Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mini Puff Pancakes

EJ is not a difficult child to please. She is happy and generally excited about all we do. But...if I really want to make her day I whip up a quick batch of Mini Puff Pancakes.
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch or a Snack--this will certainly please. There is something wonderful  about anything in miniature. These little gems are no exception.
Toppings? Fruit, powdered sugar, syrup, Nutella and of course a bit of whipped cream. Let your child choose their favorite. EJ loves raspberries and whipped cream, great choice.

Mini Puff Pancakes
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons melted butter
Place a mini muffin pan in the oven and heat to 400 degrees. While oven is heating mix together flour, milk, eggs and salt. I use my Immersion Blender, blend till smooth. Remove hot pan and quickly brush each well with melted butter. Fill each well 3/4 full. I used a mini muffin scoop. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes till puffed and golden. Serve immediately with your favorite topping.
Makes 24 Puff Pancakes
Printable Recipe

Monday, September 1, 2014

Taco Seasoning and Taco Chicken Tenders

I needed some Taco Seasoning for a recipe and was out of my favorite Penzy blend. No fear, within seconds I had more Taco Seasoning recipes than one could ever need. I wondered how there could be so many different recipes for the same thing??? I chose one that I had all the ingredients for, because I did need it immediately. It was very tasty; I saved the recipe and knew I had to blog about it quickly as I have a very short memory.
So, throw out your prepackaged Taco Seasoning--it has too much sugar and salt (read the label) and other stuff. This was delicious!

Taco Seasoning
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix together, use in any recipe calling for Taco Seasoning.
Printable Recipe

Slightly altered from Allrecipes

Taco Chicken Tenders
Use about 1 tablespoon per pound on chicken tenders. Fry chicken in a tablespoon of oil about 4 minutes per side. The chicken has a beautiful color and is so tasty. Serve with roasted veggies and fresh fruit. Easily a 30 minute meal.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chicken Taco Salad

According to Pioneer Woman you can make this meal in 16 minutes! That may be stretching it a bit but with a helper you could pull it off in no time. This is the perfect season for this salad, fresh corn and tomatoes make it wonderful. I served it for my dinner group and it got rave reviews.

Chicken Taco Salad
3/4 cup Ranch Dressing (I used Lighthouse but I'm sure you could make your own)
1/4  cup Salsa--I used Pace Medium Salsa
3 tablespoons finely minced Cilantro
Mix together and refrigerate, covered.

2 Chicken Breasts or 6-8 Tenders
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning, I used this recipe, it is my new favorite recipe--check it out. But I'm sure you can use packaged Taco Seasoning
2 tablespoons Butter
1 tablespoon Oil
Generously season chicken with Taco Seasoning. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, cook till golden brown on both sides and done in the middle. Remove chicken, allow to cool and dice.
Place the ears of corn in the skillet and roll around, cook on medium high until it has a bit of a charred look. Slice off the kernels with a sharp knife

Shredded greens--I used romaine, spinach and Napa. That is what was in the crisper, Napa is a Chinese cabbage, it has a mild flavor and a light crunch, I use it often. I shred the greens with a sharp Chef's knife and put them in a salad spinner. I like to prepare salad greens in the morning and let them chill. This gives you a great jump on dinner. Or use a package of prewashed greens.
sliced green onions
julienne carrots
diced red pepper
diced tomato
sliced olives
shredded pepper jack cheese
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
slightly crushed tortilla chips
2 ears of corn
I like to serve this 'Salad Bar' style. Put the greens, green onions, carrots and cilantro in a large bowl. Put chicken, corn, red peppers, tomatoes, olives, shredded cheese and avocado in small bowls. Let each person make their own salad--just the way they like it! Top salads with dressing and crushed tortilla chips. This salad is beautiful platted on a large platter, it is so fresh and colorful.
Printable Recipe
This is my new favorite salad. For very detailed step by step instructions check out Pioneer Woman.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Macadamia Nut, Coconut, White Chocolate Blondies

I made these yummy treats twice in the same weekend! That is how good they are. I was asked to make a treat with an 'Island Theme'. Not hard at all, macadamias came to my mind as well as coconut. White chocolate is a perfect complement to these ingredients. I checked my Pinterest boards and found.the perfect bar from The Brown Eyed Baker, a blog that always pleases.
I made a couple of very minor changes and was so happy with the results. Just a few notes that will insure a perfect bar. Measure the brown sugar by weight, it is easy to pack a few extra tablespoons of brown sugar in each cup. I love my scale and use in daily--many times! Please take a few extra minutes and toast the coconut, it really is better.

