Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekend Company New Year's Eve Addition {Guest Blogger Kathy}

Goodbye 2011, hello 2012!! I have to admit, I'm not usually one to "wish" for the new year, but this time, I'm kind of glad 2011 is leaving us. It's been a hard year for our family and I'm excited to see where the new one takes us, and pray it's a better one than the last. Do you have big plans for tonight? Ever since Alex was born, it's become a quiet night for us. I put out a buffet of appetizers and we eat all night, watch movies and just enjoy time as a family. However you are ringing in the new year, I hope it's w/ someone you love, and I wish you all of God's blessings in 2012!

Now onto our company, please welcome Kathy to EMM and share part of our New Year's Eve learning something new through her fascinating post!

My name is Kathy Blais and my food blog is called Kathy's Kitchen.You can also find me on Facebook. My blog is a collection of recipes that I have created or adapted from various sources - friends, cooking shows, magazines, etc.  I love to share these recipes with all my readers and hopefully inspire them to step out of their comfort zone once in a while and try something new, whether it's a new flavour or ingredient, or a recipe that looks too difficult to tackle (but is really quite simple!)
I'm from the Saskatchewan, and my husband is from Quebec, so I thought I would share one of his family traditions that has become a favourite in our household.  I hope you will enjoy it too!
Nine years ago, we spent our daughter's first Christmas in Quebec with my husband's side of the family. It was a bit of a whirlwind for me - his family is much larger, louder, and Frencher than my side! My family traditions consist of church on Christmas Eve, stockings and presents on Christmas morning, and a big turkey dinner later that day. Sweet and simple. My husband's family traditions consist of midnight Mass, and traveling around to all the relatives' houses for lots of laughter, presents, games, tacky gift-exchanges, brunches, snacks, suppers, etc. It's a little crazy, but it's a lot of fun!

Amidst all the hustle and bustle of my first Quebec Christmas, I discovered the Raclette. My sister-in-law hosted a big raclette supper on Christmas Eve that year, and it was love at first bite! I am forever in her debt for introducing me to what has now become our family's favourite traditional holiday meal! Since we still like to do our big turkey dinner for a Christmas meal, the Raclette has become our traditional New Year's Eve meal instead.
The simplest way to describe raclette is "fondue on a grill". It's an open-faced grill that sits in the middle of the table, and you can cook your food on top and/or place it in little broiler trays that slide underneath the grill.  You can purchase the grills at most stores that carry small kitchen appliances. 

The traditional Swiss raclette features melted cheese (there's actually a type of cheese called raclette - careful, it stinks to high Heaven, but it's really good once it's melted!), cured meats, boiled potatoes, gherkins, and pickled onions. That's not how we do it, though! Our raclette meal is a feast of the following ingredients:
  • thinly sliced meats (usually chicken and beef) in a couple different marinades
  • seafood (usually shrimp and scallops, but we have also used salmon)
  • cured meats (usually prosciutto and something a little spicier)
  • boiled potatoes (we use quartered baby potatoes and julienned sweet potatoes)
  • assorted diced veggies (bell peppers, onions, mushrooms)
  • french bread
  • 3 different kinds of sliced cheese (some of our favourites are Raclette, Smoked Gouda, Provolone, Meunster, Edam... anything that melts nicely)
  • dipping sauces (usually 3 different kinds - some of our favourites are Curry Mayo, Honey Mustard, Sweet & Sour, Barbeque, etc. We usually have garlic butter as well.) 


The meat and vegetables should be cut into very small pieces, so that they will cook quickly on the grill.  We typically have 2 marinades for chicken and 2 marinades for beef.  Here are some simple marinades that work well:
  • Chicken Marinade #1: oil, lemon juice, garlic
  • Chicken Marinade #2: lime juice, ketchup, cumin, chili powder or fajita seasoning
  • Beef Marinade #1: vinegar, ketchup, garlic, onion powder, cumin, oregano, pepper
  • Beef Marinade #2: soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar
You grill meat and veggies on top, and then put them in the the broiler trays with a slice of cheese on top. The combinations are endless!  You can also put a slice of French bread underneath the broiler with some garlic butter, or top it off with a piece of prosciutto and a slice of cheese.  You can take some seafood from the top of the grill, then transfer it to your broiler tray and add a little garlic butter.  You can mix and match the marinated meats with the dipping sauces and see which flavours work well together.  Basically you spend the meal experimenting, and generally everything tastes fantastic!
Once the raclette meal is over, two things are certain: you will be incredibly full, and you will have tons of leftovers. You know the story of Jesus feeding 5000 with just a few fish and some loaves of bread? Well the raclette is kind of like that - you start out thinking you'll never have enough food for everyone, and somehow you end up with enough for at least one more large meal!
There are a number of ways you can use up your raclette leftovers. Often we just do it all over again the next night, since we love the Raclette meal so much. You can also use the leftover cheese and veggies to make omelettes or quiche, or you can use the leftover meat and veggies to make stir-fries.  It's amazing how far a little bit of food will go!
We had 6 adults at our last Raclette meal, and used 3 chicken breasts, 1 tray of rouladen beef,1 c. shrimp & scallops, a very small salmon filet, 10 slices of prosciutto, 3 bell peppers, 2 small onions, 1 sweet potato, 1 small bag of baby potatoes, 1 c. sliced mushrooms, and 2 baguettes. And like I said, that was more than enough - way more than enough!
I hope this post will inspire you to try a Raclette meal.  Please check out my blog or my Facebook page to see what other meals are cooking in Kathy's Kitchen!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Kinda Cheesy

