Homemade Pop Tarts

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Lets just say YUM!  Really.  One of my goals this last Christmas season was to do a lot of fun things throughout the month.  Pack it full of fun activities leading us up to Christmas Day.  One of our activities was Homemade Pop Tarts.  It wasn’t something I would have thought about making myself but a friend was so excited about we just had to try it out.  I am SOOO glad I did.

What to do:

1. Make pie crust dough.  And please…Use butter.  Divide in half and let it chill in the fridge to make it easier to handle.

2. Once chilled roll out half in a rectangle.

3. Visually divide your dough into 6 rectangles.  Get your favorite jam (we used raspberry and blackberry) and put a nice sized TBSP in the center of each rectangle.  Spread it out a little but leave a 1/2 in edge to seal it.

4.  using your finger or a pastry brush put some water around the edges of the tarts.

5. Roll out your second dough in the same shape and size and put it on top of the first.

6.  Use a pizza cutter to cut out your tarts and crimp the edges with a fork.  Poke some steam holes in the top.

7. Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees doe 7-8 minutes until golden brown.

8. Cool and drizzle with a powdered sugar/milk glaze if desired.

(Note: Let me know if something doesn’t make sense.  There were a few, lets say, interruptions during the making of this post.)

 

Here is a picture midway for all you visual people.  And what did the kids think?

All thumbs up

And one index 🙂

Recipe of the Week: Thames Basic Cheese Ball

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The Cheese ball.

Ole to Joy…  This family favorite is a staple of the Thames family when the cold northeast wind starts to blow.  This recipe was inspired by a family friends recipe.  Mrs TW showed Merriann her recipe, and this is what grew out of our imagination.  It is great on crackers and  bread.  We have even heated it up in the microwave and used it with nachos (But that was when Merriann was pregnant, so I make no promises on how that tasted! :-).  Anyway hope you like it. 

Words of warning: The spiciness level of this dish depends on the spiciness of the pepper jack cheese.  We have had it really spicy and not spicy at all.   We thank the God of heaven for sending Mrs. TW into our lives because our lives would not be as blessed as it has been. Plus, we would be without this dish.  😉  Again I hope you enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounces) packages of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped and sauteed in a couple TB butter until soft
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup bacon, cooked & chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, Cheddar cheese and Pepper Jack cheese. Blend in the onion, red bell pepper (butter & all), and fresh parsley.
  2. Form cheese mixture into desired size balls.  ( I usually make about 4 from this mixture)
  3. Mix the pecans and bacon and roll the cheese ball in the mixture to coat thoroughly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.   Allow to soften a little before serving.  (that is if you can stand to have it sitting on the counter staring at you)

These can be eaten immediately but it is recommended to let them sit overnight to let the flavors blend.  They also freeze well.

Recipe Of the Week: Zucchini Brownies

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Tired of  Zucchini Yet!!!

If you have your own garden or your neighbor has a garden.  Chances are you may be tired of zucchini.  There are many things you could do with that left over zucchini from your garden.  You could use it as decorations for those of you that have that creative touch. You could feed it to your farm animals, our little piggies just love them. Target practice is also an option for those of you that love to shoot. Or you could just leave it on your neighbors porch.  No surprise there is even a National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbors Porch Day.  But what we at the Thames house love, I mean L. O. V. E. to do with them is making it into a dessert. 

Zucchini Brownies ARE THE BEST!!!

I know a lot of you have tried Zucchini bread and yes there are many simply delicious recipes out there.  But this is no ordinary zucchini bread and if you are up for something simply heavenly check out these brownies.  I love giving them to someone that “Hates” veggies, or zucchinis. They simply love them.  And get this, if you peel the green off the zucchini you can’t even see them in the dough.

Word of Warning: The dough is more cake-like than brownie but it is light and fluffy like floating on a cloud.  I really hope you enjoy our family favorite.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners’ sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

Recipe Of the Week:Old Settlers' Baked Beans…

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Old Settlers’ Baked Beans…

This is the by far and away my favorite bean recipe.  We have made many different versions of it.  Sometimes with meat then sometimes with veggies only.  It is very easy to make and even easlier to expand.  We often make a large verison for  church functions, game nights with friends, etc.  But a word of warning, as we just found out, if you don’t let it bake for at least any hour it will be a little spicy but good just the same.  I believe that the spices need time and heat to mellow out.  Well I hope that you and your family enjoy them as much as my family does.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (16 ounce) can pork and beans, undrained
  • 1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (16 ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, cook beef, bacon and onion until meat is done and onion is tender. Drain any fat. Combine all remaining ingredients except beans. Add to meat mixture; mix well. Stir in beans. Place in a greased 2-1/2-qt. casserole. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until heated through.

