Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pasta Fagioli Soup

A simple twist on a traditional Italian Ham and Bean soup.

Hun... What's for Dinner?: Pasta Fagioli- A simple twist on a traditional Italian Ham and Bean soup.

It's been a busy time of year, but we've finally gotten our house back in order. Christmas was wonderful, though I didn't take the time to share all my wonderful desserts with you. I will dedicate an entry to them in the near future.

We baked a ham for Christmas dinner, which means we had leftovers. Anytime we have ham, I save the bone to make my Mother in Law's Pasta Fagioli Soup. She made this for me about 3 yrs ago and I fell inlove with it. It is so simple, yet so yummy. It's one of Hubby's favourites and the kids are pretty crazy about it too. It's a great way to use up ham bone and it's very easy on the budget too.

Pasta Fagioli Soup

1/2 bag of great northern beans, sorted and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 ham bone
2 C chopped ham
1/2 box ditalini pasta
2 cans tomato soup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large pot of water, bring beans, onion and ham bone to a boil. Simmer over med low heat, until beans are tender, 2 or more hrs, adding water when needed. Once beans are tender, add ham, ditalini, tomato soup, salt and pepper and any additional water, to almost fill the pot. Simmer, on very low heat, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender.

Hun... What's for Dinner?: Pasta Fagioli- A simple twist on a traditional Italian Ham and Bean soup.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thanks Bakerella!!!

Well one of the blogs I keep up with is Bakerella. She just amazes me with her talent. I love to bake and often turn many shades of green, when I read and see all the great creations on her blog, LOL. My mother in law came in for the Holidays and recently celebrated her 50th birthday. Last night Hubby made a wonderful seafood feast and I created, the most amazing cake I've even made. I used Bakerella's Moist Yellow Cake recipe, and took ideas from some of her cupcakes to decorate the cake with chocolate flowers, vines, leaves and MOM on top. My Mother in law was over the moon and said she had never had such a beautiful cake before. The cake was a bit dry, due to me over filling the pans, and having to over bake to compensate. It still tastes good though. So Thanks to Bakerella, for making my Mother in law's birthday more special and giving me the confidence to try new and creative things!!



Moist Yellow Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter (room temperature)
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
3 cups of sifted self-rising flour (White Lily)
1 cup of whole milk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (McCormicks)
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour (3) 8 inch cake pans.
Using a mixer, cream butter until fluffy.
Add sugar and continue to cream for about 7 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added.
Add flour and milk (alternating to creamed mixture), beginning and ending with flour.
Add vanilla and butter flavoring to mix; until just mixed.
Divide batter equally into three cake pans.
Hold each layer about 3 inches above your counter and carefully drop the pans flat onto counter several times to ensure release of any air bubbles. This will help you have a more level cake.
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (depending on your oven) until done.
Cool in pans for 5 - 10 minutes.
Remove and immediately wrap each layer in plastic wrap to seal in moisture. Cool completely on wire racks.
Once cooled, you are ready to assemble your cake.

Easy Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1b. 10X powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk, half and half or cream

Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth.
Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more.
If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture.
Then, just use icing colors to tint the frosting the color of your choice.This is usually just enough for a 2-layer cake, so I would recommend doubling this for a three-layer. But, I like a lot of frosting.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies, Cookies, everywhere!

I've been a busy little bee. Baking whenever I got a spare moment. My girlfriends asked me who the heck I was baking for. Easy, for us, LOL. I grew up with a mother that baked her heart out at Christmas time. Being without at least 7 or 8 dozen different types of desserts for Christmas is sacrilege!!! So I've been making some of my favorites to share with Hubby, Mr.B, my mother in law and any lucky person, who takes the time to drop in over the next weeks or so.


Meltaway Cookies

Delicate mounds of buttery goodness.

1C butter
1/2C confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2C chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix butter, sugar and vanilla, thoroughly. Sift flour and salt into a small bowl. Blend into butter mixture, add nuts and blend well. Dough will be crumbly. Form into 1 inch balls and place onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. While warm, roll into confectioners sugar.


English Toffee Balls

1/2C powdered sugar
1 C butter, softened
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
2 C flour
1 Tbs milk
1/2 C heath toffee bits

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, beat powdered sugar, margarine, and pudding mix, until light and fluffy. Add flour, milk, vanilla and heath bits, mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls and bake for 13-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely. Dip top into powdered sugar.


