Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Apricots

These were the hit of my party!!  Everyone loved them and wanted the recipe!!


I decided to throw a Christmas Eve Open House.  I wasn't sure what the turn out would be, as most of our friends have plans on Christmas Eve.  We however, don't usually have anything going on.  It was quite a success!  I think it will now become a tradition.  The challenging part is going to be to figure out how to top this years menu next year.  Every single appetizer was oh so delicious!!  I think the most commented on though, was this one.  The following 8 posts consist of all the appetizers we made.  Yes, I say 'we' because my wonderful husband did as much of the work as I did.  They also include a make-ahead strategy.  So, if you're having your own party, this is a great way to prepare in advance.  Or, maybe you're just bringing a dish to pass and you have a busy schedule.  I think you'll find it helpful.
All these appetizers were found in Real Simple Magazine.

24 small fresh sage leaves
24 large dried apricots
8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
2 tbs pure maple syrup
toothpicks, for serving

Heat oven to 375.  Place a sage leaf on each apricot, wrap with a pice of bacon, and place seam-side down on a baking sheet.  Bake until the bacon is beginning to crisp, 6-8 minutes per side.  Remove from oven and brush with the maple syrup.  Serve with toothpicks.

Make ahead strategy:  The apricots can be assembled and frozen, unbaked, upt to 1 month in advance.  Freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet until firm, then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag.  To cook, bake from frozen at 375 for 8-10 minutes per side; keep warm at 250.  Brush with the maple syrup before serving.

Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Crisps

This is not the best photo...but you get the idea. 



This is a flavorful recipe.  I did make it on the potato chips that the recipe calls for, however, I think next time I will use a cracker of some sort, something harder.  The chips became a bit soggy quite quickly. 

1 tbs olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped radicchio
2 tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (about 4 oz)
24 thick cut potato chips (from a 5 oz bag)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-6 minutes.  Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the radicchio and parsley.

Gently spread the goat cheese on the potato chips and top with the pepper mixture.

Make ahead strategy:  The pepper mixture can be made and refridgerated up to 1 day in advance.  Assemble the crisps up to 1 hour before serving.  

Baked Camembert



This is chocked full of flavor!  Yum-O!!

1  8 ounce round of Camembert (sold in a wooden box)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), drained and sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 tbs olive oil
Bread or crackers, for serving

Heat oven to 375.  Remove the Camembert from it's paper or plastic wrapping, return it o the wooden box (discard the lid), and place on a baking sheet

Top with the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and thyme.  Drizzle wiht the oil and bake until soft, 10-12 minutes.  Serve immediately with the bread or carckers.

Make ahead strategy:  The sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and thyme can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated.  Just before serving, sprinkle them on the cheese, drizzzle with the oil, and bake.  From Real Simple

Carmelized Onion Tarts


These are fabulous!  I love carmelized onions. 

2 Tbs Olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 red apples (gala or braeburn), cut into small pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

Heat oven to 400.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown.  Stir in the apples, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. 

Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.  Spread with the sour cream, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is crisp and browned, 30-35 minutes.  Cut into pieces before serving. 

Make ahead strategy:  The tarts can be assembled and frozen up to 1 month in advance.  Freeze them, unbaked, on parchment lined baking sheets until firm, then wrap in plastic.  To cook, bake from frozen at 400 for 40-50 minutes; keep warm at 250.  cut just before serving.  From Real Simple magazine.

Artichoke and Spinach Relish


This is a nice twist on the traditional warm dip.  It is definitely more of a relish, a bit tart, and served cold.  It's also quick and easy to prepare, a great thing to bring along to a party.

1/4 cup walnuts
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 Tbs mayonnaise
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper
Crackers and cut-up vegetables, for serving

Heat oven to 400.  Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6-8 minutes.  Let cool, then roughtly chop

In a small bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan, mayonnaise, lemon juice, walnuts, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.  Serve with the crackers and vegetables.

Make ahead strategy:  The reslish can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.  From Real Simple Magazine.

Spiced Beef Empanadas


1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tbs ketchup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 store bought refrigerated rolled piecrusts
1 large egg beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp lime zest

Heat oven to 375.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-6 minutes.  Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink.  Stir in the raisins, ketchup, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Using a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the piecrusts.  (You can use the top of a glass or anything round if you don't have a cookie cutter)  Divide the beef mixture among the circles, brush the dges with water, fold in half, and press with a fork to seal.  Transfer to a baking sheet and brush wiht the egg.  Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes.

Put the sour cream in a small bowl and sprinkle with the lime zest.  Serve with the empanadas.

Make ahead strategy:  The empanadas can be assembled and frozen up to 1 month in advance.  Freeze them, unbaked, on a parchment lined baking sheet unitl firm, then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag.  To cook, bake from frozen at 375 for 30-45 minutes; keep warm at 250.  the lime sour cream can be made up to 1/2 hour before serving.  From Real Simple Magazine.

Peanut Chicken Skewers with Chili Mayonnaise


This finger food is from Real Simple Magazine. 

3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt and black pepper
12 chicken tenderloins cut in half length wise
3 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp Asian chili-garlic sauce
24 6-inch bamboo skewers

On a large plate, combine the peanuts, bread crumbs, cilantro, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.  Thread each strip of chicken onto a skewer and coat with the peanut mixture, pressing gently to help it adhere.

