Sunday, May 30, 2010

Citrus Water Punch

This is such a refreshing drink and I'm excited to make it in the summer! It tastes like a limeade, and is sooooo good! It tastes better than store bought lemonade/limeade and is a lot healthier for you, too! Thanks to Melanie from My Kitchen Cafe for the recipe! You can find the citric acid at most health food stores (if you live in Rexburg, ID- I found some at Nature's Nook). Make this! You'll be glad you did!

Citrus Water Punch

2 tablespoons citric acid (you can find this at most pharmacies or natural food stores)
5 quarts water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons pure lemon extract
3 sliced lemons
3 sliced limes
Crushed ice

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, stir water, sugar, citric acid, and lemon extract together. Add sliced fruit and ice.

A note from Melanie: *Note: as mentioned by commenters (and I’ve received emails about it), if you have leftover punch, remove the sliced limes and lemons before refrigerating. The limes and lemons will give the punch an overly sour acidic taste if the punch is stored overnight that way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PW Sloppy Joes

The wonderful Pioneer Woman inspired this dish and it was well worth the effort. I would highly recommend serving these on homemade hamburger buns, too. The sloppy joes were excellently flavored and also served as a hideout for some peppers and tomatoes I had lurking around my house waiting to be used. This is definitely something the whole family can enjoy!

PW Sloppy Joes

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (I used olive oil to brown the veggies in and nothing for the beef)
  • 2-½ pounds Ground Beef
  • ½ whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced (I also added in 1-2 diced tomatoes)
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-½ cup Ketchup
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (more To Taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard (I used about 2 -3 tsp prepared mustard)
  • ½ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
  • Worcestershire Sauce To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (optional) (I left out)
  • Tabasco Sauce (optional; To Taste) (I left out)
  • Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Kaiser Rolls (I used homemade hamburger buns)
  • Butter
Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spread rolls with butter and brown on a griddle or skillet. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls, topping with a slice of cheese if it makes your skirt fly up. Serve hot with kettle cooked chips!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I've been wanting a good homemade hamburger bun recipe for a long time and

I finally found one! These are light and airy like store-bought, but taste so much better! This recipe came from

Hamburger Buns


  • 2 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed (I used bread flour)


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, margarine, warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix in the salt, and gradually stir in the flour until you have a soft dough. Let rise until doubled. Divide into 25 pieces, and form into balls. Place on baking sheets so they are 2 to 3 inches apart. Let rise until desired height, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake the rolls for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool slightly, then split them in half horizontally to fill with your favorite burgers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Penne with Tomato Cream Sauce

This was a delicious dinner when I made it! I got it out of The All New Better Housekeeping Cook Book that I checked out of the library (which is an excellent place to go when you need meal ideas! And I mean both the cookbook and the library!) While it is similar to spaghetti, it is different enough that even if you had spaghetti the night before you'd still enjoy this dish. You could make it even heartier by adding cooked ground beef, chicken or even ham. We will definitely make this fast, easy, and delectable meal again!

Penne with Tomato Cream
1 Tbl Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (I used 2 Tbl dehydrated chopped onion)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (I used my garlic press)
1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I just added a pinch)
1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes in puree, coarsely chopped (the closest I could find was S&W crushed tomatoes in a rich sauce)
3 Tbl vodka (optional; I left it out)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 package (16 oz) penne or rotini
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (I just sprinkled in some dry basil into my sauce, probably about 2 tsp)

1. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes (If using dehydrated onion, add with the garlic). Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook until garlic is golden brown, about 30 seconds longer. Stir in tomatoes with their puree, vodka if using, and salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in cream and peas; heat to boiling.

