, Cheese, and Cracker Tray
  5. Chocolate Cake (this is just a maybe)
The rest of the week's menu:
  • Tacos
  • Pot Roast, glazed baby carrots, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls (substitute 1/2 cup wheat germ for 1/2 cup of the flour for added texture).
  • Ham and cheese subs (making French bread), and potato salad
  • Cowboy Skillet (except I may be using the new Bush's Grillin' Beans Fiesta style instead of chili beans)

Friday, June 4, 2010

[Crockpot] Stuffed Peppers

I have been wanting to try stuffed peppers for a long time but just haven't. This week two different grocery stores in my area had big sales on red and green bell peppers so I decided that this was the week that I would attempt it. I kept looking for a good recipe, but there were so many to choose from. I decided to check on the Food Network's website and see what a few of my favorite chefs had for recipes. I found a good one by Guy Fieri's (Poblano Stuffed with Chorizo, Shrimp and Rice). However, I didn't have a few of the ingredients so I substituted with things that I did have on hand. Here is my variation (see the bottom for an update and instructions for cooking stuffed peppers in the slow cooker):
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound Mexican-style chorizo (I did not have chorizo or shrimp, so I substituted ground venison for the two)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (I was out and the jalapeño was sorely missed)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup short-grain
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used more chicken stock, but here are some other substitutes)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 large, fresh poblano chiles (I used green bell peppers instead but pablano would provide a nice heat)
  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Jack cheese, shredded
  • I also added the following ingredients:
    • 3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (added this to the meat prior to cooking)
    • 1/2 cup medium salsa (I added this with the liquids in step 1)
Directions (for Guy Fieri's recipe)
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil and chorizo, cook for 3 minutes. Add peppers, jalapeno, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, then add rice and cook until all the grains of the rice are coated with oil. Add all liquids and stir over high heat for 3 minutes, cover and reduce heat to low. Check rice for doneness after 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Place poblano chiles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, cut top 1/4 of chile off and remove ribs and seeds.
  4. When rice is finished cooking, fluff with fork and stir in shrimp. Stuff chiles with 1/6 of the rice mixture. Place all the chiles on baking sheet and place into oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, mix cheeses together and cover pepper with cheese. Broil for 3 minutes to melt and brown the cheese.
Update: After making this dish several times, I have come to the conclusion that pretty much whatever you want to throw in the filling will work. As long as the filling contains the following:

  • beans (black beans, red beans, or chili beans it doesn't really matter)
  • meat (optional but ground meats do tend to work easier)
  • liquid (tomato sauce, salsa. bean puree, leftover chili, etc.)
  • aromatics (onions, garlic, and chopped peppers)
  • rice (I prefer brown rice but white works, too)
  • cheese
A lot of times I end up just throwing a bunch of Tex-Mex leftovers together and using that as a filling. They always come out tasting great. In fact this last time, I combined 1 1/2 cups of leftover chili, 1 lb of brown ground beef, 1/2 cup salsa, 1/2 of homemade bean dip, and 1 cup of brown rice (dry measure then cooked with salt).

I also attempted this recipe Crockpot-style and found it to work out deliciously! You could always prep the peppers ahead of time and then just throw them in the crockpot 4-5 hours before needing to serve them. Here are the instructions.
All stuffed and sitting in their "hot tub".
  1. Prep the filling.
  2. Cut the tops of the peppers off and stuff.
  3. Pour 2/3 cup water into the bottom of a 6 qt. crockpot, place the peppers in the water (as you can see, my crockpot is oval and I can fit 5 LARGE peppers in it). 
  4. Cover and cook in low for 4 hours (if you go longer than that they start to really break down). About 20-30 minutes before serving, sprinkle cheese over the top.
Topped with cheese and ready for the final 20-30 minutes till go time. :o)

Ooey, gooey, melted cheese. Yum!
Sliced open like a four leaf clover and topped with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.
Use tortilla chips as silverware if you like.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Menu: May 30-June 5

The hubby graduates with his Associates degree in a week and I am SOOO excited! I thought that I'd ask him if there was any meals that he would like in particular this week and he said, "No, not that I can think of." So I'm going a little random this week.