Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cookout Cookies

I'm in charge of bringing a dessert to the Saxe's cookout tomorrow. I'm excited to go, not only to finally meet the newest Saxe, Annabel, but also because the Zimmermans are visiting from California. I decided to make two different but similar treats to feed the crowd.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 lb shortening stick
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Cups Oatmeal
6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Combine flower, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips by hand. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls on to cookies sheets and bake for 10-12 min.

Source: Me

Oatmeal Carmelitas

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9x9 inch square pan.
Combine the 1 cup flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, salt and melted butter. Mix to combine, mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Let cool slightly then sprinkle over the crust the chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Mix the caramel ice cream topping with the 3 tablespoons of flour and drizzle over the chocolate chips. Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. You will need to break it into small pieces to cover.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Let bars cool before cutting.


Speedy Beer Cheese Dip

This is a great dip to snack on while watching the Indy 500, which happend to be today. It is very quick to make, and is a crowd pleaser. My friend Denise made this last weekend at a cookout and even the non-beer drinkers enjoyed it a lot.

Beer Cheese Dip

2 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 packet ranch dip mix
1/2 cup of beer

Mix all ingredients together and garnish with green onion if desired. Serve with pretzels.

Source: Hidden Valley

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Favorite Casserole

If you know me, chances are I've fed you this. It is my favorite breakfast casserole, and it is always a hit at baby showers, office breakfast meetings, or for dinner if you ask Scott. This past Friday I decided to take this to the office on Friday morning. We were closing the office to take a 33 ft RV down to the track for Carb Day (part of the Indy 500 festival for you non-Indiana people). Seeing as I knew the rest of the day would involve consuming mass quantities of beer and booze, I figured the more food in our stomachs, the better! So when I mentioned to Scott on Thursday that I was at the grocery buying things for the casserole he got a little whiney that he wouldn't get any casserole. So I ended up making him one too.

Crista's Favorite Breakfast Casserole

1 pound breakfast sausage
3 cups hashbrowns (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup butter, melted
12 ounces mild Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup onion, shredded
1 (16 ounce) container small curd cottage cheese
6 jumbo eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside. In the prepared baking dish, stir together the shredded potatoes and butter. Line the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the mixture. In a bowl, mix the sausage, Cheddar cheese, onion, cottage cheese, and eggs. Pour over the potato mixture. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the casserole comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Break out your Lederhosen!

To celebrate my German heritage, and also because Kroger was having a sale, I made a really tasty German style casserole. I was inspired by the Kroger Sales ad the other day. They were having one of their "dollar" sales, and I saw that both Polish sausage and sauerkraut were on sale for $1 each. Throw in a few cheap red potatoes and a few other pantry staples and you've got this entire dish for under $3!

Polish Sausage Bake
5 small potatoes, scrubbed and cubed with skin
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup cream
1 pinch ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lb sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 pound polish sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place potatoes into a large saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
Once tender, drain potatoes, and mash with 2 tablespoons butter, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place the drained sauerkraut into a casserole dish and top with sliced kielbasa. Spread with mashed potatoes and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Bake in preheated oven until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Eat Dirt!

Ok, well eat mud anyway... Mississippi Mud Brownies that is. I made these to take to a cook out at the Hunsche's. Since Denise spent a few years growing up in Mississippi, I made these in her honor. These are very rich, so cut them small. (This way if you eat 5 you don't feel so guilty.)

Mississippi Mud Brownies

1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (10.5 ounce) package miniature marshmallows

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup of butter. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa until smooth. Mix in the white sugar, eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in the flour, then fold in pecans and marshmallows. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool in pan.
To make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, melt together 1/2 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of cocoa. Mix in confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the milk, a tablespoon at a time until icing is a nice spreading consistency.

Grilled Chicken in No Time

Part of my problem with grilling chicken is that I don't decide to make it until the last minute, and all of the really good recipes seem to call for overnight refrigeration in a marinade. This recipe was great, and you only put the seasonings on it as you grill. It also came a long with a really good sauteed spinach & mushroom dish. I'm sure I'll be making this again soon!

