Friday, October 29, 2010

Awwww Nuts! - Sugared Pecans

I have not always loved nuts. In fact, I still don't care for nuts when they are baked in things like cookies, brownies, cakes, etc since I am a purist. But one thing I do love are sugared nuts, especially in fun salads. I love making salad and try to have that on my menu for most dinner parties. I have a house dressing (which I might share at a later date but today is not that day) that is great with every topping under the sun, especially sugared nuts. I usually have peanuts, some sliced almonds and smoked almonds on hand at any given time and I try to keep some pecans in the freezer for a last minute party to make some nuts. So, when you are needing to impress your guests, whether it is your mother in law (although her life motto is "absence of vegetation") or your boss (thank goodness mine is easily impressed) throw together a spinach salad topped with these babies and you will be set. But first, lets review the nut rules.
1. Only use FRESH nuts. I think this is the reason I have been so scared is because I grew up on old gross Texas pecans that were way past their prime because they had become lost in the bottom of the freezer at my moms house. You know when you have a bad nut, and no amount of butter or sugar will make it taste good!
2. You can freeze nuts, I will buy a bag and stick them straight into the freezer (only nuts you will eventually bake with, not snacking nuts). Nuts will stay fresh in your freezer for up to 4 months if they are in an air tight container. This will allow you to pull out the amount you need and save the rest for later.
3. I prefer walnuts, almonds (slivered or sliced)  or pecans with making a salad because they have a great texture. I really prefer sliced almonds the best because they get crispy crunchy and don't have the buttery after taste that walnuts do.
4. Once you have cooked these sugared nuts you can refreeze them and save them for the next use.
5. Make sure the nuts have totally cooled before adding to the salad or it will make the lettuce wilty. YUCK!!!

3/4 Cup nuts of choice
1 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp brown sugar
dash of salt

In a sauce pan place all ingredients and stir and place on med-low heat. Too hot and you will burn the nuts!! Let the nuts cook for approx 12 minutes and continue to stir every few minutes to make sure the nuts are thoroughly coated and that they don't burn. Once you get a toasty nut smell you are know they are done. Spread cooked nuts on parchment, wax or foil and allow to cool. Break up and enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blessed - Pumpkin Bars

For the past two years a group of moms from church has been meeting together religiously every Thursday night at a local Panera. We started as a book club/bible study group but over time we have become a counseling/support system for each other. We have a designated table at the restaurant that we claim weekly and throughout the night we will see many come and go as we sip on our lattes and share our latest life story. We usually sound like a group of hens clucking at the top of their lungs as we sit and discuss life, marriage, children, love, heart break pain, any and every topic. Many of us have had our first, second, or third child since this group began and it has been amazing to watch these babies grow up week by week and share stories of them taking their first steps, first real food, sleeping through the night, etc.
Tonight I hosted the girls here for a night of soup and salad and coffee. Every once in a while I will speak up and voice my concern for how much money we are dumping into Paneras pocket and how I can't handle another Greek salad with extra olives and a bowl of chicken soup so I decided to just have everyone here instead. What a blessing. To know that if it were not for the Father that our lives would not be woven together like a patch work quilt. I love sitting back and watching everyone and listening to the bustle of conversations knowing that we all need each other, depend on each other and are here for one another and that if I am ever in a crisis I can call on any of these girls and I know that they will come and help whatever it takes.
Tonight for the menu I prepared a broccoli cheese soup, spinach salad with apples, bacon, blue cheese and my house dressing and for dessert we had some gooey pumpkin bars with coffee. I love, love gooey butter bars. They are one of my most favorite desserts.I have always had a long time love affair with chess pie and gooey butter bars help fill that gap in my life. My local Kroger use to carry their own version of the bars and it was T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Well, tonight I decided to try out Paula De ens recipe for gooey pumpkin bars and add my own touch and they were the perfect end to a perfect night. Thank you God fort the blessing of friends. Enjoy!

