Sunday, December 30, 2012

Macaroni & Cheese Bites

I'm going to put it all on the line here, I'm going to confess something, I could eat just appetizers for my meal.  In fact, I often do.  I  love small samplings of small foods, I love filling myself full before the main course ever even arrives, and taking THAT home in a box because I just couldn't fit another bite.  Not sure why, but I adore appetizers.

Let's see, some of my favorites are Nachos (duh!), buffalo wing bites (you know, the ones with no bones that are easy to eat?), Cheesesteak Eggrolls (yeah, they're a real thing), Spinach Artichoke dip (admittedly, my favorite is from Bertucci's because they serve it with wood fired pizza bread!)....oh, and lets not forget the fried golden balls of macaroni and cheese.  Who invented these things?  THEY are the ones who deserve the Nobel Prize.  I am not kidding.  Ooozy....goooey....cheeeesy...crunchy....warmy goodness, all in one little package.  Such a satisfying bite.  A local restaurant I go to with my friends on Girls Night Out, serves the most amazing appetizers known to man.  Oh, I'm getting all cliche here, I must stop.

Another one of my guilty pleasures has become Pinterest.  You know, that time suck site, the one where you "pin" recipes, crafts, celebrities, etc. etc. etc.   The one that sucks you in for hours while you pin like a madwoman forgoing food and normal hygiene?  Yeah, that one.  I've gotten completely, utterly and totally sucked in.  Pinning recipes to try and "Aldify" for you all.

Yesterday, one caught my attention.  It was a pin for Macaroni & Cheese balls.  We were having friends over this evening and I had planned an appetizer buffet, so I thought this would be a fun one to try.  But you all know me, right?  I can't do something or produce a recipe at face value.  I have to tweak it, add that somethin' somethin' that makes it extra special.  So, yes.  I adjusted the recipe before I even tried it.  And, I will say, it was delicious.  I'm guessing the original recipe I borrowed this from was delicious as well, but....I like mine better (not fair, I know, I haven't even tried theirs technically.....but these were REALLY good, why go back now?).

Macaroni & Cheese Bites

1 Box Cheese Club Macaroni & Cheese
1/4 Cup Country Creamery Milk (I used 2% b/c that's what we have in the house)
1/4 Cup Country Creamery Butter (I used unsalted, but salted would work fine)
1/4 Cup Friendly Farms Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Friendly Farms Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Egg, beaten
Bread Crumbs (I used homemade ones that I used from ends of the L'Oven Fresh Whole Wheat Bread)
Salt & Pepper

Prepare Macaroni & Cheese according to package directions, using 1/4 Cup milk & 1/4 Cup butter & cheese sauce packet in the box.  Stir in the cream cheese & shredded monterey jack cheese.  Mix well, until the cream cheese and jack cheese is melted into the mix.

Line a loaf pan with tin foil.  Press Macaroni & Cheese mixture into the pan and cover.  Freeze for about 4 hours.  You can also make this a day ahead and put in the fridge.  The Macaroni & Cheese being cold is KEY to this recipe turning out well.

After Macaroni & Cheese is solid, remove from freezer and from pan.  Peel away the tin foil.  Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into slices - I cut in half, then cut each half in half, etc.  Until I ended up with 16 rectangles.

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Dip all sides of the sliced Macaroni & Cheese in beaten egg, then press into bread crumbs.  Feel free to season these bread crumbs how YOU desire.  I used salt & pepper in the bread crumbs to add a touch of flavor.  You could use pre-seasoned crumbs as well, if you'd like. Note:  You may need to add more egg.  Make sure all sides are coated well with the bread crumbs.

Place breaded Macaroni & Cheese rectangles on a greased baking sheet - I spray mine with Carlini Canola Spray.  After all are on the sheet, spray again with cooking spray.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake another 10 minutes or until all sides are golden brown and toasty.

Serve with your favorite dip, sauce, marinara, what have you.   Enjoy the gooey warm goodness.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn's Hot Fudge Topping

In keeping with the theme, and after pulling out the recipes that Mary sent home with me from Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn in Ahmeek, MI....I had another craving.

One of our nights there, Mary served this dessert:

Do you see that, amazing fudge brownie, topped with delicious vanilla ice cream, homemade hot fudge and a raspberry sauce.  Well, the brownie recipe will have to wait, well, until Aldi has baker's chocolate (okay, I might buy a bar somewhere else and make them anyway!).  But this sauce, fudgy, creamy, oozy.....oh, it was heaven.  I did have to ask my children to look away as I licked the plate!

Oh, for those have checked out the connected link, and seen just how amazing Sand Hills is, you also need to know that Mary serves dessert in the parlor in the evenings.  And then entertains with piano.  Quite a warm cozy night.

Well, as is Mary's custom, she shared the recipe with me, and now, I share it with you.  It took a little adjusting as the caramels she usually uses is not sold at Aldi, mine sells Werther's Original Soft Caramels, so I adjusted to use that as my base.

Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn's Hot Fudge Topping

41 Werther's Original Soft Chewy Caramels (you will need two bags but BARELY use the 2nd bag)
8 oz Chocoer Milk Chocolate (I used 1 whole bar, and 4 squares from a 2nd bar)
1/3 cup Friendly Farms Milk
1 tsp. Baker's Corner Pure Vanilla
1 Cup Bentons All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream

In a double boiler, melt the caramels with the milk.  When it is smooth and melted, add the chocolate (I broke mine up into squares) and the vanilla.  Stir until the chocolate is melted.  Then, add the vanilla ice cream.  Stir until it is thoroughly melted/blended.

Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.  This makes approximately 24 oz.  I stored mine in 3 8 oz jelly jars.  I do recommend warming it up before using IF you're not using right away.

This evening I made this for friends coming to dinner.  I served just over vanilla ice cream, and it was received very well! :)

Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn's Whipped Cream Scones

"Leave my scones alone, you can get your own", there are so many more lines to this song, but I cannot remember them.

Ahhhh, terrific memories from our visit to Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn in Ahmeek, MI the week of Thanksgiving 2012.  How did we end up there you ask?  Well, in 1999, while pregnant with my first child, hubby and I made the 22 hour drive to stay in an actual Lighthouse. A dream come true for husband, and for me, also.  The innkeepers, Bill & Mary Frabotta, were incredibly warm and inviting.  And the lighthouse was truly a "getaway".  Quiet, lovely, relaxing.  After leaving there, my husband designed their website, and to the day, maintains their web presence.  It's a long drive, but WELL worth the trip.  It was like staying in a castle by the lake, and being treated like royalty.

For many years, Bill & Mary have BEGGED us to come visit, and this year we decided to put the dog in the kennel, pack up all three kids in our minivan, and make the trek up to the Copper Harbor region of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and visit Bill & Mary and The Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn.  From the moment we arrived, until three days later, we enjoyed laughter, peace, rest, and lots and lots of food.  Mary is an enviable cook, as his her mate Bill.  I gained AT LEAST 10 lbs in our short stay.  One of my son's favorite was the Whipped Cream Scones.  In fact, it created such a stir that Mary wrote us a song.  I hold out hope that she will record it and send it to us!  Such joy!

When planning our annual Christmas breakfast with my parents, my son said "oh, Mom, you HAVE to make the scones".  And so....I did.  Using all Aldi ingredients.  The were easier than I anticipated, and turned out very delicious!

I recommend them topped with the Berry Hill Raspberry Preserves!

In the coming weeks, I hope to recreate a few of Mary's delicious recipes ala Aldi-style.

Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn Whipped Cream Scones

2 3/4 Cups Grandma's Best Flour
6 Tbs. Grandma's Best Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tbs Baker's Corner Baking Powder
1 tsp. Sebree Salt
1 stick Country Creamery Unsalted Butter
2 Golden Hen Eggs
1 Cup Friendly Farms Heavy Whipping Cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a large bowl.

In another bowl, beat the two eggs until frothy.  Add one cup whipping cream and beat.  Add this mixture to the flour/butter mixture and combine thoroughly with a spoon until a dough forms.

Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on a pastry cloth and cut into desired shapes.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar (I forgot this step! so I sprinkled with powdered sugar!!!!).  Place on a parchment-line baking sheet.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes.

Mary's note:  If baking in a convection oven, bake at 356 degrees for 11 minutes.

We enjoyed them thoroughly, but all agreed that Mary makes them better! :)  WE MISS YOU MERRY MARY & BILL! <3

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Nutella is a favorite in our house.  My son makes what he lovingly calls a "S'more Sandwich" for lunch somedays, it's Nutella (aka Chocolate Hazlenut Spread) and Fluff on bread.  Granted, it is not my proudest parenting moment to admit that I let him do this more often than he should.  On a day when feel he needs to put more protein in it, I make him add peanut butter, too.  That balances it out, right?

WELL.....perusing the aisles at Aldi this past weekend, purchasing my annual Christmas Cookie supplies, tucked next to the peanut butter, I saw the most welcomed sight....Berry Hill Hazlenut Spread!

Not only was my son overjoyed, but I got a bee in my bonnet today about making a cookie celebrating this loved ingredient.

It was quite obvious that they were delicious.  They're gone already.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

1/2 Cup Shortening
3/4 Cup Berry Hill Hazelnut Spread
1/4 Cup Grandma's Best Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Grandma's Best Brown Sugar
1 Golden Hen Egg
2 Tbs. Friendly Farms Milk
1 tsp. Stonehill Classics Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Grandma's Best All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baker's Corner Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Sebree Salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat shortening, peanut butter in a large bowl until well blended.  Add the granulated and brown sugars.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg, milk and vanilla.  Beat well.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to the shortening/peanut butter mixture.