2. Meanwhile, in large saucepot, cook pasta as label directs. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce and sprinkle with basil. Makes 4 main-dish servings (It made enough for 4 adults and some leftovers when I made it, but I also served it with fruit and dinner muffins).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cheesy Breadsticks

My mom got this recipe off the internet a long time ago, and if I remember right, they are supposed to be a mock Pizza Hut breadstick recipe. Although, I don't think they taste similar at all. I like these sticks because they aren't greasy but they are soft and the cheese and seasonings is great on top. This does make a whole baking sheet of breadsticks, so either make 'em for a crowd or scale them down.

Cheesy Breadsticks
1-1/3 cup warm water
3 Tbl olive oil
4 cup flour (I used bread flour)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oregano
3 Tbl powdered milk (if you don't have, substitute 1/2-3/4 cup of the water for milk)
2 tsp yeast
2 Tbl dry Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl garlic salt (I left this out)
1 Tbl onion powder
1 Tbl oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese, optional

Add dough ingredients to the bread machine in order and set to first rise. Roll dough out into a rectangle 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Cut dough into 1"x4" strips. Place on greased cookie sheet and let rise. Meanwhile, stir the topping seasoning together with the cheese. Brush the breadsticks with olive oil. Sprinkle with topping and bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. (I think I actually just rolled the dough out onto my baking sheet, added the topping, let rise and then baked and cut them when they came out of the oven.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Helpful Hints

They passed out a big long list of helpful hints submitted by members of our Relief Society this past Sunday. Quite a few had something to do with food. Some of them I knew, some I didn't, and I figured it's probably the same with most of us, so I'm just going to post them all up here. I hope they help! Caveat: I have not tried all of these, but some of these women swear by them.

Turn to spices, not salt, for good flavor:
Allspice for ground meats, stews, tomatoes, peaches, applesauce, cranberry sauce, and gravies.
Basil for fish, lamb, ground meats, stews, salads, soups, and sauces.
Bay leaves for meats, stews, poultry, soups, and tomatoes.
Chives for salads, sauces, soups, meats dishes, and vegetables.
Apple cider vinegar for salads, vegetables, and sauces.
Dill for fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, beef, lamb, chicken and fish.
Garlic (not garlic salt) for meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, and potatoes.
Onion (not onion salt) for meats, stews, vegetables, salads, and soups.
Paprika for meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, and vegetables.
Lemon juice (and might I add, almost any citrus) for meats, fish, poultry, salads, vegetables.

To keep cheese fresh, put an unwrapped block of cheese in a Press 'n' Seal bag by Glad. It will keep it fresh and mold free for a long time.

Homemade brown sugar: make in a ratio of two cups white sugar mixed with two tablespoons molasses. Measure the amount of brown sugar for a recipe; add the molasses to the sugar as needed.

Sweetened condensed milk: combine 1/2 cup of water with 3/4 white sugar. Heat to bubble stage (do not boil). Remove from heat and add 1 cup + 2 tablespoons dry milk powder. Stir until smooth. Mixture will be thin, but will thicken after 48 hours.

Wrap fresh celery in foil; it will last longer and stay crisp. Another suggestion is to keep celery and lettuce in paper bags (just ask for one at the store) instead of plastic. (Either way, it sounds like plastic is the worst thing to keep them in.)

Honey as a sugar substitute: 1 c. honey for 1 1/4 c. white sugar. It is best to reduce the liquid for the recipe by a 1/4 c. for every 1 cup or honey being used. In baking, it is helpful to add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used to neutralize the acidity of the honey. Reduce baking temp by 25 degrees to reduce excess browning.

Add a capful of cooking oil to boiling water to prevent it boiling over.

To get the best of delicately flavored herbs, add them in the last few minutes of cooking.

To peel a tomato: cut an X in the blossom end, opposite the stem. Immerse in boiling water for ten seconds. Transfer to ice water and then peel.

Let's thank the sisters of Livermore, CA for all their genius!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Traditional Scones

These are scones in the eastern sense of the word--"a small unsweetened or lightly sweetened biscuitlike cake made from flour, fat, and milk, and sometimes having added fruit."

