Peanutiest Peanut Butter Pie!


 
I love peanut butter.  I also love chocolate.  Put them together with cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk in a graham cracker crust and oh my goodness, it is good.  This is also a no bake pie, so it is perfect for the hot summer months when turning on the oven is not a good idea.   This is a very peanutty (is that a word?) version of peanut butter pie.  Most recipes call for the creamy, smooth peanut butter, but I use the extra crunchy in this and I also melt peanut butter chips and drizzle that over the top along with melted chocolate.   This makes two pies, so you can give one to a friend or a neighbor or take one to work for a treat.  Here is what you will need:


Peanut butter, 2 graham cracker crusts, frozen whipped topping, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips.


With an electric mixer beat together the softened cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and powdered sugar.  Add vanilla and peanut butter and mix well.  Fold in the whipped cream.

Pour into the graham cracker crusts.  Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.  After they have had time to set up well, melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips and 1 cup of the peanut butter chips.   Add 1 Tbs of shortening or butter (do not use margarine, it has water in it and will ruin your chocolate) to each and stir well until melted and smooth. 
 
Drizzle over the pies in a decorative pattern. I put the melted chips in two squeeze bottles and use them to drizzle the chocolate and peanut butter over the pies. You can also just use a spoon.

Ingredients:

8 oz. cream cheese
1  14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
1cup crunchy peanut butter (can use smooth)
16 oz. frozen whipped topping
2 graham cracker crusts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
2 Tbs. shortening or butter (not margarine)
1 tsp. vanilla

You can make this a lighter dessert if you are watching your calories by using light cream cheese, fat free sweetened condensed milk and light whipped topping.  The difference is barely noticeable.



Fiesta Dip!




This is a very pretty way to serve what is essentially a seven layer dip.   It just fancies it up a bit.  My mother used to do some catering and this was a big favorite with her customers.   We served this yesterday at our Memorial Day gathering for something to munch during the evening and it was a  hit as usual.   It's also very easy to make.   All you need is a good springform pan.  If you don't have a springform pan and are going to buy one, buy a nonstick one...they work out much better.  Here is all you do to make this dip.  You will be surprised how easy it is.


Crush the corn chips and mix with melted butter. Press in the bottom and 1" up the sides of a 9" springform pan.  Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool completely before proceeding with the other steps.

Combine taco seasoning and refried beans.  Mix well and spread in the corn chip crust.
Layer avocado dip and next four ingredients over the refried beans.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Place on a serving plate when ready to serve and remove sides of springform pan. 

Fiesta Dip!


Ingredients:

1  101/2 oz. corn chips crushed
1/4 cup butter melted
2  16 oz cans refried beans
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1  6 oz. container avocado dip
1  8 oz. container sour cream
1 cup sliced ripe olives
1 can chopped green chilies, drained
1 8 oz. pkg. shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterrey Jack)
2  seeded and chopped tomatoes

You can add chopped green onions, sliced green olives, and sprigs of cilantro for garnish. 

S'mores Cheesecake...elegant but easy!


 
I love cheesecake and this is one of my favorite cheesecakes. Not only does it taste decadent and rich, it looks really impressive and will wow your guests.  Actually it's not all that hard to make, you can just let people think you really are an expert baker.


First combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter and press into a greased 10" spring form pan.



In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Beat in the 3 eggs.  Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips and 1 cup mini marshmallows.


Pour into the graham cracker crust.  Place in a preheated 300 degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with 2 cups mini marshmallows.  Return to oven for 5 minutes.
Melt 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips with 1 Tbs. shortening.  Drizzle chocolate over the marshmallows.  Refrigerate overnight.
When you are ready to serve, remove the spring form pan and place on serving plate.  S'mores cheesecake! Wasn't that easy? 

Ingredients:

Crust
2 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2  cup melted butter

Filling
2 pkgs. 8 oz. cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsps. vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows

Topping
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbs. shortening

Beefy Baked Bean Bake!



These baked beans are perfect for your holiday cookouts this summer.  They are a little hardier than just ordinary baked beans because they have ground beef in them.  They are usually one of the first dishes emptied at any potluck or picnic.  They have a good blend of sweet and spice to them and are a great side for grilled meats...hamburgers, hot dogs, even steaks and grilled chicken.



Brown ground beef, diced onion, and diced green pepper in pan.  Drain any excess grease.  Sprinkle with pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Add chili powder, ketchup, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and Coke.

