Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cream Cheese Feta Garlic Dill Dip

16 oz cream cheese—(I used the light)
16 oz sour cream—(I used the light)
5 oz container crumbled feta cheese
3-5 cloves garlic, pressed and chopped
2 t dried dill

Mix all together.

Goes well with Melba rounds, bagel chips, and other crackers.

St. Joseph, MO

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Perfect Gift...Anytime!

Whether it be a baby shower, a bridal shower, a birthday, or Christmas gift you're needing, I've started making cookbooks to give to people. The cookbook can range from ultra simple to extremely detailed, depending on how much money and time you want to spend on it.

My best friend of 18+ years is getting ready to get married at the end of this month. For her bridal shower gift, I gave her a cookbook that I entitled, "The Mrs. Manual." I bought a black leather photo album with a window on the front that was supposed to be used for a photo. I, instead, made a little sign that said, "The Mrs. Manual" and placed it in the front of the book. I then divided the cookbook into categories: "Casseroles", "Crock-Pot", "Great for Kids!", "Main Dishes", "Soups, Salads, and Sauces", etc. I also included a section entitled, "Helpful Hints" with recipes for homemade cleaning supplies and great websites to utilize. Photo albums work best, in my opinion, because the recipes are protected from splashing sauces by the protective plastic. They're also relatively inexpensive!

Another friend of mine got married a year ago. For her bridal shower gift, I scrapbooked a cookbook for her. This took a lot of time and more money, but the finished product was worth it. Once again, this cookbook was split into categories. Her husband is a huge OU football fan, so I included a section called, "Game Day!" with different recipes such as buffalo wings and different dips.

These personalized cookbooks make great gifts for anyone. Gather up your best recipes and go to town!

Top 5 Cookbooks Every Woman Should Own...

If you don't own any of these, I suggest you buy one. You won't be disappointed.

1.) Gooseberry Patch's Meals in Minutes
Visit their website here!

2.) Taste of Home's 5-Ingredient Cookbook
Visit their website here!

3.) Betty Crocker's Cookie Book
Visit their website here!

4.) Betty Crocker's Christmas Cookbook

5.) The Lady and Sons, Too! Cookbook by Paula Dean
Visit her website here!

I've started checking cookbooks out at the library because I was tired of paying for cookbooks that I never used. However, I am hooked on the first two cookbooks listed above, and I plan on buying them at some point and adding them to my collection because I know I will actually use them. The last 3 cookbooks listed above are part of my collection, and they are awesome!

If you have any cookbooks you think are worth checking out, drop us a line in the comment box and let us know!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I used garlic salt in place of actual garlic. I used a can of diced tomatoes and green chilies instead of the chili powder. I also replaced the dried oregano with cumin powder. I used two can's of chicken broth, two cans of beans, and there you have it. It is delicious.

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
1 cup white hominy
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
crushed tortilla chips
sliced avocado
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
chopped green onions

1. In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Salute onion and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Stir in corn, hominy, chilies, beans, cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped green onion.

Olathe, KS

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tips for Trimming the Waistline!

Why is gaining weight so much easier that losing it? It takes months for me to lose 10 pounds, but it seems that all I have to do is glance at a slice of cheesecake and I hear my thighs getting bigger. The good news, though, is that this post has some great tips for losing a few extra pounds or for just keeping those extra pounds off.

1.) When in the kitchen cooking, it's always tempting to nibble here and there at the food you're preparing on. To keep from tacking extra calories onto your diet, chew gum. Chewing gum will help you resist the temptation to grab a "taste" here and there.

2.) Use a small dinner plate to eat off of. If you can't fit it on the plate, you don't need it. (Bonus tip: Going back for seconds defeats the purpose of keeping your calorie intake low.)

3.) When out to eat, it can be a challenge not to eat the entire plate of nachos you ordered on a whim. When your food comes, ask the waiter for a to-go box. Box up half of your meal. This makes sure you keep your portion size under control.

