Friday, November 25, 2011

Cheeseball Appetizer

I've made a lot of different (but very similar) cheeseballs. Once I made cheeseball truffles, rolled in different mix-ins, for a baby shower. For Thanksgiving, Maggie and I made this snowman cheeseball from Betty Crocker. We didn't use the recipe, just the snowman idea. Here's my generic cheeseball recipe with some mix-in/roll-in ideas.

1 pkg cream cheese
2 c. grated cheese

Blend together.

That's it! You can use any kind of cheese for a different flavor. I just use my standard colby-jack. I like to mix chopped green onion in mine, but here are some more ideas for mixing into the cheeseball, or pressing/rolling onto the outside:
1/2 t. dry mustard
chopped walnuts
chopped pecans
sesame seeds
diced olives
diced sundried tomatoes
diced red pepper

To make the snowman, we "frosted" two cheeseballs with some cream cheese whipped with milk. We used raisins, a carrot, pretzel sticks, and celery to decorate. I used a peeler to make thin strips of celery for the scarf. Maggie was a really big help.

Monday, November 21, 2011

John's "Deceptive" Andes Mint Cookies

Several years ago, John made and delivered these cookies to his Home Teaching families. Later, at church, one of the ladies told him his cookies were "deceptive!" They look just like chocolate chip cookies, but the Andes Mint chunks provide a much different flavor.

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 pkg Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
2 2/3 c. flour

Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs. Stir in baking chips and then flour. Chill dough 1 hour. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Layered Pasta Salad

I combined two recipes into dinner tonight. John and I both would have preferred a lighter dressing, but I really liked the combination of ingredients I used.

Layered Pasta Salad

1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 cups cooked small shell pasta
1 cup diced cooked ham
1/2 cup ranch dressing mixed with 1/2 cup mayo
1 cup cheese cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cashews
2 sliced green onions

Stir just before serving. Mix it up before you serve. Distribute the dressing. Do it.

Maggie helped make dinner and was a BIG help. She was so proud of herself, too. She measured, stirred and poured, and I cut up some strips of cheese for her to cut into cubes with a plastic knife.

Dalton was not a big help. Sorry, boy. He also refused to eat any dinner. Sigh. He's cute, though.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Food

We've done some fun food things for Halloween this year. My favorite was probably the Stuffed Pepper Jack-o-Lanterns - mostly because the Mexican Stuffed Pepper recipe I've been using is sooo good. The kids loved the ghost bananas best.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cafe Rio Cilantro-Lime Rice (Copycat)

I made a few other Cafe Rio copycate recipes, but this one for Cilantro-Lime Rice is the only one that stuck around. We've had it quite a few times.

Cafe Rio Cilantro-Lime Rice Copycat Recipe
4 T. butter
2 c. rice
2 cans chicken broth
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. lime juice
1/2 t. cumin

Boil on low until rice is cooked. Add 2 T. chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Caramel Apple Cider

Caramel Apple Cider
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 c. apple juice
1/2 c. water

Boil cream and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add cider and water and heat until cider begins to steam. Divide into four mugs and top with whipped cream., if desired.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

More muffins. More pumpkin muffins. And these ones are even better. I got the recipe from Baking Bites, but I didn't follow it (shocking). I will add more of the original spices once they're available to me, because John thought they needed more spice.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
1/2 c. butter, melted
3/4 c. pumpkin
1/2 c. yogurt or milk (yes, I used milk once and it was fine)
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves (didn't have)
pinch nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice (didn't have)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar

Streusel Topping
1/2 c. soft butter
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
pinch salt
1/2 t. cinnamon

The usual muffin-making deal: Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Blend together just until moist. Mix up topping into a crumb. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Add topping. Bake at 400 16-19 minutes. Yum.

Taco Ring

I got the idea for a Taco Ring here, but I wanted something to cover the meat completely (and also I wouldn't use Pillsbury crescent rolls even if I had them). I used a full recipe of pizza dough, divided in half and rolled into two ovals, with the centers cut out. Pile on cooked taco meat and some cheese...
Add the top layer and bake! Ours baked at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with taco toppings, salsa, or (in our case) Ranch dressing.
This would be even easier if you had cooked ground beef already in your freezer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes

I made these heart-shaped red velvet pancakes for John's birthday. I poured the batter into an empty syrup bottle so I could easily make heart shapes. I thought they were good, and the kids really loved them, but John didn't seem very impressed. This recipe made plenty for the four of us.