Mix together and pour into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with bacon.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for 45 minutes.



Beefy Baked Bean Bake!


Ingredients:

3/4 to 1lb ground beef
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup green pepper
1 cup Ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Coke (Diet or Regular)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. yellow mustard
3-4 slices bacon
2  15 oz cans pork and beans undrained





Taco Mac Supreme!




This is another of those dishes that really stretches a pound of ground beef and can feed a big family.  It's also something kids will eat without complaining and it's easy.  If they like tacos and mac and cheese, and most kids do, it's all in this dish.  If you are cooking for two, you can put this in two smaller casseroles and freeze one.  Just don't top with the crushed tortilla chips until you take it out to bake it.


Brown the ground beef, diced green pepper, and diced onion.  Drain the fat once it's browned.












Add 1 envelope taco seasoning, dash of pepper, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 cup salsa, and 1 cup water.  Bring to a low boil and then turn down to just simmer.  Add 1 can ranch or chili beans. 
Cook 2 cups macaroni as directed on the package.  Drain the pasta and put back in the pan.  Add cubed cream cheese and sour cream.  Once it has melted mix it through the macaroni.

Pour the macaroni in a 9"x13" dish you have sprayed with cooking spray.


Pour meat mixture over the pasta.





Top that layer with shredded cheddar cheese.




Finish the top with crushed tortilla chips.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  You can serve this with taco toppings on the side...sour cream, olives, sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes, jalapenos and let everyone garnish as they like or just serve it as is.
Taco Mac Supreme!


Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef ( I prefer ground chuck)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 can chili beans or ranch style beans
1 cup salsa of your choice
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups macaroni
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups lightly crushed tortilla chips  (If you like more spicy flavor, you can use Doritos)










Patriotic Deco Mesh Wreaths!



I love to work with deco mesh.  There are so many things you can make with it for the various holidays and it comes in so many colors and patterns.  It's also relatively inexpensive if you shop wisely for it.   Here is what you need to make a wreath this size and fullness.


A 24" work wreath, 21" roll of deco mesh, additional ribbon and embellishments of your choice. The work wreaths and the deco mesh can be hard to find, at least in my area. I usually end up ordering it online.  This is a good site to order the wreaths and mesh from: http://www.mardigrasoutlet.com/. Their pricing is good, the only downfall are the shipping charges which are a little high.  I get the additional ribbon and embellishments at Hobby Lobby when it's on sale and even at the Dollar Tree. 

To start, take one end of the mesh and twist it, then place it in the twist tie of the wreath and twist that around it several times.  Make sure to twist it down good.



The work wreath has two rows of ties on it.  One on the outside and one on the inside.  Work your way around the wreath alternating between an inside tie and an outside tie.  Gather the mesh up in your hand about 9 inches and twist it once, then place it in a twist tie and secure it.    If you are new to using deco mesh, it has a mind of it's own.  It will twist and go pretty much where it wants to go so don't try to force it in a certain place or shape. The beauty of it is, that is knows how to shape itself.  Once you are finished with the entire wreath, you can pull and place the ends into shape a little, but don't manipulate it too much.

See how it makes it's own poofs and swirls.  This roll of 21" mesh should finish a 24" work wreath just about perfectly if you space it correctly.  If you make your gathers too loose or too tight, just undo the twist tie and start over. After you make the first one, you will have the knack of it.  Once you have the mesh secured all around, you can attach a big bow made of coordinating ribbon, weave ribbon through the wreath by attaching with the same twist ties (they are fairly long), you can hot glue ornaments or beads.  I hot glued a lightweight USA sign that I got for a $1.00 at the Dollar Tree on this one.  Just use your imagination.


This is a different one that I made also using flags and little star ornaments.








Nana's Smiley Face Ham!




When my mother's grandchildren were small, they all liked to get in the kitchen and cook with her.  They would make Christmas cookies and cupcakes and fry hoe cakes and just make all sorts of good things.  That is when the smiley face ham was born.  The kids all got a kick out of putting the face on this baked ham.  It is also a really good recipe for a delicious baked ham. 

One year my mother received a package from the four grandchildren who lived away from Kentucky in the mail. They had made her a special T-shirt that they decorated with their own artwork and my oldest niece, Whitney had written her own personalized little letter.  She talked about the smiley face ham and Nana letting them help her cook. She also mentioned trips to McDonald's, but remember, everything in moderation...lol.