In batches, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook the skewers until golden, 2-3 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a plate as they are cooked and add more oil to the skillett as necessary. 

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and chili-garlic sauce.  Serve with the chicken.

Make ahead strategy:  The skewers can be assembled and frozen up to 1 month in advance.  Freeze them uncooked, on a parchment lined baking sheet utnil firm, then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag.  To cook, thaw the skewers on a plate in a skingle layer in the refrigerator overnight, then cook as directed in the recipe; keep warm at 250.  The chili mayonnaise can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. 

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


This is a gourmet grilled cheese, and very grown-up.  This recipe came from Real Simple Magazine. 

12 slices white sandwich bread
12 ounces cheese, such as Gruyere or fontina, thinly sliced
1 cup fruit chutney, such as cranberry, fig, or mango
butter

 Form 6 sandwiches with the bread, cheese and chutney.  In 2 batches, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the sandwiches until the bread is golden and the cheese has melted, 2-3 minutes per side.  Cut each sandwich into quarters before serving.

Makes 24

Make ahead strategy:  The sandwiches can be cooked up to 2 hours in advance and kept at room temperature.  reheat on a baking sheet at 350 for 10-15 minutes; keep warm at 250.  Cut just before serving.

Pasta Sauce



Pasta sauce:

10-12 tomatoes
basil, oregano, and/or any blend of Italian seasonings
4-6 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
grated carrots (3-4)
grated zucchini (1)
grated summer squash (1)
1 12 oz can of tomato paste
You can use vegetables of your choice. I happen to have alot of carrots, zucchini and squash from my garden this summer. The tomatoes also came from my garden.

Chop the onion and saute in evoo until tender, 5-6 min. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor, and add to the pot. add the remaining ingredients and simmer. The longer you simmer, the more flavor will come out. cool completely and place in jars or containers and freeze. You can also add meat at the time of making the sauce or when you decide to serve it.  This is so easy to customize and always very flavorful. Plus it's good for you with all the extra veggies, and if you grate them, or throw them in your food processor as well, no one will even know they're in there! Great for picky eaters. :-)

This made about 2 1/2 quarts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Magic Cookie Bars

I'm sure there is a more proper name for these bars.  When I was growing up, this is what we called them.  I come from a family of magicians, so there was definitely a pun intended.  We always said the cookies were magic because they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

1 1/2 cups Corn Flakes
1 stick butter, melted
3 tbs sugar
1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
3 oz semi-sweet chocalte chips
3 oz butterscotch chips
3 1/2 oz coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Crush the corn flakes so they are like crumbs.  Mix them with the melted butter and sugar.  Press into 9 x 13 inch pan.


 
Sprinkle walnuts, coconut, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips evenly on top.  Make sure the coconut is not on the very top, otherwise it will get too done.






Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top.  This takes awhile, but just keep drizzling until it is gone.  It will soak through. 


Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. 
ooey gooey yumminess!!

Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups


This recipe is from Taste of Home's Quick Cooking magazine. 

12 Lasagna Noodles
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzerella
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce (or homemade)

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain.  In a bowl, combine the eggs, cheeses, spinach, salt, peepr, and nutmeg.  Spread 1/3 cup cheese mixture over each noodle; carefully roll up.
Pour 1 cup spaghetti sauce into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Place roll-ups seam side down over sauce.  Top with remaining sauce.  Bake uncovered at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
Serves 6

Smoked Turkey

My husband made this for his guys weekend away.  We have a Big Green Egg.  For those of you not familiar, it's a smoker grill, and it looks like this:



Yes, it sits out all winter and we even use it.  As a matter of fact, my husband had to pour hot water on the lid because it was frozen shut.  Anyway, on with the recipe.

1/2 gallon apple juice
1/2 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 quart of water

Combine the above ingredients and heat enough to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Pour this over your turkey.  You will need a big bucket or stock pot, something big enough to hold the turkey, so it will be covered once you pour the brine onto it.

Add:
3 oranges halved and squeezed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs whole cloves
2 bay leaves

Soak the turkey in the brine for 24 hours.  This should be in your fridge, or do its cold enough outside, then you won't take up fridge space.  Remove from brine, and refridgerate for 12 more hours.
smoke on The big Green Egg on a vertical turkey rack at 225 for 7 hours.

I was fortunate enough to have some of the left overs, and it was fantastic!  Well worth the effort.  Yeah, easy for me to say since I didn't do anything.  :-)


Baked Chimichanga's



This is a 'healthy' version of a chimi.  Not fried, baked.  And it turns out nice and crispy.  I got this recipe from "Apples of Gold", a bible study that my church did a couple of years ago.  These freeze well too.  I flash freeze them, then if I can grab just one serving, or several.