Macadamia Nut, Coconut and White Chocolate Blondies
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (10.5 ounces)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups toasted coconut (toast coconut on a parchment lined pan for 7-9 minutes at 350, stir often)
1 cup macadamia nut, coarsely chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt--set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the butter and brown sugar until combined. Add eggs and vanilla, whisk together. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, using a rubber spatula gently combine the ingredients, do not over mix. Gently mix in the coconut, white chocolate chips and macadamias.
Using a small offset spatula smooth the batter into a 9x13 inch pan that has been sprayed, lined with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang and sprayed again. Bake at 350 degrees for about 23-25 minutes. The top will be shiny and firm to the touch.
Cool completely in pan. Remove the bars using the parchment overhang, transfer to a cutting board. Cut in desired size bars. Can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for 5 days, or frozen for a month.
Printable Recipe

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Under 8 Group

Just a few photos of the children that can't wait to be 8! Young cousins enjoyed a splash park, playing in Grammy's yard and getting to know each other.

Candise, Paul, Amber and Annie May. It is so fun to have my kids visit!

Amelia and Baylee--I'm not sure if this was before the biting incident or after, but they look like they are having a great time together!

Three Amigos--looks like fun!
And let's no forget the babies--these two cuties are close to walking!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

8 is Great!

I went to the funeral of a dear friends mother. I was amazed at how the grandchildren talked of her with love, admiration and excitement. Her children and grandchild were spread across the United States but somehow she had managed to help build a wonderful family culture. I had to know more--my children and grandchildren are also miles apart.
I went to lunch with Sara and begged her for info, I wanted to know more about this amazing grandma. Sara told me of how each summer she had the grandchild come to a 'grandma's camp'. They spent time in the mountains, hiked, made family flags and got to know each other. As a result the grandchildren got to know the grandparents better and the cousins built lasting relationships. Somehow I had to implement some form of this in our family.

Eight is Great was born! Greg and I decided to have a Eight is Great Camp for our five oldest grandchildren. We planned, adjusted schedules and made arrangements. We sent out invitations and planned for the big event. And it was a grand event!

We started our Camp with a Eight is Great cheer (remember I am married to a Silver Beaver who knows the value of a great campfire program). We talked for a minute about mining for Gold, Flecks of Gold or little bits of happiness that when combined make one wonderful life. At this point one grandson said, 'this is starting to sound like church'! But Greg knows that a Scoutmaster's Minute really should be a minute. We quickly started the activities! Which included:
--a Dutch oven dessert, Cherry Surprise Cake
--star gazing
-- LED finger lights
--sleeping out under the stars
--a hike to Stewart Falls
--cookout in the canyon
--water slide
--decorating canvas backpacks with fabric markers
--a rousing hour of Tenzi
--decorating treasure boxes--complete with stamped postcards and address labels, we hoped to encourage communication with cousins
--singing to the radio as we traveled about
--a movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2
--no event would be complete without dinner at Taco Amigo
--we had a good-bye cheer and talked of 'next time'.

This all took place in 48 hours! It was a perfect amount of time, for the children and grandparents. It really was a magical event. It was exciting to see the grandchildren get to know each other. I do think it was the beginning of something wonderful!
Thanks to my children for helping us make this happen. In two years we will have 4 more over eight year olds. I think I better start planning!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sauteed Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce

This delicious chicken can really be done and on the table with simple sides in 30 minutes. Not to bad for a weeknight meal. But this weeknight meal is good enough for Sunday Dinner or company. You will probably have everything in the fridge/freezer to made this great dish.

Sauteed Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce
2-3 small boneless skinless chicken breast
(1 used one large breast and pounded it to a uniform thickness--not necessary with smaller pieces of meat. You want meat close to the same thickness so it will cook uniform--you your good judgement.)
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth--I didn't have any open so I used hot water and 1/4 teaspoon concentrated chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 scant tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon--a yummy underused spice. 2 tablespoons of garden fresh basil would have been yummy instead of the dried tarragon

Assemble all ingredient before beginning. Add oil to skillet, I used a heavy stainless steel skillet, set at medium heat for about 2 minutes till oil is smoking. Add chicken that has been salted and peppered to hot pan. Reduce heat to a medium low and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. You want the chicken nice and brown and about 165 degrees. Remember meat continues to cook a few degrees after you take it off the heat. Remove the chicken to a warm plate and tent with foil.
Add chicken broth to hot pan stir up browned bits on the bottom of the pan, this is where the flavor hangs out.continue to stir and to reduce by half, it happens quickly. Add cream, desired herb, Dijon Mustard stir and reduce till slightly thick--it will also thicken as it cools Check for seasonings.. Slice your meat in serving size portions. Drizzle mustard cream over chicken.
I served this quick meal with microwaved carrots,sprinkled with a little brown sugar, butter and an oh so small amount of fresh Rosemary. Steamed baby spinach just needed a few drops of red wine vinegar.
One excellent meal in just 30 minutes.
Printable Recipe
This recipe comes from Everyday Food--Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart
Also on one of my favorite Blogs Let's Dish, Danelle always has something yummy on her blog--check it out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chopped Summer Salad

