Monday, February 28, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Fields Forever

My mom used to make this pretzel salad when we were growing up and going to a picnic or covered dish supper. The funny thing is that I never liked it that much growing up, but boy has that changed. My mom made this for a Super Bowl Party we had this year and OMG!!!!!! it was sooooo good!! Seriously, you have no idea how good it was. And what's even funnier is the recipe is called "My Friend Pat's Pretzel Salad". Ha! I have no idea who Pat is, but her recipe for Pretzel Salad is yummmmy! :)

The first thing you do is take 2 cups of pretzels and crush them. I think the easiest thing to do is to put them into a zip lock bag

and then take a rolling pin and roll it over the pretzels and that's it. So simple and an easy cleanup too. Bonus! Save a few of the crushed pretzels to garnish with at the end.

Next you want to melt 3/4 cup of margarine and then mix that together with the crushed pretzels and 4 tbsp. of sugar. Spread the pretzel/butter mixture over the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Bake this for 8 minutes in a 400-degree oven. Cool.

Next you want to cream together an 8-0z cream cheese and 1/3 cup of sugar. Then fold into that mixture 8 ounces of Cool Whip.

Then spread this over the crushed pretzels. Note this looks a bit lumpy and it should not. :) This is because we did not completely cream the cream cheese and sugar first before folding in the Cool Whip. Make sure you do this and it will not be lumpy.

Next you want to prepare a small box of strawberry Jello with 1 3/4 cup of boiling water. And then stir in the frozen strawberries. Pour this over the cream cheese layer. And then refrigerate for 3 hours.

Have you ever had this or something similar? It is really really good. :) You should go out and buy the ingredients tomorrow and then surprise your family with this delicious treat. They will definitely be your besties!! Pinky swear!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pecan Gems

This is my Great Aunt Tissie's (her real name is Clarissa, but when I was little I couldn't say that and so somehow we all call her Tissie) recipe for Pecan Gem cookies. Now, my family always pronounced pecan as pee-kin, not sure why or how it got started, but that's how I grew up pronouncing them and I still do occasionally. Ha! I have also heard these cookies called Pecan Tassies, but that just doesn't make sense to me. They are a gem!

Anywho, these are my one of my absolute favorite cookies to make at Christmas. Not sure, why only Christmas though. I mean really, we make cookies other times of the year too right, so why not these? Hmmm, maybe I'll have to make them again soon. Or, maybe you'll have to make them and tell me how you like them. They are really easy to make too.

First you mix together 1 stick of soft butter with 1 3-oz. cream cheese and 1 cup of flour. This can be difficult to mix and so I use a pastry blender to mix it. Looooove this utensil, it makes cooking easier and it's fun too!

Next, you take a little bit of the dough and pinch it into a little ball and then place it into a gem pan. This is what my great aunt called it. Now today, we call it a small muffin tin. :) You will have to form it around the sides of each gem pan. I used this cool little utensil I got from Pampered Chef but cannot think of what it is called. DO NOT grease the pan. There is way enough butter in the dough so it won't stick.

Next, you mix together 3/4 cup of lite brown sugar, 1 egg and 1 tbsp. of melted butter and 1 tsp of vanilla. Put this mixture into a saucepan and heat on the stove until it just comes to a boil. Do not overcook it.

Once it comes to a boil, take it off the stove and let it cook a little bit and then add in 1 cup of chopped pecans.

Spoon the mixture into the gem pans evenly and then cook in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 250 degrees for an additional 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and let them cool completely before removing from the gem pans.

OMG!!! Seriously, seriously the BEST thing you've ever tasted. It is just like eating a mini pecan pie. It's a fantastic treat in your mouth. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Fab-u-lous!!!!!! Please, make them now and there be a party going on!!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sick of the Snow? Make a Snowball Cake.

I made this Snowball Cake for Christmas dinner. It is sooooo good and really lovely. And did I mention that it is so simple to make. Seriously, even the cooking challenged could make this cake! Ha! :)

So many of my friends in CT. are sick of the snow and so I figured they could make this Snowball Cake and maybe not hate it so much. I love the snow and it figures that I moved back home to PA. and then it snows a ton in CT.

So, first you mix a Devil's Food Cake according to the directions. I mix this in a glass mixing bowl and this is what I bake it in too. Make sure you have a bowl that you are able to put in the oven.

Next, mix together one block of 8-0z cream cheese and 1 egg and 2 tbsp. of sugar.

Then plop (yep, that's exactly what you do) it right in the center of the cake mixture and then put the bowl in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes.

After baking take out of the oven and cool for about 10 minutes or so

and then turn over inverted and empty onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely.

For the icing, mix 1 package of Vanilla Instant Pudding, 1/4 cup of Powdered Sugar and 1 cup of milk. Stir in 2 cups of Cool Whip.

Once the cake has cooled completely, ice the cake and then sprinkle white coconut all over the cake. I probably used more than what was called for, but I think it looks so pretty with all of the coconut on top and on the platter too.

