Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pedersen Cheese Ball

I know, it's Wordless Wednesday & I've already thrown up my picture of the snow we got this past week. But.... I really wanna share one last maybe-make-it-for-Thanksgiving recipe for you. This is the famous (within our family, at least!) Pedersen Cheese Ball! This rare gem only makes an appearance 3 times a year - Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years Eve. The recipe is compliments of my father-in-law. It's a cherished piece of nostalgia for my husband & his sisters - like an old Baribe doll or your favorite Star Wars action figures from childhood. That quilt grandma made just for you that you still cuddle on the couch with, even though it's all ragged & torn. This cheese ball is a childhood full of great memories for my husband's family because it was always there at some of their most cherished family experiences. And now it's finding its way into our kids' memories. I hope you enjoy it!

The ingredients:

Cream cheese, Blue cheese, American cheese, yellow onion, parsley & pecans.

Dice up your pecans, onions & parsley. Then throw everything into the bowl, reserving 3/4 cups of the parsley and about 1/4 cup of the pecans.

*A word of caution on dicing the onion - don't use a food chopper. It breaks/crushes the membranes, unlike a good sharp knife, and releases too much of the onion juice & then the onion will completely over-power your cheese ball. So just take an extra minute & use a knife!

The best mixing tool for this is a potatoes masher. If you don't have one I suppose you could use clean hands.

Now form it into a ball, pressing firmly to make sure it's all compact & solid. Then roll it around in the reserved parsley & pecans.

Stick it on a plate & chill for at least an hours before you serve it. Overnight is fine, too.

Ahhhhhh, behold. THE cheese ball.

I'm sorry I'll have to leave you hanging without a picture of us digging into it, as it's being saved for our dinner at the fire station tomorrow. Once it's had a chance to chill put some Wheat Thins on the plate with it & watch it disappear!

Pedersen Cheese Ball

1 8-oz block of cream cheese
8-oz of American cheese slices
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 small yellow onion
1 heaping cup pecans, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped

First allow the cheeses to sit on the counter for about an hour before you make this - give them a chance to soften up.

Dice your onion, pecans & parsley. Throw everything into a bowl, except for about 1/4 of pecans & 3/4 cup parsley. Using a potato masher, thoroughly blend everything together. Form it into a ball & roll it in the remaining parsley & pecans until well coated. Chill for at least an hour before serving. Serve with crackers.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, November 22, 2010


Do you love BACON!? I do. Everything about it makes me happy. It smells amazing as it cooks, it tastes wonderful when you bite it. Top BBQ chicken with some bacon & melt some cheese down over it & your chicken is happier. Add it to your hamburger with some pepper jack cheese & your burger is better. Throw it in a spinach salad & your salad becomes more amazing. Heck, they even put bacon in chocolate these days! If all the people in the world would just enjoy simple pleasures like bacon I think this world would be a happier place. It's just that good.

Except..... the mess it splatters all over your stove top as you cook it & the hot grease it spits onto your arms, leaving you wounded!! LOL Want a solution? Do it in the OVEN! Seriously! I had never done bacon in the oven until about a year ago & now I will never, I repeat, NEVER cook it on the stove top again.
Here's how you do it:

Preheat your oven to 425. Line a sheet pan with foil. Lay the bacon on the sheet, not touching.

Pop it into the oven for 15-20 minute.
Don't flip it.
Don't burn yourself.
Don't make a mess of your stove top.
Appreciate that your bacon stayed flat instead of curling up.
Thank me that you do't have any squishy, chewey fat spots to pass off to your husband.
And enjoy the easy clean up thanks to the foil!

Use tongs to move it to a paper-towel-lined plate to soak up the grease.

Serve it up with your pancakes & applesauce & call it good!

And as long as I'm sharing tips with you... do you have a bunch of kids that you have to cut up countless pancakes for? Use a pizza cutter. It goes SO quick & smooth & even - no ripped/torn pieces of pancake for the little ones!

Enjoy your next round of bacon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beef Enchiladas

My chicken/white sauce enchiladas are admittedly unauthentic. These, however, are pretty spot on if you want *real* Mexican food. I found them thanks to Leigh Anne over at Your Homebased Mom, but the recipe originated from Ree at The Pioneer Woman. They are a little bit of work but it's worth it! They are great enchiladas & a wonderful addition to your list of things to do with ground beef.

Here's the line up:

Ground beef, white onion, red enchilada sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, corn tortillas, shredded cheese, green onions, sliced olives, diced green chilies, salt & pepper.

First thing you're gonna do is doctor up your sauce a little bit. Start out with a tablespoon of canola oil & a table spoon on flour in a pan over medium heat. Whisk them together in the pan for about a minute then add the red enchilada sauce, chicken broth, some cilantro, salt & pepper into the pan. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat & let it simmering together for 30-45 minutes.

