Wednesday, December 26, 2012

buttermilk pecan waffles

I am about to leave the world of Internet for a few days, but before I did, I wanted to share with you this great recipe find!  It's perfect for those cold days after Christmas when all you want is a warm meal.  It takes just a few minutes to prepare, feeds several, and is special enough for company.  I introduce to you Buttermilk Pecan Waffles!

These are better than a basic waffle - the buttermilk and pecans take the texture and flavor to a whole new level.  We love them served with Buttermilk Syrup, but just about any topping will do.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  Happy New Year!

Buttermilk Pecan Waffles
Adapted from Gooseberry Patch's Merry Christmas
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine first four ingredients; set aside.  Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until light; mix in buttermilk.  Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in melted butter and pecans.  Pour 3/4 cup batter onto a greased and preheated waffle iron.  Cook according to manufacturer's directions, and repeat with remaining batter.  Makes about 7 waffles.

Friday, December 21, 2012

cookies and cream fudge

So...I had this dilemma.  Cookie Bandit was turning 30 years old (a BIG birthday, you know), and we were going to be leaving town the next day.  I was already up to my ears in laundry, cleaning, packing, and all of the other chores that go along with leaving town for a week.  Trying to bake a birthday cake in addition to that would have been INSANE.

And then there was this other problem - if I bake a cake, who would eat it?  We weren't going to have a party, so it would just be two of us with a huge cake.  And if we left town the next day, we'd have to basically trash the cake (there wasn't room for it to go with us). 

I decided to do something a bit fun and fanciful to make his birthday special.  I made fudge!  He'd been eying this fudge recipe in one of my magazines, so I figured now was time to give it a try.  It didn't disappoint.  It only took me about 10 minutes (and two separate runs to the grocery store to get forgotten ingredients...ha!).  It was absolutely delicious, and it's small enough that we'll be able to take our leftovers out of town...if there are any leftovers, that is.

To top off the fun, I actually cut a big 3-0 out of the fudge in honor of his big day. :)

 Oh, what's that?  You want the recipe, too? :)

Line a square dish or baking pan with aluminum foil (makes it easier to get the fudge out later).  Spray it with cooking spray and toss in a bunch of broken Oreo cookies.

In a saucepan, combine a can of sweetened condensed milk, butter, and white chocolate chips.  Stir over LOW heat until melted, and then add some vanilla.

Pour this deliciousness over the top of the Oreos, and then top with more broken cookies.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before lifting the aluminum foil out of the pan and cutting the fudge into pieces.

Happy Birthday, Cookie Bandit! :)

Cookies and Cream Fudge
adapted from Taste of Home's "Food Gifts"
  • 24 Oreo cookies, broken into chunks, divided
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 2/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 t. vanilla

Line an 8-in. square dish with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.  Place 2/3 of the broken cookies in pan.  In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk, butter, and chips; cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Pour over cookies in pan.  Sprinkle with remaining cookies.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into pieces.  Makes about 3 dozen pieces.

Monday, December 17, 2012

bavarian beef


According to the weatherman this morning, a cold front is moving through the western and eastern parts of the country.  I have to admit...I'm a bit jealous.  Our weather is going to be in the mid-70s this week!  Sometimes it's hard to believe that Christmas is just 8 days away, especially when I'm wearing flip-flops and short sleeves.

I've started trying to compensate for the lack of cold weather outside.  Have any of you ever done this?  I keep the house a bit chilly, wear my long sleeves and fuzzy socks, and burn Christmas candles.  I also love making warm and filling dishes.  Somehow, when I'm sitting in front of a bowl of comfort food, it starts to feel a little bit like winter after all.

This Bavarian beef is one of those perfect cold weather meals...or "pretend" cold weather meals!  I adapted the recipe from one that I got from a good friend, and she had adapted it from the original.  So, it's been crafted with love and is sure to warm the hearts and tummies of your family.

It's also easy to put together.  Simply brown some stew meat and onion (no need to cook it through).

Place in a slow cooker, and add broth and seasonings.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until beef is tender.

Mix some flour and water and stir into the beef - let simmer for 2 minutes, or until sauce has slightly thickened.  Serve the beef and sauce over hot cooked spätzle noodles (regular pasta or rice would also work well).  I like to top mine with a dollop of sour cream for that perfect finishing touch.

Bavarian Beef

2 pounds stew meat or boneless chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes 
1/2 onion, cut into strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups beef broth
1 t. minced garlic 
1 t. caraway seed 
1 t. salt
2 t. dill seed
2 t. paprika  
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 T. sour cream
Hot cooked spätzle
In a large skillet, brown beef, garlic, and onion in oil. Place in a large slow cooker.  Add the beef broth and seasonings. Cook on high 4-5 hours or until beef is tender.  Combine water and flour until smooth; gradually stir into the beef mixture. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Serve over spätzle with a dollup of sour cream on top. Serves 6.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

cheesy ham and corn chowder

It's finally cold here!  I'm soooooo excited.  I've been able to bust out my sweaters, and Miss Pebbles caught her first glimpse of snow. :)

When the weather gets cold, there's nothing I like better than a bowl of soup.  This one is a real winner.  It's cheesy, creamy, warm, hearty, filling, and simply delicious.  It's also very economical and takes less than half an hour to prepare.  What could be better?