Red Velvet Pancakes
2 c. flour
2 T. cocoa
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 eggs
2 T. melted butter or oil
2 c. buttermilk (milk with a dash of vinegar)
2 t. vanilla extract
red food coloring

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Add food coloring if desired. I added a few drops of pink food coloring and the finished pancakes don't look very red. I served them with fresh whipped cream.

Texas Sheet Cake

Why is this recipe not on my blog? Sheesh. Here it is NOT in a sheet pan, since I made this one in a tiny toaster oven, but it's too delicious to keep from you any longer. Grandma June LOVED this cake and I always made sure to bring her a piece.
Texas Sheet Cake Recipe
2 cubes butter
1 c. water
1/4 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. buttermilk (milk with a dash of vinegar)
1 t. baking soda
2 eggs
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla

Boil butter, water, and cocoa. Stir in flour, sugar and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Grease and flour a sheet pan. Bake 20 minutes at 375.

Fudge Frosting
1 cube butter
1/4 c. cocoa
6 T. milk
3 c. icing sugar
1 t. vanilla

Boil butter, cocoa and milk. Stir in vanilla, and add powdered sugar until smooth. Pour over cake while hot.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Like the Mini Beef and Potato Pies, this recipe freezes well. There's something about encasing food in dough that makes it delicious and freezable. I used shredded taco chicken and cheese as filling, and we dipped the empanadas in ranch dressing.

Empanada Dough Recipe

4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
1/2 c. cold butter, cut up
1 c. cold water
1 lightly beaten with 1.5 T. water

Cut butter into dry ingredients. Add cold water until dough comes together. Knead into two smooth balls. Roll 1/4" thick and cut into 4 or 5 inch circles. Fill with 2 t. filling, fold in half, and crimp the edges.

Brush with egg and bake at 400° for 25-35 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Apple Struesel Muffins

After breakfast this morning John said, "That was amazing!" A high compliment of itself, but John rarely even comments on his meals, so you know these have got to be good. See, here's Dalton just waiting to take a bite!

The oiginal recipe is from Baking Bites.

Streusel Topping
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. butter
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Mix until coarse crumbs.

Apple Muffin
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. oil
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk (I use milk with a dash of white vinegar)
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. grated apple (2 small)

These are general instructions for making all types of muffins: Mix wet ingredients (including the grated apple in this case). Mix all dry ingredients. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet just until moist.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Top with streusel topping and bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.

The first time I made these, we didn't have any walnuts. Butter and brown sugar on top = yum!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. pumpkin pie spice (I just use cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg)
1 c. pumpkin puree (I use fresh, which is why my muffins are so light in color)
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Mix pumpkin puree with sugar. Blend in oil and eggs. Mix remaining dry ingredients and fold into pumpkin mixture just until moistened.

Divide into muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar topping. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Mini Beef and Potato Pies

I got this recipe from my cousin Jill, whose pies are much prettier. She adapted it from a book, I adapted it when writing it down, and Kannagi adapted it when making it, so it's been through a lot. These were really delicious, and easy to double and freeze.

Mini Beef and Potato Pies
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced
1 T. minced garlic
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 c. carrot, diced
1 bay leaf
2 T. oil
2 T. flour
1 c. chicken broth
1 egg

Cook meat, onion and garlic in oil. Sprinkle with flour. Add chicken broth. Simmer 15 minutes. Add carrot, potato and bay leaf. Simmer 15-25 minutes, stirring, until potato is cooked.

Pie Crust
1/2 c. butter
2 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
6-8 T. cold water

Mix all ingredients together. Roll the dough out and cut into 6 inch circles. Put each circle in a muffin cup and fill with meat mixture. Top with 4 inch circles of dough. Brush egg on top of dough.

Bake 30 minutes at 350.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Indian Food: Chapati and Roti Breads

Chapati and Roti are Indian flatbreads - unleavened and cooked on a grill. The main difference between the two is that Roti is brushed with oil before cooking. It's basically exactly like a flour tortillas, though Indians usually use atta, 100% whole wheat flour, and there's no baking powder.

Chapati/Roti Indian Bread Recipe
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1/4 t. salt
1 T. oil
1/2 c. water + T or so

Mix the dry ingredients and the oil. Add water and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and just a a little sticky. Knead for 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.

Break off about a tablespoon of dough and form into a smooth ball. Roll the dough out into a very thin circle.

Cook the chapati on a dry grill. To make roti, brush each side of the flattened dough with oil before cooking on the griddle.

Indian Food: Naan

Kannagi had never heard of naan, so I think it might be a North Indian food. South Indians use chapati or roti to mop up their "gravy" instead.

