Fantastic Finds Friday

This coming Monday is Memorial Day. It's a special day to remember our troops and all that they have done for our country, and also the day most of us use as the true beginning of summer. This week's fantastic finds are dedicated to this holiday.

From Top Left: Grilled chicken thighs, hotdogs, deviled eggs, grilled corn, potato salad with bacon, and of course lemonade/limeade. 
Bring one of these to a Memorial Day picnic and you're sure to be a hit! 

Nifty Fifty

The post below was my 50th post on this blog...Just thought y'all should know. 
I celebrated with snowcones...and two lovely ladies. :)

Strawberry shortcake, ice cream, & french vanilla...a yum-tastic way to beat the Texas heat & usher in SUMMER!


Skorthalia...say what?

Skorthalia (or Skordalia) is a Greek garlic dip/spread. I first had it at my cousin's rehearsal dinner last summer, which was held at a little Greek restaurant in Alabama. Since that's over a 10 hour drive away, I figured I might as well learn how to make it myself. After writing the owner and asking for the recipe, I found that it just wasn't quite what I had tasted in the restaurant. However, after making a few tweaks I got pretty close. All traditional recipes I found on the Internet used bread or potatoes as a thickener, but I found that the mayo did fine.

You'll need:
1 jar mayo
1/4 cup ketchup
2/3 cup parmesan cheese (I shredded a block)
1 tsp white pepper (you can use black...I just like the white because it doesn't show in the dip)
4 tbsp minced garlic (I just bought a little jar of it)
2 tsp garlic powder

1. Dump the mayo out into a mixing bowl (don't throw away your jar!)

2. Mix in the ketchup

3. Add the garlic powder, pepper, and minced garlic

4. Grate in the parmesan cheese 

 5. Mix well and pour everything back into the mayo jar - You'll have a little bit extra. You can eat that right now. ;)

Feel free to eat this with crackers, pretzels, pita chips, on sandwiches...it's delicious.


So pretty much what I'm say is...Skorthalia (as you can tell from the recipe) is VERY strong and garlicky. It gets stronger the longer you leave it in the fridge. If you want to cut back on the garlic feel free. However, traditional recipes use this much or more garlic. You've been warned. ;)


Hammy Sammies

A while back, a woman from church brought these absolutely yummy ham and cheese sliders to a bible study at our home. Everyone loved them, but I forgot to get the recipe from her. Recently, I was on Pinterest and lo and behold I found the recipe for the small sandwiches. So I decided to take charge of dinner for the night and make these. The recipe is from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Ham and Cheese Sliders
adapted slightly from the Recipe Club

24 good white dinner rolls
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup miracle whip

Poppy seed sauce
1 T poppyseeds
1 1/2 T yellow mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 T minced onion
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll.

Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. 

Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. 

Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm.

** sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge ready to bake.


Fantastic Finds Friday

I'm having some late night carb cravings, so this Friday it's pasta time. Italian food = LOVE. <3

From Top Left: Lasagna, Shrimp carbonara, Pesto pasta, Mac n cheese, Spiral pasta with tomatoes and asparagus, Spaghetti and meatballs, & Fettucini alfredo



Cheddar Bay Biscuits

The boyfriend and I absolutely LOVE going to Red Lobster, and our favorite part (of course) is the unending supply of their delicious cheddar bay biscuits *cue mouth watering* However, Red Lobster isn't in the normal budget of a college student, so after searching the Internet I found a "copycat" recipe on the ABC News website.

 2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
 ¾ cup cold whole milk
 4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
 ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
 1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Bush on Top:
 2 tablespoons butter, melted
 ¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
 pinch salt

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don't want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas.

Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.

3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Recipe courtesy of Todd Wilbur, "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2," Plume Books.

I got impatient and turned on the broiler for the last 2 minutes of cooking to brown the tops of the biscuits better, but that's the only change I made to this recipe. It only made 10 biscuits for me, but maybe that's because I made the scoops bigger. Matt loves them, I love them, and they taste almost exactly like the ones you would get at Red Lobster. Except you don't have to pay for overpriced seafood. Yay!