We love cheese. All kinds of cheese. All forms of cheese. So one of our favorites appetizers is always the cheese ball. I always love seeing what combinations of flavors people invent to keep something so classic new and yummy every time. So when it was time for me to plan our Christmas Eve menu, I knew I had to include one that we had never seen before. Before I could think twice about it, I remembered a few weeks back at the grocery store when I grabbed a recipe card off a holiday display from Armour, the maker of the dried beef we see so much of around the holidays. A cheese ball that resembles another one of our favorite treats, dried beef roll ups (you know, dried beef w/ cream cheese, rolled and cut into bite size pieces).....YES, please! I knew this would be something Adam would love, and it would also be perfect to serve on my new monogrammed cheese plate/spreader he had bought me :) So if you are tired of the same cheddar cheese ball each year, maybe this is for you too!

Beefy Cheese Ball  from Armour
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp horseradish
1 small jar dried beef, finely chopped

In a food processor, combine cream cheese, 1/4 c. dried beef, sour cream, Parmesan and horseradish. Mix until creamy and well combined. Chill mixture for 15 minutes. Form into ball and roll in remaining dried beef. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 24 hours to set.
*NOTE* If you are watching your sodium intake, rinse the beef first to cut down on the salt.


Shared on The Country Cook Jan. 13, 2012
Shared on Gooseberry Patch Feb. 1, 2012
Appetizers at Very Good Recipes
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let's Party

One of Adam's favorite family traditions was spending every Christmas Eve w/ his mom's side of the family, with Grandma Joy hosting. That was Christmas to Adam. Her house was filled to the brim w/ family, food, laughter and smiles all around. I can still remember the first Christmas Eve celebration he took me to like it was yesterday, not 14 years ago! She always had the same meal, and a few things included were ones extra special b/c it was the only time of the  year she would make them; and one of those was her Chex Mix! It was so simple, nothing like what you buy in the store, and 100% addictive! I can still see Adam sitting at her kitchen table eating it from the bowl, going back for more, more and even more. Now that Grandma is no longer w/ us, those traditions and memories are even more special. This year as soon as I found out we would be hosting that side of the family, on Christmas Eve, the first thing I knew I had to make was Grandma's Chex Mix. See, a few years ago while I was cleaning her house one day I asked her for the recipe. She copied it down and I placed it in my recipe box w/o another thought. See, I thought Grandma would be around for many more years to be making it herself. It just goes to show, you never know how long those we love will be around for us to tell them we love them, and how much they mean to us. I know Grandma got a huge kick out of me in the kitchen this year, agonizing over the recipe making sure it turned out perfectly, just so her family could be taken back to those Christmas Eves of old, in her kitchen, in her home, surrounded by love. I love you Grandma Joy, and I hope my version of your holiday made you very proud!

Chex Party Mix
2 c. Wheat Chex
2 c. Corn Chex
2 c. Rice Chex
(any combo of these is fine, as long as it equals 6 cups)
6 TBS margarine, melted
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. seasoning salt
3/4 c. party peanuts

Preheat oven to 250. Combine margarine, Worcestershire and salt. Stir well. In a shallow baking dish, combine all cereal and peanuts. Pour margarine over top. Stir gently to coat. Bake in oven 45 minutes, stirring every 15. If still not "dry" enough, continue cooking stirring occasionally.



Appetizers at Very Good Recipes
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Veggie Tales

I am a sucker for a good veggie tray. I'm the person at a party table filled w/ beautiful offerings grabbing raw veggies and dip. Of course I enjoy all the other yummy offerings, but I never pass on some carrots, celery, broccoli and something creamy to dip them in. I've had lots of different dips through the years, but after sampling & making more than I can count, I have found my "beat all, end all" dip recipe. It's actually one my friend Erin shared w/ me last year. And after listening to her rave about it, I finally understood why. It literally takes every dip I love and combines them into one magnificent concoction. Now yes, w/ most dishes taking all of your favorites and making a mass offering really wouldn't be appetizing, but w/ this it works, and works perfectly. If you have a New Year's Eve party planned, don't forget the raw veggies (in case I stop by) and this dip to make your guests saw "Wow!".

Veggie Dip
16 oz. sour cream
16 oz. French onion dip
1 ranch dressing packet, dry
1 Knorr vegetable dip packet, dry

In a large bowl, combine all and mix until combined. Chill for 24 hours before serving. Perfect w/ veggies, chips or crackers.