Naan Indian Bread Recipe
1 T. yeast
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
3 T. milk
1 egg, beaten
2 t. salt
4 1/2 c. flour
2 t. garlic
1/4 c. melted butter

Mix yeast, water and sugar and let stand 10 minutes. Mix in remaining ingredients, except butter. Rise 1 hour. Form into balls. Rise 1/2 hour. Roll balls thinly, brush with melted butter and grill on each side.

Indian Butter Chicken

A recipe for Indian Butter Chicken already exists on this blog. This is Kannagi's version, with added potatoes, because I'd rather eat a potato than a chicken.

1 T. butter
2 T. cashew nut

Fry the nuts in butter and remove.

1 T. butter
1 chopped onion

Add to pan and fry until onion is cooked.

2 T. ginger garlic paste

(you can buy this in a packet, or make your own by pureeing 1 T. garlic and 1 T. ginger root)
Add to pan and fry.

1/2 lb chicken cubes
1/2 lb potato cubes
1/4 t. turmeric
1/4 t. chili powder
1/4 t. coriander powder
1/4 t. garam masala

Add to pan and fry.

4-5 tomatoes, pureed

Add to pan and fry. When potatoes and chicken are done, add:

1/2 c. coconut milk
1 T. chopped cilantro

Heat through.

Serve with rice and naan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

English Muffins

Yep, homemade English Muffins. These are made a lot like pancakes, except that you let the batter rise. They are really yummy, and the kids love them, too. This recipe is adapted from a version adapted from the original Alton Brown recipe. He suggests making them in a 3-inch ring, or a tuna can with top and bottom removed. So if you want yours circular, go for it.

English Muffin Recipe
1/3 c. warm water
1 T. sugar
2 1/2 t. yeast
1 c. warm milk
3/4 t. salt
2 c. flour

Mix water, sugar, and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix in milk, salt and flour until smooth. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Scoop 1/4 c. of the batter onto a hot griddle. Good luck with that. I found the batter to be too thick - it stayed in a mound, rather than settling down so the top could be flat when I flipped it. I ended up stirring in an extra 2-3 T. water. I've made these three times and thought the batter was too thick each time. None of the other recipes I found show a picture of the batter, so here you go. This is after the 2-3 T. extra water. I'll add 2-3 T. extra milk in before rising next time.

Cook until brown on the bottom and set on the top, then flip. Cook until brown.

Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes. Split with a fork, toast and enjoy!

Orange Rolls

We used to eat the Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls quite a lot of breakfast. This week I tried a from-scratch recipe for them and I was pleased at how easy they were to make and how good they were. I think they were also less unhealthy than the Pillsbury ones.

I cut the recipe in half and it made 12 rolls which was plenty for four adults. I also made them the night before, left the rolls covered in the fridge and popped them in the oven the next morning.

This is the first time I've ever had the opportunity to cut rolls using thread and it worked great! I don't make cinnamon rolls, and Kannagi made the dough, so of course it was perfect.

Orange Rolls Recipe
5 c. flour
1 1/4 c. milk
1 T. yeast
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
2 T. orange zest
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Mix yeast and 2 c. flour. Heat milk, butter and sugar until warm (butter will be almost melted). Add to 2 c. flour and yeast. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in salt, orange zest and orange juice. Add as much of the remaining flour as you can and knead 10-15 minutes.

Rise 1 hour.

Roll the dough into two 9x13 rectangles. Mix 1/2 c. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon. Sprinkle each rectangle of dough with cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Cut into 1-inch rounds using a piece of thread.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Orange Icing Recipe
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. orange zest
1-2 T. orange juice

Mix powdered sugar and orange zest. Blend in just enough orange juice to make an icing texture. It doesn't take as much as you think!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Peanut Butter Muffins

What is Dalton eating with such zest? Why it's a peanut butter muffin! We've been trying lots of muffin recipes around here. This one is courtesy of weezie at Mommysavers.

Peanut Butter Muffins
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soft butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in peanut butter and butter. Add milk and eggs and stir just until moist. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Indian Food: Veg Biryani and Raita

6 months after coming to India, I have finally learned how to cook Indian food. One dish at least. Biryani (minus copious amounts of chili powder) is one of the Indian dishes we've found that we like. I just fed the last of the leftovers to Dalton for lunch and he gobbled it down. There is a veg version and a chicken version. In one you use vegetables, in the other, chicken. Apparently, it's weird to mix the two, but I've been doing so anyway.

