Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Artistic Chocolate- To Eat or Not to Eat

Can you tell Valentine's is just around the corner :) ? It's pure torture to see all these articles and pictures of various forms of chocolate over the next few weeks. I especially love the artfully done stuff. I love to admire the colors and the art, but I really love to eat the chocolate too. Such sweet conflict! GT1=10786

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kiffel Cookies

Well, it's time to post about sweets again! Truth be told, I've been yearning to bake something in the past few days, but I haven't had any time with all the activities going on in our house. I made these cookies a few weeks ago after finding the recipe on line. I've seen the recipe in different forms, and even different names. Most recipes have cream cheese in them, which sounds good. Someday I'll try those but for now, I'm very happy with how this recipe turned out. It sounds complicated but it's so easy. I cut the recipe in half and it still makes 2 rolls, which translates into plenty of cookies for our house!


1 pound butter, room temp
3 eggs (it was easier than I thought to use 1 1/2 eggs when I halved the recipe!)
3/4 cups sugar
6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
3 Jars of Baker's Brand Fine Dessert Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar then add eggs. Slowly add flour and baking powder. Add milk, stirring by hand.

Flour surface well. Divide dough into equal portions. Roll out each portion into the shape of a rectangle. Spread filling over entire surface of dough. Roll dough then place roll onto lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle heavily with confectioner's sugar. Cut into cookies.

"Children ask better questions than adults. "May I have a cookie?" "Why is the sky blue?" and "What does a cow say?" are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than "Where's your manuscript?" Why haven't you called?" and "Who's your lawyer?"
-Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Easy Ways to Fight Cancer

I'm always looking for ways to avoid the big "C", especially if it's under my control. It's easy to change my everyday habits and makes me feel like I at least have some say so in my health. I've lost several family members to cancer, and anyway to keep me and my family as healthy as possible is welcome! Of course, it means I may have to lay off those comfort foods :(

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Country Salisbury Steak

I'm still on the comfort food kick. I hope it's not boring anyone, but I can't seem to get out of this phase. And this recipe is helping me stay there. It's so easy to make, it's ridiculous. And it's so good, it has to rank up there in my top 10 of comforting dinners. I paired this with a baked potato and buttered corn. A little overload on the carbs, but some days you just gotta go there!

Country Salisbury Steak

1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef (I used 90% lean)
1 pkg. stuffing mix for chicken
1 1/2 cups water, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 16 oz pkg. sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix meat, stuffing mix, 1 1/4 cups water, and onions until well blended. Shape into six 1/2 inch thick oval patties. Place in sprayed 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking dish.

Bake 25 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees).

Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Add mushrooms, cooking on med-high until lightly browned (stir as needed). Add barbeque sauce and remaning 1/4 cup water. Reduce heat and simmer until heated through, 1-2 minutes. Serve over patties.

Note: This is an easy recipe to make ahead. Complete the steps for the patties and store in fridge. Make sauce right before serving.
Also easy to convert to gf/cf. Replace stuffing with bread crumbs, add parsley, seasoning salt and pepper.

"Did you ever see the customers in health-food stores? They are pale, skinny people who look half dead. In a steak house, you see robust, ruddy people. They're dying, of course, but they look terrific."
-Bill Cosby

Friday, January 18, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

For some reason it has been comfort food week in our house. I haven't been baking as much (burnout from Christmas? Is that possible?! :) Instead, I've been making basic dishes like lasagna, soup and now shepherd's pie. This recipe is a new one I discovered this week. It turned out to be very good. It would be a great weeknight meal and would also be perfect for a frigid winter night. It just gives you that cozy, well fed feeling all over.

Shepherd's Pie

1 pound ground beef
2 cups hot mashed potatoes (instant is fine, just don't add milk)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup beef gravy

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat in a large skillet. Drain any fat.

Mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and garlic until well blended.

Stir vegetables and gravy into meat and spoon into a 9 inch baking dish. Cover with potato mixture (the vegetables mix some with the potatoes- it all gets covered with the cheddar cheese). Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese over potatoes.

Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Note: To make gf/cf, I used soymilk in the potatoes and made gravy with drippings from a turkey (a rotisserie chicken would work or maybe even broth) and thickened it with cornstarch. I replaced the cheddar cheese with slices of rice cheese in slices. I put everything in a separate dish and baked it at the same temp. Just watch it closely cause it bakes a little faster.

"Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed."
-Mark Twain

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Taco Chicken in Foil Packets

Have you ever tried a recipe you thought sounded too simple to be real good? That was this recipe for me. I saw it in a magazine today and happened to have the ingredients on hand. It sounded easy so I threw it together. The first hint that it was going to be delicious was the smell from the oven as it cooked. Oh, yum! The last hint was when it won rave reviews from the family. A definite make again in our house.

Taco Chicken

5 boneless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
1 cup finely shredded Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese or Four Cheese Mexican style Cheese
Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make 5 equal size sheets of foil. Place one chicken breast on each sheet of foil. Sprinkle each chicken breast with taco seasoning mix on both sides. Top with salsa then sprinkle liberally with cheese. Fold foil, bringing up sides to contain liquid as it cooks. Place all packets in a 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Serve with sour cream.

"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it."
-Arnold H. Glasgow

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hey, Old Man!