My mother has kept this for close to twenty years and probably still has the shirt also. My point is that if you have children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews, get them in the kitchen with you and let them make a mess. Those messes will be memories you will both cherish in years to come and if you teach children to cook early in life, it sticks with them and hopefully, we will have future generations of children who like to cook and eat home cooked meals again. 

Now on to the ham recipe. First, you need any ham of your choosing.  I am partial to the Kentucky Legend hams.  I just don't think you can buy any better, but use whatever you like.  Mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. allspice, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. hot sauce, 1/2 cup pineapple juice, and 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard.  Pour over the ham and cover it with foil.  My mother bakes this in a preheated 300 degree oven for 15 minutes per pound which works well. 
 Here is a baking tip I use, place it in a 350 degree preheated oven for 2 hours.   Turn the oven off after 2 hours and DO NOT OPEN the door of the oven.   Leave the ham in the oven until it has cooled completely down.   The ham will be so tender and just perfectly cooked when you take it out and will actually still be warm.  It continues to slow cook in the hot oven after it is turned off.


Nana's Smiley Face Ham!

Southern Fried Catfish and Hushpuppies!

 

 
My husband loves to fish.  That is actually probably an understatement.  You know the song by Brad Paisley, "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song), well that is my husband exactly.  Starting in late March through early October, he fishes almost one day a week at least and he's pretty good at it after all of these years.  So, we have a freezer full of fish all year round.  We give  away a lot of it, because there is only so much fish you can eat.  If you have priced catfish fillets lately, in the stores, they are outrageous, so I don't complain about the fishing so much anymore.    I have experimented with cooking it different ways, but I must say the absolutely best way to eat fresh water fish is fried and especially catfish.  My husband fillets them and then cuts them in smaller pieces and even people who say they don't like catfish end up loving this fish.  Add the homemade hushpuppies, coleslaw, onion slices and iced tea and it is a southern meal you won't forget.

There are several methods and recipes for frying fish in the south.  Some people pan fry, some deep fry, some use flour and cornmeal mixed, some use just cornmeal, some dip in egg and milk first and on and on.   It's up to the individual tastes and probably how you were raised eating it.  Personally, I soak my fish in buttermilk first and I only batter with cornmeal and seasonings.  If you dip the fish in an egg dip and batter with flour and cornmeal mixed, it gives it a heavier batter.   I prefer a lighter, crispier coating that just the cornmeal alone gives.  I also like to deep fry instead of pan frying.  Deep frying cooks the fish quickly and they don't absorb much of the grease at all.  If you pan fry, they lay in the grease longer and to me, seem greasier.  I don't do greasy when it comes to fried food and especially fish.   Here is what  you will need:


Cornmeal ( I prefer White Lily), buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, Cajun seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, black pepper, salt, and about 2 lbs. catfish fillets.

Place the catfish fillets in a mixing bowl and cover with buttermilk.  Put several dashes of Tabasco sauce in this and mix around.  This is optional and the heat cooks out.  It just gives it a good flavor, but not heat. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. This catfish has no fishy flavor really at all but even if it did, the buttermilk neutralizes it completely.



In a Ziplock bag or a bowl with a tight fitting lid, mix 2 cups cornmeal with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning, and 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's).  Shake it up to mix all of it good.  While mixing this, start heating your oil.  If you are using a deep fryer with a temperature control, heat to 375 degrees.  I use my Fry Daddy and it stays right around that temperature.  Be sure the oil is good and hot.  If it is not at the right temperature, the fish will absorb  the oil too much and be greasy, if it is too hot, it will brown on the outside too fast and not cook on the inside. 
Place 5 or 6 of the fish pieces in the bowl or bag and seal.  Shake around to coat well on all sides.  Drop carefully in the oil.  I use canola oil, but you can use vegetable oil or peanut oil also...whatever you prefer. 
Turn the fish over about once to be sure to brown on both sides.  Don't turn  too much  because it will knock your batter off.   This cornmeal batter stays on the fish better than a  heavier batter though.  When it's brown on both sides, remove to paper towel lined platter to drain.  Repeat until all of the fish is fried. 

