Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting Paid to Shop Online

Just a few weeks ago, my mom asked me if I had heard of Ebates.  I scratched my head and said "No, do you mean Ebay?" (As if we had static in our phone lines.)  She proceeded to send me a link to find out more. 

Ebates is a website that cooperates with over 1,200 retailers that will pay you back cash for your online purchases.  These aren't obscure retailers either.  They are stores you use regularly.  They have everything from Walmart, Kohls, JC Penny to FTD - and even EBAY!  I know... getting cash back for shopping on Ebay, who would have thought?

How it works?  Signing up for an ebates account is completely free.  When you are going to order something online, just log into ebates, find your retailer and click the link to be taken directly to the store.  Go ahead and shop as you normally would.  When you finalize your purchase, Ebates gets notified from the retailer and credits your ebates account.  Then quarterly Ebates pays you the balance in your account - you can get a check OR have them deposit it directly into your Paypal account.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I know you'd like to get cash back on any online shopping you do - AND - it doesn't cost you anything to join!  This company has been doing this since 1999... yes, over a decade and paid out more than $50 million so far!  For the month of December, just by doing my regular Christmas shopping, I'm getting paid back over $25.  And that wasn't even the online shopping I did the day after Thanksgiving... dang it all.

Every day they also offer a Daily Double... which is a retailer that is offering double the % back for purchases that day!  Today's for example is FTD Flowers... they are paying 20% cash back... so if you are sending flower to someone you can't be with over the holidays, it makes sense to get a rebate!

To learn more and sign up for your own account, go to Ebates and see for yourself!  http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=eTxuDFXWgMxfkQEdNvOV3g%3D%3D

Thanks mom for telling me about it!  Heck for as much as I'm on Ebay... I'm tickled to now be getting cash back in addition to my regular Ebay bucks!

Hope 2011 drops dollars in your lap!
{Hugs!}
~Dawn

Monday, December 20, 2010

What to do with Chili Leftovers

So you've had chili 4 nights in a row and there's still some left.  You could always freeze that for a night when you're on the go and don't have time to cook.  But, I wanted to bring the taste of a ball game to my kitchen.  So last night I whipped up...

Chili Dog Casserole!

3 cups Leftover Chili (or whatever is left in your crock pot)
2-3 Hot Dogs - diced
2 cups cooked noodles
   (I used both elbow macaroni & egg noodles to clean out the pantry)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Cook noodles.  Mix with diced hot dogs and left over chili in greased casserole dish.  Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes.  For the last 5 minutes take the cover off to get cheese slightly browned.

Super easy, and yet delicious - adds a whole new twist to left overs!  And let me tell you, it's also sooooo much easier than eating a loaded chili dog at the ball park while trying to balance your $8 beer!

Have a delicious afternoon!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Corn Casserole

This recipe is from my Mom's Aunt Noreen.  Aunt Noreen had a whole bunch of kids, so when she cooked, her meals needed to feed and army!  I started to make this dish as my "dish to pass" for family gatherings about 3 years ago after our family published our own cookbook.  I saw the recipe and was enlightened for a new use of corn.  Give it a try for your holiday cooking and see what your family thinks!  This is also a great dish to make ahead of time and freeze.  It freezes very well!

Corn Casserole
2 Sticks Butter - not margarine
3/8 cup dry onion flakes
1 lb. fresh mushrooms - sliced
1 1/2 boxes seasoned croutons
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pepper
2 - 20 oz. bags frozen corn
6 cups shredded colby (or cheddar) cheese

Melt butter, mix in dry onion flakes & mushrooms.  Stir for 3 minutes.  Add croutons, parmesan cheese, milk and pepper.  Stir well.  In large bowl mix corn, cheese and add stuffing mixture and salt.  Put in casserole dishes and top with a little cheese.  Bake until hot at 350.

Makes 2 large casseroles & freezes well!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meals on Monday - Apple Cherry Dessert

Happy Labor Day one & all!  We've been celebrating since Saturday and it's been a wonderful weekend thus far.  For our family BBQ on Saturday, I brought a side & a dessert.  That's the perfect meal in my mind.... sides and dessert! :)

As a side dish, I made my Grandmother's Calico Beans... they were a tremendous hit.  Chris' family always loves it when I bring them.  They are a great source of protein & fiber (and if bacon was it's own food group, it's a good source of that too! :)  I'll share that recipe with you very soon... but... the star of the show was the dessert.

