Creamy Grape Salad

Last night we had family over for my daughter’s birthday. The food was so yummy and I have some recipes to share with you per quite a few requests. I made teriyaki beef and chicken skewers (will post that recipe later), corn on the cob, this Creamy Grape Salad, Funfetti cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, and butterscotch cheesecake. My grandma made her Italian style pasta salad that everyone loves (will post this recipe as well), and my mom made a green salad with strawberries and fresh steamed golden beets (my daughter loves fresh beets). I’m posting this recipe first because my best friend wants to make this for her family BBQ today. Miss, I hope they love it as much as we did! This is so easy to make and soooo delicious! I made it earlier in the day, put it in the fridge till I was ready to serve it. Right before I was ready to serve it I sprinkled the brown sugar and chopped pecans over the top. I have to say I actually contemplated not putting the chopped pecans on, I was worried that some wouldn’t like the nuts. I am so glad that I put them on though, It really added to the dish and gave it a little texture. No one complained and even if they didn’t like nuts it was only sprinkled over the top so they could easily get some without. So here it is Creamy Grape Salad, (I got the recipe from Taste of Home).

The ingredients are:

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds seedless red grapes
  • 2 pounds seedless green grapes
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until blended. Add grapes and toss to coat.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans just before serving.

Yield: 21-24 servings

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Creamed Corn Tamales

 

This last weekend was my Aunts birthday and we had a mexican themed diner for her. I made these Creamed Corn Tamales. I found the recipe in an old Food Network Magazine, November 2011 from Chef Santos Loo. We really liked these tamales even though my family has renamed them, sweet corn cakes. I guess that is what they tasted like to us. I was also thinking that these would be good with some green chillies and some Monterey jack cheese. They are not like a traditional meat tamales, they are more simple and have a slight sweetness. The kids loved them and we will be making them again.

The ingredients are:

  • 25 to 30 dried corn husks
  • 2 1/2 cups masa harina (instant corn flour)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  1. Soak the corn husks in a bowl of hot water until pliable, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dough: Combine the masa harina and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the corn and 1/2 cup hot water until combined. Add the butter and mix with your hands until evenly distributed.
  3. Remove the corn husks from the water and shake dry. Unfold the husks on a clean surface (discard any small husks or husks with holes). Put about 1/4 cup dough down the center of a husk; fold in the long sides to enclose the filling, then fold in the top and bottom to make a packet. Secure with kitchen twine. Repeat with the remaining dough and husks.
  4. Set up a steamer basket in a large pot filled with 2 inches of water. Arrange the tamales standing up in the steamer and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the tamales are firm, about 1 hour. Remove from the steamer and let rest 10 minutes before unwrapping.

 

DIY Headbands

My daughter plays travel softball and just recently her team made it to a big national tournament. We thought it would be fun to make matching headbands for all the girls on the team. This was a fun project for my daughter and I, and the headbands looked adorable on the girls. You can choose any color combo to match any teams colors. You could even make headbands to match any outfit for school. At the beginning of every school year I make matching hair accessories for my daughters new outfits, it’s much cheaper and way cuter. I’ll show how to make bows and clips in another post.

First we went to Micheal’s to pick out our supplies.

Choose two colors of ribbon. You want the bottom ribbon to be wider than the top so both colors show. I measured the ribbon to my daughters head then cut both colors the same. You will also need elastic. It is sold by the ribbon. Cut pieces of elastic, remember that the elastic stretches so you don’t need that big of a piece. You want the headband to fit snug so it does not slip off.

We used a permanent glue to glue both pieces of ribbon together. this is what it looks like. Make sure it says permanent.

Once everything was cut and glued we carefully burnt the ends of the ribbon. This is to prevent the ribbon from fraying. Then we sewed the elastic to the ribbon.

Then you are done! We made one sample first to make sure that it fit and that everything looked right.