Scoop onto a greased (or parchment paper lined) cookie sheet (I use a Tbs. cookie scoop, but you could also use two spoons and scoop them on).  Leave about 1 1/2" between each cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until edges look crisp.

Let cool for 1 or 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to a rack to cool.  Completely cool before storing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Keeping with the theme, and using up some more of the Raspberry Preserves from yesterday's thumbprints, I thought I'd make my friend Betsy's nearly world famous Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.  Betsy and I have been good for many years.  When she first gave me this recipe, I had to convert it to a gluten-free recipe .  They were very good, even gluten-free.

I was sitting at the table tonight, after about my 13th cookie, wondering what I was going to do with all the rest of the preserves.  I love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, but one can only eat so many in a week.  You could also make these Raspberry Breakfast Treats.

So, for your eating enjoyment, here's another recipe that will use up the preserves, and make your tummy happy!

I had many friends over today, and they all agreed, they were very tasty.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

1/2 Cup Grandma's Best Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Baker's Corner Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Baker's Corner Shortening
1/2 Cup Berry Hill Peanut Butter
1 Golden Hen Egg
1 1/4 Cup Grandma's Best Flour
3/4 Tsp Baker's Corner Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Baker's Corner Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Berry Hill Raspberry Preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together granulated sugar, brown sugar, shortening, peanut butter and large egg.

In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Mix dry ingredients with sugar/shortening mixture until coarse crumbs.  Set aside 1 cup.

Press the rest into a greased 13" X 9" baking pan.  Spread 1/2 Cup of the Raspberry Preserves over this layer.  Crumble reserved crust mixture on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely on a rack before trying to cut.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Easy Raspberry Thumbprints

Have you ever had a crazy holiday week, where you have parties, get togethers, gatherings, and gifts!  And your rushing all over the place, then you child looks at you and says "Mom, you're supposed to bring cookies".  The temptation to buy them from the grocery store is very great, but then, they all know you love to bake, so they're expecting something homemade, special and delicious.  These cookies combine the best of both worlds, it's quick and easy, but it also gives the air of homemade and the impression that you slaved for hours.

Quick, easy, special.

Bakehouse Creations Prepared Sugar Cookie Dough (in the refrigerated aisle)
Berryhill Red Raspberry Preserves
2 Tbs. Baker's Corner Vanilla Frosting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Open cookie dough and cut apart into 24 squares.  Roll each square into a ball.

Place balls about 1 1/2" apart on a greased cookie sheet (or a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper, which is my preferred method) Using a 1/4 Tsp measure (or your thumb if your nails aren't too long!), press a well into the center of each ball.  Spoon in about 1/4 tsp of the preserves into the well.

Bake 14-18 minutes until cookies are spread and flattened and preserves are bubbly.  I know this seems long, but trust me, it takes that long at the lowered temperature.

Allow to cool for about 1 minute before trying to remove from the tray.  I also recommend letting them cool on a rack completely before trying to consume, the jelly will be very hot.  Let's just say I learned the hard way.

Melt frosting in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds.  Using a fork, drizzle over cooled cookies.

**another substitution idea....use Peanut Butter Cookie dough instead of Sugar Cookie dough and make PB&J cookies!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas is coming, Hannukah is here....

It's that time of year again.  Is it Christmas?  Hannukah?  Kwanzaa?  Or Holidays?  In our house, it's Christmas.  In yours it could be something else.  So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Joyous Kwanzaa.  My most favorite thing about this season is that there are traditions.  Each and every family has a unique and special way to celebrate their respective holidays.  And it usually includes food.  Aldi, this time of year, is decked out in everything you need for cookie baking, party going, party hosting, and whatnot (yes, I said whatnot - BABAM!).

My oldest and I have just been on a baking prep binge preparing 4 different cookie doughs to be baked at a later date.  And on the horizon are the rest of our goodies.  BE WATCHFUL, or you'll miss them.

Tomorrow, I'll be doing a new recipe, Jam Thumbprints, which will be perfect for the last minute cookie to give or take to a party.  Easy, breezy, Aldi-riffic!!!

While you wait, however, don't forget to check out Benton's Candy Cane Creme Sandwich cookies, and Benton's Peppermint Ice Cream.  Absolutely perfect ways to get your mint craving satisfied!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cherry Almond Crunch Bars

No funny story to go with this one, sorry folks!  I was craving almonds and cherries together, and we had a Christmas party to go to, so I HAD to make something I was craving, that was easy to make.  I spent the day at the mall, waiting in a 2 1/2 hour line to meet the Barefoot Contessa herself!  YAY! :)  So I was TIRED!