6 seven or eight inch tortilla shells
1/2 tsp salt
1 # ground chicken  (I put cooked chicken in a food processor to get a fine texture)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chopped green chilies
1/4 cup salsa (hot, med. or mild)
1/4 cup refried beans
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup cheese
melted butter

Mix all ingredients well.
Soften tortilla shells in microwave for 10 seconds.
Put 1/3 cup filling in center of tortilla shell.  Roll one turn then turn sides in and continue to roll until chimi is formed.  Place each chimi seam side down, in a lightly greased baking pan.  Brush top and bottom of each chimi lightly with the melted butter.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

This can also be made with beef or pork.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Once a Month cooking synopsis

If you've been following, you know I've been on this Once a Month Cooking Journey.  I have to say I am incredibly BORED!  It was a challenge to make 14 meals in one day, which actually was not how I did it due to circumstances that changed my plans. I ended up making the meals in 2 different stages.  That was still a challenge.  However, I have to say the recipes themselves have not been spectacular.  So, overall, I'm not really impressed.  There are several OAMC books, but the one I used was Once-a-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg.  The good thing about this book is that most of the ingredients you'll find in your pantry.  There's not a whole lot of unusual types of herbs/spices, etc.  If you want easy, staple items it's great.  Also, it shows you exactly how to prep for your cooking day.  It includes a meal plan, grocery list, what to do before your big cooking day, even suggestions for types of containers to use.  On the flip side, I think someone forgot to edit this book!  I found many mistakes which made it confusing at points.  For example, a recipe would call for cooked chicken, then tell you to cook it.  Or there was a meal on the planner, but no recipe for it.  And that's only 2 of about 10 mistakes I found. 

I am in a cooking group (which desperately needs a name) and it is a great way to do freezer meals!  I look forward to posting recipes from that.  I just made 3 meals that look fantastic!  I guess I'm just partial to food that is extraordinarily good.  Not that there's anything wrong with those staple items in your pantry, but I like creativity, more flavor, etc.  When you're making 14 meals, or even 30 for your freezer in one day, that is probably not going to happen.  You need more time to be more creative.  So, I'm giving this book about 2 1/2 stars out of 5.  Also, I'm done posting recipes from it unless something is very enjoyable.  I do still have several meals left in my freezer.  But if I'm boring myself, I must be boring you, yes you, all 4 followers that I have, and 1 cyber stalker--you know who you are--haha!  Who knows, maybe there are more. 

Looking Ahead:
  • I hope to be more consistant in the future with my posts.  Hmm, maybe this is a New Years Resolution.
  • Fun holiday treats
  • Cranberry Chicken, Spinach Lasagna Roll ups, and Thai peanut chicken
  • Eggplant Parmesean, which I promised in early November.  (they were actually out of eggplants!  I could post the recipe, but I really wanted a picture for this one.)

London Broil

Meal #9 from OAMC. 

1 London broil (about 2 lbs)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbs grated lemon zest
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp light brown sugar

In a shallow bowl, stir all ingredients together, making a marinade.  Turn the steak in the marinade, rubbing the ingredients into the meat. Let set 30 min to marinate.  (or overnight) Grill aobut 5 min. per side.  Do not overcook or meat will become tough.  Carve slices on the bias.

Playoff Burgers

Meal #8 from OAMC.  This is a seasoned up burger. 

2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbs steak sauce
1 cup grated monterey Jack Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
6 whole wheat buns.

Combine all ingredients, form into patties.  Grill and serve!  Easy, but a little more flavor than your traditional burger. 

Poppy Beef

Meal #7 from OAMC.  This is a fancy name for a spaghetti bake, but it has more of a white cheesy sauce instead of your traditional tomato sauce.

2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
8 oz cottage cheese
1 tbs poppy seeds
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
8 oz light cream cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz linguine
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese

Saute the beef with green pepper, salt, and onion in a large skillet on medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, about 15 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and set aside.  In a seperate bowl mix together cottage cheese, poppy seeds, yogurt, cream cheese and pepper.  Cook and drain the pasta.  Stir into cheese mixture until well blended.  Place it in a 9x13 baking dish.  Top with the meat mixture and parmesean cheese.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Country Captain (curried chicken)

I have no idea why this is named "Country Captain".  Basically it is a curry chicken dish.  If you like curry, you'll enjoy this.  This is meal #6 from OAMC.

1 14pz can stewed tomatoes (undrained)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup currants or raisins
1 tbs cury powder
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs cold water
Cooked couscous to serve with
Slivered almond (optional)

Combine first 8 ingredients.  Put chicken in skillet and pour sauce over top of it.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove chicken from skillet.   Mix cornstarch and cold water together, add to skillet.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. You may need to bring it to a boil again in order for it to thicken up.  Pour sauce over chicken, top with slivered almonds and serve over couscous. 

Herbed Chicken

Meal #5 from OAMC. 
This is another easy recipe that contains pretty much staple items from your pantry.

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tspdried oregano leaves
3 cups white rice, cooked

Combine all ingredients except rice in a bag or bowl to marinate.  Bake at 350, covered for 1 1/4 hours.  (Now, I think I cooked it alot less than that, let's not dry out the chicken!  Use your judgement).  Serve over rice.

Chicken Nuggets

Meal # 4 from OAMC.  My kids loved this very kid-friendly meal.  You can make it more adult friendly by adding some unique dipping sauces.

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
3 tbs butter melted
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dired bread crumbs, Italian style
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
sauces for dipping.

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces (kitchen shears work great).  combine chicken, melted butter, and worcestershire in a 1 quart freezer bag to make a marinade.  combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in a second bag.  You can freeze at this point if you're looking to stock your freezer. 

To prepare for serving, remove the chicken pieces from marinade. Shake them in the bread crumb bag to coat, a few at a time.  Yes, kind of like 'Shake and Bake'.  The kids will think this is fun too. Arrange chicken on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 7-9 minutes at 450. 

