Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween Treats!

We loves us some Halloween around here and I have a small repertoire of treats and freaky food that I make. Here are some of the easiest Halloween treats to make in said repertoire. In fact, "make" is a barely usable term because only one requires any real effort - but that's my kind of treat!

First, we have popcorn balls. These are so good that people ask for the recipe every time I have them at a party or take them to a function - but they're really made just like you make Rice Krispie treats, only you use popcorn and roll them into a ball.

1/2 cup butter
16-ish oz bag of mini marshmallows
Popped popcorn - about 9 cups

An FYI: I bought marshamallows at two different stores this year and turns out Kroger brand packages are 10 oz while Albertsons' are 16 oz. For the popped popcorn, I buy the big bags of popped popcorn because it's easier than making my own, plus I think much cheaper for the volume that using microwave popcorn, but you certainly could use microwave popcorn - just get all the kernels out.

Anyway, melt the butter and marshmallows in a big (BIG) saucepan, then stir in the popcorn. You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla to the melted marshmallow mixture if you want to. I do it when I remember to, so the latest batch didn't have it. Then, working fast-ish before the mixture starts to cool off, shape the mixture into balls and put it out on foil or wax paper to cool. While still warm-ish and sticky, you can add Halloween sprinkles to the balls if you want to. I put mine into individual baggies to transport and serve. You could also wrap in Saran Wrap or the like, but that stuff hates me.

Second, we have Chex Mix, Halloween-style. This is nothing more than Chex Mix with Halloween M&M's mixed in. It makes it festive and cute, not to mention is nice to have you sweet and salty fix in one bag. You can serve in a big bowl w/ a scoop for parties, but more often I put scoops of it in snack-size baggies and set out the individual servings. Works better for school parties and traveling w/ the mix to other places. In a bowl, the M&M's eventually sink to the bottom because they're heavier than most of it.

And third, the Pillsbury bake-yourself Halloween cookies that you can buy in the store. The only reason I'm including this (other than I just made treats for a mom's group pumpkin patch party) is because the holiday cookies they used to have were in logs and you had to slice them and then you had ridiculous-looking, distorted pumpkins. Now they offer them in ready-to-bake packages and you just put them on the pan to cook and they are really cute.

Here's a picture of all three things:


Peace, Love, and Halloween Treats (not exactly 'dinner,' I know),

~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Halloweener of Happiness

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

PB&J - The Cup Way

My kids, especially little Fred, love Peanut Butter and Jelly. Ginger loves cheese and we make a lot of grilled cheese. Since Fred isn't a cheese fan, somewhere along the way, we started grilling PBJ's for him. Because why not add a little butter to a fat-laden, sugar-infused food on crappy white bread and fry it up in a pan! So....as you may have guessed...the natural progression in our cup experiments led to PB&J cups (along with some PB & honey cups for good measure.)


The biscuits for this one were big, Grands, honey butter-flavored, flaky biscuits. That's right, honey butter flavored, because Mr. D can't go to the store and come home with simple, standard items like I ask for (eye roll.) They weren't bad with this combination, but I think it would be fine w/ regular biscuits, too. The giant flaky biscuits are able to be separated into four layers since they are so big. Some only separated into 3, I kind of winged it. For the bottoms of all the cups, I used the biggest layers that I separated so they'd have a sturdy bottom. Then, a dollop of grape jelly or a squeeze of honey, then a spoonful of peanut butter. After that, I added a biscuit top and then I brushed the top with a little butter.


I baked them at 350 and the can said to bake for 14-19 minutes. I set the timer for 12 minutes and I didn't think they were done. So I waited two more minutes and that was a tad too long because about 3 or 4 of the cups oozed jelly out. But, overall, most of the cups fully contained the fillings and they were the cutest little things. Got rave reviews from the kiddos, as you might expect. Fred liked the jelly ones best, Ginger loved the honey ones. Mr. D loved them both, as expected, and I tasted one but decided to be an adult and actually ate soup and salad for dinner. Of course, the kids also had peas and yogurt for good measure.


Some pictures of the cuteness:
With jelly and honey blobs.


