Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Protein Bars

My middle son is a tiny guy so I am always trying to come up with calorie dense but healthy snacks.
I found a recipe for Grunt Bars and tweaked it to our taste...LINK

    0.5 c apple juice concentrate
    3/4 cup honey
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
    6 cups crushed bran flakes* cereal(1-17 oz box is just right!)
    0.5 cup shredded coconut
    4 scoops vanilla whey protein powder*
    1 cup raisins or dried fruit or any nuts or chocolate chips you desire
*use buckwheat flakes for GF
make sure your whey protein is GF too, some brands are not

Mix together in a large mixing bowl the cereal,coconut,and protein powder(and optional fruit/nuts),set aside.

On medium heat mix the honey, apple juice concentrate and brown sugar together stirring constantly to prevent burning. Bring to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute,then mix in the peanut butter. Continue stirring until boiling and boil 1 minute more.
Immediately pour hot mixture over cereal mixture and combine well. Mold into a well greased 9x13 inch pan,pressing down firmly. Let cool and harden completely then dump out onto cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 x 3 inch bars.

nutrition link

Copycat Applebee's Quesadilla Burgers

We love the Applebee's Quesadilla burger so I decided to whip up one of my own!
This recipe is also fantastic with chicken breast or a veggie patty!!
First homemade tortillas....perfect because you can make them "burger" sized... the ones at Applebee's are really huge, in my opinion a waste of extra calories

I made 10 out of this recipe at about 4-5 inches each

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons boiling water

  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening to resemble cornmeal. Add water slowly, mixing with your hands to make a soft dough. You may not need all the water.
  2. Knead a few minutes on floured surface until smooth and elastic. Lubricate top with oil, put back in bowl and let rest, covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Divide into 10 small balls and proceed to roll out into size and thickness you prefer.
  4. Cook on top of stove over medium heat using a cast iron grill or heavy skillet until top is slightly bubbly then turning on opposite side for a minute or two.
  5. Keep stacked and warm inside a clean dish towel.

Ok for the burgers
1 lb ground beef
1 TB of Seasoning Mix*(Emeril Makes and excellent Southwest seasoning too if you dont want to make homemade)

Mix well and shape into patties(I made 5 of varying size for my family of 5, 2 larger size ones and 3 smaller ones)
cook as you see fit, broil, grill, pan fry etc

*Southwest Seasoning Mix
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano

For the burger assembly:

2 flour tortillas
1 tsp butter, softened(You can use butter flavor cooking spray in place of the butter for a few less calories)
2 tablespoons shredded Pepper Jack cheese
2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar Cheese
pico de gallo to taste
(or 1tsp chopped jalapeno, red onion and 2 tsp chopped tomato)
1 slice bacon, cooked
mexi-ranch sauce*(see recipe below)
1 burger patty

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Spread half the butter on one side of bottom tortilla. Put one tortilla, butter side down in the hot pan. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly onto the center of the tortilla in the pan - but not all the way to the edges. Put the pico de gallo and bacon and over the cheese, add the seasoned burger and spread mexi-ranch on remaining tortilla and place over the burger, spread top with remaining butter. When the bottom side is browned, about 45-90 seconds, flip the quesadilla and grill the other side. Remove the quesadilla from the pan and add lettuce, replace top and using a pizza cutter, cut through the middle like a pizza.

Applebee's Mexi-Ranch Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbl milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp minced tomato
1 tsp minced canned jalapeno slices
1 tsp minced onion
(you can replace the above 3 ingredients with 1-2 tablespoons or so premade pico de gallo)
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp Tabasco pepper sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tspcayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
1 dsh garlic powder
1 dsh freshly-ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oreo Mint Ice Cream Cake

I wanted to surprise my husband with a yummy ice cream cake, here is what I came up with....of course if you dont want to go to all this trouble you can use commercial oreos, mint chocolate chip ice cream and a devil's food cake mix and just assemble it the same way ! Of course I HIGHLY recommend doing it from scratch!!

Mint Oreo Ice Cream Cake from Scratch... Right Down to homemade Oreos!!!
I am attempting one similar to Cold Stone's MMMMMMM Chip cake, but with oreos!

First the Oreos...of course this makes quite a big batch and you wont need them all for the cake but I am sure they will get eaten!!
Follow instructions HERE

Are the oreos done??