Serve it up in a bread bowl to stretch your servings and give it a rustic touch. 

Cheesy Ham and Corn Chowder
2 T. butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 T. flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 t. sage
1/4 t. pepper
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
1 1/2 cup milk
10 oz. package frozen corn
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed

Melt butter in a large saucepan; stir in onion and cook over medium heat until tender.  Stir in flour until blended.  Add chicken broth, potatoes, sage, and pepper; stir to blend.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients; cook and stir until heated through, about 8-10 minutes.  Serves 4.

Friday, December 7, 2012

whoopie pies

Okay, is that not just about the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?!  

This is a special weekend.  I'm turning 30 (again), and I'm going to eat a huge chocolate cupcake with lots and lots of frosting to celebrate.  We're also having Monkey Bread for breakfast - I've never had it before, and my husband said it's about time I've been enlightened.  

These whoopie pies come from the "Best-Loved Cookies and Candies" magazine.  It was such a hard decision to pick out which cookies to make - they all looked soooooo good - but I think we really chose a winner.  They are so delicious that I'm thinking of making them the theme of Miss Pebbles' first birthday party.  I can just see it now..."Whoopie!  Pebbles is turning 1!"

What do you think?

Although it does take some effort, this recipe is neither difficult nor time-consuming.  I will say, though, that you'll need more than your elbow and a whisk.  This requires the biggest mixing bowl you've got and an electric mixer.  I used my small hand-held mixer, and I sure was wishing for a Kitchen-Aid by the time I was through!

You begin with butter and sugar...

Cream them together until light and fluffy, and then add eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients.

Now, here's where it gets exciting.  You have to alternate adding the flour, buttermilk, and water.  I actually just combined my buttermilk and water into one measuring cup to make things a bit easier.  So add some flour - mix - add buttermilk/water - mix - and then do it all over again!

Drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet.  Don't worry if they don't look pretty...they will later.

Bake for just 5-7 minutes or until they are set.  They'll look like little cupcake tops.

For the frosting, mix together marshmallow creme, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla.  This is so delicious you'll want to eat the bowl.  Heck, you'll probably want to make two bowls - one for the cookies and one for you.  My one suggestion is that you don't get lazy and just use plain marshmallow creme to fill the cookies - it doesn't work (speaking from experience!).

Slather the frosting in the middles and let the cookies sit for a few minutes - the frosting will smooth out and look absolutely perfect.  You won't be able to help taking a bite out of these!

Whoopie Pies
from Taste of Home's "Best-Loved Cookies and Candies"
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 cup water
1 cup buttermilk

2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 cups marshmallow creme
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 t. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with water and buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until set.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat filling ingredients until fluffy.  Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

alpine cheese melts


I just love taking a simple concept (like a grilled cheese sandwich), souping it up into something spectacular, and adding a special holiday touch!  Don't you?  I mean, how often can you say that a grilled cheese sandwich is good enough to serve company?

This recipe came from Taste of Home's fabulous special edition magazine, "Best Holiday Recipes." 

To make these sandwiches, you want two different types of bread.  It really doesn't matter which two you pick as long as there is some color variation between the two.  I went with the pumpernickel and white bread recommended by the recipe.

Grab your favorite Christmas cookie cutter, and cut a shape out of each slice of bread.

Put the pumpernickel shape into the hole in the white bread, and vice versa.  How cute!

Whip up the remaining ingredients - cheese, mayo (or Miracle Whip), green onions, basil, and garlic powder.  Spread the creamy concoction on a slice of bread and top with the other slice to make a sandwich.

Butter both sides of the sandwich and toast on a skillet over medium heat until both sides are lightly browned and the cheese has melted.

This sandwich is oh-so-creamy, and the flavors are delicious.  And what I especially love about it is that the filling is quick to put together and will make several sandwiches at once.  Since there were only two of us eating them, I made the batch of filling and kept it in the refrigerator, only dishing out as much as we were going to eat each evening.  It made us dinner for four nights!

Alpine Cheese Melts
From Taste of Home's "Best Holiday Recipes"
9 slices white bread
9 slices pumpernickel bread
3 cups (12 oz.) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup plus 2 T. mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 t. minced fresh basil or 1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 to 1/2 t. garlic powder
butter, softened

Using a 3-1/2 in. cookie cutter, cut a shape in the center of each slice of bread; remove cutouts.  Place a white bread cutout in each slice of pumpernickel.  Place a pumpernickel cutout in each slice of white bread.

In a large bowl, combine the cheese, mayonnaise, onions, basil, and garlic powder.  Spread over nine slices of bread; top with remaining bread.  Butter outsides of sandwiches.

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sandwiches on each side until golden brown and cheese is melted.
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