Melissa's Cuisine: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010


Chili (12/22/10)

Everyone who has had this recipe says it's some of the best they've ever had! It's versatile enough that I've made it in the Crock-pot, and on the stove. And, if you're really in a pinch for time and putting it in the Crock-pot, you don't even have to cook the meat first! Don't let the list of ingredients scare you, it really does taste fantastic!

This is one of our favorite dinners.  I knew it would be perfect to link up to Soup-a-Palooza.  Check it out here: "Come join Soup-a-Palooza with TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers” 

You will need:

2-1/2 pounds ground beef
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons pre-chopped cloves)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 of a green pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 bottle beer
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons instant beef bouillon (or 6 cubes)
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Stove top directions:
1. In a large saucepan brown meat, drain the fat.

2. Add the garlic, onion, and pepper; cook and stir until tender.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, beer, chili powder, bouillon, oregano, sugar, cocoa, and hot sauce. Mix well.

4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered , for 2 hours.

5. Make sure you allow the chili to simmer for the whole 2 hours, even longer is better to achieve the best flavor. If you think the soupy part is too thin, feel free to thicken it up by mixing 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of flour in a cup and add it to the chili. Simmer for 10 more minutes until thickened.

Crockpot directions:

1. Add all ingredients, except meat, to Crockpot. Mix thoroughly.
2. Add uncooked ground beef and separate into smaller chunks using a spatula.

3. Cook on low for 4-8 hours. If the soup is too thin, follow the above directions to thicken it.

This recipe is entered in:
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seasoned Oven Fries

Seasoned Oven Fries (12/15/10)
I love the taste of oven fries, the crispy outsides, and fluffy insides, and minimal grease! Yum! And, these go great with yesterday's recipe!

You will need:

Potatoes (the number you use depends on how many people you are serving, I usually do 1.5 medium potatoes per person)
Season Salt
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

1. Scrub potatoes clean as you'll leave the peel on.

2. Cut potatoes in half length-wise and then quarter them length-wise.

3. Put cut potatoes in a baking pan or cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

4. Sprinkle with season salt on both sides.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until potatoes are done.

6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese after removing from oven.

Monday, December 27, 2010

MkRib Sandwich

MkRib Sandwich (12/15/10)

This is my take on McDonald's McRib, therefore MkRib ;)

You will need:

1 pan of barbecue rib patties (I got mine from Aldi)
Soft buns

1. Cook rib patties according to directions on the box.
2. Warm buns in oven and split open.
3. Place 1 rib patty on each bun.
4. Top with barbecue sauce and pickles. Serve warm

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut Butter Balls (12/18/10)
This are a Christmas tradition in Mike's family, so we couldn't have our baking day without making these!

You will need:

2 cups butter
2 cups peanut butter (Smooth or chunky)
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 pounds powdered sugar
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 bar cooking wax

1. Whip butter.
2. Add cream cheese and peanut butter.
3. Slowly add powdered sugar. The mixture will become stiff to mix, so knead with your hands if necessary.
4. Chill until workable.
5. Form into 1/2 inch balls.
6. Chill again. (Only needs about 30 minutes this time)
7. Melt chocolate chips and wax in a saucepan over medium heat.
8. Dip peanut butter balls into chocolate and place on cookie sheet until set.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Marshmallows (12/17/10)
You will need:

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cup grandulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp (your choice--peppermint, almond, vanilla etc) extract*
Red gel food coloring (optional)
Baking or cooking spray
Powdered sugar for dusting/stick-proofing

* You could also use vanilla bean paste or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract + the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean pod for a beautiful vanilla bean-flecked marshmallow (eliminate the food coloring).

1. Place 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and set aside.

2. Clip a candy thermometer to a small sauce pan. Heat corn syrup, sugar, salt, and the other 1/2 cup cold water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Turn to high and cook to 240 F (use a candy thermometer), 6-8 minutes longer.

4. Turn mixer to low and slowly pour the hot syrup over the gelatin.

5. Add the flavor extract.

6. Increase the mixer speed to high and let run for 15 minutes until you have a glossy, smooth, and thick marshmallow mixture.

