Caramel Apples

You can't go through the harvest season without a good caramel apple.  They are so easy to make and not really a "recipe" but after failing three times to make my own caramel sauce I remembered...I don't bake.  So I bought the bag of Kraft caramels and whipped these up super fast.  you should too!  Get creative with the toppings.

Caramel Apples
14 oz bag caramels, unwrapped
2 Tb orange juice (you can substitute water)
6-8 small apples
popsicle sticks
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1-2 Tb vegetable oil
Wax or parchment paper
cooking spray
Place the sticks into the apples.  Put wax or parchment paper on a large plate or cookie sheet and spray with cooking sprayPut all the unwrapped caramels and orange juice (or water) in a microwave-safe mixing bowl and microwave 2 1/2-3 minutes in one-minute increments, stirring every minute.  Once the caramel is melted dip the apples and place them on wax paper.  Refrigerate apples at least one hour, until caramel is set. 

When caramel is set, begin melting the chocolate by putting chocolate chips and 1 Tb vegetable oil in a microwave safe bowl and microwaving 30 seconds at a time until melted.  Stir well and add more oil if needed for thin consistency.  Then, either dip the apples in the chocolate or use a fork to drizzle the chocolate.  After you do the chocolate you can add sprinkles, candy or nuts.  Refrigerate again for another hour.

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Burnt Butter Frosting

This picture does not do  justice to the amazing-ness of this frosting.  It is SO good!  Seriously.  A friend of mine made this once and I loved it somuch I went on the hunt.  I found it at my favorite recipe site http://www.allrecipes.com/. It's great with yellow cake or spice cake or carrot cake or pumpkin cake...you get the idea.  Or you can just eat it straight out of the bowl--whatever.  Try it!  Just don't substitute margerine, real butter is the only option here!

Burnt Butter Frosting
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
4 Tb milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cook the butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the butter is tan. If it gets dark brown or black you have allowed it to burn too long (and it can turn fast!). When butter has been "burned" remove the saucepan from the heat.  Mix in powdered sugar in batches with a hand mixer on medium speed.  Then stir in the vanilla and the milk.  Spread the frosting immediately because it will set up quickly.  Enjoy!!
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Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

I used to buy this bottled raspberry chipotle sauce at Costco and it is SO delicious.  I mean seriously.  It makes an awesome dip if you just pour some over a block of cream cheese (so does homemade pesto!).  People go nuts over it!  It's so great that my husband ate an entire block of cream cheese covered in this stuff and made himself sick.

This sauce is also really great if you put it on pork tenderloin while you're roasting it, or on chicken too.

I figured out how to make it and now I can eat it anytime!  Which is good and bad I guess.

Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce *
  • 1 c. raspberry jam (about half a 20 oz jar)
  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Heat oil in a small saucepan and cook jalapenos until tender, about five minutes.  Mix in the garlic and cook another minute.  Stir in the adobo sauce, jam, vinegar and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.  You want it to thicken but it will get even thicker as it cools so don't let it go too far.  Cool and store in a jar in the fridge up to 3 months.  Put it one everything.

* Adobo sauce is the sauce in a can of chipotle in adobo, which can be found in the Mexican food aisle.  You can freeze the leftover chipotle peppers and sauce for future use.  OR just use it to make these fish tacos.

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Cornbread Salad

Last Halloween we had a chili party on the driveway with the neighborhood and my friend/next door neighbor had so much cornbread leftover she made a cornbread salad.  We loved it!  I kind of forgot about it until this summer when we were at a church potluck and someone made it there and something about the yummy-ness of the salad combined with my pregnancy hormones and I was addicted.  I had to figure out how to make it.  So during the prayer meeting I quickly texted myself all the ingredients I could see in the salad (don't tell anyone) and then I found something that looked similar on allrecipes.com.  Here it is.  I really really liked it, Rob was just a medium fan of it.  But I will say that this makes a LOT so have company. 

Cornbread Salad
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix, mixed and baked as directed (9x13'' pan)
1 pkg Ranch dressing mix
2 c. sour cream
1 c. mayo
10 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed & drained
1 can corn, drained well
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Whisk together mayo, sour cream and ranch mix.  Once cornbread is cooled completely crumble half of it into the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Layer half the beans, tomatoes, pepper, onions, corn cheese, bacon and spread half the dressing over the top.  Then repeat with the rest of the cornbread, veggies, cheese and dressing.  Chill at least 2 hours.

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S'mores Bars

My friend Wendy made these for a potluck this summer.  Rob ate half the pan and made himself sick on them.  I went to my sister's house in TX and made them there and my brother in-law made himself sick on them too (I did too, to be quite frank).  These bars are ridiculous and super easy.  They are giving the toffee bars a run for their money!

Try it out.  BUT you MUST use REAL butter or the bars won't set up right and you'll be sad!

S'mores Bars
12 whole graham crackers
3/4 c butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 c. mini marshmallows
4 milk chocolate candy bars broken in pieces, or 2 c. chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Line a jelly-roll pan with foil and spray it with cooking spray.  Placce the grahams on the foil so the sides touch.  Then, melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and the mixture just comes to a boil.  Pour over the crackers.  Bake 5-6 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with marshmallows and candy bars or chocolate chips.  Turn on the broiler and put the pan back into the oven and broil until the marshmallows begin to brown, about 2 minutes--keep an eye on it because it won't take long.  Use a pizza cutter to cut into bars and then let cool completely.