The Best Burgers

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It’s no secret we like good food at the Thames house.  So here’s the start to sharing recipes.  Given that summer has finally reached us and you never know how long it will last I thought it quite important to share an awesome burger recipe with you.  The cream cheese makes these patties really moist.  We have talked about adding feta to them also because after all, it is feta.  We have been enjoying this one at home and on camping trips.  Greg found it on Allrecipes…here.

Mix together the following:

  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage

This will make 8 patties.  Cook them up as you would any patty.  Enjoy!

Confessions of a Hungry Man…..

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Hear ye, Hear ye!!!  I confess to one and all that I need to share how I have selfishly wanted to keep some really great recipes to myself.  And not share them with the world.  Well here is the story…

Our church is now producing a church cookbook and my wonderful, beautiful, kind, sweet, etc. etc. etc (Can you name the movie that used the phrase “etc. etc. etc.?  Hint it’s a classic)  wife wanted to share some of the recipes we have collected over the years.  She had decided on three (3) of our family favorites (which I will share later) .   While she was deciding which three recipes to share she told me and I thought nothing of it.  Until the day that she was transferring them to the form that the church needed three or four days before it was to be turned in .  So I decided to look over her shoulder and noticed that the ones she was sharing where ones that I had found.  I then went on to grab the papers from her fingers and run away like a little girl (sorry to all you little girls out there) and told her matter of factly,  that she couldn’t give THOSE ones (Yes I do know that it was God’s CHURCH.)  I am ashamed to admit that my selfish pride over took the idea that my wife enjoyed those meals and wanted to share them with those whom we love.  So with that said I want to share with all of you those recipes,  (And yes they were given to be put in the Church’s Cookbook).

First up is Cajun Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces linguine pasta
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Place the chicken and the Cajun seasoning in a plastic bag. Shake to coat. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the chicken in butter or margarine until almost tender (5 to 7 minutes).
  3. Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, mushrooms and green onion. Sauté and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat.
  4. Add the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Heat through. Add the cooked linguine, toss and heat through. Sprinkle in with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.
This is our hands down favorite meal.  Hey, it’s got two of my favorite food groups Butter,  Heavy Cream.  What more could you ask for (Bacon, and Sugar if you must know).  Oh one other side note is add extra parmesan cheese.
I will share the others at a future time.  You know I have to do this confessing stuff one step at a time.
~ Greg T

Pizza Dough

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The following is the dough recipe I use most of the time.  One thing I have not yet tried but will next time is adding a few TB of Parmesan cheese to the dough.  I mean really, there is no way that could be bad.  We have also enjoyed this pizza sauce.  I only made one change and that was to reduce the amount of honey from 2 TB to 1 TB or a little less.  It’s great with a little in there but the full amount made the sauce a distraction to the rest of the flavors.  A lot of the comments also said they mix larger batches of the spices together and keep it on hand to mix with the wet ingredients when they are ready for it.  As for the pesto I just buy the stuff from Costco and add extra garlic.  Someday I’ll make my own and let you know how it turns out.  Enjoy your pizza making!

Pizza Dough:

2 1/2 C flour

1 TB sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 TB yeast

a couple TB olive oil (I just pour out a couple jiggers)

1 C fairly warm water

Knead it all together with a mixer or put it all in a bread machine and select the manual setting.  I usually use my Kitchen Aid and knead it for 5 minutes at setting #4 (med speed).  Kneading for the right amount of time will make a huge difference in your end result.  You want the dough to be sticky to start with.  You may be tempted to add extra flour but restrain yourself!  If it isn’t sticky add a little more water.  As it is kneading it will start sticking together and pulling from the sides.  Your end result will be a light, soft dough and a fluffy crust. 

Once the kneading is done use an oiled spatula and put it in an oiled bowl.  Or you can do what I do and drizzle some oil in the mixing bowl and role the dough around in it to coat all sides of the dough and bowl.  (I don’t like washing more bowls than I have to)  Let it rise for about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  If you are using a pizza stone put that in the oven while it is preheating.  It will give you a crispier crust.   Spray some oil on your counter and form your pizza(s). 

Prebake your pizza crust for about 5 minutes then pull out, add your sauce and toppings and bake for about 12-15 min.  This recipe will make one large pizza with a thicker crust or two medium pizzas if you prefer a thinner crust.