Friday, December 30, 2011

Vanilla Coffee Creamer


I came across a recipe to make coffee creamer. It is super simple, takes about 2 minutes to make, and tastes so REAL. Not that I mind ummy, yummy fake creamer, but having pronounceable ingredients is always a plus as well. I was hoping it would be a frugal replacement to our regular creamer. I think the ingredients cost about $2 total, and didn't even fill my $3 coffee creamer container, so that didn't really work out. I randomly picked up the sweetened condensed milk at Target, though, so I'm hoping I can get it cheaper at Walmart or Winco next time.

Put the following ingredients into a sealed container and shake, shake, shake:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 T vanilla

I found sweetened condensed milk at Winco for $1.09.  I also don't measure the milk anymore, but just fill the container all the way up.  It didn't seem too thin at all.  I figure that much milk to be about $.25, so with the vanilla that puts a 32oz container of creamer under $1.50. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Twix Bars

Oops - We ate all of them before I took a picture!

I got the recipe on a site called Peppermint Plum.

48 Club Crackers (a few more than one sleeve)
1 c. graham cracker crumbs (one sleeve)
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
Topping: 3 cups chocolate chips

Place one layer of Club Crackers in a lightly greased 13×9 casserole dish. 
Use your food processor or blender to make graham cracker crumbs, and pour into a heavy sauce pan. Combine remaining ingredients into pan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes (continue to stir). It should look (and smell) like caramel. 
Carefully pour mixture over crackers. 
Immediately place another layer of Club Crackers on top, pushing them down into the caramel mixture gently. 
 Melt chocolate chips in microwave and pour on top of crackers.     
Refrigerate until cool, and then cut and serve. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baked Penne with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes

I've been using this recipe for a while.  LOVE it, but realized that if I were going to wait for a picture to get it posted on the blog, I might not ever share it with you.

It makes 2 8-inch square pans.  One for now.  One to freeze for later.

I'll type the recipe as I got it (Real Simple, Sept. 2010), and in parentheses put my own take on it.

1/8 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped. (If buying from Fred Meyer, I just use the whole jar.  Now that I'm using a Costco size jar, I used 3/4 cup.)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 28-oz can DICED tomatoes
       (Or, as I have in the pantry, 6 14.5-oz cans of diced tomatoes instead of the
         3 28-oz cans that are listed in the recipe)
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1.5 pounds penne (or other similar pasta)
10 oz baby spinach
4 cups mozzarella, grated
1/2 c grated Parmesan

Put oil in large saucepan (large skillet) and heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes.  Break up the whole tomatoes by cutting them with scissors in the can or with your hands.  Add to saucepan, along with the vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta for 1/2 the recommended time.  The pasta will continue to cook while it bakes.  Drain the pasta.

(Now, since I have only 1 pasta size pan, I have changed the directions for assembly to resemble how I do it.)

When the sauce is done simmering, pour it into the big pasta pan (note: make sure the pasta is still draining). Put the spinach in, and stir until wilted.  I usually have to do this in batches, or else the spinach overflows.  NOW, add the pasta, and stir until mixed.  It's a very careful endeavor, as the pot is FULL.

Split 1/2 the pasta mixture between the two 8-inch square baking dishes, so that they are 1/2 way full.  Sprinkle each with 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Dividing evenly among the dishes, top with the remaining pot of pasta mixture.  Sprinkle each with 1 cup of the remaining mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.

To eat tonight: Bake at 400 degrees, until bubbling and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

To freeze and cook later: Freeze unbaked pasta, tightly sealed for up to 3 months.  To cook, thaw the pasta and bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees until heated through, bubbling, and beginning to brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Update from Suzanne (1/25/12):

I made this last night and the adults really enjoyed it.  The kids weren't huge fans of the spinach or the tomato chunks, but picked around it and still ate the noodles.  It makes two really heaping 8x8's, so I think you could easily split it into three dishes and get another meal out of it.

Before baking, and still need to spread the cheese.

Final product

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lemon Buddies

This is straight from the Chex box.  They are tangy and sweet, sort of like lemonade. 

9 cups Rice chex
1 1/4 cup vanilla baking chips
1/4 cup butter
4 tsp grated lemon peel (I used the entire lemon)
2 T fresh lemon juice (from half a lemon)
2 cups powdered sugar

  • Measure the cereal into a big bowl.
  • Melt the chips, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice on high for 1 minute and stir. Micro 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth.  
  • Pour over chex.  Stir until evenly coated.
  • Pour into a 2 gallon baggy.  Add powdered sugar.  Shake-shake-shake.
  • Spread onto wax paper to cool.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cake Cookies

Cake cookies are so simple and versatile.  I mentioned them once before in an old post.  You simply take any cake mix, add 2 eggs and 1/3 cup oil, and whatever goodies you like, and drop onto a cookie sheet..  They bake at 350 for 8 minutes or so, but watch carefully, as different doughs vary.


This time I used white cake, made balls, and rolled them in cinnamon sugar.

Both the funfetti cake or cherry chip cake are great on their own.

Chocolate cake mix with chocolate chips, or caramel chips, or PB chips, etc.

White cake with M&M's.

Or my usual, whatever box of cake I happen to have combined with whatever goodies I happen to have.