Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Any Flavor Pound Cake

Happy birthday to my best friend in the whole world, my husband! He loves chocolate, so I end up making the chocolate version of this cake just about every year. I love this recipe. It's so easy, but it turns out pretty! And of course, it's delicious. You can use any combination of cake mix and pudding mix you want. Some of my favorites are devil's food cake mix with chocolate pudding, red velvet cake mix with chocolate pudding, yellow cake mix with vanilla pudding, and cherry chip cake mix with vanilla pudding.

Any Flavor Pound Cake

1 cake mix
1 small pudding mix
1/2 c. oil
1 1/4 c. water
4 eggs
1/2 can frosting

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured (buy the cooking spray with flour, trust me on this) bundt pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan just until pan is cool enough to touch, but still warm, then invert cake onto serving tray. Cool completely. To frost, melt half a can of frosting in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds and stir. Add on 10 seconds and stir, and repeat until frosting is thin enough to pour. Pour over cooled cake.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I pinned these a long time ago on Pinterest and really wanted to try them, but I never could remember to get all the stuff to make them in my kitchen at the same time. I had oranges, but I didn't have vanilla chips. I had vanilla chips, but I didn't have any oranges. Then I went to a doTERRA class and the lady teaching the class gave everyone a free bottle of wild orange essential oil. You can't ingest all essential oils, but doTERRA has several that are safe to ingest, and wild orange is one of them. Light bulb! Substitute wild orange essential oil for the orange zest! The cookies turned out delicious!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

from The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. orange zest or 16-20 drops doTERRA wild orange essential oil
2 c. vanilla chips

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl and set aside. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add egg, vanilla, and essential oil or zest. Mix well. Add in flour mixture and mix until dough forms. Stir in vanilla chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges barely start to brown. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

This Week's Basket

I skipped the last two weeks of Bountiful Baskets, so I was really excited to pick one up yesterday. I was not disappointed! It was full of all sorts of yummy things!

This week my basket included corn, yellow squash, carrots, an English cucumber, living butter lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, raspberries, grapes, and plums. I think it's all pretty straight forward and easy to use so I'm not going to list a bunch of recipes I've listed repeatedly. I'm pretty sure you'd be bored to death. However, if you are looking for some ideas for anything, just let me know and I'll be happy to do some recipe hunting for you!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apples

The last time I got a Bountiful Basket, I got three bags of apples. I didn't weigh them but I'm guessing it was around six pounds total. Dang. That is a lot of apples! I figured I would probably make apple pie or something like that, but I just hadn't gotten around to it. We went on a little weekend trip to southern Colorado with my in-laws and we ate dinner at Chili's one night. My in-laws both ordered ribs, which came with cinnamon apples. They're pretty tasty. A few days later, back at home, we were having them over for dinner and I thought that would be a perfect time to make something with apples. My husband smoked pork chops and I thought of those cinnamon apples at Chili's! I searched Pinterest and found a super simple recipe for the slow cooker.

Words cannot express how pleased I am with this recipe. It only has a few ingredients, all of which I already had on hand. I realize most of you won't have minute tapioca in your pantry, but I did. Don't worry about buying a whole box just for this recipe. It works great as a thickener in stews too! You'll find something to do with the rest of it. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it's a slow cooker recipe. I've been trying to use my slow cooker a lot lately. When it gets into the 90s outside, I don't feel much like cooking, plus we always seem to be busy doing fun stuff. The slow cooker saves me a lot of hassle. True, this recipe takes a little while to throw together because you have to peel and chop the apples, but it's not so bad when you're not trying to do that plus prepare all your other dishes.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apples

from Runs for Cookies Recipes

3 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and sliced or chopped (about 8 c.)
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 Tbs. Minute Tapioca
1 tsp. apple pie spice or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Place apples in greased slow cooker. Toss with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours. I cooked mine for 4 hours and they were still a little crisp-tender, not soggy at all. I served them as a side dish but they would be so good served warm over vanilla ice cream!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shower Soothers

A few years ago a company called Sudacare came out with Shower Soothers. They were disks you put in your shower and as they dissolved they released vapors that helped clear your congestion. My husband and I both loved them, so of course, they don't make them any more. One day on Pinterest I saw a recipe for DIY shower disks. They use essential oils, and since I have recently gotten into using essential oils, I was excited to try them out!

If you use essential oils, you probably know what works best as a decongestant for you. The original post calls for eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary. I already had the Breezey blend by Butterfly Essentials and the Breathe blend by doTERRA, so the first two times I tried those blends. Neither one worked great for me, but they hadn't been working great when I put them on my chest either. After battling a cold for a week and experimenting with different oils, I figured out that a strong blend of eucalyptus and peppermint works best for me, so that's what I used in the rest of my shower soothers. My shower is also big and pretty open, so I had to use a lot of essential oil in each disk, like 15-20 drops. I bet that you wouldn't need as much oil for use in a regular sized shower.

