Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Goofy Goo by McCormick

This is definitely for older kids.

2 tablespoons white glue
2 tablespoons water
Paper cups
1/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon borax laundry booster
McCormick® Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye or McCormick® Assorted NEON! Food Colors and Egg Dye

1. Mix glue with 2 tablespoons water in a paper cup.
2. In another paper cup, mix 1/4 cup water, borax and 10 drops of food color.
3. Stir 2 tablespoons of the borax mixture into glue mixture until well blended. It's fun to play with in your hands! Store in an airtight container.
TipsTest Kitchen Tip: To avoid stained hands, wear latex gloves

Playtime Pasta by McCormick

This looks like hours and hours of fun!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Dry Time: 30 minutes

Assorted uncooked pasta shapes, such as ziti, macaroni, shells, bow-ties or rotelle
White vinegar
McCormick® Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye or McCormick® Assorted NEON! Food Colors and Egg Dye
Small resealable plastic bags

1. Put a handful of pasta, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 to 3 drops food color into a resealable plastic bag. Shake until pasta is tinted.
2. Spread pasta on paper plate or paper bag to dry.
3. Tint pasta different colors in separate bags.
Kitchen Tip: For pasta necklaces, use pasta with holes in the middle for stringing - like ziti or rotelle (wagon wheels). String them together with yarn.

Colored Desert by McCormick

Do your kids love to play with colored sand? Mine do. Here is how you and your kids can make it at home:
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Dry Time: Overnight

White sand or salt
Jars with lids
McCormick® Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye or McCormick® Assorted NEON! Food Colors and Egg Dye
Clear jars or containers

1. Pour sand or salt into jars with lids.
2. Add a few drops of food color to each jar and replace lid.
3. Shake like crazy!
4. Open the jar and let sand or salt dry overnight.
5. Pour layers of different colored sand or salt into a decorative jar or vase.

Kool Aid Play Doh

Image found on Google

• 1 1/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup salt
• 1 pkg unsweetened Kool-aid (just the dry koolaid, don't mix it into juice)
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a bowl, mix flour, salt and kool-aid.
2. Stir in water and oil
3. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes.
4. Store in ziploc bag for up to 2 months.
5. Use like playdough.
6. Smells wonderful and takes on the color of the koolaid.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Preparation time: 20 min Baking time: 30 min
Yield: 6 (1-cup) servings

Casserole Ingredients:
7 ounces (3 cups) uncooked dried pasta shells
1 pint (2 cups) LAND O LAKES® Half & Half*
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 cups) LAND O LAKES® Jalapeño Jack Cheese, shredded

Topping Ingredients:
1/3 cup crushed nacho-flavored tortilla chips

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square (2-quart) baking dish with no-stick cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain.

3. Heat half & half in 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until half & half just comes to a boil (3 to 4 minutes). Add cream cheese, stirring until mixture is smooth and thickened (2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in green chiles and salt. Add cooked pasta; toss to coat.

4. Spread half of pasta mixture evenly into bottom of prepared baking dish; top with half jalapeño jack cheese. Repeat layer once with remaining ingredients.

5. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips over top of casserole. If freezing, skip this step until time to put in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

*Substitute 2 cups milk.

In my opinion: We love this cheesy dish. I have been looking for the recipe all summer. I thought I must have left it in my classroom, but after searching there, I went through my cookbooks and found that I never copied it to a card. I can't wait to make it again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paula Deen's Baked Spaghetti

2 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 small bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1. In a stockpot, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, onions, peppers, garlic, parsley, seasoning mixtures, sugar, and bay leaves.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
3. Crumble the ground beef in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until fully cooked, with no pink color remaining. Drain the fat from the meat, and then add the ground beef to the stockpot.
4. Simmer for 20 more minutes.
5. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
6. Cover the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan with sauce. Add a layer of pasta and then a little less than 1/2 of each cheese; repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.
7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese, return it to the oven, and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 more minutes. Cut into squares before serving.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ease of Preparation: Easy

In my opinion: Everybody loves a Paula Deen recipe, right? I mean, I have tried about 50 of her recipes so far. I did love this one, but I'll have to admit, with 4 small children, it is a bit time consuming. I also made a note on my recipe card that it dirties a LOT of dishes. It might be worth while to double the recipe and freeze one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Penne with Tomato and Smoked Cheese by Betty Crocker

3 cups uncooked penne pasta (9 oz)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups Alfredo pasta sauce
1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella cheese (4 oz)

1.Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray 1 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
2.Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, heat tomatoes to boiling. Reduce heat to medium; cook uncovered 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated.
3.In 2-quart saucepan, heat Alfredo sauce over medium-low heat until warm. Stir in cheese until melted. Mix sauce, pasta and tomatoes. Pour into casserole.
4.Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until hot in center.

