Monday, February 28, 2011

Creme Brulee

Creamy, Smooth, and Delicious!

And Simple

And ranking up there with a good cheesecake in my opinion!
You won't need much, and it's definately worth every bite.
Perfectly scrumptious!!

I found this fabulous recipe in a Cuisine at Home magazine a few weeks ago and decided I must try this. I have made it before using a different recipe but this one sounded perfect. For this occasion I bought my very first Vanilla Bean. Interesting things, those.

The Ingredients:
½ vanilla bean, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
3 egg yolks
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Creme Brulee Sugar for the top:
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar

Combine both sugars, then spread the mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. After baking the brulees, turn off the oven. Place the pan containing the sugars inside the oven for 1 hour to dry the sugar.
Transfer to a food processor and pulverize until fine. Store in an airtight container until ready to carmelize.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Pulverize vanilla bean and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a coffee grinder.

Warm cream, half-and-half, and vanilla sugar in a saucepan over medium heat just until steam rises.

Whisk yolks, egg, ¼ cup sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk hot cream mixture into eggs to temper.

Strain egg mixture into a measuring cup with a pour spout and divide among six 4-oz. ovenproof ramekins.

Arrange dishes in a baking pan., then carefully transfer pan to the oven.

Add hot water to the pan and bake custards 35-45 minutes, or until just set; don't overcook.

Remove ramekins from water bath, cool, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Chill until completely set, preferably overnight.

Love these adorable ramekins!

When ready to serve, blot the tops of the custards with a paper towel if needed. Sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp. sugar mixture over each custard.

Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar by waving the torch's flame 4-8 inches away from the custards surface.

Burn until surface of custard is carmelized and no dry sugar is visible. Let custards stand 3-5 minutes before serving.

Notice the tiny flecks of vanilla bean, mmmm!

I didn't quite burn this long enough, theres still a little dry sugar, but it sure was yummy! and it didn't take long till it looked like this:

Be Blessed!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ham Balls

These babies are super simple, very tasty, and never disappoint us! The graham crackers make them extra tender. Today I didn't have quite enough plain grahams so I used cinnamon graham crackers to make it enough and the cinnamon really added a good flavor to them! Nice surprise!! I'll have to do that again. There were a few of us that think we might prefer them this way.

2 lbs. ground beef
2 lbs. ground turkey ham
2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs
2 eggs
1½ cups milk

Mix like you would for meatloaf. Using a size 20 cookie scoop shape and put into a non stick sprayed baking dish.

For a 9 x 13 pan use a half recipe. These freeze well so if you have extra just pop them in the freezer for a convenient supper later. I usually freeze my extra ones without the sauce.

2 cans (10½ oz.) tomato soup
¾ cup white vinegar
2 ¼ cups brown sugar*
2 teaspoons dry mustard

* I didn't add all the brown sugar. I used some SomerSweet (see previous post) and just went by the taste that I liked.

Mix sauce ingredients and spoon over each ball.

Bake @ 350° for 1-1½ hours. The last 15 minutes I like to use a small baster and put the sauce over the balls again.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Savory Pot Roast

For an easy fuss free dinner that hits the spot, you can't go wrong with this pot roast. Plus it is cooked in the crock pot for added convenience.

Several weeks ago we were eating lunch with a dear friend from church and she had prepared this roast and I'm telling you, it was perfect! She  graciously shared the recipe with me. Thanks Arlene!

3-4 lb. Chuck Roast
Coarse sea salt, optional
Freshly ground black pepper, optional
Olive oil
10¾ ounce can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 onion, chopped
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of roast and let it set for a short while to allow it to be absorbed.

Brown the roast in oil on both sides over medium-high heat to seal in juices. Place in crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour over roast. Cook on low heat for 12-16 hours. This will depend largely on your crockpot and maybe the size of your roast.