7. While the marshmallow is whisking, heavily coat the inside of an 9x13 pan with margarine.

8. Pour in the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Drop 6-8 drops of red food coloring over the top and swirl with a knife held vertically. Let sit for 4 hours until solidified and cooled.

9. Turn the marshmallow squares out onto a heavily powder-sugared surface. Using a long greased knife, cut the marshmallows into 1-inch pieces.  It helps to dip the knife in water before each cut.  After the marshmallows are cut, dust with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Salted Caramels

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it! I was so excited to use a real vanilla bean, but first I had to find one! Not a lot of stores around here sell vanilla beans, but I discovered my new favorite store (and they carry vanilla beans)!!! I hope to make my own vanilla soon, and continue to make recipes using "fresh" vanilla, like the next recipe!

You will need:

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
1-1/4 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

1. Heavily butter the bottom and sides of an 8x8 pan.

2. Bring cream, butter, vanilla, vanilla beans, pod, and sea salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.

3. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

4. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel.

5. Remove vanilla pods and carefully stir cream mixture into the caramel (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248 on a candy thermometer.

6. Pour into baking pan and cool 30 minutes.

7. Sprinkle another pinch or two of sea salt over the top of the caramel for a nice salty crunch and let sit until completely cooled.

8. Cut into 1-inch pieces (I buttered a pizza cutter), and store in an airtight container.

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pretzel Bites

Pretzel Bites (12/17/10)
These are so simple to make and they really look great in a glass bowl! They are good gifts for Christmas, or easy snacks to make for last minute company!

You will need:

Circle pretzels

1. Place pretzels on a cookie sheet.
2. Unwrap Rolos and place 1 Rolo in the middle of each pretzel.
3. Bake at 300 for 3-4 minutes. Chocolate should just be melted and have a shine to it when you remove it from the oven.
4. Press 1 M&M into the center of each chocolate.
5. Cool until set.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Chocolate Truffles (12/18/10)
I've always wanted to make good truffles, but I've never found a good recipe for them. I've tried ones with cream cheese, but they just haven't been the consistency I've been looking for. Jennifer chose these as her recipe for our baking day, and they are really good. I can't wait to try them again and experiment with more flavors!

You will need:

1-1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons shortening

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips, whipping cream, and butter.
2. Microwave until chips are melted, about 1-1/2 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds. Chocolate and cream burn quickly so be careful not to overheat!
3. Add vanilla and stir until smooth.
4. Refrigerate chocolate mixture until solid, about 1 hour.
5. Shape chocolate mixture into 1/2 inch balls. They will melt quickly in your hands from your body heat, so work quickly. You can put the mixture back in the fridge for a few minutes to harden up again if you need to.
6. Refrigerate chocolate balls until firm.
7. Microwave white chocolate chips and shortening until melted, about 1-1/2 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds until smooth.
8. Dip chocolate balls in white chocolate mixture to coat.
9. Place on waxed paper and let them stand until set. I keep mine in the fridge until about 15 minutes before I serve them to keep their shape.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spritz Cookies with Royal Icing

Spritz Cookies with Royal Icing (12/17/10)

I'd never used royal icing before, but after seeing some incredible cookies decorated with it, I decided it was time to try it out! It worked perfectly since I recently bought a shaped cookie pan, so the cookies were in the shape of snowflakes.It took some experimenting with the consistency of the icing to get it to work correctly, as well as some practice to make decent looking cookies, but this is a glimpse at my first attempt!

For the cookies, you will need:

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the icing, you will need:
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
2. Beat in egg and vanilla.
3. Combine flour and baking powder.
4. Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture.
5. Press cookie dough into your cookie pan (you can also use these cookies in a cookie press as they hold their shape well, or just form them into balls and bake like regular cookies).
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-11 minutes.
7. Place on wire racks to cool.
8. While cookies are cooling, make the royal icing.
9. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the egg whites and vanilla until combined.
10. Add the powdered sugar until combined and smooth. (The icing should be thick enough to make outlines without running. My first attempt was too thick to use in my piping bag. I added a tiny amount of water and it was perfect.)
11. Add food coloring, if desired.
12. Spoon icing into piping bag and decorate cookies as desired! Have fun with it!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

5 Minute Fudge

5 Minute Fudge (12/18/10)

I got this recipe from Mike's mom, it's one of the things that Mike knows how to make, and enjoys making. Mikes's mom, sister, and I spent a good portion of a day making all kinds of Christmas goodies which I'll be sharing this week. We had a great time and have lots of goodies in our houses now!