Cherry Almond Crunch Bars

1/2 Cup Country Creamery Unsalted Butter
1 Pkg. Baker's Corner Yellow Cake Mix
1 Can Baker's Corner Cherry Pie Filling
1/2 Cup chopped Almonds (or walnuts or pecans) * this is seasonal, you might have to buy whole and chop them up yourself!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cut butter into the cake mix.  Set aside about 1 cup.  Pat remaining crumbs into a 13X9 pan.  Press onto the bottom and up about 1" of the sides.  Spread pie filling over the bottom crust.  Add almonds to the reserved cake mix/butter mixture and mix well.  Crumble over the top of the pie filling.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Tastes great warm with whipped cream, or ice cream!   Also great chilled and served "bar" style.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mama F's Minestrone

I'm not exactly sure what has taken up residence in my brain, but I have had a solid craving for Minestrone Soup.  It's INSANE.  I made a large batch of this the other day, and my family did  not eat much of it (my husband cannot have pasta, my oldest HATES pasta, my younger two liked it, I LOVED it!).  My husband did taste it, and said it was delicious.  And for him, a man who does not like tomato based soups, is HUGE.  It must be good, and must not just be my imagination! :)

I made it today for some friends coming over.  I make it "vegan" since my one good friend is vegan.  I did serve cheese on the side, for those, like ME, who are not.  And you really, really, cannot tell.  It's warm, it's comforting, it's delicious.  Perfect for a rainy, snowy day such as this.

Mama F's Minestrone

3 medium carrots, cut in 1/4" coins
3 stalks celery, cut in 1/4" half moons
1 medium onion, diced
1 large zucchini, large dice (note, you can add more if you like a lot of zucchini - like me!)
2 Cloves Garlic, smashed and minced fine
2 Cans Priano Italian-Style Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Happy Harvest Tomato Sauce
2 Cans Dakota Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Quart Chef's Cupboard Vegetable Broth
Olive Oil
Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Cups Season's Best Frozen Green Beans
2 Cups cooked pasta *I used an orzo that was bought during one of the "seasonal" items, it is not often available at Aldi, that said, you can use the Reggiano elbows instead.

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil.  Add diced onion, celery and carrot.   Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are almost translucent.  Add zucchini and garlic.  Sauté for about 5 more minutes.  Add Italian-style diced tomatoes ,regular diced tomatoes.  Stir and sauté again for 5 more minutes.  Add about 3 cups of the broth (you can add more, if need be after adding pasta and beans).  Add bayleaf and cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all the vegetables are nice and soft and almost melt in your mouth.

Stir in beans, green beans and cooked pasta.  Continue cooking until beans and pasta are warm.  Serve piping hot in bowls.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cranberry Apple Crisp

It's fall out there, folks.  And fall mean apples.  Cranberries.  Halloween.  Thanksgiving.  The shopping day countdown to Christmas.

As a family, we do not celebrate Halloween.  But almost every year, we host good friends for dinner that night.  Their neighborhood does Halloween big time, and since we live on a busy road, even with every light in our house, no one ever knocks on our door.  Ever.   This year it almost didn't happen....but thanks to Hurricane Sandy rescheduling things, non-Halloween Dinner at our house happened again!

My favorite part about hosting ANY dinner event is dessert.  I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I'm a dessert freak.  I love to bake desserts, I love to eat desserts, and I love to share desserts and relish the kudos.  The eyes rolled back in the heads, the ummming and yummmming that I get.  Fills my ego tank quite full.

Well, tonight I decided to try something different.  It was delicious!!!! :)  Top with a little whipped cream and it was to die for.


Cranberry Apple Crisp

1 Can Happy Harvest Cranberry Sauce (I used jellied, but next time trying whole berry)
4 medium apples, peeled and medium diced (I used jonagold and galas)
1/4 cup Grandma's Best Sugar
1 Cup Millville Quick Oats
1/2 Cup Baker's Corner Brown Sugar, packed
1/4-1/2 Cup Friendly Farms Butter, softened
Pinch salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine cranberry sauce, apples and 1/4 cup sugar.  Mix well, breaking up the cranberry sauce.

Spoon mixture evenly into greased ramekins (I used 8 oz Ramekins).

In another bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, salt and butter.  Mix well.  Spoon mixture evenly on top of the ramekins.  Press down.  Bake for 35-40 will be crisped and brown, apple/cranberry mixture will be bubbly.

Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving (unless you like sugar burns....ouch!).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with Celery Apple Sauce

Something about the leaves turning color, the weather getting nippy, and the winds starting to blow makes me crave warm, cozy comfort food from my crockpot.  Something that stews all day, and is warm and inviting after raking the leaves.

<insert sound of needle screeching over the vinyl>  Yeah.  I know.  Life is too busy and that is why we use a crock pot.  Three kids.  In three activites.  We're lucky we even get to eat at all!  And things have just gotten crazier!

Tuesday nights are no longer a casual night where we can sit through dinner...where I can casually prepare.  All three kids are running from Science class, to gymnastics, to Karate, etc. etc. etc.  So, this means planning ahead, and using one of my favorite kitchen tools.  The Crock Pot.  This means when my husband picks my son up from Karate, they can come home, heat up a vegetable and have dinner.  And when the girls and I get home from the gym, we, too, can eat.  Something hot.  Something healthy.  Something that will warm us through.

