April 30, 2011

Tempting Taco Pasta

I think it's fairly obvious to everyone that my family loves pasta.  It's our main staple...that and the local Wendy's Restaurant.
This recipe is one my husband really likes and bugs me to make  {he doesn't want to make it himself, he claims it has many steps-seriously sad}  when I say we have nothing edible in the house.  It's a great "pantry staples" meal.  You know, one of those recipes created using items you generally always have in your pantry...if your organized...and creative...and have a good memory...
8 oz. pasta like elbow, shell, rigatoni, etc.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2. diced onion
1 (10.25 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (1.25 oz.) packet taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 c. cheddar jack cheese, shredded
1 c. tortilla chips, crushed
1/2 c. sour cream (optional)
1/4 c. chopped green onion (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions until barely al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet brown the ground beef and diced onion until the beef is no longer pink. Drain off grease.  Stir in the tomato soup, canned tomatoes and taco seasoning. 
Drain pasta and stir into the beef mixture.
Spoon the pasta mix into a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been lightly coated with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over the top and then cover with the shredded cheese. 
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is melted and very slightly browned.
Serve with sour cream and green onions if desired.

Recipe source: Allrecipes.com

April 26, 2011

Deep Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake

The name of this recipe says it all!

1 (18.25 oz.) box chocolate cake mix (I used double fudge)
1 packet Starbucks Via instant coffee (optional)
3 eggs, divided
1 c. butter (no substitutions) melted, divided (melt each stick separately)
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. baking cocoa powder
1 (16 oz.) bag powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degree's.
Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick spray.  In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, 1 eggs, the instant coffee powder and 1/2 c. melted butter, stir with a fork until well blended.  Pat into the bottom on the prepared baking dish.
In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the 2 remaining eggs and cocoa powder.  Mix on low speed.  Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, and continue beating until it is well mixed.  Add the melted butter and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth.  Stir in the chopped nuts and spread over the cake crust.
Bake 45-50 minutes. The cake is finished when the center still appears a bit gooey.  Let the cake partially cool on a wire rack before cutting.  This is a great cake, and it is divine served with a good quality vanilla ice cream.

NOTE:  Adding the coffee powder to the cake mix will not add a strong coffee flavor.  It really serves to enhance the chocolate and make the cake a bit deeper and richer in flavor.

April 24, 2011

Homemade Sourdough Bread-ya baby!

I took a little time off from my epic bread making saga because I thought I might have a break down from all the epic fails (just kidding, I just don't take failure very well), BUT I HAVE FINALLY MADE A LOAF OF BREAD THAT I AM HAPPY WITH!!!
I found the recipe for the sourdough starter and bread at http://www.oursevendwarfs.com
You can find my sour dough starter post here:

 Sourdough Bread
1 c. sourdough starter
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
6 c. flour
4 Tbsp. melted butter 
(Shannon and Jill say this ingredient is optional, but for me, it's not optional and no substitution allowed!)

Mix the 1 c. sourdough starter, the water, salt, sugar, and oil together in a large bowl.  Add the flour, and mix well.  Lightly oil the dough and inside of the bowl, cover and let rise overnight (I like this part, leaving it overnight-seems to agree with my baking skills more).
The following morning, knead the dough for a few minutes (I did this for about 2-3 minutes, using a bit of flour to keep the dough from sticking, kneading until the dough smooth).  Divide the dough in 1/2 and place in 2 greased bread pans.  Allow the dough to rise until double in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the 4 Tbsp of melted butter equally over the two loaves, lightly brushing to cover top of dough (another good part).  Bake 40-45 minutes or until the bread is a light golden brown.
Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.


This was awesome bread!  I have to make the recipe a couple more times before I feel I have begun to master bread baking, but I must admit I did a little happy dance when the loaves turned out so well ~yay me!

Recipe source:  Our Seven Dwarfs-Sourdough Bread

April 23, 2011

Sour Dough Bread Starter

This is a recipe I got from OurSevenDwarfs.com, along with a fabulous recipe for sourdough bread! I followed the directions carefully and discovered that having a sourdough starter to take care of was not nearly the work I thought it would be. Awesome!

3 Tbsp. instant mashed potato flakes
3 Tbsp. white sugar
1 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)

Day 1:
Combine the potato flakes, sugar, water and yeast in a covered container with a tight lid. Let the container sit on the counter for the next 5 days, but be sure to stir the mix every day using a wooden or plastic spoon.  Do not use a metal bowl or utensils to mix the starter, the metal seems to affect the yeast adversely.
Day 5:
In the morning of the 5th day, feed the starter with
3 Tbsp. instant potato flakes
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. warm water

Again leave on the counter.  In the evening remove 1 c. of starter from the container, to use for your sour dough bread.  Refrigerate the remaining starter.