You will need:
2/3 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk (it's the tiny can)
1-2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows (you can also quarter regular sized marshmallows)
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Mix milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat and add vanilla, chocolate chips, and marshmallows.
4. Stir until marshmallows melt.
5. Immediately pour into a greased 8x8 pan.
6. Cool before cutting into squares.

This recipe makes 2 pounds of fudge!

Original Source: Overisel Christian Reformed Church Centennial Cookbook, 1983 Secret Recipe Club

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Caramel Puffs

Caramel Puffs (12/18/10)
I recently received this recipe from a recipe exchange. I decided to add it to my holiday baking this year and I'm so glad I did! I love caramel corn and this has the same taste, but no kernels! Over the next week, I'll be sharing some of the great recipes I made Friday and Saturday for Christmas, so stay tuned!!!

You will need:
2 bags Jays Corn Puffs
2 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Pour both bags of corn puffs into a turkey roaster pan.
3. In a sauce pan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla.
4. Bring mix to boil over medium heat. Once it begins boiling, boil for 2 minutes. (Don't over boil)
5. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda; the mix will become foamy.
6. Drizzle half the mix over the corn puffs and stir gently.
7. Then pour remaining mix over corn puffs and stir to coat fully.
8. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
9. After the puffs are cooled, break apart and store in airtight container.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pancake and Sausage Bites

Pancake and Sausage Bites (12/7/10)

We keep on seeing commercials for a restaurant that has a similar dish. It sounded so yummy and seemed easy enough, that I decided to try them out myself! It took only about 5 minutes to whip these up and then 20 minutes to bake, quick enough for breakfast, but we had it for dinner!

You will need:
1 cup pancake mix (prepared according to directions on box)
5 breakfast sausage links

1. Prepare pankcake mix as directed on box (I just had to add water to mine).
2. Cut sausage links into 3 pieces.
3. Place 1 piece of sausage in each hole of a greased mini-muffin tin. (Learn from my mistake and grease your tin, please!!!)
4. Pour pancake mix over sausages.
5. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
6. Serve with syrup and enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Berry Cream Filled Chocolate Cups

Berry Cream Filled Chocolate Cups (12/10/10)
Tonight is our first Christmas party of the season. Mike's extended family (great-aunts & uncles etc.) all gather for a rousing game of BINGO (with a huge pile of presents) followed by appetizers and desserts. This is the first year we have been able to attend, so we are excited about that. I told his Aunt I would bring a cheese ball, but the other day we were in a gourmet outlet and I saw these chocolate cups. I knew I had to make something with them instead! I couldn't find a recipe for what I wanted to make, so I figured I'd just try the idea in my head. It turned out really well! Now, I just need to come up with a better name for this recipe, any ideas?

You will need:
1 package frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8 oz tub Cool Whip
36 chocolate dessert cups
Fresh berries (blueberry, raspberry, or blackberry)

1. In your food processer, chop up the berries until they form a paste.
2. Mix in cream cheese and powdered sugar until fully blended.
3. Carefully stir in Cool Whip. You want it to maintain its whipped texture.
4. Spoon filling into a pastry bag and fill chocolate cups.
5. Top with a berry of your choice.
6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Turkey Crescent Squares

Chicken Crescent Squares (11/29/10)
I made this recipe the other day to use up some leftover Thanksgiving turkey. You can probably substitute any meat you want and it would still taste great! I loved the contrast between the savory cream cheese and the sweeter crescent rolls. These are super easy~ and they taste great cold for lunch the next day!

You will need:
1 package crescent rolls
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
2 Tbsp. milk
1 cup diced turkey
1/2 package bacon bits (probably 1/3 cup crumbled bacon)
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.

2. Combine cream cheese and milk in a bowl.

3. Add in turkey, bacon bits, garlic powder and cheese. Mix well.

4. Separate crescent rolls into 4 squares (leave 2 triangles together).

5. Scoop 1/4 of the turkey mixture into the center of each square.

6. Fold each corner of the crescent roll in to the center and pinch to close.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crescent rolls are golden brown and turkey filling is warm.

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