Last weekend, my local Aldi had a special on Roseland Pork Loin Roasts.  Normally, these are sold in larger cuts, so I cut them in half and freeze the halves.  Then I have a meal portion when I want to make pork.  I use their pork tenderloins for A LOT of recipes.  But, this one is a crock pot recipe!  (I apologize for no pictures....our main computer is having a nervous breakdown....if it gets healed, I will add a picture!).

I was searching the internet the other day for recipes for pork.  After a while the same old, same old gets a little old.  So....I ran across a recipe for a Costco Tri Tip Pork Roast, and it sounded good, so I felt I needed to adapt it.  The recipe called for some ingredients that we cannot use due to hubby's diet, so I improvised a little bit!

Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with Celery Apple Sauce

1 2 lb section of a Roseland Pork Tenderloin Roast
1 medium onion, sliced in half moons about 1/4" thick
2 celery stalks, sliced on a bias
1 gala apple, cut, cored and sliced thin (you can remove the skin if you like, I did not)
1 large clove garlic, skin removed but left whole
2 bay leaves
1 Chef's Cupboard Beef Boullion Cube
1 Cup Water
Salt & Pepper to taste.

In a large crockpot, layer onions, celery and apple slices.  Add Garlic Clove, and bay leaves.  Pour in 1 cup water and add the boullion cube.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the tenderloin to your liking.  Brown on all sides in the hot pan.

Place pork tenderloin roast on top of vegetables in the crock pot.  Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours until the pork reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.

When pork is done, remove the tenderloin to a plate and tent with foil.  Remove bay leaves and throw away.  Using a stick blender, blend the celery/apple/onion/garlic and broth mixture until very smooth.  At this step you can add a dollup of sour cream or plain yogurt to add some creaminess.

Serve sauce over the pork after slicing.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Holla For Challah!

My children just finished a unit on the Roman Occupation of Israel thru the fall of the Roman Empire.  I love our curricula because it has some "out of the box" thinking of how things can coincide with learning.  My favorite is the Cooking Lesson at the end of each unit.  Sometimes scary, usually fun, always educational.  And most certainly, when done correctly, they are DELICIOUS!!!!

I confess, baking bread fills me with terror.  There are so many things that can go wrong.  The wrong flour.  Dead yeast.  Wrong temperature or humidity outside.  Granted, I'm actually a fairly good baker, but I'm still afraid of bread.

With fear and trepidation, I approached the end of the unit and saw the Cooking Lesson looming in the distance.  I shopped for the ingredients I needed (the only thing I had to source elsewhere was the Sesame Seeds - although Aldi does sell them during the Chinese New Year season).  Our Aldi has recently added yeast to it's shelves.  Long awaited for me, I'm glad it's there, and it's so inexpensive!  It's only .79 for 3 packages!  WHOOOO HOOOO!!!!

With all three kids eager to make bread today, we dove in, head first.  Came out covered in flour, but it was fun (once we stopped arguing over who's turn it was to do what step!).  I admit that the 8 minute need for kneading made be very, very thankful for my Kitchen Aide Mixer with Dough Hook attachment!  We shaped it, waited again for the 2nd rise, and it just came out of the oven 20 minutes ago.  Of course, we could not WAIT for it to cool.  Half the loaf was gone before I could blink.

I think tomorrow we'll have french toast for breakfast.  I bet that'd be awesome with Challah!

Challah Bread

1 3/4 Cups Grandma's Best All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Sebree Salt
1/2 Cup Friendly Farms Butter, softened
4 Golden Hen Eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp cold water
3 Tbs Baker's Corner Granulate Sugar
1 package Baker's Corner Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water (follow temperature guidelines on package)
up to 5 cups more flour
1/2 tsp Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds* (need to buy somewhere other than Aldi)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.  Mix in the softened butter.  Slowly add the warm water to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly (I put the ingredients in the Kitchen Aide Bowl and used the paddle attachment for these steps).  Beat for two minutes with a mixer at medium speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl.  Take one egg and separate the yolk and white.  Set yolk aside for later use.  Place egg white and three whole eggs to batter.  Beat on high speed for 2 full minutes.  Scraping bowl as needed.  Slowly, cup by cup, add flour until a soft dough forms.  Lightly flour your kneading surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic (I put my dough hook on my machine at this point and let IT knead the dough for 8 minutes at low speed).  Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover and set in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Turn dough out on lighly floured surface.  Divide the dough into two equal portions.  Cut one portion into 2 parts - 1 part being about 1/3 the loaf, the other part being about 2/3rds of the loaf.  Using one of the larger portions, divide again into 3 parts and roll into 12" ropes.  Braid together being sure to seal the ends (braid tightly!!!  A baker friend of mine recommended starting in the center and braiding outward on either side).  Cut the smaller portion of dough into 3 equal parts and roll into 10" ropes.  Braid, seal.  Set on top of the other braid.  Place loaf on a greased baking sheet.  Repeat these steps with 2nd half of dough.  You will end up with two braided loaves.  Cover.  Let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush risen loaves with reserved egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp cold water. Sprinkle on Poppy Seeds or Sesame Seeds.   Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Good luck waiting for it to cool to slice!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Koffee Korner Cafe Special Omelet

As I mentioned, my husband is on Medifast.  Once a week, we go out to breakfast at a local restaurant. A great place, called Koffee Korner Cafe.  A fabulous family place, where they know us so well, our drink order is being worked on the moment they see us walk through the door.  Coffee, Iced Tea, Milk, OJ and Water....they have us all down.

