Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Auntie’s Spaghetti Sauce


I’ve been making this for years and years and years. It’s my Auntie Christene’s recipe. I’ve made it so many times I just assume EVERYONE knows it and uses it. It’s the greatest because it make a huge pot of sauce and then can be frozen for later use. I always have some in the freezer for a last minute meal. By having it simmer most of the day, it becomes naturally thick and rich. Eat it by the spoonful good. It’s definitely a staple that should be in everyone’s rotation.

2 lb. ground beef (I’ve used ground turkey and it’s just as delicious)

12 (8oz) cans tomato sauce (I use one huge one from Costco)

2 t. garlic salt

1/2 t pepper

2 T Italian Seasoning

2 T dry minced onion

2 T dry parsley

At the bottom of a large heavy bottom pot, brown meat and add all crushed herbs and seasonings. Stir meat a lot to make meat fine. Simmer 5-7 minutes; drain off fat. Add tomato sauce and lower heat. Simmer at least 2 hours to reduce liquid and sauce becomes thickened. I usually simmer the sauce most of the day. Use what you need for dinner and then freeze the leftovers. I usually freeze it in gallon sized Ziploc bags to save space in my freezer – that way you can stack them flat.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Rise Cinnamon Rolls


I definitely was skeptical about trying this recipe. Come on, cinnamon rolls with NO yeast?! It did intrigue me though, so I just had to try it. I was very pleasantly surprised! Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t have the same texture as yeast cinnamon rolls, but they were absolutely delicious. They kind of reminded me of what the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls taste like. For being so fast, they were to die for. They were tender and satisfied my Sunday morning cinnamon roll craving. I will definitely make these again – especially when I’m craving cinnamon rolls, but don’t want to wait all day.

For the Dough

3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)

1/3 cup low fat buttermilk

1/4 cup sugar

2 oz. Butter (½ stick)

1 t vanilla

9 oz. all purpose flour (about 2 cups)

1 T baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/4 t baking soda

For the Filling

½ stick butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Glaze

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoons buttermilk

1 t vanilla


Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 8 or 9″ baking pan with shortening.

Combine the ricotta cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds (I did this in my kitchen aid.) Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (don’t overprocess). The dough will be soft and moist.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth (it really only takes 4-5 times). With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×15-inch rectangle. I discovered that 12×15 is exactly the size of my flexible plastic cutting board, so that’s a quick and easy way to size it.

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and press gently into the surface.

Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into equal pieces (I got about 12). Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the rolls, and transfer them to a serving plate.

In a small bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. Add milk as needed to achieve desired consistency. I chose for it to be a little thinner and whipped. It was delicious with the buttermilk, so I definitely suggest using that. Spread or drizzle onto warm rolls. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quick and Easy Freezer Jam


Have you ever had homemade strawberry jam? If you haven’t, then you’ve been living an unfulfilled life:) Once you’ve had it you’ll never go back. I grew up on the stuff so naturally I had to have it for my kids. It’s a panic day when I go to the freezer to get another container of jam and find I have only one left. I go into a frenzy and rush to the store to get the ingredients. Heaven forbid my kids want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I have NO homemade jam!! I don’t even think my 2 year old has ever had anything other than homemade jam. Wow…my kids live a sheltered life:)

If you’re telling yourself that you don’t have the time, or patience, or time…just get over it. It takes no time at all. See no excuses now!


The ONLY brand of pectin you should EVER use in my opinion is MCP from Sure Jell. This is the best one for quick and easy freezer jam. I can’t be bothered with cooking anything for jam. This one is SO easy, SO good and SO fast. Sometimes it has been known to be hidden and you might have to go to several stores to find it, but hold out for it cause it’s the best.


Just open the box and follow the directions for the Quick and Easy freezer jam. It’s as easy as that! And if you’re fortunate enough to live in California, you have another advantage…the strawberries. Oh the California strawberries!! They are natures candy there…but only the ones you buy on the side of the road, picked fresh that day, straight from the ground you’re standing on. You’ve never had a sweeter strawberry. I, on the other hand, had to trust my good ole Costco.

