Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween Treaties!

The simplest things can make Halloween Treats so special for the little goblins in your life!

Moon Pie Pops

Just take your store bought Moon Pies and embellish them with sprinkles, candy or cake decorations. Use melted chocolate as "glue" and you're almost done. Wrap with cellophane - add a ribbon and voila'!

Melt chocolate chips by adding 1 tsp cooking oil per 1/2 bag of chips. Microwave 30 seconds, stir, repeat. Don't over cook the chocolate. If two cycles of stirring does not melt your chips, give it another 10 seconds and stir again. Add to a zip lock bag. Cut off the corner tip and you can pipe it onto the moon pies. Let decorations set completely before wrapping.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crock Pot Soups!

Hoppin' John Soup
A local restaurant serves this daily and I just can't get enough of it!

1 lb browned country sausage
1 pkg of black eye peas (soaked) or 4 cans of shelf canned black eye peas
4 cups white rice (prepared) any rice or combo you choose will be fine
1/2 medium onion chopped and sauteed(or a healthy dash of onion flakes is fine too)
1/2 cup sauteed finely chopped celery (optional)
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Mix browned, drained sausage with white rice, sauteed veggies and seasonings, cover with water and cook on low for 4 hours. You will need to adjust Greek Seasoning, salt and pepper to your taste.

Fantastic with Tabasco sauce and fresh bread!!! Makes great left overs for lunches too!

Chicken Noodle

Does ANYTHING say comfort more than chicken noodle soup? NO! This is so simple and can be ready in less than an hour but I prefer to let it simmer about 60 minutes to let the flavors really intensify.

2 cans chopped chicken (or you can chop a deli prepared chicken or bake the thing yourself - no skin)
1 package wide egg noodles
2 cans diced or crinkle cut carrots (crinkle cut presents so much prettier but little guys like diced)
1/2 sleeve of celery, diced fine and sauteed until tender.
2 boxes of chicken stock (any variety is fine)

Prepare noodles as directed and rinse with cold water to stop the starches from making your noodles sticky when done. Drain and add to chicken, carrots, celery and chicken stock. Cover and cook on high for an hour...serve with saltines (of course).

This is hard to freeze as that pasta doesn't always come back as fresh from the freezer...but you'll rarely have left overs so it's no worry!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breakfast Bakes

Bacon Crouton Breakfast Bake
4-1/2 cups seasoned croutons
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained (may omit)
8 eggs
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Sprinkle the croutons, cheese, onion, peppers and mushrooms into two greased 8-in. square baking dishes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, mustard and pepper. Slowly pour over vegetables. Sprinkle with bacon.

Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Bake the second casserole, uncovered, at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

To use frozen casserole: Completely thaw in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Yield: 2 casseroles (6-8 servings each).

I leave out the mushrooms but you can adjust veggies to suit.

Ham and Cheese Braid
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent roll dough
4 ounces cooked ham, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Beat milk and cream cheese together until smooth. Mix in eggs, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium high heat and cook egg mixture until eggs are almost set.

Arrange the crescent rolls from one package into a rectangle shape on top of a lightly greased cookie sheet. Place rolls from remaining package along the edges of the two long sides of the rectangle, with the broad half of the rolls on top of the first layer of rolls, and the pointed ends extending over the sides of the pan.

Arrange the ham in a layer down the center of the dough. Spoon the cooked egg mixture on top of the ham and then sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of the eggs. Bring the corners of the rolls together over the cheese to form a 'braid' shape.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and rolls are golden brown.

This really presents pretty and is very portable. Excellent for taking to the will NOT have any left overs by lunch time!

Country Gravy Breakfast Casserole
1 roll (12 ounces) breakfast sausage
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 package country or sausage gravy mix
6 slices bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cook crumbled sausage in large skillet on medium heat until brown, stirring occasionally. Drain sausage. Spread in lightly greased 11x7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over sausage.

