Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch

This is our family's very favorite Chex mix. Sometimes it's kind of hard to find the Chocolate Chex and when I finally do, our youngest daughter likes to eat it, but she's always asking me when I'm going to make this again. I made it last week to take to a friend that allowed us to view the local parade from her yard. I hope she liked it as much as our kids enjoyed the little part that we kept! This recipe was on the box when they first came out with the Chocolate Chex, but I noticed that it isn't any longer. 

Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch

8 Cups Chocolate Chex cereal (pretty much the whole box!)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tablespoons butter or margarine
3 Tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup white vanilla baking chips

Using a large microwavable bowl, place cereal and set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Use a 2-cup microwavable bowl or measuring cup for the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Microwave uncovered on High for 2 minutes, stir after 1 minute, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in the baking soda until it's dissolved (I'm not sure what the baking soda does in this recipe, but I've left it out before and still had it turn out great!) Pour mixture over the cereal until evenly coated. Microwave the mixture for 3 minutes, stirring after every minute. Spread mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Break into bite size pieces into your serving bowl. I like to use a wider bowl, that way you can put more white chocolate on top, that's the best part!

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the vanilla baking chips uncovered on high, I like to do this part gently, because it doesn't take a whole lot of heat to kill the vanilla chips. I do about 30 second intervals, stirring between. Sometimes I also use dark chocolate chips, that's pretty awesome too! You want the vanilla chips to be drizzalable, drizzle the chocolate onto the cereal mixture and refrigerate until set.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Oven Fries

I just realized that I really haven't done any kind of side dish recipes on this blog. I guess I'll have to fix that. These fries are an amazing side dish to start with! I found the recipe in a Cook's Illustrated magazine and have been meaning to try them for months. I'm glad that I finally did. I'm pretty sure that I'll be making these often, they are almost as easy as pulling a bag of frozen fries from the freezer and baking them! I halved the recipe and we had enough for our family of four even still. The recipe calls for cutting the potatoes into even wedges, not really a talent of mine, but they still turned out perfectly!

Oven Fries
Cooks Illustrated All-Time Best Recipes pg 52

2 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 10-12 even wedges
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper

Adjust your oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place the sliced potatoes in a large bowl and cover with hot tap water. Allow to soak for 10 minutes to get rid of starchiness. While the potatoes are soaking, prepare your baking sheets. I used just my regular baking sheets, the recipe calls for heavy duty, but mine turned out just fine with my regular ones. Spread 4 tablespoons of oil evenly across the surface of the baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Line a second baking sheet with three layers of paper towels.

When the soaking time is finished, drain the potatoes and place in a single layer on the paper-towel lined baking sheet. Rinse and dry out the bowl and set aside to use again in a minute. Pat potatoes dry with more paper towels. When the potatoes are dry, place in the rinsed bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Arrange the oiled potatoes evenly on the oiled baking sheet and cover the whole thing with aluminum foil, very tightly. Place on the lowest rack in your oven and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake for about 10 minutes more and then flip the potatoes for even baking. Continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden and crisp. Rotate the pan if you need to so that none of the potatoes burn. 

Line your extra baking sheet again with a triple layer of paper towels. Transfer the baked fries to this sheet to get rid of any extra oil. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sloppy Joes

This is a recipe I've been making for a really long time. I found it in a Taste of Home magazine years ago. I really enjoy these Sloppy Joes. They are simple to make and I always have all of the ingredients on hand to make them. I always half the recipe and it's the perfect amount for our family to have these and have left-overs one time. 

Sloppy Joes

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
hamburger buns (10-12)

In a Dutch oven (I don't have one, I use a slow cooker like this one), brown ground beef with the onion over medium heat, just until meat is no longer pink. Drain, I usually use 93% lean ground beef, so I never need to drain it. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the hamburger buns. Bring mixture to a boil. After it boils, simmer uncovered for about 35 to 40 minutes. Spoon desired amount onto buns and serve.  I usually serve with a potato of some kind, either mashed or fries and a vegetable. Come back next week to see the awesome oven fries that I made to go with this!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Skillet Lasagne

I've posted so many dessert recipes lately that I decided it was time for something different. This was dinner last night, it came together quickly, it was awesome, my family really enjoyed it! This is an awesome recipe to add to your dinner rotation, I halved the recipe for our family and served it with garlic bread sticks.

Skillet Lasagne
adapted from Six Sisters Stuff pg 11

1 pound lean ground beef
1 (12 ounce) package bow tie noodles
1 (26 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or to taste)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (get the grated kind) 
1/2 cup sour cream

Start water boiling for the pasta, cook according to the directions on the package. Meanwhile, brown the hamburger. When the hamburger is browned, add marinara, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, sour cream and the cheeses allow to cook for about 5 minutes until the cheeses are melted into the mixture. When the pasta is cooked mix with the olive oil and add to the hamburger mixture. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Homemade Oreos

We've been having a heatwave here in Utah. Of course our air conditioning had to go out on the hottest day of the year. Our youngest daughter had planned to have these homemade Oreos for over a week, but the day happened to be the day that our air conditioner needed fixed and it was 103 degrees. Not wanting to heat up our house even more than it already was, I tried to talk her out of making these, but no such luck. Luckily, they were worth turning on the oven and making them. The original recipe calls for you to use your hands to shape the cookies, but the dough was super sticky and that didn't work at all (maybe it was simply too hot in our house!). I recommend using a small ice cream style scooper and not filling it all the way full.

Homemade Oreo Cookies
Favorite Family Recipes pg 238

2 packages devil's food cake mix
3/4 cup shortening or margarine, softened
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cake mix, margarine or shortening, eggs and vanilla. I tried to do this just in a bowl with a whisk, but this is a really thick mixture, it really needed the stand mixer. The dough will turn out really thick. Use a small scoop, not quite full and scoop onto a tray prepared with parchment paper (makes clean up super easy!).  Bake for 8-10 minutes, careful not to over-bake. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Yummy cookies waiting for frosting!
For the frosting, cream together the cream cheese and margarine or butter and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, just until the frosting becomes a nice spreading consistency. At Cutlers, we like the knife to be able to stand in the frosting when you just sit it there. I used about 3 cups of powdered sugar. Put cookies together with cookies on the edges and frosting in the middle.

Something really awesome about these cookies is the way that they can be flavored pretty much anything you want them to be. You could make a mint frosting, raspberry (my personal fav), German chocolate frosting...the possibilities truly are endless!