Monday, July 30, 2012

Shrimp Stuffed Squash

This is another great summer dinner (and one that makes me wish I had my own garden since I keep using things from other people's gardens...thanks, friends and family!). It was light, but filling, and bursting with flavor. I kept telling Norris how much I loved it. You could adapt the filling however you'd like...omit tomatoes, add more cheese, use garlic powder instead of fresh, use crab, go meatless, use shallot instead of onion...whatever you have and love will probably work! Enjoy!

Shrimp Stuffed Squash

Serves 1 entree or 2 sides

1 large zucchini or yellow squash, split in half longways and seeds/pulp scooped out
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
3 Tbsp chopped red onion
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
dried or fresh basil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne

Preheat the broiler to high and adjust rack to about six inches below heating element.
Brush squash with 1 tsp of olive oil and broil, cut side down, for about 8 minutes, or until it is releasing moisture beads. Remove squash from oven.
Reduce heat to 450 F.
Heat remaining olive oil in small saute pan over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion for about two minutes, or until soft.
Combine garlic, onion, tomato, shrimp, 1 Tbsp of cheese  basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stuff into the squash halves and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is cooked and hot, about 20 minutes.

adapted from allrecipes

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Free "speakers" for your ipod---quick little trick!

I saw this on Pinterest and decided I needed to try it out. I can't believe how much the glass actually amplifies the sound (I don't know whether I'm using the word amplify and speakers correctly here..I know nothing about that stuff.). I kept pulling the ipod (you could use your iphone) out of the glass and putting it back in because it was such a difference. Fun little trick that takes no time or money!
If you have a cover, be sure you unblock the speaker area. I have one of those tough cover things where the bottom is also covered, so I took that cover out (the part where it charges) and that made it even louder.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Maple Bacon

I have a hard time deciding on menus for showers because I want to please every type of person/diet, have something available most people can eat, and have a nice variety while still balancing cost and prep time (especially since the last two showers I have helped host have been out of town and out of my own kitchen!). When we decided on a brunch for this shower, I needed to do some sort of meat, so bacon was pretty much the automatic choice. To jazz it up, we brushed the bacon with syrup in the last few minutes of baking and it was like candied bacon. Made me think I might like to try that bacon ice cream after all!!

Maple Bacon

16 slices thick cut bacon
16 skewers, soaked for five minutes in water
~4 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 F. Skewer bacon (you can skip this step if you want to; it was just for presentation!). Place on rack fitted to baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until it's close to how you like it done. Brush on maple syrup, then return to the oven for about three minutes. Be careful when removing it from the oven so you don't get burnt by the grease!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marshmallow Pops/Rattles

My mom has a good friend and coworker who tears it up at cake pops. Her creations remind me of Bakerella's site--all sorts of cute things. I made them once and I couldn't get the shape right and they were a ton of work and I gave up! I admire her patience and skill! Since I don't have that, I went with marshmallow "rattles" for the shower. These were a fun table centerpiece and really could take the place of flowers if you were trying to cut a cost. We (well, it was really my mom's idea!) bought a super cheap sand pail, put a can of green beans and some tissue paper in the bottom to weigh it down, then jammed a tissue-paper-covered styrofoam circle in the top to poke the sticks in. Right before putting the stick in the styrofoam, we put a little square of colored saran wrap for some extra pretty at the base.It worked out great! These are a rush of sugar, so don't plan on more than one per guest. They would make a great back-to-school night or birthday party treat. One suggestion I saw online was to dip them in chocolate, then coat with graham cracker crumbs. Like a s'more on a stick!  

Marshmallow Pops

enough lollipop sticks for your marshmallows
however many marshmallows you need
white almond bark (I needed about 2/3 of the regular sized package to do 30 "jumbo"--not throw pillow!--size mallows)
sprinkles (more than you think you'll need! we used about two containers of them)
waxed paper

Put mallows on sticks--don't put the stick all the way through, but as close to the top of the mallow as you can.
Melt almond bark according to package directions.
Dip and roll mallow on stick in melted almond bark. Shake off as much excess as possible. Roll in sprinkles, then place stick side up on waxed paper to cool.


Monday, July 23, 2012

French Toast Sticks

I really like French toast, but hate when it gets soggy or when all of the slightly crispy edge is gone. These French toast sticks remove both of those factors and taste great doing it. I love the crunchy outside and they're just the right amount of sweet when sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled in syrup.
The hardest part about this recipe is finding the Texas toast (because the best French toast is made with Texas toast...figures, right?). I found one brand at Dillon's/Kroger and my grandma said she finds it at the day-old bread store. Good thing, because you need this bread to be at least a day old anyway. I set it out on the counter overnight to let it get stale, which really helped during the soaking and coating process.
These are great because you can make them and just pull a couple out of the freezer to bake whenever the mood strikes you. Or, if you're making them for a party, they're completely make ahead besides the bake time! They'd probably be fun with other crushed cereals (we tried a pumpkin spice cereal that would be great on them) for a kid treat. The only thing I changed was to use more cornflakes, so I changed that in the recipe below.