Mashed Potato Casserole

It seems like the last few entries have been all about sweets. So for a change of pace I'd like to share what I cooked for dinner the last night. Since I'm home for the summer, I've decided to expand my cooking skills and help my mom out at the same time. Included in dinner last night was mashed potato casserole, which I got from The Girl Who Ate Everything. Here's her recipe:

5 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (around 6-7 large baking potatoes)

1/2 cup milk
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon crispy cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Peel, quarter, and boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until soft. 

Drain potatoes and and beat with a mixer until smooth. Add milk, cream cheese, sour cream, parsley, garlic salt, and nutmeg. 

Beat at a medium-high speed until nice and creamy. Add salt to taste keeping in mind that the cheese and bacon will add a little salt later.

Spoon into a 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Top with cheddar cheese and bacon. 

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
Serves 12 people.

I halved this recipe to feed my family of 4, and had a little bit left over. So the serving size is pretty accurate. I also used pre-cooked bacon for simplicity's sake instead of cooking bacon. I then kept the bacon in strips and laid it across my potatoes instead of crumbling it. Next time I'm going to crumble it instead. My family really liked this recipe. The potatoes turned out really creamy, and the cheese was perfectly melted. If you have trouble with the cheese not melting, put it under your broiler. But be sure and watch to make sure that it doesn't burn!


Fantastic Finds Friday

This Friday's Fantastic Finds (although it's technically Saturday already) are rainbow-themed food items. Because we all need a little bit of color in our lives! :)

From Top Left: rainbow popsicles, rainbow layer cake, rainbow pancakes, rainbow fruit skewers, rainbow pasta, rainbow jello shots (non-alcoholic of course!)


Tiny Treats

My little sister had a band concert last night, and I was volunteered to help make desserts for a bake sale afterwards. My mom gave me a recipe for Almond Joy brownie bites. Upon further inspection, I saw that she got it from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, and that it uses a pre-made brownie mix. Count me in.

You can find the recipe and directions by clicking on the link, but I'll repost them here as well. You really should check out her blog, though. She's hilarious. Not to mention she has great recipes to share.


Brownie batter (homemade, from a boxed mix, whatever is your favorite. I used Ghirardelli)

4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
About 4 dozen almonds
Chocolate candy melts or almond bark

Preheat your oven according to brownie recipe directions and generously spray two mini muffin pans with nonstick spray. Fill cups about 1/2 full with brownie batter and bake according to directions. When brownies are done, place pans on a cooling rack and remove brownies once cooled completely.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk. With clean 
hands, roll coconut mixture into balls and press onto tops of brownie bites. 

Press an almond into the top of each. Place brownies in the freezer to harden for about 15 minutes.

Melt almond bark or candy melts according to directions. Remove brownies from freezer and dip the tops in the chocolate. Place dipped brownies on a wax paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set.

Depending on what brownie recipe you use, you should get about 36-48 brownie bites.

Then we packaged them two to a ziplock baggie and sold them at the bake sale for $1. Everyone loved them, and it helped raised money for the band program. And that always makes me feel good. I would definitely make these again for another occasion. They taste just like an Almond Joy candy bar, so if you like them, you'll love these brownie bites. And if you haven't had an Almond Joy, you should still try these. Because they're pretty darn good.


I made a pie!

I'm quite proud of myself. My mom is one of those moms that doesn't want to celebrate Mother's Day. Weird right? Well, I'll have none of that. She's trying to declutter the house, so I couldn't buy her anything. And going out to eat today would have been a battle. So after my sister and I cooked chicken alfredo for lunch (YUM), I made a coconut cream pie. Because that's the only thing my mom asked for.

The recipe I used was one my great-grandmother used all the time. And her pies were AH-mazing. I remember going to her house as a little girl and sticking my fingers in her pies. She thought it was hilarious...My mom not so much. This time I did NOT stick my finger in the pie though.