I have had lots of scones in my life and these are the best. Yep, sorry Mum, but they even beat yours. They are light and flakey and buttery. I got this recipe out of a book I have recently fallen in love with called A Taste of America. Ironically, it was written by some British women, but they did some serious homework. Anyway, here's the recipe for Traditional Sweet Scones.

1 1/2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
pinch of salt
5 T. cold butter
1/2 c. milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease and flour a baking sheet. (I baked mine on my stone and didn't grease or flour.)
2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
3. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Pour in the milk and stir with a fork to form a soft dough.

5. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. You can stamp out rounds or (what I did, 'cause this is what my mum does) cut into wedges. Place on the sheet, bake until golden, between 10 and 12 minutes. Serve hot or warm with butter, jam, etc. (I cut mine open, Mike doesn't. It doesn't really matter, just different methods.)

Here's a tip: handle the dough as little as possible to get light, flakey scones. I added raisins to mine, another favorite in my family is chopped dates. You can also try blueberries, raspberries, chocolate chips, or just about anything.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tuna Salad Boats

This post is more of an idea than an actual recipe. But it made for a healthy and tasty dinner.

All I did was make a simple tuna salad with 2 cans of tuna, and the following to taste: salt and pepper, mayonnaise, and shredded cheese. You could also add onions, chopped hard boiled eggs, pickle relish/chopped pickles, or anything else you want. Then I scooped the seeds out of the middle of cucumbers and stuffed the tuna salad into the cucumber boats. This idea would probably work just as well with chicken and ham- either canned or leftover from a previous meal! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Big Beautiful Muffins

I've been looking for a good base muffin recipe that is easy to adapt to any flavor. And I finally found one, this one, in The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. When I made these earlier this week, I made them into lemon poppy seed muffins that were so yummy that my 21-month old son kept getting more off the cooling rack for him and daddy to share. I will definitely be making these again as the lemon poppy seed, but also with other flavors!

Big Beautiful Muffins

3 cups (15 oz.) all purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz.) sugar
1 Tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cup whole or low-fat plain yogurt (I used nonfat)
2 large eggs
8 Tbl (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (if you use salted, decrease the added salt to 1/4 tsp)
mix-ins, optional and as desired (See below for some ideas)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 *F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. (The cookbook said that the muffins get fluffier tops and better coloring when baked with out muffin liners in a greased muffin tin.)
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk the yogurt and eggs together until sooth. Gently fod the yogurt mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in melted butter.
3. Using a greased 1/3-cup measure, portion the batter into each muffin cup. (I was worried about how full the cups were, but they baked fine and were still easy to remove from the tin.) Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan half-way through baking. (I cooked mine for 25 minutes, but I feel like they were a little over-baked. So next time I will check them at 20 minutes.)
4. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

***Batter can be made ahead of time and stored in either the fridge or the freezer. For the fridge, store it in a covered container up to 24 hours. For the freezer, portion the batter into the muffin tin and place tin in freezer to flash-freeze. Once frozen, remove from tin and store in a freezer container. To bake, return to muffin tin and let sit 30 minutes with preheating the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Variation Ideas

Mix 1 tsp grated lemon zest into yogurt mixture. Gently toss 1-1/2 cups fresh/frozen blueberries in 1 Tbl flour and gently fold into the finished batter.

Substitute an equal amount of brown sugar for the white sugar. Add 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg to the flour mixture. Fold 1-1/2 cups finely chopped banana and 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts into finished batter.

Lemon-Poppy Seed
Mix 3 Tbl poppy seeds into flour mixture and 1 Tbl grated lemon zest into yogurt mixture. While muffins are baking, cook 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns into a light syrup, about 3 minutes. Brush syrup over warm baked muffins and serve.

Add 1 tsp orange zest to yogurt mixture. Fold in 1-1.2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries and 3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts into finished batter.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Swiss Chard

It makes life interesting when we end up with vegetables at our house that we don't normally eat! Swiss Chard is one of those vegetables. In fact, I had never even heard of the leafy greens until they mentioned them in the movie Coraline. While Coraline calls them slime, they weren't that bad. They had a similar taste to spinach. While I can definitely choose many vegetables I'd eat before the chard, I am willing to eat them this way again!