I have no idea how I managed to do this, but I must have deleted some of my pictures from my camera. Half of the food/drink photos are missing. Oops!!
French Toast Sticks

6 servings

6 slices day-old Texas toast

4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups crushed cornflakes
Confectioners' sugar
Maple syrup

Cut each piece of bread into thirds; place in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread; soak for 2 minutes, turning once. Coat bread with cornflake crumbs on all sides if desired.
Place in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag and store in the freezer.
To use frozen French toast sticks: Place desired number on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 8 minutes. Turn; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar if desired. Serve with syrup. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.

slightly adapted from Taste of Home

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Princess Punch

A girly shower needed a girly punch! This pink punch has the right amount of sweet and tang. You could add raspberry sorbet or frozen raspberries for an extra color and flavor punch, too!

Princess Punch

48 oz pineapple juice
1 qt white grape juice
1 liter lemon lime soda (diet works)
2 cans frozen raspberry lemonade

Combine all ingredients. If it's too sweet for your tastes, add a little water or more soda.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mini Quiche

The thing I love about food presented as small bites is the same thing I love about self-serve froyo places: I don't have to commit to any one dish or flavor. I can have a little of each and try it all. These little quiche are not only cute, portable, and easy to eat, but the crust is flaky and puffy and the filling is excellent. The most time consuming part is pressing the crust into the tins, but even that doesn't take long. They're also great because, if you don't have a warming tray, these can be served at room temperature and still taste great. (the food safety person in me needs to tell you not to just leave these sitting out overnight or all afternoon, though!)

Mini Quiche
makes 40 mini quiche

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
6 oz cream cheese, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs
1 cup half-and-half cream (can use fat free half and half or evaporated skim milk)
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper or ground black pepper
filling of your choice
          example: 1 large bell pepper, chopped and 2 tbsp chopped green onions was enough veggie for the whole recipe. You could choose sausage, mushrooms, onions, or even just keep it simple and don't add anything to the mixture!

In a mixing bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and flour until smooth. (I thought it made it easier that, at this point, I refrigerated the dough and then took it out about an hour before using it the next day to soften up some. It made it harder and not so sticky). Take one tablespoon of dough and flatten it into a circle. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups.

In a bowl, beat eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Stir in flavorings. Pour into shells. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until browned. Serve warm.

adapted from allrecipes

We also had fruit parfaits for the shower. Thank you to Gram, Granddad, and my parents for helping tie tiny little bows and dip marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkles!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

One of my very favorite people is going to have a baby soon, so we recently had a baby shower to celebrate! I hosted with two other girls and it was a breeze to plan (all via email from different cities!) and so fun to have so many of her friends in the same place. We had it at 11 AM, so we went with brunch food and the theme was the colors--bright-ish coral, pink, yellow, orange, and green. I'll share some of the decor pictures, too--I hope I can figure out how to make the poms like she did!!
When I was looking for a muffin or bread to try for the shower, I had a few different recipes picked out. Heath bar coffee cake, cinnamon-sugar muffins....they all sounded good but weren't quite right and weren't sounding like something the mom-to-be would just love. We went to the lake for a weekend with the family and our cousin made this cake and I knew I had to make it and that mom-to-be would love it! Well, we all loved it and there was only a tiny bit left, and that was probably because we were all being too polite to eat the last. This stuff is excellent! It's also really pretty with the blueberries throughout and the sugar sprinkled on top. It's definitely not a healthy breakfast by any means, but it's a great indulgence that you'll probably pull back out for dessert the very same day!
Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Serves 6-8
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk (or 7 1/2 Tbsp milk + 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar..stir and let it sit for about five minutes before using)

* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

from Alexandra Cooks

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Key West Grilled Chicken

Here is a simple, inexpensive summer dinner option. It requires very little active time and you can whip up a side while the chicken is marinating. You probably even have everything on hand already! If you don't have skewers (I have metal ones, you could use soaked wood skewers, too), you could just grill the breasts or even bake them or cook them on the stovetop. I served it with rice and chopped bell peppers. Squeezed some lime juice and sprinkled some crushed red pepper on top and called it a (very good) day!
my grill was a little hotter than I thought it was and I got a little charred right off the bat on accident!