I made an Apple Cherry Dessert that was AMAZING!  It was so good the 9x13 pan was empty and there were only 10 of us.  It uses a homemade flaky pastry crust and with an apple cherry filling that's perfect for autumn!  So without further adieu here's the recipe - straight from my brain to you!

Apple Cherry Dessert
Crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cold
1/2 cup milk
1 egg separated

In large bowl combine flower and salt; cut in the butter until crumbly.  Stir in milk and egg yolk.  Chill in fridge for 15 minutes.  Divide dough in half and roll out each portion into a 9x13 rectangle.  Place bottom crust in greased 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle with 1 cup cornflakes.

Filling:
5-6 cups granny smith apples, peeled & diced
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling.

Mix apples with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla.  Stir in cherry pie filling.  Pour entire mixture on top of cornflakes.

Top with second rolled out crust.  Cut slits in top.  In small bowl, beat egg white and brush over pastry.  This creates that yummy, golden brown top.  Then sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar.

Bake at 350 F for 55 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Let cool on wire rack.

Glaze:
1/2 powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 or 2 tsp milk added slowly

Mix all glaze ingredients starting with less milk and slowly adding more until you get desired consistency.  Drizzle over top of the dessert.  Can be served warm or cool.  Refrigerate the left overs (if there are any!) :)

*Note:  I used Granny Smith apples because of their tartness.  The sweet of the cherry pie filling needs a little tart to balance it out.  It would also be delicious with peaches, rhubarb or pears!

I'll share with you Grandma's Calico Beans on another day.   Promise!
Enjoy your Labor Day!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl  ~Dawn

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meals on Monday - Awesome Meatloaf Recipe

"This is the best meatloaf I've ever eaten... even better than the Cheesecake Factory's meatloaf, and theirs was very good." - Chris D.

Lil' Cheddar Meat Loaves
(adopted from www.TasteofHome.com)
Ingredients:
1 Egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped onion (but I used 1 Tbsp. of dried onion flakes - much less acidic = no heartburn later!) :)
1/2 tsp. salt
1.5 lbs ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 tsp. prepared mustard

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk egg & milk... (yes, manually whisking, not using the mixer burns more calories and is better for you!) Stir in cheese, oats, onion (or onion flakes) and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. I knead beef in by hand. It's the best mixer you've got AND it's great for relieving stress!

Now the recipe calls for you to make 8 mini loaves (individual serving sized) but I prefer 1 full sized loaf. So I greased a regular size bread loaf pan. And formed the beef mixture in the pan.

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar & mustard. Spoon over top of the meatloaf.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until no pink remains and a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Best served with brown & serve rolls and mashed potatoes! Trust me, by the time the meatloaf is ready, your sense of smell is going to drive you crazy... and you too won't have the patience to snap a picture... in my case, my stomach won!


If you would like to join us in celebrating homemade family meals, join my good friend and Meals on Monday organizer, Stacy Petersen in the link-up!  Click here to see her great recipe for Pulled Beef French Dip and share the link to your post!  We'd love to see what you share!

Enjoy!   

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fresh Summer Bruschetta

One of my favorite things to order when we go out to eat is Bruschetta.  We always end up saying what a wonderful, healthy meal it would be if we made it at home with our own veggies.

So I found this recipe for Bruschetta and tried it.  I have to say, it was DELICIOUS!  And using our own 'maters & basil was the added bonus of healthiness... no pesticides or added "stuff."

So here's my modification of the recipe - hope you enjoy!

Dawn's Bruschetta
    * 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
    * 2 cloves garlic, minced
    * 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    * 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    * 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    * 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
    * 1/4 cup olive oil

Method

1 Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. Using a sharp small knife, remove the skins of the tomatoes. (If the tomatoes are too hot, you can protect your finger tips by rubbing them with an ice cube between tomatoes.) Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area. Why use plum tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes? The skins are much thicker and there are fewer seeds and less juice.

2 Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.

3 While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4 Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven. Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

Alternatively, you can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute on each side. Take a sharp knife and score each slice 3 times. Rub some garlic in the slices and drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each slice. This is the more traditional method of making bruschetta.

5 Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

Makes 24 small slices.  (It was delicious served with cottage cheese on the side.)