ChowMein Noodle Cookies
1C chocolate chips
1C butterscotch chips
1C chowmein noodles
1C salted peanuts

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips. Add chowmein noodles and peanuts and stir until completely coated. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate to set.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Spicy Chicken and Corn Chowder

I created this from leftovers the other night. I simmered my Rotisserie Style Chicken carcass in water with celery, onion, carrot and bay leaf. The result was a spicy chicken broth, due to the cayenne in the rub. I really enjoyed this dish. It was too spicy for Mr.B , a fact I over looked while simmering the broth, so he opted for his trusted PB&J, LOL. Hubby and I polished off the leftovers for lunch , yesterday. The corn added a sweet creaminess, that took the edge off the heat a bit.


Spicy Chicken and Corn Chowder

3 C spicy broth
1/3C non fat milk powder
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 small onion, minced
1 can creamed corn
1/4-1/2 C instant potato flakes

Add milk powder to spicy broth and bring to boil. Add potatoes, onion, celery and creamed corn. Reduce to simmer and cook for 1 hr, until potatoes are tender. Thicken to desired consistency, with potato flakes. Season with any needed salt or pepper.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let the Christmas Baking Begin!!!

With only 9 days until Christmas, I figured I better get my butt in gear on the desserts. Not very gung ho about the whole ordeal today ( I'm a bit moody due to lack of sleep), I decided to make Rachael Ray's 5 minute fudge. She had showcased it on Oprah a few years back and it's so easy and very delicious. I made a batch and separated it into 2 small Christmas tins, instead of making a wreath, like she suggests. This would be a perfect inexpensive gift for teachers or neighbors.

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Rachael Ray's 5 Minute Fudge Wreath

1 bag semisweet chocolate morsels (12 ounces)
9 ounces butterscotch morsels (3/4 of a 12 ounce bag)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can or package of walnut halves (8 ounces)
1/2 cup currants (a couple handfuls)
8-inch cake pan, lightly greased with softened butter
Candied red and green cherries, for garnish (optional)

Place a heavy pot on the stove and pre-heat it over low heat. Add chocolate and butterscotch morsels and milk and stir until morsels are melted and milk is combined. Save the empty condensed milk can. Stir in the vanilla and remove the fudge from heat. Add the nuts and currants and stir in immediately.
Cover the empty condensed milk can with plastic wrap and center it in the greased cake pan. Spoon fudge into pan around can, making sure to center the can if it drifts.

The fudge will set up almost immediately. Garnish can only be added in the first minute or two that the fudge is in the pan, so work quickly. Decorate your wreath with "holly" made from cut candied red and green cherries. A wreath left plain can be garnished with a pretty fabric bow when serving.
Chill covered in the refrigerator. Slice the fudge very thin when ready to serve – a little goes a long way!
Cindy's notes: I use Cherry flavored Craisin's for the currants.
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Rotisserie Style Chicken

One of my girlfriends was nice enough to bring me a new cook book, as a Hostess gift, Friday evening. After browsing through it, I noticed a recipe for Rotisserie Style Chicken. I had been planning on roasting a chicken, so figured I'd give it a try. This was the best chicken I've ever made!!! It was so flavorful, slightly spicy and just the correct amount of saltiness. Hubby, who wasn't feeling well, managed to eat one whole breast of chicken to himself, LOL. He suggested this be our method of roasting chicken from now on. The meat was tender and juicy and the skin crisp; better than what you would pay $6 for at any grocery store. A definite winner!!

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Rotissery- Style Chicken

1 (4-5lb) whole chicken
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 onion, quartered

Remove giblets from chicken. Rinse out chicken and pat dry. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together spices. Rub spice mixture on the insinde and outside of chicken. Place onion inside chicken cavity. Place chicken in a sealable bag and refrigerate overnight. Remove chicken from bag and place in roasting pan. Bake uncovered at 250 degrees, for 5 hrs or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
Cindy's notes: We were out of onion salt, so I omitted that. My chicken was a bit over 3 lbs, so I cooked it for about 3 hrs, pulling it out when the internal temperature was 165 degrees. I covered it with foil and let it rest 20 minutes before cutting into it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Cookie Swap

Friday night, I hosted a Holiday Cookie Swap, for my girlfriends. It was a great time!!! The cookies were divine and the company even better. We all ate to our hearts content and were all left with yummy treats for the rest of the week. I decided to serve a few savory appetizers, for those who hadn't had a chance to sit for a proper dinner. On the menu was Savory Parmesan Bites, Brushetta with fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Red Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip. I also served a delectably rich and creamy Mocha Punch, which guests could gussy up with Bailey's for extra Holiday Cheer. I must include 2 of my girlfriends cookie recipes, for honorable mentions. Kim's Saltine Toffee Cookies are unbelievably addictive. Sweet, salty, crunchy. I haven't been able to keep my hands off them, LOL. Natalie's Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are a beautiful rendition of Thin Mints. The perfect balance of chocolate and mint.

