Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paula Deen's Cream Cheese Tarts

I am a sucker for an accent, which makes me love Paula Deen all the more.  I was watching the Rachel Ray Show the other day and she was on as a guest making these fabulous treats.  I was instantly intrigued when I heard it was only 5 ingredients for the tarts.  Then I saw her whip them up lickety split and I knew that even if I didn't make dinner that day we would have treats.  The idea isn't new or ground breaking but super delicious.  I've never dared make a cheesecake because I didn't have a spring form pan, it sounded hard, I hate making graham cracker crusts and patting them down and getting it even, etc.  This alleviated all that and I don't think I sacrificed any on the taste either.

Paula Deen's Cream Cheese Tart with Raspberries but I didn't use any raspberries
Recipe from the Paula Deen on the Rachel Ray Show

12 Vanilla Wafers
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 8oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
Topping Options: Raspberry preserves, fresh raspberries, pie filling, or whatever kind of fresh fruit you like, Cool Whip

Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  Place a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each cup.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Add sugar and vanilla mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. 

Spoon mixture over each wafer.  I used about 2 HEAPING tablespoons per cup.

Bake at 350 (doesn't everything bake at 350?) for 20 minutes. They get real puffy like this:

As soon as you remove them from the oven the tarts will fall.  That is what you want--then they make a little bowl like shape that is perfect to hold your toppings.  Allow the tarts to cool completely before serving and adding your toppings of choice. 

Raspberries were WAY expensive at the store and the peaches smelled so heavenly, so I used a combination of peaches and strawberries.  I just cut them up and sprinkled a generous amount of sugar on them and let them sit and sort of juice up for a bit.  As if that wasn't enough, a dollop of Cool Whip on top and viola!  Heaven on earth!

I will admit I ate 2, but I wanted like 4 so I was proud of myself.  If any leftovers, I'd refrigerate them.  On the show Rachel Ray made a suggestion that you could easily add a flavoring to the cream cheese mixture (like lemon or almond extract) and have an array of flavor combinations. (I think a little lemon extract added with some fresh raspberries or blueberries would be divine). My husband who isn't a fan of cheesecake, really enjoyed this too.  He doesn't like his sweets so that is saying something :)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jamie's Banana Bread

Our sister Jamie has the most amazing recipe for banana bread. I have been using it for years and it comes out perfect and moist every time. I just know you are going to love it too.

Banana Bread
recipe from Jamie Matthews

Makes 2 smaller loaves

1/2 c margarine
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c mashed ripe bananas *about 4 medium bananas
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk *if you don't have buttermilk just tak 1/2 milk and add 1/2 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c flour

Cream margarine and sugar together. Add eggs and incorporate. Add bananas, milk, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix together. Prepare loaf pans by only spraying the bottom of pan with non-stick spray. Cook at 350 degrees on the LOWEST rack of your oven for 50-60 minutes.  (If using glass pans pay close attention to bread as it can burn quickly). Bread is done when toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Let bread set for 2 minutes after it is out of the oven. Then cut around, tip over and let cool the rest of the way on rack. Wrap with saran wrap to keep moist.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Roasted Asparagus

I think roasting is the best way to eat a vegetable. If there is a vegetable out there you don't like, just try roasting it and I bet your opinion changes! My favorite roasted vegetable is asparagus. It is just so yummy and so simple to do. Try it out, you'll love it.

Roasted Asparagus
recipe from Ina Garten

2 pounds asparagus fresh asparagus
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus.Wash and pat asparagus dry. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss them to coat them completely. Spread them on the baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes until tender, but still crisp. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

White Chocolate Frosted Brownies

I have had this recipe bookmarked for awhile now. I saw it on one of my most favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is. She's lovely and her red velvet brownies with white chocolate frosting looked lovely. I was excited to finally get the chance to make them! The frosting is to DIE for, it really was so delish. I had doubled the brownie recipe and my intentions were to make them red velvet, but I did not have 4 tablespoons, yes tablespoons of red food coloring, so I skipped the red velvet part and just made regular brownies. They are so chewy and dense and go superbly with the white chocolate frosting. I don't think I'd double the recipe next time, the cooking time seemed to be a little off and the edges got too crunchy, but we cut off the edges and they were yummy.