First you need to make the pie crust. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can make it yourself. I, however, am not to that point. So I used a store-bought crust. And my mom couldn't even tell the difference. Whether you buy or make your crust, put it in your pie pan and bake it until golden brown. Then leave on the counter to cool while you make your filling.

For the filling you'll need:
*1/4 cup cornstarch
*1/2 cup white sugar
*3 egg yolks
*1/2 tsp salt
*2 cups whole milk
*1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*1 cup flaked sweetened coconut

1. Separate 3 eggs so that you have just the yolks (save the whites for a healthy omelette or meringue), and whisk them gently to combine
2. Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and milk in a sauce pan and slowly bring to a boil while stirring
3. Pour a little of the hot mixture into your egg yolks to temper them. Then add them to the rest of the hot mixture in the saucepan
4. Once all of the yolks are added, keep whisking and add vanilla
5. When the mixture has thickened a lot, take off heat and add the coconut
6. Pour into already-baked pie shell and let sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to the fridge to continue cooling for at least 4 hours (or overnight)

Once your pie is almost cooled you can make the whipped cream to go on top. I know a lot of people like meringue, so you could make that instead with those leftover egg whites. No one in my family actually likes meringue though, so I did whipped cream instead.

I used:
*2 pints of heavy whipping cream
*1 cup of sugar
*2 tsp vanilla extract

Making whipped cream is actually easier than most would think, especially if you have a stand mixer. All we have is a handheld but that works fine as well. You just get a good arm workout!

1. Put a metal mixing bowl, your metal beaters, and the whipping cream pints in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to cool them down. I don't know if this really helps the whipped cream, but my mom said it does so I'll trust her baking wisdom on this one.
2. Take everything out of the freezer. Pour the whipping cream into the bowl, along with the sugar and vanilla.
3. Whip with the beaters until finished. How do you tell if it's finished? Stick your finger in, pull it out, and if a small peak forms and stays, you know your cream is whipped enough.

(Or you could just taste it like I do)

Now take your cooled pie out of the fridge, spoon the whipped cream on the top, and sprinkle some toasted coconut on top if you'd like. Then slice and serve!

 My lovely mom and her "baby" Louie came in to check my progress and I had to snap a pic. I love them both A LOT. :)

*WARNING: This pie isn't exactly healthy (you could've guessed that from the ingredient list though). It's also quite addictive. It's gonna take a lot of willpower to keep that summer weight off this year now that I have an excuse to cook and bake all the time. Guess I'll just have to find more people to be my taste-testers. Anyone up for the job? ;)



I had all of this baking stuff in my dorm room (eggs, cake mix, vegetable oil) that I didn't feel like toting back home. But I also don't want to just throw it away. That just seems blasphemous.

So I made cake-ish cookie-ish brownie-ish treats for the RAs and office workers in my dorm. I really should work on this naming thing. But just look at the pictures. Aren't they delicious looking? And they were pretty easy, too.

I made the brownie batter according to the box (adding 1 egg, 1/3 cup water, and 1/3 cup oil for "fudgy" brownies) and separately combined the cake mix with 1 1/4 cups of water, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and 2 eggs.

Then I poured a big spoonful of brownie batter into the bottom of muffin tins. I would suggest using a 9 x 13 pan but the one in our dorm kitchen "mysteriously vanished" much like the can opener from the other night (I can't wait to be in my own apartment with my own utensils...boo). I also sprinkled white and semisweet chocolate chips on top of the brownie batter.

Then I poured the cake mix on top of the brownie batter, but not all the way to the top of the muffin tins.

I popped them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees while I made caramel drizzle. I took 3/4 cup of caramel bits (you can use regular caramels), added 1/4 cup of whole milk and 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and slowly melted it on the stove. After completely melted, I let it cool while the muffins finished.

Then after the muffins were cool, I popped them out of their pans and drizzled the still-warm caramel sauce over them.

Who knew store-bought mix could taste so good, right?