Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meat Loaf or Ring?

Meat ring cut and ready to serve   My first meatloaf I ever made had very crusty edges, because I had to cook it long enough to cook the inside. My husband and I both like our meat well done, and when cooking for children, I always want the meat well done.
   My solution?... The Meat Ring! I prepare my meat the same as if I'm making meat loaf, but instead of using a loaf pan, I use a round or oval casserole dish. I place the meat in the dish and pat it smooth just as if I were making a loaf.
Meat in oval casserole dishThen using my fingers, I make a large hole in the center of the loaf, forming a ring.
Make hole with fingersBe sure your ring is even all the way around. This will cut your cooking time in half and ensure a more evenly cooked meat "ring". It is also easy to slice and serve straight from the pan.

Meat "Ring"
   1 egg, beaten
   ¼ c. fine bread crumbs
      or ¾ c. soft bread crumbs(1 slice of bread)
   ¼ c. Worcestershire
   ¼ c. chopped mushrooms, celery, green pepper,
      or shredded carrots ( I prefer green peppers,
      but my husband likes the mushroom.)
   1 Tbsp. dried minced onions
   ½ tsp. basil
   ½ tsp. oregano
   ½ tsp. salt
   ¼ tsp. black pepper
   1 lb. ground beef

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except ground beef.
Combine everything except beef in mixing bowl.Mix well.
Mix wellAdd ground beef and mix well. Hands work well for this.
Add beed and mix with handsMeat mixed wellPat mixture into 1 quart casserole dish. Form a hole in the center of the circle to form a ring.
Ready for ovenBake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes for the ring (45 to 60 minutes for a loaf) or until no pink remains. Spoon barbecue sauce or ketchup over meat if desired for the last 10 minutes of baking time.
Makes 4 servings.

   You can use fresh onions, but any leftover meatloaf really stinks up the refrigerator because of the onions. I use the minced onions because they do not stink up my refrigerator as bad as the fresh onions.
   I also, drain the excess fat off about half way through the baking time and again before adding the ketchup or barbeque sauce.
   The meatloaf pictured, is in a 2 quart dish because I doubled the recipe.
   When I double this recipe, I use ¼ c. Worcestershire & ¼ c. milk.
Weight Watcher points - 1/10th of meatloaf is 3 pts

Monday, July 26, 2010

Perfectly Cut Bars & Brownies

Cutting brownies with plastic knife   I have discovered the secret to perfectly cut bars & brownies! I didn't actually discover it myself, but I did hear it on TV somewhere...probably the Food Network. Anyway... the secret is to use a plastic knife! You know... the disposable kind. Shocked? I was too at first, but after trying it, I am no longer a skeptic. In fact, I keep a plastic knife in my kitchen for the sole purpose of cutting my bars and brownies. It does help to let them cool before cutting as well, but even when they are warm, a plastic knife works quite well.
    My husband always takes brownies to work for his office parties, and many of his co-workers have said to him, "I just don't get how your wife cuts the brownies so perfectly!" Well... the secret is out! But... don't take my word for it. Try it yourself!
   Here are my Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars being cut with my plastic knife while still warm and with frosting.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars being cut with plastic knifePeanut Buter oatmeal bars cut nicely - even frosted.   Here are my yummy Brownies. See how perfectly they are cut?

   A quick update... since I first posted this, I discovered that the Aldi brand fudge brownie mix now has this same tip on the back of their box! Word travels quickly when someone discovers an awesome tip! Perfectly cut brownies

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baked Beans

Baked Beans   One of my favorite things to eat besides chocolate is baked beans. I am quite particular about my baked beans, and fell in love with Big John's baked beans that used to come in the big blue can. You know... the ones that came with a can of beans and a can of sauce that you mixed together? The ones that were discontinued?!
   Well, I found a recipe on the internet that claimed to be just like Big John's. I tried it and made a few modifications until I think it is now perfection!
   Remember... good baked beans do take time, so this is not a recipe that you can make in a single day!

Baked Beans
   2 cans (11 oz.) Campbell's Pork & Beans
   ½ cup Manwich brand sloppy-joe sauce
   1½ Tablespoons Hormel real bacon bits
   2 Tablespoons honey
   1½ teaspoon molasses
   1 teaspoon dried, minced onion
   ⅛ teaspoon salt
   ⅛ teaspoon ground mustard
   ⅛ teaspoon white vinegar
   ¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine all the ingredients except the pork & beans in a small jar, cover, and refrigerate overnight. These make up the sauce.
The next day...combine beans and sauce in small baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour. I like to bake mine for 90 minutes. Let set about 30 minutes prior to serving. These are even better the second day!
Serves 4. (Triple the recipe to get 2 quarts exactly!)