Every week, almost without fail, my husband orders the special, but has them make it with egg beaters instead of eggs.  And it's always some kind of pepper, onion, tomato type thing that smells divine the moment it hits the table.

Today, sitting here in my house, I was pining for one of those omlets.  Did you know that Aldi has an "Eggbeaters".  ????  Of course They call it Fit & Active Egg Substitute, and it costs about $2.00 less per pint than it's named brand alternative.  And it tastes REALLY good.

I made myself an omelet today.

KKC Special Omelet

1/2 Cup Fit & Active Egg Substitute (equivelant of two eggs)
2 Tbs diced green pepper
2 Tbs diced onion
5 or 6 grape tomatoes, quartered
Sprinkle of Spice Classics Garlic Powder
1 Tbs Friendly Farms Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
Carlini Cooking Spray

In an 8"skillet, set on medium heat, spray with Carlini Cooking Spray.  Saute pepper and onion, for about 5 or so minutes until translucent and soft.  Add tomatoes and sprinkle with garlic powders.  Mix together until the tomatoes break down some.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and return to LOW heat - you will also need a cover (okay, I CHEAT when I make an omelet b/c I stink at getting it perfect!!!).  Spray the skillet again and add the egg subtitute.  Cover.  When the bottom has cooked enough - get your spatula under it and run it around the sides, and flip it over.  Sprinkle the cheese, and add the pepper/onion/tomato mixture on top in a "line".  Cover and cook 1 more minute.  Fold over and place on your plate.  And enjoy.  :)

So good.  And very healthy, too.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Product Review - Fit & Active Cinna-Swirl Drizzled Mini Crisps

Hey there, folks...

Every now and then, I like to throw in an Aldi Product Review, just to keep you all on your toes!

I believe I mentioned a while back that my amazing husband was doing Medifast, and to date as lost over 75 lbs!  He's done so well.  Gone from being an insulin dependent diabetic and on all sorts of high-blood pressure meds, cholesterol lowering meds, be no longer classified as a diabetic and off almost all of his meds (soon to be completely all, he's on the lowest dose possible of one med).  This post is dedicated to him because I'm so unbelievably proud of him!!!

We've been talking about me doing the diet, but, it's cost prohibitive for two people to be on it at one time.  Not to mention, he's attempting the re-entry into more real world foods.

I've decided to attempt a facsimile of the diet, and hope to use some Aldi products in the process, of course!

Well, I went in my store recently, and scouted out a lot of their protien meal bars, 100 Calorie pack snacks, and other Fit & Active products which tout themselves to be low in fat, but high in flavor!

Rice cakes are a diet staple when you're trying to lose weight.  In fact, I've had some bad experience with rice cakes.  I picked up these mini crisps just to try them out.  I confess, I was not expecting to like them at all.  I was expecting them to taste like frosted cardboard.  I was pleasantly surprised and they were unbelievably delicious.  They are 90 Calories, only 3 grams of fat, only 80 grams sodium and 6 grams sugars.  They also have 3 grams of protein!!!  :)  And they are DELICIOUS!!!!  They also come in a S'mores flavor, which is also quite good!

$1.99 for a package of 6, perfect snack.  Easy for the grab and go!  Hope you give them a try!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Well, we just returned from our semi-annual trip to the beach.  I do many things to prep for the beach, and one of them is making ahead meals so that my time there is NOT spent in a kitchen...and also, so that we don't spend an arm and a leg eating almost every day eating out.

Weeks before we leave, I make ahead some of our family's favorites and freeze them;  this year included Spaghetti Pie, Pork & Peppers, Tacos (meat), Meatballs, and hamburgers.  Another thing I like to do is prep all my "batter" type things like pancakes and waffles, so that it's "add an ingredient or two" and viola, you're ready.

A few days into preparation, a friend of mine pins this recipe to her Facebook: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes .  I mean, really....I know you just drooled on your keyboard.  Well, clean it up, then continue reading.

Well, this friend is a "make everything from scratch" super woman!!!  Me? Let's just say I'm a little more Sandra Lee and take the help I can get from premade ingredients.  Yes.  I realize that it's lazy.  But...three (about to be two! EEEK) in a competitive's this or eat cereal EVERY DAY.  :)

So...I picked up a package of Aldi's Baker's Corner All-Purpose Baking Mix.  A can of Baker's Corner Vanilla Frosting.  A bag of brown sugar, a pound of butter, and here we are.