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Quick Spanish Rice

Another Food Confession for you...I love Rice-a-Roni Spanish Rice.  I don't know what it is about it, but I just love it.  So, usually when i'm doing burritos I whip up a box of Rice-a-Roni.  Last time though, I didn't have any on hand so I researched a few recipes online and put together a few ideas to make this recipe.  It turned out really well and it was really fast easy.  I had everything I needed which is something I love about a recipe--simplicity.

I'm sure I will make this over and over for a fast "mexican" side dish.

Quick Spanish Rice

1 Tb olive or canola oil
1 1/2 c. instant rice
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, un-drained
3/4 c. chicken broth (watch for wheat and soy)

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Saute onions and green pepper until onions are transluscent.  Stir in garlic and rice and cook another minute or so.  Add in salt, seasoning, tomatoes and chicken broth and cook five minutes or until the rice is cooked.

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Mexican Spaghetti

My friend gave me this recipe, and we really loved it.  Again with the Velveeta cheese...I can't help myself!  I made a couple changes only because I wanted it a bit milder for the kids (and I was still pregnant and couldn't take the heat!)  So adjust the heat level with more or less jalapenos.  The picture is on the old harddrive that died and wasn't backed up so I think it's gone forever!

Mexican Spaghetti
1 1/4 lb cooked chicken breast, cubed (I seasoned mine with chipotle chili powder, garlic and cumin)
1 lb cooked spaghetti
1 lb 2% milk Velveeta
1 can rotel
1-2 Tb chopped jalapeno
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
fresh cilantro

In a microwave safe bowl heat together the velveeta cheese and soups, stirring every minute until the cheese is melted. Combine the spaghetti, cheese mixture, rotel, chicken and jalapeno and pour into a 9x13'' pan.  Top with the shredded cheddar cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Top with cilantro before serving.

**Note--IF you omit cheddar cheese on top, use 2% milk Velveeta, and 99% fat free cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup the entire pan has roughly 2472 calories.  That meas 1/9th has roughly 275 calories.
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Texas Sheet Cake

I made this cake for my friend's goig away party--they were moving to Texas so it seemed appropriate.  It was a hit.  One of Rob's favorite things in life is Texas Sheet Cake so I've made it a few times since then too.  This cake probably contributed to my pregnancy weight gain.  Ok, I'm sure it definitely contributed.  Make it.  You'll love it.  I added a little cinnamon to the cake and we really like it that way but if that doesn't sound good to you, leave it out.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 c. butter
1 c. water
5 Tb cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, soda and salt.  Beat in eggs and sour cream.  Melt the butter in a saucepan add in water and cocoa powder.  Bring the butter mixture to a boil and remove from heat.  Cool slightly then stir it into the dry ingredients.  Pour batter into a jelly roll pan and bake 20 minutes.

6 Tb milk
5 Tb cocoa powder
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon

In a saucepan combine mlk, cocoa and butter.  Bring it to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla andmix until blended.  Spread the frosting over the warm cake. 

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Honey Lime Fish Taccos with Chipotle Slaw

 This recipe is a MUST-do.  Seriously.  If you even like fish a little bit, try these.  I will say though that if you have small children, be prepared for this to take alittle longer than your usual meal prep.  It is an easy recipe, but has lots of steps and is a bit involved. 

Once again I am reminded that I need some photography lessons or something becaue this just looked good, smelled good, and tasted good--but my pictures are a little lame, so please forgive that and give these tacos a chance.

Honey Lime Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

Honey Lime Glaze:
1/3 c lime juice (squeeze it fresh)
2 Tb honey
1 Tb vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin
Whisk everything together and set aside.

Chipotle Slaw:
1/2 c mayo
1 chipotle pepper
1 Tb adobo sauce
salt & granulated garlic to taste
3 c coleslaw mix
1 1/2 c cilantro, chopped

Mince the chipotle pepper or put it in the food processer.  Mix together the minced/pureed chipotle, mayo, adobo sauce and salt & garlic.  Mix together dressing with the coleslaw mix and cilantro.  Refrigerate until needed.

1.25 lbs tilapia, chunked
1/3 c flour
2 eggs beaten
3 c panko bread crumbs
1 c. vegetable oil for frying

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Dredge the fish in the flour, then the egg, then the panko.  Test the oil, when it's hot add the fish to the pan cooking 1-2 minutes per side.  You will probably have to do this in 2 batches.  Remove the fried fish from the pan onto a plate with a paper towel.  Brush the honey-lime glaze over the cooked fish and assemble tacos on flour tortillas with fish, slaw, and shredded cheddar cheese.
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Mango Salsa

Here's another summer recipe I have to sneak in real quick before the mangos are all gone!  These mangos were another treasure from our produce basket and they were so juicy and delicious.  Rob loves mangos just diced up on top of vanilla ice cream.  We've decided next summer we'll get an ice cream maker and make our own vanilla ice cream and the mangos will be even better with that!
I was always leery of trying fruit salsas because something about it just creeped me out, but I did it and we all LOVED this salsa.  It's sweet and spicy all at the same time.  My almost 2 year-old ate this with a spoon.

Mango Salsa

1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
2 Tb red onion, minced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced (leave the seeds in if you want it spicy, take the seeds out if you want it mild)
juice of a lime
salt & pepper to taste

Mix it all together and refrigerate at least an hour. Enjoy!

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