With added peanut butter blobs.


With tops on.


Golden brown from the oven.


The innards and the outtards.



Peace, Love, and PBJ's,


~HD


Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
PBJer of Pizzaz

The Cups Continue - Chicken-Spinach-Alfredo

I swear that at some point I will get over this cups kick, but it has been so fun. The best part is that we have ready-made lunches for the next day, because the cups are very portable. And, it turns out that this latest one is the favorite of Mr. D's and Ginger's.

I love rotisserie chickens, I really do. I am not a fan of cooking chicken, or rather, dealing with raw chicken - but, more specifically, chicken breasts I cook always end up a little dry. There are ways around that, but in the end, a rotisserie chicken is soooooo nice to use. I buy them and tear them apart while they're still warm and then use the chicken in chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, chicken and dumplings, or - in this case - Chicken Spinach Alfredo Cups!

When I went to the store, I checked the prices on the cooked chicken strips that you can get in the lunchmeat section. It was $3.49 for 6 oz and - the thing is - the chicken pieces look like they'd be chewy. It looks like chicken parts thrown together. You know, "parts is parts" (old Wendy's commerical, anyone?  anyone...?) And the rotisserie chicken, in all its warm, tasty, delicious, glory was $4.99 and I ended up with at least three times that much meat.

For these cups, I used the big kind of Grands biscuits, except I peeled them into two and three sections. I liked the smaller ones that used the 1/3 biscuits because I like less bread. But it was easier to tear them into only 2 sections, so that's what I'd probably recommend. Smooshed them in the bottom of the muffin cups - and it took up 1 1/2 muffin tin pans since I was separating the biscuits.

Then, each biscuit got a dollop (little more than 1 teaspoon) of Alfredo sauce. (I used Bertolli, but I also bought two other kinds, so I'll let you know if I like those better when we try them.) Then, some chicken, then spinach on top of that for mine and Mr. D's - I knew the kids would throw a fit about the spinach. (Spinach was the little frozen block of chopped spinach, microwaved and water squeezed out.) And finally, mozzarella cheese on the top. Baked at the temp and for the time the biscuit can says - I thought it would need less time becuase it wasn't whole biscuits, but it strangely didn't.

**Lest you think I am a horrible mother for not making my kids eat their greens, we did have green salad on the side. And not iceberg, oh no - the dark green and purple kind of salad, which my kids inexplicably both love (w/ ranch dressing, of course.) I'm glad they like it so much - I know I wouldn't have touched it as a kid.**

Lessons learned would be that next time it needs some kind of extra seasoning on the spinach, or maybe mix the spinach w/ the alfredo sauce instead of plopping it on alone. Young Fred, he the biggest fan of the Pizza Cups, said he didn't really like the Chicken cups, but then he ate the whole thing. Here are some pics:

Cups w/ the sauce and chicken. See how much chicken is left in the bowl? That's after making 18 cups and from only one rotisserie chicken.

Cups with the spinach added to some.

Final before the oven.

And finished!!



Peace, Love, and Dinner,

~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Chef of Cuppery



Sunday, October 4, 2009

Breakfast Cups, the Trend Continues

So, very akin to Pizza Cups in design, we have Breakfast Cups. The basic ingredients today were cooked sausage, shredded cheddar cheese, and some beaten eggs. I used the biscuits that are "flaky layers" so I could tear them apart easy. Since I'd never made these before, I did them several different ways to see what worked best. I forgot to add salt to the eggs before I put them in the tins to cook, practically a mortal sin.

Here were the variations:
  • One biscuit, split in half. Bottom half, then sausage and cheese in the middle, then biscuit top half.
    • These were mine and Fred's favorites. I like eggs, he doesn't so much, but these were fun and yummy because the biscuits totally surrounded the sausage and cheese like a popover.
  • One biscuit, split in half. Bottom half, then sausage, cheese, and some egg in the middle, then biscuit top half.
    • These were my 2nd favorite and Mr. D's favorite. The tops stayed on well and made little sandwiches.
  • One biscuit in the bottom topped with egg, cheese, and sausage.
    • These were perfectly fine and good, but a little messier and so we ate them with a fork. The lack of biscuit on top made a difference.
  • 1/2 biscuit in the bottom topped with egg, cheese, and sausage.
    • This is just like above, except it was less bread and made it smaller overall. Was yummy.
Here's some pictures:





 PLnDorB,

~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Egg Salter of Neglect

Pizza Cups, the Beginning of a Trend

I got this idea from my BFF. This is the basic idea, and we have many variations in mind to try in the near future.