In my opinion: This was a good pasta dish. We haven't had it in a long time, it's time to try it again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Biscuits

by my friend Terri
Picture coming soon.

This recipe can easily be doubled and divided into 4 8x8 pans.

1/3 c chopped green pepper
1/3 c chopped onion
3 T butter
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 c cooked cubed chicken (I always cook tons of chicken, chop it, and divide it into baggies to have on-hand in the freezer. You can get enough for 4-6 meals and clean the pan once.
1 c frozen peas
2 tubes regrigerated biscuits (or keep the frozen biscuits on hand)
3/4 c shredded Cheddar cheese
**I might add 4 oz sliced mushrooms if I have them on hand'

Preheat oven to 425.
1. In a large saucepan, saute green pepper and onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended.
2. Gradually add milk and soup; whisk until blended. **Add mushrooms if you are going to.
3. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
4. Stir in chicken and peas. Transfer to a greased 13x9 (or 4 8x8s if recipe is doubled).
5. Separate biscuits and arrange over the top. Note-sometimes I buy one tube and split the biscuits in half horizontally.
6. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 425 for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Directions for freezing: Follow steps 1-4. Let cool completely and cover with foil. Write cooking directions on the foil and then freeze. To cook, just thaw TO ROOM TEMP (or the biscuits will not cook thoroughly) and bake at 425 until mixture is warm, about 10-12 minutes. Add biscuits & cheese (steps 5&6), and bake until biscuits are done.

In my opinion: We love this recipe. We have it really often and never get tired of it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Feta and Spinach Lasagna Rolls

This is a "cook in bulk and freeze" meal. I got the recipe from my friend, Julia, when I heard that she and some other friends were doing this together, and I anticipated how busy my nights were going to be once Stephen had to go back to working 12-9. As if our work schedule wasn't enough to make you tired, Lauren has dance on Mondays and Girl Scouts every other Thursday, and I've signed Caleb up for soccer. I still have no idea how I am going to shuttle all 4 kids to these places, and on those nights when we'll be getting home just in time for dinner, I am going to turn to my good ol' friend, Crock Pot. But on the other nights, I'll be pulling pre-made meals from my freezer and so I tried this recipe.

3 1/2 (16 oz) boxes lasagna noodles **** see note below
24 oz crumbled feta cheese (5 c)
32 oz low-fat cottage cheese
32 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1 c shredded Asiago cheese (4 oz)
1 c shredded Parmesan cheese
2 t black pepper
15 oz frozen chopped spinach, water squeezed out and leaves broken apart

8 one-gallon freezer bags, labeled
Large bowl (5 quarts)
Stockpot for boiling noodles
baking sheet
****pastry bag(s)

What you need for preparing the meal:
2 c marinara or pasta sauce (or more to taste)
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese (or more to taste)

1. Working in batches, boil noodles until flexible enough to roll, but not completely cooked.
2. Meanwhile, mix all other ingredients, except spinach, in large bowl. Stir in spinach leaves last.
3. Place partially cooked noodles on a clean work surface in a single layer (do not overlap). I used a piece of foil. Measure how long 4 lasagna noodles would be if lined up end-to-end.
4. Spread about 3 T filling down the length of each noodle. I cut the noodle in half vertically first. Roll noodle and place seam side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Place rolls in the freezer for 30 minutes.
5. Divide frozen rolls evenly among the freezer bags. Seal and refreeze.