So easy!  My daugter does not seem to like meat, but she actually ate these!  And my husband liked them too.  We used BBQ sauce, Honey Mustard, Spicy Mustard, and Ketchup for our sauce choices.  You could add Teriyaki or a thai peanut sauce to make them a bit more 'gourmet', or 'grown up'.

Mexican Chicken Lasagna

Here is meal #3 from Once a month Cooking.  It was pretty good, and a nice twist on a traditional lasagna.  Also, I LOVE Mexican food, so really how can you go wrong with these flavors?

3/4 cup chopped onion
3 14 oz cans stewed tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup salsa, medium or mild
1 package taco seasoning (I usually use my own blend)
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained, or you can prepare dried beans, which is my first choice
1 large egg
16 oz ricotta cheese
1 tsp crushed garlic
10 oz lasagna noodles
4 boneless, skinless cooked chicken breasts cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 4oz can chopped green chilies
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese

Combine chopped onion, tomates, salsa, taco seasoning and green chilies.  In a seperate bowl combine egg, ricotta cheese and garlic.

Spread 1 cup tomato sauce mixture over the bottom of a 9x13 in. pan.  Top with uncooked noodles, half the cheese mixture, half the chicken, sauce and half the shredded cheese.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients and top with sauce and cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes or unitl noodles are tender.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Taco Salad

This is meal #2 from once a month cooking:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked and chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes w/ green chilis
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
lettuce (I prefer romaine, spinach, or spring mix)
2 tomatoes
1 avacado
cilantro
1 bag tortilla chips

Put first 3 ingredients in a slow cooker for 4-5 hours. 
Make salad with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avacados, cilantro.  Put meat mixture on top and crushed tortilla chips.  Serve with Salsa and Sour cream. 

Next time I will add black beans and corn too.   mmm mmm good!

Winter Pot Roast

This is the first meal we ate from my "once a month cooking" experience.  Actually, I only did a 2 week meal plan.  And I should not say 'only' as it was still almost a day's worth of work.  Definitely worth it. 

1 21/2 lbd beef roast (I used chuck)
2 TBS steak sauce
2 medium onions chopped
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp  salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tbs pure horseradish (I left this out)
8 new potatoes

Combine all ingredients except roast and potatoes.  If freezing, pour over roast in a 1 gallon freezer bag.  Seal and freeze. 

Thaw and place the contents into roast pan or dutch oven.  Cover and cook at 250 for 11-12 hours. 

I boiled and mashed the new potatoes and served the roast on top. 

Chinese Beef Broccoli

I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's website.  And she actually took it from another's cookbook.  I LOVE this website!!!  She is amazing, if you haven't checked out, you can do so here.  I'm hoping someone buys me her cookbook for my birthday or christmas.  And when I say someone, I mean my husband (wink wink).  Actually, My husband pretty much lets me buy whatever I want so I always tell him not to get me anything.  When I go to a jewelry party, and return home, he always asks:  Whadja buy, whadja buy??  With all the enthusiasm you can imagine.  when we're roaming the bookstore and I see something I want, he'll encourage me.  Isn't he wonderful?  Okay, back to the beef. 
SERVES 4 AS PART OF MULTICOURSE MEAL


1 lb  top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-in (3-mm)-thick strips
11/2 lbs broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic


BEEF MARINADE
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef


STIR-FRY SAUCE
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
     **I used red wine and balsamic vinegar and omitted the oyster sauce, it's just what I had on hand.

1 In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the Beef Marinade. Add the beef and let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.


2 In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Stir-fry Sauce.


3 In a wok or large sauté pan, add 1 inchof water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain.


4 Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well. Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add the high-heat cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.


5 Pour in the Stir-fry Sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.


Bug cake

My son's birthday was a few weeks ago, but do to the illness, etc. that I have been talking about, I'm just now getting that post up.  This was definitely the easiest cake I have made so far. 
Start with a 9x13 cake and a dome type cake.  I just used an oven proof bowl and it was perfect. 
1.  after the cakes cool, put the 'mound' cake on top of the 9x13 cake, sort of toward the end.  Hold it on with frosting.
2.  Frost the rest of the cake.  I have to say, the frosting was delish.  I used 1/2 cup butter, 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, and some heavy cream.  Melt the first 2 together, then add the cream til you get the consistancy. 
3.  time to decorate!  I used chocolate grahm crackers, fudge covered grahm cookies, and chocolate creme filled cookies (like oreos, but w/chocolate creme, I used the Meijer brand).  Crush up the cookies, you need about 1 1/2 cups total, then sprinkle it on the top. 
4.  Place your gummy worms, plastic bugs, etc. 

Mmmmmm.... bugs! 


