Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ham & Cheese Macaroni Salad

I have a bunch of leftover ham and boiled eggs from Easter so I decided to just mix it together with pasta for a fun salad.

Ham & Cheese Macaroni Salad
8 oz. dry macaroni, cooked and drained
1-2 c. ham, chopped
4-5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 c. cheese, cubed or grated
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (or 1 t. onion powder)
1/2 c. (heaping) mayo or miracle whip
1 T. mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Favorite Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I just stumbled upon this recipe one day. It's slightly adapted from the Kraft Foods website. It is my very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I like to use these chocolate chunks, but chips work just as well.
My Favorite Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 sticks (1 c.) butter, slightly melted
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
1 t. baking soda
2 1/4 c. flour
1 bag chocolate chunks or chips

In a bowl, combine butter and sugars. Mix well. Add vanilla, eggs, and pudding.
Add baking soda and flour. Mix until it forms a dough.
Stir in chocolate.
Drop onto a cookie sheet with an ungreased cookie scoop (1" balls.)
Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Best Fudge

This past holiday season I searched high and low for a good fudge recipe. I tried the marshmallow fluff recipes and the traditional cook recipes but nothing quite satisfied. Then I stumbled upon this recipe and it is hands-down the winner. It's smooth and creamy and perfect! If you're skeptical when looking at the recipe, just try it and you will be a believer.
Best Fudge
3 c. chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla

In a saucepan, combine chocolate chips and condensed milk. Melt over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. (I used 2 c. milk chocolate and 1 c. semi-sweet)
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Spread in a greased 8" square pan and cool completely.
I dare say I will never even make any other fudge recipes. I have found the one I like best. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Mom's Birthday Cake

I made this cake for my mom's birthday a couple years ago. Every year since then, she requests it as her present from me. I actually look forward to making it every year.
1 box white cake mix (plus eggs, oil, and water)

Vanilla Custard Filling
1 (3.4 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
1 c. milk
1 c. heavy whipping cream

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 lb. salted butter, room temperature
about 1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 t. vanilla

First, mix cake according to package instructions with an electric mixer (I follow the egg white recipe so the cake is really white.) Pour cake batter into 2 well-greased 9" round cake pans. Bake at 350 F for only 22 minutes (I know, the box says to bake it for longer, but mine are always done faster.) Check for doneness and continue baking for 1-2 minutes as needed.
Right as they come out of the oven, gently loosen cakes from pans by shaking them side to side (that's how I do it!) Immediately dump hot cakes upside-down onto aluminum foil. Cool completely.
Wrap cakes in plastic wrap, set on a flat surface (like a cookie sheet) and place in freezer.
For the filling, mix pudding and milk. It'll be super thick after it sits for a couple minutes (that's good!)
While pudding mixture sits, pour cream into a COLD bowl and beat with COLD beaters until it's a nice whipped cream consistency.
Fold whipped cream into pudding mixture and mix gently until combined. Cover and refrigerate.
For frosting, beat butter until smooth.
Add powdered sugar, a few cups at a time, and mix well. Add vanilla and enough cream to form a fairly stiff frosting. (You can add more or less cream depending on your desired consistency.)
Now for the construction of the cake. Working with the frozen cakes, frost both of the rounded tops with a thin layer of frosting. This protects the cake from getting soggy from the filling.
Top one of the cakes with HALF of the filling (you'll just have to eat the rest!) Spread evenly, but not to the edge of the cake. Leave about 1/2" empty space around the edge.
Top with the other cake, top-side down.
Fill the middle with frosting all the way around. This prevents the custard filling from leaking out.
Frost the rest of the cake.
Decorate however you want. I just did a simple border.
Let the cake sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving. Otherwise, keep refrigerated.
Wow, that was a long post! But it's well worth the effort, I promise. The beauty of this cake is that you can make everything the day before, then just assemble it the next day! It's fun to make cakes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shortcut Chile Verde

Whenever I make a pork roast we always have some leftover. Instead of just reheating it, I use it to make these simple chile verde burritos.
Shortcut Chile Verde
3 c. leftover pork roast, cubed
1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken)
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
sprinkle black pepper
sour cream
grated cheese

In a saucepan, combine leftover pork, soup, chiles, powders and pepper. Heat and stir until hot and pork is slightly shredded. Serve in tortillas with sour cream and grated cheese.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Clam Chowder

It's been kind of rainy lately so I decided to make a big pot of clam chowder.
Clam Chowder
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 cans chopped clams (juice reserved)
1 cube (1/2 c.) butter
1/2 c. flour
1 quart (4 cups) half & half
salt and pepper to taste

Combine celery, onion, potatoes, and clam juice in a pot. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until veggies are tender.
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add flour. Stir briskly to create a white sauce. Add half & half, a little at a time and heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Add half & half mixture to veggie mixture. Stir in clams and heat until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This soup was great even as leftovers. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


This is my mom's breadstick recipe and they are so yummy! They are perfect with a bowl of hot, creamy soup.
1 1/2 c. warm water
2 T. sugar
1 T. yeast
1/2 t. salt
3 c. flour, plus more for rolling out
5 T. butter, melted
garlic salt
parmesan cheese

Stir together water, sugar, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl. Let sit until slightly foamy.
Mix in flour. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and rest for 10-20 minutes.
Dump onto a well-floured surface. Sprinkle top with a little flour, too.
Press with hands, or roll out to about 1/2" thick (maybe a little less.) With a pizza cutter, cut dough into 14 breadsticks.
Pour a little melted butter into a cookie sheet. Roll each breadstick in butter and twist. Add more butter as needed.
Sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Cover and let rise for 10-20 minutes.
Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.
Dump hot breadsticks out, upside-down.
Serve hot.
This is one of my favorite comfort foods. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sausage Rice Casserole

This is one of my favorite recipes! My mom made it all the time when I was younger and it's still one of my favorites.
Sausage Rice Casserole
1/2 c. dry rice
1 envelope Lipton Noodle Soup
2 1/2 c. water
1 lb. sausage
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 c. grated cheese OR sliced almonds

Combine rice, noodle soup, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile, brown sausage in a skillet. Once cooked through, add chopped veggies and cook until tender.

Add soup mixture (and about 1/2 c. water, if needed.)
Transfer mixture into a greased 1 qt. casserole dish (I used my 8x8" baking dish.) Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.
Top with cheese or nuts and return to oven for another 10 minutes.

I can see why my mom made this casserole so much. IT'S DELICIOUS! Enjoy!