Shared on Gooseberry Patch Dec. 28, 2011
Appetizers at Very Good Recipes
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Leftover Lunch

I like to be able to use leftovers whenever possible; but what I don't enjoy is having them the same way. Meaning, if there is a left over dish in our fridge, it is most likely going to be eaten by Adam or Alex. I'm just not a huge fan of taking something, reheating it and calling it a meal. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, and I'm certainly not being critical of those who do that. It's totally acceptable, it's just not my "thing". I'm guessing it comes from the fact that growing up, we never had a lot of leftovers. There were 3 of us in the house and mom was a master at cooking just the amount we needed. But for bigger families, busy families, or economically savvy families, I totally understand why one dish might last two or three days. But what I do like doing is taking left over ingredients and making something totally new from them; and many times, that happens at lunch time when it's just me at home. On this day, I had some roasted chicken tenders in the freezer from a chicken pot pie, some lettuce from a salad and some tortillas from....well, I don't remember why I had those, but there they were in the meat drawer. Add those things together, and to me the sum is a wrap! More specifically, a chicken salad wrap! I love chicken salad, and especially enjoy the ones that include some fruit and nuts for that little something extra. So the next time you have leftovers in your fridge, see what you can come up with, or if you aren't me....you can eat them as is. Either way, it's a great frugal way to enjoy something you love!

Chicken Salad Wrap
1 c. cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 c. apple, finely diced
1/4 c. celery, diced
1/4 c. pecans, chopped
Romaine lettuce
Tortillas

Mix chicken, mayo, grapes, apple, celery and pecans. Combine well. Chill. When ready to assemble, lay lettuce leaves on tortillas and add about 1/2 c. chicken mixture. Roll tight and cut. This is also very good on croissants, wheat bread or kaiser rolls.

~Join me for Tasty Tuesday on Formula Mom~

Shared on Chef in Training Dec. 27, 2011

Chicken at Very Good Recipes
Sandwich at Very Good Recipes
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Monday, December 26, 2011

Still Celebrating

I hope each of you had a FANTASTIC Christmas!!! Was Santa good to you? We must have been very good this year b/c the 3 of us got spoiled over and over! We are very blessed, and grateful for such a wonderful day full of family, love and memories made.
December 26th is always a depressing day for me. I look forward to Christmas SO much and really start celebrating November 1st, so at the end of it all I'm kind of sad. However, I do have New Year's to look forward to and seeing more family, so that is getting me through the slump. But I do realize not all Christmas parties are over. In today's busy world, I know there are some out there who are probably celebrating this week, or even over the new year's weekend. (I know this b/c it's happened to our family in years past!)So just in case you aren't done cooking yet, I have a quick side dish that will go perfectly if you have one more turkey to baste, or even if you are having pork for good luck on January 1st. Cranberry Relish! It's a great partner to either protein, and this will be the easiest one you've ever made because....wait for it....It's NOT cooked! That's right, this one is completely "raw". My grandmother makes 2 cranberry sauces. One that is more traditional, cooked on the stove, and this one. My dad requested this one this year for Christmas b/c for the first time in many years my mom was cooking turkey. I was up to the task, and truthfully it was so simple, I'd be willing to do it again! If you are looking for something new for the last holiday party, or the New Year's Eve bash, try this and keep celebrating with me!

Cranberry Relish
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 medium apple, cored and peeled
1 Navel orange, peeled and as much of the white removed as you can
1 1/2 c. sugar (This is to taste. I just kept adding until it was sweet enough)

In a food processor, add cranberries, chopped apple and orange. Pulse until reaches desired consistency. Add sugar a little at a time and pulse in between. (I probably pulsed mine for a total of 5 minutes.)


Shared on Home Savvy Dec. 26, 2011
Shared on Make Ahead Meals Dec. 26, 2011
Shared on Chef in Training Dec. 27, 2011
Cranberries at Very Good Recipes
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

If you have logged on to see something yummy from your everyday mom, I'm so sorry to disappoint. I hope, like me, you are spending today w/ family and loved ones, enjoying the most special day of the year. This year, I am so thankful for the many blessings in my life, to fall to my knees and thank God for. On top of that list is the love, support and genuine sense of accomplishment each one of you gives me through this blog. I could have never imagined the journey and adventure this has turned into, and the renewal of spirit it would provide me with. I wish I could stop in and share in the holiday spirit w/ you, but since I can't, from my family to yours, may you have an abundantly Merry Christmas and may God's love and peace fall down upon you and shine upon you just as it did through a tiny baby all those years ago.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'" 



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekend Company Christmas Edition {Guest Blogger Tricia}

Merry Christmas Eve!!! I am so excited about today's guest. Not only is she a fabulous wife, mother, and fellow blogger (visit her over at Recipe Roundup) but for those who don't already know, she is also my cousin. Seeing as today is Christmas Eve, and to me, it's all about being w/ family, I invited Tricia to join me here, so in a way we can still be together. When I was younger, every December we spent 2 weeks w/ family in Pennsylvania over the Christmas holiday. Both my mom and my dad's families are from there, and each year one of the highlights of the season was knowing we would be going "home" to be surrounded by those we love most in the world. Christmas Eve was always spent w/ my dad's family--going to church, a huge meal, presents for all, and usually snow falling outside. (Think of the perfect Norman Rockwell portrait and you have an idea). And Tricia was a part of those Christmas Eves. Now we are all grown up, and even though we can't be together in person today, we are definitely celebrating together in spirit! Thanks for being here Trish....I miss you...I love you. For Tricia, myself and the rest of our family....on this, the most holy night of the year, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