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars   Peanut butter is always a hit at my house! These Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars will definitely please any peanut butter lover! This is an old recipe from my childhood that I pulled out a few months ago. My kids devoured them in minutes which makes this a new favorite in our house!
   I just made a double batch..., and they were gone in less than 10 minutes! I almost didn't get any myself! (Here my husband is taking the last few, but he saved the last three for me.)
Double recipe devoured in under 10 minutes!Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
   ⅛ tsp. salt
   ⅔ c. flour
   ½ c. brown sugar
   ¼ tsp. baking soda
   ¼ c. peanut butter
   3 Tbsp. shortening
   1 egg, beaten
   ½ tsp vanilla
   3 ½ tsp. milk
   ¼ c. quick oats
   ¾ c. powder sugar
   1 Tbsp. butter
   1 Tbsp. peanut butter
   2 or 3 tsp. milk
Combine salt, flour, brown sugar, and baking soda in mixing bowl. Cut in peanut butter and shortening until crumbs form. Mix in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add oats. Place dough in 8x11-inch greased baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool and then frost. Cut into bars and serve.
Frosting: Mix together peanut butter and butter. Gradually add sugar. Begin adding milk until you have desired consistency.

   When I double this recipe... which I have to if I want any myself... I use the large Pampered Chef bar pan.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pineapple Orange Cake

Pineapple Orange Cake   I love pineapple and orange together, so when I saw this cake, I had to give it a try. It is so easy to make and even more delicious! An added bonus is that it is lighter than most cake recipes.

Pineapple Orange Cake
   1 package (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
   1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, undrained
   4 egg whites
   ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
   1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
   1 (1 oz.) pkg. sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
   1 (8 oz.) reduced-fat whipped topping
In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, oranges, egg whites, and applesauce on low speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a 13"x9" baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
In a bowl, combine the pineapple and pudding mix. Fold in whipped topping just until blended. Spread over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
   This is also really beautiful when made in a bundt pan. Baking time will need to be adjusted for bundt pan. See the baking instructions on your cake mix to determine bake time for bundt pans.

Apricot Almond Torte

Apricot Almond Torte   This is truly one of the best homemade cakes I've ever made. It is a little time consuming, but very much worth the extra effort. It truly tastes as good as it looks!

Apricot Almond Torte
   3 eggs
   1 ½ cups sugar
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1 ¾ cups flour
   1 cup ground almonds, toasted
   2 teaspoon baking powder
   ½ teaspoon salt
   1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

   1 package (8 oz.) Cream cheese, softened
   1 cup sugar
   ⅛ teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon almond extract
   1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
   1 jar (10 to 12 oz.) Apricot preserves
   ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla on high speed until thick and lemon-colored. Combine flour, almonds, baking powder and salt; gradually fold into egg mixture alternately with whipped cream.
Transfer to two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350̊ for 22-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and salt until smooth. Beat in extract. Fold in whipped cream.
Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place bottom layer on serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer; spread with half of the preserves. Repeat layers. Frost sides of cake; decorate top edge with remaining frosting. Sprinkle with almonds.

Baking Powder

Baking powder only lasts 6 months after opened.   I thought I'd share a tidbit of information that I just recently learned myself:
Baking powder is only good for 6 months after opened!
   I do bake a lot, but don't usually go through a jar in 6 months. I recently baked muffins, and noticed that they didn't rise as much as I would have liked. The culprit... old baking powder! Now that I know this, I will be writing the date I open my baking soda on the lid.

Put the date you open it on the lid.
   My muffins will be rising high from now on!

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes   What could be better than pancakes for breakfast?... I'm thinking homemade blueberry pancakes! My family loves these delicious pancakes!

Blueberry Pancakes
   2 eggs, separated
   1½ cups flour
   3 Tbsp sugar
   ¾ tsp salt
   2¼ teaspoon baking powder
   1 cup milk
   3 Tbsp butter, melted
   1 cup blueberries, rinsed

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Beat egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl; add milk and melted butter. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture. Mix until batter is smooth. Fold in blueberries and then fold in stiff egg whites.
Bake on a hot greased griddle.
Makes 12 pancakes.

   Serve them hot with maple syrup and butter! Feel free to add more fresh blueberries on top!

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffin   So... I searched the internet trying to find an awesome recipe for blueberry muffins and found two that looked especially good. I made both and had my family vote on which was best. This is the recipe they all loved the best, as did I! I think it is the crumb topping that is baked on that won us over!

Blueberry Muffins
   1½ cups flour
   ¾ cup sugar
   ½ tsp salt
   2 tsp baking powder
   ⅓ cup vegetable oil
   1 egg
   ⅓ cup milk
   1 cup fresh blueberries
   ½ cup sugar
   ⅓ cup flour
   ¼ cup butter, cubed
   1½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. For batter, combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup;

Place 1/3 cup oil in 1 cupadd the egg to the measuring cup

Add egg to oiland enough milk to make 1 cup.

Add enough milk to make 1 cupOil, egg & milkAdd milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Fold in blueberries.
Fill muffin cups with large cookie scoop. Do not bake yet! We will add the crumb topping prior to baking.

Use large cookie scoop to fill tinsBatter in tinsTo make the crumb topping, mix together sugar, flour, and cinnamon.

Dry ingredients for crumb toppingAdd cubed butter.

Cut in butter until well mixed (everything is moist).

Cut in butterSprinkle muffins with the crumb topping.

Add crumb toppingBake for 20-25 minutes, or until done.

Baked MuffinsMakes 12 regular sized muffins.
My youngest son prefers no crumb topping, so I leave a few without topping for him!
I like to double the batter, but not the crumb topping, as this makes a lot of crumb topping!