Aldi's Cinnamon Roll Pancake recipe looks like this....

1.  Prepare the desired amount of pancake batter from the recipe on the box of Baker's Corner All-Purpose Baking Mix.

2.  Mix together 1 cup softened butter (I didn't friend attempted the recipe and said the melted was too soft), 1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, 2 Tbs. Spice Classics Ground Cinnamon.  Place in a freezer zippie bag.

3.  Start to cook the pancakes on the griddle....cut a small hole in the tip of the cinnamon/butter/sugar bag, squeeze out "cinnamon roll style" as the pancakes cook on the first side.  As you see bubbles and are ready to so and let pancakes cook on the other side.

4.  Flip pancakes "cinnamon stripe" up.

5.  Spoon some frosting into a microwave safe bowl and melt for a few seconds.  Drizzle over pancakes and enjoy.

These are positively decadent and YUMMY....and EASY!!!! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Cocoa Bars

My oldest daughter, as I've mentioned before, is a gymnast.  With the moving up a level this summer, is now at the gym 14 hours a week - and starting in September will be there 16.5 hours a week.   She's also tall.  And did I mention SKINNY!  Well, fit.  But I'm always asked if I feed her or not?  Believe me, this kid can EAT, although you'd never know it.  Not an ounce of fat on her.

I'd like to say she's a picky eater.  But I think that would be unfair.  She's a GOOD eater.  She doesn't eat the normal kid foods:  pizza, pasta, mac & cheese, etc.  However, give her asparagus, and she gobbles it up.  A salad with grilled chicken, that too.  Oh....and her favorite,  "Mom, can I make myself a bowl of peas".  "No, dear, you may not eat vegetables", said no mom.  Ever.

Anyway, she also does not like the normal kid-food snacks like granola bars.  Which is a blessing and a curse.  I'm always aching to get more protein in her - sneaking it if I have to.   This recipe is an adaptation of a Weight Watchers recipe from the 90's.  It's calorie dense, but also nutrient rich.  And when you make them yourself using Aldi ingredients, it's also very inexpensive.

We've tried with a variety of cereals - we like Corn Flakes best, or a combo of that with Bran Flakes.

Also, note, if your Aldi does not (or is not selling them right now) the mini chocolate chips, you can use regular, just place in a zippy bag and whack with a meat mallet or something to break up a little bit.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Bars

1 1/2 Cups Berry Hill Crunchy Peanut Butter (or a combo of 1 cup crunchy, 1/2 cup creamy)
2 Cups Millville Cornflakes, crushed - crush AFTER measuring.
2 packets Hot Cocoa (I used the one with marshmallows, for fun!)
3 Tbs Golden Nectar Honey (you can adjust this to taste)
1/2 Cup Baker's Corner Mini-Chocolate Chips (these are available seasonally)

Mix all ingredients together well and press into a wax-paper lined 8X8 or 9X9 square pan.   Place in refrigerator to set about 1 hour.  Cut into bars.  Wrap individually in wax paper and place in a container or bag and either fridge or freeze.  If you freeze they'll last longer.  I sometimes will give her one frozen in her lunch and it will thaw by lunch time. :)

Also note - if you're really trying to sneak protein, substitute the hot cocoa with a protein powder.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Aldi Recipe Review: Extra Rich Dark Chocolate Cake

I'm sure you've noticed by now that on the back of most of Aldi's boxes, bags, containers, there is a recipe for how to use them, and what to do with them.  I usually try them, and every now and then come across one that begs to be shared.

Yesterday, I bought a box of Baker's Corner Devil's Food Cake for the purpose of making my Aldi-way cookies.  However, when I looked at the back of the box this morning, I was presented with a picture of this thick, velvety looking cake...and well, I caved.  I scoured my cabinets to see if I had all the ingredients.  The only thing I was lacking was sour cream - so I substituted plain yogurt instead. :)  Makes it healthy, right?

So here it is...copied from the box off Baker's Corner Devil's Food Cake Mix....

1 package Baker's Corner Devil's Food Cake Mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (as I said, I substituted plain yogurt and it worked fine)
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 package chocolate pudding & pie filling
3/4 chocolate chips (I think I used more like a cup...I like chocolate!

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into well greased Bundt pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes.  Cool 20 minutes in pan and remove from pan for complete cooling.

NOTE:  I baked as cupcakes instead of as a bundt cake.  I baked for 23 minutes (the box recommends cupcakes be baked 20-25 I chose the middle!).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer at Aldi!

Oh, it's summertime at Aldi, and they are in FULL SWING.

Do you want an Easy Set Backyard Pool by Intex?  Hurry in now, it's there.

