Monday, December 31, 2012

Crispy Potato Roast

This dish is a complete stunner. But, it is just as delicious in taste and flavor as it is in appearance. I was so intrigued when I first saw a version of this recipe on Martha Stewart's website. I am a huge potato fanatic and these just looked glorious! I altered a couple of things in her recipe, but followed her technique and concept. I used some pancetta in my version. (Bacon would work fine, too.) I like that the lower part of the potatoes roast up tender and soft while the edges and tops become beautifully crisp.
The key to this recipe is getting the potato slices as thin as you can, so prepping the potatoes does take a little time (about fifteen minutes). I recommend using a sharp, thin-bladed knife.  Also, patience is a must as this dish bakes for about two hours total. (It's totally worth it - trust me.) This is a dish that is super impressive-looking and would really wow at a dinner party!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

The kids were wanting to bake some chocolate chip cookies this week. I, on the other hand, was so over the whole baking "thing" due to all of the pre-Christmas goodies I had made in recent weeks. We opted to make these super simple cake mix cookies to satisfy their cookie craving.
My kids can pretty much make these on their own. The dough comes together in like, two minutes with little mess and very few dishes dirtied. {That I like, of course.} You don't even need a mixer for these.
These cookies bake up super soft and fluffy. And, while they may not necessarily be grandma's from-scratch version, this is a great recipe to throw together when you are craving chocolate chip cookies and don't want to put in a lot of effort/time. And, I like that this yields only a couple of dozen cookies ... the perfect amount for when cookies are craved, but standing by the oven baking batch-after-batch isn't really desired.

Yields 20 - 24 cookies

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Recap

As the year comes to an end, I'd thought I'd take a moment to recap what's been happening here at Joyously Domestic in 2012, including a spotlight on some of my most-popular posts.  And, I thought some of you may appreciate hearing a bit of the back story surrounding Joyously Domestic and taking a little peek at some of my "flops and failures."

I started this blog in June of 2012 after creating and building a blog on a different hosting site for many months.  I wasn't pleased with some of the limitations on the other site and decided to convert everything over to Blogger in June.  I just celebrated my six-month "anniversary" here and am excited at how far the blog has come since my initial post.

Blogging came very naturally to me.  And, it has been a perfect fit.  The last of our five children started kindergarten this year, so blogging has given me something to occupy my time while providing me an avenue to pursue something I am passionate about - food and family life.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New "PRINTABLE" Feature on JD

Hi there, friends. Many people have asked about having a PRINT feature on each post. From now on, all posts (new and old) will automatically have a PRINT FRIENDLY feature within the post ... it will enable you to easily print just the recipe without all of the other "stuff" that you normally see within the posts and sidebars.  Once you click the green PRINT FRIENDLY button located toward the bottom of each post, a window will open that will allow the option of printing with or without images.  You will, also, have the option of selecting and deselecting certain portions of the post that you may or may not want printed.  Look for this button:

I hope this is a helpful tool for many of you! Thanks for your suggestions ... keep them coming as I love hearing your feedback on how to make the blog more user-friendly!

~ Angela

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I pray that you and yours enjoyed a beautiful Christmas together.  Just a few more days until the celebrations of the New Year are underway, so I thought I'd offer up this hot and gooey Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe for consideration on your New Year's Eve snack table.  It would, also, be perfect to sit out while watching a game on t.v. or having a movie night curled up on the couch!

I took this to the Christmas Eve party at my husband's grandmother's house this year.  Everyone brings snacks to munch on while we watch on as Santa makes an appearance - much to all of the kids' delight - and the adults have a "White Elephant" gift swap.

Something awesome about this dip is that it can be prepped in advance, then baked when you're ready to serve it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ham Bone Potato Soup

I always love the day after Christmas. I relish watching the kids play with and enjoy all of their presents. In our house, the day is usually a quiet(er) one as we unwind (and often catch a mid-afternoon nap) after the holiday festivities have kind of died down.

I must have been a good girl this year because the packages under the tree with my name on them contained gifts that made me just as giddy and excited as my children were on Christmas morning!  My lovely gifts from my kids included "staging dishes," which I was informed were purchased with my blog in mind.  And, I received a beautiful ten-piece hard enamel cookware set and a pasta machine from my husband Santa.

Eager to put my new pots and pans to work and with a winter storm rolling in here in lower Michigan today, soup was in the works within a couple of hours of waking up today.