*******This procedure was taking a super long time, and the noodles seemed too narrow to me. My hands were covered in filling from trying to roll the noodles. As I was nearing the end of 3 hours of boiling noodles, arranging the filling "just so", and rolling them, it dawned on me that 1) I could use a pastry bag to fill the noodles, and 2)instead of the time spent on rolling hte lasagna noodles and partially freezing them, I could have used canolli/manicotti noodles! This epiphany came from working with Nancy and Charlie at their family Italian restaurant. It would have saved SO much time.

When preparing:
Use a 9x13 when preparing 10 rolls.
1. Place lasagna rolls in a greased baking dish. Cover with foil; completely thaw in refrigerator.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Pour 2 c marinara over rolls and top with mozzarella; replace foil.
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center is hot and cheese is melted.

In my opinion: These were really, really good! I think I'll use more pasta sauce next time, but I like my pasta smothered in sauce. I don't think I'll get tired of eating all 7 bags that are left in the freezer.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cherry Almond Blonde Brownies by Land O'Lakes

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup Butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
Drizzle Ingredients:
2 (1-ounce) squares bittersweet baking chocolate (or white)
1 teaspoon shortening

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine brown sugar and butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add eggs and almond extract; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder; beat until well mixed. Stir in almonds and cherries.
3. Press or spread mixture into greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 28 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and center is set. Cool completely.
4. Combine chocolate and shortening in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Drizzle over brownies. Cut into bars.

In my opinion: These bars were really yummy! I think next time I'll add white chocolate to the batter before baking.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Orange Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting by Paula Deen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
Orange Brownies:
Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.
Yield: enough frosting for 1 batch of brownies
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Orange Pecan Cookies by Paula Deen

1 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 T orange zest
2 T fresh orange juice
1 large egg
2 3/4 c a.p. flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c finely chopped pecans

1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in orange zest and OJ. Add egg, beating until combined.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour through salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined. Beat in pecans. Divide dough in half. Shape each dough half into 2" wide log. Wrap each in parchment paper. Chill for at least 8 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Cut dough into 1/4" (thin) slices. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans and cook completely on wire racks. Store in airtight container for up to one week.

In my opinion: These were good cookies. The texture resembled shortbread cookies.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Bars by Baker's Chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, divided
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (8 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
1 cup PLANTERS Chopped Pecans, toasted

1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Lightly grease foil; set aside. Beat 3/4 cup each of the butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in egg yolk. Add flour and salt; mix well. Place in prepared pan; press firmly onto bottom to form crust. Bake 16 to 18 min. or until golden brown.
2. MEANWHILE, place remaining 1/4 cup each butter and brown sugar, the corn syrup, whipping cream and vanilla in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 4 min., stirring every 2 min.; set aside. Cool crust slightly on wire rack. Spread butter mixture evenly over crust.
3. BAKE an additional 18 to 20 min. or until set. Sprinkle with chopped chocolate. Continue baking 1 to 2 min. or until chocolate is melted; spread chocolate evenly over dessert. Sprinkle with pecans. Cool completely. Refrigerate 30 min. or until chocolate is firm. Remove dessert from pan, using foil handles. Cut into 36 bars or diamond shapes. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

In my opinion: These are the BEST bars/cookies I have ever had. I am drooling just thinking about them and now I realize it has been way too long since I had them. So I'll be off to the store tomorrow for the ingredients.

Mustard and Peppercorn Crusted Rib-Eye by Paula Deen

4 large rib-eye steaks (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, at least 6 ounces each)
4 tablespoons brown mustard
4 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
1 to 2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper, optional
Kosher salt

1. Brush rib-eyes with mustard on both sides. In a shallow bowl, or on a plate with a deep center, combine crushed peppercorns, ground pepper, if using, and salt, to taste. Pat pepper mixture onto steaks and crust thoroughly on all sides.

2. Prepare your grill by lightly spraying the grate with non-stick cooking spray and then preheat the grill. When the grill is hot, place the rib-eyes on the grate and cook until desired doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for rare. Add 1 to 2 minutes for medium-rare and so on. The best way to test steaks for doneness is to poke it with your index finger; rare will be soft, medium-rare will be slightly less soft, and so forth. Never flip a steak more than once; let it cook for half the total cook time before flipping. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes in a warm place before serving.

In my opinion: Holy Moly, this was fabulous! My hubby put a little too much seasoning on it, but it scraped off easily. This will be a regular on our grill.