Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Friday - Monkey Bread and Taco Pasta Salad

My sister Becca and I grew up in the kitchen. We loved to cook (or in Becca's case TRY to cook... (love you)) and watch my parents cook. It was always fascinating to see what would be thrown in next or what the outcome would be. We especially loved it when we were allowed to help. My favorite thing that mom let us help her with was ooey, gooey, delicious monkey bread. I highly recommend you make this for breakfast on Saturdays while sitting around in your PJs watching cartoons. Oh the memories.

Be prepared though, I saw on Wednesday night that they sell frozen monkey bread at Wal-mart. It was a disappointing time in my life. I will never buy it because mine is better and it is prettier and yummier and it is  homemade! (SO THERE!)

Monkey Bread:

3 (10 oz) packages of refrigerated biscuit dough
3/4 cup white sugar (I substitute Splenda)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup white sugar (I did mean to put this twice because it has to be separated)

Mix together one of the sugars and the cinnamon. Cut the biscuits into bite size pieces (about 1" each) with scissors. If they start to get sticky just give them a good rinse. Dip the biscuits into the cinnamon sugar mixture and put into a bunt pan (or angel food cake pan).

Next, melt butter and mix in the remaining sugar and pour this mixture over the biscuit/cinnamon sugar mixture in pan. Bake this concoction for 35 minutes at 350*. When you take it out you should be able to peal apart and enjoy! As I mentioned, you will not get the full experience unless you are in your PJs and watching cartoons.

Now, for those of you (ahem... soon to be MRS. Heather) who love pasta, here is one for the books. And by that I mean: write this down because it is amazing and easy and will make your husband, boyfriend, friends, (and if you are lacking in any of the above) your tummy LOVE you. This is a "Julie Milk-The-Cow-Ski" family tradition with some slight modifications:


    2 cups uncooked spiral pasta
    1 pound ground beef (I use lean ground beef (makes me feel better about myself...))
    1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
    3 cups shredded lettuce
    2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
    1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/2 cup Catalina salad dressing
    2 cups Corn Chips (Strips, not scoops)
  1. Cook pasta and in a separate skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the taco seasoning; cool.
  2. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water; stir into meat mixture. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onion, corn chips, and dressing; toss to coat. 
 ***Sometimes, if you want to mix it up a bit just leave out the pasta (which means it is just taco salad). It is a VERY tasty side. 

And JUST because my husband says I need more pictures on here, you can see below what Google says Monkey Bread and Taco Salad should look like (they are pretty accurate). Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

With pasta. Yum.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Food Friday

Well everyone (the very few people) who reads this know that I have a passion for cooking. I would love to cook as a career, but that would make it an obligation as opposed to a hobby. I could be wrong.

Anyway, I love to take recipes that I hear from other people or read about and turn them into something unique. I am going to try (emphasis on the word "try" as I am nearly incapable of being on time for these things) to post a recipe on Fridays. Some are simple and some might prove to be a bit of a challenge but bear with me. If I can do it, you can do it!

My friend Ann and I both share this passion for food.Often times/almost every time I go to her house she has a cookbook on the counter. This always gives me something to look at too! I can guarantee you that we bring up a recipe or some type of cooking adventure at least once each time we see each other which I think is why we get along so well!

At some point we have plans to have a Chinese food night where she will make won-tons and I will make egg rolls and everything else will just come together. When that time comes, I will write about it. But for now, here is what I have for this first Food Friday:

First is a Greek pasta salad that my Aunt Larinda made one fine day in July. In fact it may have been the fourth, but that is irrelevant so please forgive my rambling. Anyway, she threw together this salad and it was amazing! I may be missing something or may have added something that she didn't, but this recipe is a winner for my husband and you might like it too (plus it is SUPER easy):

1 (1lb) box of Penne pasta cooked and strained
3 tbsp grape seed oil (better for you than vegetable oil, olive oil etc... and has amazing flavor)
1 (5oz) package of crumbled feta cheese
1 (3.5oz) package of sun dried tomatoes cut julienne
2 tbsp fresh basil chopped (you can use dried basil, but fresh has better flavor)

Mix everything together and enjoy!!

**Tip: Run the pasta under cold water to rinse until pasta is very cold. That way you don't have to wait for it to cool off in the fridge!