Grilled Chicken Over Spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
4 (4 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Sauteed Spinach:
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach, torn

In a bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; mix well. Spoon over chicken. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 7 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.
In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil for 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms; saute for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; saute for 2 minutes or until wilted. Transfer to a serving platter; top with chicken.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Salad Du Jour

Since I'm still on my salad kick, and get excited everytime I see a farmer's market, I threw this together for dinner tonight. It also incorperates a new find from Trader Joe's, shredded pre-cooked BBQ chicken. It was of course awesome, as is everthing I buy there.

BBQ Chicken Salad

(The following makes 2 very large salads)
1 bag salad mix
1 vine ripe tomato
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped English cucumber
1/2 cup sweet corn
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded BBQ chicken

Assemble as shown and serve with your favorite dressing.

Source: Me

Green Beans a'la Aunt Verlena

I've been eating green beans this way since I was little. Mainly cooked by my Grandmother, or her sister Aunt Verlena. Now it wouldn't be a holiday without Aunt V's down home cooked beans. They aren't necessarily the healthiest, but dang they are good!

Aunt Verlena's Green Beans

2 lbs fresh green beans, snapped and cut
1/2 lb bacon
1 small onion, diced

Clean & prepare green beans. Chop bacon and cook in a large pot on medium high heat until crisp. Add diced onion and cook until transparent. Add green beans and add water until they are just covered. Bring pot to a boil and then simmer for a couple hours, or until desired tenderness is reached. Salt to taste.

Source: Mom

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's All Greek to Me!

I love salad, but get kinda tired of your run of the mill lettuce based salad. This recipe had gotten rave reviews, had a ton of vegetables, and no lettuce what so ever. It was so good, I could eat it every day!

Greek Salad

3 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 European seedless cucumber, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chunked
1 cup Kalamata black olives
Several sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, about 1/2 cup
1/4 pound light Greek feta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and black pepper

Combine vegetables, olives, parsley, and feta in a large bowl. Combine oil, vinegar, and oregano in a small plastic container with a lid. Shake vigorously to combine oil and vinegar and pour over salad and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and let the salad marinate until ready to serve.

Source: Adapted from Rachel Ray

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Popeye says to Eat Your Spinach!

I love veggies, and am always looking for recipes to make them more exciting than your typical bag of frozen green beans. This recipe was great!

Creamed-Spinach Gratin
1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach
Cooking spray
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup tub-style light cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) sliced tomato
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

PreparationPreheat oven to 375°.

Remove large stems from spinach. Tear spinach into 1-inch pieces; place in a colander. Rinse spinach under cold water; drain. Set aside.

Place a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add spinach; cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add cream cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Uncover and cook an additional minute or until cream cheese melts. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1-quart gratin dish or shallow casserole coated with cooking spray. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on top of spinach,and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Source: Cooking Light

In Honor of Cinco De Mayo....Chinese Food!

Ok, so I feel bad that I didn't make anything Mexican for Cinco De Mayo, but I forgot about it when I was at the store buying groceries. This turned out to be a good thing, because these lettuce wraps were awesome! I took the leftovers for lunch the next day and they were just as good!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Sweet & Spicy Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
2 cups packaged cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw
1 cup canned sliced water chestnuts, drained
8 ounces grilled chicken (cut into chunks)
12 Bibb lettuce leaves

Place peanuts in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan frequently. Remove pan from heat; set aside.Combine hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, oil, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine peanuts, coleslaw, water chestnuts, and chicken, and sauce in a bowl and toss well.
Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken salad in the center of each lettuce leaf.
Source: Cooking Light

Fruits & Veggies!

The other night I decided to try a Deen Brother's recipe, because they seem to have good taste in food, and lets face it, they are very cute! I roasted some veggies to go with our grilled chicken, it was a great dinner!

Lime Marinated Chicken


1½ limes
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, trimmed and sliced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch salt

For marinade, finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice from limes. In a blender, combine zest and juice with remaining marinade ingredients; puree until smooth. Pour marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

Source: The Deen Brothers Cookbook: Recipes from the Road

Roasted Veggies

1/2 lb.whole button or crimini mushrooms 1/2 carrots
1 medium onion, peeled, cut into
1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 large red, green or yellow bell pepper, cut into 8 strips
1/3 cup Italian Reduced Fat Dressing
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil; spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Toss vegetables with dressing and 1/4 cup of the cheese; spread into prepared pan.

Bake 28 to 30 min. or until vegetables are tender, stirring after 15 min. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.