Like many, we feasted on a big ham dinner on Christmas afternoon at our house.  It was just the five of us, so we had more than half of the ham left over.  Some is tucked away in the freezer for later use (visions of scalloped potatoes and ham have been dancing in my head since yesterday).  And, it is a given that I always reserve the ham bone for some type of soup or beans.

I started on homemade chicken stock this morning for this soup utilizing the carcass of a whole chicken that we had a few days ago.  I always freeze the carcass for making my Homemade Chicken Stock. You can use store-bought chicken stock for this recipe, however, if desired. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dill Oyster Crackers

When I think back to the Christmas snacks of my childhood, this is the first thing that comes to mind.  My grandmother on my mom's side always made these Dill Oyster Crackers.  I remember her big, yellow Tupperware bowl sitting on the counter filled to the brim with these seasoned crackers during Christmastime.  She would sit out little dainty dishes of the crackers all around her house during holiday gatherings for everyone to nibble on.  They were one of my favorite Christmas snacks ... more-favored than the fudge, cookies and candies!

Many recipes call for a packet of dry Ranch dressing to be added.  Our family recipe doesn't.  (I find that the Ranch makes it way too salty and is very over-powering.)  Also, these don't have to be baked once prepared, but I find that a little time in the oven gives these crackers a deeper, crisper flavor and texture.

What is so great about this recipe is that it makes a large quantity with little expense.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cake Batter Puppy Chow

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas.  But with just seven days left until Santa visits and not a lot of predicted snowfall on the horizon, I may be looking at a brown and dreary Christmas.  I've been keeping my eyes on the weather forecast and while there is a chance that lower Michigan may get a dusting of snow sometime later this week, it doesn't look very promising for it to stick around.  Waking up to the sight of a winter wonderland outside on Christmas morning here in my area does seem less of a reality and more of a dream at this point.

Although it may not feel very "Christmasy" outdoors, I'm happy to report that the holiday spirit is alive and well inside our house.  It has been nice and toasty indoors thanks to our wood stove.  Christmas carols have been playing all this past week as I clean, cook, bake and blog.  Presents are stacked up under the tree.  The kids and I have goodies piling up on the table to be taken to school for friends and teachers.  A large container of just-decorated sugar cookies tempts me daily now from atop my kitchen counter.  And, Christmas cards - bringing tidings of holiday cheer from friends and family far and near - have been arriving consistently in recent days.  And, much to my children's delight, we are three days away (and counting) until their winter break from school!

I thought I'd tap into my longing for the "white stuff" by throwing together a yummy treat that utilizes a bit of a sweeter white ingredient - powdered sugar!  Most of us have heard of or tasted puppy chow (a.k.a. "muddy buddies").  Traditionally, it is made with peanut butter and milk chocolate.  This version - using dry cake mix and white chocolate - is a little amped up and perfect for the holidays!  I'll tell ya what the taste of this reminds me of ... those PF Vanilla Creme-Filled Pirouette Rolled Wafers (the ones in the metal tin).  Yum!

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Reindeer Noses" (with Photo Tutorial)

It was a gloriously fun and enjoyable weekend that really helped get me in the holiday spirit.

During the day on Saturday, we made "salt dough" ornaments.  They are still drying and my children cannot wait to be able to paint and decorate them this week! My hubby and I took the kids out shopping Saturday night so that they could buy all of their Christmas presents for each other and for us.  My kids love, love, love being able to shop for other people ... they have such a giving heart and always put a lot of effort into picking out just the right gift for those they love.  We took the opportunity on the twenty-five minute car ride home to check out Christmas lights in the towns that we drove through ... all while singing along to Christmas carols on the radio.  It was quite a beautiful evening spent as a family.

On Sunday, we spent the day at my mother's house decorating a huge amount of sugar cookies while enjoying the company of extended family.  And, once we arrived back home, I dove into this project - Reindeer Noses.

Aren't they just too cute?  I don't recall where I first saw this idea, but I knew I wanted to make a bunch of these for the kids to add to their teacher gifts this year and to have on-hand to attach to presents throughout the holiday season.

This project is pretty simple to do.  I made my labels by hand, but they could easily be made on the computer and printed out.  With already having the cardstock, ribbon, markers, colored pencils, glue gun and stapler on hand, I think I maybe spent around four dollars between the candy and the bags that were needed to do this project.