2 pounds fresh strawberries, not frozen

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 box MCP Sure Jell Pectin

Then just follow the instructions WORD BY WORD. Don’t try to add things here or cut corners there. Your jam won’t set. Just do EXACTLY what it says. The instructions do say NOT to puree the fruit and leave chunks of fruit, but this is the ONE thing I stray from. I pulse those babies to a fine puree. I don’t like chunky jam…no thank you. So go ahead and puree your heart out:)

When it says to stir in the pectin, sprinkle it on very gradually WHILE stirring. I use a whisk. You want the pectin to be nice and incorporated. If you dump it all in at once or in larger amounts, it clumps up. It takes me a good 3-5 minutes of sprinkling and whisking. Then wait the FULL 30 minutes. I set a timer. Make sure you stir it about every 5 minutes like it says.

Stir in the sugar the same way you did the pectin. If you dump too much at once it’ll clump up a little. Stir it until the sugar is COMPLETELY dissolved. This can take 5-10 minutes. Make sure you stir with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides of the bowl, getting ALL sugar granules dissolved. If it doesn’t dissolve, it’ll crystalize and create a weird texture. I know it’s done when I pull the rubber spatula out and the coating of jam is clear and I can’t find one grain. I’ll even taste it several times to make sure there’s no “crunch” of sugar granules.

Then pour it into your containers. I usually buy the 1 cup Ziploc storage containers or the Ball twist top containers (these are my fave - both are pictured). It usually makes 7-8 cups of jam.

Then you leave them on the counter for 24 hours and then put them in the freezer…that’s it!! Then you’re set. I’m not going to lie, one batch lasts us about 8 months. Not bad if you ask me. And we eat A LOT of jam!! I also love having it to give to people. It’s such an easy, no brainer gift – a loaf of homemade bread with this jam. I also like to give it to the missionaries every time they come over. I also add it to things like: cakes, my homemade cream cheese frosting to make a strawberry cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, and of course sandwiches, homemade rolls and bread. Perfect. Now get your buns to the store and make some jam!!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hot Fudge Cupcakes

Align Center
We were invited to dinner and were asked to bring the dessert. I always like being over the dessert:) I wanted to bring something that was fun for kids, delicious and of course, something I've never done before. Cupcakes are just so fun for kids so I decided to go with another twist on a cupcake. These are chocolate cupcakes, dipped in hot fudge, iced with a chocolate cream cheese frosting and the topped with a drizzle of more hot fudge. These quickly became my new favorites! They were just so decadent and perfect.

1 recipe your favorite chocolate cupcakes
1 recipe hot fudge (recipe follows)
1 recipe chocolate cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

After cupcakes are made and cooled, carefully dip the tops into the hot, hot fudge. Set aside to cool. Top with cream cheese frosting. Drizzle with more hot fudge and if you're feeling super crazy, chopped chocolate. You won't be disappointed!

Hot Fudge Recipe:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
1 t vanilla

Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. While whisking constantly, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, or until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe:
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 t vanilla
3 1/2-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Cream cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla and mix well. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix until smooth.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Garlicy Oven Fries

I love a good french fry. These were so tender in the middle and crisp on the outside - just what a fry should be. The whole fam loved these. And I'm thinking about just keeping garlic olive oil on hand clever.

8 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 russet potatoes (about 8oz each), each cut into 12 wedges
3 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 440° F. Combine the garlic and oil in a large bowl, warming it until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute (I actually just combined the oil and garlic in the morning, covered it and let it sit all day). Add the potatoes to the garlic mixture and toss to coat. Place in a 8x8 baking dish. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and microwave on high power until the potatoes are translucent around the edges, 3 to 6 minutes, shaking the bowl to redistribute the potatoes halfway through cooking.

Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the hot potatoes and toss well to coat.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake, turning once, until deep golden brown and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with ketchup, mayo or sour cream.