Pizza cups are simple. You grease a muffin tin, then open a can of biscuits and either press out the biscuits w/ your hand, or roll them out w/ a little rolling pin. Put them in the bottoms of the muffin tin and they'll kind of go up the sides. I used the smallest, little Pillsbury biscuits for this. The ones that come in the 4-can pack. But you could use some of the bigger kinds, but nothing as big as Grands. I think the small ones were perfect (not to mention less carbs.)

So, once you get them all in the tins, you add about one teaspoon of pizza sauce. I bought pizza sauce (instead of marinara pasta sauce) because it's thicker. But, it wasn't flavorful enough for me, so I added oregano and some italian seasoning.

Then, we added sausage and cut-up pieces of sliced pepperoni in different combinations. Each of us added what we wanted in our own. Then top it with some shredded cheese, we used mozzarella. Cook in the oven at the temp and for the time on the biscuit can.

Here are some pictures. Everyone loved these. The second pic has onions on top of them for me and Mr. D. e have more variations to the "cup" theme in mind. We made some breakfast ones today, so that post is next.




Pizza, Love, and Dinner,

~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Pizza Cupper of Creativity

Broccoli Cheese Soup is a Hit!

To go with our cornbread sandwiches, I made Broccoli Cheese Soup for the first time ever. BC Soup is one of my favorites, and I got it the other day at Black-Eyed Pea. Fred, my precious son, asked for a bite and he loved it. This was astounding news, as he is the pickiest of picky. So, I looked up a bunch of recipes and picked one that made the most sense to me. But, of course, by the time I was done with it, my version didn't resemble the recipe at all. But it was great! Little Fred wants it in his lunchbox tomorrow. Ginger is not such a fan, but she ate some. Me and Mr. D thought it was great. Here's what I did:

1/2 cup butter - melt it in the bottom of a big pan. I used the big pot that came w/ my regular cookware, but next time would use my small crockpot.

1 onion, chopped - I actually used frozen chopped onion, which I almost always use when I'm cooking onions vs. making something w/ raw onion (like a salad)

Saute the onion until translucent. Then, add two bags of frozen chopped broccoli and/or broccoli florets (bags around 13 oz each.) and stir them around a little w/ the onions. Then, add three cans (14.5 oz each) of chicken broth (you'll need 4 total cans of chicken broth.) Let this heat up on med-high heat until it starts to simmer. Once simmering, simmer for 10-15 mins until brocolli is tender.

Next, add a 2 lb block of Velveeta that you've chopped up into smaller chunks. Stir it around and melt it in the soup mixture. Add a good handful of shredded cheddar and a good tablespoon of garlic powder and stir them in really well. Reduce the heat once all that is stirred in.

Then, take the final can of chicken broth and mix it with 2/3 cup of cornstatch. Then, add that to the soup and stir for while so the soup gets thicker. Don't let the pan get too hot on the bottom and burn the cheese.

Enjoy!

PLnD,

~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Soupier of Deliciousness

Cornbread Sandwiches - Corny?

I recently went on a girls' weekend to Jefferson, TX and, whilst searching for ghosts and spirits, we also had to eat. One of the places we ate was a little restaurant that served sandwiches on cornbread. The service and management was a little ridiculous in many ways, not the least of which was that they deceivingly charge $.25 for ice water with your overpriced meal (because they're pissed off you aren't paying $1.85 for one can of Coke - that's right, $1.85 for one can). I wondered if the sandwiches would be gimmicky since all they serve is sandwiches on cornbread - but turns out......corny? No. Delicious? YES. So, we have duplicated them a few times at home now.

