Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beef Broccoli

Pin It I love Chinese food.  I love how quick it is to cook and how amazing the leftovers are for lunch the next day.  I like to try to make it healthier by using reduced sodium soy sauce and loading up on lots of veggies.  This entire meal was finished in less than 30 minutes.  This would be great for a busy weeknight, but your family will be super impressed.

Beef Broccoli
Adapted from Six Sister's Stuff
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 lb thinly sliced sirloin or flank steak, sliced into strips
2 cups cooked broccoli, fresh or frozen
cooked rice for serving
green onions, chopped

1. In a large skillet heat oil.  Add garlic and ginger and saute for about 1 minute (watch closely).
2. Add soy sauce and water.  Dissolve brown sugar in the sauce and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2-3 minutes.
3. Dissolve corn starch in 2 Tbsp water and pour into the sauce for the final 30 seconds.  This will help thicken the sauce.  Remove sauce from heat.
4. Cook steak strips in a skillet until cooked through.
5. Add steak and cooked broccoli to the sauce skillet.  Return to low heat until ready to serve.
6. Serve over rice with green onions for garnish.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

Pin It I think my quest for soft chocolate chip cookies has finally ended.  I know I've said that before, but these cookies remain soft even after several days.  The secret ingredient is a box of instant pudding mix.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  These cookies are moist, chewy and delicious.  I will definitely be making these again soon and probably experimenting with some new pudding flavors too.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
Original recipe from See Jane Cook
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars, add pudding mix until blended.
3. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda with a whisk then add it to the butter mixture.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6.  Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crock Pot Apple Pork Loin

Pin It It's apple season and I have lots of apples at my house from a recent apple picking trip.  According to my husband this pork is "lick the plate" good.  It is also probably one of the easiest crockpot recipes I have ever made.  The apples almost melt away and make a nice sauce for the pork.  I was worried that the honey would make this too sweet for a dinner item, but I didn't notice much sweetness at all.  Go get some apples and make this delicious dinner!

This recipe was shared at Six Sisters' Stuff Link Party.

Crock Pot Apple Pork Loin
2 lb boneless pork loin (mine was slightly smaller and worked just fine)
2-3 Jonathan apples, thinly sliced (or any variety of apple you want)
2 Tbsp honey
garlic, salt, pepper

1. Slice slits 3/4 of the way through the pork, 1 inch apart.
2. Place 1 apple slice in each of the slits.
3. Season pork with garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Lay a layer of apple slices on the bottom of your crock pot.
5. Place the pork on top of the apples and drizzle the honey on top.  6. Layer the remaining apples on top of the pork.
7. Pour 1/2 - 1 cup of water into the crock pot or until it is about 1/2 inch deep.  This will keep the pork from drying out and help create a sauce.
8. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. 
**I cooked mine for 8 hours on low and it was fork tender and fell apart like pulled pork

Monday, August 20, 2012

Snickers Dip

Pin It My friends and I recently had wine and dine night and I was in charge of an appetizer/snack item.  I wanted something sweet, but didn't want something heavy like a baked good.  This dip is to die for!  I was tempted to just eat it by the spoonful, but refrained so that there would be some to actually take with me.  This is definitely a keeper!

Snickers Dip
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 8 oz container whipped topping
1 regular size Snickers bar, finely chopped

1. Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth. 
2. Fold in whipped topping until well mixed.
3. Stir in Snickers.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. Serve with pretzels or graham crackers

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loaded Smashed Potatoes

Pin It I was on a baked potato kick and made them multiple times in one week.  Then my husband spoke up and asked for a little variety.  That's where these puppies came from.  I used the same technique as smashed potatoes, and just added some toppings.  They were phenomenal.  I could have made an entire meal of just these potatoes (and I just might one of these days).

Loaded Smashed Potatoes
*makes 6 side dish servings
2 large baking potatoes, cut into thirds (so you have 3 thick round chunks)
seasoned salt
shredded cheddar
bacon bits
green onions, chopped

1. Boil potatoes until fork tender.  Transfer potatoes to a foil lined broiler pan.
2. Smash each potato flat with a potato masher.
3. Place a small dab of butter on each potato, season with seasoned salt.
4. Sprinkle on cheddar and bacon bits.
5. Place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
6. Top with green onions before serving.

**These were delicious served with sour cream

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cheddar Beer Dip

Pin It Looking for a super simple, fast, crowd pleasing appetizer to take to your next gathering?  This dip just might be the answer.  It can be whipped up in about 5 minutes and it is sure to get gobbled up quickly.  I'm also going to keep this one in mind for Super Bowl parties.