Shower Soothers

adapted from Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity

1 c. baking soda
1/3 c. water
essential oil (I suggest a blend eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender, or a respiratory blend of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350°. In mixing bowl, mix baking soda and water, adding more water 1 Tbs. at a time, until a putty-like consistency is reached. Line muffin tin with paper liners. You'll only need 5-6. Spoon mixture into liners. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool. Add 10-20 drops essential oils to each cooled disk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chile Verde Stew

I love chile verde. From what I can tell, there are two different types of chile verde. One is mostly pork in a green chile sauce and is a great filling for burritos and tacos. The other is more of a pork stew. I've had both and love them both! This particular recipe is for the stew.

Depending on the chiles and the salsa verde you use, it can be REALLY hot, so be aware of that. The first few times I made it I bought a jar of mild salsa verde, but it was still really spicy, so that's when I started making my own salsa verde. I've been able to tame it down considerably that way. The last time I made it, I cooked it in the slow cooker, and I think that also helped mellow it quite a bit. If you choose to cook it in a slow cooker, don't forget to reduce the liquid.

In addition to making my own salsa verde to use in this recipe, I also roast my own green chiles. I know that making your own salsa and roasting your own green chiles just for some soup seems like an awful lot of work, but it's so good that it's worth it. If you plan ahead a little, it's a lot easier. I roast the peppers and tomatillos for my salsa verde, so I roast my green chiles at the same time. If you're going to cook the chile verde the slow cooker, you'll want to roast everything and make the salsa verde the day before. If you're going to cook it on the stovetop, you can do everything the same day. That being said, you can buy salsa verde and roasted green chiles at the store if you're in a hurry. I've never seen them, but I've heard that you can buy frozen roasted green chiles. I think you could also used the canned variety, but I've never tried them in the recipe because I seem to have an endless supply of my own roasted green chiles.

Chile Verde Stew

from allrecipes.com

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. cubed pork stew meat
salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. chopped roasted green chiles
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. tomatillo salsa (salsa verde)
5 c. (or 3 cans) chicken broth 
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 pinch ground cloves

Stovetop Directions:

In large soup kettle or dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add to heated oil and brown on all sides. Remove pork and set aside. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion softens and becomes translucent. Return pork to pan and add green chiles, tomatoes, salsa, broth, oregano, and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Take 2 c. of stew and place in a blender, being careful not to scoop up any pork. Cover lid of blender with a dish towel and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pan. Continue to simmer for at least 35 minutes.

Slow Cooker Directions:

Heat oil in a frying pan. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add to heated oil and brown on all sides. Remove pork and place in greased slow cooker. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion softens and becomes translucent. Add to slow cooker along with chiles, tomatoes, salsa, and 2 cans (about 3 c.) chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Take 2 c. of stew and place in a blender, being careful not to scoop up any pork. Cover lid of blender with a dish towel and blend until smooth. Return mixture to slow cooker. Add oregano and cloves. Cover and cook on low for another 3-4 hours. If you want a thicker consistency, add 1-2 Tbs. instant mashed potatoes.

Roasted Salsa Verde

This is a great recipe to make if you ever get a Mexican pack from Bountiful Baskets. You usually get all the ingredients to make a double batch. The only substitution you'll need to make is jalapenos for serrano peppers. If you like things spicier, I would suggest leaving the seeds in the jalapenos. This salsa is great on tortilla chips, but I usually make it to use in my chile verde or chicken enchiladas. The recipe yields about 2 to 2 1/2 cups.

Roasted Salsa Verde

adapted from allrecipes.com

2 poblano peppers
2 serrano peppers or jalapenos
6 tomatillos, husked
1/4 c. onion
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
cilantro to taste

Roast poblanos, serranos, and tomatillos. For more information on roasting peppers, watch this video. The tomatillos are done when they start to ooze liquid. Peel, seed, and chop the peppers. Place onion and garlic in food processor or blender and pulse a couple times until they're chopped. Add poblanos and serranos and pulse until chopped. Add tomatillos, salt, and cilantro and pulse until salsa reaches your desired consistency. Don't forget to taste it to see if it needs more salt!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak

This is another gem from Six Sisters' Stuff. A couple weeks ago I found beef stew meat on manager's special at my local grocery store so I bought it and stuck in the freezer. Right after that, I got green bell peppers from Bountiful Baskets. When I saw this recipe it was a perfect fit! It's been so hot outside lately that using a slow cooker was a welcome idea.

Slow Cooker Pepper Steak

from Six Sisters' Stuff

2 lbs. beef stew meat or beef sirloin, cut into 2-inch strips
garlic powder to taste
1 cube beef bouillon
1/4 c. hot water
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 c. onion, sliced
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Place beef in pot and sprinkle with garlic powder. Mix bouillon cube with hot water until dissolved, then mix in cornstarch until dissolved. Pour over meat. Add onion, tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. When there is 30 minutes of cooking time, add in bell peppers and turn on high.

If you want, you can pour the drippings into a saucepan, add 1-2 Tbs. of cornstarch dissolved in cold water, and bring to a boil. It will thicken up the sauce to a gravy-like consistency. Then you can pour it over the steak and rice.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pineapple Cream Cheese Spread

I forgot to take a picture of this but I wanted to share the recipe while you all still have celery to eat up!

