Monday, March 31, 2014

EASY NO-BAKE DESSERT

My husband and I just had a fast weekend to northwest LA to attend the wedding of my cousin Carol's son. It was a beautiful, beautiful wedding and it was so good to see family and enjoy some warmer temperatures.  


I wanted to share two pictures with you -- 


their wedding cake... 


and the groom's cake.  








I loved both cakes but this groom's cake was unbelievable. No one could believe it was a cake. (the "box" was the cake.)

But we are back home and back to our normal routines. I do have to admit being a little bit sad and missing family, but I always am after a fun time with any of my family.

Today I am sharing a recipe my friend Linda shared with me.  She had two pieces left that she shared with my husband and me. I managed to get this picture before I devoured it. (The word "eat" is too mild of a word -- I "devoured" it.)


CHOCOLATE PRETZEL PEANUT BUTTER SQUARES

Crust:

2        cups pretzels, crushed

Add:   1-1/2   cups powdered sugar
           1          cup peanut butter
           1-1/2    sticks butter, melted

Stir together and press into a 9 x 13 - inch pan or dish. It is not necessary to oil the pan. This is not going to be baked so you can put it into any dish.  

Set aside.

Topping:

1-1/2     cups chocolate chips
1/4         cup peanut butter.

Melt the chocolate chips and the peanut butter together. Spread over the pretzel crust and chill.

Cut into bars. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

APPLES N' CREAM DESSERT SQUARES


My husband always gives me a hard time because I usually make a dish for company or to contribute to a dinner that I haven't made before. Well, when we had friends over recently, I surprised him by making a dessert that I have made several times. It's that good and so easy.

According to what I wrote on the recipe card I found the recipe in the newspaper in a IGA supermarket ad. I was trying to figure out how long I had had the recipe by remembering where we lived that had IGA supermarkets. I don't ever remember shopping at one in CA and we moved there in 1987. I asked my husband and he said there was one in Fayetteville, AR.  So that would put it in the 80s. 

Since I wrote the recipe down, just about everything in it that contains sugar, you can now get sugar-free so when I make it now, it has considerably less calories than when I first made it.  As with all my recipes, you don't have to use the sugar-free/fat-free products that I use, but the taste isn't affected by the sugar-free/fat-free products that I do use. 



APPLES N' CREAM DESSERT SQUARES

1        pkg yellow cake mix (sugar-free)
1/2    cup coconut (unsweetened)
1/2    cup softened margarine
20    ounce can apple pie filling (no sugar added)

Topping:

1/2    cup sugar (stevia)
1        teaspoon cinnamon
1        cup sour cream (fat free)
1        egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


In a large bowl, combine cake mix, coconut, and margarine. blend until crumbly.


Press in the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an ungreased 13 x 9 - inch pan.


Dice the apples in the pie filling.


Spread the apples pie filling evenly over the crust.


In a small bowl, mix the sugar (stevia) and cinnamon; 


sprinkle evenly over the pie filling.


In the same small  bowl, combine the sour cream and egg; 


spoon evenly over sugar/cinnamon.
(doesn't have to go completely to the edge as the crust will bake up around the edges.)


Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until edges are golden brown. (filling will not be set)

Serve warm or cold.

Refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

STEVE'S BAKED BEANS

Here is another recipe from our recent New Dinner Club gathering. These baked beans were as good as any I have ever eaten. I have rewritten the recipe just as Dee sent it to me.  She didn't hesitate to let us all know at the dinner that her husband Steve had made them. When I asked for the recipe, she said he never made it the same way twice. So I told him to write up a general recipe he follows. Following is what Dee sent me....I just added "STEVE'S" to the title. They are his baked beans, afterall.


  
STEVE'S BAKED BEANS

3      31 oz cans of pork & beans (store brand is fine)
1       jar Smokehouse Baked Bean Sauce
1/4  lb. pulled pork
1      medium onion
1      small green pepper
1      Jalapeno (optional)
Hot sauce(s) (your favorite is OK)
Hickory Liquid Smoke
Bourbon Whiskey

Open all of the beans and drain as much of the tomato sauce off of them as practical. I use a colander placed over the garbage disposal in the sink. Pick out as much of the pork and pork fat as you see.

