Friday, December 31, 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie

This pie is so easy, it scarcely qualifies as a recipe. But it is delicious and pleasing to both kids and adults, making it the perfect dessert. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of a slice for you to see, but there was no time, it was consumed so quickly!

This is another recipe from my lovely mother-in-law, Kelly.

Chocolate Cream Pie

serves 8

1 oreo pie crust (you can make your own if you like, I'm a slacker)
8 oz whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz cream cheese
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
2 cups milk

Pour whipping cream, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl.

With your mixer (or by hand) whisk the ingredients together until soft peaks form. You want it to be about the consistency of cool whip. I suppose you could use a container of cool whip instead, but this way is yummier.

Add cream cheese to the whipped cream.

Fold cream cheese and whipped cream together until evenly mixed.

In a separate bowl, beat pudding mix and milk together for 2 minutes.

Spoon whipped cream mixture into pie crust, almost to the top. Be sure to leave room for the pudding, you might have a little extra whipped cream, but I'm sure you'll find a use for it.

Pour pudding on top and put in fridge to chill. Serve cold with a dollop of whipped cream on top, if desired.

This recipe is featured in Menu Plan 6.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Menu: Week of January 3-9

First menu plan of the New Year! Let's start the year out right with some delicious meals.

Monday: Lemon Garlic Pasta
Tuesday: Roast Beef and Pepperoncini Sandwiches
Wednesday: Smoky Black Bean Soup
Thursday: Leftover/Takeout Night
Friday: Peking Chicken Pizza
Saturday: Chicken Alfredo and Buttered French Bread
Sunday: Seared Steak and Arugula Salad
Dessert: Chocolate Cream Pie

Sound good? Let's get shopping!

*Please note: all of these recipes serve 3-4 people. If you have a larger family, you will need to double the recipes. I have starred the ingredients that you will need to double if you are feeding a group of 6-8. For example, the 8 oz pasta is starred, meaning you need 16 oz to double.

printable shopping list

*8 oz pasta (pretty much any kind will work, we used whole wheat thin spaghetti)
chili powder
sesame seeds
Montreal Steak Seasoning
*chicken broth or stock or bouillon cubes or granules, enough for 1 cup of broth
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Italian dressing (we like Good Seasons)
Worcestershire sauce
barbecue sauce
plum sauce (you can find this in little jars in the Asian food section)
1 jar pepperoncinis
*1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (like Rotel)
*2 cans black beans
Instant chocolate pudding (small box)

*1 lemon
*1 lime (or a Tbsp lime juice)
*3 red bell peppers (5 if doubling)
*10 oz arugula (or a bag of salad mix with field greens or arugula in them)
*2 medium yellow onions (3 if doubling)
*1 head of garlic
1 bunch scallions (green onions)
1 bunch of cilantro
*8 oz Monterey Jack cheese
cheddar (not a lot, just a little to garnish the black bean soup)
slices of Provolone cheese (1-2 large slices per person you are feeding)
*parmesan cheese (enough for a cup shredded)
8 oz brick of cream cheese
8 oz whipping cream
sour cream
*bacon (5 slices)
*2 chicken breasts (3 if you want to make the Lemon Garlic Pasta with chicken)
*1 lb petite sirloin steak
1 chuck or rump roast (how big depends on the size of your group, allow 4-5 oz per person
1 oreo pie crust (butter and oreos if you want to make your own)hoagie rolls or any kind of harder bread roll, good for roast beef sandwiches (1 per person)
*1 loaf of french bread (not to be used until Saturday, so do not purchase until Friday night at the earliest)
*alfredo sauce (also for Saturday, we like to buy a pint of Olive Garden's alfredo, perfect for 4 servings)

I am linking up with I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Lemon Garlic Pasta

The day after Christmas, we wanted something light and healthy for dinner. You know the feeling, after over-indulging in all the deliciousness, you just need a change of pace. Something without 4000 calories per bite, perhaps.

So, my husband whipped up his Lemon Garlic Pasta. We usually put chicken in it, but this time we made it vegetarian, it's fantastic either way.

Lemon Garlic Pasta

serves 4

1 red bell pepper
1 zucchini
(optional) 1 chicken breast marinated in Italian dressing (we like Good Seasons)
 4-5 garlic cloves
olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 lemon
8 oz cooked pasta (we like whole wheat thin spaghetti, but use whatever you like)

Slice the red pepper and zucchini in half, longways, and take the seeds out of the pepper.