Ok then

Now We are on to the ice cream..... actually the mixture should probably be made a day ahead to refrigerate over night IF you want to pasteurize the eggs.

Copy Cat Ben and Jerry's Oreo Mint Ice Cream Instructions

Here you can stick your ice cream in the freezer until you need it, just make sure to soften it before you are ready to assemble the cake

Ok Now For the Devil's Food Cake(from allrecipes):
I didnt get any pictures from the cake itself, my camera battery died!!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour one 9x13 inch pan or two 9 inch round pans.
  2. In a small pan melt the butter or margarine with the unsweetened chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Cream together the sugar and the eggs until light in color. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggs and temper mixture by beating well (so you don't end up with scrambled eggs!) Add 1 cup boiled water (still warm) and blend well. Mixture will be very liquid.
  4. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture and blend well.
  5. Mix together the vinegar and the milk and stir into the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan(s).
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. COOL COMPLETELY, Refrigerating it for awhile before assembling the cake is best

Ok the problem here is depth of the pan, A 9 inch spring form pan would work GREAT! Just find something that is the same size as your cake and go from there.
I have rather deep cake pans so if worked out ok for me
Line the cake pans (or spring form pan)with wax paper and grease the wax paper well.
Place your cake in the pan... If your cake is too high in the center you may want to place it in top down to flatten it slightly, OR cut a flatter surface. I chose this particular cake recipe because it stays pretty dense and doesnt rise as high as others I have tried.

Remove 3/4 cup of ice cream and set aside, divide the remaining ice cream between the two pans on top of the cake, smoothing it out.

Place the pans in the freezer and freeze until firm.

1 8 oz tub of cool whip
remaining ice cream, softened
(a few drops of food coloring if you want a green color)

Mix Gently

Side note: I tried this with homemade whipped cream in place of the cool whip but I think I added too much ice cream, I had too much from experimenting and I think I went overboard....I ended up sticking it all in the freezer and it did turn out ok though......so for now, since I cant say for sure if it was the cream or my too much Ice Cream, I am saying cool whip, because I KNOW that works, but if any of you out there are willing, try using 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla, beat that until stiff and add in the 3/4 cup ice cream...please let me know how it turns out!!

Remove cake from freezer, remove from pans CAREFULLY , take a butter knife around the edges first. Remove wax paper.
Place first layer(cake on bottom) on to your plate, then carefully add the second layer(cake first).

Frost with frosting and decorate with more oreos
Return to freezer and freeze until the frosting is firm

Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before you want to serve and

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baked Pasta and Smoked Sausage

YUMMERS this is a family favorite. I got the recipe from a package of Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage years ago and it became an instant favorite. I have tweaked it a bit for our tastes.

12 oz shell or penne shaped pasta*(see note below for a gluten free variation)
16oz smoked sausage, (a local farm store makes and EXCELLENT nitrate free chicken based one that we enjoy)
1 cup milk
1.5 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1.5 cups cheddar cheese flavor french fried onions(regular work fine if you can't find the cheese ones) You can even do homemade ones if you have the time!(LINK)
1 can Cream of Celery soup (homemade recipe)

Boil Noodles according to package directions

Preheat oven to 350

If you are making it prepare your celery soup now

Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces and brown them over medium heat

Combine Soup and Milk in a 3 quart casserole, add in 1/2 of cheese and 1/2 cup French Fried onions. Add in sliced sausage and peas , combine well.

add in drained noodles and mix until well covered.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 until bubbly. Top with remaining onions and cheese and bake for 3-5 minutes more!

We recently decided to go gluten free for my middle son. This is the first dish I attempted.
I used gluten free pasta and homemade french fried onions and cream of celery soup(both have GF variations on the links above)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent--

Ok not a tasty treat but I thought I would give the Duggar Laundry Detergent a try!
I think it turned out quite well and my first loads of laundry are clean and fresh!

the first batch lasted me a good 3 months with 3 little boys having a very dirty summer!!!

