Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Jello Shots

I made and brought some of these to a BBQ this week. 

Big hit.  Huge.

They really are that good.   They are actually pretty easy to make, just require a little bit of patience and attention to detail.

Fresh Strawberry Jello Shots
- 24-30 large strawberries
- 1 6 oz. package of strawberry Jello
- 2/3 cup boiling water, plus 1/2 cup ice
- 1 cup vodka
- whipped cream if desired

Start by selecting large strawberries.  Carefully remove tops and hollow out the hull a bit inside.  Trim just the tip of the bottom so that the berry can stand up, making sure that you don't cut off too much (you don't want there to be a hole at the bottom).  Arrange them in a shallow dish so they are standing upright.

Add boiling water to Jello, ensuring it is fully dissolved.  Add vodka, then ice and stir until it starts to set.  To speed the process, put the Jello in the freezer for about 5 minutes.

Once Jello has begun to set, spoon into hulled berries.  Chill in fridge until set.  Top with whipped cream if desired. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spicy Lime Grilled Shrimp

I love limes.  LOVE them.

They just scream summer!
I bought shrimp and had all kinds of visions of grilled perfection with them.  Then the weather decided not to cooperate at all for the last week.  Oh well.  Glad we got the indoor grill.  :)

I ended up not putting them on skewers since I made them inside, but would if I grilled them for real.

Spicy Lime Grilled Shrimp
- 2 lbs shelled raw shrimp
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 limes
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Place shrimp in shallow bowl or dish.  Roll limes firmly on counter before slicing and squeezing to get the most juice out you can.  Add salt and pepper, chili powder and cayenne to lime juice in small bowl.  Stir in olive oil.  Pour over shrimp.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Grill until opaque, turning once.  Yum!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stained Glass Butterflies

This is a beautiful, but easy craft...and came in handy for my daughter's butterfly project at school.  She is the one that found the idea online, since she's doing all her own research these days.  You know, cuz she is 8 now.

Stained Glass Butterflies
- wax paper
- crayons
- grater
- towel
- iron
- paint

Start by deciding what shape and size butterfly you are making (and you can make plenty of other things this way too if inclined!).  Draw out you design on one sheet of wax paper.

Lay the wax paper with the design flat on a towel (on a sturdy surface that won't be ruined by using an iron a few minutes). 

Grate crayons in the colors desired over the design, trying to keep the shavings in the lines.  You do not have to cover the whole surface as the wax will melt and spread..

Cover with a second piece of wax paper, then the another towel.

Press with iron on highest setting for a minute or so at each area until all wax is melted and the papers are fused together.

Let cool. 

Trim edges off so the shape you desire is reached.  If desired, paint edges for more definition.  Ashley was making a monarch butterfly, so she drew out the design with a sharpie, then painted it. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sloppy Joes

I've been working on this one a while now, with a few so-so results.  This time, I nailed it.

I made homemade french fries to go along with it, so I had a bunch of happy kids. 

Sloppy Joes
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 small (or 1/2 medium) onion, diced
- 1 small green pepper, diced
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- salt and pepper

Brown meat in large skillet with the onion, green pepper and garlic.  Cook until done, then drain off any excess fat.

Add mustard, ketchup and brown sugar.  Stir to combine, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Makes about 8 Sloppy Joes.

Daisy Cupcakes

I've got Daisies on the mind the midst of getting the stuff ready for the last meeting of the year.  I am making them cupcakes again, but I just realized that I never posted this one back at the beginning of the school year when I made them. 

These come out super cute, and are easy to make.   I cheated, of course, and just used a box mix and canned frosting.  If you feel compelled to make them from scratch, more power to ya.

Daisy Cupcakes
- 1 box white cake mix and ingredients per instructions
- 1 can white frosting
- bag of large marshmallows
- yellow candy melts (round discs, available at specialty craft and candy stores)
- kitchen shears

Bake the cupcakes according to the instructions and cool completely.  Wait to frost them until you are ready to start decorating, since you need the frosting to act as the glue for the flowers.

Snip each marshmallow into discs with shears.  I cut them in half, but you may be able to squeeze three slices from each marshmallow.   Pinch the sides so they start to be shaped more like an oval.  Cut enough so that you have 5 or 6 for each cupcake, setting aside in one layer (do not try to stack them or they will stick together).

Frost cupcakes, then place a yellow candy melt in the center.  Arrange cut and pinched marshmallows around the center, pressing down to make sure they stick to the frosting.   Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour so the frosting can set before moving them. 