Grill the vegetables until tender and a little blackened.

Grill chicken (if using) until cooked through.

Chop vegetables (and chicken) and set aside.

Mince the garlic cloves.

Saute the garlic cloves in a couple of Tbsp of olive oil until beginning to lightly brown.

Add in the vegetables (and chicken, if desired) and saute another minute.

Throw in pasta and parmesan and toss to coat.

Place in serving bowl and squeeze half of the lemon on top.

Cut the other half of the lemon into wedges.

Serve hot with parmesan and a lemon wedge for garnish.

This recipe is featured in Menu Plan 6.

Christmas Break Musings

We are having such a fun Christmas break. No preschool, my husband has been off work most of the week, and we are just relaxing.

We've played with trains. Uh-oh Thomas, watch out for Percy!

We've started a 2000 piece puzzle. Because we're cool.

This is what it will look like. Someday. Vegas, baby!

We've busted our black lab on the living room furniture many a time this week.

We haven't busted him chewing on the furniture, but something tells me he has.

Just a hunch.

I'm beginning to wonder if my pets aren't as well behaved as I thought they were...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wally's Caramels

My mother-in-law got this recipe some years ago from a man named Wally. And that is all I know, besides this: these caramels will win you friends and render your enemies powerless with their soft buttery goodness. Try them, you will see.

*Important: before you start making these, calibrate your candy thermometer. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil. Put thermometer in the water (make sure it doesn't touch the bottom of the pot) and take the temp of the boiling water. The boiling point for water is 212F, but your candy thermometer may read the temp as lower. This varies according to individual thermometer, your altitude and even the weather. Last time I made these caramels, my thermometer read the boiling point as 193F. I had to cook the caramels 19 degrees lower than the 235F the recipe calls for, so I cooked them to 216F and they were perfect.

Wally's Caramels

yield: 143 caramels (1 inch square)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups white Karo Syrup
2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter plus extra to butter the pan
1 15 oz can of evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Butter a cookie sheet with a lip (11" x 13" x 1" works great). Hopefully your pan looks better than mine. Yikes!

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and 2/3 of the can of milk.

Heat over medium-low heat, bring to a boil and let boil, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.

Add the remaining 1/3 can of milk.

Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. It should start to take on that nice caramel color here.

Boil to 235F, or the adjusted temperature for your thermometer, see note above. Make sure your thermometer doesn't touch the bottom of the pan, or it will tell you the caramels are hotter than they actually are!
Stirring constantly, add 1 tsp vanilla. Have it pre-measured or have someone measure it for you and pour it in, you can not stop stirring to measure the vanilla or your caramels will burn on the bottom!

Pour into buttered pan and let cool. 

We like to put the caramels in the fridge for a half hour before wrapping them. These are soft caramels, so chilling them makes them a little easier to handle. Of course, you will want to serve the caramels at room temperature.

To wrap: cut the caramels into 1 inch squares. A pizza cutter is the easiest way to do this. 

Place a caramel in the middle of a square of wax paper.

Starting from the bottom, roll the caramel up in the paper, leaving the sides loose.

Twist the sides of the paper tight next to the caramel. If the first couple that you wrap don't turn out just right, simply unwrap them and pop them into your mouth. Yum!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Filet Au Poivre

For Christmas Dinner, Jared and I made Filet Au Poivre. We each took a bite and fainted simultaneously.

When we came to, we vowed to make this again "for the blog" in between bites of deliciously tender, perfectly seasoned steak.

Since we had two more fillets just begging to be cooked in the freezer, we thawed them out and made this again tonight. "For the blog." Sacrifices must be made.

This is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman. The only thing we changed was using apple cider vinegar instead of brandy.

When we made it tonight, we served it with Crash Hot Potatoes and asparagus.

Filet Au Poivre

printable recipe

2 whole Beef Fillets Or Other Good Steaks
2 Tablespoons Butter
Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup plus an extra Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Good Peppercorns, Crushed

My husband did a great job making this and taking most of the pictures. He even took a "cast of characters" picture for me!

The easiest way to crush the peppercorns is to stick them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Melt butter in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. 

When skillet is hot, brown steaks on both sides, about 45 seconds per side.

Place skillet into the hot oven for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and remove steaks to a separate plate.

Return pan to stovetop over low heat. Add Dijon and vinegar, then whisk together.

Add heavy cream and crushed peppercorns, whisking to combine.

Allow to bubble for about 45 seconds, then remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over steaks and serve.