Saturday, September 24, 2011

91 Days Until Christmas

From now until Christmas, I plan on occasionally posting ideas for home-made gifts from the kitchen and maybe even some non-food gifts. Every year, I tried to make something from the kitchen for my family and friends for Christmas. I have a pretty long list and want to share some of my favorites to hopefully give you some ideas that you can use.

I'm going to start with my favorite, Hot Chocolate Cones with homemade hot chocolate mix. I've made the hot chocolate mix several times for my co-workers. The first time I made it, I found some really nifty small glass jars with hinged lids at Big Lots to put them in. I think the jars were only $1.00 each. The last time I gave the hot chocolate, I made the Hot Chocolate Cones and they were a huge success, so much so that my boss wanted to order about 50 of them for his wife to give as gifts at work. That was a little too many for me to work on in the short amount of time I had, so I had to decline, but it might be something you could think about. Just remember to check your state's health codes about making and selling food items.

Homemade Hot Chocolate

8 quarts powdered milk
1 - 15 oz. can Nestle Quick
1 - 6 oz. jar powdered non-dairy creamer
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 bag mini marshmallows - optional

Mix all of the above ingredients, except the marshmallows, in a huge bowl. Store in containers to give as gifts. Add a tag with instructions that say "4 1/2 T. of mix to a hot mug of hot water and enjoy."

Hot Chocolate Cones

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix, recipe above
mini marshmallows
milk chocolate chips
clear disposable cake decorating bags
wire ties

To make it less messy, each cone will use 2 cake decorating bags. In the first bag, place enough mix to make two cups of hot chocolate. Tie the bag closed with a wire tie and trim off the excess of the bag. Place that bag into a second bag. Push the top of the first bag down as well as you can and then pour about 1/8 of a cup of the chocolate chips on top and enough to cover the top of the first bag. On top of the chocolate chips, put about 1/4 c. mini marshmallows. If you want to add some pink marshmallows, or whatever they might have around Christmas, for a little color you can. Twist the second bag close with a wire tie and with the ribbon, tie a tag on it with the mixing instructions.

You can find cake decorating bags at just about any craft store and also at Walmart.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Healthy Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

I can never refuse Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole and I have the best recipe. While it is fairly healthy to start with since it has so many veggies in it, I think I have made it even a little more healthy by altering the ingredients just a little.

The recipe calls for Velveta Cheese, butter or margarine, and cream of mushroom soup. All of these have a high fat content, but by substituting lower fat versions, the dish can meet many diet plans. White rice is also another ingredient. I suppose you could substitute the higher fiber brown rice, but I've never tried that. I'm just not a fan of brown rice, so I keep the white rice in it.

The recipe says to bake this in the oven, however, when I prepare this I make in the microwave. From steaming the broccoli and cauliflower to the final preparation, I use the microwave which helps keep the kitchen cool.

Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

1 - 10 oz. bag of frozen chopped broccoli
1 - 10 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower
1 c. cooked rice
1 c. Velveta Cheese 2% Milk, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 stick low fat margarine
1 can fat-free cream of mushroom soup
Seasoned bread crumbs

Steam the broccoli and cauliflower in the microwave according to directions on the bags. Saute the onion in the margarine. Mix all of the ingredients together in a casserole dish. Spread bread crumbs on top. Bake at 350° oven for 30 minutes, or microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brownie Power

I was contacted this week by the Administrator of BrowniePower blog about exchanging links. When that happens, I always check out the blog before I agree and when I visited this site, I was not disappointed. Come on, who doesn't like brownies? OMG, this site has the best brownie recipes on it. The first recipe I'm going to try is the York Peppermint Brownies. I highly recommend the BrowniePower Blog. This is going to kill my diet, but brownies are so worth it.


Monday, September 5, 2011

20% off on my book

My publisher is offering 20% off on all orders up to $100 from now until September 9, 2011. You can learn more about the purchase and get the discount code by clicking on Masters & Disasters of Cooking. The book is full of anecdotes of both my cooking disasters and masterpieces. This would make a fantastic Christmas gift for your favorite cook. Thanks.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mexican Dip

If any of you are still looking for an idea for an appetizer on this holiday weekend, let me suggest my layered Mexican Dip. This recipe is from my book, Masters & Disasters of Cooking. As the story in my book tells, I took this to a cookout when my husband first started working for the local police department. The cookout was the first time I would meet the wives of his fellow officers. I wanted to make a good impression, so I took my favorite appetizer, which is also so easy to make. Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe.

Mexican Dip

2 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 c. sour cream
2 T. milk
2 T. chili powder
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
shredded lettuce
chopped green pepper
chopped tomatoes
chopped onion
shredded Cheddar, Colby, and Mozzarella cheeses

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and milk together until blended well. Add the chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. Mix well. Spread on the bottom of a pan and layer on top and in order the lettuce, green pepper, tomatoes, and onion. Finish with a top layer of the shredded cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil and chill. Serve with tortilla chips, or it's even better with Nacho Cheese Doritos.

You can put this appetizer on any type of pan. I've used a pizza pan, baking dish, and even split it up into a couple of 9" round cake pans. If you're taking this to a cookout, try putting it on a disposable aluminum pan, just make sure you support the bottom when you carry it.

Everyone have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

New novel coming

I'm excited to announce that my second novel, "Saved by the Sheriff" is going to be published by Secret Cravings Publishing. To read my official announcement, please visit my author's blog at