Agave Fresh Fruit Salsa with Sugar N Spice Chips

My family gets together almost every single Sunday (unless the kids sports prohibits me from being there) for Family Dinner. It’s a tradition that has been going on for as long as I can remember. Nowadays we choose themes for our sunday meals and everyone brings a dish to go with our theme. On this particular Sunday our theme was summer/bbq foods. My mom brought this Agave Fresh Fruit Salsa and we all loved it! What says summer more than fresh, sweet, juicy fruit? This fruit salsa was delicious, light and refreshing. She got the recipe out of the Wholeliving July/August 2012 magazine.

The ingredients are:

  • 1 lb. fresh strawberries
  • 4 apricots or 2 large peaches (mom used peaches)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh, chopped pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup organic light Agave Nectar or 1/2 cup Organic Sugar (mom couldn’t find Agave Nectar so she used Raw Sugar)
  • 1-3 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint
  1. Dice strawberries, peaches and pineapple into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine all fruit and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lime juice and Agave Nectar/Sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of chili powder (increase by teaspoonfuls to reach desired flavor); mix well.
  3. Add agave mixture, cilantro and mint to the fruit, tossing until combined. Serve immediately.

Sugar N Spice Chips

  • 1 bag (8.5 to 10.5 oz) corn tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup Organic Sugar (mom used raw Sugar)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. chili powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Grease two cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Dip tortilla chips into melted butter. Using a pastry brush, remove excess butter to give each chip a thin, even layer of butter on both sides. Place chips on prepared cookie sheet. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon and chili powder to taste. Sprinkle over buttered chips, and bake for approximately 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Showdown

Last month was my son’s birthday (I know I’m a little bit behind on posting my recipes). I asked my son what treat did he want to bring in to his class to share for his birthday and his reply was chocolate chip cookies. So I thought to make this even more fun for him we would have a chocolate chip cookie showdown. I chose two new chocolate chip cookie recipes, baked up a batch of both and he got to choose which ones were best and those would be the ones he would bring in to his class. Can you tell that our favorite shows in this house are Chopped, Iron Chef America, and Cup Cake Wars? Only my son would say to me after I made him homemade belgium waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast…”Mommy…. You could so win Chopped with this recipe!” Love it! So.. anyway back to the chocolate chip cookie showdown. The two recipes I chose were McCormick’s Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip Cookie and the Food Network Magazine’s recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. And the winner was………and it was unanimous……McCormick’s Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip Cookie! Not that the Food Network’s Chewy Chocolate chip cookie wasn’t good, it was, those stayed at home and we polished them off. It’s just that everyone including the birthday boy thought that McCormick’s was better. So here is the recipe for McCormick’s Vanilla Rich Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I did not use)
  1. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low-speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  2. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake in preheated 375 F oven 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Makes 5 dozen (I must have made mine bigger because I didn’t get that many.)

 

Grilled Shrimp And Sausage Skewers With Smoky Paprika Glaze

We had a summer kick-off BBQ with the family last Sunday. Of course sun, swimming, and lots of yummy food was involved. I made these Grilled Shrimp And Sausage Skewers With Smoky Paprika Glaze. I found the recipe in an old Bon Appetit magazine (June 2010). Shrimp and sausage are great right? Well this smoky paprika glaze just threw it over the top. You could really taste the smokiness from the paprika and the fresh thyme and garlic. Not your typical kabob, so much flavor. Everyone loved this!

I adapted the ingredients slightly to our taste.

The ingredients are:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 5 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 uncooked extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 12 1-inch long pieces kielbasa sausage
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Special equipment

6 long metal skewers or 3 long bendable ones

  1. Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, vinegar, salt, and black pepper in medium bowl to blend for glaze. Transfer half of glaze to small bowl and reserve for serving.
  2. Alternately thread shrimp, sausage pieces, cherry tomatoes, and sections of onion wedges on each of 6 long metal skewers. Arrange skewers on large rimmed baking sheet. (Do Ahead: Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill skewers and bowls of glaze separately.)
  3. Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush skewers on both sides with glaze from 1 bowl. Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Arrange skewers on platter. Serve with remaining bowl of glaze.