My mother-in-law loves this pineapple cream cheese spread that you can only get during the holiday season. It comes in a little tiny glass jar and it's a really good filling for celery sticks. A couple nights ago my in-laws invited me over for a barbecue and I immediately started thinking of ways to use up the two bunches of celery I got from Bountiful Baskets. I was just about to start thawing frozen spinach to make spinach dip when I thought about the pineapple cream cheese that my mother-in-law likes so much. I knew I had cream cheese and pineapple so I went to my Swagbucks search engine to see if I could find a copycat recipe.

I was in a hurry so I tried the first one I found. Someone had reviewed it and said it tasted just like the spread that comes in the little glass jars. Perfect! I thought it tasted really good in celery! I took it over to my in-laws and my mother-in-law said it's pretty close to the real thing. I can't testify to that because I really don't remember what the real thing tastes like. Either way, it's something different to fill your celery sticks!

Pineapple Cream Cheese Spread

from cooks.com

3/4 c. crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 Tbs. Miracle Whip (I used light)
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. pineapple juice
1 drop yellow food coloring, optional

Combine ingredients and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add nuts if desired. Spoon into celery sticks or serve as a dip.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

I love this recipe, but I don't get to make it very often because the hubby doesn't like shepherd's pie. I think shepherd's pie is one of those things that you can change up easily to suite your own taste. I keep mine really simple so that it's easy to throw together with stuff I already have in my pantry. You can choose to cook this in the slow cooker or in the oven, so you can even tailor the cooking method to fit your day.

There seems to be two main types of recipes for shepherd's pie: tomato based and mushroom based. I prefer to use cream of mushroom soup or cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic, but if you prefer a tomato based shepherd's pie, use tomato soup! I also like to switch up the mashed potatoes. Since I rarely take the time to make real mashed potatoes, I usually buy packets of instant potatoes. There are tons of flavors to choose from! I really like garlic and parmesan red potatoes, but four cheese and loaded baked potato flavors are good too. This would also be an excellent way to use up leftover mashed potatoes!

Shepherd's Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 can french cut green beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can condensed cream of mushroom or tomato soup, undiluted
4 c. mashed potatoes
2 c. cheese

Brown ground beef and drain. Stir in green beans, corn, and soup. Pour into slow cooker or 8x8 baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes. If using a slow cooker, cover and cook on low 5-6 hours. Top with cheese the last 30 minutes of cooking. If using the oven, top with cheese, then bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

This Week's Basket

Holy moly, it was another awesome week for Bountiful Baskets. I got so much stuff that I think I might have to skip next week! In addition to my regular basket, I also purchased a Mexican pack, so I also got plenty of anaheim, poblano, and jalapeƱo peppers, avocados, limes, cilantro, garlic, and even more onions. I can't wait to make something delicious with all that.

This week my basket included celery, butternut squash, grape tomatoes, green peppers, onions, romaine lettuce, apples (I got three bags!), cantaloupe, bananas, green grapes, and cherries. Most of these things make great snacks which works good for me when my husband is working out of town, but here are a few other ideas:

Celery: ants on a log, dip in spinach dip or dill dip, chop and freeze for later use

Butternut squash: I've never had butternut squash before, but Pinterest is full of recipes that look delicious, like butternut squash fries, butternut squash pancakes, and butternut squash mac & cheese.

Grape tomatoes: pasta salad, Fritos salad, dip in spinach dip

Green peppers: slow cooker pepper steak, stuffed peppers, Fritos salad, pasta salad, dip in spinach dip, chicken fajitas

Onions: onion rings, chicken fajitas, slow cooker pepper steak, chop and freeze for later use

Romaine lettuce: lettuce wraps, Fritos salad, green salad

Apples: dip in caramel cheesecake apple dip, apple pie, apple crisp, baked apples, apple cobbler

Cantaloupe: chop and eat

Bananas: smoothies, frozen banana bites, banana "ice cream"

Green grapes: frozen, grape salad

Cherries: cherry cobbler, cherries jubilee

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Caramel Cheesecake Apple Dip

This is another Pinterest gem! I think I pinned it last week, and thank goodness, because I got three bags (three!) of apples from Bountiful Baskets this week. I whipped up a low fat version of the original recipe today and it's a keeper! In addition to adjusting the ingredients to sugar free and fat free versions, I also omitted the crushed graham crackers. I'm sure they would be very good, but I forgot to buy some at the store, and honestly, it's an extra step, and you all know how I hate extra steps. If I were to add graham cracker crumbs, I would add them straight to the dip instead of dipping individual apple slices into the crumbs. That would be great if I were taking this to a party, where it would mostly likely be eaten up within a few hours, but I plan to keep it in my fridge and snack on it all week, so graham cracker crumbs would get mushy and yucky.

Caramel Cheesecake Apple Dip

adapted from Cooking Classy

8 oz. fat free cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar free caramel topping

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add caramel and beat until smooth. Serve with sliced apples.