With a great tomato crop, there's so many delicious recipes and we've been eating so fresh.  Too bad that doesn't last in WI.  This is a Meals on Monday post to coincide with Stacy Petersen's wonderful Meals on Monday event.  If you'd like more information about Meals on Mondays, check out Stacy's Blog!

Bon Apetite!

~Dawn

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jalapeno Poppers... but better! :)

I have a super secret source for this recipe.  I cannot reveal my source, but 2 generations of passing it along, leads back to an authentic Mexican recipe.  So if you have a bunch of jalapeno's and are jonsin' for something delicious... and yet slightly sinful... you've got to try this!

Jalapeno Poppers or Jalapeno Bacon Dip

The poppers are super easy….take tops off, slit and take out seeds.  Fry bacon and crunch up in cream cheese, stuff peppers and wrap w/partially cooked bacon….bake till pepper is soft… 350, 45ish min.  I think I fried 1lb of bacon, mixed w/2 pkgs cream cheese, and used another lb of bacon (cut strips in half) for 35 peppers.  

The guy who showed me this doesn’t bother with all this fuss anymore….he puts it all in a food processor and bakes it like I do my famous artichoke dip…much less fuss….but I thought we’d eat it the authentic way the first time.  Enjoy!!!  

That's the recipe... If I made them personally, I too would make into a dip and serve with Triscuits.  The salty crisp of a cracker would be delicious with all these flavors combined.  It's also much easier preparation leaving time for socializing with friends and family!

Enjoy!
Dawn

Monday, August 2, 2010

Antioxidant Brownies - SUPER Delicious!!

Good Morning Foodie Friends!  Today's post for Meals on Mondays - hosted by my good friend Stacy Petersen, is actually better than a meal in my book.  It's a dessert... but if you cut it into small triangles, and put them on the plate just right it could be an appetizer... maybe... okay, maybe only in my dreams.  BUT, I'm going to share with you anyhow! :)

On Saturday I stopped over to visit with my Mom and she made a whole pan of BROWNIES!!!!  I know, shame on her.  She knows I'm a sugar addict teetering on the brink... none-the-less, there they sat.  All warm and chocolatey and calling my name.  But these weren't any brownies.  There was one special ingredient that gave me permission to call them healthy... ha, ha, ha!  Anything to grab another one!  She had added BLUEBERRIES to her brownies!  And they were supremely delicious.  I would never have thought of it, but then she reminded me of those delicious little chocolate covered bing cherries and chocolate covered blueberries that Harry & David's sell... and all was well in the world.

Seriously, these were so moist and delicious and loaded with antioxidants because that's what blueberries bring to the table and viola!

Blueberry Brownies
1 Box of Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker or Pillsbury Brownie Mix
      (I know, I cheat.... shhhhh, nobody else needs to know)
Eggs according to the package
1 1/2 cups fresh (NOT FROZEN) blueberries
    (Frozen are too juicy and your brownies will not bake through)
Oil - only use 1/2 of the amount called for on the box.

Mix Brownie mix, Eggs and Oil until blended.  Fold in blueberries and pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan.  Bake according to package directions and eat fresh out of the oven... and again in 20 minutes because I know you won't be able to have just one! :)

Enjoy! ;)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cucumber Facts - Who Knew?

I received an email from Chris' mom all about cucumbers after I told her I had a dozen coming out of my ears.  She sent me the following facts and reminded me how lucky I am.  SO for those of you that have an abundance of cucumbers, make sure you share them, because I think we can all use a few more cukes! :)  Here's the facts!
 

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
 
2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
 
3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.
 
4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
 

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!
 
6.. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!
 
7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.
 
8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
 

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!
 
10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
 
11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
 
12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!
 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meals on Mondays - Oh so many Cucumbers

The weather this year has been perfect for my cucumber plant.  Yes, I planted one single cucumber plant.  And I've taken 2 dozen cukes off already and there's more that are still growing.  My cucumber has gotten massively big (I staked it when I planted it with a big square tomato cage so that it would grow up rather than sprawling all over my small patch of vegetables.  But let me tell you, it grew up, then overflowed the cage and grew back down... and now it is officially sprawling all over my garden.  At least I delayed the inevitable to let my peppers and tomatoes grow tall enough to get their own sunshine.

