Sunday, May 29, 2011

Picnic Salad

This salad is simple to make, tastes great and stays good in the refrigerator for up to five days (although it probably won’t last that long!). It’s perfect for potlucks, picnics and backyard BBQs. It is a great accompaniment to any summer meal you can think of! Please make sure you buy French-style green beans and shoe peg corn- they just taste better!

1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. canola oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 can French-style green beans, drained
1 can tiny sweet peas, drained
1 can shoe-peg corn, drained
1 whole red bell pepper, diced
3 celery stalks, diced

Combine all dressing ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let cool for about 45 minutes. Once completely cool, pour over all salad ingredients; toss to coat. Chill at least four hours before serving. Use a slotted spoon when serving so the dressing doesn't pool...Easy-peasy, that’s it!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The BEST Chocolate Cake on Earth

A friend gave me this chocolate cake recipe a couple of years ago - it truly is the best chocolate cake on earth! It is super moist and fudge-y; it absolutely does not need icing (although it does look pretty with a light dusting of powdered sugar once cooled)! The ingredient list is so simple and it is a snap to make! Even a novice baker will impress anyone with this delicious dessert - EVERYONE will ask for the recipe!

1 box devil's food chocolate cake mix
1 4oz box of chocolate pudding mix
2 sticks of butter, melted
2 cups sour cream
5 eggs
1 bag of miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Make sure oven rack is positioned in the middle of the oven without any racks above it (this cake rises).

In this order:
Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl for 1 min 15 seconds. Add box of pudding and stir well to combine. Next add 1/3 of the cake mix and stir well. Add one egg, stir. Add second egg and stir. Add another third of the cake mix and stir. Add third, fourth and fifth eggs, one at a time, stirring to combine after each egg. Add sour cream and stir. Add the rest of the cake mix and stir. Finally fold in the entire bag of chocolate chips. Scoop batter evenly into a VERY WELL GREASED bundt pan.

I know I am detailed on how to add the ingredients- but, I have made this cake at least 30 times and the above directions make it easiest on your arm (the batter gets thick if you don't add in the right order).

Bake cake for 55 minutes. Let cool in bundt pan for 1 hour until cool. Carefully flip cake out onto a cake plate or platter. Lightly dust with powdered sugar if you like (you only need about 1 Tbl for the whole cake- put it in a sifter and then gently shake over cake).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tuna & Avocado Melt

This is a super quick meal that I threw together in under 15 minutes. The ingredients are simple, but, the taste is delicious! It's a bit fancier than a regular tuna sandwich, so, it's worthy of being served for dinner!

1 6oz can of tuna packed in olive oil
2 Tbl shallots, finely chopped
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbl lemon juice
1/2 avocado, cubed
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Havarti cheese
1 medium sized French baguette, halved lengthwise & toasted

Set oven to broil.

Mix tuna with shallots, mustard, salt & pepper.

Put avocado in a small bowl. Squeeze lemon juice on avocado and carefully combine (you do not want to mash the avocado- it should maintain it's shape). Add the tomatoes to the avocados and toss gently to combine.

Put Havarti cheese on four slices of bread (use as much or little cheese as you like). Broil cheese bread for 1-3 minutes, just till it's bubbly.

Plate the cheesy bread. Add tuna mixture to bread. Next add avocado/lemon/tomato mixture.

I served this sandwich with a simple green salad. You could also serve it with soup. Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hello Dolly Bars

I was in a baking mood today, so I whipped these scrumptious bars up in a flash. Thankfully I had all the ingredients in my cupboard (I’m not joking when I tell you I always keep a spare can of sweetened condensed milk on hand because, well, you just never know!)...

My kids love these, my husband’s co-workers love these, my neighbors love these, oh, gosh, everyone does! They are just that good! Omit the pecans if you don’t like nuts or sub them out for walnuts. Don’t have cinnamon chips? Use white or peanut butter instead; don’t have marshmallows, no biggie, leave them out...really you can’t go wrong!

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
6 Tbl butter
9 graham crackers (one sleeve), crushed finely
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. cinnamon chips
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F

Line a 13X9” baking pan with parchment paper or foil so that it is hanging over the edge on all sides (you will need two pieces of parchment paper or foil) and spray with baking spray. Put butter in the pan and let melt in the oven for approx. 5-6 minutes.

To toast coconut, spread onto baking sheet and cook for 8 minutes at 350F

After butter has melted, removed from pan and sprinkle graham cracker crumbs all over the melted butter. Toss lightly until all the butter is absorbed. Distribute buttery crumbs to the bottom of the pan to form the crust (I use my fingertips to get it even).

Now it’s time to layer on the goodies! Sprinkle on pecans, then chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and cinnamon chips. Next sprinkle on toasted coconut and finally drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly over the entire dish.

Bake for 21-23 minutes until golden brown and remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle 1 cup of mini marshmallows (if using) over the dish. Return pan to the oven for one extra minute then remove bars. Cool until bars are room temperature, about 2 hours. Once room temp, use the over-hanging parchment paper or foil to pull bars out and onto a cutting board. Cut bars into 2 X 3 pieces using a sharp knife. Delish!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weeknight Ravioli Casserole

This is a quick, easy, good tasting dinner that takes me less than 15 minutes to prepare. If you buy pre-cut onions and used jarred garlic, you can save even more time! Great meal for a busy weeknight! This recipe can easily be doubled to serve the entire family!

1 10oz package fresh raviolis (you pick your favorite filling)
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained (this equals half of a box)
1 cup half & half
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan, divided
Salt & pepper

Preheat over to 350F.

Spray a 10X10" casserole dish with cooking spray; add raviolis as set aside.

In a medium sized pan, heat olive oil over medium and saute the garlic and onions until golden. Add the spinach, half and half, nutmeg and 3/4 c. cheese to the pan, stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper.

Pour the spinach mixture over the raviolis and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Could this be any easier?! Serve with a crusty french bread.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Very Best Sliders

Wow, these were a HIT with the family! My husband LOVED them and so did my kids. One of my boys came up to me and said, “Mom, this is the best meat you have ever made!” I credit that statement to the bacon (and to Cuisine at Home Magazine- my inspiration for this recipe)! Can you tell I have a love-affair with bacon? I know I use it in a lot of my recipes!! It just brings SO much flavor to any meal...and a little really goes a long way! I am definitely going to double this recipe and serve these the next time we have friends over for a BBQ! If you don't make the caramelized onions, then don't even bother! They TOTALLY make the 'burgs!

In this recipe, I recommend freezing the bacon (this doesn’t take very long) so that when you grind it in the food processor it doesn’t turn into paste!

Notice how few ingredients! My kind of a meal!!

4 strips of raw bacon (frozen till hard to the touch)
1.5 lbs of ground hamburger meat
8 Kings Hawaiian rolls or slider rolls
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbl olive oil

For burgers:
Pulse frozen raw bacon in a food processor until finely ground. Combine well with ground hamburger meat.

Press meat mixture into a square pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Score meat into 8 equal portions. Turn scored meat onto a cutting board and cut scored meat into square patties.

Season patties on either side with salt and pepper. Grill or cook in a frying pan until cooked through. Add 1/4 slice of American cheese to each patty.

For caramelized onions:
Sweat onions in olive oil in a large saute pan with salt over medium-low heat, covered, for about an hour. Stir every 7 minutes or so.

Toast rolls if you like in a 350F oven for a few minutes. Add cheese patties to rolls, top with caramelized onions.

I serve these with coleslaw and sweet potato french fries! YUM!