Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easy Chocolate Mousse

4 oz Packet of Jello pudding, Chocolate
1c. milk
1 small container Cool Whip

Combine the jello pudding and milk in a jar. (I used a Tupperware Quick Shake Container because I bought it at Goodwill for fifty cents.) Secure the lid and give it a good shake to combine the ingredients. Fold the pudding into a small container of Cool Whip. Divide the mousse into about nine individual serving cups (or just put in a really pretty bowl. You can serve immediately or chill until the party.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Vegetable and Beef Soup

5-6 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can green beans
1 can corn
3 cans beef broth and 3 cans of water
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes, diced
1 Tbsp crushed Basil
1 Bay Leaf
1 lb. sirloin beef cut into bite sizes

In a soup pot, cook meat until done. (Sometimes, season the meat with a little seasoned pepper.) Add beef broth and water. Add carrots, potatoes, celery, corn, beans, tomato sauce, and tomatoes. Salt to taste. Add about 1 Tbsp of dried basil and 1 bay leaf, broken in half. Turn down heat and cook until the vegetables are finished (about 20 minutes). Serve hot.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Chocolate Covered Pretzels have always been a Christmas tradition in my husband's family. This was something he made with his mother every Christmas when he was growing up. When we were first married, Liz would send us chocolate covered pretzels with our Christmas presents. She died in 2005 and I never thought to ask her for her recipe. This is the first year since she died that Roger showed interest in making chocolate covered pretzels with our girls. So I started looking for a recipe.

You'll need:

about 12 oz of chocolate
1Tbsp shortening
Parchment Paper

You can use chocolate chips or baking chocolate. Either works just fine. Liz always used the small pretzel twists, but we didn't buy the ingredients until Christmas Eve so they only had pretzel sticks left. We used white chocolate because they are Roger's favorite, but brown chocolate is just a good, in my opinion.

Roll out the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Put the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwaveable bowl. Heat the chips/shortening in the microwaves until chocolate is mostly melted. Stir every 20-30 seconds. If you overheat the chocolate, it becomes thick and unworkable so watch your chocolate carefully. Take it out of the microwave while there are still unmelted chips. Stir until these chips melt.

If dipping pretzel rods, hold a rod by one end and dip it in the chocolate, leaving an inch or two uncovered. If you are dipping pretzel twists, drop the whole pretzel in the chocolate and submerge it slightly. Use a fork to pull the pretzel out of the chocolate. Shake the chocolate-dipped pretzels several times to remove excess chocolate. Place it on the parchment paper. If you are using sprinkles, sprinkle them on while the chocolate is still wet.

Put the cookie sheets of pretzels in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Store in a plastic bag or plastic tub on the counter for easy snacking.

This is a really fun recipe to make with kids. I try to remember that I'm making memories as well as pretzels. (This is hard for me sometimes.) It's not too important if the pretzels aren't as pretty as what you buy at the store. As long as the kids are having fun (and sneaking licks of chocolate here and there.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheesy Grits

When I think of grits, I think of My Cousin Vinny (1992). There is a scene where Vinny and Lisa order breakfast. When it arrives, Vinny looks at his skeptically...

Vinny Gambini: Whats this over here?
Grits Cook: You never heard of grits?
Vinny Gambini: Sure I've heard of grits. I just never actually *seen* a grit before.

I, too, was recently introduced to a grit. It is so yummy. If you've never had grits, you don't know what you are missing. Grits are roughly ground corn boiled in water with either salt or sugar. It's usually associated with the south, but it's actually of Native American origin. This recipe isn't sweet at all. It's not salty either. You can taste the hint of cheesiness and the garlic is just enough to have you scooping that second portion into your bowl. For this recipe, you'll need:

1 cup instant grits
8 oz Velveeta
3 cups water
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cook the grits, water and salt together as directed on the package. Add a stick of butter and 8 oz of Velveeta. Stir the butter and Velveeta cheese into the grits as they melt. I usually cube the cheese and butter so that it melts faster. It is very important that the cheese melts completely. You don't want pockets of Velveeta cheese throughout your grits. In a bowl whip together an egg and 3/4c of milk. Stir into grits mixture. Pour into 8x8 casserole dish and bake 350 30-45 min until top lightly browns. Double the recipe for 9x13 dish.

You can also make up this recipe the night before, refrigerate, and cook it in the morning. It's a great recipe to bring to a pot luck brunch because it looks great and is easy to transport. Enjoy!