1 Butter Cake Boxed Mix
1 Stick of butter melted
1 Egg
Combine all of the above and pat into a 9x13 pan.

1 8oz cream cheese at room temp
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick of butter melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 dash salt
1/.4 tsp ginger

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Next add in pumpkin, eggs then the rest of the ingredients. Spread over the cake mixture. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, the center should still be a bit gooey. Allow to cool then top with glaze.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs half and half or milk
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Stir until combined. Drizzle over cooled bars. If glaze is not coming together all the way add a splash more half and half.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Canned or Not Canned....there is no question! - Roasted Chicken

There are some thing that I will NEVER give you permission to do as a cook. You may not like to cook, you may not think that you are great at cooking but I will NEVER give you permission, NEVER EVER to use canned chicken. Oh my. Just typing out those words made me throw up in my mouth a bit. The thought of taking something like chicken, removing everything about it that is good, throwing it in some metal tasting brine, sealing it up and calling it a day...there are no words. I had a discussion with some friends of mine a few weeks ago about canned meat. They were trying to give me all kinds of good excuses for when they had used canned chicken and I finally had to walk away. It hurt me so. So a few days after I was in Trader Joes and decided I would once again, try canned chicken because I figured if it was going to be good by anyone Trader Joes would be the one. I can smell it a mile away in any casserole or salad but I though that TJ's would be the one to break my stone cold heart. So I made some chicken salad with the canned product the next day. Just the smell was about enough to put me over the edge. It smelled like TUNA! What the heck? So I mixed in a little of this and that and it tasted like cat food. It was terrible. I took one bite and threw the rest away wishing I had not bothered.
When a recipe calls for chicken, whether it be shredded, diced, cubed, whatever, you can always know that roasted chicken will do the trick. Not canned, Not boiled, ROASTED! Roasted chicken is SO easy and so good and will allow you easy access to every recipe. It is always best to roast chicken that is bone in, I know this may freak some of you out but the bones are what allow the meat to have such great flavor. We as a society prefer the shrink wrapped perfectly trimmed breast because they are ready to go but the bones are what make the chicken really shine. Why do you think baby back ribs and chicken wings are so good? Those bones are in there for a reason! When you roast a chicken breast with the bones (I will allow you to opt out of the skin on if that makes you happy) once it is cooked you can easily pull the breast meat right off of the bone, throw the bones away and forget you ever saw them. Promise. If you can't do the bones yet, I will allow you to use boneless skinless but the thought of what could have been will be in the back of your mind with every bite you take.
So remember:
1. No canned chicken. It is from the devil. There is nothing good or real about it. Tis the season for food drives so get your pantry cleaned out!
2. Never boil boneless skinless breasts in non flavored water. Yuck, yuck, yuck!
3. Roasted chicken is best and BONE IN roasted chicken is the very best. If bones gross you out, suck it up, put on your big girl panties and just do it.

Simple Roasted Chicken - to be used for casseroles, soups, whatever. Adjust recipe to however many chicken breasts you have.
1 Bone-in split chicken breast with skin removed or 1 boneless skinless chicken breast (still looking for a wimpy font!)
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 shakes of salt (preferably sea salt)
3-4 grinds of fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a foil lined baking sheet place chicken. Drizzle breast with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper.  For BONE IN cook for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown on top and firm to the touch. For boneless cook for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Allow to cool and remove from the meat from the bone (or not) and shred, dice or cube. You can freeze the chicken in baggies and pull it out as needed for soups and casseroles so that you can easily have dinner in a flash. Enjoy!

Out with the old - Homemade Meatballs

So I am a product of the 80s. I loved Punky Brewster and Muppet Babies and ate sixlets and was jealous of swatch watch owners. A food that I always associate with the 80s is ground beef, don't ask why. We ate it a lot growing up. It is cheap and since we lived on a budget it was the centerpiece of many meals. We ate tacos, lasagna, burgers, spaghetti...anything mom could think up to use up the glorious ground round. One meat product we didn't eat much and never had homemade, that I can remember are meatballs. I remember being terrified of them for years thinking that the inside would come alive once it entered my body, sort of like a watermelon seed would start to sprout if accidentally swallowed. The few meatballs I do remember were dry, tasteless and would have been great golf ball substitutes if needed. When the salesman and I got married we decided to throw our first real dinner party and invite all of our friends to show off our tiny apartment. We were so proud of our non ventilated bathroom and creepy dropped ceiling floor in one room and the fact that there were five other apartments in this one house didn't bother us a bit at the time. Since we were dirt poor we decided to make a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs thinking it would stretch as much as we needed it to if we had anyone show up unannounced. It was my first attempt at making meatballs. I knew I didn't have the courage yet to stick my hands in the raw meat and mix it all together so I decided I would add all of the ingredients, let the salesman mix and roll and I would take the credit for everything. And I did. And they were awesome. And that dinner party was one of the most memorable nights of our married life. Since then I have rolled hundreds of meatballs and that dish remains one of my favorite meals to cook for any guest.

