Hot Eats and Cool Reads: July 2013

Jul 31, 2013

Dilly Ham Macaroni Salad Recipe


I hope you're having a fantastic week so far! Today's recipe is Dilly Ham Macaroni Salad. I absolutely love fresh dill, so this recipe is right up my alley! Dill just adds such a fresh flavor to anything and it's wonderful in a pasta salad. It's also quick and easy to make and would be a great addition to any BBQ! 

I have a confession. I am addicted to collecting vintage pyrex! This bowl came from my Auntie Linnea as part of a set and I just adore them! I'm going to try taking more recipe pics with my pyrex so I can share with all of you! They are just so homey and remind me of my Mom and Grandma's sets from when I was little. I've had great luck finding them at thrift stores and garage sales, and for great prices! Love!!

I hope you enjoy this pasta salad! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

Dilly Ham Macaroni Salad (print recipe)

What you need:
1 1/2 cups mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
7 ounces ham, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
2 ribs celery with leaves, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper as desired

In a small bowl mix together the mayo, sour cream, dijon, salt and pepper. In a larger bowl, combine onion, macaroni, ham, peas, celery, dill and sauce. Refrigerate until using. If you are making it the day before serving it, you may need to make more of the sauce if it gets too dry.

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On the blog... one year ago: Shrimp and Ground Beef Dirty Rice

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This recipe was featured at:
Miz Helen's Country Cottage

Jul 29, 2013

Lemon Blossom Cookies Recipe

Hello everyone!! I hope y'all had a lovely weekend!

Before I get to the recipe today, I would like to share some exciting news! My daughter and I found out this past February that we were selected to purchase a house through Habitat for Humanity! We are so blessed to be partners in this wonderful program. If it weren't for Habitat, we might not ever have the opportunity to purchase a house! These last few months have been busy with working on required volunteer hours and regular everyday stuff. Thankfully, I've still been able to keep up with the blog! If it's quiet around here at some times throughout the next 4-5 months, this is the reason why! The closer we get to finishing the house, the busier I will be! I can't wait to share pictures of the progress along the way!

The foundation just got poured this week, so here is a picture of that! Exciting stuff :)

Now, onto these delicious cookies! Habitat recently had a fundraiser golf tournament and asked if I would bake 100 cookies for the event! I had to say yes... you know it's right up my alley to cook and bake!

I loved these cookies! They have a nice, subtle lemon flavor and also have a yummy sugar cookie taste and texture. I thought it was interesting the recipe doesn't include any eggs, since most cookies I've made always have eggs in them. I'm not much of a baker, so it just may be that I haven't made that many cookies?! 


Lemon Blossom Cookies (print recipe)

What you need:
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
5 drops yellow food coloring, optional

yellow sprinkles, optional

Combine butter and sugar, with an electric mixer, in a large bowl. Mix until creamy and combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour in the lemon juice and mix well until dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut with a small cookie cutter (roughly 1 1/2 inches). Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Cool on wire racks. 

In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until lumps disappear. Using a large spoon, drizzle glaze over top of cookies, and top with sprinkles. Dry for 1 hour, then store in an airtight container. 

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies

Recipe source: Six Sisters Stuff (slightly adapted)

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

On the blog... one year ago: Tomato and Basil Scrambled Eggs

This recipe was shared at: My Turn for Us

This recipe was featured at:
Chocolate, Chocolate and More
Recipes for my Boys

Jul 24, 2013

Orange Creamsicle Popsicles Recipe from Little Cooks Cookbook by Erin & Tatum Quon

Hello! I hope everyone is having a great week so far! I've been super busy with classes and appointments, so it's been flying by for me. Lots of excitement going on right now! I will have some great news to share with everyone within a few weeks!!

We have an amazing library system here in Central Minnesota called Great River Regional Library. I always visit my local branch in St Cloud. One of my favorite things to request from the library are the brand new cookbooks they have. This time we picked up Little Cooks by Erin and Tatum Quon.

My daughter and I started paging through and quickly found this yummy popsicle recipe! We were so excited to make this simple recipe, and they turned out SO good! There are so many other great recipes in this book too! We already have another picked out! This would be a great cookbook to get your kiddos in the kitchen! Enjoy!!

Orange Creamsicle Popsicles (print recipe)

What you need:
2 cups orange juice
1 cup vanilla yogurt

In a bowl, whisk together the juice and yogurt.

Pour into ounce dixie cups. Cover the dixie cups with aluminum foil. Using a knife, slit a hole in the center of the aluminum foil on each cup. Stick popsicle stick into each slit. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Rip the cup off the popsicle and eat!

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

On the blog... one year ago: PB and Chocolate No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe may be shared at these fabulous blogs!

Jul 22, 2013

Grilled Ham, Spinach and Mushroom Pizza Recipe with Pillsbury! (Giveaway Closed)

Grilled pizza is always something I've wanted to try! Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust makes grilling a pizza super easy! We used ham, spinach and mushrooms for toppings, but you can always use your favorite toppings instead. This recipe is so perfect for summer... no heating up the house using the oven! We loved how it turned out. So flavorful and so quick to cook! 

