Roll Out Cookies

With tomorrow being a holiday, a few more to follow in the next couple months, I thought it would be a good idea to post a basic roll out cookie recipe.  It's always good to have this one on hand for a variety of occasions.  This is my Grandma's cookie recipe and is by far my favorite.  Simple ingredients and so tasty.  Sprinkle the top with some color sugar or sprinkles before you bake, or ice them after you've baked them.  Either way they will be a hit.  Here's the skinny...
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy.  Add the baking powder and the flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Divide dough into two balls.  On a floured surface, roll each ball of dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  Dip cutter in flour before each use.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6-10 minutes, (depending on the size of the cookie) or until bottom edges turn light brown.  Let cool and enjoy!  [makes about 24 medium size cookies]
*do not chill this dough before rolling out.

One Hour Rolls

These are my favorite dinner rolls to make.  They are so easy and they taste amazing.  Way better than the frozen dough kind you buy at the grocery store.  I love rolls fresh out of the oven, but I'm not a huge bread making fan.  However, you can't mess these puppies up too easily.  They are a cinch to make and you don't have to do any kneading.
These rolls come out so soft and flavorful, you'll be hooked.  Make a batch with soup, or your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  Here's the DL...
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons salt
6 3/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (or 3 packages)
1 1/2 cups water
5 cups all-purpose flour
In microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup stir together milk and sugar.  Add the butter and microwave until butter is melted (usually about 45 seconds-1 minute).  Set aside and cool to lukewarm.
Using a mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water (warm, not hot).  Add the milk mixture to it (make sure milk mixture is not too hot, or it will kill your yeast).  Mix in the salt.
Using the dough hook on low speed, add in the flour one cup at a time.  Mix for about 3 minutes, until dough is forming into a ball and is cleaning the sides of the bowl off.  Dough will still be a little sticky.
Put some oil on your hands and form the dough into a ball.  Put dough back into the bowl and cover with a clean dry dish towel.  Let rise in a warm, draft free spot for 20-25 minutes.
Lightly grease a baking dish.  Roll balls of dough about 2 inches in diameter.  Place the dough balls in the baking dish about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Cover the rolls with a clean dish towel and let it rise in a warm place for 15-20 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
Bake rolls in 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  I like to brush the tops with melted butter for the last 1 minute of baking.  Remove from oven and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy with butter and homemade jam!  [makes about 24 rolls]

A Little Taste of Fall

I love Fall, I think it's my favorite season.  It's a close tie with Spring.  But I'd rather wear boots and sweaters, and I really like making soup.  So, Fall may win.
It's so amazing when all the green trees begin gently changing into bright beautiful colors.
This is our maple tree in our back yard of our house in town.  It is the only Fall like tree we have.
Here some pretty Aspen trees are peaking up from behind one of our barns.
Is anyone else in love with white pumpkins?!  The past two years there have been more of them around, and I'm digging it.
Going from golden to red, from the top down.
This bush sits outside my kitchen window, I adore it.
A snacking horse made his way into my shot.  Snacking horses don't really care if you're trying to get a great photo of the beautiful fall landscape.  If you're where they want to feed they just mosey right on in.
Here's my family's pumpkins we carved the other night.  The one on the right end is my husbands.  Can you guess what it is?  He claims he was being creative,  I think he was just getting worn out after carving three of our children's pumpkins.
I love how tall this grass is.  I am standing for this shot, the grass was as tall as me, so pretty.
And here's my baby kissing "her" horse.  No one officially gave her the colt.  He was born this summer, and since he's a baby and she's our baby I think she figures it's fitting that the horse be hers.  I'm not going to argue with her, and I would like to see someone try.
Aspen trees are the perfect color scheme: black, white, & yellow... perfect.
And here's our dog Gus adorning some pink ear muffs my baby put on him.  It snowed that day (as you can see behind him, gotta love Montana "Falls"), and she thought he needed to stay warm.  He's such a good dog, he kept them on for thirty minutes before they finally slid to his neck.  Then he slept for an hour with them around his neck.  You can't ask more from a dog than to wear ear muffs that his two year old owner puts on him.
Happy Fall everyone.  Hope you are enjoying all the wonderful colors this season brings.

Green Enchilada Casserole

This is my go to dish if I need to pull off dinner in an instant.  It's quick and easy, super yummy, and makes for great left overs.  Everyone in the family likes it and cleans their plates when I serve it up.  I think I might even make it tonight.  (My recipe calls for a lot of canned items, that's because  what I like about this casserole is how quickly I can pull it together.  However, you could definitely substitute canned items for homemade if you have the time.)  You've got to give it a try!  Here's the DL...
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 can (10 oz) green enchilada sauce
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
9 corn tortillas
2 cups grated Montery Jack cheese
2 cups gated Cheddar cheese (or instead of both cheese, 4 cups Mexican cheese blend)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In saucepan over medium heat melt butter.  Add onion and cook for 8 minutes, or until translucent.  Set aside.
Fill a medium size bowl with water.  Emmerse tortillas into the water.  Set aside.
Mix the two cheeses together.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl mix enchilada sauce, cream of chicken soup, green chilies, sour cream, garlic, and cumin.  Reserve 1 cup, set aside.
Add chicken and onion to the remaining sour cream mixture.
Spray the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish.  Spread the cup of reserved sour cream mixture evenly in baking dish.
Place three tortillas down, you can tear them apart to fit, but try not to overlap them.  Evenly spread a third of the chicken mixture on top.  Sprinkle on 1 cup of the cheese blend.  Repeat the tortilla, chicken, and cheese layers 2 more times.   Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top.
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve in squares and enjoy!  (serves 6-8)

