Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cheesey Potato Casserole (Funeral / Utah / Mormon Potatoes)

This dish goes by many different names, but it is sure to be the highlight of any table!   Many LDS /  Mormons serve them to comfort the grieving families at funerals.  But they are also often made as a regular side dish.  You will see them at potlucks, barbeques, and even on holiday feast tables.  There are just as many different variations of this dish, as there are people who make it.  True, they are not a figure-friendly dish, but they are a very tasty occasional treat that your whole family will love.  But be careful...   They are addictive!

Cheesey Potato Casserole (Funeral / Utah / Mormon Potatoes)

1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp granulated garlic
6 cups peeled, grated or finely diced potato (about 3 large potatoes worth)-- fresh taste best, but you can also use the frozen hash or country potatoes, just thaw them first.

1 cup corn flakes, finely crushed

Optional Ingredients For Extra Flavor:
1 cup French’s crunchy fried onions
½ cup crumbled bacon (can also use turkey bacon)
½ cup finely chopped green onion

Preheat oven to 350.

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, canned soup, sour cream, shredded cheese, lemon juice, salt, onion powder and granulated garlic.  At this point, you may also add any of the “optional ingredients for extra flavor”.  Blend very well.

2.  Carefully fold in the shredded (or finely diced) potatoes, until well incorporated.
Transfer potato mixture into a large casserole pan (or any deep baking dish).  Spread out evenly. 

3.  Sprinkle finely crushed corn flakes evenly over the top of the potato mixture.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, checking toward the end to be sure the cornflakes / crumbs on top are not burning.  Serve hot as a side dish.

TIP:  You can also cut your favorite meat (chicken, beef, pork) into ½ inch cubes, sauté it in a pan until its almost done, and add it to this recipe before baking to turn it into a complete meal.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Melissa's Cinnamon Rolls (With Cream Cheese Icing)

This is my favorite "from scratch" cinnamon roll recipe.   They come out soft, warm and delicious!  The cream cheese frosting is the perfect final touch.  Great on those chilly winter days, with coffe or a big lgass of milk.

Melissa’s Cinnamon Rolls (With Cream Cheese Icing)

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
2 eggs, room temperature (soak them in a glass of hot tap water for 10 minutes)
1/3 cup butter melted
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup white sugar
2 ½ tsp (1 packet) Active Dry Yeast

1 cup brown sugar
2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter softened

1 3-oz package cream cheese
¼ cup butter softened
1 ½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt 

1.      Dissolve yeast in warm milk, stirring with a wire whisk.   Mix in eggs, margarine, salt, sugar and blend well until sugar is dissolved.   

2.      Add flour, a little bit at a time, blending after each addition, until a dough forms.  Dough will be sticky.   Cover with plastic and let dough set for 10 minutes.   

3.      Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Knead for one minute until smooth.  Dough still may be slightly sticky.   This is ok, because you don’t want a very dry or dense dough, it should be somewhat soft.   

4.      With a rolling pin, start rolling dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14 inches.   Sprinkle extra flour on rolling surface and over dough, if dough seems too sticky.  You can also help shape it with your hands.  

5.      Mke sure dough can be easily peeled away from rolling surface.  If not, gently peel dough away from rolling surface after shaping, sprinkle a light amount of flour on the rolling surface, and gently lay the dough back down, without pressing on it. This will help you roll it more easily later.

6.      In small bowl, mix the “filling” ingredients together.  Spread filling over the entire surface of the dough gently with the back of a spoon.  

7.      Roll the dough up into a log, starting at one 12-inch end going toward the other.   

Place dough roll crease-side-down on the rolling surface. 

8.      Holding log firmly, use a very sharp knife to cut the log into 1-inch slices.   This may be messy and a bit sloppy.   That is ok.   The best way is to hold the dough steady, while you saw gently through the first half of the slice, then just chop through the second half.  This makes it less messy. 

9.      Place slices on their (swirly side facing up) into lightly greased pan/pans, close enough to where they touch, but they don’t crowd each other.  Cover with plastic and let them rise for 30 minutes.

10.  While rolls are rising, mix all the icing ingredients together in a bowl.  Cover and place in the fridge until rolls are done.

11.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

12.  Bake cinnamon rolls for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5minutes.   Spread icing over evenly over the tops of the rolls while they are still hot.  Serve warm.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Easy Carne Asada Recipe

I leaned this recipe from a friend of mine named Kristy, she was a stay-at-home mom and a great cook.  We started making this in our home quite a bit, just because its so simple, and just as good (if not better) than take-out!

Easy Carne Asada

3 lbs Carne Asada beef (or boneless, skinless chicken pounded flat)
3 cups vegetables sliced (any you like-- we prefer green onion, bell pepper, and squash)


¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp Chef Merito (or Melissa’s) Carne Asada seasoning (available in Mexican Markets)
1 tsp Callieri (or Melissa’s) “Cimichurri” seasoning (available in Mexican markets)
½ tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl.  Blend the vegetables into the  mixture, and then the meat, until everything is thoroughly coated in the marinade.  Cover and marinade in the refrigerator a minimum of 15 minutes or longer, but preferably overnight (the longer it marinades, the better the flavor will be and the more the meat will become tender).

Take the meat out, leaving the vegetables behind.  Grill the meat on both sides, until done.  Set a hot plate over the grill, and cook the vegetables until tender.

Serve meat and vegetables hot, with warm (or toasted) corn or flour tortillas, and your favorite condiment  (such as sour cream, guacamole, salsa, etc.). 

Melissa’s carne asada seasoning mix:
3 tsp mild chili powder (McCormick is best)
1 tsp meat tenderizer
1 tsp dried minced garlic
½ tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
2 tsp ground paprika

Melissa’s chimichurri seasoning mix:
4 tsp Parsley
2 tsp Basil
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp crushed dried red peppers
1 tsp minced dried garlic

"Starbucks" Pumpkin Spice Latte

I got this recipe from a friend (can't say who).  But I just HAD to have it because I am hopelessly addicted to the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I prefer the iced version, but you can also make it hot.  It is deliciously blissful on a fall or winter day, especially with pumpkin bread muffins!  (See my pumpkin bread recipe).   Its just so lovely to know that I can now make it at home, whenever I want. 

1 to 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin (or 1 tsp pumpkin spice syrup)
1 Starbucks iced coffee single serving packet (sweetened or unsweetened), 
     OR 1-2 shots espresso
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute (leave this out if using pre-sweetened Starbucks packets)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon water (leave this out if you’re using espresso)
2 cups milk (hot for a hot drink, cold for an iced drink)
Extra pumpkin pie spice and/or whipped cream for garnish

1.       In a large glass, mix together the canned pumpkin, iced coffee packet (or 1 shot espresso), sugar (only if coffee packet is unsweetened), vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and water. Blend very well, until completely smooth. Heating in the microwave for 20 seconds makes the mixture even smoother. 

2.      Pour 2 cups of milk into coffee mixture and blend well.  If making an iced drink, add ice to the mixture.  If making a hot drink, microwave or boil the milk until it reaches desired temperature.

3.      If desired, top with whipped cream and a light extra sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice for garnish.

Chimichurri Seasoning Mix

 This is a great spice to spruce up Hispanic dishes.  I highly recommend buying the "Badia" brand of spices, usually found in the hispanic foods section-- most grocers carry it, and they are 1/2 to 1/4 the price of other spice brands.  You can also find some of these in dollar stores.

1 tablsp Parsley
1 tablsp dry onion flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp flaked bay leaf
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Store in a air tight container.