This whole process took place at 3:00 this morning so I didn't bother with the camera too much. I guess cooking is one thing you can do when you're awake and can't go back to sleep real well. ☺


Since my husband and I are doing a no sugar thing, this is what I use in place of sugar.


 I really can't tell the difference and it is said to be 99.9% chemical free. Try it sometime. It can be purchased here. The kids love to use this on their cereal and in their tea. It does't take much to add a little sweetness.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Smore's Bites

Say it with me, yuummmm!

Now if I could only eat it!!

Our 12 year old son loves to help me in the kitchen, so tonight when he walked into the kitchen and said "I wish I could make something" I thought of this because it's something I would love to eat. Buuut, my husband and I are on a sugar fast for the next few weeks, so I guess I will have to breathe deeply when I put some in their lunches and be satisfied with that. :( But it's all good, I really do feel better when I avoid this kind of thing.☺

I ended up with a little more chocolate on it than I would prefer (I'm giving y'all the adjusted version) but I'm sure it's good anyway. Okay I know it's good because I had a tiny taste. But that is all I plan on eating!! Really, seriously... it's all I plan on eating! Have I convinced you yet?

What you'll need:
8 cups Golden Grahams
6 cups mini marshmallows
1½-2 cups milk chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
White chocolate for drizzling

Combine cereal and marshies in a bowl.

In a microwave safe bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and melt. Stir well and pour over cereal mixture.

Toss to coat.

Spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet

and allow to set till chocolate is firm. Drizzle with white choclate

and Enjoy!!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Taco Bake

Yesterday we were invited to some of our friends for lunch and had this yummy casserole. It's simple and satisfying. The boys loved it so I made it for their supper tonight, they were happy!☺ I added some ingredients to enhance the flavor and was pleased at what they added. The Taco Salad dressing adds the perfect finish. The dressing recipe can be found in a previous post.

For the Mashed Potatoes:
8 cups potatoes, cut into chunks
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cups sour cream
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup warm milk, approximate
2½ teaspoons salt

Boil the potaoes till they're soft. Drain. Put into a mixer bowl.

Beat on high till smooth, scraping down sides a few times to avoid lumps.

Add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and salt.

Mix. Then add the milk till it is the consistency that you want.

Pour into a casserole dish that is sprayed with non stick spray. Spread evenly.

6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Sprinkle over mashed potatoes.

1½ lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained
3 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning mix (previous post)
8 ounces water

Sprinkle seasoning mix over cooked beef.

Add the water and stir to mix. Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered till the liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Spread over potatoes and cheese.

This can be covered and baked right away or prepared ahead of time and baked later.

Cover and bake @ 350° for an hour or until heated through. If it has been refrigerated it will take longer. This can also be layered and heated in the crock pot.

When you are ready to serve it, crush some Taco chips (yes, the ones with all the msg! the kids like it that way!), spread on top of the beef.

Serve with the Taco Salad dressing. Yumm!

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Taco Seasoning Mix

                                                                  MSG FREE!!!

I don't know about you but in my mind MSG (mono sodium glutamate) is evil. It is a chemical additive used to enhance the flavor of food. It has many different names and the name changes every few years, or so I'm told. So if you are an ingredient reader, just because it doesn't say MSG doesn't really mean it's not in there. I'm sure that I would be horrified at some of the other ingredients that I consume and am ignorant of, but for now I have this one pegged and if it's in there I have a hard time buying the product willingly.

 Aspartame is another no no.

Anyway for now I've learned how to avoid the first one in my taco dishes by mixing my own seasoning with ingredients that I can read. Try this one sometime, it's delish!

Taco Seasoning Mix
½ cup chili powder (Chile En Polvo)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons dry onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons ground cumin

Combine in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.

To 1½ lbs. ground beef (cooked) I use 3 Tablespoons mix and 8 ounces of water. Simmer uncovered on med/low temperature until liquid is evaporated. Stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

I'm sure there are other good recipes out there for this and other mixes we find convenient. Tell me, what do you use to avoid these not good for you chemicals? I would love to hear from you!

