Category Archives: Recipe & Receta Ideas

Recipe ideas, food and yummy stuff….
Recetas, comidas para hornear, comidas que me gustan…

How to make Button Cookies for a Lalaloopsy party!

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Well, it’s more like a sewing party….and what could fit that theme better than some button cookies?!  Button cookies are not my original idea, there are all sorts of button cookies floating around out there in cyberspace and other people’s kitchens and such.  But anyways, this is my version of them.  I gave them a photo shoot this morning.  I needed to see something sweet and colorful to cheer me up!  The ugly photos for the “how to” were taken last night in bad bad light…they are FYI only.  Here are the cute buttons:denna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing partydenna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing partyHere’s the HOW TO:

Make:  cookie dough with real butter, add liquid food coloring.

Tools: rolling pin, small circle and scallop cookie cutters, other round objects, plastic drinking straws, scissors.

First ,mix up some cookie dough.  I used LilaLoa’s recipe (click here) for vanilla rollout cookies and  was very pleased with it!  I followed all her directions and used the full amount of flour and baked them for about 6 to 7 minutes.  I divided the dough into thirds, even before I was finished mixing it, and added a few drops of liquid food coloring to each little batch (they were the neon colors from the grocery store).  The colors didn’t mix in well until I kneaded it…totally looked and felt like playdough!!  The dough is quite stiff.  You can roll out the dough right away with this recipe, which is nice.  I did stick the colors I wasn’t rolling out into the fridge to wait.

Roll out the dough and start cutting circles!  Use 2 slightly different sizes of circles.  I used the 2 smallest cutters that I have from a set of circles that are plain on one end and scalloped on the other end.  You can also use other small circular objects (clean) for making patterns in the buttons.denna's ideas: how to make button cookiesUsing a slightly smaller circle, press into one of the cut out cookies…but not hard enough to cut right through!denna's ideas: how to make button cookiesFor some of the buttons, I used a plastic communion cup to make an even smaller third circle…denna's ideas: how to make button cookies

Then use a drinking straw to punch out the holes in the middle of the button, either 2 or 4 for each button.  I cut up a plastic straw into thirds, then used each side to punch out holes, since the straw gets full of dough.  You can squeeze out the dough to reuse it (or eat it), but it flattens out the straw.  I went though a handful of straws with the whole  batch (three colors) of dough.denna's ideas: how to make button cookiesIt is quite easy to do, and doesn’t take too much time.  You do have to eye-ball everything to get it centered up.  I suppose you could make a paper pattern with circles punched in, then overlay it to punch the holes through the dough….that just sounds like way to much effort to me, though the results would be practically perfect!!denna's ideas: how to make button cookiesSome of the cookies received a scalloped flower design….I really liked these ones!denna's ideas: how to make button cookiesBake those babies!  I always use parchment paper to bake cookies, since I only have one cookie pan, so I fill a sheet of parchment while the other batch is baking.  The colors in my photos are weird, I know, the cookies didn’t really change much when they baked…it’s my flash.  Here are the baked cookies, they hardly spread at all and kept their shape very nicely!denna's ideas: how to make button cookiesHmmm, I forgot to count up how many cookies the batch of dough made….lots though!!  We ate up the deformed ones of course, and some raw dough, and even so that left lots and lots of little buttons.  I re-rolled the scraps several times, so some of the cookies look a bit cracked, but I was trying to get as many as I could from the batch.  You could probably avoid that….

Now back to the “fancy” photos….denna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing party4x6  blog photos landscape - Page 005The colors turned out quite well with minimum effort, I thought.  The right shades of blue and pink can be hard to make, since sometimes the blue looks more aqua since there’s a lot of yellow in the butter and the egg yolks….good thing I wanted aqua!!  I didn’t fuss with the pink, either, and even started dropping in purple food coloring by accident!  I dug most of it out and then tried the pink coloring….it matched my color palette close enough!!

I did make quite a few flower-shaped buttons and poked indents around the edges, but these are some of my favorite designs, the simple ones:denna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing party

Almost ready for a party…..denna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing party denna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing partyMmmmm, good to the last button!denna's ideas: button cookies for a sewing party

Hello Kitty Crackers….fail?

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Hello Kitty Crackers….fail?