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Mocha Punch

1/4 c instant coffee granules
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c Nestle quick Chocolate mix
2 quarts water
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream

Directions:Bring water to a boil. Stir in sugar and coffee granules and chocolate mix until dissolved. Place in fridge overnight (you can do less as long as it's chilled). Soften both ice creams (let sit for a little while before mixing). Place both gallons of ice cream by scoopfuls (this helps the ice cream dissolve for the drink) and chilled drink mix into punch bowl. Mix ingredients until ice cream partially melted.


4 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
1 baguette, sliced
1 8 oz log fresh mozzarella, sliced

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and olive oil in a large bowl. Refrigerate at least 1 hr, to let the flavors combine. in a 375 degree oven, toasts baguette slices, until golden brown. Top with tomato mixture and 1 slice of mozzarella. Return to the oven until cheese has melted.

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Savory Parmesan Bites

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup chopped red peppers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup Parmesan with mixer until well blended.
SEPARATE crescent rolls into 8 rectangles; press perforations together to seal. Spread each with 3 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture. Top with peppers and parsley. Fold 1 long side of each dough rectangle over filling to center; fold again to enclose filling. Cut each into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
BAKE 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown

Roasted Red Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese Dip

1 brick cream cheese, softened
1/4- 1/2 C roasted red pepper jelly ( depends on how spicy you like it)

Mix both ingredients well and serve with crackers, pita chips and vegetables.


The cookies I chose to make were influenced by the fact that I had a ton of Butterfinger chocolate bars leftover from Halloween. So I wanted to use those up and found a recipe for Butterfinger Cookies, online somewhere. These were good, but not knock your socks off good. Think of a supped up peanut butter cookie.

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Butterfinger Cookies (left) and Saltine Toffee Crunch (right)

Butterfinger Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large Butterfinger candy bars, chopped

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs; beat well. Blend in peanut butter and vanilla extract.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in candy bars. Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 4 dozen.
Cindy's notes: I had to add about an extra 1/2C of flour, to make the dough dry enough to roll.

Saltine Toffee Cookies

4 ounces saltine crackers
1 C butter
1 C dark brown sugar
2 C semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C pecans or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with saltine crackers in a single layer. In a saucepan combine sugar and butter. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let sit 5 minutes and spread melted chocolate. Top with chopped nuts. Let cool completely and break into pieces.

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Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days). Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk. Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.) Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water. Remove from heat. Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Using a fork, turn to coat, let excess drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top. Repeat, sprinkling half the cookies with pieces and the rest with dust. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours. Decorated cookies are best served the same day

Flounder stuffed with Broccoli, Cheese Rice

I've been craving Hubby's Broccoli Cheese Rice for some time now and with him working so much, haven't been able to convince him to make it. So the other night, I had flounder sitting in the fridge and decided to try and stuff it with my own version of the rice. After researching online and trying to find a darn recipe that didn't include Cream of _______ soup, I had a game plan. I made Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole, reserving half to stuff the fish. It turned out really well. The fish was tender and flaky, the rice fluffy and cheesy. I had 2 servings, a very rare occurrence for fish dishes. Mr.B loved dinner as well and ate his whole serving right up. Hubby said it was good, though not as good as his, LOL.

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Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

1 1/2 C just cooked brown rice
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 C cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and transfer to a casserole dish. Bake covered at 350, for 30 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

To stuff the Fish:

Season any of your favorite white fish ( Flounder, Sole, Tilapia) with salt and pepper. Spoon a generous amount of the casserole mixture, onto the center of the fillet. Fold the 2 ends over the filling and secure with a tooth pick. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a 350 degree oven, until fish is flaky, about 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Serve with any remaining Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Easy Scalloped Potatoes

If you don't know about Kraft Food and Family Magazine, where have you been? Just go to to their site and sign up to get a free magazine in the mail, each month or so. I found this Scalloped Potato recipe in one of their issues. Looked simple, used ingredients I always have on hand and what's better than potatoes, ham and cheese??? So this is in our rotation every 4 months or so, when I'm in the mood for some comfort food. I have to leave the peas out, since Hubby hates peas, but I either serve them on the side or with Bushes Country Style Baked Beans.