To my husband,

I know you don't really care about birthdays, but here is your birthday post anyway! I hope for you many blessings this year. Love and kisses, Sweetie!

"Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives."
-Maurice Chevalier

"The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything: the young know everything."
-Oscar Wilde

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
-Abraham Lincoln

Friday, January 11, 2008

Homemade Beef Jerky

My husband loves beef jerky. But he finds it hard to get a hold of stuff that doesn't taste like cardboard. That lead me to try to make homemade beef jerky for him for Christmas. The recipe is so easy but the prep was a bit of a challange (especially since I used two roasts instead of one!). But the end result makes it all so worth it. Since I made so much jerky, we kept it in the freezer and would just take pieces out as we wanted them. Once you start eating this stuff, it's really hard to stop!

Beef Jerky

Use a dehydrator or your oven set at 145 degrees. Heat meat to 160 degrees before the dehydrating process to ensure bacteria is destroyed.

2 to 3 pounds lean meat, cut into 1/4 inch strips (partially freeze meat to make slicing easier)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 pepper
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, well mashed
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Cut beef into strips, set aside. Mix rest of ingredients in a large bowl and add beef. Marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally. When ready to dehydrate, drain liquid. Dry meat on dehydrator or in oven laying in a single layer for about 5 to 10 hours or until meat is pliable, but does not break when bent. Check meat occasionally to remove any fat from surface with a paper towel.
Store jerky in airtight container. If not using immediately, store in freezer to keep fresh.

Here is a good site for guidelines to making jerky:

“A snack now prevents your blood sugar dropping."
-Ian Marber

"If you are cooking at home, you are not processing your foods like the snack food companies are."
-Leslie Fink

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rice Noodle Salad

It has been so warm here the last couple of days. I think it was about 70 degrees today. There was no way I was going to fix something hot to eat tonight for dinner so when I saw this recipe, I thought it sounded perfect. It has some prep to it, but throwing it together at the end couldn't have been easier. I changed a few things as well, just to personal taste. I noted all these changes below. If it's warm outside where you are, or you're just in the mood for something light and summery, this is a perfect choice!

Rice Noodle Salad

1 (8.8 oz) package of thin rice noodles
2 cups fresh spinach, cut into strips
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 cup pinapple tidbits
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 green onion, chopped

Sesame Peanut Dressing

1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, carrot, pinapple, cilantro, and onion.

In a blender, combine the dressing ingredients; cover and process until blended. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water; drain well. Add to spinach mixture. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: I made this with chicken to make a complete meal (see pic below). I took 3 chicken breasts and added soy sauce and honey to taste and pan fried them. I slice them thinly and added to the salad at the end. Also, I used carrot sticks instead of shredding carrots. I added more pinapple and left out the onion (didn't have any). I also used lemon juice instead of lime. All these changes and it was still great!

“He that sups upon salad, goes not to bed fasting."
-Thomas Fuller, English clergyman (1608-1661)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Creamy Banana Split Cake

There is something really fun about eating a dessert really meant for summer in the middle of winter. One bite of this creamy, fruity treat, and those hot, steamy days meant for picnics by a lake come rushing into memory, Plus it really does taste like a banana split. Cool! And to think I made it to use up yet another bunch of ripening bananas!

Banana Split Cake

1 stick butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 eggs (I used Egg Beaters, just for food safety)
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 can crushed pinapple, drained
2 cups confectioner's sugar
5 bananas
1 container Cool Whip
1 jar maraschino cherries, chopped
1 cup chopped nuts
Lemon juice

Combine 1 stick melted butter and graham crackers. Grease 13 inch pan (I used a 9x13 glass pan) and press mixture into the bottom. Combine eggs, 1 1/2 stick softened butter, and confectioner's sugar. Beat for 15 minutes (a long time- I think I did more like 10 min). Slice bananas and dip each piece iin lemon juice. Make layers of filling, bananas, pinapple, and Cool Whip over crust. Top with nuts and cherries. Chill. Cut into squares and serve.

Note: I make my own "cool whip" by beating a container of heavy whipping cream until stiff, adding sugar to taste.

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Diet? What diet? Ugh, sorry to say that I really wish I could say that! I thought I did pretty well holding back this year with the cookies and all, but the tightness of my jeans tell me different. But that doesn't mean I can't talk about sweets or even blog about them. And I wanted to start off the new year with one of my favorite sweets- Buckeyes. Now if you've even seen a real buckeye, you can see the similarities. But I have also heard these called Easter Eggs too. They probably have a few more names, but whatever you call them, they are a dream to make and especially to eat. I can never stop at one...


3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 pound butter, at room temp
1 3-ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 pound milk or semi sweet chocolate, melted with 1 Tablespoon shortening

Mix butter and cream cheese until creamy. Add powdered sugar until mixed. Add peanut butter. Mix well. Form into balls and dip into chocolate to coat halfway ( I use a toothpick to dip). Place tray in fridge until set. Store in refrigerator.

"When I buy cookies I eat just four and throw the rest away. But first I spray them with Raid so I won't dig them out of the garbage later. Be careful, though, because that Raid really doesn't taste that bad."
-Janette Barber

"I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is fourteen days."
-Totie Fields

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope this year brings happiness, health and most of all, hope for the future.