©Life of a Foodie and Her Family 2008-2013, Lynn Tabor



Panera Macaroni & Cheese

Miss V love Panera's Macaroni & Cheese and I was determined to find a copy cat recipe.  Well all of the recipes I found all talked about microwaving the roux.  That just seemed weird to me, doesn't that seem weird to you??

Anyway about two weeks ago I found a recipe from the Panera website.  You can check it out HERE along with the Chef's story. 

1 (16-ounce) package of medium shell pasta
¼ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups milk (I used whole)
6 slices white American cheese, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce (I used Frank's)

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.

Gradually whisk in milk (or cream); cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.

Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.

Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated).

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Would I make this again?  YOU BET!!!!


Maple Breakfast Casserole

The second recipe she picked out was a bit more savory.  We found it on the Jimmy Dean website.

2 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 eggs
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 cups French bread cubes (¾-inch pieces)
1 pkg. Jimmy Dean® Maple Flavor Pork Sausage Roll, cooked, crumbled, drained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 325°F. Toss apples with sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

Beat eggs, milk and vanilla in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add bread cubes, sausage, apple mixture and 1-½ cups cheese; stir gently until evenly coated.

Spoon into lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish; top with remaining ½ cup cheese.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 12 squares to serve.

Cook’s Tips: Make-Ahead Maple Breakfast Casserole: Assemble casserole as directed. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, uncover and bake 50-55 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with warm maple syrup.

Well this recipe also was a disappointment.  The apple just really threw off the flavor and the texture was just mush.  Would I make this one again?  No....

I will go back to our family favorites that have more flavors and texture.

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup

The other day Miss V helped me to find some new breakfast ideas for Christmas.  First one she picked was this one.


1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Well I must say this was disappointing.  The texture was just mush and really didn't have much flavor besides the topping.  Would I make this again?  No.....


Melted Snowman Cookies

I first spotted these on Pintrest and like so many other bakers, knew that I would have to try them this year.  I followed a few Pins and found a great tutorial on Truly Custom Cakery.  Here are some other links about the cookies, first is Crazy Domestic and one from the creator at The Decorated Cookie.  Those absolutely beautiful, but I am feeling lazy and not wanting to whip up some fondant.

I am using a sugar cookie recipe from Wilton.  One that you do not have to refrigerate.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon No Color Almond Extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Mix flour and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.

Do not chill dough. Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use.

Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 6-7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

For the frosting I made royal icing, but didn't get it runny enough.  I also just used black icing in the tube and Miss V had fun with my edible markers.


Snowman Soup 2011

Miss V made her snowman soup on Thursday night for her classmates and teachers.

This year I found the cute snowflake bags at the dollar store.

In each bag you put:
One packet of hot chocolate mix.  I like using the Land O' Lakes since the package is prettier than the white paper of other brands.

One candy cane, can be mini size or full size
A handful of Hershey Kisses
A handful of mini marshmellows (I like to put them in a snack size ziploc baggie)

Then attach a cute poem.

I like to print 4 of them on a sheet of white cardstock.

After Miss V handed them out, one boy said he remembered them from last year and it was so good!

Miss V's class entry into the Gingerbread House Contest

I have to say how proud I am of Miss V's class and all the hard work that they put into making the Tropical Themed Gingerbread House.

We were given the pre made pieces for the house.  The rules stated that it could not be edible and it was suggested that we use a hot glue gun for stability.  The rules also stated that it must fit into a space that was  12 inches deep, by 11 inches wide and 12 inches high.

Here are some of my favorite parts of the house.

A few of the boys rolled out blue fondant for the Gulf of Mexico and then we glued on milk chocolate rocks along the waters edge.  One student worked hard at making tootsie roll sharks teeth.  The city where Miss V's school is located is famous for sharks teeth.  Some of the girls had a fun time making colorful shells from fondant and gum paste.

We made palm trees out of skewers and tootsie rolls.  They were poked and glued into the cardboard base that was the exact dimensions from the rules.  The palm fronds were gum paste tinted green and cut out with a flower cookie cutter and dried over night.  Some of the girls also gave the Teddy Bears bathing suits and made towels and floats from fondant.

Here you can see that one girl made a cute flamingo from pink gum paste.  A couple of other girls made presents to go at the bottom of one tree.  Some of the boys make little strands of colorful lights from fondant and put them onto fishing line.

I love the texture on the palm trees.  Oh and notice the the little bows on the presents?

One side view of our Tropical Gingerbread House.   The roof is plain shredded wheat.  We didn't use the frosted because it would have looked like snow and we certainly do not get snow down here in SW Florida.  The beach sand is actually a box of graham cracker crumbs.  It was funny all day long a little boy from 3rd grade would walk by and say he hoped that we would win.

Here is our completed house!  The class was so excited and we all thought it looked fantastic. 

While putting it together, I made sure to measure with a ruler how high the palm trees were.  I did not want to go over the 12 inch high limit.

You could also purchase the houses. One of our friends texted me while we were heading to the mall to tell me that someone bought ours.  We met the new owner and she was so nice.

We did not win in our age group and (I probably sound like a sore loser), but Miss V noticed that some of the winners did not stick to the size guidelines and were a lot bigger than the specs.  Maybe I have watched to many Food Network specials and have seen pieces disqualified for their sizes.  Anway that did not seem very fair.  Then we found out that for people's choice you could vote on your favorite.  What was not stated in the paper work was that it was $1.00 a vote. 

The following Monday the little boy from 3rd grade asked if we had won and I told him that we didn't and he said that he thought ours was the best!

We may not have won or placed 2nd or 3rd, but I am very proud of our class and will have reward them with an ice cream party or something.


Glazed Eggnog Spritz Cookies

I had been searching for a new cookie recipe for this year's cookie swap.  I finally settled on this recipe from the Betty Crocker website.  I did have to make two batches.  The first batch only made about 50 cookies.  Not sure if it was because of the disc I used.  Either way they came out really well and are soft and delicate.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons rum extract
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Rum Drizzle
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F (if using dark or nonstick cookie sheet, heat oven to 325°F). In large bowl, beat granulated sugar and 1 cup butter with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in vanilla, 2 teaspoons rum extract and the egg until smooth. Beat in flour and 1 teaspoon nutmeg.

Place 1/4 of the dough at a time in cookie press. On ungreased cookie sheet, form desired shapes with dough.

Bake 6 to 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

In small bowl, stir all glaze ingredients except nutmeg with spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Pour mixture into small resealable food-storage plastic bag; cut off tiny corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle glaze on cookies. Before glaze is set, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg over cookies. (I skipped that last step.  I do not like using ground nutmeg and I think fresh would have been a bit to strong.)


White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies

I spotted this recipe a while ago in one of my Taste of Home Fall Baking magazines.  I made it last night for my meeting.  They came out really well and I believe everyone loved them.

I haven't taken a picture of them yet, but I will tomorrow and upload it then.

For the crust
3/4 cup butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 oz white chocolate chopped (I used 1/2 bag of white chips)

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted (used the other 1/2 bag of white chips)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a microwave, melt butter; stir in brown sugar. Transfer to a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).

Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar until blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries.

Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

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