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Be blessed!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Super Simple Italian Chicken

It doesn't get any easier than this! And the flavor is great!

What you need:
Italian Seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 eggs
Butter, for frying
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Cut breast pieces into cutlets.

Sprinkle salt on both sides of each cut piece. Refrigerate for several hours.

Beat the eggs with a fork. Prepare a dish with bread crumbs and one with the beaten eggs.

Melt butter in a frying pan. Dip each chicken piece into the egg and then into crumbs and place into melted, sizzling butter. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep adding butter to your pan after each batch too avoid sticking. Remove from pan and keep warm till all the pieces are done. Serve immediately.

Serve with pasta and Ceaser Salad. Enjoy!

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Roasted Garlic Bow Tie Alfredo


Before today I had never roasted any garlic and also had never used Bow Tie pasta for anything. Both have always intrigued me. So I decided to try them in a recipe together. Of which the end result is scrumptious!

The ingredients are simple and few:
16 oz. Mini Farfalle*
1½ cups milk
1½ heads roasted garlic
2 Tablespoons flour
2 ounces cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 Tablespoons butter

To roast the garlic:
Heat oven to 375°. Cut the tops off of the garlic bulbs. Place them in a foil lined pan.

Drizzle with olive oil. Tent the foil, closing all sides.

Bake for 1 hour. When it's finished roasting allow to cool until you can handle it without burning your hand. Squeeze the pulp out of the skins.

Cook pasta according to package direstions.

In a saucepan, whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add the garlic pulp and softened cream cheese. Stir over medium-low heat until cream cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When it begins to thicken (about 2 minutes) add the Parmesan cheese and butter.

Whisk until blended.

Pour over drained pasta and toss gently till evenly distributed.

I'll tell you a secret, I forgot to add the butter, but was good anyway.☺And had less calories. But the next time I think I want the butter too!

I garnished it with one of my favorite seasonings, Basil and Garlic from 'Perfect Pinch' and fresh chopped parsley.

*For a creamier pasta I would use only 8 ounces of Farfalle the next time.

Here are four of my favorites in the kitchen. I purchase them at Wal-Mart.

Enjoy your pasta! ☺

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Orange Cream Cheesecake

so light, so refreshing

For years I've collected the hardcover Taste of Home Cookbooks. I enjoy going through them now and then just for inspiration. I was reading the one from the year 2003 recently when I came across this one again and remembered that my sister Karen has made it and always says how refreshing it is. It is a fuss free, no bake, not your run of the mill cheesecake. It's an easy, fun recipe. The next flavor on my list to try is Lime. MMM, I can taste it already.

For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ cup butter, melted

zesting the orange peel

Mix all crust ingredients and pour in melted butter.

Mix thoroughly and press into the bottom of a greased 10 inch Springform pan.

Refrigerate at least 30 minuters.

1 package (3 oz.) orange gelatin
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1¼ cups sugar
5 oz. evaporated milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 carton (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed

Prepare gelatin according to package directions. Set aside ½ cup at room temp. Chill remaining jello until slightly thickened, about 80 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar for 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the milk and lemon juice.

Beat on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes.

Gradually beat in the orange juice concentrate, vanilla and room temperature jello.

Fold in Cool Whip.

I ended up stirring it with the Bosch paddles and then finishing by hand till it was smooth.

Pour over prepared crust and spread evenly.

Chill in refrigerator till firm before adding the topping.

8 oz. Cool Whip
Chilled remaining jello

In a bowl combine the Cool Whip and the jello and whisk gently till evenly mixed. Chill for 30 minutes. Spoon onto chilled filling and spread carefully and evenly. Pan will be full to the brim.

The original recipe asks for a ¼ cup of sugar in the topping but I chose not to add it and it worked out fine.

Chill completely, preferably over night, before serving.

Be Blessed!

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