Everyday recipes, life and craziness from Jen's house.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase lettersMiscellany Monday...

1.  My child is sick.  This is day 4 of fevers, cough, sore throat and headache.  Since he was born, JP has never been a sleeper.  This is day 4 of napping.  Something is wrong when he ASKS to take a nap.  I took him to the doc today...of course, the ONLY appointment available is with the doc I don't like.  However, my fingers are crossed that the antibiotics will kick all of the germs out of his body. 

2.  The cookies from the cookie challenge are calling my name.  Jen, Jen, JEN!  Come here to the kitchen.  We are soft, yummy, chocolaty and we know you want us.  This is yet another reason I hate baking cookies.  They torment me from the kitchen.

3.  I can feel my dissertation deadlines starting push and crowd me. 

4.  Tator Tot Casserole for supper!  Yum!  It is one of my favorite comfort foods!  Can't wait to make it!

5.  One of the shrubs in my front yard has little green buds on the branches.  Spring is on it's way~

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cookie Challenge

We've had a long, busy, germy couple of weeks in the Miller household.  We've just been super busy with our normal, everyday life:  work, school, Boy Scouts, swimming, bowling, school activities...and throw in some colder weather (this has become our anthem for the winter!)  Add to that mix the dreaded flu.  Two of us have had the flu...hopefully only 2/3rds of our family will get the flu this year! 

This week, Jeff did something unexpected...  he challenged me to a cookie bake off!  To tell the truth, I don't really like baking cookies.  They take a long time.  I'd rather mix something up, pop it into the oven and a few minutes later... voila!  it's done!  With cookies, you keep baking, and baking, and baking.  Twenty minutes stretches into 30, which stretches into 40 and pretty soon it's an hour and you're still baking.  Brownies and bars are my answer to the cookie baking, but those don't count in a cookie challenge. 

So it got me thinking...what kind of cookie can I make that doesn't take a long time to bake, and one that tastes great?  No Bake Cookies!   Allrecipes.com had a recipe that looked yummy.  So I whipped up a double batch.  You may be wondering why I'd make a double recipe when there are only 3 of us...well, I just happen to have a test scheduled for my students.  I figured I'd sweeten the test and hand out cookies at the same time.  The only complaint that I got from my cookies was the lack of a glass of milk!

Here are my awesome students taking a test and snacking on No Bake Cookies!

Back to the cookie challenge.  Jeff called his mother, Helen, to get her Chocolate Chip recipe.  This afternoon, Jeff whipped up a tasty batch with his faithful helper, JP.  I must admit, the boys did a good job.  The three of us sampled the warm cookies.

And the results?  I say I won, Jeff says he won and JP says we tied.  I guess we need a non partial cookie tester!

No Bake Cookies

2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk ( I used skim)
1 pinch salt
3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, bring sugar, cocoa, butter, milk and salt to a rapid boil.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add oats, peanut butter and vanilla.  Mix well.  Using a medium sized cookie scoop (or tablespoon), drop cookies onto waxed paper. Let cool and enjoy~ 

Helen's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars together.  Beat in the eggs.  Add flour, soda, salt and vanilla.  Mix well.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Using a medium cookie scoop, place the dough on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 6-10 minutes.  Enjoy~

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kelly's Cheese Spread

I met with my Bunco group last night for our monthly get together.  It was a night of chit chatting and playing Bunco with friends.  Everyone brings a snack to share and last night, I brought some crackers and Cheese Spread.  The Cheese Spread is a big hit, and I usually make a double batch.
Kelly, M & R

I first had the Cheese Spread at my sister-in-law, Kelly's house.  Her mom had made a big bowl of it and it was so yummy, I just had to have the recipe!  I've made a few changes to the recipe that Kelly gave me, but it's still very similar.  And yummy!

Kelly's Cheese Spread

8 ounces cream cheese (I use Neufchatel cheese)
2 heaping Tablespoons Cheese Whiz
2 heaping Tablespoons mayo
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons Dorthy Lynch or French salad dressing

In a food processor, whirl the ingredients together until well blended.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Serve with assorted crackers.
Craig & Kelly

Friday, February 11, 2011

Great Meal at Jen's House by Jeff

17 June 1995 West Point, Maine

Jeff cooked a great meal the other day and I thought I'd share it!

Jeff and I have been married almost 16 years.  I do the majority of the cooking, and that's OK.  I enjoy cooking for my family!  I like creating something that tastes good using a few (or a lot) of good ingredients.  I'm pretty good at cooking, too.  Or at least most of the time, I'm pretty good at it.  (There have been a few of those TLS meals!)  There are times, though, when I need a break.  Times when I'm really tired, stressed out, busy, or just don't feel like cooking!

Kansas State University
Wednesday was one of those days.  It snowed a lot on Tuesday during the day and into the night.  School was canceled for JP on Wednesday, as well as work for Jeff.  However, KState held classes, and since I teach a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday class, I found myself getting ready to drive the 20 miles to Manhattan.   I really didn't want to go...my town got a lot more snow than Manhattan, and our roads are TERRIBLE.  I really think there is one plow truck that works from 8-noon for our town.  Case in point, our street was finally plowed today, which is FRIDAY.  It snowed on TUESDAY.  Anyways, as I was getting ready to leave,  I told Jeff he was in charge of supper.