Close up of the mound.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2 week meal plan

Hello!  I did not fall off the face of the earth!  As noted in an earlier post, my family was sick.  I just can't seem to catch up.  So, once we were well again, I had this idea of trying the once a month cooking thing.  Have you heard of it?  It's basically making all your meals in 1 day and freezing them.  This is different than my cooking group, I'll have to explain that one later.  So, I decide that since I've been  so busy lately, this would be a great thing to do.  Just pull it out and pop it in the oven.  That way, I can be more available to my little ones during what I call the witching hour.  For some reason, it is just a hard time of day for them.  My cooking group is fantastic, but we have been a little short staffed, so I wanted some extra meals in the freezer.  So, I go out and buy all the ingredients.  I'm actually not doing 30 days, I'm just doing a 2 week plan.  And, actually, my husband did the grocery shopping, bless his heart.  I lined up a sitter, my kids were going to go away for the whole day so I could do this, among many other errands.  Yes, I'm quite ambitious, which is why maybe I'm never 'done' with anything, too much to start with.  Anyway...
The night before my big cooking day, I get a call and my dad had to go to the hospital.  God is always working on me an my agenda, and do you know I STILL plan things?  I love how he knew I already had a sitter and would be totally available!  He is so good.  My siblings were at the hospital all night, and they all work, so it worked out perfect that I could be there all the next day.  Well, my idea of doing this meal thing in a day obviously didn't go as planned, so I've been doing it in stages.  Among the hospital visits and taking care of my children, I have a niece that was having a bridal shower, on the other side of the state.  So, the weekend wasn't looking good for cooking.  I did some prep work early fri. morning (5 am, yes I'm crazy--did you know I get up at 5 3 times a week?)  And I got 1/2 the meals done friday night after the kids were in bed.  I did the other half of the meals today, while also entertaining children, bsf leaders meeting, picking up my boarders from school.   (Sigh)  I'm quite tired.  I'm thinking about not getting up at 5 tomorrow and skipping the work out.  My plan, which you must know may change at any time without notice, is to post the recipes as we eat them.  All of these were recipes I've never tried before, so I can also tell you how good they are.  Definitely a little different from my 'au natural' cooking, but not overly processed by any means.  I substitue more natural ingredients when I can.  Like dry beans instead of canned. 

Here is the 'before' shot:


These are'nt even all the groceries, but most everything.

Now I've got to go clean up the kitchen...
Have a blessed day!!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Magnificent Monday


The title of today's blog is a phrase one of my friend's uses alot.  Honestly, I'm trying to find some Magnificance today.  I haven't posted in what feels like forever.  I've got sick kids, and I got it too!  My son has had a fever since last Tuesday.  He has a dr.'s appt. today.  Also, it's his birthday, my precious firstborn is 5 today.  He was sick on his birthday last year too.  So sad!!  I'm praying he will be fully recovered for his first 'friend' birthday party on friday.  Please pray with me, we could really use those prayers. 
I asked my son what he wanted for his birthday dinner.  He replied, "eggplant parmesean".  What 5 year old likes eggplant?!  Mine does, and I couldn't be prouder.  He always has been my good eater.  He will try everything and usually likes it.  I will definitely post this recipe, it is delicious.  Even grown ups that I know who don't care for eggplant like it.  I hope to get it posted by the end of the week.  I'll also be posting another birthday cake.  The theme... bugs!  Thanks for checking in, and sorry there hasn't been much to read lately.  I will hopefully be back soon and good as new.  The Lord is faithful!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Mexico-style pot roast

This was absolutely delicious!!  Just a twist on a classic, and we really enjoyed it.  This serves 6, but I made a double recipe so the picture is more accurate for a larger group.  :-) 

1 3 lb beef chuck roast
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 15 oz jar red enchilada sauce
2 cups low sodium beef broth (I used the meijer naturals beef broth concentrate)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 small chayote squash, also cut into chunks  (meijer does carry this mexican squash, but I have yet to see it there.  They are always out, so you can use summer squash in it's place)
1 15 oz can hominy, drained

Rub the roast with olive oil, salt and pepper.  place in a roasting pan, or stock pot.  Add the broth and enchilada sauce.  Cover and cook at 250 for 8 or 9 hours.  At this time add the sweet potatoes, squash and hominy and continue cooking for another 3-4 hours.  I cook my roasts this long to make them fork tender.  You can adjust cooking time if you want. 









Friday, October 23, 2009

Award Winning White Chicken Chili


This is an awesome easy chili recipe passed on to me from "Mom Dyk".  Mom Dyk is my husbands 2nd mom so to speak.  When he moved here from the other side of the state and became friends with Scott, she sort of took him in too.  He doesn't have any family in the area, so he ate Sunday dinners there, and holidays, etc.  Once we met, she let me into the circle too.  :-)  I love this recipe because you really just put it all together and let it go in the crock pot.  I now call this "award winning" because it recently won a chili cook-off!  I really couldn't believe it.  If I was trying to win, I would have done some super special chili with a secret ingredient, but it was a fundraiser for the Porch Steps, which is a clothing closet at our church.  We were raising money to buy winter coats and accessories.  Everyone got to eat lots of chili, and then pay to vote for the winner.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.


2 lbs chicken cooked and cut into bite sized pieces or shredded
48 oz great northern beans
16 oz salsa (mild, med. or hot--your choice)
2 tsp cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
4 oz can of chopped green chilis
1/2-1 lb of cheese.  (I like to use a blend, but whatever your favorite is)
oregano (optional)
sour cream (optional)


Put it all in the crock pot and let it go!  You can start it in the morning before work and cook it on low.  Or, start it later in the day and put it on high to get it simmering. 

Sloppy Joes

This is a fabulous home-made sloppy joe recipe I got off of zaar.  It has a ton of flavor, and natural ingredients that most ppl already have in the house. 