So with the copious amounts of cucumbers I have, right now I have two favorite recipes to use them.  So today you get a two-fer!  Try one or both!  I think you'll like 'em!

Recipe 1 - Basic Tomato Cucumber Salad - a spin on one of my favorite Caprese Salads.
1 Cucumber
1 Tomato
2 sticks of string cheese
2 Tbsp You Favorite Italian Dressing

Peel & slice cucumber.  Dice Tomato. Dice String Cheese.  Combine all in bowl and toss with your dressing.  Eat immediately!  How Easy is that?

Recipe 2 - Twisted Sister's Creamy Cucumber Salad - Made Dawn's way :)
2 medium cucumbers
1 Tbsp onion flakes
2 large tomatoes
1/2 green pepper (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. seasoned salt - more to taste if desired

Peel, halve and slice cucumbers into 1/2" slices.  (Important not to go thinner because cucumbers will then get soggy in dressing.)

Wash and quarter tomatoes.  Take out the seeds and rough dice the tomato meat.

Add onion flakes. (If desired, you can use 1 medium red onion roughly diced)

Thinly slice 1/2 green pepper.  Cut slices into 1" strips.

Combine all veggies into bowl and give a good toss to mix well.

Dressing:  Combine mayo, vinegar, sugar, parsley, dill and season salt in separate bowl.  Mix well.  Pour over vegetables and give a good toss to thoroughly coat all of the vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours stirring at least once to re-distribute the dressing.  When you first put dressing in, it seems dry... don't worry.  It quickly starts mixing with the natural juices of the vegetables.

You'll love this recipe!  I have a hard time actually putting it in the fridge for 2 hours.  I personally like the freshness of the veggies about 10 minutes after I make it... but maybe that's part of my "red-headed-ness!" :)

This post is part of SLM Petersen's Meals on Monday collection of recipes.  Every Monday we Celebrate Cooking and Sharing time around the dinner table with family.  Anybody is welcome to join us and please, take a moment to click here and check out Stacy's blog and this weeks other Meals on Monday Contributors! :)

Enjoy your cucumbers and I hope your gardens are growing plentifully!
Dawn

Monday, July 19, 2010

The BEST Grape Salad in the WORLD!

A few weeks ago at a family BBQ Chris' mom brought this grape salad.  She had gotten the recipe from a neighbor (can you believe they've been neighbors since 1969?) This is one of those neighbors that became like family - thus she's called Auntie D.  Auntie D had some descriptive words about just how good this salad is... but they wouldn't be appropriate for this G-rated blog. :)

After eating it, I can assure you all her adjectives were spot on!  So I'm sharing the recipe with you.  It's SUPER simple, yet is AMAZING.  Seriously, you wouldn't think grapes could be the star of the BBQ, but they were.  I could have eaten half of the pan!

Auntie D's Best Damn Grape Salad
4 lbs of seedless grapes (mixed red & green)
8 oz of cream cheese - softened
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp. Vanilla

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Spread grapes on bottom of a 9x13 cake pan.  Mix Cream Cheese, Sour Cream & Vanilla.  Spread over the top of grapes and mix in.  

For the topping, mix well - brown sugar and chopped nuts.  Sprinkle on top and refrigerate.

That's it... It sounds so easy because it is so easy.  But it tastes just amazing.  The cream cheese & sour cream blend w/ the vanilla tastes almost like caramel.  This could be a dessert as well as a side salad.  It just depend on when you want to eat dessert! ;)

This post is part of Meals on Mondays started by my good friend Stacy Petersen.  Anybody is welcome to join us and share your links.  Here's a link to Stacy's blog post where she has a super McLinky tool for everybody to share your links!  http://slmpetersen.blogspot.com/2010/07/meals-on-mondays_19.html Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meals on Mondays - Turkey Goulash

In an effort to eat healthier, and having more fresh produce readily available, this weeks recipe comes from my Eating For Life Cookbook - by Bill Phillips.

For those that don't know Bill Phillips, he was the original creator of Body for Life - long before Biggest Loser or any of the other weightloss shows hit the market.  Body for Life as a program is phenomenal - both eating and weight training, because cardio just isn't enough.  Muscle burns more calories than fat SOOOOO more muscle = higher metabolism... regardless of your age!

Okay off my soapbox for now.  We had this recipe last week and it was dynamite! 