Back to Hello Kitty party stuff.  Here’s something I made for our party…but it looked like a fail to me (or failage, as my sons says, though not about the crackers necessarily).  Hello Kitty crackers seemed like a cool idea.  Something salty in the midst of so much sweetness.  I found several cracker recipes on Pinterest and decided to try this recipe for “homemade Ritz crackers” out, because it said if I halved the recipe I could fit it in a mini food processor.  Maybe that’s where the failage started…my mini processor was too full, so in the end had to lug out the bigger one.  And then I only had whole wheat flour, which of course gives things a different taste and texture (though I think we are used to that by now), and I thought it would be nice to add a bit of pink food coloring….anyways, the “crackers” seemed ok at first, but then I realized that they were kinda…weird.  I rolled them and cut them out…denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackers

Then I used the cutest little Hello Kitty play dough stamp to stamp faces into the crackers.  I even tried stamping it with food coloring, which looked like it had possibilities, but didn’t actually work…denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersdenna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersdenna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackers

The recipe said that holes should be poked in the crackers so they’d bake alright, so I did, poking Kitty’s nose and eyes with a meat thermometer (clean).

denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersWhen they baked up…they still looked a little weird.  And when I tasted them…I wasn’t impressed.  They really just tasted like very flat biscuits.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty crackersSome of them were kinda cute…though the pink color was strange.  I was surprised that the kids liked them!  The recipe might have been fine if I had not added whole wheat instead of white flour…. I definitely need to try this again, but will try a different recipe.  I think I’ll try a recipe that has cheese in it!

Hello Kitty Fruit Salad Bowl

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You just can’t get enough of that cute Kitty, I know!  So I thought I’d post just one more party food idea for your next Hello Kitty party.  This one turned out great and is super yummy, I promise!

One of our favorite “salads” is more like a dessert, I’m afraid.  It’s a marshmallow-fruit-whipped cream salad of yumminess…ahhhh.  Very easy, and it adapted itself perfectly to this Hello Kitty idea.  This food project needs to be made a day before your party.

Start out with a clean fishbowl.  You could call it a salad bowl, but it’s really a fishbowl…but ours has never even seen a fin.  (I bought it at Michael’s arts and crafts store).  I used one package of mini marshmallows for this recipe.  It’s not really a recipe, just kind of a throwing-together of ingredients.  I don’t think there’s really anything that you could do to mess this one up!

First whip up some whipping cream…the real stuff!!  (with a bit of sugar and vanilla, nice and thickly whipped)  Like maybe about  two cups.  (Or more!)  In a very large separate bowl, mix about half a bag of mini marshmallows and about half of the whipped cream.  It should be a thick mixture, not runny at all.  Now with a big spoon, start spooning this into the fishbowl, and coating the sides of the bowl, like this…denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlThis is so that Hello Kitty will have a nice smooth-looking face, instead of  grape “beauty marks or warts” on her face!  Coating the sides of the bowl with the marshmallow/whipped cream mixture is quite easy.  Try to make it as thin as possible, so you have some more mallow for the salad!

Now to finish the salad: mix up the rest of the marshmallows with the whipped cream.  There’s a healthy short cut you can do here.  I added in plain greek yoghurt and/or plain vanilla yogurt instead of some of the whipped cream.  It works great….really, I think this salad could be made with only yogurt and no cream and it would be just great!  But I don’t think cutting out the marshmallows is an option!

Now cut up and de-seed some grapes.  A big bunch of grapes.  We like using the red grapes.  Make sure each grape is cut at least in half!  Add these to the mix in the big bowl.  Add some mandarin orange segments (maybe a can-ful or two).  (I didn’t have any, but you can add a can of pineapple chunks, too).  You kind of add what you have on hand, fruit wise.  Now it’s a fruity marshmallowy salad.  To give it a nice nutty crunch, add some toasted almonds now (might be a good idea to have these toasted before you start making the salad).

Almonds:  to peel whole almonds, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.  Let sit for a few minutes, then start popping the skins off them…that’s the fun part that kids usually like helping with!  After they are all peeled, toast them in an oven or in a skillet on top of the stove….just a warm toasty brown, don’t let them burn!!  When they are cool, add them to the salad.

That’s about it for the fruit salad!  Mix it all gently together and spoon it into the fishbowl.  It made just enough to almost fill it. denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlNow cover and refrigerate it.  The next day, right before the party, you can add the face and bow.  The bow was made from a paper napkin/serviette.  Cut a strip off one side, gather the large rectangle up, then use the strip to fasten around the middle and tape together.  Use a small piece of tape to stick it to one side of the bowl.

