Monday, April 20, 2015

Strawberry Jello Cream Pie



I bought a flat of strawberries, Louisiana strawberries.  They're the best, ya know.  Strawberries are kind of a big deal around here.  Lots of strawberry farms equals lots of fresh, sweet, delicious strawberries.  Every year I buy a flat or two.  I put several bags in the freezer to use for smoothies.  Instead of using ice, I just throw in whole frozen strawberries.  They don't get watered down that way.  I also make lots of strawberry desserts, like this one.

STRAWBERRY JELLO CREAM PIE

1 graham cracker crust
1 (3oz) pkg strawberry jello
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups cold sliced strawberries
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 TBS powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl with a pour spout, mix jello and boiling water.  Stir for 2 minutes to dissolve.



Add cold sliced strawberries.


Stir together then put in the fridge to chill for about 20-30 minutes (to cool it off).


Then pour it into the graham cracker crust.


Chill until set, at least several hours.  (You can make it the day before you need it and chill overnight).


After it's set, whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract with a mixer or a whisk until thick.  (You could substitute Ready Whip or Cool Whip if you don't want to whip the cream yourself).

Spread over the chilled pie.



Garnish with crushed graham crackers or fresh berries.


Chill until ready to serve.



This is a simple, old-fashioned dessert.  Perfect for a warm summer evening.  Kids love it!  Kids at heart love it, too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nutella!

My first trip to New York was about 20 years ago.  My husband, then boyfriend, took me to Brooklyn to meet his family.  I not only met his big Italian family, I also met friends, neighbors and acquaintances.  Everyone was very nice to this little girl from the swamp and it was a wonderful trip that I remember with fondness.  But, what I remember most about that trip is the massive amounts of food we encountered everywhere we went!  Baked ziti, cannolis, spumoni, the best pizza I've ever tasted, amazing bagels, prosciutto bread, the list goes on and on.  My favorite foodie find, however, was Nutella.  Back then, it wasn't available all over the country like it is now.  I had never even heard of this chocolate hazelnut spread.  When my Mother-in-law handed me a pretzel covered in Nutella to try, I was hooked.  All I could say was, "Where has this been all my life?"




Here are a couple of recipes featuring this little jar of awesomeness:

This first recipe is super simple.  In fact, it only has 3 ingredients.

NUTELLA BROWNIES

1 cup Nutella
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
10 TBS all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 baking dish.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until combined.



Press into the greased baking dish in an even layer.  The batter will be thick.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


Let them sit and cool before you try to cut them.  Otherwise you'll have a big mess on your hands.


These are fudgy and delicious!  Not too sweet and they have that undeniable Nutella flavor.  Perfect brownies!  And the recipe could not be easier.  The hardest part is waiting for them to cool.

This next recipe is a bit more work but well worth it.  If you like chocolate chip cookies, you'll love these.  These are chocolate chip cookies kicked up a few notches!

NUTELLA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

1 stick butter, softened (let sit at room temp till soft)
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees if you have a dark or nonstick cookie sheet).  Cream together butter, Nutella, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth (a mixer works great for this but if you don't have one just beat the tar out of it with a whisk).



Add the egg and vanilla extract.  Mix until fluffy.



In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon with a whisk until thoroughly combined.



Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined.


Gently stir in chocolate chips.


Drop by heaping Tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Leave some room between them because they will spread.


Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.  8 minutes is perfect for my oven but every oven is different.  Just keep an eye on them.




These cookies are crisp on the outside and fudgy on the inside.  Almost like a cookie/brownie combo!  Yum!  Have a few of these with a big glass of milk and all is right with the world.

So, if you love Nutella like I do, make these recipes.  Right now.  And if you've never tasted Nutella, well, what are you waiting for?  Seriously, go.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

5 Ways to Use Boiled Eggs

Easter is almost here and if you're like me you will dye eggs, lots of eggs.  My kids are teenagers now, but we still love to dye eggs together.  The question is, what do we do with them?




I hate to waste food!  I always try to use up ingredients before they go bad or repurpose leftovers.  After Easter, the dozens of boiled eggs call for some extra creativity.  Here are 5 ways you can use up those boiled eggs.  But first, here are some tips for hard boiling eggs.

