Friday, December 31, 2010

BLT w/Swiss Panini

I have recently developed sort of an obsession with all things Panini. So I treated myself (and my family) to a Panini press. I have not been disappointed! I'm still learning but thought I would share this yumminess anyway. I hope you enjoy it!

I had some tomatoes and Swiss cheese that I needed to use so I thought I would try this sandwich. It's very messy but also very tasty.

Preheat the grill to 350°.

2 pieces Italian wheat bread
2 slices bacon, fried and drained
1 piece Swiss cheese, cut in half
1 small tomato, sliced thin
Lettuce leaves
Miracle Whip or Mayo

Assemble sandwich. I think the next time I would add the lettuce later. It was still delicious and a little crunchy never hurts to try something different.☺

Spread a little butter on the one side. Place on the Panini Grill with that side down.

Spread butter on the side that is turned up and lower the top part of the grill. Leave it there until it is browned like you like it. Remove and enjoy! YUM!!

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Delicious Potato Soup

                                                              MMM MMM, GOOD!

When I was in my early teens my Mom asked me to make potato soup for supper one evening. I was just beginning my career in the kitchen on my own but I knew in order for me to enjoy supper that evening I was going to have to do something drastic to the bland concoction we were used to when potato soup was served. I'm not sure exactly what I did to it that evening, but I do remember my Dad commenting that there is nothing the matter with my taste buds! As you can imagine I was beaming from ear to ear and that compliment from my Dad gave me confidence for more experimenting!☺

Years later after we were married we were visiting friends in another state and I was looking through my friends cookbooks when I came across a version of this one. With a little tweaking I made it into the recipe that I will share with you. It is delicious, hearty, and full of flavor.

1 quart milk
1 lb. bacon, ground, fried, and well drained
6 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ cup celery, chopped fine
4 cups diced potatoes, divided
(if I have leftover mashed potatoes I use those, but then the milk might have to be adjusted)
Shredded carrots for color, optional
Greek Seasoning
Seasoned Salt

Grind the bacon.

If you have a handsome son with dimples that badly needs something to do on a wintry day, get him to do it! ☺

Fry the bacon till it's a nice golden color.

Drain well through a sieve. Set aside.

Put butter into the same pan and add the chopped veggies.

Saute until tender.

Add the bacon (reserve some for garnish if desired) seasonings (to your taste), and 1 cup of potato chunks.

Give it a stir.

Add the milk.

Heat through.

Meanwhile mash the remaining potatoes and add to the rest of the soup to thicken. If it's too thick add more milk. Or if it's too thin for your taste you can add some instant potato flakes to thicken it.

Adjust seasonings to your taste.

I like a good flavor but it's easy to get too much salt in it, so be careful with that.

YUMMY! It's worth all the fat that lurks in there. I can be trusted in this!☺

Be Blessed!

Christmas-y Jello Intrigue

Jello Poinsettia

Although I'm not usually a big jello fan, if it is something intriguing like this pretty poinsettia pattern I can be tempted into allowing it some time in my kitchen. There are a few other recipes that I hope to share over a period of time that we enjoy and are either refreshing or eye catching.

My Mom got me started with this one and sent me the recipe and pattern.

You will need:

2 small boxes each, cherry and lime jello
7 Tablespoons plain unflavored gelatin
1 can Eagle Brand milk
Boiling water


A 12 x 16½ bar pan (aka baker's half sheet)
non stick spray

I marked the pan on the side to make it easier to cut . The marks going straight across are 1¼ inches apart and the ones at an angle are 1¾ inches apart. They are at a 45 degree angle. Had to call my Dad for this one. Who knew you had to be part carpenter to make something out of jello?!

Spray the pan with olive oil spray and wipe slightly with a paper towel. This helps the set jello to release into perfect pieces.

Part 1 and 3:
2 small boxes jello (prepare the lime jello first)
2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2-2/3 cups boiling water

In a small mixing bowl combine the dry jello and the unflavored dry gelatin.

Stir to mix evenly.

Add the boiling water and stir till completely dissolved.

Set the pan on a level surface in a cool place. I set mine on the deck on a table.

☺ Desperate times call for desperate measures.☺ It wasn't quite level so I stuck a folded paper towel under the edges that needed it and used a level to make sure that it was on target.

Use a fine sieve to pour the jello through and into the prepared pan to prevent small bubbles from forming.

Allow to get very firm before adding the next layer. This doesn't take real long if it's set outside.

For the middle (white) part:
3 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water

Stir until completely dissolved then stir in

1 can Eagle Brand milk

 Mix well. Pour through sieve onto the green layer and allow to gel till very firm.

Repeat with the red jello. Mix like the first layer and allow to chill till firm. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. This works best if you have a pan with it's own lid so nothing sticks to the red jello.

I used a see through fabric ruler to make a straight cut. Notice my daughter added more character to it with a permanent marker.☺That mark has nothing to do with the jello marks. Just thought I should clarify that.☺

Using a large plate of your choice, find the exact center and begin with a diamond and form a flower.

Continue on till it is the size you want and set the outside row as green diamonds.

If you have some left you can do a smaller second layer if you want to and garnish as desired. I used lemon rind curls.

Be Blessed!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Strawberry Tree

I first saw one of these in a cookbook several years ago and was impressed and thought I would have to try it sometime. So last year when we had family and friends here on Christmas Day I finally made one. I loved it! It was beautiful!