Beautiful right? Now, the snow is not so bad right. Make this cake and the snow will not seem so bad anymore. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mac & Cheese in the Crock Pot

I love, love LOVE Macaroni & Cheese. No seriously, I really, really love Macaroni & Cheese. I have always loved it since I was a little girl. In fact, until two years ago, I've had homemade Baked Macaroni & Cheese every year for my birthday since I was about 7 probably. I can eat Macaroni & Cheese from the blue box, from the yellow box, at a restaurant, at home (okay, I am starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss story. Ha!) or anywhere. I really love the stuff. It is my FAVORITE!!!!! OMG! fab-u-lous. If it is on the menu at a restaurant then guaranteed I am trying it!

About three years ago my mom started making this Macaroni & Cheese for picnics and it is to die for! And the best part is that is made in a crock pot! How cool is that? You add everything together and that's it! Presto, a couple of hours later and it's done!

Here's what's in it:

You first cook 7 ounces of macaroni on the stove and then add to a crock pot.

Then you take 1 cup of sour cream,

and then 2 cups of small curd cottage cheese,

and 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.

Mix that all together with 3/4 tsp. of salt, 1/4 tsp. of garlic salt, 1/4 tsp. of pepper and then let it cook. That's it! OMG!!! It is so stinkin' good. It is creamy and gooey and cheesy. Mmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. If your family and kids love Macaroni & Cheese then you've got to make this one because they will LOVE it!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's a Fruitcake, not a Door Stop!

My mom uses my Grandma Tarner's recipe for fruitcake and she makes one every year. She used to make both a dark Fruitcake (which was my favorite, but darnit she doesn't make those anymore!) and a white fruitcake.

Now fruitcakes get a bad wrap. Yes, they are the butt of a lot of jokes, but seriously the one my mom makes is out of this world!! She has had people tell her they don't like fruitcake, but they do like her's! Yes, it really is that good. Plus, the colors are amazing. I swear it is like looking at a stained glass window when you look at a slice and hold it up to the light. Ha!

I would love to say it is simple to make, but it isn't. There is A LOT of cutting and the cutting up of the fruit is TOUGH!!!!!! Then when you mix everything together there are so many ingredients that it is so HARD to stir! Okay, I'm not really a doing a good job at selling this am I? Ha! But, OMG, the end result is SOOOOOOOO worth it! My peeps, I am telling you, you really need to try one of these at least once before you die because you so won't regret it! I pinky swear!

So, here it goes:

You first cut up all of the dried fruit. These are the cherries. You need one cup of them cut (the container they have at the grocery is plenty.) You can get them in either green or red and this year we got them in green. They are kind of gooey (not sure what the gooeyness is though).

Next you cut up the pineapple. And again, you need one cup. This is incredibly hard to cut. It's dried and so that's probably what makes it so difficult to cut. Again, it comes in the festive red and green colors. Pretty right?

Next, is the citron (again 1 cup). I'm not really sure what kind of fruit this is. I really have no idea. I just know it is candied fruit that you put into fruitcake. :) I asked my mom what it was and her answer was, "the kind you put in a fruitcake". Ha! See.

And then comes the gumdrops (you need about 2 dozen or so). Ugh, now these can be the worst to cut up because of the sugar and the gumminess of them. Okay, I know, "gooeyness and gumminess" are not words, but I like them, so there! :)

The last is the fruitcake fruit stuff. It's already cut up and so that is really simple. Ha!

After you have everything cut up you want to just sprinkle some flour over them to keep them from getting even more sticky overnight. We always cut everything up the night before and then get up the next morning and make the fruitcake.

Now, after everything is cut you just mix it all together in a BIG bowl. You also add some other ingredients that I will mention as we go along.

So, first you take one cup of sugar and mix it with one cup of shortening and four eggs and 2 1/4 cups of flour.

You then mix in 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of baking soda and 1/4 tsp. of cream of tartar.

Next, you add in 1 cup of coconut.

Then, you just start adding in each of the dried, cut-up fruits, one at a time. So, you add in the citron,

then the pineapple,

then the cherries,

then the gumdrops,

then 1 cup of white raisins. Now before you mix the raisins in you should cook them on the stove in a saucepan with water. You just cook them long enough until they plump up. (I swear this is what my grandma's recipe says.)

Next, you add in 1 cup of walnuts,

and then finally you add in the fruitcake fruit.

So, next you grease an Angel Food Cake pan with butter. Make sure you grease it well because you don't want this cake to stick at all. Then take a brown paper bag and trace the bottom of the pan around it and then cut it out, along with a hole in the center. This fits down in the pan. It sounds weird I know, but that's the way my grandmas did it and why mess with something that works right? Just do it. :) You should grease the paper bag too once it is in the pan.

Then you scoop (trust me there is no pouring involved with this humongous cake) the cake into the pan.

Yes, I weighed the fruitcake and it weighed 7.2 pounds!!!!!! It really is heavy!

Then place the pan on the middle rack of a oven and then take two pie plates and fill them with water and put them on the rack under the fruitcake pan. This helps to keep the cake moist as it is baking. You may need to fill the pie plates again before it is done baking. Set the timer for 3 hours and that's it!

Man, is it ever good!!!! Trust me, the store bought fruitcake has nothing on my grandma's! OMG! It is fab-u-lous!!! Really, really good!