I want to thank my cousin, Krista for allowing me to guest post on Christmas Eve- how special! Interesting enough her recipe for Wassail is  featured over at my blog today! A  piece of eggnog pound cake and a cup of wassail sounds like a great Christmas Eve snack to me!
Krista and I are blessed to share many of the same great memories of Christmas at our grandmother's house when we were younger.  We now have families of our own and while we have not celebrated a Christmas together in years, we both take some of that  nostalgia and make it our own now in hopes of providing our children with the same great memories we have.
Today I'm sharing with you a recipe for eggnog pound cake I am serving it as part of my Christmas brunch.I hope you enjoy!
Eggnog Pound Cake

1- 16 oz. pkg Pound Cake Mix
3/4 C Eggnog
2 eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease and flour bundt pan.( I used my pan coating mix found here and it worked super!) Beat cake mix, eggnog, eggs, butter, nutmeg and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at low speed until well mixed then beat on medium speed for 2 mintues. Batter will be thick. Pour into prepared  bundt pan. Bake for 38-43 mintues or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 mintues. Invert on to wire rack and cool completely.



Wishing you a Merry Christmas from my family to yours!












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Friday, December 23, 2011

Regifting...This Time It's Okay

And why would that ever be okay, you ask? Because in this case, it was a gift of food that my family LOVED and I just had to get the recipe to share. My friend and neighbor is so kind and generous, always surprising us w/ homemade treats! The day after Thanksgiving there was a knock at the door and when Adam opened it, there stood her oldest son holding a huge cake carrier. Inside? Well, it was the most delicious carrot/spice cake I have ever had in my life. It was a cake that after the first bite my husband declared "This rocks!" It is not only tasty, but beautiful, and I think it would be great for a holiday party. She was kind enough to share the recipe w/ me, and I know I'll be making one myself very soon! We have developed a very special friendship over the past year, and I'm so thankful to have someone so close who cares about my child as much as I do hers, and really have a sense of  what "neighborly" means. But this time of the year, I'm extra grateful b/c I enjoy sharing the Christmas spirit so much and value those who are kind enough to share it w/ my family as well!

Carrot Spice Cake
4 eggs
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 10 oz. bag shredded carrots, and then chopped finer
3/4 c. vegetable oil

Lightly grease and flour 2 round cake pans.  In one bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda. In another bowl, beat together eggs, carrots and oil. Combine both mixtures. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. When cool, layer some frosting between 2 cake layers and frost top. For single layer option, use 9x13 pan.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter
2 tsp. vanilla (plus a little extra)
5 3/4 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until well combined. Add powdered sugar a little at a time.







Desserts at Very Good Recipes
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Casserole

Are you looking for something to make quickly on Christmas morning so you don't miss any of the fun around the tree? Well, you've come to the right place. I already shared my the Cinnamon Biscuits and Breakfast Pizza w/ you, and now I have a warm, sweet and satisfying casserole perfect for any morning, or like us, for an easy winter's night supper. Serve up some bacon on the side, and you have a full meal deal! (Especially quick if you buy the precooked bacon!!) We love breakfast foods for supper, so I am always trying to find ways to keep it fresh and new. But I can totally see where some of you would want to whip this up in between waking up and unwrapping everything under the tree. Now I'm the mom that is always the first one up on Christmas morning, so if you're like me, this would be perfect to throw together while everyone else is "coming to", and bake off while the wrapping paper is flying. Whenever you decide to make it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and if it does end up on your Christmas plate, it makes me feel good to know I can share in your family's Christmas just a tiny bit!!

French Toast Casserole
1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread, crusts removed, cut into chunks
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
4 TBS sugar, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBS baking raisins, optional
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan w/ cooking spray. Place bread cubes in bottom of pan. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, 2 TBS sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Sprinkle raisins over bread. Pour egg mixture evenly over top. Dot w/ butter. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine 2 TBS sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until browned on top. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve w/ warm maple syrup.
*NOTE* Have you seen the baking raisins at the store? I found mine on a display of holiday cooking items. They are plumper and juicier than regular raisins. Therefore, when baked, stay moist and don't dry out.


Shared on Gooseberry Patch Jan. 18, 2012


Breakfast at Very Good Recipes
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Crowd

When I think of entertaining during the holidays, the appetizer sections of all of my cook books get put to very good use. To me setting out a buffet of a lot of different little bites is the way to go, and I think enjoyed by most people, and is definitely one of my favorite ways to both feed, and eat! But I realize there are times during the holiday season when this idea isn't practical. If you have family coming to stay for a few days, or even a week like we used to when I was younger, chips & dip isn't going to cut it for days on end! So I have a dish for you that 1. Could feed a crowd 2. Is a great way to stretch a buck and 3. Tastes amazing! I've been making this for my family for years, and I have to say it's probably one of my favorite meals of all time. If you want to entertain w/ more expensive ingredients such as chicken breasts, cream and fresh herbs this is a great way to do it, b/c it doesn't take a lot. The staples of this meal are cheaper items such as egg noodles and button mushrooms! Everyone can use a few extra pennies in their wallet during the Christmas season; but to be able to do it while still offering up a beautiful and satisfying meal to your loved ones and friends. I hope every holiday party you host or attend this year is filled w/ laughter, joy and great food!