How to Hard Boil Eggs:

1.  Put eggs in a pot and add just enough COLD water to cover.

2.  Bring to a boil.  Put the lid on the pot.  Turn off the heat.

3.  Let sit for 15 minutes.

4.  Remove eggs to a bowl of ice water.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  This will cool them down to stop the cooking process so they don't over cook and make them easier to peel.



*Another tip for easy peeling:  Buy your eggs about a week before you boil them.  Fresher eggs are harder to peel.


5 Ways to Use Boiled Eggs:

1.  Deviled Eggs

A classic in the South and at Church potlucks everywhere.  I like an easy version called Ranch Deviled Eggs.  Cut the eggs in half lengthwise.


Remove the yolks to a bowl.  Add a little ranch dressing and mash with a fork.  Salt and pepper to taste.


I like to season the whites with a little salt and pepper then fill each egg white with a little of the yolk mixture.  Garnish with sliced green onions.  Easy but so good!



2.  Egg Salad Sandwiches

Dice the boiled eggs into small pieces.  Add a little mayonnaise (too much will make it goopy) and a little bit of mustard (too much will over power it).  Salt and pepper to taste then stir in some chopped fresh parsley.  Serve on bread.

3.  Tuna Salad

Mix 1 can of tuna, drained, with 2 diced boiled eggs.  Stir in a little mayonnaise, a little mustard, a small pickle, diced, and season to taste with Cajun Seasoning.  I also like to add a little bit of pickle juice.  It gives it some zing!  Serve with crackers, on bread or wrapped in lettuce.

4.  In a Green Salad

Prepare your favorite green salad and top it with sliced boiled eggs.  This will add protein and make it more satisfying.

5.  Potato Salad

Mix cubed boiled potatoes, cubed boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard and sweet pickle relish in a large bowl (the amounts depend on how many potatoes you use.  Just add enough mayo and mustard to get it the way you like it.  Taste as you go).  Mash everything together with a potato masher to get desired consistency (Some people like it very chunky, I like it a bit smoother).  Then, season to taste with Cajun Seasoning (or salt & pepper).


So, there are 5 ways to use those leftover boiled eggs.  I'm sure you can think of more.  So, go ahead, dye as many as you like.  Happy Easter!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beef and Noodles

This is an old-fashioned Sunday supper.  If you're short on time, this one's not for you.  But, if you've got a few hours, this is a delicious, easy, hearty supper that screams comfort.

I found the recipe in a cook book from the 80s.  It caught my eye because the ingredients are simple things I always have on hand.  I changed it up a little bit.  It called for frozen noodles, which I didn't have, so I substituted dried.  I also used Italian seasoning instead of the marjoram it listed.  Plus a few other changes.  The result was a winner.  The family loved it so much there were no leftovers!  My Pickiest Eater Ever Son actually asked me to make it again soon.  Score!


BEEF AND NOODLES

1 lb chuck roast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBS oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups egg noodles
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped

Cut the roast into small cubes.


Coat the cubes of beef with the flour.


In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, brown half of the beef in the oil over medium high heat.



Remove it from the pot and set aside.  Brown the remaining beef, then add the onion and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes.


Drain off any excess grease.  Return all beef to pot.  Stir in broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.


Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat to a simmer.  Put the lid on and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender.

Then, stir in the noodles.


Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until noodles are tender.  Stir it occasionally.


Finally, garnish with fresh parsley.



This recipe takes some time but very little effort.  The end result is worth the wait.  Comforting and delicious!  A new family favorite!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Strawberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake



Coffee cake is quick, easy and versatile.  It's perfect for a week night dessert or when you've got company dropping by for coffee.  Once you've got the recipe down, you can change it up by substituting different kinds of preserves.


STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE COFFEE CAKE

4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 TBS butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour an 8x8 baking dish.  Set aside.  I like to use shortening for this but you can use cooking spray. 



In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth.  A mixer works best, but you can do it by hand with a whisk if you like.  


Add egg and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth and fluffy.  

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  With mixer on low, add in half the flour, then all the milk, then the other half of the flour.  Mix just until combined.


Pour into prepared baking dish.


Spoon the preserves in 9 portions on top of the batter.


With a butter knife, swirl preserves into the batter creating a marbled effect.




Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.




This coffee cake is moist and tender.  It's not overly sweet and has just a hint of tang from the cream cheese.  Delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.  You can substitute any flavor preserves (cherry or peach would be great).  You could even use peanut butter or Nutella!  Or just leave out the preserves and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top instead.  Very versatile.  Give this one a try.