American Turkey Goulash
Serves 4

4 portions Egg Noodles (about 8 oz uncooked)
1 onion chopped
1 red bell pepper sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
4 portions lean ground turkey (about 1 lb.)
2 cups tomato sauce
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp red wine (optional - I left it out)

1.  Prepare egg noodles according to package directions.
2.  Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, saute chopped onion for 2 minutes.  Add bell pepper to the onion and saute for another 2 minutes. Add zucchini and saute for 2 more minutes.  Remove vegetables & set aside.
3.  Add ground turkey to the skillet and saute until no longer pink (about 10 min.)
4.  When the ground turkey is done, return vegetables to the skillet.  Add tomato sauce, basil & red wine (optinal).  Cook stirring occassionally for 5 minutes or until heated through.
5. Place a portion of noodles on each plate and top with a portion of Turkey Goulash mixture.  Serve & enjoy!

Try it!  I bet you'll like it and you won't even know it's turkey! :)
Ciao~

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cold Tuna Pasta Salad

One of the biggest challenges when it gets hot in the summer is making dinner... you don't want to turn on the oven, standing over a stove cooking is nothing short of slave labor, and you can BBQ... but when the heat is on at 90 and humidity is nearly 100% even grilling is too much work.

So this casserole is a make ahead, pasta dish that is refrigerated... so it's ready when you're hungry!

Cold Tuna Pasta Salad
4 Eggs, Hard Boiled
1 Lg. Can Tuna Fish - packed in water
8 oz. wide egg noodles - cooked & drained
1 Tbsp. Minced Onion Flakes
1 cup mayonaise
Salt & Pepper to taste

1.  Drain Tuna.
2.  Peel and quarter hard boiled eggs.
3.  In Large Bowl, mix egg noodles, hard boiled eggs, tuna, minced onion flakes, mayonnaise until well mixed.  Sprinkle in a little salt & pepper to your taste and refrigerate.

This pasta salad is best eaten after being refrigerated for 3 or more hours, even better overnight!

Hope all your summer feasting is delicious!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Great ideas from a good friend!

I had to share a wonderful idea that I got from a dear blogging friend.  Stacy Petersen has recently joined my blogmania team.  Two passions that fuel her fire are Food & Crafts... hmmm, sound familiar? :)

She operates a few online stores and in one of her stores, she sells these mini-cookbooks.  I love 'em!  They are portable, wipable and perfect as a compliment to a bottle of wine as a hostess gift if you're invited over for dinner.

But what I really, REALLY thought is a grand idea are these recipe card holders.  How many times have you taken a dish to pass to a gathering and had people ask, "Oh that's so yummy!  Could I have the recipe?"  I know I'm not alone with that one.

So Stacy has come up with the PERFECT solution!  It's like a wallet for your recipe cards!  Just print out a few ahead of time, tuck it in your purse and you are the most prepared cook at the entire gathering!  Score!!! :)

I just think Stacy has some superfly ideas when it comes to cooking and crafting!  That's why we clicked so darn well when we met through our blogs! :)  If you think Stacy's ideas are just AWESOME and want to read more... please check out her blog at:  http://slmpetersen.blogspot.com.  I guarantee you'll have a grand 'ole time visiting with her!

You can also your your very own mini-cookbook - It's Washable people, how cool is that???  And a beautiful recipe card holder to travel with in her Etsy store.  Both would make great gifts for a bridal shower, wedding, baby shower, graduation gift... I know your wheels are turning!  Stacy's Etsy store is here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/slmpetersen.

Tell her Dawn sent you! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blogmania

In addition to my passion for food... eating & cooking... I also love designing custom jewelry.  As part of my jewelry business, I manage a specialty blog for all things related to Bling! :)

In April, I participated in a HUGE online blog event called Blogmania!  It's a huge blog-hop similar to a scavenger hunt that allows you as a blog reader to click between blogs, entering to win hundreds of giveaways!  This time there 175 blogs all offering prizes over $100 each! 

Again, I'm going to be participating in the second bi-annual Blogmania.  This event is two days, and it's totally free so anybody can participate.  There are prizes in dozens of categories, so I guarantee you'll find something that lights your fire!  If you'd like to find out more, check out my jewelery blog http://designsbydawnmarie.blogspot.com and click on the BLOGMANIA link at the top!

It's going to be tons of fun and I expect it will be even Bigger than last time!