Chicken and Mushrooms with Buttered Chive Egg Noodles
3 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (I've used chicken tenders and boneless thighs too)
1 lb. button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 TBS olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 TBS butter, divided
1 TBS flour
20 chives, chopped
4 tsp dried parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 lb. egg noodles

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chicken in 2 TBS olive oil, seasoned w/ salt and pepper. Saute until brown and cooked through. Remove from skillet, and wipe out. Over medium heat, saute mushrooms in 2 TBS olive oil until brown. Once brown, season w/ salt and pepper. Add 1 TBS butter. When melted, sprinkle w/ flour. Cook 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth and cream. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook on low until slightly thick. (Do not expect this to get very thick. It should just coat the back of a spoon) Add chicken to cream sauce, and keep warm. When water is boiling, cook egg noodles and drain. Return to hot pot, add 2 TBS butter, chive and parsley. Stir well. Serve on a large platter w/ chicken & mushroom sauce over top. Garnish w/ extra parsley.


Chicken at Very Good Recipes
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Party Time

It's only 5 days until the BIG day!! That's right, you better have your cookies baked, presents wrapped, and menu planned! Christmas is almost here!!! Can you tell I'm excited?? I told you before, I revert back to a child this time of year. However, if you are till trying to find the last few items for your Christmas table, or maybe are ahead of the game, and are looking for New Year's Eve party ideas, I've got a great one for you! If you loved the Dill Pickle Dip I shared earlier this month, you too will be excited about this one. These are one of our favorite treats when we go to our favorite steakhouse, and I decided it was time I did a version at home. They use the same batter as my Fried Green Tomatoes and Onion Rings, and I served them w/ the Blue Cheese Dip I make w/ boneless wings. (Follow the links, or see below). Plus, if you already have pickles on hand to make the Dill Pickle Dip, why not fry up the extras? I love party recipes that allow for "double duty" out of ingredients, and saving money wherever I can! If you have a holiday party coming up, and you're in a "pickle" for ideas, maybe this is for you!

Beer Battered Fried Pickles
1 jar whole dill pickles, sliced 1/4 " thick (Depending on the size, I figure 1/2-1 a pickle per person)
Vegetable Oil for frying
Kosher Salt

Batter:
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 c. flat beer (I used it right from the bottle and it worked fine)

In a large bowl, combine all and whisk well. Slice pickles and pat dry VERY well. Dip pickles in batter and let excess drip off. In an electric skillet, heat oil to 375. Place pickles in hot oil, carefully not to over crowd. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season w/ salt. I do these in batches and cover w/ foil to keep warm. Serve w/ blue cheese dip.

Blue Cheese Dip
3 oz. crumbled blue cheese
3/4 c. mayo
6 TBS sour cream
1 1/2 TBS cider vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Combine all and chill well. 
~Join me for Tasty Tuesday on Formula Mom~

Shared on Mandy's Recipe Box Dec. 20, 2011
Shared on Chef in Training Dec. 20, 2011
Shared on Gooseberry Patch May 9, 2012
Appetizers at Very Good Recipes

Monday, December 19, 2011

Taste of Home Breakfast

Back in October I was lucky enough to be a Top 10 Finalist in my local newspaper's Readers' Recipes Cooking Contest. Each of the finalist received 2 tickets to the Taste of Home Cooking Show, where there was food & drink tastings, cooking demonstrations and the winners of the contest were announced. While I didn't win the contest, I was still so excited for reaching the Top 10, in my first time entering; plus I was able to attend a really great cooking event for free :) The show itself was fantastic. Each person got a "goody" bag upon entering and inside was products, coupons and not 1 but 2 cooking magazines! The demonstrator was a lady chef who was not only talented, but absolutely hilarious! She showed the audience how to make 3 or 4 dishes out of one of the magazines, live, w/ step by step instructions. It was so nice to see the dishes come together before our eyes, and get little tips and tricks from an insider of Taste of Home! The first dish she showed us how to make was Breakfast Pizza. Now while we were waiting for the show to begin, I was thumbing through the magazines and came upon this recipe; and right away I knew I wanted to try it, but also knew there was one big change I would make. Wouldn't you know it the first thing out of her mouth as she started to cook, was the exact same thing I had been thinking! Instead of making this on an actual pizza pan, I had decided I would do it in a pie plate for more of a deep dish effect; and that was exactly what she chose to do too! (Does this mean I have a future as a TOH Cooking Show expert??!!) This makes a great weekend breakfast, brunch or quick and easy supper. I will share the original recipe from TOH w/ my changes noted in ( ) .I think this would make a great breakfast Christmas morning, something simple as you are unwrapping everything Santa left under your tree. I have a few other goodies to share w/ you from the show, so be on the lookout to see what else I learned to make :)

Breakfast Pizza from Taste of Home
1 4oz tube crescent rolls (I used the 8oz size)
1/4 lb. bulk pork sausage or 4 pork sausage links sliced (I used 5 frozen brown and serve links, fully cooked and thawed)
1/2 c. frozen shredded potatoes, thawed (I used frozen diced potatoes)
2 TBS red pepper, diced ( I omitted this and added 1/2 a small can of mushrooms)
2 TBS green pepper, diced
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I used 1 1/2 c. b/c that's what the chef used during the demo)
2 eggs
2 TBS milk
1/8 tsp pepper (I used s/p to taste)
1 TBS shredded Parmesan cheese (I omitted these due to the extra cheddar)

Separate crescent rolls into 4 triangles. Arrange on an ungreased 7.5 inch round pizza pan w/ points toward the center. Press onto the bottom of pan, building up edges slightly; seal perforations. (I placed the dough in the bottom of a pie plate and pressed down and up the sides to seal and form crust) In a small skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Sprinkle over crust. Top w/ potatoes, peppers and cheese. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, milk and pepper. Pour over pizza; sprinkle w/ Parmesan cheese. bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until eggs are completely set and top is golden brown.

