Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slow Cooker Bean & Bacon Soup

Lynn at happier than a pig in mud posted this wonderful recipe recently and it looked so good that I just had to make it.  Lynn and her sous chef, Earl,  have some great recipes, which you really need to check out.  You can check out Lynn's recipe  here. 
The only thing that I did differently is to use my slow cooker.  I have a slow cooker that you can take off at the base & brown things on the stove top.  I wanted to get this soup ready earlier in the day & have it cook all afternoon.  Here's the slow cooker, slightly adapted version:

4 slices bacon
2-3 large carrots, peeled & chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
3 cans white beans (such as Great Northern), drained & rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
1 T. dried parsley

Fry bacon until crisp.  (I did mine in the microwave).  Remove & set aside.

Over medium heat, add 1 T. oil (if you cooked bacon in microwave, otherwise, use the bacon fat), and add carrots, celery & onion and saute' for about 7 minutes.  Add garlic & saute' about 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add salt & pepper.

Add 2 cans beans, bay leaf,  and chicken  broth.  Cover the slow cooker & cook on low for 8 hours or on medium for 4-5 hours.


For the last 30 minutes,  uncover & remove bay leaf.  Mash the last can of beans & add to the slow cooker, along with the parsley.  Heat through.

Taste for seasoning.  As suggested by Lynn, I added some smoked salt that Michael Lee West, from Foodie Friday sent along with my give-away book that I won & it was wonderful in the soup!!

I am sharing with:

Mix It Up Monday!
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Wow Us Wednesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Link & Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wedding Goblets

Ready for toasting!  I used raffia & ribbon to embellish.
I saw this cute idea at First Monday Trade Days, which is a huge shopping event in Canton, TX.  It is held on a weekend before the first Monday of every month.  The goblets sell for around $15.00 a piece.   Hmmmm, I thought, I think I'll try that!! Our youngest son & his bride-to-be are getting married soon at a ranch in the Texas Hill Country.  I thought that these goblets would fit in perfectly for their special theme.   I am so thrilled that they are going to use these for their wedding toast...so perfect for such a special couple!!!

Here's what you need to make these:

clean jelly jars
clean glass candle holders (Dollar Tree)
glass bond (Hobby Lobby)
re-usable stencils (Hobby Lobby)
Armour Etch glass etching cream (Hobby Lobby)
disposable gloves to protect hands
ribbon, etc. for embellishment

Follow the instructions for etching the stencil onto the glass jelly jar.  You could easily omit this step, if desired.

Attach the candle holder to the jelly jar & let dry 24 hours.  Embellish your goblet however you choose.  I've seen crystals glued on, also.  I would only hand wash these goblets.

Use your coupons at Hobby Lobby.


Use painters tape to secure stencil.
Finished goblet! 

You can also use pint-size canning jars, which would be nice for ice tea!

I am sharing this with:

Make the Scene Monday
Mix It Up Monday!
Metamorphosis Monday
Cozy Home Party
Table Top Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday
Thriving on Thursday
Seasonal Sundays


Friday, February 24, 2012

THE BEST Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Okay, today is my birthday & I am going to share my MOST FAVORITE COOKIE RECIPE IN THE WORLD!!!!  Seriously, if I could choose one cookie to eat every single day of my life, it would be THIS ONE!!   Can you tell that I  LOVE  this cookie??!!  I first tried this heavenly cookie at the Neiman Marcus Cafe.  First of all, NM has an exceptional restaurant, but they also have a cafe that you can just stand in line & order something very quick.  Of course, they sell their famous chocolate chip cookies, but this cookie, in my humble opinion, outshines that one!!  They actually gave me the recipe, but it is also included in the Neiman Marcus Cookbook.  However, the cookbook omits one essential ingredient that the recipe they handed me had & that is vanilla extract.  If you were like me in sampling oatmeal raisin cookies every where you went, trying to find the BEST one, look no further! 
                                                                        
2 sticks butter, softened                                 
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 cups oatmeal
1 & 1/2 cups dark raisins
1 & 1/2 cups golden raisins

Place the butter, brown sugar & sugar in the bowl of electric mixer, fitted with paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds., until the mixture is fluffy.  Turn down the speed to low & add the eggs & the extracts.  Beat for about 30 seconds longer.
In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda & salt.  Add to the mixer, while beating on low speed & beat for about 15 seconds, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides.  Add the oatmeal & raisins & beat for about 15 seconds longer.
(I am going to tell you how I do the next part, which isn't according to the cookbook.)