Strawberry Picking

We took the kids to the Carlsbad Strawberry fields to pick our own strawberries this past weekend! We had such a great day. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out but the breeze from the ocean was cool. The strawberries were big, red, and delicious, the red stains on the kids finger tips and mouths were proof of that. I think the kids picked one for their bucket then one for their mouth, so even though the cost was $8.75 a bucket we got our monies worth! We held a contest to see who could find the biggest, reddest, juiciest strawberry but there were so many that I don’t think we ever decided on a winner. Hopefully we made memories that the kids wont soon forget, I still remember my mom taking me when I was little. With all of our yummy strawberries we tried two new recipes, one for a strawberry pie and one for strawberry ice. Will post pictures and recipes next!

My son reaching for a good one!

Cream Cheese Sheet Cake

The family got together for a wonderful Mothers Day BBQ to honor all of our wonderful Mommies. My grandmother being the first, my mother and aunts being next and then me! It was a great day with lots of delicious food (of course)! I woke up mothers day morning wanting to bake, so I made three desserts to take to the BBQ. This Cream Cheese Sheet Cake was one of them. The cake was so moist and the thin layer of chocolate frosting was perfect! I got the recipe out of my Taste of Home’s Contest Winning Annual Recipes 2006.

The ingredients are:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups cake flour

Frosting:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Pour into a greased 15-in. x 11-in. baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
  2. For frosting, combine sugar and milk in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and cook for 3 minutes (do not stir). Stir in butter and chocolate chips until melted. Cool slightly. Stir; spread over cake.

Yield: 24-30 servings

Oven-Baked Arroz Con Pollo

 

Happy Cinco De Mayo Everyone! Today my day is going to be spent on a soccer field so my family got together last night. We had lots of yummy mexican food but most of all we spent precious moments together…. My grandfather tried to get on the trampoline with the kids and all of us women about had a heart attack thinking he was going to hurt himself. The kids thought it was great though (love you grandpa)!

One of the things I made for the night was this Oven-Baked Arroz Con Pollo. I got the recipe out of the Spring Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate magazine. This Oven-Baked Arroz Con Pollo was very good, full of rice, beans, corn, chicken, chiles and topped off with cheese!

The ingredients are:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups salsa verde

Chicken:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 4 cups shredded chicken (I used an already made rotisserie chicken to save time)
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To prepare rice: In a large saucepan, combine broth and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add rice, onion, corn, and garlic. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in pinto beans and salsa verde. Spread in a single layer in a 13×9-inch baking dish.
  3. To prepare chicken: In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, Add flour to melted butter, stirring until smooth. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light brown. Add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until thickened, stirring often. Add sour cream, stirring until smooth. Add chicken and chiles, stirring well. Spread in a single layer on top of prepared rice. Top with cheeses. Cover, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until cheese is lightly golden and edges are bubbly.

Blooming Candy Cupcakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! I had a great day with my family, making special memories and eating of course! We pretty much ate all day long. My mother and sister came over in the morning, we had a big breakfast together and then they helped me prepare our Easter dinner. We made the traditional ham and mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli and salad, but being Italian we had to have Lasagna and Peetz (fried bread dough) as well. For one of the desserts I made these Blooming Candy Cupcakes. I found the recipe in my Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate Easter magazine. The cupcakes had a light lemon flavor and the frosting was light, fluffy, and delicious! The candy was cute but I preferred the cupcakes without any on them, so I did some with and some without. I think I’ll be eating light for the rest of the week to make up for all the calories consumed on Easter (It was so worth it though)!

The ingredients for the Blooming Candy Cupcakes are:

  • 1-1/3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavor shortening
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Garnish with jelly beans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners; set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt twice; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine half-and-half, vanilla, and lemon extract; set aside.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, beat 3/4 cup sugar and shortening at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg yolks (reserving whites), one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture alternately with half-and-half mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Stir lemon zest into mixture.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase mixer speed to high; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold one-third of egg-white mixture into cake batter; fold in remaining egg-white mixture. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, filling each cup two-thirds full.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the centers come out clean. Remove from oven; cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  7. Spread Marshmallow-Cream Cheese Icing onto tops of cupcakes. Garnish as desired with assorted jelly beans.

Makes 1-1/2 dozen cupcakes

Marshmallow-Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add marshmallow creme, and beat until combined. Add whipped topping and beat until smooth. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.