Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Warm Olive Dip

This warm and creamy dip would be a spinoff of Applebee's popular spinach artichoke dip, but it has probably been around much longer than Applebees.

I don't know exactly how old this recipe is, but it was given to me by my high school art teacher after she prepared it for a snack for art club one day.  I've been out of high school for 25 years now, so it is at least that old.  And yet, I remember eating it that first time like it was just yesterday.

It features artichoke hearts and green olives - both favorites of mine - settling them into a creamy cheesy base that satisfies most any snack attack.  Serve it up on crackers, tortilla chips, or toast triangles at your next party or keep it all to yourself while watching a favorite ball game, rerun, or movie.  It is definitely not low calorie, so plan on working it off with some exercise the next day.  Everything comes with a price, yes?

Warm Olive Dip

1 1/4 cups real mayo
1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
1 jar plain artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup green olives, chopped  ( I like to use the garlic stuffed olives for this recipe, but any would work)
assorted crackers, tortilla chips, or toast triangles for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the mayo and 3/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Add artichokes and olives, mix well.  Transfer to an ungreased 1 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese over top.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just The Best Cookies

It's not just my opinion, the name of these cookies really is "Just The Best Cookies".  I don't know where my mom got this recipe, but I have loved them from the first time she ever made them.  I used to like to call them "Kitchen Sink Cookies", because they have everything in them but the kitchen sink.  That just makes them extra good. 

Feel free to substitute all kinds of different chips here for the chocolate or butterscotch.  Sometimes I like to trade peanut butter chips for the chocolate, or use walnuts instead of pecans.  If you really want to go crazy, omit the chips altogether and add in an equal amount of your favorite dried fruit bits.  I think apricots and pineapple go especially well with the coconut and pecans.

However you make them, I'm pretty sure they will be a hit.  This recipe makes an extra big batch, so its perfect for a potluck, bake sale, or cookie exchange.

Just The Best Cookies

3 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup cooking oil
1 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Cups crushed corn flakes
1 Cup rolled oats
1/2 Cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 oz. chocolate chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugars; beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat until combined.  Stir in oil and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture.  Fold in cornflakes, oats, coconut, pecans and chips.  Shape into balls the size of a walnut.  Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork dipped in water, making a criss-cross pattern on top of each cookie.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly golden.  Let stand on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool.  Dust with a very light coat of powdered sugar, if desired.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Garlic Chicken Pasta

I made this for dinner tonight, even though I didn't want it.  I didn't want it because I wanted Chicken Scampi from Olive Garden.  But since the closest Olive Garden is over 2 hours away, and there was no way I was going to make it there in time for dinner, I had to make something that was not nearly the same, but was close enough to satisfy my craving.

This is a simple pasta dish.  Few ingredients, done in the time it takes the pasta to boil, it was a winner for a busy weeknight.  If I would have had some parmesan cheese, I would have grated a fair amount over the finished dish, and it would have been awesome.

Garlic Chicken Pasta

1 lb chicken tenders, cut into chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz angel hair or thin spaghetti
2 tbsp butter

In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat olive oil and add garlic.  Cook and stir 1 minute.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep warm.

When pasta is cooked, drain well.  Add butter to pasta pot and add pasta back into pot.  Stir to coat with butter.  Add garlic chicken to pot and toss together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Wish that you were at Olive Garden eating Chicken Scampi, then decide to be thankful that you have a warm tasty dinner to enjoy at home.

I served this with a green salad.  Garlic bread would have been a great addition as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homemade Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries

I shop for groceries once a week.  It is one of my favorite things to do.  On Thursday I get the paper with all the store ads.  I sit down and see what is on sale, then I check what coupons I can print that go with sale items.  I go to 3 different grocery stores each week, plus Walmart if we need other supplies.  I try to only buy sale items at each store, and usually I'm pretty successful. 

The other day one of the stores had pork cube steak on sale.  I knew immediately that I would bring it home and make tenderloins out of it.  They had been tenderized at the store, but I went ahead and pounded them out, because we like them a little thinner. 

I had half of a baked sweet potato left from earlier, so I made sweet potato fries to go with the sandwich.

Everyone said it was a favorite, and would like to have them again soon.

Homemade Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries

3 pc pork cube steak, pounded as thin as you like into tenderloins
1 Cup flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 Cup crushed dry bread crumbs
Oil for frying

1/2 baked sweet potato, peeled and cut into fries

Place flour in a ziplock bag.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and milk together.  Place bread crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl.  Heat 1 inch of oil in a pot over high until hot but not smoking.