Meatballs for Spaghetti - Serves 6-8 hungry hippos

1.5 lbs ground beef (I like to mix ground round for the fat and sirloin for the taste. You can also do sirloin and half Italian sausage if you like)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup dry Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tbs fresh chopped herbs (Combo if possible of Rosemary, Basil and flat leaf Italian Parsley) if you don't have fresh you can throw in 2 tsp dried but fresh is always best
1/2 of a med. onion grated (yes, with a cheese grater- and make sure all of the juice gets in the bowl)
2 garlic cloves finely diced
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
 Yummy Huh? This is all of the wet ingredients prior to the meat being added.
 Toss all of the ingredients into a bowl. Take any jewelry off, wash your hands then shove them into the bowl and start mixing the meat together. This is the best way to make meatballs!! You want to mix it as little as possible so that the meat will stay moist.
 Roll out the meatballs into golf balls size balls. We like them on the bigger side but you can do as big/small as you want.
 In a large heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat drizzle in 2-3 Tbsp olive oil. Once the oil gets warmed up (don't let it burn) start setting your meatballs into the hot oil. You don't want to crowd them so do this in two batches if your pan will not hold them all at one time. At this point DO NOT MESS WITH THEM!! You want them to sit in that hot oil and get crispy before you start moving them around so just hold on. They will need to sit still and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Check one meatball,  and if it easily comes up from the bottom and looks dark brown you are good, if it remotely sticks to the pan leave it alone for a few more minutes.
 Turn all of the meatballs around, you will do this approx 4 times to ensure that the entire outside gets crispy. If you have a lid or a cookie sheet you can place it on your pan and allow the steam to help cook the meatballs to ensure that they will be moist. If you are cooking the meatballs in batches, once the first batch is done you can remove those, set them on a plate and continue filling up your pan with raw meatballs until they are all cooked.

If you are going to be making a marinara sauce you will want to get your base going first then you can add in the meatballs and some of the pan drippings (that is all of the toasty bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan, but not all of the grease) to the pan to give it a good flavor. If you are not making a scratch sauce you can drain some of the fatty oil from your pan, pour in a jarred sauce then add all of your meatballs and let it all simmer together for 30 minutes and it will taste homemade (although I do highly recommend a scratch sauce).
These meatballs are good with spaghetti, on a toasted roll with melted provolone, alone with a toothpick...any way you want to eat them.

Enjoy Y'all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Home -Apple Cider

There are certain things that I think of when I think of home. When I was little it was the safe place to sleep and play and was where all of my stuff was. When I was in college it was the place to do laundry, sleep in and stock up on home cooked meals. Now when I think of home I think of my babies and giggles and feet stomping through the hard wood floors. There are also smells that remind me of home such as the smell of a pot roast cooking or pumpkin candles, but one of my all time favorite smells is apple cider simmering on the stove top. It makes me think of fall and comfy chairs and warm fires and happy memories and I hope that when my boys grow up and are away from me that when they smell a cup of cider it will remind them that they are always loved and are beautifully made and will always be welcomed home.

1 Bottle of apple cider
2 oranges, one cut in half, once cut in thick slices
5 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
3 whole black peppercorns

Pour apple juice in large stock pot. Squeeze the orange cut in half then throw in the other orange slices and toss in remaining ingredients. Turn on a medium heat, once it begins to boil turn to low and let it simmer as long as you want. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

For real? - Fish Almondine

Fish Almondine.
I know what you are thinking. Just the sight of that word makes me think of waiting in line like a heard of cattle at a Luby's cafeteria to get my tray and silverware before proceeding to view the insanely thick non-wiggly green jello on down to the huge medium rare roast beast beaming under the red heat lamps to the fluffy warm rolls dripping with hot butter. Oh yeah, those were the days. I was first introduced to fish almondine at Luby's because that was always the special on Wednesdays when we would go to Luby's with my granny before church. I have not had too many experiences with fish almondine outside of the cafeteria world but I decided to revise what I remembered of the dish to bring it to life a bit more, and I think that goal was accomplished. So go ahead and push all of your fears and anxieties behind and welcome in the new classic. Enjoy!