Veg or Chicken Biryani Recipe
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 small red onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced or pureed
1 teaspoon ginger, minced or pureed
2 tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon coriander leaf (cilantro)
1 teaspoon mint leaf
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup sliced green beans
1/2 lb cubed chicken
1 cup rice
2 cups water

Cook the first set of ingredients in the oil until onion is soft. Add the ginger-garlic paste and tomatoes. Add the cilantro and mint, the yogurt, and the powdered spices. Stir in the veggies and chicken. Add rice and water. Cook until rice and chicken are done.

Raita is a condiment used to take the heat off some Indian dishes. It reminds me of eating sour cream, lettuce, and pico de gallo with enchiladas.

Raita Recipe
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 t. cilantro, chopped
dash salt


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

This delicious, summery dessert is basically lemon bars with strawberry puree mixed in the lemon curd. Recipe from Baking Bites, but you could just use your own lemon bar recipe and just mix in some pureed strawberries if you like.

This recipe is the same as my favorite lemon squares recipe (originally from Food Network), with the yummy addition of pureed strawberries.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars Recipe
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 c. flour
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. salt

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 3/4 cup berries)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour

Cream together butter and sugar. Add flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Press into an even layer in a greased 9x13 pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350.

Mix lemon juice, lemon zest, pureed strawberries, sugar and eggs until smooth. Add in flour. Pour filling over hot crust. Reduce oven temp to 325 and bake 30 additional minutes, or until set.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Glazed Pear Crepes

I invented this recipe for Glazed Pear crepe filling after we ate at a French cafe and saw it on the menu (too late to order it). It was delicious and we'll definitely be having it again.

Glazed Pear Crepe Filling Recipe

2 pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple juice (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
dash cinnamon

Boil pears in apple juice until soft, if required. Drain. If you are using canned pears, or if your pears are really ripe you can probably skip this step, but pears in India don't ever seem to ripen.

Melt butter in pan and add brown sugar and cinnamon . Saute pears in butter and brown sugar until it forms a glaze sauce that clings to the pears.

Spoon the glazed pear filling into a crepe and top with some whipped cream.

Here is my mom's crepe recipe as well. Crepes are really easy to make.

Crepe Recipe

1 c. cold water
1 c. cold milk
4 eggs
1/2 t. salt
2 c. flour
4 T. melted butter

Blend all ingredients in the blender.

Pour about 1/4 c. batter into a heated, 6 inch non-stick frying pan (don’t grease it). Swirl the pan around, off the heat, until it is covered in batter, then pour out the excess. Cook until lightly browned, flip and cook about 10 more seconds to brown the other side.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Playdough Recipe

I have been using a new playdough recipe that seems to be a bit more elastic and doesn't require cream or tartar (which is unavailable in India). I think it makes a good amount for three colors.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
1 packet Kool-Aid or a few drops of food coloring
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 tablespoons oil

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Puffy Pancakes

We call these puffy pancakes because we called them Dutch pancakes growing up and John called them German pancakes and we could never agree. So, we started a new tradition. This is Maggie's favorite breakfast.

This recipe is easy to remember because you just need 1 of everything. (4 eggs = 1 cup)

4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Turn the oven on to 425. Put the butter in a 9x9 glass dish and put it in the oven until the butter is melted. Mix the remaining ingredients well. Once the butter is melted, remove from the oven and turn the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Don't open the door while it's baking!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

White Cake with Strawberry Cream Filling and Strawberry Frosting

Maggie requested "strawberry" for her birthday cake. She also wanted an animals party, and we ended up with a strawberry circus elephant cake! I made a white cake, filled it with strawberry cream, and frosted it with homemade strawberry frosting. It was delicious, if you like excess of sugar.

To make the elephant cake, I baked two round cakes, and cut a cone-shaped trunk out of the center of one. The two sides of the cut cake served as the ears. I had to cut and bend the trunk, as it didn't fit on the baking sheet.

White Cake Recipe
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (yes, tablespoons)
3 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat well until fluffy. Beat it a lot, or your cake will be heavy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Again, beat the batter a lot. Stir in vanilla extract, then add flour mixed with baking powder. Stir in milk until batter is smooth.
Bake in two greased 9" pans at 350 for 30-40 minutes (until cake springs back when touched).

Strawberry Cream Filling Recipe
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup diced strawberries

Beat cream with sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Stir in strawberries. Don't make this too long beforehand or the cream will sink.

Split the cake in the center, remove the top half and spread with strawberry cream filling. Replace the top half of the cake.

Strawberry Frosting Recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup strawberries, pureed (about 1/4 cup after pureeing)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter, and blend in strawberry puree and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar until you get a frosting consistency.

This stuff is so good. It tastes like strawberry ice cream. This made just enough to frost two separate cakes, including all the cut edges.