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Favorite Salad

Some nights you just don't feel like a big, heavy dinner.... especially if you had a big Sunday Morning breakfast, followed by a family style late lunch... dinner is the last thing on your mind. 

SO on nights when I want a lighter dinner, this is my ultimate favorite salad.  I created this salad when I fell in love with Brianna's Dijon Honey Mustard dressing.  Pretty much anything that can get that delicious dressing to my mouth is a Superstar in my food book.  :)  If you haven't tried it, it's really that good!

Here's how I make my Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad for the two of us.

2 Schwan's Lemon Pepper Chicken Breasts (grilled in the George Foreman)
2-3 cups organic spring mix.
1 can Dole Tropical Fruit Salad
6-8 fresh strawberries, washed & quartered
1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries or raisins
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or gorgonzola)
Brianna's Dijon Honey Mustard Dressing

It's so simple.  Plate your lettuce, top with all fruits, sprinkle with cheese, cut your grilled chicken breasts into strips and lay on top.  Drizzle on Brianna's dressing.  That honey mustard is like no other that I've tasted... and believe me, I've looked for something similar because it's only available at 1 grocery store in a 20 mile radius from our house.  So when I go, I get 3-4 bottles! :)

Give this salad a try this summer!  Make it smaller and have as a side salad with another meal!  I guarantee you'll LOVE it!  :)  Happy eating!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cherry Rhubarb Dessert with Vanilla Icing!

It's that time of the year again... rhubarb time!  With the lack of rain we've had in WI (until this past weekend) the rhubarb seems to be a slow grower this year... not to worry though, with yesterday's rain & sunshine all week, I'm sure the rhubarb will make a liar out of me... and I'm O.K. with that! :)

Today's delectable rhubarb treat would be great with coffee as a pastry breakfast, or (because I can't wait until tomorrow) after dinner served slightly warm still as a fresh, light, flaky dessert.  Last year when I made this recipe, it was so delicious these bars got all gobbled up before I could even get a picture.  SO this year, I'm going to try to beat Chris to the pan an get a picture before they are gone... they really do bake up very pretty.

Here's the recipe!  Make sure when you want to make this you allow preparation time because you make the pastry crust by hand! (and it's worth every bit of effort!)

Cherry Rhubarb Dessert
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter - cold
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, separated
1 cup corn flakes (I used blueberry special K)
4-5 cups diced fresh rhubarb.  (See Note if you use frozen rhubarb)
1 1/2 cups + 1 Tblsp sugar, divided
1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1.5 - 2 tsp. milk
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour & salt; cut in butter until crumbly.
  2. Stir in the milk & egg yolk.
  3. Divide dough in half.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll out each portion into a 13x9 rectangle.
  5. Place one rolled out piece into a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle with cornflakes.
  7. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb and 1 1/2 cups sugar, stir in cherry pie filling and vanilla; spread over corn flakes.
  8. Top with remaining rolled out pastry.
  9. Cut small slits in the top.
  10. In a small bowl lightly beat the egg white; brush over pastry.  This will make the top bake up beautiful golden brown.
  11. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  12. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  13. Cool on wire rack.
  14. In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients; drizzle over bars.
  15. Store in refrigerator.  Can be served warm or cooled with ice cream or whipped cream.
  16. NOTE:  If using frozen rhubarb, measure while frozen (5 cups).  Thaw completely in a colander, drain but do not press liquid out of the rhubarb.
I hope you take a chance an try this recipe.  I had no idea how wonderful the homemade crust was really going to be.  Like I said earlier, it's worth every ounce of effort you put into it! ;)   I'll post a picture later... if I can get one! :)

Picture posted at 7:35 pm... and the final grade is M... as in mmmmmmmmmm good! :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Banana Alaska by Sandra Lee

My favorite show on the Food Channel is Simply Homemade with Sandra Lee.  She combines 70% store bought ingredients with 30% fresh to make amazing appetizers, dinners, DESSERTS and cocktails! 

This last week, she featured an amazing looking Banana Dessert she called Banana Alaska.  As we were hosting Chris' parents for dinner over the weekend, I thought they would be the perfect guinea pigs wonderful diners to sample my amazing concoction! 

It turned out delicious, but I did modify the recipe to suit my tastes.  The recipe called for a meringue topping to be broiled, but I didn't think that flavor would be perfect.  So I opted for a can of spray whipped cream and it was perfect.  Great Banana flavor, amazing ice cream... and here's the recipe for your delight!