4.) EAT BREAKFAST. The only times I've ever lost weight in my life have been the times when I've eaten breakfast. Our mothers were right: we really do need to eat breakfast! If you only eat once or twice a day, you generally eat bigger portions than you normally would. This also messes with our blood sugar, which can make us a tad bit irritable. Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a healthy snack inbetween maintains our blood sugar levels and keeps us from over-eating at meals.

5.) Take before/after photos. When starting on your goal of trimming your waistline, take a photo of yourself. After two weeks, take another photo. You'll be amazed at the motivation you get from seeing yourself a few pounds lighter!

6.) Accountability. Grab a friend who wants to keep the pounds off or needs to lose some as a buddy. When my husband and I lived in Michigan, I decided it was time to lose some weight. An old co-worker of mine was wanting to do the same thing. Via e-mail, we updated and supported each other in our quests for weight-loss. It really worked! Even if I didn't feel like working out that day, it helped me to know that I needed to because my friend was doing it, too!

7.) Thirty minutes of cardio a day. Thirty minutes. That's it. Get your heart rate up for at least thirty minutes a day. Throw a load of laundry in, do some cardio, take the load of laundry out. You will see immediate results! Who wants to wolf down those darn nachos when you just worked out really hard? Chances are you'll be reaching for the fruit!

8.) Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before eating dinner. Water makes you feel water-logged and full (plus it's good for you!) so you will resist eating a second helping because you're feeling so full!

9.) Set realistic goals. If you're 5'5", find your ideal body weight and use that as your goal. I recently lost 10 pounds, over a 3 month range, and I have 10 more to go before I get to my "ideal body weight". My goal: to be healthy.

10.) Exercise. Seriously, your entire world will change. I'm not a doctor, but I do know that there is a correlation between not exercising and depression. When you exercise, it's like it's "all systems go" for your brain. Your mood and attitude will drastically improve.

11.) If you have a day where you ate something not-so-good for you, such as pizza, fettucine alfredo, a whole container of sour cream by itself, don't fear. All you need to do is eat a "good food" to help your body out in the process of getting rid of the "bad food". My "good food": Black beans. Good for you, high in fiber, and a great way to get the "bad food" out of your body so you can replace it with more "good food."

12.) Food journals are excellent ways for you to look back and say, "I ate a whole medium thin crust pepperoni pizza, 2 King Size Snickers bars, some potato chips, and drank a liter of soda...all in one day?!" After reading that as a fact on paper, you might be inclined to eat some healthy stuff so you can write that down and feel better about yourself.

So, there you go. A few tips and suggestions for you if you're trying to trim the waistline or just keep it looking trim.


Applesauce Sandwiches

Great for the fall! A slight twist on the ordinary grilled cheese!

1 cup applesauce
8 slices bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Spread applesauce on four slices of bread; top with remaining bread. Lightly butter the outsides of sandwiches. Toast on a hot griddle for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over hot sandwiches. Serve immediately.

Kansas City, MO

Italian Grilled Cheese

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 slices bread
1 slice provolone or mozzarella cheese
6 slices pepperoni
3 T pizza or spaghetti sauce (I've used tomato paste and added some pizza seasoning, too)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread sauce over both pieces of bread. Add cheese to one piece of bread and then add pepperoni. Place the other bread, sauce-side down, on top. Place in skillet. Turn after a minute or two, and continue grilling on each side until golden brown.