Beat eggs, water, milk and Gravy Mix in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Pour over cheese. Arrange bread cubes evenly over mixture. Drizzle butter over bread, if desired. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake, uncovered, 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate unbaked casserole overnight. Bake, uncovered, in preheated 325°F oven 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Yes, I cheat and use gravy mix. Of all the things I never learned to do well, I cannot make gravy! I've tried many times and get something that will hold bricks together nicely or a glob that will kill a trash disposal...but NEVER gravy. I either get frozen starts for a dear friend or use a mix. Please forgive my Southern Sin!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Sandwiches

Sunday Sandwiches are a GREAT way to celebrate your favorite sport or just provide an easy dinner that the whole family will enjoy.

Bacon Jack Chicken Sandwich
per sandwich:
2 slices of bacon, browned and drained
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 bun sliced (any variety of bun is fine - use your favorite)
1 slice pepper jack cheese
1 slice tomato
lettuce leaves
dill pickle slices

Rub chicken with poultry seasoning, grill six minutes per side (or until no longer pink in the center), top with bacon and cheese, return to grill until cheese melts. Serve on a bun with toppings and your favorite condiments...I like just mayonnaise, you can use whatever you wish.

Classic Ruben Sandwich
makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices pumpernickel bread
1/2 cup Russian dressing
4 Tbl butter
1 lb corned beef (thinly sliced)
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 lb sauerkraut (drained well)
Spread 4 bread slices with butter and 4 bread slices with Russian dressing. Use the dressing topped slices as a base and layer with Swiss cheese, corned beef, sauerkraut and another slice of Swiss, then top with buttered slice of bread. Wrap sandwich tightly in aluminum foil. Bake at 425* for 15 minutes. Super yummy, easy and almost no clean up required.

Muffuletta (from N'Awlins Ya'll)

1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, crushed
1/2 cup drained kalamata olives, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup roughly chopped pickled cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped carrot
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained
1/4 cup marinated cocktail onions
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
2 (1 pound) loaves Italian bread
8 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
8 ounces thinly sliced cooked ham
8 ounces sliced mortadella (spicy Italian bologna)
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese

To Make Olive Salad: In a medium bowl, combine the green olives, kalamata olives, garlic, cauliflower, capers, celery, carrot, pepperoncini, cocktail onions, celery seed, oregano, basil, black pepper, vinegar, olive oil and canola oil. Mix together and transfer mixture into a glass jar (or other nonreactive container). If needed, pour in more oil to cover. Cover jar or container and refrigerate at least overnight.

To Make Sandwiches: Cut loaves of bread in half horizontally; hollow out some of the excess bread to make room for filling. Spread each piece of bread with equal amounts olive salad, including oil. Layer 'bottom half' of each loaf with 1/2 of the salami, ham, mortadella, mozzarella and Provolone. Replace 'top half' on each loaf and cut sandwich into quarters.

Serve immediately, or wrap tightly and refrigerate for a few hours; this will allow for the flavors to mingle and the olive salad to soak into the bread.

I like the idea of using a large round loaf of bread to make this sandwich a one feeds four idea and is a really authentic N'Awlins look. You may purchase your favorite olive salad at the deli if you'd prefer.

Grilled Pizza Sandwiches
This is a family friendly favorite. You can jazz it up for the grown ups or keep it simple for the kids.
makes 4 sandwiches
8 slices of bread
1 c marinara sauce
2 Tbl butter
4 slices Mozzerella cheese
2 ounces sliced pepperoni

Spread butter on each slice of bread. Place buttered side down on waxed paper. Spread other side of bread with 1 Tablespoon of marinara sauce, layer with pepperoni then top with a slice of Mozzerella and the other slice of bread (butter side facing out). Grill sandwich a couple of minutes on each side in skillet on medium heat (until golden brown). Slice diagonally and serve.

You can jazz this up with your favorite sliced meats and add sliced veggies for a heartier grown up version. You can even switch to Alfredo sauce and use left over grilled chicken with spinach leaves and sliced tomato or avacodo. Use your imagination but I promise, the kids will love this!