sunset harvest

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taco Seasoning

I guess spending 10 days in Florida will make me slack off on this blog and other household chores. The kids and I spent a nice long vacation in Florida with my mom and I guess I was so relaxed that when I got home I just couldn't get motivated to do anything! But now things are back on track and time to start sharing some recipes!
I was seeing a lot of homemade taco seasonings online and once I looked more into what was in the store bought version I wanted to at least try my own. The verdict-probably never buying store bought again. This is easy and would be great to try with my taco salad!

Homemade Taco Seasoning
adapted from Annie Eats
2 Tsp. Chili Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Paprika ( I used smoke and loved the extra flavor it adds)
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Onion Powder
3/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (This added just the right amount of heat, but if you want more heat add a little more)
I added about 1/4 tsp of salt, maybe even just a little less

Mix all together and add to browned ground beef (1 pound) Add 3/4 cup water and simmer till liquid is almost completely gone.

Since this was a hit I will be making a large batch of this and keeping it in a air tight container so it will be ready to go for our weekly taco night!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sugar cookies!

Look at what these ingredients. Simple. I am betting you probably have most of these in your kitchen already. These cookies are easy. No chilling, no rolling out, just roll into a ball and have your handy helpers press the cookie dough down with a glass coated in sugar. Easy!
Start with the butter, add the sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix well and then add the baking soda, flour, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix till all combined. Roll into balls, and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Then using the bottom of a glass, dip the glass in sugar and press the glass down on the dough to flatten. Special thanks to my handy 5 year old for her assistance today.

Simple Sugar Cookies
adapted from allrecipies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup Butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine above and add the following;
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
Mix to combine

Roll out dough into balls, and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten out with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until starting to turn light brown, I don't let them go that long, I let them rest on the baking sheet once out of the oven for about 2 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I found this version of a Teriyaki sauce on Jamie Cooks It Up and of course couldn't wait to test it out. I think I could eat this almost every night of the week. The kids, loved it, Doug..well I think he could take it or leave it. He enjoyed the crock pot version of Teriyaki chicken better I do believe. I was the only one to eat the added veggies, but that is hardly surprising. We had this with fresh pineapple and it was a great dinner!
I cut my chicken into thin strips, decided to use angel hair pasta this time around, changing it up from rice. And then the veggies, optional but to me, I could eat them alone without the chicken, but my family would leave and go get fast food if that is what I presented for dinner.
Begin by warming some oil up in a large skillet. Add the chicken strips and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook pasta or rice according to package directions. Let the strips cook till browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate and add a little more oil and cook veggies till crisp and tender. You can work on the sauce when the veggies are cooking.
I loved the sauce, it was easy and tasted delicious! I kept adding more and more to my bowl. Add the water to a bowl, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic powder and finally the corn starch. Whisk it up till everything is dissolved. Add the sesame oil and whisk for another minute. After you remove the veggies, or chicken if you are omitting the delicious veggies, pour the sauce into the pan and whisk till the sauce starts to bubble and thicken. Place noodles, chicken, and veggie in a bowl and pour sauce over. Enjoy!
Teriyaki Chicken and Noodle Bowl

3 boneless/skinless chicken breast cut into strips
salt and pepper
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
16 oz package of angel hair pasta

*Use whatever you have, broccoli, green peppers, etc. would all taste great as well.

Bring water to boil in large pot and cook pasta according to box directions.
Heat oil in a large skillet and add chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook chicken till browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate and add more oil to pan. Add veggies and cook till crisp and tender. Remove to a plate.

For the sauce:
1 1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 TBLS corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil

Pour your cold water into a medium bowl. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and corn starch. Whisk together and add sesame oil. Once your chicken and veggies are cooked, add sauce to pan and stir till thick and bubbling. Serve over noodles, chicken, and veggies.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I usually get a few eye rolls every time I mention chicken for dinner. However, it is something we have quite often around here. Maybe it was because every night this week but one, we are having some type of chicken dish! Tonight, chicken cordon bleu. I love to make the full drawn out chicken cordon bleu, but tonight I went the easy route. I made the sauce that was also suggested and I knew when I added that quarter of a teaspoon of Dijon mustard that my dear husband would rather pour the sauce down the drain. So that was a major fail, however, I loved the sauce. Next time, I will omit the mustard addition to the sauce. And although this version was well received, next time I will stick to the original version. If you are in a hurry and need a new way to change up your chicken, try this!
Chicken breast, Swiss cheese, ham slices, bread crumbs, and butter. I am all for taking a can of bread crumbs out to make a meal, however lately, I have been making my own. I just throw some bread and Ritz crackers into a food processor, and get them fine, add some melted butter. Next I put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 5 minutes to dry them out. If you don't have the time, that can of bread crumbs will do the job! Spray your pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take chicken breast and slice length wise in half to make 2 smaller portions. This will help the chicken to cook much faster! Place chicken breast in prepared pan and layer with ham, cheese, and then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. While that is baking you can begin the sauce.
Again, there is that sneaky Dijon mustard that I probably should have left out. Or I also love the sauce I used for the Crispy Chicken that would have worked just as well on this dish. Start by melting butter in a saucepan and add flour, whisk constantly and add milk. Next add salt and chicken bouillon granules. Continue to whisk till thickened and bubbling, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mustard (a big ooops in my house) and Parmesan cheese. Keep warm and when ready, serve over chicken.

Chicken Cordon Blue- easy version

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half length wise
6 slices deli ham
6 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs, mixed with 2 TBLS. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 9x13 baking dish. Set aside. Lay each chicken breast in pan and layer ham over, then cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.

To make the sauce:
2 TBLS butter
2 TBLS all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 chicken bouillon cube crushed or 1 tsp. of granules
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard (omit if you have any anti mustard members in your family)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter in saucepan and add flour, whisk constantly and slowly add milk, continuing to whisk. Once milk is added, add chicken granules and salt and continue to whisk till thickened and bubbling. Remove from heat and add mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese. Pour sauce over chicken when ready to serve.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Swirl Cookies

These cookies are worth every minute they take to make! I first saw these a few years ago on The Sporadic Cook. I made them first with red, yellow, blue and green. This time around I am ready to look forward. Away from the holiday season and I am already looking forward to this month being over. I dislike the cold, snow, ice, wind, etc. Today was one of those very cold and windy days where we just stayed indoors. Although these are time consuming, they are so worth it. I love the taste of these cookies and may even use this dough for some cut out cookies. I love what the cream cheese adds to the flavor. I decided to try a Valentine's day theme. I wanted a red, white, and light pink. I used some Wilton color gel to try and get the pink, and after two attempts with this color I think I am done. Both times I have used this I get more of a mauve then a pink shade. I will now stick with the Ameri Color gels. I didn't want to waste any dough so you will see the mauve color and then a few of the pink that I managed to get out of some of the white dough. I used a white gel color as well to try and obtain a bright white color for the cookies.
I doubled the original recipe, figured if I am going through all the work I want to get a decent batch of cookies. Begin by mixing your butter and cream cheese, add the sugar and mix till fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix till combined. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add flour mixture into the dough and mix till combined. Separate the dough into 3 or 4 balls. Depends on what color combinations you decide to use.
Add the gel or food coloring to each section of dough and wrap each in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 2 hours. Once it is chilled you will need take each color and roll into small balls, I had my handy assistant help with this, she was more than willing and up for the task.
Once you have all the small balls, take 4 small balls and roll into one large ball. Do this till you use up all the small balls.
Next, roll out the ball into a 12 inch long snake and then roll to make the cookie. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let rest on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
Next time I will stay clear of the mauve color and stick to the electric pink, deep red, and bright white Ameri color gels colors. For fourth of July I would switch the pink for blue and that will make a very festive cookie as well!

Swirl Color Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
6 oz. cream cheese
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Assorted colors of food coloring or gel. (Gel has a much bolder color and a little goes a long way)

Set butter and cream cheese on counter for 10 minutes. Place in mixer and combine, add sugar and mix till fluffy. Add in eggs and vanilla, mixing well to incorporate. In a separate bowl add flour, salt, and baking powder, stir. Add slowly to mixture until all combined.

Divide dough into the amount of colors you are going to use and add gel/food coloring to each section and combine. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

When dough is ready, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove and roll each color into small balls. Once all balls are made take 3-4 of the balls and roll into one large ball, roll out into 12 inch snake and then starting at one end, roll into coil.

Place on parchment paper and bake 8-10 minutes, remove and let sit on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, remove to cooling rack.


I linked this recipe up at the following sites;
Mandy's recipe box for Totally Tasty Tuesdays