For the face:  melt a couple of cocoa candy melts (I use Wilton’s), or a few spoonfuls of chocolate chips.  Put into a plastic baggie and snip a tiny piece of the corner off so you can pipe the chocolate out there.  The fruit bowl is nice and cold so the chocolate will set up quickly.  Pipe the whiskers on first, then the eyes and nose….denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlI think the eyes should have been down a bit….oh well, it took just a minute to do right before the party started.  If you mess up, you can just scrape it off and start again.  I found that the chocolate stayed on perfectly for a long time….the only problem was that the kids wanted to pick it off and eat it!!

denna's ideas: how to make a Hello Kitty fruit salad bowlRight before eating time at the party, you can gently mix the salad up, or even just mix it up as you serve it…so that there is fruit throughout the whole salad.  Mmmm, love this salad!!  And the Kitty, too!  I was especially pleased that this was my very own little idea…I didn’t “find it on Pinterest” like most of my ideas, haha!!

Hello Kitty Strawberries

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Hope this will brighten up your day…super sweet Hello Kitty Berries!!  These delicious bites of apple and strawberry with a hint of chocolate are perfect for your next Hello Kitty party, or your next couple of Hello Kitty parties… (We just had a Hello Kitty party and I’m sure that it won’t be the last)…or really for any party or any day at all!!  These easy-to-make berry snacks are just the cutest things around.denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Strawberry snacksMy daughter found this instructional video on youtube by Mosogourmet on how to make strawberry men.  When we watched it we knew that we had to try them….just as soon as I could get my hands on a melon-baller!!  🙂  I couldn’t find a tiny one, like in the video, but I finally found one that had two sizes, at Canadian Tire!!  It was a lot harder to find that little tool than I thought it would be.  The rest is easy, just follow the steps in the video.  The Hello Kitty faces were my idea, since all I’ve been thinking about for weeks has been that cute little graphic cat!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Strawberry snacksFast and easy to make, yummy to eat, fun to look at….and Hello Kitty….what could be better?!?!!!denna's ideas: Hello Kitty Strawberry snacks

Perfect Valentines’ Beverage: Hot Pink Punch!!

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Perfect Valentines’ Beverage: Hot Pink Punch!!

This hot pink punch is sure to warm you up on a blustery & freezing Valentine’s Day with your sweetie(s)!!

At the last minute (as usual) here I am with something “pink” to post….like I said before, I haven’t been up on preparing for Valentine’s Day…but I did get one thing done yesterday…making Hot Pink Punch!  (Of course we had to sample it right away, but saved half for tomorrow).  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and it’s fine to do a bit of improvising.  The secret ingredient is red-hot cinnamon candy hearts (or whatever they are called!)

denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch

Just a note first:  In Guatemala, hot fruit-based punch is very popular (along with a lot of other interesting *usually thick* hot drinks).  There is the traditional fruit “ponche” that is served at Christmas time. I only made a quick version of it this year, but I have now decided that this Hot Pink Punch is going to be my little tradition addition…maybe for Christmas sometimes, but now I’m thinking….perfect for el Día de San Valentín!!  (Aside from the great pink color, it’s way easier to find cinnamon heart candies at Valentines than at Christmastime!)denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch

This hot fruity punch has a cranberry base, with a spicy note from cinnamon heart candies and some lemon/lime zestiness, with the cloves adding a more traditonal tang.  It smells great simmering on the stove and looks so pretty in glass mugs 🙂

Recipe for Hot Pink Punch:

1 pkg. (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed

11 to 12 cups of water, divided

2 and 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup red-hot cinnamon candies

10 whole cloves

1 cup orange juice

2/3 cup lemon or lime juice

In a saucepan, combine the cranberries and 4 cups of water.  Cook over meduim heat until berries pop, about 10-15 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Press though a strainer; discard skins.  Set cranberry mixture aside.  In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, red candies, cloves, orange juice, lemon or lime juice and 4 cups of water.  Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and red candies are melted.  Stir in cranberry mixture. Add enough remaining water to achieve desired concentration (could be up to 2 cups of water); heat through.  Discard cloves before serving.  Yield: about 3 quarts.  Garnish with whole cranberries and lime or lemon wedges.