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Easy Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1 cup chicken broth
3 lb. red potatoes, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
1 pkg. (6 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Smoked Ham, chopped
1 pkg. (8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup frozen peas

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and chicken broth in large bowl until well blended. Add potatoes, ham, 1-3/4 cups of the cheese and peas; stir gently to coat all ingredients. SPOON into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. BAKE 1 hour or until heated through and potatoes are tender.
Cindy's notes: I bake at 375 degrees, covered, for an hour, then take the foil off and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The potatoes are never tender enough at 350, for 1 hr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hot Cocoa Santa Bags

This is another beauty from Baby Center's CFYF board. Let me tell you these little guys gave me quite a headache. I mentioned them to my girlfriends, and then mentioned making some for one of them. Well, let me tell you...... first I couldn't find the darned piping bags anywhere. After 3 days of searching, I finally found them last night. Guess where???? Super Walmart! Not Michael's or Hobby Lobby, but freakin Walmart!! Then I couldn't find the chips anywhere, but lucked out a Target. So I have my order ready to complete and let me tell you these are really easy to make and look so darn cute. I've yet to try the cocoa/ pepermint chip combo, but think it'll make for some YUMMY hot chocolate.

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Hot chocolate santa's

Here is how to make them:

White Almond Bark
Andes Peppermint baking chips
Hot cocoa mix
Plastic disposible decorator bags
Heavy duty spoons
Holiday ribbon
googley eyes

Melt white Almond Bark and dip a ton of plastic spoons (use HEAVY duty spoons) sit them on wax paper to harden... I lined a cookie sheet with waxed paper so I could cool them faster in the fridge.
Open a decorator bag and add 1/4 cup (about) of the Andes peppermint things. Then put 1/4 cup hot cocoa into a sandwich bag and twist to seal, tuck the excess behind the bag. Shape into a circle... add to the decorator bag to make the face. Next add a small handfull of marshmallows, then the dipped spoon, add more marshamllows to support the spoon and make the beard. Tie off with a pretty ribbon. glue a Pompon to the tip of the bag and eyes to the face. Add a sticker (printed on labels) to the back with the following instructions...
Mix contents of the bags with 8 ounces of boiling water, use the enclosed spoon to stir well. Enjoy your Santa Cocoa!

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Holly Bloggy Christmas~ Homemade Gift Ideas

Baked Chicken Teriyaki

I made this for dinner last night. Chicken Teriyaki is one of my favorite, when we go out to eat, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. My girlfriend Christine posted this on Baby Center's CFYF board and it was receiving rave reviews. They were right. The chicken was tender, salty, sweet, garlicky...... perfect! I only used 4 skinless thigh, since well it was just Mr.B and I for dinner. I kept the sauce the same, using some to stir fry some fresh Broccoli, to tender crisp. I served it over white rice, which I drizzled with some of the pan drippings. It was quite nice. A sprinkle of sesame seeds on top, would have topped it all, but we were out. Mr.B was being picky, he ate a bit of chicken and rice, avoided the broccoli, all the while saying it was the best dinner ever ( hmmmm....).

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Baked Teriyaki Chicken


1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs


In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce (I pour it over). Turn pieces over, and brush again. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 15 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking (I skip this step).
Christine's notes-Line your pan with foil. Double the sauce! Make stir fry veggies and toss the veggies in one cup of reserved sauce. Serve over Rice

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Good ole Southern Comfort Food

At the beginning of last week, I found myself watching an episode of Paula Deen's, on Food Network. She was sharing recipes on how to stretch a buck. She made this amazing looking Mustard Thyme Catfish and Black Eyed Pea cakes. I have been wanting to cook with fish more often and knew Hubby loves Catfish, so I decided to give it a try, since he was off the next day. I must say it was a pretty darn good dinner, LOL. The catfish was crispy and flaky. The mustard and thyme paired perfectly with the fish, without over powering it. Both Hubby and I thought the Pea Cakes could use an extra little something, maybe some grated onion or such, but they were good none the less. Slightly salty, smoky, creamy and crispy. Mr.B tried it all and loved the fish, but wasn't too fond of the pea cakes, LOL.