Cheddar Beer Dip
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 packet ranch dressing mix
6 oz. beer (1/2 can)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping

Pretzels, carrot sticks, crackers for dipping

1. Combine cream cheese, sour cream and ranch  mix until smooth.
2. Stir in beer until well incorporated (using a hand mixer will speed this up).
3. Fold in cheddar cheese.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Tastes best when allowed to sit overnight in fridge.
5. Top with extra cheese before serving.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Pin It Yes, that decadent piece of cake contains vegetables and yes, it is just as delicious as it looks. The zucchini dissolves into the cake when it bakes and makes it nice and moist.   I got a giant zucchini from my grandma and needed to do something with it before it went bad.  I made this cake a while ago and got rave reviews so I found the recipe and made it again.  It was just as good the second time around.  I like the added bonus of getting some veggies for dessert.  I was even able to trick Albert into eating some.   You could definitely get kids to eat this without them knowing there was a vegetable hiding in it.  Enjoy!

Recipe shared at Strut Your Stuff Saturday and Weekend Potluck.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Original recipe from King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour **or omit and use 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules **optional
3 cups shredded zucchini (about one 10" zucchini)  * I used the shredder blade on my food processor
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until smooth.
3. Beat in the eggs.
4.Stir in the sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt alternately with the flour.
5..Add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth.
6. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into greased 9x13 pan.
7. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back when touched.

8. To ice the cake: Slide the cake out of the oven, sprinkle it evenly with the 1 cup chocolate chips, and return it to the oven for 5 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven, and use a cake spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate chips into a smooth glaze. Cool on a rack.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Mango Salsa

Pin It When it is so unbearably hot outside you have to have some cool snacks on hand.  This salsa is perfect for the dog days of summer!  It is sweet, tangy, crisp and refreshing.  This would be great to bring to a potluck or to enjoy by the pool.  Kids would love it too.

Summer Mango Salsa
1 ripe mango, diced
2 cups strawberries, diced
juice of 1 lime
6-10 mint leaves, thinly sliced (could substitute basil leaves or omit completely)

Cinnamon pita chips

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
2. Enjoy with cinnamon pita chips or dipper of your choice.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Steak Fajitas

Pin It I love the sizzle of fajitas cooking.  I also love how fast you can whip up an entire dinner when making them.  I marinated my steak for a few hours before cooking to help tenderize it and it worked wonders on my cheap cut of steak.  These were bursting with flavor from the marinated steak and the fresh veggies.

Steak Fajitas
1 lb thin cut steak
1/2 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano

2 bell peppers, cut into strips
1 large white onion, sliced

flour tortillas

Optional toppings:
sour cream
shredded cheese
fresh cilantro leaves

1. Place steak, lime juice, oil and spices in a gallon size zip top bag, squeeze it a bit to mix everything together, and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour before cooking.
2. Remove steak from bag and pat dry with a paper towel.  Cook steak in a skillet over medium high heat about 3 minutes on each side or until deisred doneness. 
3. Remove steak from skillet and set aside.  In same skillet saute peppers and onions until starting to get tender and browned.
4. Slice steak into thin strips against the grain and return to the skillet.  Toss with peppers and onions.
5. Serve in warm flour tortillas with toppings of your choice.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

BBQ Chicken Salad

Pin It I love BBQ chicken pizza.  If it is on a menu, I will order it.  So when I had some leftover BBQ chicken I was really tempted to make a pizza, but I was short on time and I decided that I could probably make a healthier choice. I decided on a salad.  It has all of the ingredients from a BBQ chicken pizza (minus the crust) with a delicious BBQ ranch dressing.  Healthy, yet satisfying.

BBQ Chicken Salad
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled and basted with BBQ sauce
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Red onion, sliced
Red pepper, diced
shredded cheddar cheese

BBQ Ranch Dressing
2 Tbsp ranch dressing
1 Tbsp BBQ sauce

1. Arrange salad ingredients in a bowl.
2. Mix dressing ingredients together until uniform in color.
3. Pour dressing over salad

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Favorite Pasta Salad

Pin It My first job was working for a catering company.  This was their most popular side dish.  I made it so much that I memorized the recipe.  It has since become my family's go-to pasta salad for wedding showers, baby showers, picnics, potlucks, birthday parties, pretty much any family event includes this pasta salad.  Pictures don't do this salad justice.  It has a pretty presentation and it pleases everyone.  It is tangy, sweet, salty and crisp.  This is also an amazing lunch for the days to follow (If you are lucky enough to have leftovers)

This recipe was shared at Strut Your Stuff Saturday.

My Favorite Pasta Salad
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined- about 2 minutes.

Pour over:
2 lbs cooked pasta (I prefer bowtie or spiral because it holds the dressing well)
1 jar pimientos
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 cup mini pepperoni slices or sliced salami ***optional

*This tastes best when refrigerated for a few hours before serving to let the flavors blend.
*Don't pour all of the dressing over the pasta at first because it will soak in while it sits.  Pour extra dressing on right before serving.
*Make a double batch of dressing and use it for salads or for your leftovers