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough & put onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Refrigerate the cookie balls on the sheets for about an hour.  Gently press out the dough with the back of your hand.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

NOTE:  Often I will put the shaped cookie balls on the baking sheets & put into the freezer.  When the cookie balls are frozen, I transfer them to freezer-proof plastic bags.  When I'm ready for a warm cookie, I take the cookie ball out of the freezer, place it on a small piece of parchment paper, defrost it
in the microwave for  45 seconds & then bake in my toaster oven....hmmmm, not that I do this very often.....  LOL!!!!!
Cookie balls ready for the freezer

Makes about 30 large cookies
The recipe they handed me that I had to cut down to a manageable amount!!

I am sharing this with:
Mix It Up Monday!
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Link 'n Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Panko-Crusted Pork Chops

I had four bone-in pork chops & decided that I wanted to bread them & bake them for a quick meal.  You can actually buy Italian-Style Panko bread crumbs, but since I had a box of regular Panko breadcrumbs, I used those & seasoned them myself.
Crusty, yet moist & delicious chops with sweet potatoes & asparagus

4 bone-in pork chops                                                          
1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs

1 /4 cup Parmesan cheese                                              
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil & spray with cooking spray.

Lightly beat egg in a shallow bowl.

Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese & Italian seasoning in another shallow dish, such as a pie pan.

Dip the pork chops in the egg & then into the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on the foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pork chops reach 145 degrees.
Make sure you spray the foil for easy release!

I am sharing with:

Mix It Up Monday!
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Wow Us Wednesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Link & Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cherry Coffee Cake

This recipe comes from a 1994 issue of Southern Living.  When I first made it, it immediately became a family favorite.  Since President's Day is here, I thought it would be a good choice.  It's a great coffee cake to have anytime.

1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix, divided
1 cup flour
1 package yeast
2/3 cup warm water (120-130 degrees)
2 eggs
1 can cherry pie filling (or any other fruit filling)
1/3 cup butter

Combine 1 & 1/2 cups cake mix, flour, and yeast in a bowl; add warm water, stirring until smooth.  Stir in eggs.

Spoon batter into a greased 13 x 9 x  2-inch pan. (I actually used two pans, an 8" square & a deep dish pie pan.)   Spoon pie filling evenly over batter; set aside.  Cut butter into remaining cake mix with pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over pie filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Drizzle with Glaze, and cut into squares. 

Makes 15-18 servings.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 T. light corn syrup
1 T. water ( may need a little more)

Combine all ingredients; drizzle over cake.
I am sharing with:
Mix It Up Monday!
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Link 'n Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tuxedo Strawberries

I made these cute strawberries for Valentine's Day, but they're really fun & special anytime.  Here's what you need:

                                                                                      
Strawberries
Dark or milk chocolate
(such as Wilton Candy Melts, Ghiradelli chocolate chips, chocolate bark)
White chocolate or bark
wax paper
toothpick

Directions:

Clean your strawberries & dry them.  You don't want any water to get into the melted chocolate or it will seize up.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave on one-minute intervals at 50% power.  Stir & then put back in the microwave again, until melted.  I use a narrow, small microwave-safe glass for melting because it's easier to coat the strawberries when you're doing a small quantity.

Dip your clean, dry strawberry in the white chocolate, coating just the front section. Shake off any extra chocolate.   Put on wax paper to harden.

Next dip the strawberry in the dark or milk chocolate,  coating both sides to form a "V" in the front for the shirt.  Put on the wax paper to harden. 

Using a toothpick, you can put on the buttons for the shirt & make a bow tie at the top.  Let dry.

There you have it...an adorable strawberry decked in a tuxedo!!

I am sharing with:
Mix It Up Monday!
Recipe of the Week
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Link 'n Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pecan Tassies (or Lemon )

These would be perfect with a cup of tea!
These yummy morsels are so addictive & perfect for a party.  In fact, my DIL made them for a shower for our son & future daughter-in-law. They are like mini pecan pies.   Everyone loved them!!

The recipe is slightly adapted from The Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook.

Pastry:                                                                                       
1 (3-ounce) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup flour
dash of salt

Blend together cream cheese, butter, flour, and salt.  Shape into 24 balls; press each ball into miniature muffin tins (press dough into bottom & sides with fingers: do not leave any holes).

Filling:

2 eggs,  beaten
1 cup brown sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
dash of salt
1 cup pecans, chopped

Combine eggs, brown sugar, butter, vanilla & salt.  Mix well (do not beat with beater or tops will be crusty instead of nutty).  Divide pecans evenly in pastry shells, filling two-thirds full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing from pans.  Cool on wire rack. 