This year I decided I would take one to my in-laws as part of my dessert offering.

Christmas morning came and with it a foggy feeling for me (a cold and cough I can't seem to shake), so I didn't quite do with my strawberry tree what I had hoped but I think my hubby's family enjoyed the end result all the same. ☺

The picture you see at the top is the one I did last year and the following ones are from the one I did a few days ago.

I started out with about 4 quarts of strawberries and some semisweet chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips). Wash and dry the strawberries well. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and start dippin'.

I did these the evening before. For the best results it would have been best to do them in the morning but because I knew time would be precious I tried to work ahead a little.

I had bought a 12 inch styrofoam cone at a craft store and covered it with tin foil.

It's really quite simple. Using toothpicks and starting at the bottom stick them into the cone at a slight upward angle, and put a strawberry on each toothpick working your way around the cone in rows till you reach the top.

It works best if you can buy fruit that is uniform in size. They look pretty drizzled with white chocolate over the dark or dipped in white chocolate with sprinkles. Make it yours with whatever combo you choose.

I think other Holiday themed ones would also be beauitiful, such as 4th of July, Easter, etc. Also birthday themed ones would be kinda cool. Have fun!
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Be Blessed!

White Chocolate Party Mix

I wasn't planning on making this mix for the Christmas weekend but our oldest son, Andre, was rummaging around in the pantry last Saturday until I finally asked what he's looking for and he's like,"Where is that mix with the white chocolate on it?" Had to admit I hadn't made any, but decided if he looks for it if it's not there, maybe I really should make it for him. I'm easily persuadedwouldn't you say?☺ It helps that it IS delicious, and we ALL like it, and it's SUPER EASY, and doesn't take a lot of time. So here it is folks:

1 bag thin pretzel sticks
5 cups cheerios
5 cups corn chex
2 cups salted peanuts
1 lb. M&M's (optional)
1½ lbs. white chocolate disks
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, optional

In a large mixing bowl combine the first 5 ingredients; set aside.

In microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate disks and oil. (White chocolate is usually thin enough for easy coating and mixing, so the oil really is optional. Sometimes I use it , sometimes I don't.)

Heat at 1 minute intervals, stirring well after each. When there are only a few lumps left reduce to 30 second intervals. Overheating chocolate makes it seize and then you can't use it. Stir until it is smooth and lumps are all gone.

Pour over cereal mixture.

Mix gently but well with a rubber spatula until everything is well coated.

Spread out onto a flat surface onto a piece of waxed paper.

Allow to rest until chocolate is set again. Store in an airtight container.

                                                        mmmmmmm, yummy!!

Linking to:
Sharing Sundays
Be Blessed!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

This creamy scrumptiousness was first introduced to me in my early teens by my sister Rosanna. She married when I was 13 years old and up to that point I had led a carefree life outdoors under the summer sun, and in the winter we had a lovely hill behind our house... I'm not sure why I always look at her wedding and say that's when I learned what it means to work. It's not that I was lazy, it's just that I had 4 (I have 5 now, but that's another story ☺) sisters all older than me and somehow I had escaped hard work up to that point. (I made up for it later after they were all married.) Anyway, after she married they moved about a mile up the road from us onto a farm and I loved going there and helping my brother-in-law in the fields, or mow their yard, and later take care of my niece when she was born. Rosanna was a terrific cook (still is) and there was always something delicious around to eat. This was one of those dishes that I always looked forward to.

It is easy and simple and not real time consuming.

8 oz. angel hair spaghetti
2½ quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 (10½ oz) can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. Velveeta Cheese
3 cups cooked, deboned chicken pieces

Cracker Crumbs:
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
5 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a 3 quart saucepan.

Break angel hair spaghetti in half and drop into boiling water. Give it a stir so it doesn't stick together in big lumps.

Cook, uncovered, according to package directions. Drain.

Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with olive oil spray, transfer spaghetti into prepared dish and smooth into an even layer.

If you are using canned chicken, drain it and spread over top of the noodles in an even layer.

Melt butter and add onion.

Saute' until tender. Add flour and stir.

In a separate bowl combine chicken broth, milk, and cream of chicken soup.
Whisk until smooth.
Add to the butter, flour , and onion mixture in  saute' pan.

Whisk until smooth.

Add Velveeta in slices or shred it if you are in a hurry. Melt slowly over low to medium heat.
When the cheese is completely melted, pour over chicken and noodles.

Stir gently to help the liquid get all the way through. It might look a little soupy but it will be fine once it is baked.

Bake uncovered at 375° until bubbly around the edges. About 30 to 45 minutes. This can be prepared ahead of time and cooled before baking if that is what fits your schedule. If it goes from the refrigerator to the oven you might need an hour.

Meanwhile crush Ritz crackers and put them into a small bowl.
Add parsley flakes.
Mix together with your hand.

Melt butter and pour over cracker crumbs.

Mix together with a fork or your fingers until well combined and all the crumbs are wet.

About 10 minutes before it's done baking spread the buttered cracker crumbs on top. (If I am taking this to a potluck I put the crumbs on a baking sheet and toast them at 350° until they are golden. Then I take them along in a seperate container and spread them on top right before serving, this way they are nice and crispy and not soggy.)

Bake until they are golden. Remove from oven and let set for about 5 minutes before serving.

Wonderful comfort food for a chilly evening!

Be Blessed!