Sunday, April 24, 2011

Citrus Fruit Dip

Here is a sweet citrus dip that my mom always makes for fruit salad; it's pretty amazing, and easy! Just trust me :)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 egg yolks (not the whole egg - you must separate the yolks!!)

combine all of this in a small saucepan and stir it up so it all dissolves, then turn on the burner to high heat. It is very important that you stir the whole time (otherwise the sugar will burn). The minute you notice the mixture boil and start to thicken, remove it from heat and continue to stir until it congeals. Now pour it out into a bowl and allow to cool a few minutes. And there you have a good, refreshing dip for your fruit salad!! It tastes amazing with strawberries, grapes, and especially pineapple! And if it cools too much and gets too thick, just put it in the microwave for 15 seconds and stir it up! This is a perfect appetizer idea for summer! We made it for Easter and it was quite a hit :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cake Balls

So I've been asked for this recipe so many times I figured it had to be shared! These are really easy once you figure out all the little tricks. Plus, you can decorate them any way you like at the end! Kudos for this recipe goes to my friend Tracee, who perfected the cake ball and has taught me all the tricks!

1 box cake mix (whatever kind you like!)
1 jar of corresponding icing (red velvet cake mix = cream cheese icing, etc)
1 package of almond bark chocolate coating (or you can use Baker's chocolate if you can't find almond bark!)

Ok, so first you bake the cake just like you normally would according to the instructions on the box. When the cake is done, let it cool for a few minutes and then use a spatula to cut it up into chunks and move it into your mixer bowl. Spoon the container of icing into the bowl and then turn the mixer on low, using the spatula to scrape the sides and make sure the icing gets dispersed through the whole cake mixture. Turn the mixer up a little so that it gets really well blended. Once that is done, remove the mixing bowl and put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. When you take it back out, the mixture should be slightly hardened. Don't worry, this makes forming the balls easier!

Some people use a melon baller to scoop out the balls, but I prefer to use a mini ice-cream scooper (the one where you squeeze the handle to release the ice cream). Scoop out each ball and gently roll it between your palms to make a more perfect circle, then lay it on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Once you have your whole sheet full, place it back in the freezer for another half an hour or so.

Now, heat up your almond bark chocolate (white chocolate if you used vanilla or cream cheese icing and chocolate if you used chocolate icing). My friend shared the secret with me that it's easier if you heat up a little bit of the chocolate at a time in the microwave in a coffee mug (that way the chocolate is deep instead of spread out like in a bowl). Heat the chocolate for about 20 seconds, stir, then do it again until it is melted. Spear your cake balls one at a time with a toothpick or shishkebob skewer (those seem to work better) and then dunk it down into the chocolate. Tap off any excess chocolate, then either twirl the skewer or use a toothpick to loosen the cake ball so it drops onto the parchment paper. Most of the time twirling the skewer should make it fall off. You will have to keep putting new bricks of chocolate in the coffee mug and heating them, but that prevents you from getting little pieces of cake falling off into the chocolate!

Once all of your cake balls are done and have set in the fridge for a bit to harden, you can decorate them further if you like, either by drizzling another color of chocolate to make stripes, or piping little dots or flowers on them. My neighbor found all different colors of chocolate at our local Hobby Lobby, and she has made all kinds of cute decorations for her cake balls. The other week she even got lollipop sticks and molded her cake balls into eggs and made cute Easter lollipop cake balls!! Another friend piped three white dots onto each cake ball to make them look like bowling balls. (This also helps cover up the hole from where the skewer was!) Now all that's left is to get creative and enjoy!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lemon Pepper Chicken

This is great for a night when you need something quick! Also great because it's so easy to adjust the portions for however many people you will be feeding.... just bake one piece of chicken for each person you are serving!

boneless skinless chicken breasts (one for each person you are planning to feed)
Lowry's lemon pepper 30-minute marinade sauce
white pepper
seasoned bread crumbs

Cut the fat off of the chicken breasts and then use a meat mallet to pound the breasts down about half of their original height (makes them cook faster). Mix the bread crumbs on a plate with your seasonings. Dip each chicken breast into the marinade sauce and then coat in bread crumb mixture. Lay in a glass baking dish, and pour a little more of the marinade around them. Bake in the oven on 325 for about 25-30 minutes or until heated through, and then turn on the broiler for about a minute to make a delicious crust out of the bread crumbs. How easy was that??

Roasted Potatoes

Here is a really quick and easy side dish that goes along great with almost anything! I usually make it with chicken or fish. 

1 pk (about 10) red potatoes
olive oil

So here's how easy this is! Just cut the potatoes into little wedges (quarter the potato and then cut each quarter in half again) and put those in a bowl. Get a good spoonful or two of butter and then about 1/4 of a cup of olive oil, dump those on your potatoes. Then sprinkle in a healthy portion of rosemary, salt, and pepper (I love using white pepper as opposed to black... it's a little bit more of a kick). Get those hands dirty and mix it all up, then spread it all out on a cookie sheet (put some PAM on it first, of course! or, for easy clean-up, put down a piece of tin foil first too). Put it in the oven on 350 for about 20-25 minutes and you have some beautiful roasted potatoes! If they aren't quite soft enough by then, put them under the broiler for a minute more and they should be perfect!

Spicy Lasagna

Here is a recipe influenced by an AWESOME batch of lasagna my neighbor brought over to me a month or so ago! I switched it up a bit and it's so yummy and easy! (And takes less than an hour from prep to table!)

1 can diced tomatoes
1 large can tomato paste (I prefer Hunt's)
1 package (1.5ish pounds) ground turkey meat (or you can use ground beef just as easily!)
1/2 each of a yellow, red, and green pepper and 1/2 of a jalepeno pepper
1/4 can or bottle of beer (heavy or wheat beers work well)
mozzerella cheese
lasagna noodles (my neighbor used wheat noodles, I used regular)

In a skillet, brown your meat; then add in the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, along with any spices you like (I just use salt and pepper). Then chop up all your peppers very fine (I use a food processor) and add those in there too. Pour in a little bit of beer for flavor, stir it all up and let it simmer a minute or two. Then, in a baking dish, lay out a layer of your lasagna noodles (don't cook them beforehand, even if they aren't the no-cook kind!!) you may have to break the noodles for them to fit in your dish. Then cover those with a healthy layer of your meat mixture. On top of that, sprinkle some pepperonis, and then a layer of mozerella cheese. Repeat this one more time, topping it off with a thick layer of cheese!

Cover the dish with tin foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then, uncover it, add more cheese if desired, and let it bake uncovered for another 15 or 20 minutes. You can turn on the broiler at the end if you like the top layer of cheese to get nice and crisp!  

*The credit for this one goes to you, Tracee!!