Swiss Chard
from Simply Recipes
  • 1 large bunch of fresh Swiss chard
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • Salt

1. Rinse out the Swiss chard leaves thoroughly. Remove the toughest third of the stalk, discard or save for another recipe. Roughly chop the leaves into inch-wide strips.

2. Heat a saucepan on a medium heat setting, add olive oil, a few small slices of garlic and the crushed red pepper. Sauté for about a minute. Add the chopped Swiss chard leaves. Cover. Check after about 5 minutes. If it looks dry, add a couple tablespoons of water. Flip the leaves over in the pan, so that what was on the bottom, is now on the top. Cover again. Check for doneness after another 5 minutes (remove a piece and taste it). Add salt to taste, and a small amount of butter. Remove the swiss chard to a serving dish.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chicken Fajitas

I make fajitas every once in a while, but I haven't posted them yet because I never measure anything. Then I found this recipe with measured ingredients that tastes just like the ones I always make, so I thought I would post it since it would be a better guide to those of you who want to try them. This recipe comes from Gluten Free in Hawaii via my mom.

Chicken Fajitas

4-6 Chicken Breasts(depending on how many people you are feeding) cut into strips
1 Tbs. oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
1 onion sliced
1 red bell pepper sliced and 1 yellow pepper sliced (I used 2 green peppers since they were cheaper)
tortillas (taco size work best, but any will do)

In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat. add chicken and garlic. saute' until chicken is browned, add red pepper and onion. add lime juice and spices. cook on medium heat until onion and pepper are tender and chicken is cooked through.

Put into tortillas or lettuce leaves. Top with cheese and sour cream or any favorite toppings.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Snappy Stir-Fry

This was so easy, and so delicious! Plus it is one of those dishes you can adapt to help clean out your fridge of leftover meat and vegetables. While rice noodles are our favorite, this recipe is also good with rice. I mixed my noodles into the stir-fry, but just served the stir-fry over the rice. We've also loved it with shrimp in it. A trick I learned with the shrimp is that if you buy it from the butcher block, they taste less fishy than the kind you buy out of the freezer case. This recipe came from Better Homes and Garden magazine on budget meals and is one that will be on our table frequently!

Snappy Stir-Fry

1 pound peeled and deveined fresh or frozen shrimp or thinly sliced boneless meat (such as beef, pork, chicken or turkey- even leftover meat will work)
2 Tbl vegetable oil
4 cups cut-up vegetables (use whatever you have but the recipe suggests things like zucchini, yellow summer squash, sweet pepper, onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, garlic, corn, and peas)
Quick stiry fry sauce or 3/4 cup bottled stir-fry sauce (I made the sauce; the recipe is at the end of the post)
2 to 3 cups cooked rice, noodles, or pasta
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional (like peanuts, cashews or almonds- I left these out)

1. (Skip this step if using precooked meats) If using, thaw frozen shrimp. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tbls of the oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp or meat; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp is opaque or meat is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp or meat from skillet. Discard any cooking liquid from skillet.
2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until all vegetables are crisp tender. (I like to add the harder vegetables, such as carrots, first and let them cook for a couple of minutes before I add more delicate veggies, like cabbage. That way all of the vegetables are cooked right and nothing is mushy!)
3. If using, stir Quick Stir-Fry Sauce. Add shrimp or meat and stir-fry sauce to vegetable mixture (this is also where I add the cooked rice noodles). Cook and sitr until sauce is bubbly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Serve over cooked rice. If desired, top with nuts. Makes 4 servings.

Quick Stir-Fry Sauce: In a 1-cup glass measure, whisk together 2/3 cup chicken broth, 2 tbls soy sayce, 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp sugar (white or brown), 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper.
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