Friday, December 14, 2012

101 Fun Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner!  Happy Holidays, dear friends.

Here are some fabulous stocking stuffer ideas to keep in mind as you do your holiday shopping.  Some apply to just kids (of all ages) and some are for the grown-ups.  A lot of these would, also, be great ideas for Secret Santa at work or for mini gifts to attach to a larger gift.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing and Shaved Parmesan

We're almost halfway through the month of December.  While everyone has been making cozy casseroles and big, comforting pots of soup, I've actually been craving my favorite salad!

Seriously.  A beautiful Caesar salad has been on my mind for a good week now.  After picking up some romaine lettuce, I couldn't wait to get this recipe made. 

I've been making this dressing for years.  And, as divine as it is as a dressing drizzled atop a salad, it is equally as wonderful made a tad bit thicker and used as a dip for raw veggies.  (Wedges of purple cabbage, celery sticks and fresh radishes plunged into this as a dip ... pure magic!)

I thoroughly enjoyed this sitting by the crackling fire and the Christmas tree this afternoon while the hubby and kids were gone.  It was kind of heavenly. (As was Adam Levine on Tuesday night's episode of The Voice, which I watched today while nibbling on this salad.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Crescent Roll Breakfast Casserole

This recipe couldn't be easier, folks.  Unroll a rube of crescent roll dough, throw on some breakfast sausage, pour on some eggs that have been whipped with milk and top with lots of cheese. Super easy peasy!  Of course, you can use ham or bacon (or leave it meatless) and you can add in peppers, onions or mushrooms.  Make it your own.  But, this is a recipe that everyone seems to love!  It's great for holiday mornings and weekends.

We had it for dinner tonight with some fresh fruit on the side and some orange juice.  It's nice when we have breakfast for dinner because the hubby is usually gone for work before the rest of us get up.  So, sharing breakfast - even at dinnertime - together is always a real treat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pork Carnitas

Thank you to Carole from My Kitchen Escapades for enlightening me to this recipe!  Seriously!  You deserve an award!

I usually make a green chile and lime shredded pork recipe in the slow cooker when I'm planning pork tacos.  That was my plan up until last night when I happened upon Carole's recipe and changed my game plan.  Holy moly ... I'm so glad I did!

Let it be noted that this recipe does require a couple of extra steps compared to just slow-cooking seasoned pork and then shredding it.  It requires that the pork be started on the stove top, then slow-cooked for a couple of hours in the oven, then broken up (while the cooking liquid reduces on the stove top), then combined with said reduced liquid and then broiled in the oven to finish.

But, I promise you that it is 100% worth it!  This recipe results in tender, juicy meat that is super flavorful and caramelized.  Simply put ... it is pork perfection!  Everyone in our house loved this!   It's certainly something that I will make again ... many times over! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Overnight Steel Cut Oats - Slow Cooker

I recently posted a recipe for Overnight Slow Cooker Oatmeal, which I made twice last week.  My husband and I were totally diggin' that recipe ... that is, until I switched things up today and used steel cut oats (instead of old-fashioned oats).  Instant oats are terrible overnight in the slow cooker (way too mushy).  Old-fashioned oats worked pretty good (not quite total mush, but not super hearty and well-textured either).  But, steel cut oats ... oh my goodness!  I am in love!

If you have never heard of steel cut oats or have never looked for them in the store, let me give ya a little info on them and what to look for.

They are a tad pricier than your everyday, run-of-the-mill oats, but not by much.  I paid $3.59 for my 24 oz. package at Kroger in the health food/organic section.  I purchased Bob's Red Mill brand.  Another well-known brand that is usually easily available is McCann's (my Wal-Mart has it in the actual oatmeal section), but it is a little more expensive compared to Bob's.  I've, also, seen steel cut oats in bulk at places like Whole Foods and health food stores.

The difference between rolled and steel cut oats is that while both contain whole grain oats, they are processed differently. Rolled oats are steamed, rolled, steamed again and toasted.  They end up as thin flakes. Steel cut oats are made from oat kernels that have been chopped into thick pieces.

Using steel cut oats produces a chewier, heartier texture that is somewhat nutty.  And, they hold up wonderfully to the long process of overnight slow cooker cooking.

The recipe I used is very similar to the one I posted recently using old-fashioned oats.  I use a loaf pan placed into my slow cooker insert and create a water bath.  This prevents dried-on oats and is much easier clean-up wise.

I adore that I spend just 10 minutes at night throwing this together ... and we wake up to a ready-made breakfast and a house that smells divine!  What could be better?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Make-Ahead Freezer Smoothie Packets

Of course, I have to have my morning coffee ... especially in the colder months.  But, I do love smoothies and know that they are super healthy (if made with the right ingredients) and a great way to start the day.