Makes 24.

Lemon Tassies:  Substitute white sugar for brown; omit pecans & add 2 T. lemon juice & 1 t. lemon zest.

I am sharing with:
Mix It Up Monday!
Recipe of the Week
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Link 'n Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Monday, February 13, 2012

Strawberry Cake

This recipe is from a dear friend, named Kathryn.  It's delicious any time & easy, because it starts with a cake mix.  If you need a pretty, pink cake, then try this wonderfully moist one.
Pretty pink cupcake topped with Chocolate dipped strawberry!

Cake:

1 box white cake mix
1 pkg. strawberry gelatin
2/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
1 10-ounce box frozen strawberries, thawed & divided
4 eggs

In a mixing bowl, add the cake mix & the strawberry gelatin.  Add the oil & water & beat.  Add 1/2 box  of the strawberries and beat again.  Next add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one. 

Our into a 9 x 13" pan, 2 round cake pans or 24 cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes for the cakes, or about 20 minutes for the cupcakes.  Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Strawberry Icing:

1 stick butter (I replaced this with 4 ounces cream cheese & 1/4 cup softened butter)
1 box of powdered sugar (this equals 3 & 3/4 cups)
the other half of the strawberry box

Mix together and spread on cooled cake.
I am sharing with:
Mix It Up Monday!
Recipe of the Week
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Link 'n Greet Party
Sweets for Saturday
Seasonal Sundays

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chicken Divan

I first tasted this wonderful dish when I was recovering from a hospital stay.  It was sent from a special friend, who is now my son's MIL.  It's a delicious casserole any time, but fabulous for sending comfort food to a family.  Here's the recipe.

1 box frozen chopped broccoli
2 cups cooked chicken, cut up
2 cans cream of chicken soup                                      
1 cup mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice (I use 1/2 lemon)
1/2 t. curry powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I love Panko)
1 T. melted butter
 
Partially cook the broccoli & then drain.  Add this to the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan.  Add the chopped, cooked chicken.

Mix the cream of chicken soups, the mayonnaise, lemon juice & curry powder in a medium bowl.   Put this mixture on top of the chicken.  Sprinkle on the cheese & then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs that have been mixed with the melted butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I am sharing this with:

Mix It Up Monday!
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Wow Us Wednesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Link & Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mini Cheesecakes

If you need a fun, party dessert, these mini cheesecakes are delicious.  The recipe comes from The Texas Experience.   It seems like we all love portion control & these are a real crowd pleaser!!

Pull of the strawberry stem, notch the top & you have a heart!
Cheesecake:
                                                                                        
3 (8 ounce each) pkgs. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
5 eggs
Vanilla wafers

Line muffins tins with cupcake liners & add a vanilla wafer to the bottom of each.

Bring cream cheese to room temperature.  Blend with sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla & eggs.   Fill 3/4 full (I like to use my ice cream scoop for this).  Bake for 40 minutes at 300 degrees.  Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes.

Topping:

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 t. vanilla

Beat all ingredients.  Cover cheesecakes with topping, return to oven for 5 minutes.  Chill.

Variations:

Leave off the topping & substitute 1 can pie filling (cherry, blueberry, etc.)  Cool the cheesecakes & then spoon on the filling.

You also can add a  bit of whipped cream on top of the cooled cheesecakes  & add a fresh strawberry.

Makes 25 mini cheesecakes.

These freeze beautifully, which makes it even greater for party planning!!!

I am sharing with:
                                                                                                                            
Mix It Up Monday!
Recipe of the Week
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage                                                           
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Seasonal Sundays

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sugar Cookies

This recipe is from a local grocery store & it makes the best sugar cookies!  I went to a class & the two ladies that gave it, said that even when they have other chefs come in with their own sugar cookies to demo, they always substitute this one because it never fails.  Here's the recipe:


Ingredients:

3 cups flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 T. milk
powdered sugar for rolling  out dough

To make the dough:

Sift together the flour, baking powder & salt.  Set aside.

Place butter & sugar in large bowl of stand mixer & beat until light in color.  Add egg & milk
& beat to combine.


Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour & beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.    Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper & refrigerate for 2 hours.
 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To make the cookies: 

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.

Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from fridge at a time.  Sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out dough to 1/4" thick.  Move the dough around to make sure it is not sticking. 

Cut into desired shape, place at least 1" apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone     baking mat, and bake for 7-9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking.

Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.  Serve as is or ice as desired.  Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

For icing:  Use a royal icing or some other icing recipe that you prefer.  To make the heart, put a drop of icing in  the center & take a toothpick from the top of the dot & pull it through & down.
       
I am sharing this with:

Mix It Up Monday!
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Rock 'n Share Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Decorating Challenge
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Link 'n Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lunch with Miz Helen

Pat, Miz Helen & Kitty at the Chocolate Angel
Oh my, what an exciting day it was!  My dear friend Pat,  from Pattycakes Cooking & I had lunch at the Chocolate Angel tearoom with Miz Helen from Miz Helen's Country Cottage

 Several months ago, Pat & I had lunch together & we were discussing who we would love to meet in "Blogland".  We both agreed that Miz Helen would be a perfect choice.  E-mails were written & Miz Helen agreed to come to our area since she also has a daughter who lives nearby.  Her sweet husband drove her into town & dropped her off & our friendship began with food, sharing & of course, talking & blogging.

Miz Helen , as one might expect, turned out to be as nice & sweet as she comes across on her blog.  What a great time we had & we all agreed to do this again.  Of course, we all shared a piece of fudge pie...because that's what friend's do!  Isn't it great how food draws people together??!!

When Miz Helen's husband came to pick her up, we were able to meet him & he said the sweetest thing about her! He called her"my angel". Isn't that the best??!! 

Thanks Miz Helen & Pat for a wonderful day!!

I have been blogging less than a year, but I have noticed that I have so many new friends!  Even though I don't get to "see" you, I am able to "visit" you through your blogs.  I see your lovely homes, your beautiful tablescapes, your vignettes,  your fabulous recipes, your wonderful crafts & projects & your unique personalities & kindness.  Bloggers have very giving, sharing spirits.  I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for visiting me! 

Pat had potato leek soup & chicken salad croissant

Miz Helen had fruit cup with poppyseed dressing, scone, artichoke & sundried tomato quiche & salad
I had chicken salad & strawberry pretzel salad  

I am sharing this with:
Mix It Up Monday!
Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Tea Party Tuesday
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Pink Saturday
Sweets for Saturday
Seasonal Sundays


                                                                           

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valentine Outfits

What can you do when little girls have outgrown their pants in length but they still fit around the waist??  You can add a ruffle to the bottom of their pants!!  To go with the pants, I bought a plain tee shirt and added a ruffle to the bottom of it & also  added an applique'  for some more heart decor.  I was able to use extra fabric from other projects, so the recycled part was FREE!! 

All you need to do is cut a length of fabric for the ruffle that you need to make the pants fit in length, adding enough extra for hemming & the seam.  The width can be 1 1/2 times the width of the pant leg.  Do a basting stitch, pull it to fit the pant leg, seam it together & then stitch it onto the bottom of the leg.  For this, I actually tucked it under the leg & stitched it on.  You can use trim on top, if you want.



I am sharing this with:
Pink Saturday
Link & Greet Party
 Seasonal Sundays  
Mix It Up Monday!
Metamorphosis Monday
Your Cozy Home Party
Wow Us Wednesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Thriving on Thursdays

                                                                                                 
                   The girls love their super-cute outfits!!

                           

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mom's Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

I've always loved  my Mom's Vegetable Beef Barley Soup.  It's so comforting on a cold Winter's day. If you never tried barley in a soup, it certainly adds a  creaminess.   My Mom uses beef stew meat, but lately I've been using a pot roast in the soup.  Here's the recipe, if you'd like to give it a try.





a 2-3 pound pot roast (such as arm or chuck)
1 T. oil
1 onion, cut up                                                                                
2-3 celery stalks, cut up (or left whole & taken out later)
1/2 head of cabbage, finely cut
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
2 boxes beef broth (you may need to add some water, if you like it thinner)
3/4 cup barley
1 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1-2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
1 t. dried basil

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil until it shimmers.  Add the meat and brown on both sides.  Add all the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil & then cover & simmer all day.  I actually cover the pot & put in a 225 degree oven & cook all day.  If you'd rather, you can  put it in a slow cooker & cook on low all day.

When the meat is tender, take it out & put it on a cutting board to let cool until you can cut it up into bite-size portions.  Add back to the pot.  Take out the bay leaves.  Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

I am sharing this with:

Mix It Up Monday!
Table Top Tuesday
Your Cozy Home Party
Wow Us Wednesday
Rock 'n Share Party
Full Plate Thursday
Thriving on Thursdays
Foodie Friday
Link & Greet Party
Seasonal Sundays
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