I pinned this salad ages ago--it looked so fresh and good. It's a perfect mix of a chopped salad and a pasta salad. I took it to dinner group and it was a hit. I picked our first ripe tomato today--perfect timing for this summer salad.
Chopped Summer Salad
4 cups cooked Ditalini pasta, chilled
1 cup crisp cooked and crumbled bacon
6 cups sliced romaine lettuce
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 carrots, julienne sliced
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch sliced green onions
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or Feta cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken (optional)
Sweet Italian Dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Cook pasta in salted water, drain and chill. I added a few tablespoons of the dressing to the pasta as it chilled, it made it more flavorful. Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl or platter. Dress the salad just before serving--no one likes a soggy salad! For the dressing mix the vinegar and seasonings together, slowly add olive oil--I used an immersion blender to mix the dressing. A food processor or blender would also work. This dressing is amazing, it will keep 2 weeks in the refrigerator so you might want to make extra. I tasted this dressing and imagined dipping warm Rosemary Bread in it. It is yummy.
Inspired by a recipe from the blog of The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's a Quilt!

Sweet Lydia turned 8 a few months ago. She has patiently waited for me to finish this quilt. I purchased a yard of cute dog fabric years ago--thinking I would make a boy quilt with it. Lydia saw the fabric and fell in love with it (she is a dog lover), she wanted her quilt to include this fabric.
The challenge began--how do I turn a small amount of doggie fabric into a quilt for a cute 8 year old gal. Thanks to the help of my friends at The Quiltmakers this is what I came up with. I'm happy with it and I think Miss Lydia will love it!
Several years ago after a back surgery my sweet friend Linda stopped by. She gave me a beautiful quilt, I have loved it every day. It says 'comfort' every time I snuggle up in it. This quilt provided the inspiration for Lydia's quilt.
Finished quilt is 40x60 inches. Fabric and long arm quilting from The Quiltmakers. Soft minky fabric is on the back and I love the striped bias binding. I had to refer to the binding tutorial on The Old Red Barn Co. This step by step tutorial helped me achieve beautiful mitered corners.  Oh it is good to finish a project!


Lydia is on the right--quite grown up! At Uncle Packers Wedding in Utah, 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Great Grains Mini Muffin

I love muffins for breakfast/brunch, they are just a good thing to wake up to. But often muffins are frosted or glazed and really just shout 'dessert', this is fine by me. Occasionally I want something a bit more 'healthy'. Now these probably don't count as health food but they do have whole grains, dried fruit, nuts and yes butter. These 'better for you muffins' are delicious.
The recipe comes from my favorite cookbook,  Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I have made over 60 recipes from this cookbook and only had one failure--and that was my error. This is a great basic cookbook--Dorie is a wonderful teacher.
My favorite dried fruit mix comes from King Arthur Flour. It is their 'fruitcake mix', don't let the word fruitcake scare you. I like it because the dried fruit is chopped so you get little bits of goodness in every bite. It is delicious in cookies, granola, breads and yes, fruitcake. I also like a Berries and Cherries mix sold in the grocery store. But you have to cut the fruit and dried fruit is difficult to chop! Now you know way to much about dried fruit!

Great Grains Mini Muffins
1 cup flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, 8 tablespoons, melted and cooled
3/4 cup dried fruit
3/4 cup chopped nuts
In a large bowl whisk together the first 8 ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, syrup, eggs and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix quickly but gently with a rubber scraper. Batter may be a bit lumpy, please never over mix muffins.Stir in the dried fruit and nuts. Using a small scoop fill mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with Pam. Bake at 400 degrees for about 13 minutes. Makes about 36 mini muffins. Twelve regular size muffins bake for 18-20 minutes.
Printable Recipe

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Queso Dip

We had dinner last night with my brother and his 5 growing children, it was the perfect opportunity to make a batch of Queso. I had a Costco size bag of chips and everything in the fridge to make this easy dip. The 5 children and numerous adults deemed this amazing.
Best served from a Crock Pot on a warm setting. I used yellow American Cheese (I didn't want to go to multiple stores looking for white) although I have found it in the Deli at Walmart. I didn't use the cilantro or tomato (picky eaters). If making it for myself I would use plenty of both cilantro and tomato!