After that' s had a chance to simmer for a while you'll want to get your meat going. Dice up an onion & then toss it into a pan with your beef. Brown the meat, drain off the fat & then dump in your 2 small cans of diced green chilies & season salt.

So now your meat & sauce should be done & ready to go - but your tortillas are not! So heat up some oil in a skillet over medium heat & drop in each tortilla, one at a time. We're not frying them - we're just softening them, so only about 10 seconds per side.

OK - Finally!!! Everything is all set for assembly! Whew! You can finally preheat your oven now - to 350.

First take about 1/2 cup of the red sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish - it's there to serve as the 'greasing' for our dish. Next, take a tortilla, dip it into the red sauce then set it on your work surface - which, for me, was a paper Halloween plate! LOL

Put in a scoop of the meat, shredded cheese, some diced green onion & sliced olives.

Now carefully, and with a full disclosure that your hands will get messy, roll it up & place it seam side down the prepped 9x13 dish. Keep going until your whole pan if full. Then pour the rest of the red sauce down over the enchiladas.

Top with the rest of the cheese.

Stick the whole pan into a 350 oven for 20 minutes.

When they're fresh out of the oven like this top with some chopped cilantro & serve it up!!

Yum! Seriously. YUM!!

Beef Enchiladas:


1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp flour
1 28-oz can red enchilada sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1 pound ground beef
1 medium sized onion, finely diced
2 4-oz cans diced green chilies
1/2 tsp seasoned salt

10 corn tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil

For assembly:
3 cups grated cheddar cheese (I used cheddar/jack)
1 4-oz can sliced black olives
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro


In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 10 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been softened.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup red sauce in bottom of 9x13 pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poppy Seed Chicken

We had this dinner on Veteran's Day. I thought I'd be a good mom & turn dinner time into a learning opportunity to help the kids understand why they had the day off of school. Veteran's Day is also known as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day because of all the red poppies that bloomed across the battlefields that had been littered with bodies & blood after WWI. Gorgeous red flowers sprouted to transform a horrible scene of bloodshed into a thing of beauty. As if nature itself had built a memorial to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country & fellow man. So I decided that Poppy Seed Chicken would be a fun little tribute to the red poppy & a good segway into the discussion. And then my beloved husband had to try & squash my thunder by making sure I realized that the seeds in our meal came from the illegal-drug poppy - not the pretty red ones! LOL Party pooper!

Here are your fixins:

Cooked chicken, chicken broth, sour cream, cream of chicken, Ritz, butter, poppy seeds. This is a pretty easy meal to make lighter - just get the healthy request soup, light sour cream - you can even get reduced fat Ritz!

First we're gonna mix together our soup, sour cream & broth. When I cook my chicken I boil it in some water & season it with season salt, garlic, pepper & onion. Once the chicken is done cooking I just use that water as my broth.

Now add in your chicken & poppy seeds. Stir it around to coat it well.

Dump that mixture into an 8x8 pan & then use your hands to crush a whole roll of Ritz crackers over the top of it all.

Melt your butter & pour it evenly over the crackers.

Pop it into a 350 oven for 30 minutes.

This is such a simple dish but it is SO wonderful! I guess it's a Southern thing...? Or so I've heard. If you have never had it you need to make this for dinner TONIGHT! Serve it with some brown rice - either on top of the rice or beside it.

You wanna know one of my little pet peeves? A monochromatic meal. Somehow I managed to have a tan main dish with brown rice, a tan roll & green beans that were breaded in brown! LOL Oh well. Life goes on, I guess.

Poppy Seed Chicken:

For an 8x8:
2 chicken breasts, cooked & chopped
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 roll Ritz crackers
1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
1-2 Tbsp poppy seeds

For a 9x13 - just double everything & if you'd like, try cream of mushroom as your 2nd can of soup!

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix soup, broth & sour cream in a bowl. Add chicken & poppy seeds; stir to coat. Pour into an 8x8 pan. Top with crushed crackers & top with melted butter. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve with brown rice.

Friday, November 12, 2010

If a Reece's PB Cup Dressed Up As a Cookie.....

... this is what it'd be! It's been a while since I posted a Cookie Monday recipe. Sorry 'bout that! These were the ones I made this past Monday & they were a hit with everyone that had some (I'm looking at you, Joel!) I think they're technically called Magic Middle Cookies. That's as good of a name as any, I suppose! They're kind of a lot of work so maybe save them for either a special person or a special occasion. But whatever you choose, just know that you & everyone you share them with will be SO grateful for your efforts!

Here's what you need:

Flour, peanut butter, powdered sugar, baking soda, margarine, cocoa, salt, vanilla, white sugar, brown sugar & eggs.