Banana Alaska - Dawn's style
  • 1 roll sugar cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus a dash for dusting)
  • 1 - 5.1 oz. instant banana pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 pints Haagen Daas Vanilla Swiss Almond Ice Cream, softened for 2 hrs. in refridgerator
  • 1 banana sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds (I toasted them myself - bake at 350 for about 5 minutes)
  • Spray whipping cream
  • 10" spring form pan
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.

For cookie layers:  In a bowl, knead 1/2 of the cookie dough w/ 1/4 cup of flour until flour is incorporated.  Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured surface.  Using the springform pan as a template, cut 1 large cookie.  (you want it to be slightly smaller than the pan as it will rise when baking)  Repeat with remaining cookie dough and another 1/4 cup of flour.  Place both large cookies on baking sheets or plates and cover them with plastic.  Place in the freezer and chill for 15 minutes.  Remove from freezer, place on cookie sheet (if it's not already there) and bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden brown.

For pudding:  In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat pudding and milk until thickened.  Using spoon or spatula, fold in sliced bananas.  **Recommendation, after making this recipe, I would wait to mix this until an hour before you want to serve.  Then I'd make it and put it on the frozen layers and place in the refrigerator to set.  Then you'll get the banana cream pie effect without having frozen pudding.

To Assemble:  In the bottom of a 9 or 10" spring form pan, place 1 of the cookies.  On top of the cookie, spread with softened ice cream.  Layer with another cookie.  Top with banana pudding mixture and smooth.  Sprinkle with toasted almond slices.  Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and wrap a layer of aluminum foil completely around the pan over & under.  Freeze for a minimum of 8 hours, preferably over night.  See ** above for my recommendation. The double layer prevents leaking from the bottom of softened ice cream and it also stops the pudding from getting a layer of skin on top.)

To serve, use a hot towel or wash cloth, to soften the ice cream and pudding from the sides and release the springform pan.  Slice with knife heated under hot running water.  (It makes cutting through the frozen layers so much easier.)  Top with dallops of whipping cream and serve to your drooling guests! 

I'll definitely make this one again.  Next time, I'll use the ** recommendation so the pudding is soft and creamy rather than frozen.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Irish Dessert Chocolate-Guinness Cheesecake

Chocolate-Guinness Cheesecake- Recipezaar <---- Click for the recipe

I saw this recipe this morning on Facebook. Right in time to celebrate St. Patty's Day!!!

It sounds just delicious and I know, chocolate is a weakness for so many of us! I haven't yet tried it yet, but I'm anxious to do so.

What are your plans for St. Patty's Day? Do you have corned beef & cabbage?

I hope you have a wee bit 'o Irish luck this week!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Resort Breakfast


What do you think of this breakfast? Yesterday was an absolutely GORGEOUS day here in WI. The sun was shining, it was completely calm and it was in the 40's... yes, we get excited about 40's in March.

So Chris & I decided we were going to go be tourists in our own town. It's so fun to leisurely stroll through all the gift shops and enjoy people watching as if you're on vacation.

To start our vacation day, I made us a breakfast similar to what I've eaten at B&B's I stayed at in Ireland years ago. Fruit, yogurt, granola, fresh baked blueberry muffins and a steaming hot cup of coffee.

It's the perfect way to start a day of sight-seeing that gives you plenty of fuel without feeling too full or needing a nap! What's your favorite breakfast when you're on vacation?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Aunt Noreen's Lasagna Casserole

One of my favorite dishes growing up was my mom's Aunt Noreen's Lasagna Casserole. Now it's not really lasagna as in the Olive Garden style lasagna. But the casserole is absolutely delicious none-the-less. This is one of those dishes that you have most of the ingredients already in your pantry... except for the ground beef. If that's in your pantry, then I'm thinking it's not edible any more. LOL

This is such a good recipe, it was published in our family cookbook, Tasteful Treasures by the O'Connell Family. For those that are blessed to have a copy of our family cookbook, it's on page 102! :) For those that are friends I'd love to share the recipe with you so you can feed your hungry family something delicious!