Place the beans and pulled pork in a oven safe dish that has an oven safe lid.

Add the baked bean sauce, add a little water to the jar and swish it around to get all of the sauce, and the diluted sauce to the beans as well. (don't worry the water will evaporate during baking)

Onion, green pepper and Jalapeno are a matter of taste, but I think the proportion is: If you use a cup of onion, then use about 3/4 cup of green pepper and 1/8 of a cup of Jalapeno. The onion and green pepper should be chopped to about 1/4 inch cubes, the Jalapeno should be about 1/2 that size. I take out the seeds from the Jalapeno to help control the heat.

Stir it up and taste.

The hot sauces I used in the beans were ones we brought back from Belize and might not be available here.

I used a little more than a 1/4 cup of Lissette's Secret Sauce - this is a thicker sweeter hot sauce (looks almost like sweet and sour sauce). Then I used a dash (or two) of Habanero Pepper Sauce (REAL HOT).

Stir and taste (add the hot sauces slowly and taste often).

Once you have the heat where you want it, then it's ready for the oven...if not add a little more of what it needs.

Now really all you are doing is cooking the beans down to the consistency you desire. I like my beans thick and not runny so this is how I do it. If you like them runny then you can shorten this process.

I start them off in a 325 degree F oven uncovered. I let them cook for about an 1-1/2 hour they should be bubbling and beginning to form a skim on the top. The beans are essentially done at this point and could be served, albeit a little runny for my taste.

I then turn the oven down to 250 degrees F and leave them uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, at this point the sauce should look noticeably thicker and the top should be  browning slightly. When you get to this point, cover the beans and cook another 10 minutes, then serve.

Enjoy!

Steve

Here are some of the other dishes we enjoyed at the dinner:

FRESH BROCCOLI SALAD

BLT MACARONI SALAD

(LIGHT) CARROT CAKE




Monday, March 24, 2014

ROTISSERIE CHICKEN WALDORF SALAD

The other day my husband called to see if I needed him to pick up anything at the commissary on his way home.  Since I had been working on the remodeling of our master bathroom and hadn't any idea what I was going to cook for dinner, I told him to buy a rotisserie chicken.  It certainly was good and the perfect main dish after a tiring day trying to remove the popcorn ceiling in the bathroom.

After enjoying it the second time for a later lunch, I still had one breast and a wing still left.  I had copied down a recipe for "something" using rotisserie chicken, but I didn't have any idea where it was.  I went to my little desk and picked up a couple loose pages laying on top and saw a spiral binder with a clear top and a budget on the first page.  I flipped through it to see what else I had written in it and 3/4th of the way to the back were these three recipes I had copied down.  Believe it or not, the first one was the recipe for Chicken Waldorf Salad.  That was the recipe.  I still can't believe I was that lucky.  I don't think "luck" had anything to do with it.

I noticed I was missing a couple of the ingredients and was prepared to run to the grocery store to get them, when my husband called to tell me he had everything, but did I want anything else. Can you believe it?  There was definitely a higher power wanting me to make that chicken salad that day.

And I know why....it was so good.  I love chicken salad, but this one is really good.  I can't wait to have him buy another one.  You wouldn't have to use a rotisserie chicken, but it certainly adds flavor to the chicken salad.




(ROTISSERIE) CHICKEN WALDORF SALAD

2       cups cooked rotisserie chicken breast, cubed
1       cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2    cup Granny Smith apple, cored and cubed (I used a Gala apple)
1/2    cup celery, chopped
1/2    cup dried cranberries
1/4    cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2    cup salad dressing with olive oil (or mayo)
1/2    cup non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
2       teaspoons lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Prepare the chicken, grapes, apple, and celery.


Add them with the cranberries and walnuts in a large bowl.


Toss to mix them all together.


Combine the salad dressing, yogurt and lemon juice in a smaller bowl.


Add the "dressing" and toss to coat.




We enjoyed it as sandwiches..








Sunday, March 23, 2014

DOUBLE APPLE BARS

What a beautiful day in KC today!  You might have thought spring had finally arrived, but wait!  Winter just hasn't given up yet.  