Soft Pretzel Bites

Pretzel bites have been a favorite snack in our family for the past couples years.  I would just buy the frozen  ones and nuke them in the microwave when needed.  But the frozen ones are expensive and  who really knows what they put in them.  I had avoided making homemade pretzel bites because quite frankly, raised bread dough scares me.  I've often struggled with it and the only two things I make bread-wise are pizza dough and 1 hour dinner rolls.  The other day I really wanted some pretzel bites but we were out of them, & so was the grocery money for the month.  So I finally buckled down and tried making these babies for myself.
I gotta tell ya, I don't know what I was so scared of!  They were super easy, the dough was very forgiving, and one batch made around 85 pretzel bites (way cheaper than the frozen ones).  These were gobbled up so fast and I froze a big bag of them to warm up as needed.  There's nothing like warm soft pretzels.  I don't usually do step by step pictures, but because the idea of making these scared me I thought the pictures would put any other timid bakers at ease.  You've got to give these a try,  they really are amazing.  They would make a great snack for you kiddo's class too.  Here's the skinny...
1 1/2 cups warm (not hot) water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/4 (or 1 package) active dry yeast
4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 cups flour
vegetable or canola oil
2 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
egg beaten or melted butter for brushing tops
coarse sea salt
Combine water, sugar, yeast, and butter in mixer bowl.  Let sit 10 minutes.
Using the dough hook, mix in the salt and flour on low speed just until combined.  Increase speed to medium and continue mixing until dough is smooth and starts forming into a ball.  Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball using your hands.  Coat a large bowl with canola/vegetable oil.  Set dough in oiled bowl, roll dough around so it is coated with oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bring water to a boil in large pot.
Meanwhile divide dough into 4 equal parts.  Roll each section out into long rope about an inch in diameter.
Cut dough into 1 inch pieces.
You should have a bunch of these babies waiting and rearing to go.
Add the baking soda to the boiling water.
Boil a few dough  pieces at a time for 30 seconds.  You don't want the dough pieces to touch while they're boiling so don't put too many in there at once.  Remove pieces with a slotted spoon or spider.
Transfer boiled pieces on to greased baking sheet with about 1/2 inch in between each piece.  Brush the tops with beaten egg or melted butter, sprinkle each one with coarse sea salt.
Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are dark brown.  Remove and let cool a few minutes before serving with Cheese Sauce (I suggest American or cheddar cheese sauce).  Enjoy!

Quick & Easy Spasagna

I've been making a lot on quick dinners, and this one fits the bill.  There are a number of recipes for spasagna, but I like this one because I always have the ingredients I need to make it.  Plus, it takes no time at all to pull together and everyone likes it.  The cream cheese keep everything moist and creamy.  Even kids who aren't too wild about spaghetti sauce will like this because of the creaminess added by the cream cheese sauce & mozzarella.  This would be a great freezer dish or meal to take to someone.  Here's the skinny...
16 oz thin spaghetti
4 cups spaghetti sauce or Red Sauce
1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage (without casings)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
10 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup half & half
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook spaghetti until al dente and drain.
Meanwhile brown ground beef in skillet until cooked through.  Add spaghetti sauce.  Set aside.
In medium saucepan over medium-low heat melt the cream cheese.  Whisk in the half & half, Italian seasoning, garlic powder & 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.  Add mixture to spaghetti & stir until noodles are coated.
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Spread a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Place spaghetti on top.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella   Top with remaining meat sauce.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.  Let cool for a few minutes, cut into squares & enjoy!

Cream Cheese Cookies

These cookies are as good as they look and sound.  They quickly replaced my traditional sugar cookie recipe.  They work just as well as a sugar cookie for rolling out but you can also make them as drop cookies  when you need to save time.  Plus, they stay chewy and moist on the inside and have a slightly crunchy outside.  Perfection!  Here's the skinny...
1/2 cup butter softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
Granulated sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a parchment paper or silicone mat.
Using electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese.  Beat int he sugar and baking powder.  Add the egg & vanilla and beat until fluffy.  Add the flour and mix until incorporated.  Cover well with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.  {For drop or rolled cookies just leave dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  For cut out cookies form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.}
For drop cookies, take a teaspoon of dough and dredge through sugar.  For roll cookies make 1 inch size balls of dough and coat in sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes.  Makes about 24 cookies.  For cut out cookies roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Baking time will vary depending on the size of shapes you use.  Enjoy!

*top picture is of drop cookies, bottom picture is of rolled ball cookies