Aunt Noreen's Lasagna Casserole
1 lb. hamburger
1 small onion (I use onion flakes)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 small can mushrooms (or more if you love mushrooms!)
4 oz. uncooked noodles
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tomato soup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 lb shredded cheddar cheese
1 can corn (I like the Mexi Corn w/ the peppers in)

Brown hamburger and drain. Add onion, salt, pepper, oregano, mushrooms, tomato paste, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce and simmer. Stir in noodles and half of the cheese.
Pour into 9x13 casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

*Note, to make a larger batch, you can always add another can of tomato soup, more noodles or more corn! I like to bake covered with tinfoil to keep moisture in so my top noodles don't get crunchy. But that's just my preference!

This is great served with bread & butter or Texas toast and cottage cheese! I hope your family can join in love around the dinner table with a heaping helping of Aunt Noreen's Lasagna Casserole! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ultimate Breakfast Casserole Recipe

A Year of Slow Cooking: Slow Cooker Ultimate Breakfast Casserole Recipe:(click the link for the full recipe!) "low for 6-8 hours, or until eggs have set, or on high for about 3-4 hours. When the eggs have completely set, and your casserole has begun to brown on top and pull away from the sides, take the lid off the cooker and let the steam and moisture evaporate for about 15 minutes before serving."

***I'd like to give credit to Stephanie O'Dea for this great recipe! Her blog A Year of Slow Cooking got her noticed by several media giants and helped to to compile all of her recipes into a great cookbook that you can get right here!



Thanks Stephanie for this great recipe!
~Dawn

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Food Blog Had a Makeover

Yeah... who doesn't like a makeover??? Well over the weekend I updated both this blog and my jewelry blog - Designs By Dawn Marie. For the new year I wanted something fresh and captivating to the eye. So thus, the new look.

I have to thank Cori over at Scrap-e-Blog for the great free templates. She has tons, seriously TONS of designs over there and they are so easy to install. So I've used two of her designs and look forward to updating my blog look more often now.

I also look forward to adding new food experiences throughout the year... both eating and cooking! If you have requests for recipes from my little corner of the world, drop me a line. I'm happy to share the glory of food~

Have a wonderful week and a fulfilling year!
~Dawn

Scrap-e-Blog



Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holiday Celebrations!


Just because the calender says it's January doesn't mean that the holidays are over! Quite the contrary, when the new year rolled in, the celebration has just begun! My personal feeling is that 2010 is going to carry the theme of New Beginnings! Not only is it the start of a new decade, but for so many of my dear friends and family, we're all looking forward to wonderful blessings in 2010!

Because our celebrations are just beginning, last night we were so blessed to help start the year of New Beginnings with good friends, both old & new! We were invited to share in a wonderful evening filled with laughter, love and the most amazing meal with friends through my fiance's office. One couple has been friends of ours for a long time, I just met the hostess and her wonderful husband for the first time last night. What a wonderful, welcoming couple they are.

While the temps outside here in WI were -3 last night, around the family dinner table the temperatures were so warm and full of love! There was a beautiful fire in the fireplace, the candles were all glowing and the Christmas trees (yes, plural treeS) were all still up and decorated beautifully. We toasted a new year, we toasted to our new engagement and we toasted to the prospect of an improving real estate market.

From the very first Waterford Crystal Goblet of a fine white wine from Carmel, CA to the last drop of delicious Kona coffee, and the last crumb of the delectable dessert plate (German Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Cheesecake... mmmmmmm) the evening ranked first class every step of the way.

I've never seen someone entertain so effortlessly and make an entire meal from scratch while conversing with such ease in my life. Diane, my darling, you and Tony are the ultimate hosts! Your cooking was absolutely stellar... your tenderloin, melt-in-your mouth delicious. I've never had a pear served how you had prepared them. The pear was baked in a 3 stage process. The surprise was that the pear was cored and stuffed with a jalapeno pepper. So if you can envision, the sweetness of a ripe, juicy pear, enhanced by the spice of a hot jalapeno pepper... melded together with a divine sauce and baked to perfection... yes, that was a very special taste. (you'll have to note the picture... it was the dessert plate. See, the meal was just so wonderful, that I forgot to snap memories of the beautiful table setting or our other wonderful courses.)

To all my good friends, family and blog followers, I hope 2010 is a year of New Beginnings for you too! There's wonderful blessings happening everyday, sometimes we just need to stop a moment and open our eyes just a little bit wider. Slow down and enjoy the celebration!



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