Raspberry Cream Cheese Bars

I really love how much my boys love to spend time making things in the kitchen.  My oldest especially loves cooking and creating recipes.  See him in action HERE.  Last week he was in our cold storage for some reason and came out with a jar of raspberry preserves that I canned last summer.  He was insistent on wanting to make cookies with the preserves, so I looked up a recipe HERE and found THIS.   I am so glad that my little man had this idea because now I’m craving these bars again.  They’re not good for my diet so after making them we each had one. . . ok, actually three for me, and then we gave the rest away to neighbors.  Kind deed makes me feel good.  Not eating an entire tray of these (which I’m certain I would have) makes me feel good.  Win. Win.

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Oh, and don’t you love the pineapple cup.  He also insisted that he needed to drink lemonade in this while eating ‘his’ creation.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Bars

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

11 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

18 oz. red raspberry preserves ***

1/3 cup chopped slivered almonds (I used walnuts)

(*** I used a pint of canned raspberry preserves, and drained most of the excess liquid out, but easily could have used a quart)

In your stand mixer cream the butter and brown sugar together.  In a separate bowl stir together the oats, flour, soda, and salt and then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix.  Take a fourth of the mixture out and save for later.  Press the remaining three fourths into a 9×13 pan to cover the bottom and bake at 350 degrees for 11-14 minutes.  The edges should just be slightly browning when you remove the pan.

While the ‘crust’ is cooking rinse out your stand mixer bowl and beat the cream cheese and sugar together and add in the eggs and vanilla.  Once the crust is done cooking spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the crust and spread to cover completely.  Spoon the preserves on top as evenly as possible.  Use a knife to swirl the preserves around so that it spreads over the entire surface with out breaking into the crust.  (Mine made a cool marble-like design on it)  Add almonds or other nut to the saved portion of flour mixture and sprinkle on the top of the preserves.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  The edges will be golden brown.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Store in the refrigerator when done.

Mmmmmm

Happy Baking!

Creamy Chicken

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This is a very simple recipe that is perfect for Sundays or lazy nights.

Creamy Chicken

Place the following in a crock pot on high for about three hours, or until chicken is done *** :

3-4 chicken breasts (cut into half or fourths)

1 Packet Italian dressing (dry pack)

1/3 cup water

Remove pieces of chicken from crockpot and put in Kitchen Aid or Bosch for 30 seconds with the cookie batter attachment.  This will perfectly shred your chicken in a fraction of the time.  (Yay! No more 45 minutes spent over hot meat with two forks!) Once shred, put the chicken back in the crock pot and add the following:

1 block cream cheese

1 can cream of chicken soup

Stir everything together and then cook an additional hour.  Voila!  Serve over rice and clean the plate off with THESE amazing breadsticks!

***Know your crockpot! Some run hotter than others, so be aware that cook times might be different for you.  My crockpot is a lot hotter than most recipes assume crock pots to be, so I actually cook these for three hours on low instead of high and get the same results.

Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite traditions when I was young was eating fresh hot cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.  It’s the smell of cinnamon on warm, sweet bread filling the house that makes me forget everything else. Mmmm. Thanks Michelle for this great recipe!

In small cup proof the yeast:
1/2 cup HOT water
2 Tbsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
-set aside

In medium sauce pan, bring the following to a boil:
1 cup water
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
-once the mixture has boiled, remove from heat and add:
1 cup water
-cool until luke warm

Place both mixtures (yeast and butter) in KitchenAid or mixer.

Mix and add gradually:
4 eggs-beaten
7 1/2-9 cups flour

Mix everything until dough has elastic texture.  Kneed dough for 2-5 mintues. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Remove from bowl, spread out on lightly floured surface.  Kneed slightly and roll out into large rectangle  (dough may need to be divided in two if space is limited)

Spread/sprinkle the following across the open dough:
1-2 cubes butter-melted
cinnamon
brown sugar (don’t be too stingy on this)
opt. nuts

Roll dough into a log (or two) and cut into equally sized rolls (floss is the BEST way to cut) Place rolls into greased baking pan leaving room for rolls to nearly double in size.  Cover rolls with a light cloth and let rise about another hour.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Rolls will be medium to dark brown on top- do NOT under bake.

Remove rolls from oven and immediately cover with frosting.  If you wait to cover the rolls with the frosing until they have already cooled, the frosting is not able to seep into the crevasses of the rolls and the rolls will not be as soft.  I usually pour 3/4 of the frosting on the rolls immediately and save the last little bit to put a dab on the top after it’s cooled.

Frosting:
(whip with electric mixer)
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
4 Tbsp. butter (softened)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-4 cups powdered sugar
milk (add to desired thickness)

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies and Cream Cheese Frosting

These are a family favorite.  Be warned: they are way to good to have around for long.  If you want to add a little hint of varied flavor add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, almond extract, or orange extract. 

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Sugar Cookies!!!

Cream these together until very smooth:
2 cups sugar
2 cubes butter (softened)
3 eggs
6 Tbsp. milk

Combine and then add to the above ingredients:
5 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. baking powder

Place parchment paper on baking sheets, and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out dough no thinner than 1/4 inch thick and cut out into desired shapes.  Cook 7-10 minutes.  (Don’t let them get brown around edges) You want to take them out when they’re still white, let them sit on the tray for a couple minutes and then cool off on tray.  Frost soon after cooled, because if you leave them unfrosted they dry out quickly.   