*NOTE* Make sure any frozen product (potatoes, sausage, peppers) is completely thawed and dried off. If not, it will add moisture to your pie and it will NOT set.


Breakfast at Very Good Recipes
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Round Up

With no Church Supper today, and only 7 days left to finalize all of those holiday menus, I thought I would share some EMM recipes that would be great for any family gathering you have planned. From large to small, intimate or bustling, I hope all of your Christmas meals are overflowing w/ good food, and most importantly....Love!



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekend Company #13 {Guest Blogger Debra}

One week people. That's right. Seven days from now, the countdown will be over. The stockings will be hung and the children will be nestled in their beds! I found out this week that we are hosting Christmas Eve for Adam's family this year, and I have to admit, I'm pretty excited. The menu planning is half the fun! It will only be 9 of us, but we are certain to eat well, be merry and have a fabulous time!

I want to give my guest today an extra special "thank you" for being a last minute replacement. She was kind enough to respond to a request on Facebook, and I'm so grateful. I'm extra excited to have her share w/ you today b/c she not only has a blog, but has also written a cookbook, AND.....she won the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1994!!! I am truly honored to have her here today!

So please welcome Debra to EMM and be sure to stop by and visit her soon!

Hello my name is Debra Freeman and I love to cook for my family and friends. I would love for you to be able to share in the genuine simplicity of that pleasure. Good food brings family and friends together. My Mom was my biggest influence in me learning how to cook. She had the reputation as being the best cook in town. My Mom passed away many years ago and I wanted to make sure that her recipes and mine were passed onto my family members and friends. 


My cookbook "Let the Feasty Begin" contains a wide variety of recipes for all occasions, and I can see where this will be the most used cookbook in your kitchen. It is a comprehensive collection of favorites. Also some of the recipes have optional ingredient substitutes that make the dish healthier without cutting flavor. There are recipes that will make your fat cells sing,healthy,and lots in between. I post a recipe about once a week. 




                     You can follow me at  Facebook- Let the Feasty Begin page, Blog- LettheFeastyBegin.blogspot.com and you may purchase my cookbook online at my website www.LettheFeastyBegin.com.  If you are local to the Frederick area you will see that my book is for sale in Downtown Frederick at Molly's Meanderings.

Hot & Crunchy Chicken
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, 4 to 6 oz. each
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. plus ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ⅛ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • cooking spray
Trim all fat and cartilage from chicken and place inside a Ziploc bag. Place on top of cutting board and with a meat mallet, hammer breasts to about ¼ inch thickness. Set aside.

Place bread crumbs on a large flat plate. Then beat egg and milk in a small bowl. Rub ⅛ tsp. of cayenne pepper evenly on one side of chicken breast then flip over and do the same on the other side until all chicken breasts are coated with cayenne. Dredge chicken into egg, then press into bread crumbs.
Heat up a large 14 inch and a small 8 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to large skillet and spray small skillet with cooking spray. Add pecans to small skillet stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes to toast pecans. Add honey and ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper to toasted pecans, mix well. Turn off heat to pecans and set aside.

As soon as oil is hot in large skillet add chicken breasts one at a time. Cover with a splatter screen and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in center.


When chicken is ready, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Then place chicken on plate and evenly divide honey pecan mixture over top of breasts. This sounds like a lot of cayenne but it really is not too spicy. Try serving this with Baby Red Mashed Potatoes with Pearl Onions and a green vegetable. 

Serves 4    Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Salad

Right before Thanksgiving, my good friend The Bread Fairy posted her recipe for pistachio salad. The minute I saw it I remembered I love the stuff! It had been forever since I had it, but I knew my recipe was somewhere, deep inside my recipe box. Well, I found it, and it made a great addition to our Thanksgiving table. My recipe was indeed very similar to hers (I think it's one of those dishes that has been made for so many years, we all have one that is very close) I think it's perfect for the upcoming holidays, so pretty and green on a Christmas party table. It's also so versatile--add different fruit, nuts, whatever your heart's desire. I'm so grateful for being reminded how much I love this; it will definitely be kept at the front of my recipe box from now on!

Pistachio Salad
1 small box pistachio pudding mix (do NOT prepare)
1 small tub Cool Whip, thawed
20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained except for a tad of liquid
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and pineapple. Fold in Cool Whip. Mix in nuts and marshmallows combining well. Chill overnight to set. Garnish w/ a few marshmallows and walnuts. (If entertaining I like to put nuts on top so those w/ allergies know for sure they are inside)

*NOTE* If you want a deeper green color, just add a few drops of food coloring. Personally, I like the lighter shade.


Shared on The Country Cook Dec. 16, 2011
Salads at Very Good Recipes
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

d-E-Licious Recipe {Review and Giveaway}

Do you own a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader? Do you enjoy downloading cookbooks to it, and taking it into the kitchen w/ you? Well, until now, I had never downloaded any e-book, let alone a cookbook! But that was before my friend Jenna at Newlyweds Blog contacted me about reading, cooking from, and reviewing her new e- cookbook, "E-licious"!! Exciting, right??!!