Second Batch I modified a bit!!! Look for Edits in RED
Overall I think the second batch came out better, feels a little more "commercial" thickness
Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine
4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*(second batch I used 1.5 cups)
½ Cup Borax(second batch I used 3/4 cup)
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.
Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved.

edit for 2nd batch. I added the melted soap, borax and washing soda to the bucket FIRST and dissolved the powder before adding any water, then added 1/2 bucket of water, mixed well, then filled it. It seemed to distribute MUCH easier and started thickening IMMEDIATELY! And i felt there was less clumping of the borax...which I found to be an issues as I neared the end of the first batch
Fill bucket to top with more hot water.
Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap(EDIT AUG 2010--I fill it about 2/3-full and fill it with water from there)
and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
EDIT AUG 2010--- I used about 50 drops to up the scent!!!
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)
*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased at Alice.com
Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Homemade Tater Tots

Excellent side to a yummy veggie burger or anything you like!!

4 medium Russet Potatoes
1/2-1 tsp onion powder
1/4- 1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
Vegetable Oil

Peel potatoes and boil until they are just tender, not mushy
Drain and allow to cool
Shred them with a grater into a bowl
add in your seasonings to taste...you can be creative. I keep it simple for the boys.
Mix thoroughly

Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium- medium high heat

Take a small scoop and roll them in your hands to make a tater tot shape...you might need to mush it just a bit.

When your oil is hot add about 7-10 tots to the pan(depending on your pan size, dont over crowd)

Cook until golden brown(about 3-5 minutes) flip and cook other side
Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Salt to taste right after removing from oil. Continue with next batch.

Heat the whole load in a single layer under the broiler for a few minutes if the first ones have gotten a little cold.

These can be done in a deep fryer following your manufacturers directions or they can be baked at 350 for about 20( even sticking them under the broiler for a few minutes too)...not nearly as crispy but still pretty darned tasty!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nectarine Salsa

Fabulous with just some chips, or on top of pork chops or chicken(mmm seasoned with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin and thrown on the grill YUM)!!

1 medium ripe tomato
3 small nectarines
1 small white onion
2 green onions
1 small jalapeño
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TB fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt(or to taste)

chop all ingredients to your tastes, some like smaller chunks, some like larger ones!
Combine and let mingle for at least 30 minutes before serving

Also really great is a can of mandarin oranges drained and chopped in place of the nectarines!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chicken Tomatillo Enchilada Casserole

12-6 inch corn tortillas, cut into quarters(homemade are great, recipe included below or you can use store bought)
3 medium chicken breasts
1 garlic bullion cube(not NECESSARY but really yummy!)
8-10 tomatillos, husked and halved
1-2 jalapeños, tops removed and halved(leave seeds if you like it spicier!)
1 1/2 c chicken broth
small handful of cilantro
1 clove of garlic, smashed
3 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Boil Chicken in water with garlic bullion cube until chicken is done, cool and shred

place chicken broth in sauce pan over medium high heat, add halved tomatillos and jalapeños. Boil until the tomatillos are fork tender(about 5 minutes)
Pour contents into a blender with cilantro, garlic and green onions and blend until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste

Put a scoop of tomatillo sauce in the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish, place a layer of tortillas , slightly overlapping to cover the bottom. Add 1/3 of the chicken, 1/4 of the cheese and a scoop of sauce.

Repeat layers until tortillas are gone, top with remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover in foil and Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Corn Tortillas:
2 cups Masa Harina Corn Flour(NOT CORN MEAL)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp. shortening

Mix the masa harina and salt in the bowl of a kitchenaid mixer. Measure 1 cups of boiling water and the shortening into a separate pan or bowl. Stir until the shortening is melted.
Pour this mixture into the bowl of corn flour and mix with the paddle attachement.
Add in remaining 1/4 cup water and switch to the dough hook.
Knead the dough for one or two minutes. Play with the consistency by adding more water if needed. What you want is a dough that is moist enough to stay together but not too sticky.

Divide dough roughly into 16 pieces

Preheat a griddle to medium high heat, NO grease needed

If you are using a tortilla press, cover with a thick plastic(big ziplock bags work well!)
Place your dough ball and place another piece of plastic over the ball. Press per your press instructions!
If you dont have a press simply roll them into approx 6 inch circles
Place the tortillas on the heated griddle and cook approx 45 seconds-1 minute per side

Place on plate and cover with a SLIGHTLY damp towel or into a tortilla warmer until ready to use....or into a ziplock bag and in the fridge.