Cream Cheese Frosting (so much better then using anything out of a can)

1/4 cup butter softened
pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. cream cheese
1 lb. powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk

Blend with hand mixer until creamy and the consistency you want.  Feel free to add food coloring:)

Peroskis – Stuffed Rolls

 This is my all time favorite go-to recipe when I don’t know what to make and we don’t seem to have anything to eat.  We almost always have the ingredients to make rolls, and we usually have cheese and sausage or ground beef in the freezer.  This does take some time if you are making yeast dough, but it’s so easy and it’s great to double the recipe and freeze the other half for another -don’t want to cook- kind of day.  I probably make this once a month and my little boys LOVE it!  I wouldn’t really qualify it as healthy, but considering my boys refuse to eat anything green this is a big step in the right direction.   My mom made this frequently when I was growing up and it was always a favorite, especially because it was a little different every time. My mom always called them Peroski’s (Pair-O-shkees).  I’m guessing this recipe originally came from the Polish Perougi’s which are traditionally potato, cheeses, and spices wrapped inside a dough boiled to cook.  This is my evolved-Americanized version which should probably be titled stuffed rolls.  I serve them alone for dinner, because I’m not that fancy, but they can also be a side dish or appetizer.  The great thing about Peroskis is that you can fill the dough with anything you want.  Hamburger, olives, and taco seasoning. Beans and cheese. Chicken with alfredo sauce.  I’ve written in my two favorite fillings I’ve created below. Happy Cooking!

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Peroski (Pair-O-shki) –aka stuffed rolls
Step One
: Make the filling ahead of time and store in the fridge.  You can’t use it too warm or it will ruin the dough. Sometimes I make the filling in the morning or the night before just to have it done and out of the way.
Step Two: Make your THIS or THIS and let it rise the first time just like normal.  ***
Step Three: When done rising, roll the dough out onto a floured surface to be about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into squares.(tip: only use serrated knives when working with yeast dough) You can also cut into rectangles if you want them to be long instead of round.  Place a spoonful of filling into each square. Pinch the dough shut and lay pinched-side down onto greased baking sheet.

Step Four:  Let rise again for about 30-40 minutes (they will not double in size)
Step Five: baste with whisked egg whites if you want them to have a glazed look and then bake according to your roll recipe directions. Done and delicious!

***If you want to make a faster version you can use refrigerated crescent dough, just skip the rising steps.

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Creamy Goodness -Filling 1: (I don’t measure, so this is a good estimate)
1 tube sausage (mild)
4-8 oz. cream cheese
1/2-1 cup brocoli florets
shredded cheddar cheese to sprinkle
Cook the sausage in a frying pan until brown and then turn the heat down and add the cream cheese and brocoli.  Stir and smoosh it up until the cream chease is all liquefied and immersed. Store in the fridge until ready to put on dough. When dough is ready put a spoonful of the mixture in the center of the dough, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Healthy Goodness -Filling 2: (Again, sorry for the lack of measuring)
1 tube sausage (mild)
1/2-1 cup sour cream
1 cup-ish pico de gallo
shredded cheddar cheese to sprinkle
Follow the same instructions as the above recipe.

Chicken Alfredo

This has been a great go-to recipe for dinner, when I can’t think of what else to make; it’s easy, I usually have all the ingredients on hand, and its delicious! Happy Cooking!
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Chicken Alfredo

2 cups milk
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
apx. 1/2-1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
fresh parsley

Pull out your saucepan and heat milk, add rest of ingredients (minus parsley) and warm thoroughly. Don’t let sauce come to a full boil.  Once the cream cheese is no longer lumpy turn the heat down and sprinkle in parsley.  Serve over pasta and chicken. (Grill the chicken with Italian Seasoning sprinkled on top.  It’s amazing!)    

Jello-Pretzel Salad

This is one of those recipes that you just have to love.  Everybody loves it! Everybody takes seconds, and you never regret making more than you need.  I make this once or twice a
year for a holiday or to impress company.:)

Jello-Pretzel Salad
(Thank you for the recipe Grandma Long)

Step 1-Crust:
1 cup finely crushed pretzels (about 4 cups whole pretzels put into a ziploc bag and beaten/rolled with a rolling pin)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter

Stir together and then press crust into a 9×13 pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 10 minutes. I stab it with a fork all over a little while after taking out of the oven so that the crust doesn’t get too stiff. Cool completely.

Step 2 (while crust is baking) – Jello mixture
1 large (serves 8 ) raspberry jello mix
2 cups boiling water 1 cup cold water
1 pkg. frozen raspberries

Whisk the jello packet into the boiling water until dissolved and then add the cold water and raspberries. Stir and then put in fridge until somewhat jelled (about 30 minutes). If it doesn’t seem to be jelling fast enough for you then put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes for a quick jell.

Step 3 (while jello cools) – Filling
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz. cool whip

Mix and then smooth over the cooled crust. Spread the partially jelled jello on top of the cream cheese filling layer. Chill completely set.

Note: Strawberry Jello and frozen strawberries are also delicious!