Ingredients:

2lbs. catfish fillets
2 cups cornmeal (might need more, if the meal mixture becomes wet just add a cup more into the bag)
buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
dash of Tabasco sauce
oil for frying


HUSHPUPPIES

No southern fish fry is complete without hushpuppies.  This is a simple, but really good recipe for hush puppies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup self rising flour
1 1/2 cup self rising corn meal
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of Old Bay seasoning (optional)
1 Tbs. grated sweet onion
1 egg

Mix all together and drop by teaspoon full into the same oil you cooked fish in . When they are brown on one side, carefully roll them over and brown on the other side.  Remove to the paper towel lined platter around the fish. 

Southern Fried Catfish and Hushpuppies!


Spinach Artichoke Pizza!




I love spinach and artichoke dip and I love pizza so I decided to combine the two and with some tweaking and modifications, I think this is a very good recipe.  I tried a few recipes I found and they were either too dry and sort of bland or way too greasy and heavy.  I tried to take the good things in each one and mix them.

Here is what you will need:

1 bag chopped frozen spinach, cream cheese, basil, Alfredo sauce (any flavor you like), mayonnaise, 1 can artichoke hearts,  garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, pepper jack cheese or provolone slices, pizza crust for a 12 inch pizza.  I used a pizza crust mix that Kroger makes.


Soften the cream cheese and mix with the 1/4 cup mayonnaise,1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.



Thaw spinach and drain well.  Mash all of the water out of it.  I use paper towels to absorb all of the excess moisture.  Drain the artichoke hearts and chop up in bite size pieces.  Add both to the cream cheese mixture and mix well.


After you spread your crust out on your pizza pan or baking dish, spread a very thin layer of Alfredo sauce over it to the edges.  Sprinkle with basil.  Lay the pepper jack cheese slices over this.  If you do not like spicy, just use provolone cheese.


Spoon the spinach artichoke mixture over the cheese layer.  Sprinkle this layer with Parmesan cheese. I used the Kraft Shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese blend.

Place in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  This is  more than enough spinach topping for a 12 inch pizza.  I made a smaller pizza because I am the only one who eats this at my house.  I made my husband a beef and pepperoni pizza.  He thinks if he eats something green it will surely kill him...lol.


Ingredients:

1 bag frozen spinach thawed and drained well
1 can artichoke hearts
1 cup Alfredo sauce (1/2 spread on the pizza crust, 1/2 in the spinach/artichoke topping) I used Bertolli's Four Cheese Rosa
1 pizza crust for 12 inch pizza
6-7 slices pepper jack cheese or provolone
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for spinach/ artichoke mixture, the other cup for the top of the pizza)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. basil


Pina Colada Ambrosia!



Remember ambrosia, the creamy fruit salad mixture with the mini marshmallows usually served at Thanksgiving or Christmas, sometimes at church potlucks or picnics?  Nothing wrong with a good ambrosia fruit salad.  My husband can eat it by the bucket full.  This is a twist on that ambrosia. This is decidedly more tropical in nature and to me is more of a springtime, summer sort of ambrosia, but would be good anytime actually. 

Here is what you will need:


Coconut, cream of coconut, instant vanilla pudding, bananas, orange juice, 1 can mandarin oranges, 1 can pineapple tidbits, 2 cans tropical fruit salad, 1 small jar maraschino cherries, and the juice of 1 lemon.

Slice bananas into mixing bowl and pour the juice of 1 lemon over them.


Drain all of the fruit except the pineapple and add to the bananas.  Add the pineapple tidbits with the juice to it.

Juice 2-3 oranges to make 1/2 cup orange juice and mix with 1 cup cream of coconut.  You can use 1/2 cup of refrigerated orange juice, but the fresh orange juice is so much better.  Pour this mixture over the fruit and mix gently.
Add pudding mix to the fruit and mix together.







Put the drained maraschino cherries on top of this. Chill for at least an hour to give the pudding and fruit juices time to thicken up.
Toast the coconut in a 450 degree oven.  This usually takes about 10 minutes, but watch it carefully, because it will burn quickly.  Mix 1 cup into the fruit salad and sprinkle the other cup on top right before serving.



Pina Colada Ambrosia!


Ingredients:

3 bananas
1 can pineapple tidbits with juice (you can use fresh pineapple but will need to add 1/2 cup pineapple juice)
2 cans tropical fruit salad drained
1 can mandarin oranges drained
2 cans tropical fruit salad mix
1 small jar maraschino cherries
1 3 oz instant vanilla pudding mix
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups coconuts
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup cream of coconut