Key West Grilled Chicken

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I forgot this and they were fine)
juice of one lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or 8 tenderloins)

Combine everything but the chicken in a small bowl. If you are going to skewer the chicken, cut it into cubes OR thread it on skewers. If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water for ten minutes before threading the chicken on them so they don't catch on fire on the grill.
Pour marinade over chicken, cover, and marinate for at least thirty minutes. If it's going to be longer than that, put it in the fridge to marinate. I turned my chicken over to get the other side good after half of my marinating time (which was thirty minutes).
Preheat grill to medium high. Grill chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the meat. It should test done and juices should run clear before serving.
Sprinkle with lime juice and crushed red pepper before serving.

from Grocerybudget101 (and, yes, I saw it first on Pinterest:)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Handheld Watermelon "Margaritas"

Yep, saw it on Pinterest. I pinned it and my cousin commented that we needed to try them for July 4th. Done! This was a creative idea and people really enjoyed them. It says to soak the watermelon for at least 45 minutes. We found after about six hours, they were getting kind of mushy, so don't prep them the night before. You could make the spiked simple syrup the night before, then soak the watermelon the day of. These aren't strong in the booze area, which most people appreciate. Some reviewers said they added more liquor, but I don't think that's necessary. These were great, simple, and fun!

Handheld Watermelon "Margaritas"
1 inch-thick watermelon wedges (enough to lay flat in two 9x13-inch baking dishes)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup tequila
2 limes, halved or cut into wedges

sea salt

Arrange watermelon wedges in a single layer on dishes with a rim.
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Don't boil longer or it will get really thick. Remove from heat and stir in tequila. Set aside to cool.

Pour cooled syrup over watermelon and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (longer if you wish).

Remove watermelon from syrup and arrange on a platter. Squeeze limes over the watermelon and sprinkle with sea salt.

from Martha Stewart

Friday, July 6, 2012

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

It's almost a joke now...."did you see that on Pinterest?" It seems like every time someone brings something new to a get together, it's from Pinterest! I have found lots of great things on there (and, as I was talking about with my cousins, plenty of totally wrong things that we hope people don't actually believe!). This was one of those great things. My parents hosted a great 4th of July party and they made all sorts of great food. My dad made this dip and it was really, really good. I have told my monster cookie memories before, so I'll just get straight to the recipe. Make this for a crowd because you won't want it all in your house...dangerous:)
I feel like you could pack some more oats into the recipe, too. The site I saw it on suggested forming half of it into a ball and freezing it if you don't need the whole recipe. Great idea!
It was great with graham cracker sticks, regular animal crackers, and chocolate animal crackers.

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Oats (regular or quick)
1 Cup Miniature Plain M&Ms
1 Cup Miniature Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Mix cream cheese, butter, vanilla and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in brown sugar and powdered sugar, mixing well. Next fold in oats, m&ms and chocolate chips

as seen on Skip to my idea of the original source

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Creamy Radish Dip

After being gone for almost two weeks, I just went to the grocery store for the first time in quite a while! I was checking out summer's bounty in the produce department and got some juicy peaches and cherries. Love this time of year! I also spotted radishes on super sale, so I picked up a bag. I thought I'd just put them on salads, but that gets boring, so I found this dip and it's awesome. I made a dinner out of this with cucumbers and wheat crackers dipped in it. I think even non radish lovers would like this. You could use greek yogurt or sour cream or a mixture of the two, which is what I did. Wish I would have found this before we just went to all of the get togethers that are perfect to bring dips to! (although then I would have had to share....:)

Creamy Radish Dip

1 cup radishes, diced
1/2 cup low fat sour cream, 2% plain Greek yogurt, or a combo of the two
8 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
dried dill, to taste (optional...I liked it both ways)

Combine all ingredients and serve with crackers and/or cucumbers. On the site I found the recipe, she suggested putting it as a spread on wrap, which I also think would be really great!
Oh, and according to the source I got this from, the whole recipe has under 110 calories, so it's okay to eat up!:)

slightly adapted from Prevention RD and Taste of Home

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Corn Salad

I recently got together with some girlfriends for a Pinterest party where everyone brought the ingredients to make something they found on Pinterest. Everyone picked a number to find out what course they got and then picked something from Pinterest (which could really be anything from the internet since you can "pin" from any site). We didn't put a theme to it and wound up with some really great dishes.

I got the side for the main dish and knew I wanted something summery. This salad tasted like summer to me (not like sand and suntan lotion, but the food of summer!) and we polished off a big bowl of it. I've made it a few times since then and some of the other girls have made it--it's a definite crowd pleaser!

Summer Corn Salad

6 ears of corn, shucked (I also supplemented with steamed frozen corn when I didn't have enough fresh and it turned out fine), cooked, cooled, and cut off the cob (I like some cook it I boil it for about 14 minutes)

1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves
Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add onions, corn, and tomatoes and toss in dressing. Stir in basil just before serving and adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

This is how Bear makes sure he isn't left behind (he hasn't ever been left, but I think sometimes he just wants to be sure). Lay by my stuff and hook his leg in my purse!