Monday, April 7, 2014

Better Than Robert Redford

Growing up we made this dessert for a lot of family gatherings. I can't remember who originally gave the recipe to Mom, but it was in the early 80's. It was SO good that it's "Better than Robert Redford!" We usually just refer to it as Robert Redford. I've gotten some pretty funny looks when I've talked about it outside our family ;) This is a great make-ahead dessert.

1 c. flour (or 2 c graham cracker crumbs)
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Melt butter, stir in flour and nuts. Spread in bottom of a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 mins. Cool completely.

Next Layer:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
8 oz Cool Whip or whipped cream

Beat cream cheese until smooth; add powdered sugar and cool whip/whipped cream. Spread over cooled crust.

Final Layers:
1 large package instant chocolate pudding
1 large package instant vanilla pudding
*pudding flavors can be changed

Prepare one box of pudding per the directions. Spread over cream cheese layer. Chill for 5 mins in fridge. Prepare second box of pudding per box directions and spread over first pudding layer. Chill for 10-15 mins in fridge until firmly set. Spread 8 oz Cool Whip or whipped cream as the final layer. Chill for another 10-15 mins and then serve and enjoy!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Feta Pie)

To quote my coworker, "Pretty sure phyllo dough and feta are gifts from the gods."
I saw this recipe on Home & Family on Hallmark over a year ago. I finally made it and it was SO worth it!

The picture is from my phone and it doesn't do it justice. The only change I would make is to not buy the feta in brine. I don't think it matters much and it's pricey in the brine. *REALLY pricey* It's a bit time consuming, but it makes a ton and freezes well. (Here is the link to where I got it originally.)  The only thing I would change going forward is all the buttering and layering. I don't know that it's really all that necessary.

- 4 to 5 16 oz bags fresh spinach or 4-5 16 oz bags of frozen chopped spinach
- 1 large bunch of fresh dill
- 1/2 of large Vidallia onion or 1 bunch of fresh spring onions
- 6 eggs
- 4 packets (large blocks) of Athenos Feta cheese, or any other kind as long as it is in its brine.
- 1 1/2 pack FILO (phyllo) dough (thaw in refrigerator over night before using)
- 1 1/2 - 2 sticks of salted sweet cream butter
- 1 Pyrex
- 1 pastry brush

1. First thaw frozen spinach by running under hot water in a colander for a bit then squeeze all of the water possible out if spinach and transfer to a skillet pan with olive oil and very lightly saute just to get it warm. If you are using fresh spinach also lightly saute with olive oil.

2. Next finely chop the onion and also saute with olive oil in another skillet. Make sure to saute the onion a bit longer than the spinach.

3. Finely chop the bunch of dill.

4. Place the spinach, onion, and dill in a large mixing bowl.

5. Add the 4 blocks of feta and the 6 eggs and begin to mix until the feta is crumbled and evenly dispersed through and the egg has mixed in and you don't see any yolk anymore.

6. Add a dash of pepper

7. Preheat oven to 350

8. Melt the stick and half of butter on stove top. (I melted it in the microwave.)

9. Next place a 15 by 10 by 2 inch Pyrex on the a table or counter top and roll out the phyllo dough next to it. Make sure the phyllo dough is still slightly cold from the refrigerator but not frozen and not exactly room temperature because it will tear and stick if too cold and break and become brittle if too dry. It's very sensitive.

10. Place 2 sheets of phyllo dough in the Pyrex and brush with the butter to cover the entire surface. Then place 2 more sheets of phyllo dough in Pyrex and brush with butter to cover entire surface again. Repeat this process until you have used 3/4 of the roll.

11. Next spoon the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo and evenly distribute across the Pyrex until finished.

12. Repeat laying and buttering 2 sheets at a time of the phyllo until the have finished one pack of phyllo and used about 1/4 or so of another packet. You can eye ball this really and see if the top layer needs more phyllo or not. Doesn't have to be equally thick on top and bottom.

13. Whatever butter is left over pour over top of completed product.

14. With a perforated knife lightly cut through the spanakopita sectioning it into pieces. The phyllo dough is very fragile and will want to tear so be careful. You have to do this before cooking otherwise all of the phyllo will flake off when trying to cut it after it has been baked. You can cut about 20 pieces.