4 tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
dried dill (about 1 tsp)
1 cup crushed butter crackers (Ritz works great)
1/2 c crushed blanched sliced almonds
1 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper
1/2 stick butter melted
1 lemon sliced in wedges

In a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray lay your tilapia fillets, generously season with salt and pepper and dried dill.
In a separate bowl mix together crackers, almonds, flour and another dash of salt and pepper (just to be safe) Pour melted butter over mixture and mix thoroughly. Once the crackers have soaked in the butter pat the cracker mixter atop of each fish fillet then lightly spray with a cooking spray (Pam) place in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until crust is golden brown and fish is opaque.  Serve with sliced lemon wedges.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spooky Halloween - Spooky Dogs

Okay, so I know this next recipe is not rocket science but it is the mom within be doing something fun with food for the sake of my kids. Too bad it was like pulling teeth to get my oldest to finish his meal knowing that it was something that on a good day would be gone in a flash but for what it is worth...I bring you Mummy Dogs. Enjoy!

6-8 Hot Dogs (I prefer Nathan's or Hebrew National)
6-8 American cheese slices
1 container pizza crust dough in tub form

Open up the pizza dough on a clean surface and stretch it out gently to a rectangle shape. With a pizza roller cut 6-8 strips of dough (depending on how many hot dogs you have). Take the slice of American cheese, break it in half and snug it around the hot dog leaving the top inch plain. Next take your dough strip, starting from one end and tightly wrap it around the cheese covered hot dog, and pinch all seals as tightly together as possible leaving the top inch of the hot dog exposed.  Place all your dogs on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 15 minutes until dough is golden brown. Once the mummies have cooked and cooled dot with mustard for eyeballs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Most Wonderful TIme of the Year - Jalapeno Cranberry Meatballs

I love the holidays! Besides my birthday, Christmas and anniversary falling within two weeks I love the parties, the presents, and the food. Who doesn't love the long lingering appetizer parities where you walk and graze and talk and graze and graze and graze until you realize that you have eaten your entire weight in pig in a blankets and sausage balls! I made this recipe up last year when I was asked to cater a party and I thought it was the perfect party holiday meatball because lets face it, a holiday party without meatballs is like a movie without popcorn. They are one in the same. So this year when you are asked to bring a dish, don't fret, I've got your back! This recipe can be multiplied many many times to feed any crowd. Happy Ho Hos.

2 bags frozen meatballs (plain and not Italian if possible but if not, no worries)
1 large bottle your favorite bbq sauce (mine is Sweet Baby Rays) After you empty the bottle add 1/2 cup of water to the bottle, shake it around then dump that into your pot as well.
1 can whole cranberry sauce (the whole weird roll thing, not the kind with berries)
2 T steak sauce (A1)
1 Tsp mustard (yellow or Dijon)
1-2 whole jalapenos (depending on how you like your heat

Bring bbq, jelly, steak sauce and mustard to a simmer in a large stock pot. Once jelly has melted gently pour in meatballs and jalapeno. Stir, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will allow the heat from the jalapeno to come out but not be overpowering. If you need more liquid add a splash of water. I also like to cook these in the oven, I cook them for a good 1 to 1 1/2 hours and stir every 20 minutes. They get a nice carmalization that way are really soak up the sauce. You can also do these in your crock pot for 6 hours on low. Transport in a dish that can be reheated at your location.

Enjoy Y'all!