When I came home after class, I was a little curious to see what was cooking at Jen's house.  Nothing had been started when I walked in the door.  But I did see a couple of empty Walmart bags.  I was told the menu of the day would be pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls.  And Jeff was going to cook it all!

I must admit, I had a HARD time staying out of the kitchen.  I just wanted to rush in and help Jeff.  I wanted to sprinkle the pork chops with more than salt and pepper.  I wanted to change the pan he was using to cook the chops.  I wanted to steam the green beans instead of boil them.  I wanted to make homemade mashed potatoes and whip up a little gravy.  Finally, I was told to get out of the kitchen.  And I did.

JP called me to the table when supper was ready.  Golden pork chops, creamy mashed potatoes and crisp green beans in lemon juice were served up.  The rolls were split waiting for butter.  Supper was good.  Jeff did a good job cooking, and all without my help.  Thank you for a great supper! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

French Onion Dip

I follow many... several... ahem... a few cooking blogs.  I'm always on the lookout of the next great recipe!  Some recipes have been excellent, others...well, to tell you the truth, I've bombed the last two chicken recipes I've tried.  They were TLS (Tastes Like Sh**)  recipes.  And the funny thing is, the blogger said it was THE BEST EVER.  Um, no.  Anyways... that's not the point.  The point is I follow The Craving Chronicles blog.  Lots of yummy recipes!

A few weeks ago, a recipe for French Onion Dip was posted and I thought it looked interesting.  I love dip.  In fact, I think it should be named Scoop instead of dip!  :)  Jeff actually likes French Onion Dip, so I gave it a whirl...with some modifications, of course!  Here is the original recipe, which was adapted from Williams & Sonoma.
French Onion Dip

2 T. butter
2 large onions, finely diced (or 3 medium onions)
1/4 t. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. parsley flakes
1/4 t. chopped chives
1 2/3 c. fat free, plain yogurt
1/3 c. mayo
1/3 c. sour cream (I used fat free)

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion. It will look like there is too much onion, but it don't worry...it will cook down!  Cook, stirring often, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add minced garlic and salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the Worcestershire sauce. Stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Transfer to a small bowl and cool for 10-15 minutes.

Mix the yogurt, mayo and sour cream together.  Add the parsley and chives.  Stir to combine.  Add the onions and stir well.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.   Enjoy~

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Fondue


Last night was the Super Bowl...I'm sure most of you readers knew that...but for those who live under a rock, yes, last night was the Super Bowl.  In the Miller household we usually watch the game and snack on...well, snackies.  (That's what we like to call hors d'oeuvres.  I know, we're just not the cultured family you thought us to be!)  So for the past week, I've been trying to come up with some yummy snackies, and not just the usual things like smokies, smokies with bacon, veggies/dip, bean dip, etc.  But something different.  And I thought... and thought... and thought...  and thought...  and thought...  You get the picture.  And then I had a great idea!  Fondue!  Something different, something yummy, something fun!  I mean, come one...fondue is FUN!  My menu consisted of cheese fondue, homemade bread and meatballs, chocolate fondue and fresh fruit and then French onion dip and chips and assorted veggies.  Yummy, right?


I don't know if I've mentioned this or not...Jeff is kind of...well...picky.  The cat's out of the bag.  Jeff is a picky eater!  I knew I needed a fondue recipe that didn't include wine or beer, which most cheese fondues include.  So I scoured allrecipes.com and found a few yummy looking cheese fondues that didn't include wine or beer as an ingredient.  I combined some ideas and created my own cheese fondue.  I thought it was good, so did JP.  However, it earned a TLS rating from Jeff.  It was thick, cheesy, but not stringy.  Great flavor, I thought.  But anywho... a TLS (Tastes Like Sh**But that's not the point of this post.  The point is, I made an awesome chocolate fondue!

A little over a year ago, a friend and I went over to a coworker's house for an evening of KState football and dinner.  My coworker, Diane, made fondue and it was fabulous!  And fun!  The chocolate fondue was to die for!  So I asked her for the recipe...which I followed, but then modified (there are very few things that I made that I follow the recipe exactly!)  The chocolate fondue was FANTASTIC and it didn't earn a TLS rating.  It was thick, creamy and chocolaty without being overly sweet.
 Chocolate Fondue
2 cups Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 squares (2 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 c. sugar
1 cup half and half
1/2 t. vanilla

Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.  Over low heat, melt together.  Stir often to combine.  Keep warm and serve with fresh fruit, marshmallows, angel food cake, etc.  (I just used fruit...fresh pineapple, oranges, apples, grapes and bananas.  I didn't use fresh strawberries, although they would have been great had they not been half moldy and $3.99 for a small box!  The pineapples and oranges were the best!)  Enjoy~

And so it was a great evening (even if the cheese fondue flopped!)  The Packers won and the Chocolate Fondue was a hit!  :)