Next, I want to share this amazingly easy and delicious recipe that Tyler and I have had all too regularly...Apple Crisp. I would like to start by saying I love Fall. I love the colors, the smell, the weather, and most importantly, the apples from Wayne and Carmen's apple tree. One very cool day in August, Tyler and I went outside and picked apples (we kept the pretty and delicious looking ones and gave the rest to Holly and Flash, their horses). While Tyler made burgers, Carmen and I got to work making apple crisp from one of her Methodist cookbooks. (I might be biased, but Methodist cookbooks are always the best because they are old and traditional and every one of them is uniquely delicious). Again, I apologize for rambling but here is the recipe:

Fill a 9x9 baking dish about half way with peeled, cored, and sliced apples
In a large bowl combine 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup quick oats (oatmeal), and 3/4 cup softened butter. Mix until it is crumbly. Break apart and crumble on top of the apples. Bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

**Tip: Tyler LOVES the crisp part (but not as much as me...) so we normally double the recipe (but not the apples) and put some on the bottom of the baking dish before we put the apples in. Yum!!

This is a Google picture, but mine looks the same. Or it did... before we ate it!
Happy baking!!!


Friday, September 2, 2011

What's Cooking??

Happy Friday!

So I have come to a conclusion. Not a super exciting one so don't try to read faster to find out what it is, you will get there soon enough. My conclusion is this. I am boring. By that I don't mean I don't do things, see things, etc... I just mean that I don't write a whole lot of interesting things. So I have made a decision that I will start adding at least one recipe per day. With pictures. I can't won't guarantee that I will inform you of my flops but we'll see.

The reason I am doing recipes rather than another hobby say, knitting, sewing, or scrap booking is because of the following:
  1. I am not a very creative scrapbooker and
  2. I can't knit... or sew (some wife I am)
I thought of cooking because it is therapeutic and wonderful and I had a disagreement with my dear sweet husband about my recent cookie adventure that goes a little like this:

I found a recipe for cookies on the back of the flour bag and I thought I would give it a go (I will give you the recipe momentarily). They turned out GREAT even though Tyler may not have been as big of a fan (calling them "Muffin Cookies" due to their size/thickness. But I don't care. They are wonderful and I would like to share the recipe with you courtesy of Cub All Purpose Flour. As my father-in-law says, "The people that make the product best know what it can make". I concur.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup light packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I substituted Splenda which is the same cup-for-cup as sugar)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I cheat here and add mini M&Ms and half of a bag (about 6oz) milk chocolate chips instead)
1 cup chopped walnuts (let's be honest, you can add walnuts to any recipe. I choose not to)

Preheat oven to 375*F and mix all ingredients except chips (and M&Ms and nuts if you choose). Then mix in the nuts, chips, M&Ms etc... Drop teaspoon sized balls on pan/cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes or until just starting to brown.
This makes a LOT of cookies (enough to bring on my camping trip AND for Tyler to bring some on his hunting trip. They look like this:

I have amazing equipment too now since we got the amazing Kitchen Aid stand mixer for our wedding (it's red)!!!

I figure since I already have your mouths watering, I can let you in on what we are having tonight for our girl-only camping adventure... TIN FOIL DINNERS! I know I might be over-reacting a smidge but I really love them because they are easy, cheap, delicious, and clean-up is a breeze! Here is the recipe that WE use (you can improvise):

Keep in mind this will feed 4 girls!

2 pounds ground beef
1 bag carrots
1 bag potatoes (or steak fries if you want to simplify a simple meal)
1 large onion
Lawry's seasoned salt
Tin Foil
A fork.

Rip off a LONG piece of tin foil for each person (I'm talking 3 feet, you don't want your food to burn) and fold it a few times until it is about 12 inches long. You are essentially making an oven for your food to cook in. Put all of the ingredients in the middle of the foil slicing and dicing however you wish. We typically leave the carrots whole, leave the onion in round pieces (slice about 4-5 times), piece up the ground beef, toss in some fries, and just add a bit of butter and salt. Fold so it is closed good and tight and place in a grill or if you are camping like us, over the fire. Remove after about 30-40 minutes or when meat is cooked through and peel back the sides exposing the food and making a kind of bowl. Grab your fork and enjoy!
This was at Gooseberry Falls last year.
You can plate it or eat it from foil and it is delicious!

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Mrs. Knott : )
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