Inside you will find:
  • Over 45 delicious recipes w/ easy to find ingredients ( just right for this everyday mom)
  • 10 sections like: Weeknight Meal, Crock-pot meals, Date Night, Backyard Barbecue and more.
  • Recipes like Strawberry Spongecake, Chicken Divan, Shrimp stir-fry..


The recipe I chose to make for my family was a quick, easy and so cute little burger. We love sliders in our house ( I even own a slider maker-- thank you Billy Mays!) and I'm always looking for new combinations of flavors to pair w/ them. They make a great weeknight supper if you don't have much time (Hence why I made these on a Taekwondo night) or the perfect party snack. These are packed w/ flavor, and the bacon....Oooo the bacon. What doesn't taste better w/ bacon? (I mean it. You could put bacon on a piece of cardboard and I'd try it!) These are definitely something I will making again and again, not to mention trying other yummy things from my first e-cookbook! Thanks Jenna for sharing your wonderful creation w/ me and all the EMM fans! You did a fantastic job and should be so proud!!

Bacon Ranch Mini Burgers directly from E-licious
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 TBS real bacon pieces
Shredded lettuce
1 tomato, thinly sliced 
Sliced cheese, your choice, cheddar, swiss, etc.
12 ounce package Hawaiian rolls, split and toasted 

Combine ground beef, dressing mix and bacon bits. Shape into 2-inch small patties. Butter grill on medium high heat and grill or pan sauté 2-3 minutes each side. Toast rolls and serve with favorite toppings; cheese, lettuce & tomatoes. Makes 8 mini burgers.

My Changes
I used 2 TBS bacon bits ( I said I love bacon), and sliced a Roma tomato. We also added pickles. For the cheese I chose sliced Mild Cheddar. And instead of Hawaiian Rolls, I used leftover dinner rolls I had in the freezer, didn't toast them and flattened the bottoms a little.





Now For The Giveaway:

Jenna has so kindly offered one lucky EMM fan their very own PDF copy of E-licious


She is also generously offering a discount to all EMM readers if you wish you order it
Visit her sales page and use code ELICIOUS20 for a 20% discount!!! 

Rules

Mandatory Entry: Become a follower of EMM through Google Friend Connect. (On the left hand side of the homepage). Leave a comment telling me you did or are. 

Extra Entries: (Leave a separate comment for each)

1. Like Newlyweds Blog on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you have or are.

2. Follow Newlyweds Blog via email. Leave a comment when you have.

3. Follow Newlyweds Blog via RSS Feed. Leave a comment when you have.


4. Become a fan of EMM on Facebook. Leave a comment when you have, or already are.


5. Follow EMM on Twitter. Leave a comment when you have.

Please leave an email address w/ comments so I can find you easily.

Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Once winner has responded, he/she will have to contact Jenna for directions to get the free download of E-licious. 

Contest Ends: December 20, 2011 12 am EST

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

White House Inspiration

The same ingredients Michelle Obama uses from the White House garden can also feed your family thanks to Everyday Health's exclusive interview with the first lady that includes recipes inspired by fresh seasonal crops and festive comfort food. 


To read the interview, check out the recipes and maybe get some inspiration for dinner tonight, visit:

I think the Nut Berry Salad and  Eggplant Parmesan Pizza look DELICIOUS!!

Stop by Everyday Health today, and look around. Feel free to comment w/ what recipes you are excited to try.

Christmas For Neighbors

I remember my parents always buying gifts for their neighbors at Christmastime. After all, they weren't just neighbors, they were friends. And to this day, they still have a few select that fall into that category and yes, they still buy gifts for them each year. I, on the other, have never established that kind of relationship w/ our neighbors. We're friendly w/ them, wave hello, and "talk over the fence" every once in a while. But I just wouldn't consider them close friends. That all changed this past year though. Four doors down from us are a fantastic family that we have become very close friends with and I am so lucky to have nearby. Our families are quickly becoming "those" people in the neighborhood--the ones you always see walking together, their kids playing together, chatting on the sidewalk...yep that's us. So this year, I wanted to make sure I had an extra special gift for the whole family to enjoy, to show how much we care for them, and appreciate their friendship. When I found this recipe in a Gooseberry Patch Christmas Cookbook I knew it would be perfect for the gift bag I was planning. In fact, it's a little wink and nudge to all of the vegetables we shared w/ them out of our garden this year. So, if you have a little extra time this holiday season, why not treat your neighbors w/ a little something to say "You make our neighborhood special."


Quick Bread and Butter Pickles from Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 2
1 qt. jar kosher dill pickles
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small onion, sliced
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 TBS white vinegar


Drain pickles and slice into 1/2" chunks. (I discarded the end pieces). Place back in clean jar. In a small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, onions and cinnamon sticks. Pour over pickles. Replace lid and put in fridge. Stir mixture once per day, for 3 days. Your pickles are ready to serve after 3-4 days.

*NOTE* I added a splash of water to my sugar mixture to "loosen" it up a little to pour.