I was so excited when I went into Aldi today and found they have the Season's Best Frozen Mixed Fruit Blend (Strawberries, Pineapple, Mangos & Peaches!) for $1.99/lb.  Mix with some Nature's Nectar OJ & Fit & Active Plain Yogurt and you have an unbelievable summer smoothie!  (guess what I'm having for lunch right now!)  They also have Frozen Sliced Strawberries and Frozen Mango Chunks, too!  $3.29 for 2 lbs.  WOW....I DARE you to find 2 lbs of frozen fruit anywhere than inexpensively!

Also, in the fresh fruit aisle, they had some Nectarines & Peaches, too....$3.29 for 2 lbs...and they smelled amazing!

All their fresh Nature's Nectar Lemonades are there, too.  Right near the OJ.  Lemonade, Raspberry Lemonade, Lemonade Iced Tea.

I'm not even going to mention the additions to the ice cream case, I'm going to  let you all discover THOSE goodies all on your own.  I was tempted though....wayyyyy tempted.

And as you check you, make sure to get some supplies for super Aldi S'Mores!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dreamsicle Smoothie

Get ready for summer!  It's getting warm around here this week.  Went up to the mid 80's yesterday, and it's supposed to be in the upper 90's by the weekend!  And in northeastern part of the country where humidity is king, well, let's just say it's HOT here.'s smoothie time!  I love having a smoothie for breakfast.

Our Aldi has recently started selling Greek Yogurt.  I LOVE Greek Yogurt.  I use it in place of sour cream for just about everything.  Mix it with the Stonemill Classics Ranch Dressing mix, and you have a MEAN dip for veggies.  My favorite way to serve is in a here's what I had for breakfast this morning!  Sorry there's no picture, it was sooooo yummy I didn't take time to take picture! :)

I do have a Magic Bullet Blender, so that's what I used, but you could use a regular blender.

Dreamsicle Smoothie

1 cup crushed ice
1 cup Nature's Nectar 100% OJ (not from concentrate)
1/2 cup Fage Greek Yogurt (or whichever greek yogurt your Aldi is selling)
1/2 tsp Stonemill Classics pure vanilla
1 packet of sweetener of choice OR 2 tsp sugar

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until very smooth.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Oreo" Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay. So I admit it. This recipe is wrong on so very many levels it's not even funny. Chocolate Chip cookies are yummy. Chocolate Sandwich Creme cookies are yummy. It's insane to think that you could put the two together and it wouldn't be overkill. Okay, admittedly, it's overkill. But really, can you blame me? Someone (who shall be nameless, cough, cough) posted a picture of an Oreo stuffed inside of a baked Chocolate Chip Cookie. So, I accepted the challenge. Said someone does pick on me quite a bit that most of my recipes start out with a cake mix, so I promised her I would not do that this time. HA HA HA!!! Okay....It's got two, VERY SIMPLE ingredients. And it takes a few minutes to bake. But then...well, you just wait and see. These might even be the devil's spawn. I should feel guilty. Alas. I do not.

Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookes

1 Package BakeHouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
12 Bentons Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (this is a very necessary step for these cookies).

Cut the BakeHouse cookies into 24 squares - this is easy peasy b/c Aldi has already pre-scored the cookies for you. Roll one into a ball and flatten on top of a piece of parchment paper. Press a Chocolate sandwich cookie on top. Roll another dough square into a ball and press flat in your palm and place on top of the sandwich cookie. Press the edges together - make sure they seal!

Place about 2" apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before attempting to eat. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pastitsio - Aldi-style

Oh. My. Goodness. One of my passions is Greek food. One of my favorite recipes, that I remember from a high school friend's Mom, is Pastitsio. I love the meat and pasta layers (not a huge fan of the bechemel layers, so I've omitted for this recipe). In my craving for greek food this evening, I decided to make an Aldi friendly version. And, it was DELICIOUS. TOO delicious NOT to share!!!

I know this recipe is SIMILAR to the Spaghetti Pie....but I guarantee the taste is soooo different. :)

I hope you enjoy as much we did.


1 box Reggiano Penne Reggatte pasta
1 container Friendly Farms Cottage Cheese
1 lb Fit & Active Ground Beef (or ground turkey, which ever you prefer, I used Turkey)
1 8oz block Happy Valley Farms Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 Cup Friendly Farms Fresh Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Jar Reggiano Pasta Sauce (choose your favorite brand)
2 Tsp Stonehill Classics Italian Seasoning Blend
1 Golden Hen Egg
1 Tbs dried minced garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to directions on the package. Drain & set aside to cool.

Brown ground beef (or turkey) on the stove, drain any excess fat. Add minced garlic and pasta sauce. Stir until mixed well and remove from heat.

While meat is browning, in a large bowl, mix together cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir in Italian seasoning blend.

Stir the cottaqe cheese mixture into the cooled pasta. Mix very well.

Press this mixture into a 13 X 9 Lasagna pan. Pour beef/sauce mixture over the pasta. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour until very bubbly. (you can remove the foil at about 45 mins and bake uncovered).

Allow to sit about 5-10 minutes before diving into - and oh yes - you will dive!