Yeasted Waffles

Original Recipe HERE

I love waffles for breakfast on weekends, but sometimes the tasks of measuring, mixing, preheating, cooking, and cleaning up the always-surprisingly-large mess at the end dissuades me.   However, this is perfect: do all the hard stuff the night before, and then in the morning whip up waffles in minutes.  Which frees me up to add a complimentary side dish, like bacon or a fancy homemade sauce.  Bacon wins 90% of the time.

This recipe makes a good basic waffle, but next time I'll play around with flour substitutes (adding wheat or cake flours into the mix) and some cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.  Also, using applesauce instead of oil works in baking - maybe it would work here (though perhaps the waffles would lose some crispness).

2 1/4 cups white flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 package active dry yeast [or roughly 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast]
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups milk [I used half 2% and half skim]
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

(1) Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
(2) Combine wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Add to dry ingredients; whisk until thoroughly mixed.
(3) Cover loosely.  Refrigerate overnight or all day.
(4) When ready to make waffles, stir batter. Pour appropriate amount into waffle iron and cook per manufacturer's directions.

Kid Participation:
* Combine dry ingredients
* Combine wet ingredients
* Combine all ingredients

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Original Recipe HERE

These were really easy and really tasty.

I will give this recipe an extra shout-out for durability.  It was brought to a BBQ held on a day when the heat index was well over 100 degrees.  I was in a pool up to my neck and my head was still pouring sweat.  These were put out on a picnic table in direct sunlight, and my heart sank, knowing they'd be a melty mess within minutes.  Surprisingly, they held up really well.  Some condensation-type beads appeared on the top, but they stayed firm until I was able to move them into the air-conditioned kitchen.  I had ice-filled ziploc bags underneat the pan, so I'm sure that helped them stay cool...but the lesson is to not let the idea of cream cheese scare you from making these for a summer event.

2 cups finely crushed Oreo-type cookies
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, softened [I used low fat]
1 14-oz can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz of chocolate, melted [I used semi-sweet chocolate chips]

(1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil or wax paper.
(2) In bowl, combine crumbs and butter and press firmly into bottom of pan.
(3) In another bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix. Pour half of the batter evenly over cookie crumbs.
(4) Stir melted chocolate into remaining batter; mix well. Spoon over plain batter.  Use a knife to swirl batter to make a marble-like design.
(5) Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Cool, then chill for a couple hours or overnight.  Yield: 24 bars.

Kid Participation:
* Crush cookies
* Stir chocolate into batter
* Marbelize batter

Steak & Cheese Sandwiches with Onions & Mushrooms

Original Recipe HERE

So good.  Husband and I are big fans of hearty sandwiches...I always seem to eat double the volume of food than I normally would at dinner.  These were no exception.  I assume this recipe would work with chicken, pork, or large portobello mushrooms (though that might be mushroom overload; perhaps best to eliminate the secondary use of mushrooms in that case).

The original recipes uses the oven or broiler.  I prefer to use our toaster oven when I'm in a hurry to get food on the table.

1/2 pound beef round steak, cut thinly
1/2 large onion, sliced into rings
8 oz sliced mushrooms
olive oil or cooking spray
garlic powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
12 oz French baguette [or other bread]
sliced cheese [I used smoked provolone]

(1) Slice beef into thin strips. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
(2) Heat a large skillet over high heat. When the skillet is very hot, spray with cooking spray or add olive oil.
(3) Add half of beef. Cook one minute; turn steak over and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.
(4) Spray the skillet again.  Add the remaining steak; repeat cooking steps and remove from heat.
(5) Spray the skillet again.  Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook one minute; turn and cook onions an additional 30 seconds or until golden.  Remove from heat.
(6) Lower heat to medium; add olive oil to skillet or spray again.  Add mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 1/2 minutes; turn mushrooms and cook another 1 1/2 minutes.
(7) Remove mushrooms from heat.  Comnbine well with beef and onions.
(8) Cut bread into four equal pieces or separate rolls into tops and bottoms.  Lightly toast in toaster oven.
(9) Remove bread.  Add steak mixture to bottom halves and top with cheese.  Broil until cheese melts.  Remove sandwich and cover with top half of bread [Or add steak mixture to bottom halves, top with cheese and top half of bread, and wrap with foil.  Toast in toaster oven for several minutes.]

Kid Participation: None.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Original Recipe HERE

Kids didn't like this much, but it was an easy dish and a good way to get a smidge of veggies into their stomachs.  Maybe if I'd added more cheese, they would have been distracted by the presence of their favorite dairy product and gobbled it up.

To healthify it next time, I'll use quick-cooking brown rice (which will also make for a much quicker prep).  Also, I'll add more seasoning (garlic powder?) for a more pronounced flavor.

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium zucchini
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste

(1) Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice.  Cover; reduce heat to low.
(2) Cook 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
(3) While rice cooks, grate zucchini on larger holes of cheese grater.
(4) Remove rice from heat.  Add butter and zucchini; cover. Allow to stand 5 minutes.
(5) Stir rice and zucchini mixture. Stir in cheese; season with salt and pepper.

Kid Participation: None.

Oven Roasted Garlic Green Beans

Original Recipe HERE

Doesn't get much easier than this.  Both kids thought it was good, especially with liberal amounts of finely shredded Asiago cheese dumped on the beans.  I thought they were tasty as well but too salty.  Next time I'll just omit the salt entirely and rely on the garlic to provide enough flavor.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
1 to 2 Tablespoons minced or pressed garlic [I used 5 cloves]
Pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp grated or shredded parmesan, optional [or other cheese of choice]

(1) Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
(2) In a mixing bowl, add the olive oil, green beans, minced garlic, and pepper. Toss well.
(3) Spread the beans onto the foiled lined baking sheet.
(4) Roast in the oven for 5 minutes.  Toss quickly; roast an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
(5) Let cool slightly.  Sprinkle each serving with cheese if using.

Kid Participation: None.