Shared on This Chick Cooks Dec. 14, 2011
Shared on The Country Cook Dec. 16, 2011

Condiments at Very Good Recipes
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Deal

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sprint for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


I know everyone out there is beginning to cross people off that shopping list. Or, at least I hope you are. (A friendly reminder, there are less than 2 weeks until Christmas!) But do you have that one person that eludes you every year? That one loved one or friend you never know what to buy for? Or maybe, do you have a "foodie" on your list that is also a "techie"? If this is the case, have I got a deal for you! Let's face it. In today's world, most people are using a smartphone as their life line to the outside world! Email, Facebook, surfing, calling, texting, gaming....it's all done on one device. And I can say from personal experience, I even use mine as a place to keep extra recipes, shopping lists and have even been known to blog from the palm of my hand! And I know for a fact, many of the smart phone carriers offer FREE apps related to food, recipes and cooking. Hence why if you have a food/cooking enthusiast to buy for, and he/she happens to be an electronics nut too (This would describe me if anyone out there as my name from Santa!) this deal is perfect for you!

Right now at Sprint, there are great holiday deals on Android™ powered EVO 4G devices for a limited time! Can't you just see that special person's eyes light up when the wrapping paper reveals a new smartphone??!! Get the HTC EVO 4G or EVO Shirt for FREE only on Sprint. Plus, get waived activation for new lines of service and free shipping here.
Sounds like a deal too good to be true, but it is! So if you want to surprise someone on your shopping list, or even treat yourself to something extra special this Christmas, head over to Sprint today!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Bark For Under The Tree

When I was a teenager, my best friend's mother made the best Christmas candy assortment tins ever! Each year she would show up at our house bearing this beautiful tin filled w/ all sorts of holiday sweets; and it was something my family and I looked forward to each year. Now after the first couple times, she learned I had a favorite part of her famous tin, and started making extra of that candy, for only me! After that, the tin would arrive and along side would be a Ziploc bag filled w/ my "stash"....of peppermint bark! To be honest, I had never had it until hers, and was instantly hooked. I love all things peppermint, especially at Christmas time. Since then our friendship has faded, and I no longer receive my annual tin of goodies; so you can imagine my extreme happiness when I found this oh so simple recipe in Gooseberry Patch's Quick & Easy Christmas. (You remember that one....it's where the Cinnamon Biscuits and Dill Pickle Dip came from.) I haven't made many candy recipes before, but I knew this one I could handle w/o any trouble. Now I can become the "cool mom" w/ the Christmas tin of goodies everyone looks forward to!

Peppermint Bark from Gooseberry Patch Quick & Easy Christmas
2 12 oz. bags white chocolate chips
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 c. crushed candy canes ( about 6)

Line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper. In a microwavable bowl, heat chocolate chips for 30 seconds. Stir and heat another 30 seconds. (Mine actually took an additional 30 seconds, for a total of 1:30 minutes). Add extract and crushed candy. Stir well. Spread on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate 2 hours. Break into small pieces and store in airtight container.

~Join me for Tasty Tuesday on Formula Mom~

Shared on Mandy's Recipe Box Dec. 13, 2011
Shared on Naptime Creations Dec. 13, 2011
Shared on This Chick Cooks Dec. 14, 2011
Shared on Something Swanky Dec. 15, 2011
Shared on Gooseberry Patch Dec. 15, 2011
Shared on The Country Cook Dec. 16, 2011
Candy at Very Good Recipes
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Too Busy To Cook?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gift Card Weekend for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


Then what about winning a FREE Applebee's Gift Card? Yes, I said free! This time of the year is SO busy for all us....running to and from the mall, trying to find that perfect gift, holiday parties, school programs, wrapping gifts, baking cookies.....whew, I'm tired just typing it.
So why not take a night off from cooking, and let Applebees doing the cooking (and better yet, the clean up) for you? Now you can have the chance to win a free $25 Giftcard to Applebees, thanks to Gilbert The Gift Card Machine. Gilbert will be giving away more than 100 cards per week leading up to Gift Card Weekend. What is that, you ask? Well, I'm about to tell you. Gift Card Weekend is a  yearly event where participating retail partners give featured offers for gift cards purchased during the holiday season and redeemed January 6-8, 2012. All you need to do go get in on this awesome opportunity, is like Gift Card Weekend on Facebook. Look around, and see everything they have to offer.
That Applebee's Gift Card I mentioned? They are giving those away to Facebook Fans Dec. 10-18th! (But be sure to check the page often, all month long, b/c there will be a ton of gift cards, to lots of cool places, given away) And after you have "liked" them, be sure to share w/ all your friends, b/c for each "like" you influence, you increase your chances of winning!
applebees_giftcard.jpg
So if you are giving gift cards this Christmas season (and let's face it, who isn't?) increase the value by purchasing from participating retailers. Then during Gift Card Weekend, January 6-8, 2012, your gift recipients, these special offers will be available to them! How great is that? Not only do your family & friends receive a great gift from you, but "extras" too??!! Just look at all the awesome choice of participating retailers you have:
JC Penny
Applebees
Regal Cinema
Subway
Sephora
Bass Pro Shops
Adidas
Buca di Beppo
Lowe's
Spa Finder
Marriot
Giant Eagle
I'm going to guess at least one person on your gift list would LOVE a gift card to one of these places! I know I would....actually to more than one of them! (So, if my mom, husband or friends are reading this....hint hint :)


Visit Sponsor's Site