If you can not use the cup of removed starter, simply discard it and continue to feed your starter every 5 days.

Thanks to Jill and Shannon at Oursevendwarfs.com-this is a great recipe!

And here is the link to my sour dough bread recipe:  Sour dough bread

April 12, 2011

Black and Tan Mousse Truffles

Years ago my Great Aunt Edythe brought these candies to a party and it was love at first bite!
Wasn't she beautiful?
 I must warn you, start eating these and you will never be the same...
I have made exactly 1 change to the original recipe...

2 (7 oz.) Hershey Chocolate candy bars (plain or almond)
3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips, optional  
(my 1 change to the original recipe)
1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
(I have found Cool Whip brand holds up the best in this recipe)
2 c. Vanilla Wafer cookies, finely crushed
(or 1 c. vanilla cookies and 1 c. Oreo cookies, finely crushed) 
I did not have the chocolate chips or Oreo cookies in this photo since they are not part of the original recipe.
Break the 2 candy bars into small pieces.  In the top of a double boiler melt the candy bars and chocolate chips over simmering water, stirring often until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl or pan from the double boiler and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  Fold in the frozen whipped topping, making sure it is well incorporated.
Sorry about the poor quality of this photo, my hands were shaking with anticipation-lol
Cover the truffle mix lightly with foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Mix will become thick and kind of stiff. (I like to chill the candy overnight)

Place the crushed cookies into 2 separate shallow bowls or pie pans.
Drop the cold chocolate mix by teaspoonfuls into the cookie crumbs, roll around to coat well, then roll in your hands to form a smooth ball. Re-roll in the crumbs again if the candy needs a better coating. 
Place onto a baking tray that has been covered with a piece of wax paper.

Store in the refrigerator....if they last long enough to be stored!

April 8, 2011

Versatile~all purpose Teriyaki Sauce

I am not a fan of bottled or packaged teriyaki sauces.  They are either too sweet or kind of bitter, they just never seem to taste right to me.
Here is a recipe I have used for ages and adapted over the years to suit my families particular likes.  This recipe will keep for several weeks stored in your fridge.
2 c. cool water
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
2/3 c. soy sauce
1 tsp. crushed garlic from a jar (or about 2 tsp. powdered garlic)
1/2 tsp. crushed ginger from a jar
4 Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

In a medium size mixing bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk together until sugar is dissolved. Make sure the corn starch has been very well mixed in.  Pour mix into a medium size stock pan, and bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly.  Allow the sauce to cook on a low boil until thickened.  The sauce naturally darkens as it heats.  Remove from the heat, and use with your favorite dishes, or as a dip for potstickers, eggrolls, and other yummy things. Stir in sesame seeds if desired. You can also add rice vinegar or sesame oil to change the flavors up.

I use this sauce (all the time) often when I need a quick meal.  I cook some rice in my rice steamer, throw some frozen cooked shrimp into a skillet with chopped green onions and frozen broccoli, add about 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes.  Remove the lid, add the teriyaki sauce, heat again and serve over the rice!  I do the same thing with leftover chicken too.  I love how quickly the meal can come together.  Give this recipe a try.

April 5, 2011

Square Spaghetti

Recently, I decided to take the plunge and start sorting through the stacks and stacks of recipes I have clipped, written down, printed or marked in books, and do some major weeding out.
This turned out to be a harder task than I first thought because, as I started reading through them I wanted to make everything!  I did find some old loved recipes I haven't thought of in several years, and I was really thrilled to find these long forgotten friends.
This recipe is one I hadn't made for several years.  My son has always been a very picky eater, often really challenging my imagination and my tolerance-lol. This was one food he liked and named when he was around 4 years old, and the name has stuck with us...In the last couple of weeks I have baked this up 3 times - by popular demand! 
It's quick and simple, and easily divided in 1/2 for a smaller family.  Just make the regular recipe, but divide into 2 baking dishes and freeze one!  Thaw the frozen dish completely in the fridge before baking as the regular instructions state.

1 lb. spaghetti
1/3 c. butter, cut into small chunks
1 c. Parmesan cheese (fresh or bottled)
4 eggs, beaten well
1 (24 oz.) container small curd cottage cheese
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1/2 c. Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degree's.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions until barely al dente.  Drain the pasta but do not rinse.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter chunks and toss the pasta until the butter has melted and all the noodles are covered.  
Pour in the beaten eggs and the 1 c. Parmesan cheese.  toss again until well mixed then transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a non-stick coating (at this point you can divide the pasta between two 8 x 8 baking dishes if desired).  
Pour spaghetti sauce over the noodles spreading evenly over the pasta.  
Next place the cottage cheese in large spoonfuls over the pasta sauce and then spread evenly.  Sprinkle the 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese over the top.  
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese, return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes.  
Let the pasta dish cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

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