Kansas City, MO

Italian Pineapple Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (I use a balsamic style dressing, too)
2 T olive oil
1 can (8 oz.) sliced pineapple, drained
1/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese, optional

Flatten chicken to 1/2 in. thickness. Pour salad dressing into a shallow bowl; dip chicken in dressing. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add chicken. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until juices run clean when pierced. Remove and keep warm. Add pineapple slices to skillet. Cook for 30 seconds on each side or until lighty browned. Place a slice on each piece of chicken. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Kansas City, MO

Sweet and Sour Chicken Casserole

2 cups chicken, cooked and cubed
1 can (20 oz.) unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained
1 jar (12 oz.) apricot preserves
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained

In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Transfer to a greased casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve over hot white rice, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Kansas City, MO

Graham Cracker Brownies

These are extremely rich, but they're so good! My husband is now a fan of them! I crushed up more graham crackers than needed and put the extra crumbs in the freezer for a future dessert!

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 32 squares)
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Spread into a foiled and greased 8 in. square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

Kansas City, MO

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Urban Legend Cookies

This recipe comes to me via e-mail from my dad. The website he got this from claims that the $250 Neiman-Marcus Cookie recipe story is just an urban legend. Whatever the case, a recipe is a recipe, and this one looks great! Makes quite a few cookies, too!

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender until a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar, grated
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts. Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Yield: 112 cookies

Kansas City, MO

Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix...In a Jar!

3 cups flour
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/4 T sugar
2 T baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dried apple pieces

Mix all ingredients together until blended well. Place in a 1 quart (wide-mouth) canning jar. Attach a gift tag with instructions.

To make, combine 3/4 cup milk, 1 egg, and 2 T vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in the pancake mix, and mix until moistened but still lumpy. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour batter, 1/4 cup at a time, onto the prepared griddle. Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Kansas City, MO

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mix...In a Jar!

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
dash baking soda

Mix salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Layer ingredients in 1 quart canning jar in any given order. Attach gift card providing instructions.

To make, beat 1 cup butter in bowl until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla. With a wooden spoon, stir in cookie mix into creamed mixture until well blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes.

Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies

Kansas City, MO

Crispy Potato Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 potato, grated
1/2 tsp. oil
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pepper

Arrange chicken breasts in a 9x9" baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Combine mustard and garlic together, and spread over chicken breasts. Set aside. Mix potato, oil, and lemon juice together; spread over chicken breasts. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 25-35 minutes of until juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

Kansas City, MO

Energy Bars

My sister-in-law is the one who originally had this recipe, but I've tweaked it here and there. Her recipe called for 1 cup low-fat granola and 1 cup raisins. I can never find granola, and I don't like raisins, so I started adding whatever I could find in the cupboards.

3/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
1 cup 5-7 grain cereal (or 1 cup quick-cooking oats)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 cup All-Bran cereal
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large saucepot, bring corn syrup and brown sugar to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Add rest of the ingredients. Stir until well combined. Press into a 9x13" pan, and chill for 45 minutes or until firm. Cut into 36 bars, wrap individually in plastic and refrigerate.

Kansas City, MO

Lasagna Dinner...In a Jar!

1/4 cup plus 2 T instant dry milk
2 T plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. chicken or beef bouillon granules
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 cups egg noodles

Layer ingredients in 1 quart (wide-mouth) canning jar. Layer ingredients in order, and pack down ingredient before adding next ingredient. Attach a gift tag with the instructions.

To cook, brown hamburger in large skillet. Drain and rinse. Add Lasagna Dinner mix, 2 cups water, and 1 (16 oz.) can of tomato sauce. Bring this to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir until thickened. Top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese about 5 minutes before serving. Allow cheese to melt.

Kansas City, MO

Pasta Soup...In a Jar!

1 3/4 cup small shell macaroni or other small pasta
3/4 cup dried lentils
3/4 cup dried chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 1/2 T dried minced onion
3 1/2 T chicken bouillon granules
1 T plus 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. garlic powder

Layer the ingredients into a 1 quart (wide-mouth) canning jar. Layer in order, and pack ingredients down before adding the next ingredient. Attach a gift tag with the instructions.

To cook, Place 10 1/2 cups water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Add the Pasta Soup mix. If desired, add a can of chicken or some cooked chicken. Reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally.

Kansas City, MO