Queso Dip
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup finely diced white onion
1 medium jalapeno, finely diced
1 caned green chile, finely diced
10 ounces white American cheese, shredded  (purchase at deli counter)
6 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
1/2-3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 Roma tomato, seeds removed, finely diced

Heat oil in a medium pan. Cook the onion and Jalapeno pepper until soft. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in the green chile, add the cheese and milk. Stir until mostly melted. Stir in the cilantro and tomato. Serve warm with chips.
Printable Recipe
Adapted from a recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cinnamon Orange Monkey Bread

We had 16 for breakfast today, yes it seems like a lot but it is only half of our family! I love to have an excuse to make food that is impractical for empty-nesters. Today was the day to make Cinnamon Orange Monkey Bread. It feeds a crowd and is delicious. This recipe has been around for years. It came from Pampered Chef--probably with their Stoneware Bundt Pan. I purchased it years ago, it was the beginning of my Bundt Pan addiction. I have decided that one can never have enough Bundt Pans!

Cinnamon Orange Monkey Bread
1 orange
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus
5 tablespoons melted butter
18 frozen bread dough rolls, thawed
1/3 cup pancake syrup
Spray a Bundt Pan (or 2 loaf pans) with Pam. Zest orange. Combine zest and sugar, rub between your fingers until mixed--it will smell amazing. Add cinnamon. Cut each thawed roll in half using a sharp knife of kitchen shears. Dip each half in melted butter and roll in sugar mixture. Arrange half of the rolls in pan, drizzle with half of the syrup, repeat. Sprinkle with any remaining sugar. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until about double in size. My oven has a 'dough proofing' setting, it works.
Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Carefully invert on a serving platter. Serve warm.
Printable Recipe

These two don't eat much--yet!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

BBQ Chicken Salad

This tasty salad comes together quickly. The dressing uses ingredients you probably have on hand. It is a simple salad with a delicious flavor. If you can get hold of garden fresh corn and tomatoes this will be awesome (if not your local market will have what you need year round, still yummy).  Grill your chicken and it will smell like you spent hours on dinner! This is one amazing summer meal.
This could be a 30 minute meal with a little advance prep and a sous chef!!

BBQ Chicken Salad
BBQ Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup BBQ Sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.  The dressing was quite thick, feel free to thin it with a bit of additional buttermilk, milk, or water.

Salad Ingredients
Chopped Romaine
1 diced cucumber
1 cup corn--if you are grilling your chicken it would be great to grill an ear of corn or two, Yummy!
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 carrot julienne strips
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese
1-2 cups grilled chicken, thinly sliced
Frito's, crushed tortilla chips or cute colored corn strips--it is the crunch you are after.
Printable Recipe

 I can't remember where I found this Dressing Recipe--when I do I will give credit. The salad is pretty much what I had in the house the day I made it. It was a great combo!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mini Meat Loaves

Occasionally I will make a meal that will surprise even me! Now I am not a meatloaf lover, I don't really love meat. But..I have made Pioneer Woman's Meatloaf  with success. However--a big meatloaf is just too much for two and Greg didn't like the bacon on it (really)? So I tried a recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe for mini meat loaves and liked the concept. Now this is what is fun about cooking; I took what I liked about each recipe and came up with one incredible dish! I guess the moral of the story is, use excellent resources and you are bound to get a winner.
Why do I like this recipe? It is quick enough for a week night meal. It feeds our smaller family with leftovers for lunch (the leftovers were excellent I might add). Double it for a larger family. I like the crispy ends of meatloaf--this is almost all crispy ends, but there is plenty of tender burger in the middle. It is portion controlled--portion control is always a good thing, especially when something is so tasty that overeating would be easy!

Mini Meat Loaves
2-3 slices white bread
1/2 cup milk
1 pound lean ground meat (I did half ground beef and half ground pork)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley
2 eggs, beaten
Tear bread in large bowl, pour milk over it and let sit for a few minutes. Add cheese, seasonings and eggs. Mix well. Add meat and mix together. Shape into 5 mini loaves. In a nonstick skillet heat 2 teaspoons of oil until shimmering. Carefully place mini loaves in hot pan. Cook 3-4 minutes until nice and brown, turn and cook another couple of minutes. Remove loaves and place on a foil lined sheet pan. Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes until cooked through or 160 degrees on a quick read thermometer.
While baking glaze meat with the following mixture:
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Serve meat with leftover sauce.
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wild Potato Topper

This fits in the 'why didn't I think of it' category! This yummy topping was served on baked potatoes at a Relief Society Birthday Party I attended with my sweet Mom. What a great way to serve toppings for baked potatoes--all in one dish.  This is not really rocket science but it is one great idea, and it is delicious.

Wild Potato Topper
1/2 pound butter--softened
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 cup sour cream (remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before using)
1 cup grated cheese--I used sharp
3 green onions--minced
1/2 cup crisp cooked bacon
Using a mixer beat butter till light, fold in seasoning salt, sour cream, cheese, onions and bacon. Store in refrigerator--remove 30 minutes before serving. Serve on baked or steamed potatoes. I'm sure it would be delicious on any steamed veggie!
Printable Recipe