Friday, February 26, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends (and family)

For the past couple of years I have helped out with the Valentine dinner at church. The youth group usually spends the whole day slaving away in the kitchen and transforming the fellowship hall into "Mount Olive Garden". Well, this year was no different except for the fact that I think this was our best menu yet. It was simple yet elegant and very easy to prepare. I really can't take credit for it either. Between DeAnn, Lauren, Sam's Club, a few phone calls to Mom and one of those paperback Pampered Chef recipe books, we did! Here is what we ended up with.

Fresh Green Salad with Heart Shaped tomatoes a la Sandra
Marinated Mushrooms
Fresh Baked Bread Baskets
Vodka Penne Pasta from DeAnn
Italian Sausage
Bacon wrapped Green Beans from Lauren
Heart-Shaped Berry Shortcakes from the Pampered Chef
Creamy Fudge Hearts
Lemon Water with Cranberries thus the phone calls to Mom

And here are a few of the recipes.

Vodka Penne Pasta
6 oz chopped Canadian bacon
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
2 cups of heavy cream
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound penne pasta

Drizzle olive oil in pan and gently saute the minced garlic for a few minutes. Add the Canadian bacon, cayenne pepper, and vodka, saute for about 5 more minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Boil the pound of penne pasta and drain. Right before you are ready to serve, add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and salt to your sauce. Stir until the cheese is melted and add the penne.

Lemon Water with Cranberries
2 ½ cups water
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
3 cups lemon juice
Ice cubes
Lemon slices and Cranberries

In a medium saucepan combine water and sugar. Cook over medium heat till sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool.
Add the lemon peel to the sugar mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
Strain the juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
To serve, fill glasses with one part fruit mixture and three parts water. Add ice and cranberries and serve. Garnish with lemon slices.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans
1 (12 ounce) package bacon, strips cut in half
1 (16 ounce) package frozen cut green beans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a casserole dish.
Set out the bacon, green beans and casserole dish in a little assembly line. Lay out a half strip of bacon. Place a small bunch of green beans onto the strip of bacon and roll up into a bundle. Place the bundle into the casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining bacon strips and green beans. You can pack these pretty tight in the pan, just know that if the bacon is touching another bundle they take some prying to get apart. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and heated through, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mocha Brownies

A little bit of coffee and a whole lotta butter – this IS what makes a great brownie!
This recipe comes from The Pioneer Women Cooks a wonderful cookbook that I received for Christmas. The best part of this cookbook is all the wonderful step by step photos that show you exactly what to do. The worst part of this cookbook is comparing my finished product to the photo of PW’s finished product. It might not look the same, but the taste is all that matters and these brownies tasted fabulous. The ladies at Bible study tonight didn’t care about the calorie content of this dessert, they were actually a little disappointed that I cut the icing recipe in half. So, indulge! Grab a pound of butter and enjoy these brownies!


Four 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
½ pound (two sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

To make the brownies – preheat oven to 325 degrees, spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick baking spray.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in 30 increments, being careful not to let it burn. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.
With the mixer on low, drizzle in the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla and mix.
Add the flour and mix, just until combined. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the baking dish. Spread to even out the surface. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center is no longer soft.
Set the brownies aside to cool completely before icing.

Mae’s Mocha Icing

½ pound (2 sticks) butter
5 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ to ¾ cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
Mix until slightly combined, then add ½ cup coffee. Whip until icing is desired consistency, if the icing is overly thick, add more coffee. It should be very light and fluffy.
Spread the icing thick. Refrigerate until the icing is firm, then slice into squares. Makes 16 brownies.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Name This Animal

Cleaning out cupboards, closets, and other spaces that need organizing, might sound like a New Year’s Resolution, but it’s something that I do all year long. I don’t ever put this chore on my “to do” list. I usually just open a drawer to get something and the next thing I know…I have the entire contents of the said drawer dumped all over my counter and thus begins a cleaning project. Sometimes, I find things I have lost and sometimes I find things I didn’t even know I owned, which brings me to this cute little cookie cutter that was rumbling around in a large tin with all my other cookie cutters. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t think I have ever used it, and I don’t even know what kind of animal it might be. But I do know what “to do” with a cookie cutter like this… I gave it to Kellee.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dessert, Quickly!

Finally after the holidays, (oh, did they end a month ago?), we are back to Thursday Night Women’s Bible Study and Dessert. Thursday’s seem to come quickly and with no time to plan ahead, I happened to have these 3 things in my cupboard. Carr’s Whole Wheat Biscuits, Marshmallow Fluff and Semi-Sweet Chocolate. The recipe called for Bittersweet chocolate, but Kellee’s substitution dictionary told us semi-sweet would work. Add a little vegetable oil and carefully follow directions…because the chilling part IS essential, and within 30 dessert for the ladies. And they were very good! The recipe comes from the Dessert Express Cookbook.
Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

12 Carr’s Whole Wheat Biscuits
1 ½ cups marshmallow fluff
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (or semi-sweet chocolate chips)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Put the biscuits on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Top each biscuit with a rounded heaping tablespoon of fluff. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
2. Combine the chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stir until smooth. Spoon some chocolate over each biscuit to coat completely.
3. Return the baking sheet to the freezer for another 10 minutes, until chocolate is set. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours, until ready to serve.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Epic Fail

To steal a line from Dad's book, "I don't even know what that means." But I am pretty sure after looking it up it very accurately describes what happened to the cupcakes I made this afternoon.

4. epic fail - Complete and total failure when success should have been reasonably easy to attain

Please turn to page 64 in your January/February issue of the FNM. See the fabulous Mini Peanut Butter Cupcakes? Well, mine looked nothing like that thanks to the thin Colorado air.

So I did some more research, came up with WHY my cupcakes were a failure and am now ready to try again. Well, maybe tomorrow.
© Let it be Done. Powered by