First thing you'll do is cream together your margarine, peanut butter, white & brown sugars. Beat it until it's somewhat fluffy & light.

Add in the egg + 1 yolk & vanilla. Give it another good mix.

Now, in another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, soda & salt. A whisk works well to combine the dry ingredients.

Carefully add the dry mix into the creamed mixture. Just watch out for the dust cloud! Cocoa has a hard time combining with wet ingredients so it'll fight you for a minute. You can drape a towel around your mixer/bowl to keep the mess to a minimum (just makes your your beaters don't grab it! LOL) If it looks like it might be a little too dry (if you are like me & live somewhere where single-digit humidity is not uncommon!) you can mix in about 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk.

Now set that aside & get ready to work on your filling - the peanut butter mixture. This one's totally simple - just mix together the peanut butter & powdered sugar. I started out using my silicone spatula but that was miserable so I switched to a metal spoon & it worked great!

All right. Ready to get your hands dirty!!??

Take a TEASPOON and measure out a bunch of little peanut butter balls. ONLY a teaspoon! Resist the 'scooping ice cream' instinct to heap it here. Just a teaspoon. Roll them in your palms & set them aside.

Next do the same with the chocolate dough, only now you'll use a TABLESPOON to measure it out. Roll it in your hands like you did before.

Now take one chocolate ball, press your thumb into it to make a well. Take a peanut butter ball & stick it in the depression. Carefully use your fingers to work the chocolate dough up & around the PB ball. Pinch it shut, making sure no PB is showing through.

Roll that ball in a dish of white sugar. Place it on a cookie sheet that you have either sprayed with PAM (which you know I absolutely hate!) or lined with parchment paper (thumbs up). Then take a glass, dip the bottom into the dish of sugar & carefully smoosh each cookie down to about 1/2" thick.

Now take that pan & pop it into an oven set to 375 for 7 minutes.

When you can smell the chocolate you know they're done!

Wanna see the magic!?

Ahhhh....... A little piece of love.

Magic Middle Cookies:

Chocolate Dough:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar (plus extra for dredging)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, plus 1 yolk

Peanut Butter Dough:
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, margarine & peanut butter until well combined & fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg, beating to combine.

In another bowl combine the cocoa, flour, soda & salt. Add to the creamed mixture, blending well.

In yet another bowl, combine powdered sugar & peanut butter to create PB dough.

Now preheat oven to 375.

Using a measured teaspoon, roll the PB dough into balls. Do the same with the chocolate dough, using a tablespoon. Use your thumb to make an indention in a chocolate ball. Put a PB ball into the dent & carefully form the chocolate dough around it, sealing it to prevent the PB from oozing out & roll in your hands one more time to smooth it alll out.

Roll the ball in white sugar, set on a parchment lined cookie sheet & flatten to 1/2" with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar.

Bake in 375 oven for 7 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I've seen this feature on several of the blogs I stalk... I mean follow & I thought I'd jump in on the fun. Each Wednesday I'll post a pic or two... or three with no words. Just a picture that speaks for itself. And even though this is a food blog, I'm a family gal first, so if you see my family make its way onto the pages that's why! I hope you enjoy Wordless Wednesday... and now I'll stop talking so it can truly be wordless!! LOL

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Breakfast Casserole

I don't like eggs. At all. I don't like the taste, I don't like the texture, I don't like the smell.... not even a little. I've even been known to turn down french toast because the egg is too strong for me. I know - crazy, huh? The only way I can eat an egg is if it's baked into a cake, or cookies, or a pan of brownies!! LOL There is, however, one exception. This. My mother-in-law made this late one night on her youngest daughter's prom night. After the dance a big group of kids came to the house to keep the fun going. They watched a movie, played some games & had a '4th meal'. Zac & I were there for it & I could smell this cooking as we were waiting to be invaded with too many teenagers. It smelled great! But when she told me what it was I turned my nose at it. But then curiosity got to me. And hunger knocked. I built my courage & decided tat maybe I could get past the egg. Armed with a glass of milk I took a toddler-sized bite. Hmmm. That wasn't too bad. Another bite. Hmmm. That's actually kinda good! Another bite. Are you sure there's egg in here? This is good stuff!! And now it's something we have regularly around our house - and it always goes over well with everyone... even this egg hater!


Frozen diced hash browns, ham, eggs, shredded cheese, milk, butter, salt & pepper.

First step is to heat your oven to 425. Put some butter in a dish - 8x8 or 9x13, depending how big you want to make this - and put it into the oven to melt the butter in the pan. Don't forget it's in there, though, because nobody likes burned butter. Not that I know ANYthing about burning butter! *blush* Pull the hot pan out & add in your hash browns. Pat them down & then pop it back into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

While that is cooking dice up your ham & whisk the eggs, milk, salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.