My husband woke me up at 3 AM to let me know it had snowed. SNOWED? !  I didn't remember that being in the forecast.  COLD yes, but SNOW?  The temps just couldn't get up.  It is finally up to 39, but I'm tired of wearing a coat.  Helped my disposition though by going shopping with my friend Janice this afternoon and got some really good deals.

This is another recipe I have had in my recipe box for a number of years.  I thought I had made it before but there wasn't a date on the back of the card.  But then I didn't always do that and rarely do it now.  I needed something for my husband to take to the others in the tax office and decided these Double Apple Bars would be a good choice.  





DOUBLE APPLE BARS

1-1/2     cups all-purpose flour
1            teaspoon cinnamon
1/2         teaspoon baking powder
1/2         teaspoon baking soda
1/4         teaspoon cloves
1/4         cup (1/2 stick) margarine, at room temperature
1/2         cup packed light brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup brown sugar blend)
1            large egg
1            cup applesauce
2            cups peeled and diced apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/2         cup chopped walnuts

Topping:

1           cup chopped walnuts
2          tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 13 x 9 - inch pan with cooking spray. Then line with foil, and spray again.

Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and cloves in a small bowl with a whisk.

Beat margarine and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. 

Beat in egg.

Then add applesauce. (mixture will look curdled)

Stir in flour mixture until blended.

Fold in apples and walnuts.

Spread evenly in prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and 
sprinkle evenly over the batter.

Bake 35 minutes or until edges pull away from the sides of the pan and top is lightly browned.

Cool in pan on rack then lift out with the edges of the foil. Peel back foil and 


cut into bars.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

FRESH BROCCOLI SALAD


Our Dinner Club met last Saturday night.  I always enjoy getting together with the group and look forward to the different dishes that everyone will bring to share.  (I did before I created my blog, but especially since.  I always take my camera so I can get pictures of the different dishes and then "hound" everyone for their recipes.)

I shared the Carrot Cake recipe that was my contribution to the dinner earlier. This is the salad that Carol brought to our Dinner Club gathering Saturday night.  

Carol is always one I never have to "hound" for the recipe. I always get an email from her the next day with the recipe.  Once again she didn't disappoint me.  It was a very impressive looking salad and enjoyed by all.




FRESH BROCCOLI SALAD


2       heads of fresh broccoli
1       cup sliced almonds
1       sweet onion
1       cup light mayonnaise
1       lb. pkg bacon
1/3    cup Splenda
1       cup golden raisins
2       tablespoons white vinegar
1/2    cup sunflower seeds

Fry and drain the bacon and then crumble to bite-size pieces.

Cut the broccoli and onion into bite-size pieces.

Combine all the bacon, broccoli, and onion with the raisins, sunflower seeds, and almonds in a large bowl.

Mix the mayonnaise, Splenda, and vinegar together in a bowl.

Add the mayo mixture to the broccoli mixture and toss to coat.

Best if made ahead and refrigerated for several hours or overnight.

I will be sharing the other recipes soon with you. I have been busy trying to remodel a bathroom.

UPDATE:

Other dishes served at the dinner:

STEVE'S BAKED BEANS

BLT MACARONI SALAD

(LIGHT) CARROT CAKE

Monday, March 17, 2014

CARROT CAKE

Saturday was such a gorgeous day in the 70s. It made us ready for spring if we weren't already ready. Then it stormed in the night and temperatures dropped and we woke up to snow again. Not a lot, but the temperatures were cold Sunday. I decided enough is enough and declared it officially spring at our house.  


Anyone walking up to our door will know it, too. I had bought these children rain boots last year for a project in the back yard, but changed my mind. (My husband didn't like the idea.)  I bought 6 stems of mini-daisies at Wal-mart for 97 cents a piece and just stuck 3 in each boot and staggered them when I hung them from the string that held them together in the store. I am really pleased with the look, but on to the recipe for Carrot Cake, without all of the calories. 

I got this recipe a number of years ago from a cooking show on the food channel on television. As happens so many times with me, I just never got around to actually baking it. A few months ago, I wanted to make it to take to Dinner Club, but I couldn't find the recipe and so I made something else.