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Mustard Thyme Catfish
courtesy of Paula Deen

4 fillets of catfish
1/4 C dried Thyme
2 C yellow mustard
Seasoned flour, for dredging

In a large dish slather fish with mustard and thyme. Marinate a few hrs, to overnight. Heat oil to 350 in a deep fryer. Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any access. Fry until a deep golden brown.
Cindy's notes: I used fresh catfish nuggets, to make it more kid friendly. The pieces were perfect for Mr.B.

Black Eyed Pea Cakes
courtesy of Paula Deen

3 C cooked Black eyed peas ( best if cooked with ham hock), or 2 cans peas cooked with ham hocks
1/2 C cooked chopped bacon
1/3 C roasted red pepper, chopped
flour to help bind
salt and pepper
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs vegetable oil

In a medium bowl, coarsely mash beans with a fork, adding bacon and roasted red pepper. Add just enough flour to bind, season with salt and pepper. Shape into 4 patties and fry in oil/butter until golden and crispy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crock pot Baked Potatoes and Spareribs

I made the best dinner tonight!!! We had a super busy day, so I let the crock pot do all the work. I had purchased a rack of spareribs on sale last month, so decided to try a rub, courtesy of Sandy, from good old CFYF on Baby Center. I rubbed the ribs, last night and let it marinate in the fridge until this afternoon. The meat was perfectly seasoned. The perfect balance of heat, sweetness and saltiness. Not to mention the melt in your mouth aspect of the ribs... To Die For!!!! I had read somewhere about making baked potatoes in the crock and decided to give it a try, since the ribs would have burnt to a crisp otherwise. So I wrapped my potatoes in foil and placed them at the bottom of the pot and placed the ribs on top. 6 hrs on low and the potatoes were perfectly baked and oh so delicious.

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Barbecue Rub

2 cups sugar (I use superfine)
1/4 cup paprika
2 t chili powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 cup salt
2 t black pepper
1 t garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and use as a rub for any barbecue meat. Yields about 3 cups.
Sandy's notes: Rub this into chicken, ribs, fish, or pork chops before grilling, broiling or pan frying. I sprinkle it on beef brisket and cook in the crock pot all day... OK, this rates at the very top for my favorite seasoning!
Cindy's notes: I slathered the ribs with our favorite BBQ sauce and broiled them until bubbly.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sweet and Sour Turkey Balls

This recipe comes from my Mom. Every year, ever since I can remember, she would make Turkey Balls with our leftover holiday turkey. In Canada, we call them Chicken Balls, you know those fluffy battered pieces of chicken, served with sweet and sour sauce, at the Chinese Buffet. Well, somehow my Mom found a batter recipe and started making some at home. It was one of my favorite nights for dinner, and we often fought about how many turkey balls we would each get, LOL. Today my Mom uses a different batter, which is fluffier and makes for a quality ball. So I tired my hand at these little bundles of goodness and was happy that they tasted just like Mom's. This recipe is just as good with leftover chicken breast.

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

Leftover chicken or turkey breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
1C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C of water ( add slowly, you may need more or less)
oil for frying

In a deep fryer, bring oil up to 350 degrees. Mean while cut chicken into 1 inch chunks. Combine dry ingredients into a small bowl and slowly add the water. You may need more or less, what you are looking for is medium thick batter ( a bit thicker than pancake batter). Once oil is up to temp, dip chicken into the batter and fry until dark golden brown. Remove and let drain on a brown paper sack or paper towels. Serve with your favorite Sweet and Sour sauce from the Asian aisle of your grocery store.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments

When I was in second grade, our teacher showed us how to make Christmas ornaments, using a simple dough, that hardened when baked. I remember bringing the recipe home and settling in with my family to make these. We made them from time to time growing up, and it is one of my fondest memories of Christmas, as a child. So this year, I decided to start the tradition with Mr.B. He really enjoyed mixing the dough, rolling it out and cutting with his cookie cutters. He did a wonderful job too, he is growing up so fast. I let them dry an extra day, since they were still a bit soft, after baking them. We finally painted them this morning, and they turned out wonderfully. Mr.B is so proud of his ornaments for the tree. What a great way to start the Holiday Season.

