Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caramel Corn

I have fond memories of going to Newport Beach every summer and spending time with my hubby's family. It's been a tradition for over 13 years now. Everyone that comes up has their specialities, as far as food goes. Between Vicky's waffles, Sandra's tamales or Donna's Chinese Salad, it's really hard to pick a favorite. But there is one thing I look forward to every year and that's this tasty treat...Caramel Corn! Aunt Vicky has been making this and bringing it up for years. I just found out yesterday it was actually Aunt Sandra's recipe originally. Who's ever it is, I heart them forever for sharing this recipe with me.

Caramel Corn
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup Dark Karo Syrup
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups of Popcorn Kernels
1 tsp baking soda
Dash of Cream of Tarter

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Pop 2 cups of popcorn, set aside. I use this bad boy. My mother in law got it for us and we LOVE it! Makes perfect popcorn every time.

In heavy saucepan, melt butter, syrup, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then let boil for one minute (very important), stirring constantly to caramelize. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and Cream of Tarter. Place popcorn in a new garbage/trash bag. Pour in mixture and mix around so popcorn becomes coated. Pour on cookies sheets and bake at 200 degrees for one hour. Let cool. Enjoy!

I used 3 large cookie sheets but I really could have used 4. It makes that much!

I think I might add cashews next time I make it...YUM YUM!

Monday, October 18, 2010

MEATLESS MONDAY - Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pita Pizza

We have started doing Meatless Monday a few months ago. I can't's been a little rough. We are meat eaters in this family but our docs have told us to cut back on our red meat consumption and meat in general to give our bodies a break. I'm thinking, NO PROBLEM, how hard can it be, right? WRONG! If you're not used to a vegetarian diet, it's a little scary and frustrating coming up with main meals that make you feel full and satisfied. Well this pita pizza hit the spot. Not only was it delicious but it was probably the fastest meal I have ever made for dinner, no joke! I was in such a hurry to get my daughter to dance I bought the ingredients, ran in the door and had this on the table in 10 minutes. It was tasty, filling and COMBO ever when cooking dinner.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Can of artichokes hearts, roughly chopped
Fresh spinach
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
I didn't include measurements because it's really all up to how much you like and how many family members you have to feed.
Spread pesto over the pita bread
Add the spinach, artichokes, and mozzarella and Parmesan.
Season with black pepper.
Place pitas on a baking sheet and stick under a preheated broiler for about 5 minutes or until your cheese is melted and the top starts to brown.
Your body and your heart will thank you for this meatless dish :)
I got this recipe off the Meatless Monday website. They have some great ideas...check it out:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cream Puffs with Vanilla filling

Left puff is sandwich style. Right puff has vanilla pipped inside.

My mother in law was coming over to spend the night so I decided to make these cream puffs with vanilla filling for her, my son and husband. I can't even tell you how easy they were to put together and fill. These cream puffs would be perfect for a tea-party, baby shower or any special occasion. I filled these puffs with a vanilla pudding but you can add whatever pudding flavor you want. You can also drizzle them with chocolate or add powdered sugar like I did.

What I love about this recipe is that really, it's THAT easy and it looks like you've been baking for hours.

Ingredients needed:

  • For Filling:

  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk

For Puffs:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs


Make pudding according to directions, except use 2 cups of cream and 1 cup of milk as the liquids. Cover and refrigerate so it can set.

In the meantime, preheat overn to 425 degrees. In a pot, bring water and butter to a boil. Stir in the flour and sald until the mixture forms a ball. Take the dough ball and place into a large mixing bowl. Take the three eggs and add them all at once to the dough mixture and using a stand mixer or a hand mixer and mix on medium for 1-2 minutes until you get a tacky dough.

Drop dough on an ungreased baking sheet using a tablespoon.Bake for 20 minutes. As soon as they are golden brown, remove from oven and using a small sharp knife, poke a hold on the side of the puff to let out steam. Let puffs cool off before piping the vanilla inside. If you don't have a pipping tool, take a zip lock bag, add vanilla pudding inside and cut the tip off of one of the corners to use as a pipping bag. You can also cut the top off of the puff and add vanilla pudding almost like you're making a sandwich.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

BLT Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

This salad was so yummy and refreshing. Also quick and easy. You can pretty much put what you want in it. We love BLTs in this house and we love to add cheddar and avocado to them so I adjusted the salad to my taste. And the dressing...OH SO YUMMY!

Romaine Lettuce
or whatever else you like

Salad Dressing: Recipe below

Avocado Ranch Dressing:
1 whole avocado
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbl buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 garlic clove, minced

Mash the avocado in a bowl. Add the mayo, sour cream, buttermilk and vinegar. Add the parsley, dill weed, onion powder and garlic. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
If your dressing is to thick you can add more vinegar or buttermilk to your liking.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bakin Bacon

I grew up in a family where we fried our bacon in its own grease. Then we would save that grease and use it to flavor EVERYTHING! Yes I know, heart attack waiting to happen...and it did...several times in our bueno! Last summer I went to stay at my husband's cousin's house, Sarah and Joseph...LOVE THEM! Sarah baked her bacon and it was delicious! I have seen several cooks on Food Network bake their bacon but I really thought it was for speeding things up and really not so much for flavor. But after trying it at Sarah's I was sold. It was crunchier, and so much less greasy than the way I have always made it.

This way of making bacon is less time consuming of YOUR won't have to stand over a pan turning pieces of bacon only to find out that your shirt is completely ruined by all the grease splatters and this way also doesn't stink your house and your freshly washed hair to high heaven.

For perfect crispy baked bacon:

First line a baking sheet with foil or place a baking rack over the baking sheet (for less grease).

Lay the bacon out side by side but not touching.

Place in a cold oven and turn the oven to 400 degrees...and WALK AWAY!

I like my bacon super crispy so I left it in there for 30 minutes. But you can check yours after 20 or so minutes and see how you like it.

Once the bacon is done, transfer it to another baking sheet lined with paper towels so the towels can soak up the grease.

I read on one site you can slightly undercook the bacon and then freeze it and when you're ready for it, you can pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. I haven't tried it yet so I have no idea how it tastes. But if it's good, that's a quick way to heat up some bacon for a breakfast sandwich in the a.m. and something even the kiddies could do.