For the cornbread, I have tried a double box of Jiffy cooked per instructions and it's crumbly. I have also tried Homemade Gourmet's Texas Cornbread - also crumbly, but less so. I cooked both times in bigger pans than called for so the cornbread wouldn't be so thick that the sandwich was mainly bread.

The Turkey-Hammy-Clubby Version:

Cornbread rectangle, sliced in half like a biscuit. Mayo on one side, mustard on the other. Cheddar cheese slice (Tillamook from Costco = love), then turkey, then shredded cheddar or colby-jack, then ham, then sliced red onions. Put it together and microwaved for about 15 seconds. (See the next post for the recipe for that fab-u-luss soup by the sandwich.)



The Chili-Cheese-Eat-With-A-Fork Version:

Cornbread rectangle topped with some mustard, then homemade chili, shredded cheddar, and red onions.


The kids were impressed with neither, though Ginger will eat ham and cheese in any form. Mr. D loved both, but preferred the Chili one. I loved them both, but there was some weird taste w/ my homemade chili and so, when it was leftover time, Mr. D ate a Chili one and I ate another Clubby one. Sometimes where we buy ground beef makes a difference in how I feel about the final product. I need to figure out where it is that I like ground beef from and only buy it there.

Peace, Love, and Dinner


~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Copier of Corniness

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Morning Bastardized Cinnamon Rolls



In the blur of Saturday morning, where my kids always wake up way earlier than I want them to and start crying 'hunger' as if it's my job to feed them, I promised to get up and make a can of cinnamon rolls for 15 more minutes of undisturbed rest. I got about 7 minutes and gave up the ghost. Then, the horror - we didn't have the promised cinnamon rolls. So I offered everyone's favorite flaky, butter biscuits from a can with jelly and that elicited tears from my daughter, who seems to be getting sick which always lowers her tolerance threshhold (and by extension, mine.) So, I decided to try and make some sort of cinnamon roll with what I had on hand. Turns out I had some crescent rolls, so I used those. Behold, pictures of the resulting brilliance:




Raw sheet of crescent rolls with butter, sugar, and cinnamon on it.


Then, rolled it up and cut it into 12 slices.

















 

Put them on a sprayed pan.











 

Made some homemade icing while they cooked. Cream cheese (8 oz), 1/2 stick of butter - warmed up a little and mixed well. Then added 1.5-2 cups of powdered sugar and a little vanilla. The kids looove icing and fight over the little plastic bowl of it that comes w/ canned cinnamon rolls.




   

And they're out of the oven! Baked @ 375 for 12-13 minutes.








 
 
And.........THE FINISHED PRODUCT! Except, guess what? The kids don't like my icing. You know, no preservatives or chemicals in it, so why should they like it? I scraped it off theirs and then they loved them. They were really good. Even Mr. D liked them, he who hates sweet stuff for breakfast.





Peace, Love, and Dinner (or, in this case, breakfast),

~HD

Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Bastardizer of Brilliance

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Welcome to Peace, Love, and Dinner

I have 5 1/2 year old twins and they are such picky eaters. I don't know how this happened. You should see my husband and me - you can tell we're not picky eaters on sight. I had every intention of doing all the right things to encourage non-picky eating in my kids - I've read all the books, I've subscribed to all the magazines, I've drunk all the Kool-aid. But, we all know what the road is paved with, and my intentions went to the wayside in deference of quickly-made dinners (chicken nuggets and fruit for the kids, husband and I "fend," which is to forage our own food for the evening) and/or wanting to choose my battles and therefore feeding the kids what they'll eat because it's one less battle to wage. So, here we are, 5.5 years into motherhood and I have a son who barely eats real food but has a sweet tooth to end all sweet tooths, and a daughter that would gladly eat her weight in sausage and cheese. Of course, they both have foods that are always a winner with them - but there's not much that the two of them agree on, furthering the insanity.

So, I have decided it is time to start making only one meal per night. I've decided to have more in my lunchbox repertoire than PB&J with the crusts cut off. I am determined to make my little Fred and Ginger foodies (forgive the overused term) like their Mama and Daddy.

Please, come along for the ride...

~HD



Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Blogger of Fortitude