After your 20-25 minutes pull the pan out and REDUCE THE HEAT TO 350!! I forget to do that a solid 50% of the time & end up with overcooked casserole!

Sprinkle the ham over the potatoes, top with cheese.

Now evenly pour your egg mixture over it all.

Put it back into the **350** oven that you remembered to reduce for another 30 minutes. Here it is!!

We had it with some sausage & strawberries tonight. GOOD stuff!

One of my favorite parts of this is the edge! The cheese and butter ooze up together & turn into a thin, crispy, almost-burnt little gem! Can you see it there along the top!? Yum.

Breakfast Casserole:

For an 8x8:
2 Tbsp butter
8 oz frozen diced hash browns (my store only has 32-oz bags so I use about 1/4 of it.)
1 1/2 cup diced ham
1 cup shredded Cheddar Jack cheese
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk
salt & pepper

For a 9x13 just double it!

Put the butter in the pan & melt it in the oven at 425. Once melted, add the potatoes & pat down lightly. Return to the oven & cook 20-25 minutes.

In a bowl, beat together eggs, milk. salt & pepper.

Once the potatoes are done reduce oven temp to 350. Sprinkle potatoes with ham, then cheese, then pour the egg mixture over the top. Return to the oven for about 30 minutes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekly Menu, 11/1- 11/7

I've been awfully lazy about making & posting menues lately! And it makes it so much harder to get dinner on the table when I don't already know what we're having - and that I have all I need to make it ready in the pantry & fridge. So I really need a swift kick in the behind to get me posting menus again! What are you guys having this week? Trying any new recipes?

Monday: (Zac @ work) Fish sticks, mac & cheese, strawberries, smoothies

Tuesday: (Zac @ work) Chicken nuggets, bananas

Wednesday: Kielbasa coins, pasta-roni, spinach salad

Thursday: 3-Cheese Penne, carrot sticks, green salad, crescent rolls

Friday: (Zac @ work) Hot dogs, mac & cheese, applesauce

Saturday: Grilled chicken, green bean fries, peaches

Sunday: (Zac @ work) Pulled pork, green peas

........ can you tell that I totally go lazy on the days Hubby's on shift!!?? I love to cook - but I also like to feel like the food was appreciated & frankly, the kids don't care if I spent 2 hours on a hand-battered, pan-fried, basted-in-homemade-sauce, then-finally-baked sweet & sour chicken or if I pop some frozen, machine battered meat into the toaster oven for 15-18 minutes at 350 so..... you can obviously see which one I choose!!! LOL

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Bread

I figured with Halloween having come & gone and with Thanksgiving knocking on the door, it was finally time for me to dive into a can of pumpkin! To me, no flavor says fall like pumpkin. It's rich, smooth, full of warm flavors & just invites the crisp, cool, fresh air to blow around outside. I love pumpkin - pumpkin pie, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, cream cheese pumpkin bars, pumpkin muffins & this pumpkin spice bread. There are so many wonderful ways to use pumpkin in your baking - and all of them put a smile [and a few extra pounds] on my tummy!

Your line up:

Canned pumpkin (NOT pie!), eggs, veg/canola oil, applesauce, sugar, flour, vanilla, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, pecans or walnuts (optional, not pictured).

Start out by mixing the pumpkin, eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla in your mixer.

Now add in all your dry ingredients, except for the nuts.

Now chop up your nuts, if you're gonna use them. I'd planned on putting walnuts in this time but I checked my cupboard d& freezer & only had almonds & pecans - so pecans it was! And I really liked it so I'm glad the walnuts were gone! Toss them in the mix & give it a whirl.

Pour the batter into two prepped 9x5 loaf pans.

You ready to fill your house with the amazing smell of spiced pumpkin bread!!?? Pop these into the oven at 350 for about 65 minutes. With about 20-25 minutes left tent the edges in foil to keep them from burning before the rest of the bread is done.

Then pull it out & let it cool on a rack. Slice & enjoy! If you don't think you can manage both loaves before it would dry out wrap it in foil, stick it in a ziplock bag & freeze the second loaf. They thaw out nicely on the counter top.

Mmmmm. This bread is a little heavy on the spices but that's why it's so delicious! The ginger, the nutmeg, the cloves & the cinnamon - it all just blends together and compliments the pumpkin to create a wonderful, warm, flavor of autumn! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Bread:

1 15-oz can of pumpkin
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease/flour 2 loaf pans.

In a large bowl mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar & vanilla until well blended. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl, mix well. Add nuts, blend again.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans & bake at 350 for 65 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If edges begin to brown tent them with foil. Cool on wire racks.