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Baker's Salt Dough Ornament Clay

1C flour
1/2 C salt
1/3 C water

Mix all to form a dough. Add food colorings, if desired, or paint once baked and dry.Roll out and cut with cookie cutters, or shape as desired. Make a hole in the dough, before baking, or insert an ornament hook. Bake in a 275 degree oven, for 1 hr.
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Turkey Rice Soup and Chocolate Brownie Waffles

I love Turkey leftovers! The rest of this week will center around using up leftover turkey. Yesterday was chilly, so it was a perfect opportunity to make a nice pot of soup. I had leftover turkey broth, so decided on Turkey Rice Soup. It was comforting, hearty and delicious. Mr.B gobbled it up, much to my surprise, since this child stays clear of any cooked carrot or celery. This is a great way to use up that dark meat, for I find it imparts a richer flavor to the soup.Quick, easy and healthy, due to the use of brown rice.

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Turkey Rice Soup

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 C turkey broth ( chicken is fine as well)
1 C water
1/2 C brown rice
2 C dark meat turkey, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium soup pot, heat oil over Med heat. Add in onion, celery and carrot and cook until onions become soft and translucent. Add turkey broth, water, thyme, bay leaf, brown rice and turkey. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hr, until the rice is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.


Sometimes a girl just needs chocolate. In any way, shape, or form. I love this recipe because it gives you the chocolate flavor, without too much sugar. I must admit I've served this for breakfast on an occasion or two, but I think it serves as an elegant dessert. Served with fresh strawberries and/or bananas to make it a bit less of a guilty pleasure.

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Chocolate Brownie Waffles

2 Tbs butter/ margarine, melted
1 egg
2 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs cocoa powder
1 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C milk
1/4 C chocolate chips
whipped cream
chocolate sauce
fresh strawberries or bananas

Warm up waffle iron. Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together butter, egg, sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Add in flour and baking powder and slowly add in milk, until batter is smooth ( a bit thicker than pancake batter). Fold in chocolate chips. Pour onto hot waffle iron and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh berries or bananas, a dollop of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and nuts.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Revisiting Thanksgiving

Turkey..... let's face it, you can never get enough. So when Hubby mentioned he could get a Turkey dirt cheap, at work, we pounced on the opportunity ( one of the rare times I enjoy Hubby moonlighting as a butcher, at our local grocery store). Since we don't have a 2nd freezer, we needed to roast this baby up. So we revisited Thanksgiving, last night for dinner.

The turkey was simple, I'm not a fancy girl. I mixed a stick of butter with sea salt, poultry seasoning and pepper. I then slathered the breast, underneath the skin with as much butter as I could. The remaining butter was rubbed on the skin and seasoned with salt and pepper. In the pan and in the oven, Done. I served it with mashed potatoes, Sweet Potato Crunch ( courtesy of Baby Center's CFYF board), corn, a half batch of butter horn rolls, gravy and Turtle Pumpkin Mousse Pie. We ate too much, I felt so sick and even skipped dessert, LOL.

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When I grew up, I'd never seen, let alone tasted, a sweet potato. So 6 yrs ago, when I had Thanksgiving at my Mother in Law's house, she had a sweet potato casserole that I fell in love with. I never did ask her for the recipe, but was fortunate enough to find a similar one on Baby Center's CFYF board. Creamy, sweet and crunchy, perfect.

Sweet Potato Crunch

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
½ c sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ c butter, melted
½ c milk
½ tsp vanilla

Combine above ingredients and spoon into a greased casserole.

Topping: ½ c brown sugar
1 c pecans, chopped
1/3 c flour
1/3 stick butter, melted

Combine topping ingredients and spoon over potato mixture. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 35 minutes.

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This pie was a total fluke, LOL. I originally planned to make a Turtle Pumpkin Pie, from Kraftfoods.com, but got carried away, when adding the whipped cream. I LOVE whipped cream. So I created a light creamy pumpkiny pie, perfect after a heavy meal.

Turtle Pumpkin Mousse Pie

1 box instant vanilla pudding
3/4 C milk
1 C pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 C fresh whipped cream
1/2 C caramel sauce
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 baked pie shell, or graham pie crust

In a bowl, combine pudding mix, milk, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk until smooth. Fold in fresh whipped cream. It the bottom of your pie shell, pour in caramel sauce and top with chopped pecans. Pour mousse into pie shell and refridgerate at least 2 hrs before serving. Garnish with extra whipped cream, caramel sauce and pecans, before serving.

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