Pappasito's - The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup Ever

For any of you that are from Texas just looking at this title is making your mouth water. For those of you that are not from Texas be glad that have not had the best Tex-Mex food on earth because you don't sit down at every gross local wanna be Tex-Mex restaurant and long for a bowl of warm salsa and crispy freshly fried salty tortilla chips or garlic butter topped steak fajitas. Seriously, I can't even think about it now. It makes me so sad that I can't eat there for every meal, morning noon and night or even once a month for that matter. I guess my Blue Bell prayers did come true so I can't complain too much. When I was young we use to drive 90 miles to Conroe Texas to go to Sams and eat at either Pappasito's or a local Chinese restaurant. Because my dad is a minister we lived on a tight budget so no cokes or dessert and we split meals quite often. About the only thing I could order and get all by myself at Pappasito's was a bowl of their house soup. It is to die for. It is the perfect balance of sweet and heat and makes me smile just thinking about it. This recipe is the perfect comfort food in the crisp air and will forever change your standards for good tortilla soup. This recipe is not Pappasito's but it is pretty close. For those of you that live near Pappasito's, don't even talk to me right now, I need a moment to regroup. For the rest of you, enjoy!

2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 bunch cilantro STEMS diced
1 chipotle in adobo sauce diced plus 1 tsp sauce
1 pablano pepper seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes drained
1 can great northern (or black) beans drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup frozen corn (or 3 ears of corn cut in disks)
6 cups chicken stock
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 bunch cilantro  leaves chopped
juice of two limes

In a large stock pot drizzle in 1 Tb olive oil and saute onions and carrots until they become translucent, approx 10 min(add a sprinkle of salt). Next add in cilantro stems, chipotle in adobo and sauce, pepper and garlic and saute 2 min(add in another sprinkle of salt).  Add in tomatoes, beans, chicken corn stock, cumin and chili powder and a heavy sprinkle of salt. Allow to come to a boil then turn to med low and simmer for 45 min. 2-3 min before serving add in fresh cilantro leafs and lime juice.

To serve: In the bottom of your serving bowls place a hand full of crushed tortilla chips and ladle soup over. Top with fresh avocado, sharp cheddar or queso fresco, dollop of sour cream and lime wedge.

This soup is so beautiful, my pictures did not begin to do it justice. Sorry! Someone feel free to make and take a pict and send to me!

Thanksgiving - Pumpkin Cobbler

There are some moments and some meals that you will remember for always. I remember the first time I had a Starbucks coffee and I knew my life would never be the same as well as my first experience eating a good expensive steak and knowing that I had found the promise land. This recipe is one of those meals that was shared in a moment that I will never forget.
Last year around this time we had just had our second baby, we were homeless living with family waiting for our house closing to go through and living out of suitcases. Enough said. We were crazy. Thanksgiving morning we awoke to the sound of the phone ringing with the arrival of a new cousin being born (6 weeks early and out of town) and the day after Thanksgiving we were called late that night and received word that one of my dear mom friends from church had taken her life. It was an overwhelming feeling. I remember gasping for breath and asking over and over if it was real. I replayed my last moments with her just days earlier over and over in my head and one of those memories was sitting with her at her beautiful dining room table enjoying this dish she had made as she and I talked about babies and life and the reservoir of Halloween candy leftovers as we listened to our children running through the house playing and giggling together. It was a beautiful moment and had I known it would be my last with her I would have told her how blessed I was to call her a friend and how thankful God had put her in my path and would have hugged her neck a bit tighter that night when I left. I was not ready to say goodbye but I am so happy she is dancing with the Father and I look forward to sitting around her dining room table again on the other side.

Pumpkin Cobbler
3 eggs beaten
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 c sugar
1/8 t salt
1 t ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 T vanilla extract
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 c butter melted
1 c chopped nuts (optional)
Mix the first 8 ingredients together, pour into an ungreased 9x13 (must be this size) pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top, drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Top with nuts (or not) and Bake for an additional 20 minutes (will have a slight wiggle in the center like a pumpkin pie but will set up once removed from the oven and cooked) Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream.
This is the perfect end to a beautiful fall day! Enjoy

Great to be in Dixie - Squash Casserole

I have never met a squash casserole that I didn't like. I think that is the church pot-luck lover coming out in me and for that matter I love deviled eggs too! This recipe that I am about to share is a sad excuse for a "veggie" but I am in the south so as long as there is something remotely veggie about it, even garlic powder, we can call is a side dish and no one will disagree. I know this recipe will sound a bit strange, but trust me, it will change your squash life forever.