Recipe by Lucile Cline from Taste of Home, Holiday Entertaining.

denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch cranberries denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch cinnamon hearts denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch cloves denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink Punch limesI used frozen cranberries, and I always use limes instead of lemons (just a habit).  Cloves are a vital part of Guatemalan cuisine, so we are used to them 🙂  I don’t think the punch would be the same without them, so I’d recommend not skipping that part.  As far as the orange juice and lemons or limes, those can be changed up a lot as far as quantities or substitutions…..

It’s hard to get the right color in my photos….like I’ve complained before, the lighting in my kitchen in winter is just terrible, so I have to adjust the photos quite a bit and sometimes the color is really crazy, but the punch is really such a pretty shade of pink , not quite so reddish orange as in the photo 😉denna's ideas: Valentine's Day Hot Pink PunchHope you can simmer up a batch of Hot Pink Punch!!  Today is the perfect day for it here…..the snow is blowing horizontally past my windows as I write this…I may have to warm up a mugful of punch to keep my tummy warm today (before my sweeties get home!)…..

Quesadilla Dogs!!

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Quesadilla Dogs!!

Have you ever eaten a Quesadilla Dog??  I’m guessing that you haven’t, since I’m pretty sure that my Mom invented this delicacy!!  Well, I suppose if you’ve attended Eston College, then maybe you have, since I introduced them when I worked there…. 🙂 but I don’t know if they are still serving them….not the healthiest thing on the menu!  (but I think they are super yummy and worth a blog post!)

For those times when you feel like having a hot dog but don’t want all that soggy bun….or when you’d like a quesadilla, but a little more substantial….it’s the Quesadilla Dog!!

Super easy to make for a quick lunch (supper, snack or breakfast!!)  I think that if you like hot dogs or smokies, you’ll enjoy this twist:

Quesadilla Dogs

everything you need:

hot dogs or smokies

tortillas (flour or corn & flour blend)

grated cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)

jalapeños (optional!)

toothpicks

ketchup and/or salsa!  (optional!)

skillet or frying pan  (oil is optional)

What to do:

First heat up the smokies/hot dogs however you like.  To do this quickly, I usually throw them into the microwave (after pricking them) on a plate with a bit of water and heat them like that.  The yummiest way would be to fry them up!! Haha!  Or you could boil them or grill them….or use leftover bbqed smokies!!  Anyways, heat them up a bit.  Oh, and start heating up your skillet or frying pan now, too….

Get out the tortillas.  We usually use those whole wheat, whole grain ones with all the little flax bits in them, like this…just because…denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsbut this last time we tried the flour and corn blend ones and they were very tasty!  Now get out the grated cheese!!  (we always use mozzarella, just because)…denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsLay the first tortilla out and add the hot dog and sprinkle it with cheese:denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsNow add some pickled jalapeños if you like them!!  Go for it!denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsRoll up the tortilla and fix it in place with a toothpick (this is one of the corn & flour tortillas)denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsSet that little baby into the hot skillet….I don’t use oil or anything, I just brown them on all sides in a dry skillet.  Of course they are super delicious fried up in oil!!!  (At Eston College we used to quickly fry them up in the deep fryer!! ahhh!)  But, you know, I try and not fry too much just because…blah blah blah…..denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsdenna's ideas: making quesadilla dogsWhen they are toasty on all sides, serve them up!!!  Either pull out all the toothpicks, or remind everyone to NOT BITE down on one!!  Serve with choice #1 Ketchup, choice #2 Salsa or choice #3 Sour cream and Salsa!!  🙂  Everything tastes yummy!  (Oh booy, I get soo hungry when I post about  my favorite foods!)denna's ideas: making quesadilla dogs

Let me know what you think if you try this out at your house 🙂

Gnocchi & Toki

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Gnocchi & Toki

Say it so they rhyme: “ñokee & tokee.”  That’s what we had for supper last night.  I just had to put the recipe on here because it’s been such an easy hit for our dinnertime!  The first and only time I have tried gnocchi was 13 years ago when my mother-in-law made some for us to try and I loved them.  I’ve been thinking about them ever since, but seeing the packaged stuff on the shelves at the store just didn’t convince me to buy and try.  The other day on Allrecipes.com I found a recipe for made-from-scratch ricotta gnocchi that reviewers said was easy and delicious.  (I just laughed when one reviewer said that no real Italian would have garlic powder in their kitchen, much less use it in gnocchis!  No Italian in me so I just proceeded with the recipe).  They are usually made with potatoes but this quick recipe is made with ricotta cheese.  To my surprise it was easy to make, super yummy and everyone ate it and asked for seconds!

