Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jello Popcorn

I hadn't had this popcorn in so long, I had forgotten all about it! My friend Chanda made some for the 4th of July.  She made red, white, and blue, layered them in a bag, and tied it with a festive ribbon. It was so cute! I stole her idea and made some as a birthday party favor. I made berry blue, lemon, and lime. It's not hard to make and is a really fun treat!

Jello Popcorn
adapted from
2 (3.3oz) bags natural microwave popcorn, popped
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP corn syrup
3 TBSPs water
1 (3oz) box Jello

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
2. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl (I mean LARGE); remove unpopped kernels.
3. In a medium size saucepan mix margarine, sugar, corn syrup, water, and Jello over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Continue to let it boil while stirring it, for about 3 or 4 minutes, till it is nice and thick.
4. Pour the Jello mixture onto the popcorn and stir it until the all the popcorn is well coated. Pour the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly.
5. Bake for 20 mins, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven and place cookie sheet on a wire cooling rack. When cool, break apart into small pieces.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spinach Lasagna

When we do have lasagna, it usually comes from the frozen aisle. :) This lasagna recipe takes just a few ingredients and tastes MUCH better than the frozen stuff. It has no meat, and uses low fat cottage cheese.

Spinach Lasagna
adapted from
2 eggs, beaten
1 container (16 oz.) low fat cottage cheese
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided (the powdered stuff)
1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce, divided
9 lasagna noodles, cooked

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, 2 cups mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
3. Layer 1 cup spaghetti sauce, 3 lasagna noodles and half the cottage cheese mixture in 13x9-inch baking dish. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce and remaining cheeses.
4. Bake 45 min. or until heated through. Let stand 10 min. before serving.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

I have finally found it! I will no longer be looking for a go-to vanilla cupcake recipe. This is just what I've been looking for! Somewhat dense, and easy to make. The only tricky thing about it is everything needs to be room temperature, so get the ingredients out of your fridge at least a couple of hours before you want to make them. I have even made them ahead of time and stuck them in the freezer for a few days and they still turn out perfect. It is the Sprinkles recipe I found here, but I changed it up to make them vanilla. 

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from a Sprinkles recipe
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 tsps pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk and vanilla; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (I use a muffin scoop that holds about 1/4 a cup).Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Makes 12 cupcakes

I used this frosting recipe:

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP cream

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together butter and sugar. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pistachio Pineapple Delight

This is a fun and easy fruity salad. Great for summer or Easter dinner. It's more commonly known as Watergate Salad. Not much more to say about it except...try it!

Pistachio Pineapple Delight
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, in juice, undrained
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) pistachio flavor instant pudding
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed

1. In a large bowl, mix pineapple, pudding, marshmallows, and pecans until well blended.
2. Fold in Cool Whip.
3. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
4. Garnish with additional Cool Whip and pecans, if desired.

Makes 8, 1/2 cup servings.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

This is a dinner I make every once in awhile that my whole family will eat.  It's an easy meal and takes only a few ingredients.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake
adapted from
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg (6 oz.) stuffing mix for chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine tomatoes, stuffing mix, water, and garlic. Stir just until stuffing mix is moistened.
3. Layer chicken and then cheese in 3-qt. casserole or 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with stuffing mixture.
4. Bake 30 min. or until chicken is done. 6 servings, 1 cup each

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

I made these this week and we loved them. No oven or stove top required. All you need is a microwave. They are like a super duper rice krispie treat, and I love the saltiness that you get from the pretzels.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
adapted from pampered chef
3 cups mini pretzel twists, coarsley crushed (about 1 2/3 cups), divided
3 cups crisp rice cereal
3/4 cup butter, divided
1 bag (10.5 oz) miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

1. Spray 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl place 1 1/3 cups of crushed pretzels (set aside remaining 1/3 cup). Add crisp rice cereal and mix.
3. Place 6 TBSPs of the butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 60-90 seconds or until melted. Add marshmallows; microwave on high 60-90 seconds. Stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Immediately add marshmallow mixture to to crushed pretzel and cereal mixture in mixing bowl; mix well. Spread crust evenly over prepared pan; firmly press into pan.
4. Combine 2 TBSPs of the butter and 1/4 cup corn syrup in medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave, on high 60-90 seconds or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in peanut butter chips; mix until melted (mixture will be stiff). Spread peanut butter mixture over crust.
5. For ganache, place remaining 2 TBSPs butter and 1/4 cup of corn syrup in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 60-90 seconds or until melted. Stir in chocolate chips; mix until smooth. Spread ganache evenly over peanut butter mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts and reserved pretzels. Place in freezer 5-10 minutes or until ganache is set. Cut into 24 squares; cut squares in half.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

I made this for the 4th of July breakfast at our church. It went so fast my husband didn't even get to try any, so I had to make it again. It kinda reminds me of this recipe here, with the cubed french bread and the egg mixture poured over the top. The trick to making it not too soggy is using dried out bread. If you're using fresh french bread you can easily crisp it up a little by spreading out your cubes on a baking sheet and sticking them under the broiler for a few seconds, watch them close though.

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Casserole
adapted from
1 package hot pork sausage
10 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups milk
2 tsps dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 loaf french bread, cubed (day old or dried out bread works best)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x13in. baking dish.
2. Brown sausage in large skillet. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard and salt; stir well.
3. Distribute half the bread evenly in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half the pepper, half the cheese, half the sausage, and half the green onions. Repeat layering using remaining bread, pepper, cheese, sausage and optional ingredients. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole.
4. Bake uncovered for 55 to 60 minutes, or until eggs are set. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly.

Note: Casserole may be assembled ahead and refrigerated up to 12 hours before baking.

Friday, July 1, 2011

South-of-the-Border Sandwiches

In the summer I like to have lighter dinners that don't keep the oven on for too long. These yummy sandwiches make a great summer meal. Feel free to leave off the avocado on a few slices if your husband is picky.

South-of-the-Border Sandwiches
adapted from Lion House
8-10 slices of French bread
½ cup olives, chopped
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp salt
½ cup mayo
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
¾ to 1 pound cooked turkey, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded colby jack cheese

1. In a bowl, combine olives, chili powder, cumin and salt; set aside 2 tablespoons of this mixture. Add the mayo, sour cream, and green onions to the remaining olive mixture.
2. Place bread on an ungreased baking sheet and spread 1 tablespoon of the mayo mixture on each slice. Top with slices of turkey and tomatoes. Spread with another tablespoon of the mayo mixture. Top with sliced avocados and cheese. Sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons of olive mixture.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through. Makes 8 to 10 servings.