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Monday, July 16, 2012

Chaos, Peace, and Almond Bark Pretzels

I can basically break every year down into two parts.  I call them Chaos and Peace.  Peace starts in February once our taxes are submitted and lasts until August.  Chaos starts with runs through "back to school" time, birthdays for Colton, CheyAnn, Kira, my sister, my mother, Katelyn, myself, and my husband, and also includes Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  It is then punctuated with preparing for taxes in January and submitting them in February.  By then I welcome Peace with a sigh of relief.

Why am I rambling about this?  Well, as I have begun thinking about what fun cake designs to do for the three kids who have August birthdays and thinking of how Chaos is about to begin, that got me thinking about the holidays and one of our favorite Christmas treats that is seriously so easy it is almost embarrassing to call it a "recipe":  Almond Bark Pretzels!  We make lots of them every Christmas....some to give away to friends, some to eat while we make more, and some for during the Christmas holiday.

So here it is...Almond Bark Pretzels!!!

I like to use the little knot pretzels or else the really big fat pretzels sticks for this, but you can use whatever your favorite type of pretzel is...

Melt Almond Bark (found by the chocolate chips at the grocery store) in your crock pot on low heat.

Using a fork or some other utensil to avoid burning your fingers, dip the pretzels into the melted almond bark and then let them cool/dry on waxed paper.

Yep.  That's it.  If it is Christmas I usually sprinkle a little green or red colored sugar on them just to make them look festive. must try these!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicken Tacos

In the crockpot, place 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 package of dry taco seasoning, 1 package of dry chicken gravy mix (sounds weird...but trust me, this is gonna be good!), and 1 small can chicken broth.  Slow cook on low for six hours.  About four hours into the cooking time, shred the chicken with forks or cut up into small pieces with a kitchen scissors.  Then continue cooking until the six hour mark so that the chicken can absorb some of the yummy liquid!  Drain with a slotted spoon and place on warmed tortillas.  Then top with your favorite taco toppings (ie. lettuce, tomato, black olives, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa).  Soooooooooo good!

Beef Au Jus Sandwiches

Slow cook the following ingredients in a crock pot for six hours on low:

1 Chuck roast
1 cup of water
1 packet of dry au jus mix (found at the store near gravy mixes)
Season with onion powder, black pepper, salt

After slow-cooking for six hours, the roast will be very tender.  Either shred it with a fork or use a kitchen scissors to cut it into bits (while still in crock pot).  Strain meat and put it on hard rolls.  Put extra liquid into small dishes for au jus sauce to dip the sandwiches in.  Delicious!

Barbacoa (Pulled Pork)

Cook the following ingredients on low in crock pot for six hours:

1 pork roast (trim fat off first)
1 can of Dr. Pepper or Coke
1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
Season to taste with onion powder and any other seasoning you like

After it has slow-cooked for six hours it will be very tender.  Then you can either shred the pork with a fork or else cut it into bits with kitchen scissors.  Serve on hard rolls. YUMMY!

Freakin' Amazing Cheesecake

2 cream cheese
16 oz. sour cream
1/4 lb. butter
6 eggs
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice

Let all ingredients come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Blend cream cheese, butter, and sour cream together with mixer on high speed.  Then add cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Next, beat in one egg at a time until all are well-mixed.  Pour into a greased 10 inch springform pan.  Place the springform pan into a large roasting pan.  Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come 1/2 way up the OUTSIDE of the springform pan.  Bake at 375 dgrees for one hour or until the top is brown.  Check after 40 minutes.

After it is finished cooking til the top is brown, turn off the oven and open the oven door.  Let the cake cool in the oven for one hour.  Then remove it from the oven and let it stand for 2 hours.  Refridgerate for at least 6 hours before serving.  Cut into sixteen slices with dental floss.  For best results, wipe floss after each cut.

***This is delicious plain, but sometimes I like to cut up strawberries and add a touch of water and a little sugar and drizzle the strawberry mixture over the cheesecake.  Freakin' amazing!

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

25.6 oz. box of instant non-fat dry milk (about 10 2/3 cups)
6 oz. jar of non-dairy creamer (about 3 cups)  ie. Coffeemate
2 cups powdered sugar
16 oz. can Nestle's Quik drink mix

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  If desired, sprinkle a little cinnamon in it to give it a holiday flavor.  Makes about 17 cups of mix.  Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Use within 6 months.

To make a cup of hot chocolate from the mix:
Fill mug about 1/4 full of mix, add hot water, stir.  Great topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.  Enjoy!

***You can put the dry mix into a cute jar and makes a fun holiday gift : )

Cheesy Potatoes

2 lb. bag southern style hashbrowns
1 can cream of potato soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 stick butter
2 cups Velveeta

Spray 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.  Spread the frozen hashbrowns in bottom of pan.  Cook remaining ingredients on stovetop at medium heat until warm.  Pour the melted Velveeta mixture over the hashbrowns.

If desired, may crush 2 cups of corn flakes and sprinkle on top.

Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour at 350 degrees (until bubbly).  Freezes great for cooking later, too!

Stuffing-Stuffed Chicken

1 box Stove Top stuffing, prepared
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Pound the chicken breasts flat, then cover 1/2 of breast with stuffing.  Fold the chicken over and use a toothpick to hold it in place.  Repeat with the other chicken breasts.

Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour or until chicken cooked through.

**can sprinkle dried bread crumbs on top or drizzle cream of mushroom soup on top, if desired.

Chicken Roll-ups

Our oldest son graduated from high school in May and is getting ready to go out into the world on his own.  It is exciting and a little terrifying to know that he will be left to his own devices.  Hope he learned everything he needs to know.  There is something really fabulous about watching them learn how to become interested in things like buying housewares!  Anyway, going through my cookbook to find some of my "cheap and easy" recipes for here we go!

Chicken Roll-ups

1 can cream of celery soup
1 can chicken broth
1 can cooked chicken (12.5 oz)
Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
1 package crescent rolls

Combine the soup and the broth in a bowl.  Pour half of it into the pan.  Set aside.

Combine broken up chicken pieces with equal amounts of shredded cheddar cheese in a bowl.  Fill each crescent roll with the chicken/cheese mixture and then roll up (sorta like you do with pigs in a blanket).  Place them in the pan.  Pour the remaining soup mixture over the top and sprinkle with a little more shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour.  Yummy : )