Last night when I made the gnocchis, I timed myself to see how fast I could do it.  Forty minutes from beginning to boil the water to setting the food on the table!  Not bad! 🙂  And I tried something new yesterday, too.  Instead of using ricotta cheese, I put cottage cheese in the food processor and blended it up until it looked just like ricotta.  No one noticed any difference!  I’ll be doing that in the future for sure.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supper

So I thought I would add the recipe and a few photos here so you can try it at your house!  If you like cheese, home made food and a quick supper, dig in!  The recipe is on Allrecipes here along with a simple sauce (which I haven’t tried) or you can try out my easy sauce idea.

Gnocchi ingredients:

1 (8 oz.) container of ricotta cheese  (or I use blended cottage cheese, about 1 cup and a half or so)

2 eggs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (whatever kind you have, fresh or not)

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. pepper  (I use fresh ground, but if you don’t like to see it, use white pepper)

1 tsp. salt

1 cup flour, or as needed

(cubed mozzarella cheese to add into tomato sauce)

  • Stir together the ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl until evenly combined. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Add additional flour if needed to form a soft dough.
  • Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, and roll into 1/2-inch-thick ropes on a floured surface. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces, and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use if not cooking right away.
  • Make a sauce.  What I use is a jar of spaghetti sauce (Newman’s Own, Sockarooni) with red peppers in it.  Add a few Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, some dried or fresh basil, fresh chopped parsely, some paprika and a few Tablespoons of butter.
  • While sauce is simmering, (or before!) bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the gnocchi until they float to the surface, about 2 minutes, then drain.  I boil them in batches, as I roll and cut them.
  • To assemble the dish, stir cubed mozzarella cheese into the sauce and allow the heat of the sauce to soften, but not melt the cheese. Place gnocchi into a serving bowl, and spoon sauce overtop, or instead, simply add just-boiled gnocchi right into the sauce.

This recipe makes enough for our family of six with no leftovers.  Next time I will double it because everyone wants leftovers to take to school/work the next day!  Here’s a hint that was in the recipe reviews:  put the ricotta in a strainer to get rid of some extra moisture, if it seems too moist.  I did that the first time, but there didn’t seem to extra moisture.  With the cottage cheese, I just blended it and never strained it and it seemed fine.  I have been varying the amounts of ricotta/cottage and parmesan and even flour, and it seems to be fine.  I would suggest not to cut back on the garlic and pepper and salt, though.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperHere are the little (or not so little) gnocchis after you have rolled them into ropes and cut them.  I was trying to be fancy like the store bought ones, and used the tines of a fork to make impressions on them (that’s supposed to help hold the sauce).  Last night when I made them as fast as I could, no little marks, and they were smaller than those in the photo above.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperI didn’t boil very many at a time, as I wasn’t sure if they’d all stick together….then later I’d just boil the ones that were just cut, then while they boiled for 2 or 3 min. I would be cutting the next ones.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperThe first time I made the sauce (pictured here) I added chicken, but last night it was just plain tomato and cheesiness, yum!  Here’s the sauce that we buy at Costco, this flavor hasn’t been a favorite until now, because of the red peppers….denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperdenna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperI was just adding the gnocchis to the sauce as they cooked up.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperAnd then last night, I added the cubed mozzarella instead of shredding it over top.  I think most of us really liked the cubed cheese, but I added too much (oh well, I enjoyed it!)denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperdenna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperdenna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supper

Maybe you are wondering what the Toki in the title is.  If you have been to Guatemala, you have probably heard of the drink called “Toki” and if you lived there long ago, you probably know the jingle from the TV commercial “Toki, Toki, Toki, te quita el calor!”  For some reason this drink mix has a little North American Native pictured on it, and he used to appear in the commercial beating his little drum.  ???  🙂 Anyways, it’s something I grew up with, and we happen to still have some Rosa de Jamaica flavored Toki drink crystals (that is hibiscus flower flavor) that our Guatemalan family sent us.  The kids figured that we should drink it because Toki rhymes with gnocchi!  It was a great supper!!denna's ideas: Toki drink  mix from Guatemala