One day I decided to search the internet for the recipe. I had remembered that it was a light version of a carrot cake so that is what I was searching for on the food channel. The first thing I learned was it is now called the Food Network, but that didn't stop me. I finally found a recipe for them for a Light Carrot Cake. I printed it and added it to one of my piles of recipes.  

Then surprise, surprise, one day when I was looking for a different recipe, I found the recipe card with the recipe I had seen years ago. The interesting thing was it was different from the one I had printed off. I have not been able to find this version of a light carrot cake on the Food Network website. Not sure why.

Well, the Dinner Club was meeting this past weekend and when I changed my mind Friday about what I was going to make, I found the recipe for the Carrot Cake in my recipe box. I decided this was the perfect time to make it. I will admit the hardest part is grating the carrots, but my husband helped out so it wasn't so bad. Need to get out my food processor next time. I like the carrots finely grated though and wasn't sure the food processor would grate them as finely as I wanted them to be.

I used a sugar free yellow cake mix, but you don't have to if you don't want to. I just try to reduce the amount of sugar when I can. I also used 1/3 less fat cream cheese for the frosting. You don't have to do that either if you don't want to. The cake was really good. Carol said she didn't know if she liked the cake or the frosting better.  The orange juice and lemon peel in the frosting is a really nice surprise.




CARROT CAKE

1       Pillsbury sugar free yellow cake mix
1/2   cup canola oil
2/3  cup orange juice
4      eggs
3      cups grated carrots (1 lb. bag)
2      teaspoons cinnamon
1/2   cup raisins
1/2   cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and dust with flour a 13 x 9 -inch pan.

Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix on low speed til moistened. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and increase speed to medium for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 35 minutes.  Check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake.  It will come out clean when the cake is done.

Cool completely in pan.








FROSTING:

1       stick of margarine, room temperature
8      oz cream cheese, room temperature (1/3 less fat works fine.)
3      cups powdered sugar, sifted
2      teaspoons orange juice
1       teaspoon orange peel

Cream the margarine and cream cheese til smooth with electric mixer.

Add powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange peel and mix til smooth.

Spread on cooled cake.

Sprinkle top with chopped nuts. (I used about 1/4 cup chopped nuts.)



Store in the refrigerator.

Other dishes shared at the gathering:

FRESH BROCCOLI SALAD

BLT MACARONI SALAD


STEVE'S BAKED BEANS

Saturday, March 15, 2014

SLIMMED-DOWN TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE






SLIMMED-DOWN TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

1        Pillsbury Moist Supreme Sugar Free Devil's Food cake mix
1        small package Instant Sugar Free chocolate pudding mix
1        cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
4        eggs
1/2     cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2     cup warm water
1        teaspoon vanilla
1        cup dark chocolate chips (60%  cacao bittersweet chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients but the chips in a large mixing bowl.  Beat on low to moistened all the ingredients.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. 

Scrape the sides of the bowl again and add the chips on low til mixed in.

Pour into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes.



Cool cake for 10 minutes in pan before turning out to a cake plate.



I chose to enjoy the cake as you see it.  You can sift some confectioners' sugar over the top before serving if you like.
















I slimmed down Jen's recipe for Skinny chocolate Bundt cake from Yummy Healthy Easy.  I always substitute a sugar-free cake mix when I can.  I also reduced the fat by using non-fat Greek yogurt. Using a natural unsweetened applesauce will also reduce the calories.  My version could be labeled sugar free if I left out the chocolate chips.  But who wants to do that.  The 60% cacao bittersweet chips only have 5 grams of sugar in 20 chips.  So that does help.  Janice's husband told me this was the best thing I had brought him to eat.  I do think it is the best chocolate "thing" I have made.

I am currently working on two quilting/sewing projects.  Thought I would give you a "teaser" re them.  


This is a table runner I am making.  I actually have the top finished. Just need to choose the print I will be using for the backing.




After making the Quilt of Valour for Wounded Warrior, the Northland New Neighbors quilting group has decided to make baby quilts for Project Linus.  When we found out we could make "rag quilts", I decided to make a couple of them and teach Janice and Fran how to make them.  They really are easy.  It was so much fun picking out the material for them.  This is the first one I am working on. You can see how simple it is to make a rag quilt HERE.