White Chocolate Frosted Brownies 
Recipe from How Sweet It Is

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring *I substituted water instead, not sure if its necessary
2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour an 8 x 8 cake pan. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, red food coloring (I used water), and 1 teaspoon vanilla to create a paste. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add remaining teaspoon of vanilla. With the mixer on medium speed, add in cocoa powder mixture. (You can add in more food coloring if desired at this time, until it is as red as you like it. If doing red velvet of course). Add flour and salt, mixing until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips if desired. Spread in the 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting

1 stick of butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate, melted 
1-2 tablespoons milk (or more if needed)

Cream butter in an electric mixer until fluffy, then add vanilla. Slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low speed. Add in melted white chocolate and beat until incorporated. To reach desired consistency, add in milk 1 teaspoon at a time with mixer on low speed. If frosting becomes too liquidy, simple add additional sugar.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Greek Pasta Salad

Our sister in-law Suzanne made us dinner the other night and it was terrific. She tried to copy it from a Greek salad she had tried at Costco. I loved the flavors that each of the ingredients brought to the dish. They blended together nicely. I really don't know what else to say besides it was a delicious pasta dish, one I will be making again soon.

Greek Pasta Salad
recipe from Suzanne

Makes a BIG bowl!

2 lb penne or rotini pasta, cooked
1 bottle Greek salad vinaigrette (Wishbone)
1 jar Greek olive blend, drained
1 container grape tomatoes
8 oz. pkg. Feta cheese
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
cooked, cubed chicken, or rotesserie chicken shredded

First, cook your chicken (unless using a rotisserie chicken). Just season it with a little salt, pepper, and a little of the greek salad dressing. Suzanne also poured in some of the juice from the artichoke hearts to give it more flavor. I liked that idea. When chicken is cooked and cubed, set aside. Next, cook your pasta according to directions and drain. Place pasta in a large bowl. Combine with the rest of the ingredients, olives (drained), tomatoes, feta cheese, artichoke hearts (drained), and red onion. Now pour the vinaigrette on top and combine well. Use a little vinaigrette at a time, you may not want to use all of it, just however much you like. This dish is normally served cold, so refrigerate for a couple hours before serving! Serve with a side of garlic bread. Delish!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Muddy Buddies


We all know and love Muddy Buddies or some people call them Puppy Chow. It is such a quick, yummy treat to make when you are hunkering for something sweet. Always a favorite!

Muddy Buddies
recipe from Chex
9 cups Chex cereal, Rice, Corn or a combination of both
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Measure cereal in a large bowl. Set aside. In a microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter on high, uncovered for 1 minute. Stir and microwave for 30 more seconds, mix until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal. Stir until evenly coated. Pour into a 2 gallon plastic resealable storage bag. Add powdered sugar, seal bag, and shake until evenly coated. Store in airtight container in fridge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mom's Spanish Rice


This dish is a favorite from my childhood. I have no idea where my mom got it or why it is even called Spanish rice, but she's been making it for forever and our family loves it. It is kind of a funny recipe and really isn't anything like the spanish rice you are probably used to, but give it a chance. When I married my husband he thought it was the strangest thing, but now he loves it. The bacon really makes this dish spectacular. We always ate it as a main dish instead of a side dish and always with a can of green beans, but for you skeptics out there you can serve it as a side dish. :)

Mom's Spanish Rice
recipe from mom

3 cups cooked white rice (I'll do a half white and brown sometimes)
6 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled (save a little bacon grease to cook onion)
1/2 onion diced
1 can tomato soup condensed
Shredded cheddar cheese
*Salt and pepper to taste (we always just seasoned our own portion to taste after it was cooked)

Cook rice. Cook bacon and leave some bacon grease in skillet or griddle, however you cook it. Cook the diced onions in the bacon grease until translucent. Mix the 3 cups cooked rice with the tomato soup. Throw in  the crumbled bacon and onions.  Mix together until combined. Spread into a casserole dish, fits nicely into the smaller than 9x13 size. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until cheese is melted.