Happy Spring!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Piccata

I found a few recipes for this last week, and combined them into what you see here.  This is a meal that was brought over in those first few blurry days after my father passed.  It was exactly what it was intended to be: comfort food.

Chicken Piccata
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- salt
- pepper
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 jar capers, rinsed of brine
- 1 lb pasta, cooked

Butterfly and separate chicken breasts.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then coat in flour.  Melt half the butter in large sauce pan with olive oil.

Brown the chicken in batches, setting aside when done. 

Once all chicken is cooked, add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers to the pan.  Bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom.  Boil five minutes. 

Put chicken back in pan, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. 

Remove the chicken one more time.  Add the rest of the butter to the pan, stirring completely.  Pour warm sauce over chicken and pasta. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Miss Araya's Marinara Sauce

When you're taking care of someone who's very sick, or when someone passes away, people feel compelled to feed you.  I don't know how or why that tradition started, but I was ever grateful for it a few months back.  When you're in that place, just trying to get through each day, the last thing you are thinking about is cooking.

We were blessed with friends and family and neighbors who brought us the gift of their love, time and effort in casserole dishes and crock pots.

I cannot thank them enough. 

This is a recipe from one of those wonderful people.  She brought this over the night that my father's family all came to see him for the last time, and was kind enough to share the recipe.

Thank you, Araya.

Miss Araya's Marinara Sauce
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, cut up
- 2 large cans of whole tomatoes, peeled with basil
- 3/4 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp salt
- sprinkle of pepper
- sprinkle of parsley
- sugar, start with 2 tsp and add more if needed after tasting

Saute garlic in the oil on medium heat until brown, then remove just the garlic from pan.  Add tomatoes and crush.  Add all seasonings, bringing to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer down until it reduces, or about 45 minutes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rainbow Cake

Are you all noticing a theme around here lately? 

Ally wanted a rainbow cake for her Wizard of Oz party, and I knew right away how I'd make it.

A few years ago, I decided to start making the kids cakes for a few reasons.  One, it's cheaper to buy the specialty cake pan and most of the stuff to make the cake than it is to just order one from a then you have the pan forever.  Two, my children are friends with more and more kids who have food allergies, and it's just easier to make it at home since I know exactly what goes in to everything that way.  And third, I have a friend who is crazier than me with the birthday parties and makes beautiful elaborate cakes and served as my inspiration. 

When Ashley was 3,we had a pony birthday.  Complete with, wait for it, an actual pony that came to the house for her to ride.  Ahhh, to be a spoiled kid again. 

Anyway, for that party, I found a horseshoe shaped pan by Wilton, and figured I could repurpose it for a rainbow with a little tweaking. 

Rainbow Cake
- Wilton Horseshoe cake pan
- 1 box cake mix, any flavor desired
- 3 cans white frosting
- food coloring
- icing set
- cake board or large cutting board

This particular pan is a one box pan, which is nice. Most of the Wilton pans are two or more.

Bake cake according to instructions on the box, checking a little early for doneness.  Since the pan is narrow, but deeper, it took a few minutes longer to bake.

Let cool completely.

Slice off the rounded top of the cake.  I find it's easier to do that when it's still in the pan.  Run a plastic knife around all edges and carefully remove cake from pan, placing on cake board.  Since this pan is a horseshoe, you will have to wiggle the edges out a little to make it rainbow shaped.  Before frosting, wedge small pieces of wax paper under the edges of the cake, then carefully slide out after you are done so there aren't stray crumbs or icing on the board.

Frost entire cake with a thin even layer of white icing.  Let sit about an hour.

You need approximately 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of tinted frosting for each color for the rainbow, then 1 to 1 1/2 cups for the sides.  Place icing in bowls and tint accordingly.  I've found that while it takes a LOT of red food coloring to get the red to be the right shade, it only takes a little red to make orange and purple. 

Using the flower tip (6 pointed), fill icing bag and pipe one row at a time, beginning with the red and working your way down the colors of the rainbow.  Be sure to get the colors close to each other so the white underneath doesn't show through, and so that you have enough room to squeeze all the colors on there.  After you get the rainbow done, pipe the sides of the cake.  I chose to do a lighter blue for the sides. 

Clear out a shelf in the fridge big enough and place cake in there to let all frosting firm up.  Remove an hour before serving.

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