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs mustard
2 tbs vinegar
2 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 small onion

1.  Cook meat slowly inskillet with salt and onion.
2.  Meanwhile, make sauce by mixing together all other ingredients and cooking slowly over low heat for 15 minutes.
3.  Drain, and add meat
4.  Let simmer for at least an hour, stirring from time to time, to let meat absorb the sauce. 
5.  Serve on hamburger buns.

Puffed Oven Pancake



My husband can cook and bake really well. He attempts things that I find intimidating, like bagels. I think he's especially great at breakfast. He's much better than me at pancakes, for example, and he can do the perfect eggs. Here's a recipe we like alot, but I've never made it, it's always him. And, it's delish!!

2 TBS margarine or butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
apple raisin sauce
powdered sugar

Place butter in a 10 inch ovenproof skillet. Place in a 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes or butter melts. In a bowl beat eggs with a rotary beater till combined. Add flour, milk and salt. Beat till smooth. Immediately pour into the hot skillet. Bake about 25 minutes or till puffed and well browned.

Meanwhile prepare the apple-raisin sauce. Sprinkle pancake with powderedsugar and cut into wedges. Serve with sauce. Serves 6.

Apple Raisin Sauce: In a skillet combine 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly silecd; 3/4 cup apple juice or water, 1/3 cup raisins, 2 tbs sugar and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. Simmer, covered, till apples are just tender. Stir together 2 tbs cornstarch and 2 tbs cold water. Add to apple mixture. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir in 1 tsp butter. Keep warm. Makes 2 cups.

                                                                              

















Chicken Stock

One blogger friend has inquired about how to make your own chicken stock. I use alot of whole chickens for my cooking group, so everytime I have that opportunity, I make stock, then freeze it for future uses. There are lots of recipes, but here's how I do it:

Put 1 whole roaster chicken in a stock pot and cover with water. Add a carrot, celery stalk, and half an onion as well as salt and pepper to taste. The veggies are pretty much in a couple pieces, not chopped. Bring the water to a boil, and let the chicken simmer until done. Remove the veggies and chicken. After cooling and skimming the fat I bag it up. I usually bag it in 2 cup portions. Most recipe's call for 1 can of chicken broth which is about the equivalent.

You can also make stock using a left over chicken. Use the bones and what's left. Make sure there's at least some meat left on the bones. Let it simmer for a few hours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beef Roast


This was my favorite meal growing up. Whenever I asked my mom for the recipe she always told me something different, so I wasnt' quite sure how she did it so good, or maybe that was the secret that it was different each time. Being single at the time, I really didn't make this very often as it feeds alot. That would explain why I couldn't remember the recipe. My mom passed away right before I got married, so again, the recipe is something I didn't take with me into the marriage. Luckily for my family I've come a long way from then.

I still experiment with spices and flavoring, but basically the secret to a fork tender, fall apart kind of roast is to cook it for a really long time on a low temp. This was SO delicious!! You can do roast in the crock pot, but I have had much better results in the oven. And it really is low maintenance, just put it together and let it go in the oven. I don't ever make them in the crockpot anymore.


1 (2 1/2-3 1/2) chuck roast
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 packet meijer naturals beef base concentrate
1 tsp dried basil crushed
2-3 medium onions (1/2 cup chopped, rest in wedges)
8 potatoes
1 lb carrots

Preheat oven to 250.


1. place chopped onions in the bottom of a dutch oven or roasting pan
2. place meat on top.
3. mix worcestershire sauce, beef base, salt and pepper, and basil with 3/4 cups water and pour over roast.
4. Place the rest of the onions on top of roast and on sides.
5. Place potatoes around roast and carrots on top. (or however you can fit it all in)

Bake for 12 hours. DELICIOUS!!

Drumsticks with Sesame and Ginger


4 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs honey
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (you can use ground ginger, just use a little less)
8 chicken drumsticks, skinned
sesame seeds
1. Combine the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and ginger in a zip lock bag; add the chicken. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Turn to coat the chicken. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, 2 hours before using, or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 400. Line a roasting pan or shallow baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess marinade. Sprinkle the drumsticks with sesame seeds. bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
I like to serve these with rice. I use a short grain brown rice which has alot more nutrients than a white rice, but because it's short grain it's sticky like the chinese restaurant type. Yummy!!
2 drumsticks is 4 ww points. This comes from a ww cookbook called 5 and under. I've used quite a few recipe's from it and have been pleased.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup


This is a total comfort meal. It was inspired by another recipe I saw on a blog called Come have a Peace. Of course, all the tweaking is what makes a recipe your own. I hope you enjoy this one, I think it would be good with wild rice in place of the noodles also.


8 cups chicken stock (I used home-made, but cans will do)
3 cups shredded chicken breast
1 small bag mixed vegetables
12 oz bag of egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cups flour
4 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste.

1. cook chicken breasts. You can boil, bake, grill, poach. This time I boiled for about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and shred with 2 forks
2. Bring your broth to a boil and add noodles
3. Once the noodles are tender, add your chicken.
4. In a seperate pan, melt the butter til bubbly and add flour, stir until thick. Gradually add the
milk and mix well. Stir until thick. You'll need to bring it to a boil to get thickened, but be careful because milk burns easily.
5. Add the milk mixture to your soup
6. Add the vegetables.