15. Place Pyrex in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Rotate once half way through. You'll be able to tell when it's ready by looking at the upper layers of phyllo dough. When they are lightly golden brown it is ready. Turn off the oven and let it sit in the oven for another 15 minutes. Then take it out and let it cool for another 15.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi

I was looking for something to do with a spaghetti squash (other that just butter, salt & pepper) and came across this recipe. Other that the initial cooking of the squash, it was fairly quick and decidedly tasty. My picture is missing the parsley garnish. :)

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
8 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen pre-cooked because that's what I had)
3 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 400'F. Stab a vent hole in the squash and microwave on high 4 minutes so that it's soft enough for you to cut in half, lengthwise, without severely harming yourself, untensils, or kitchen. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Drizzle or brush olive oil on the exposed inside, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Place, cut side up, on baking sheet and bake 45-60 minutes, until a fork goes into the "spaghetti" part easily. Let cool enough so you can handle it. Use a fork to scrape the insides to loosen the squash strands.

2. Melt butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp, red pepper flakes and salt & pepper (to taste) and cook 5 minutes (if using raw shrimp) or until shrimp are heated through (if using precooked shrimp). Remove from heat. Add in cooked spaghetti squash and lemon juice, and gently toss. Top with parsley and serve.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tator Tot Casserole

This is an easy make-ahead meal to just pop in the oven to cook. It also freezes beautifully before and after cooking. I couldn't find the picture I took of it, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was pretty.

1 lb ground beef, lean
1 onion, diced
2 16 oz frozen cut green beans (you can used canned if you prefer softer)
Package Frozen Tator Tots
32 oz beef broth
1/2 c butter
2/3 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1 T. pepper
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. dried parsley
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute onion in oil until translucent. Add beef and cook till done. Drain the fat. Season beef and onion with all the seasonings. Set aside. In a medium pot on medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk together. Cook for 2 minutes constantly stirring. Slowly whisk in beef stock until all added. Turn heat up to bring to a boil, constantly stirring. Once it starts to thicken, turn off heat. Add green beans and seasoned beef/onion mixture. Mix well. Pour into a 9x13 or bigger casserole dish. Top with tator tots in rows till covered completely. Bake in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. 

Note: A sauce substitute can be cream of mushroom soup if you don't feel like making the sauce from scratch.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cordon Bleu Crescent Rolls

I finally caved and joined Pinterest. Although I try to avoid the recipes for the most part, once in a while one jumps out at me. If you haven't already guess, we like Cordon Bleu anything in our home. I saw these and knew Blaine would be a big fan. Erika happened to be in town, so she was another guinea pig. It got a thumbs up from each of us. Plus, they were pretty good the next day for lunch. Not bad! Here is the original.

1 can crescent rolls (biscuit dough would work, too)
4-8 breaded chicken tenders, pre-cooked and cooled
8 slices swiss cheese
8 slices ham

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Depending on the size of the chicken strips, you may need to cut them in half. Smaller works better. Roll out each crescent roll. Place a slice of ham, cheese and a chicken strip on the fat end. Then roll up. Repeat till all are used. Bake on a cookie sheet or baking stone for 12-18 minutes until golden brown. Rest about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cornish Pasties (meat pies)

Erika made this recipe for us while we were visiting her last fall. The Pirate Pie's are from that trip. I LOVE Pasties! My Grandma made them all the time while I was growing up. Here is the original from Sorted. It's worth watching. There is also a Cornish Pasty Company in Phoenix, AZ that I miss eating at. If you get the chance, GO! It's delicious. Having an easy recipe for traditional Cornish Pasties was an easy sell. I made them for Christmas and meant to freeze some. That didn't happen. I ate them for lunch for two weeks straight until they were gone. It was worth it! You can make your own dough or use store bought. Both work great!

1 lb stewing steak
1 small onion
1 small carrot
1 rutabaga
1 potato
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
3 oz water
1 egg, beaten

Enough dough for 4 pasties. (1 box store bought, one recipe of Best Pie Crust EVER.)

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Peel and finely dice all of the vegetables. Try to make them as uniform as possible. Finely cube the beef as well, to match the vegetables. Mix veggies and beef together in a bowl. Add the seasonings and a splash of water. Mix well. You can cut the dough in circles to make half-moons, make mini-pies or make Pirate ships. Put about 1/4 of the mixture in the center of your dough shape. Use a bit of water along the edges of the dough to seal and crimp shut. Repeat till all mix and dough is used. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or non-stick foil. Brush the entire top of each pasty with the egg wash. Bake for 1 hour. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to: Cook Bacon in the Oven

Line a baking pan with parchment or foil. Place a cooling rack on pan. Line rack with bacon. Place in a cool oven. Turn heat to 400 degrees and bake for twenty minutes. Pat with a paper towel and you're ready to eat.

SO much easier than on the stove top. Plus the cleanup is a snap. Love this!