Here's a convenient and clever way to ensure you've always got everything prepped and ready to go for a quick smoothie to have with breakfast, in place of breakfast, for a kid's after-school snack or just as an afternoon pick-me-up for yourself!  Older kids can even whip up their smoothies on their own with these on hand!  You freeze your yogurt and fruit for smoothies in single serving baggies and keep them in the freezer until you're ready to blend together your drink!

Each baggie (or "packet") makes one large smoothie or two smaller portions.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Beef and Noodles {Using Homemade Egg Noodles}

I think I'm weird.  Why is it that so often I am much more productive when I've gotten barely any sleep?  Maybe I'm running on adrenaline.  Seriously.  Most folks can barely function with just a few hours of sleep.  I, on the other hand, am slow-moving, groggy and fatigued-feeling when I've gotten a long night's sleep.  However, it never fails that when I've only slept for three or four hours, I'm running around the house in the morning like a crazy person ... all hyped up and full of energy.   

It happened today.  I was up until almost three in the morning working on the blog and cleaning around the house.  I swore I'd go back to bed once the kids got on the bus for school at seven this morning.  Nope.  Instead, I stayed up doing laundry, making homemade egg noodles, watching t.v. and editing blog photos. I'm sure I'll pay for it later.  Sigh.

But, this recipe is certainly worth spending a little time on. It's nothing overly complicated, but the result is a total COMFORT FOOD dinner that your family will greatly appreciate. You'll, basically, be braising beef until ultra tender on the stove top in a rich broth, making my two-ingredient egg noodles while the meat cooks and then bringing the two components together to simmer to perfection.

NOTE: You'll need to go HERE for my post on making your own egg noodles from scratch. 

Serves 4 - 6.

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal (Water Bath Technique)

I've made oatmeal overnight in the slow cooker before.  And, although it was good, clean-up was a bit of a bear because the oatmeal cemented onto the sides of the slow cooker (even though I had thoroughly greased the inside walls).  We could eat from the middle of the oatmeal, but I had to soak the dang slow cooker for hours, then, literally "chisel" away at the parts that were terribly dried on.

But, I loved waking up to the smell of the oats, apples and cinnamon ... and to having breakfast ready to go!  So, I came up with the concept of using a pan inside of the slow cooker and creating a water bath to help with the crusty, almost-burnt edges. 

It worked like a charm!  I was sooooo thrilled!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Lasagna Soup

We all know that making a huge pan of lasagna can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive task.  But, lasagna is one of those comforting dishes that most everyone adores. This particular recipe is a fun and simple twist on traditional lasagna. It's made right on the stove and there's only about fifteen minutes of actual hands-on prep time. You'll find all of the flavors and components of lasagna present here, but in soup form.

I chose not to add in any kind of ground beef or Italian sausage simply because my kids are not wild about those two ingredients. I would recommend about a half of a pound of either for this amount of soup if you'd like to include it. (It should be browned in the pot prior to the addition of the onion, garlic and green pepper.) Alternatively, you could swap in vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock should you desire to keep this completely vegetarian.

Regarding the pasta for this recipe, you can buy Campenelle pasta, which looks like mini lasagna noodles.  But, regular lasagna noodles work just fine. Just break them into pieces. I used about 8 - 9 large lasagna noodles. Any smaller-sized pasta would work, however. (I have even made this with egg noodles.)

Yields 4 - 5 servings.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones with Orange Drizzle Glaze

Scones are one of those things that can be thrown together pretty quickly and easily.  So, I often make my Blueberry Scones with Lemon Drizzle Glaze for us for breakfast or to have to snack on during the weekends.  The problem is that my teenage daughter, Allanah, hates blueberries, so I set out to make a scone with ingredients that she would like.  The result?  Make 'em with chocolate!

Pair that with some oats for texture and some orange zest and juice for a refreshing, subtle citrus kiss ... and I think we've got ourselves a winner!

Making scones is pretty much like making biscuits.  The less you "work" the dough, the better!  When you first pour out the dough onto your floured surface, it may look like it will never come together.  I promise it will!  And, you want to leave lots of chunks of cold butter in the dough to create the flaky pockets like we all adore in the best biscuits, too!  I place my scones in the freezer for about 5 minutes prior to baking ... just to ensure that the butter flecks/chunks are very cold before baking.

This one is for you, Allanah!