Instead of making your own creamy sauce, you could use 2 cans of cream of chicken soup. I just prefer the homemade option. This is wonderful with warm bread and a fresh salad. mmmm.

Garlic Herb Bread

There's nothing like home made bread with some comforting soup.
This recipe makes a small or 1 lb loaf. I used my bread machine on the dough cycle. I don't like the shape the bread machine makes, so I shape it, and bake it myself.

3/4 cup water
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I use a nine grain all purpose, it bakes like white)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried rosemary leaves
1/8 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp dried basil leaves
1 3/4 tsp regular active dry yeast.

Put it in your breadmaker in the order listed and set it on the dough cycle. When it's finished, remove and place on a lightly floured surface, shape to a loaf, and put in a loaf pan. Turn oven on the lowest setting and just let it start to warm up, then turn it off. Place the bread in the oven for 30 minutes or so to rise. Remove, preheat oven to 350. The bake for about 30 minutes.

If you dont' have a bread maker, start with your water, olive oil and yeast, mix well, then add the remaining ingredients. After the dough forms you can knead, and then shape it before you start the rising process.

Monday, October 12, 2009

potato boats

These next 2 posts were inspired by the food Network. It was a show on 'fun food' for kids.

4 baking potatoes
1 8oz pkg shredded mozzerella (or use mozzeralla balls for even more flavor)
2 TBS ketchup

Prick the potatoes in several places and bake them right on the oven rack at 450 degrees until they're done, about 1 hour -1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the potatoes

Put the mozzarella in a bowl. Let potatoes cool a bit so you can handle them. Slice in half and scoop out the soft insides into the cheese. Add ketchup and mash with a masher. Once combined, scoop the filling back into the potato skins. Bake for another 15 minutes. Squirt with ketchup and serve.

The food network host, Nigella called these blood and guts potatoes... sort of a Halloween theme. We are'nt really into halloween at my house, but if you are have fun with that. It sort of took away the desire for me personally to want to eat something called blood and guts... eww! Anyway, again, the kids loved this one, and it was super easy!

Sorry I don't have pictures of these or the chicken fingers, my family ate them before I could get the camera out!!

chicken fingers


4 chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste
1 3/4 cups Crackers (I used ritz)

flatten the chicken breasts with a mallet to about 1/4 inch thick. Slice into smaller pieces. I got about 8 fingers or nuggets per chicken breast. Marinate in the buttermilk for up to 2 days. I think the longer you marinate the better it will be.
Meanwhile, crush the crakers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin until they are pretty fine. You could use bread crumbs instead, or even panko.

coat the chicken in the crushed crackers and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 for about 15-20 minutes.

Make it even more fun by adding some dipping sauces. When I told my kids they were going to have chicken nuggets, my daughter said "from McDonalds?" I try not to make McDonalds a habit, but it only takes once and it seems they're hooked. The good thing was she liked my nuggets just as much, and this is my picky eater. :-)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baked Rigatoni with 3 cheeses

Do any of you stay at home moms ever feel like you spend all your time in the kitchen? It seems like as soon as you prepare and clean up breakfast, the kids are asking for a snack, after that it's lunch, then snack, then dinner, and then even sometimes a bedtime snack. It's like our 'work' is never finished. I've been reading "Professionalizing Motherhood" by Jill Savage, and was encouraged to look at my kitchen duties in another way. I do love to cook and prepare meals, but the cleaning is definitely my least favorite part. Yesterday I made meals for my cooking group as well as someone from church, so I really was in the kitchen all day. Jill challenges us to look at our task with a long term goal in mind. She says to revise your to do list so it looks something like this:

Prepare breakfast to give my family a good start to the day
Clean up the kitchen to take care of the home I've been given
Prepare lunch to provide for the nutritional needs of my family
Clean up kitchen to model the value of taking care of what's been given
Prepare dinner to give our family time to sit and talk and be refreshed

We rethink what we do and why we do it.

Now on to the rigatoni...
12 oz rigatoni
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
2 TBS part skim ricotta
2 TBS crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1. Cook the asta according to the package directions; drain and keep warm
2. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500. Spray baking dish w/non-stick spray or oil
3. combine the tomato sauce, half and half, and cheeses. Add the hot pasta and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake until bubbly and browned on top, about 7 minutes.

If you use fat free half and half, and part skim mozzarella cheese, 1 cup is 5 points in WW.

hands on prep 15 min
cook 17 min
serves 6


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza


1 Onion sliced
1-2 TBS butter
BBQ sauce
2 pizza crusts (home made or store bought)
2 cups chicken in bite size pieces. (left over chicken is a great option)
1 bell pepper sliced (color of your choice)
mozzerella and colby jack cheese
1 tomato chopped
1. Preheat oven to 450
2. Carmelize onions in butter over medium heat. (saute' until carmel color)
3. spread bbq sauce over pizza crusts
4. place a thin layer of mozzerella cheese, followed by chicken, carmelized onions, peppers, and more cheese. Top with tomato.
5. Bake for 6-9 minutes









Taco Seasoning Mix and Refried beans

Taco's are always a great standby, and so versatile. I'm sure everyone knows how to make tacos, so today I'm posting my home made taco seasoning mix. Have you ever read the back of those seasoning packets? Many years ago I started being an ingredient reader. I'm certainly not perfect and still eat things that are bad for me. But overall I try to choose food that is not only flavorful, but good for me and natural. Sometimes when reading the back of a package it will say "natural flavorings" I suppose that's good, but what exactly does it mean? My goal in reading ingredients is to be able to recognize what they are. If I can't pronounce it, I for sure know I don't want it. Don't even get me started on High Fructose Corn Syrup. There are several items I can't recognize on the back of taco seasoning packet, and the list is really long.