5 Med yellow squash sliced (about 2-2.5 lbs)
1 small onion diced
1 cup carrots diced
Boil the above in salted water until nice and soft. Drain, mash with potato masher and set aside.
In a separate bowl combine:
2 cups herb stovetop stuffing
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken
2 eggs
1 stick melted butter
1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
salt and pepper
add in squash mash
Pour all into 9x13 and bake for 35-40 min until set at 350 degrees. Try not to eat the entire pan!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meant for each other - Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza. What a match. As if breakfast selections couldn't get any better we go and add this one to the mix. My in-laws come to visit the muffins usually twice a month and I try to be a good daughter-in-law by making sure there is plenty of coffee to drink and something to have for breakfast on Saturdays, although I am perfectly willing to go to the Pancake Pantry if my arm is twisted. On their last visit I decided to make breakfast pizza. I did a bit of research on a few recipes and decided to make up my own...and it was good. It would have only been better had it been made for me and brought to me in bed, but that has never happened so why start dreaming now?

1 pizza dough ball (I like Trader Joes since it is .99 and we make our own)
1/2 lb cooked crumbled Sausage (could also use bacon or ham and could add veggies like mushrooms or peppers but we are purists)
1 1/2 c cheese grated (I like sharp cheddar)
4 Eggs
1/2 cup milk or 1/2 and 1/2
1 tsp mustard
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of garlic powder
Salt and pepper

On a large pizza stone (if you have one) roll out your pizza crust. Place this in the oven on 425 and bake for 6-7 minutes remembering to poke some holes in the crust with a fork to prevent too many giant bubbles. Pre-baking this crust will allow it to remain crispy once the toppings are added. Once the pizza is out lower the oven to 350. Layer on cooked sausage and cheeses. In a bowl combine milk, eggs, mustard and salt and pepper and thyme and whisk. Gently pour this mixture over the sausage and cheese. Bake for 18-20 minutes until eggs are set in the middle. Slice and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Doctors orders - Toffee Apple Dip

So you know the old saying "an apple a day", well friends I have made that totally doable for you because once you dip your apple into this heath bar apple dip you will be eating 4-5 apples a day. They didn't say it could ONLY be an apple, just get the apple into your body whatever it takes. So really, you could look at this next recipe as being beneficial for your health. This is not an original of mine but it must be shared. Try not to eat the whole bowl.

1 8oz cream cheese softened
1/4 white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg (yes, the whole thing) heath bar toffee pieces (with our without the chocolate, I like without)

Beat sugars and vanilla with cream cheese. Stir in toffee chips. Serve with sliced apples, strawberries, pretzels, a giant spoon :)
*You can combine all the night before except for the toffee pieces as they sort of break up and don't stay crunchy. I like the crunchy bite so stir those in before serving to maintain that if desired,

sorry, no picts. i ate up my recipe too fast :)

Where's the beef? - French Dip Sandwiches

Sorry it's been a while, not that anyone has gone hungry but we have been a bit crazed. This past weekend the salesman and I spent a weekend with the youth group from our church at a retreat in the beautiful Hylake campgrounds in eastern TN. I had asked if I could cook a meal so we arrived the night before everyone got there so we could get things rolling and have lunch ready for when everyone arrived. I had a hard time trying to figure out what would be the perfect meal for hungry teenage boys and I finally decided on french dip sandwiches. These are a favorite at our house, they are meaty, cheesy and packed into a soft carbfull bun that soaks up all of the gravy. I stuck 50 pounds of meat in the oven at 10:30 that night and awoke to the delicious aroma filling the entire three story building. The boys...and everyone else loved it. It was the perfect meal to start a perfect weekend!

1 3-4lb roast (rump is great!)
1 pkg lipton onion soup packet
1 can beef consume, once poured refill with water and dump in.
1 12 oz.bottle cheap beer
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven or crockpot place all ingredients and generously salt and pepper that baby up.  Place in oven at 350 for 4-6 hours or in crock pot for 8 hours. Take meat out and shred. Take the drippings, pour in pan on med heat and allow gravy to reduce.  To serve slice a chicago style deli roll in half, place two sliced of provolone cheese and fill with meat. Serve with a side of the gravy or ladle it in. Enjoy~