Shake each tenderloin in the flour, then dip in egg mixture and let excess drip off.  Dredge in bread crumbs, then place in hot oil.  Cook 4 minutes, then turn once and cook another 4 minutes, or until dark golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Shake sweet potatoes in flour to coat, then place in oil.  Cook, turning until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buster Dessert

My mother-in-law's family has a reunion every year.  One year they decided to put together a family cookbook.  They ask every member of the family to copy favorite recipes and send them in.  The recipes were photo copied and put into binders that were sent to whoever wanted one.  The book also included a fairly extensive family history.  For only $10 per book, we have access to a whole family's treasury of recipes.

On each page there is a space for memories about the recipe.  On the entry for Buster Dessert, which was my mother-in-law's recipe, it told how this was one of her special recipes.  Funny, I knew her for over 20 years and I never remember her making this.  It sounds like a perfect treat, so I'll be trying it sometime soon.

Buster Dessert

1 bag Oreo cookies
1/2 Cup melted butter
1/2 Gallon vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups Spanish peanuts
2 Cups powdered sugar
1 can evaporated milk
2/3 Cup chocolate chips
1/2 Cup butter

Crush Oreos.  Mix in melted butter, press into a 9x13 pan.  Chill 1 hour.  Cut ice cream into four equal pieces and place them side by side on top of Oreos in pan.  Pour peanuts evenly over ice cream and press them lightly into ice cream.  Cover and freeze. 

Mix powdered sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil 8 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  Pour evenly over ice cream and freeze.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

I don't know how much this sandwich has in common with the authentic Philly cheesesteak you get in The City of Brotherly Love, but I do know my family shows me a lot of love whenever I serve it up at home.  There aren't very many dishes that bring smiles from every family member, this is one of them.

You can't please all the people all the time, but you can please a whole lot of them with this sandwich.

Feel free to play with the ingredients; sub a different cut of beef if it's on sale, or switch up your favorite cheese if you want.

No matter how you serve it up, I hope it brings as many smiles to your table as it does to mine.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

1 pound thinly sliced top round steak
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small green onion, seeded and thinly sliced
8 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
6 hoagie buns
1/2 stick butter,softened

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Place slices of meat, a couple of slices at a time, in the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.  When all the meat is cooked, add 2 tbsp butter to the skillet and let it melt.  Add the sliced onion and green peppers.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Heat a clean skillet over medium heat.  Lightly butter both sides of hoagie buns and place them in skillet, butter side down.  Cook until lightly toasted.  Remove from skillet and immediately top each half of bun with a slice of cheese.  Place bottom of bun on plate.  Top with 1 or 2 slices of meat, about 1/2 cup of peppers and onions, and a top bun.  Serve immediately.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Deviled Chicken

Today's recipe is one of those that didn't even sound good to me when I first saw it in the cookbook (Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes, published 1992, page 13). When I read the ingredients, my first inclination was to turn the page and keep on reading.  However, I was sitting with my lunch buddies at the time, and one of them made me go back to this recipe.  She was so intrigued by it that I told her I would whip some up that night and bring it in for our lunch the next day.  I was expecting to be able to make fun of her for requesting this recipe, thinking no one would like it, especially me.

My first clue that I was wrong about this recipe was that I had all the ingredients on hand at home when I went to make it that night.  A recipe so non-fussy as to allow me to skip a special trip to the store is always looked upon favorably in my eyes.  The clincher was that I had to stop myself from eating it all that night, so I could take it to the judges at the lunch table the next day.

There really isn't anything earth-shattering about this recipe.  It is just good old fashioned American food.  Quick to put together and easily doubled or tripled, it serves as a great appetizer or potluck dish.  It is just as tasty topping a Ritz cracker as it is spread across the fancy rye cocktail bread that the recipe calls for.

Because I have such a large library of appetizer recipes that my family loves, I don't turn to this one as often as I could, but I sure am glad my friend insisted I take a second look!

Deviled Chicken

2 Cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
5 tbsp butter or margarine, melted, DIVIDED
2 tbsp country style Dijon mustard
a pinch of cayanne pepper
1 Cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley
1 loaf of rye cocktail bread

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  In medium bowl, stir together chicken, mayonnaise, 3 tbsp of the butter, mustard and cayenne.  Spread into a 9" glass pie plate.  In small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, parsley, and remaining 2 tbsp butter.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of chicken mixture.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and heated through.  Serve spread on cocktail bread.