So that was my inspiration for a home made taco seasoning. I'm also including a recipe for refried beans--not from the can, but starting with dry beans. This is a crockpot one and I got it off a book site of all places. A group of us chat about random things in life and we've been sharing recipes as of late. I've changed it a bit, but it was inspired from someone on that site. Also the taco seasoning mix was inspired by a recipe I found on recipezaar.

I hope you will find these useful:


Taco Seasoning Mix:
2 1/2 tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tbs paprika
2 tbs cumin
2 tsp oregano, preferably mexican oregano
1 tbs tastefully simple garlic garlic (or garlic powder
1 1/2 tbs tastefully simple onion onion (or onion powder)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, omit if you like it mild and increase if you like it spicier
1 tsp salt

Mix all spices together and store in an airtaight container. Will keep for 6-12 months

7 tsp of this spice mix is the equivalent of one 1.25 oz packet of store bought taco seasoning. This recipe makes the equivalent of 4 spice packets

Refried beans:
2 cups dried beans
coarsley chopped sm/md onion
1-2 bell peppers color of choice
2 jalepenos (remove seeds and ribs if you like it mild)
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic crushed
1 tsp cumin
6 cups water

Put all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Drain, reserving some of the liquid. You can use your food processor, blender, or potato masher. Adding some liquid will make them a bit creamier. Add a tsp of salt, and your favorite hot sauce for more flavor. Don't add salt when cooking as it makes the skins tough.






Monday, October 5, 2009

Italian Chicken


Tonight was one of those nights where I knew I had food, but no real plans for dinner. So this is one of my quick and easy recipes, but very flavorful. As a side I served pasta with my home made pasta sauce (which I retrieved from my freezer) and I will include that recipe as well. Often times in cooking, I go by smell or taste, so sometimes you will find I have no measurements. That is the case with today's post. Just remember, baking is a science, but cooking is an art.


ingredients:
bone in chicken breast
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Italian seasoning


Pasta sauce
10-12 tomatoes
basil, oregano, and/or any blend of Italian seasonings
4-6 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
grated carrots (3-4)
grated zucchini (1)
grated summer squash (1)
1 large can (28oz) of tomato sauce (I prefer something w/no sugar)
1 16 oz can of tomato paste


You can use vegetables of your choice. I happen to have alot of carrots, zucchini and squash from my garden this summer. The tomatoes also came from my garden


Preheat the oven to 350. spread e.v.o.o. over the chicken and under the skin. coat heavily with Italian seasoning over and under the skin. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Bone in breasts always take longer, I usually start checking it at 30 minutes just to be safe.


For the sauce:
chop the onion and saute in evoo until tender, 5-6 min. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor, and add to the pot. add the remaining ingredients and simmer. The longer you simmer, the more flavor will come out. cool completely and place in jars or containers and freeze. You can also add meat at the time of making the sauce or when you decide to serve it. You'll get about 6 quarts or so of sauce if you use the estimated amounts. This is so easy to customize and always very flavorful. Plus it's good for you with all the extra veggies, and if you grate them, or throw them in your food processor as well, no one will even know they're in there! Great for picky eaters. :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

let them eat cake!




Welcome to my blog. Today is my official first post. I'm looking forward to posting lots about my cooking, but today happens to be about cake. It's birthday season at our house, we have 4 birthdays between sep 28 and nov. 25. My daughter just turned 3 and wanted a "flip-flop cake". I was pretty excited about this one because last year I made a dollhouse cake and that was quite the challenge. The flip flop cake went quite well.

I typically make my cakes from scratch, but since it was a busy time I decided to resort to a box cake. This is very normal for most people, but not for me. I was feeling guilty about it before I even went to the store. Once I got there, I happen to find a Meijer brand all natural cake mix... and it was on sale! I had my doubts, but thought, really, how bad could an all natural cake be... that's what I usually make. Well, I am now a fan. It was very moist and delicious!

To make the flip flops I took a pair of my daughters flip flops from this summer and traced them on a piece of cardboard. Now I had my template. I was able to get 2 pairs of flip flops. You could do an adult size and get 1 pair. I used a 9x13 pan and 2 of the boxedcake mixes. Again, due to my circumstances I went for store bought frosting. After adding food coloring of my choice I had some great summer colors. Yes, even though it's fall, it was 80 degrees in some parts of September.

The first coat of frosting was a 'crumb coat'. It just seals everything together. Then I put it in the freezer so the rest of the frosting would go even easier. Frost the sides of the flip flops first. Don't worry about getting some of the purple frosting over the top edge, you'll cover that up. Next frost the tops. For the border of yellow, I just used a smaller tip and zig zagged or squiqqled along the edge. You can use the frosting that comes in a tube, or make your own and put it in a pastry bag.

Now you're ready to decorate. I used Skittles for the 'polka-dots', and fruit roll ups for the straps and just a silk flower.