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Monday, October 31, 2011

Kitty Litter Cake

What can I say about this cake?  It looks completely nasty, it tastes great, and is perfect for a Halloween Party or as an April Fool's joke.  You can make it even easier by using store-bought marble cake (2 cakes make a lot, but it did fill up the smallest litter box I could find) and pudding cups. Don't be too hurt if people don't eat it, though.  It took some bribing and daring to get some to try it and our party. :)

Ingredients:1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix

1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (12 ounce) package vanilla sandwich cookies
5 drops green food coloring
16 tootsie rolls
Brand New Kitty Litter Box (small size)
Brand New Pooper Scooper


Directions:
Make your white and German chocolate cake and instant vanilla pudding according to package directions. For the cakes, it doesn't matter what size pan they are made in or what they look like because you will be crumbling them together.


Crumble vanilla sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor. To 1/4 cup of the crumbs add green food coloring and mix together with your hand, creating flecks of color in the crumbs; set aside.

When cakes are cooled to room temperature crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding, making the cake moist.

Put the cake mixture into the kitty litter box. Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat for about 12 seconds or until soft. Shape the ends so they are no longer blunt, curving the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle the cake with the other half of the remaining cookie crumbs. Sprinkle the green flecked cookie crumbs over the top.
Heat the remaining tootsie rolls in the microwave and strategically place them over the top of the cake mixture. Don't forget to hang a few over the side to get the full, disgusting effect. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve each guest personally with a pooper scooper for a gross Halloween dessert.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chicken Gyros

 
During my long blogging break, I made a lot of great recipes that became favorites in our house.  This is one of them. Normally, I do not care for the traditional gryo because of the lamb, so this is the perfect substitute for me. I love how easy these are to make and the flavor is amazing. The cool cucumber tzatziki with garlic and lemon combined with more garlic and lemon flavor on the chicken make these fantastic.  Consider this a perfect option for a quick weeknight meal (I make the tzatziki and marinade ahead so it's ready to go in the evening).  

I have made my own pitas for this recipe and while they are great, sometimes I just want to skip that step. After trying a couple store bought pitas, I found a great one: Kontos Pan Plano flatbread.  They are soft and not dried out like the other brands I've tried. Check if your grocery carries them.

Source: Elly Says Opa

Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken boneless chicken breast
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tbsp. plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
Tzatziki (recipe follows)
sliced tomatoes
sliced red onions
4 (pocketless) pitas

Directions:
Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade in. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the broiler (or grill, or pan on the stove). Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and then broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side, depending what size/type chicken you are using. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.

Meanwhile, heat your pitas.  Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions. Roll up and eat!

Tzatziki:

Ingredients:
16 oz. plain yogurt
1 hothouse cucumber or 2 regular cucumbers, seeded
3-5 cloves garlic–depending how garlicky you like it, crushed
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and a little pepper
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth over a bowl (if you don’t have that, a strainer lined with a coffee filter will work) for several hours or overnight to get out as much moisture as possible.

Peel and seed the cucumber. Shred or grate the cucumbers and then squeeze the life out of them to get rid of as much excess moisture as possible. I use a kitchen towel to do this, and you will get a lot of liquid so don’t skip this step! Yes, there is a lot of straining and squeezing–and it’s all important! You don’t want a runny tzatziki

Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. Salt to taste. It’s best to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving, so flavors can meld.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup


I enjoyed participating in the last recipe swap, so I decided to play another round.  The new theme was Soup & Stew and I was given this recipe for French Onion Soup from Christen at Cooking with Christen. Aaron really loves French Onion Soup and I have never made it, so this was a perfect swap for us.

I decided to make half this recipe so we could have 4 servings instead of 8.  I used 2 onions and low sodium broth. I followed the recommendations of several reviews to carmelize the onions before putting them in the crockpot, and to cook it longer.  I added a bit of red cooking wine and worcestershire sauce as well.  Instead of making this in the morning before work, I put it all together before going to bed and let it cook on low for about 20 hours total.

For the next 20 hours I lost my excitement for this meal.  I used sweet onions and our house had an overwhelming onion smell as it cooked - so much that we had to open doors and windows (sorry neighbors!).  The taste was fantastic, though. I used fontina cheese on the bread and put it under the broiler to melt and brown.  The onions were soft and buttery, but I still thought it was still too salty overall.  Next time I would try and find low-sodium beef consumme in addition to low-sodium broth. Otherwise, this is a great and easy recipe. Thanks for sharing Christen!

View the full round-up at A Taste of Home Cooking.

Source: Sandra Lee

Ingredients:
  • 5 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) low sodium beef broth (recommended: Swanson's)
  • 2 cans (10 ounces) beef consomme (recommended: Campbell's)
  • 1 packet onion soup mix (recommended: Lipton's)
  • 8 slices French bread, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere

Directions:
Combine onions, broth, consomme, and soup mix in a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH setting for 4 hours, or LOW setting for 8 hours.

Ladle soup into serving bowls. Top with a slice of French bread. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over each bread slice. Put soup bowls under broiler until cheese is melted. Alternatively, place the bread on a baking sheet and top with cheese; broil until cheese has melted, about 30 to 40 seconds, and set on top just before serving.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

It's been a while since a banana has sat in our fruit bowl long enough to become overripe. For a long time, we actually had to hide bananas from Caitlin because anytime she saw one, she would go crazy until she got it!  But, she's moved on to obsessing over grapes since then, so we're back to the occassional banana problem. 

Last weekend we locked ourselves at home to do 3-day potty-training, so we spent some time in the kitchen baking.  I found a recipe that used 3 ripe bananas and a sweet potato. I just happened to have an extra of those, too, so this recipe was perfect - I didn't need to leave the house!

The muffins came out very moist with a nice Fall flavor. I can definitely taste the sweet potato and banana in them. It has become the breakfast of choice this week for Caitlin...and since she has practically eaten the entire batch herself, I am happy to say she ate a sweet potato this week. That's big.

Source: Noshings
 
Ingredients:
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
3 whole Medium, ripe Bananas
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Vegetable Oil
2 whole Eggs (large)
2 cups Flour, Not Sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoons Salt

2/3 cups Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)
1/2 cups Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Directions:
Mix together sweet potatoes, bananas, sugar, oil and eggs.

Then add in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips.

Fold batter carefully until flour is incorporated.

If adding walnuts, save and sprinkle on top so they can toast as the muffins bake.

Spoon into muffin tins and bake for approximately 25 -30 minutes at 350.
 
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