You can try these great recipes found over at the Pillsbury website:
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Grilled Pepper and Sausage Pizza

Don't they sound delicious?? Can't wait to try them!

Pillsbury also has some great step by step instructions on how to grill a pizza using their Classic Pizza Crust! You can find that info here!

Grilled Ham, Spinach and Mushroom Pizza (print recipe)

What you need:
1- 11 ounce can Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust
pizza sauce
ham, diced
baby spinach
white mushrooms, chopped
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Roll out the dough onto the cookie sheet. Press edges out to make an even rectangle. Invert the dough onto grill rack and peel off the aluminum foil. Cook until bottom of the dough is golden brown and flip, cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove from grill with a large spatula onto the cookie sheet. Add sauce, toppings and cheese, return to grill. Cover and grill for a few more minutes, until cheese is melted.

*We partially cooked the mushrooms on a piece of aluminum foil in the grill prior to topping the pizza, to make sure they would be cooked through.*

The Giveaway:

Thanks to MyBlogSpark you have the chance to win a great grilling gift pack!

Prize includes:
19 piece grill set
$10 gift card for ingredients

Retail value: $50

Giveaway starts July 22nd, 2013 and ends on July 29th, 2013. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States. The winner will be announced and contacted on July 30th, 2013. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, if I do not receive a reply within that time, another winner will be chosen. The winner is randomly chosen by Giveaway Tools. MyBlogSpark will send the package to the winner. Thanks for entering!

Disclosure: "The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark."

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

On the blog... one year ago: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Pasta Sauce

This recipe may be shared at these fabulous blogs!

Jul 20, 2013

Restaurant Review: El Molino Mexican Restaurant in Waseca, MN

I spent Memorial weekend at my sister's house in Mankato, MN. We had plans to flea market, antique shop and thrift shop all day, that Saturday. I just love hunting for goodies with my sisters! We find the best stuff and make some great memories! All of that shopping sure makes you hungry. We ended up in Waseca and decided to grab a bite to eat there. We quickly spotted El Molino and decided to try it out!

Photos of El Molino Mexican Restaurant, Waseca
This photo of El Molino Mexican Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We are huge Mexican food lovers, so we knew we'd love this restaurant. Their menu is gigantic, and it was so hard trying to decide what to order. I loved their complementary chips and salsa, and the wonderful waiters made sure we always had some on the table. We had excellent service the entire time we were dining.

Here are some pictures of the food we ordered:


Tortilla Soup



Chicken Enchiladas

As you can see, each plate has enough food for 2 people, which makes this restaurant a great value! I brought half of my combo platter home with me to eat later, and it tasted wonderful leftover. I wish I had room for dessert, because they had a large dessert menu too. Maybe next time! We all really liked what we ordered and this is a restaurant I would definitely eat at again! I love visiting places I've never been before and trying out new restaurants. You just never know what you're going to find! I hope you stop by and visit El Molino the next time you're in Waseca, MN!

El Molino Mexican Restaurant
214 N State St
Waseca, MN 56093

Jul 17, 2013

Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Cream Recipe

Vintage homemade Betty Crocker Cream Puffs with a simple mascarpone cream filling! Great dessert for parties, Sunday dinner or any other special occasion. Inexpensive family favorite!

cream puff close up at top of cream puff pile.

Jul 15, 2013

Ranch Vegetable Vermicelli Pasta Salad Recipe

This simple pasta salad is great for any spring or summer BBQ, potluck, meal or picnic! The ranch adds delicious flavor, plus there's no mayo which makes it versatile and easy to customize!

Ranch Vegetable Vermicelli Pasta Salad

This simple pasta salad is great for any spring or summer BBQ, potluck, meal or picnic! The ranch adds delicious flavor to the pasta, tomatoes, green onions and bell pepper. Plus there's no mayo which makes it versatile and easy to customize!

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Jul 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Southwest Style Chicken with Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe

I am so excited! My younger sister, Shantel moved back home after college ended in May! We love having her close by again. One of our favorite things to do when we hang out together is cook! Tonight she had my daughter and I over for dinner. I just had to share the delicious recipe she made for all of us.

This Slow Cooker Southwest Style Chicken is pretty darn amazing. It's SO easy to make too, which is a plus.  Just throw everything in the slow cooker, and make the rice before you eat. 
This is something that will be included in our menu regularly. I'm so glad she made it!

When you scroll down, you'll notice a new blue "save recipe" button right below the "pin it" button. If you join the awesome recipe saving site Ziplist, you can now save recipes directly to your recipe box from each post! This site has great features! You can plan menus and make shopping lists too! Stop by and check it out!

Slow Cooker Southwest Style Chicken with Cilantro Lime Rice (print recipe)

What you need:
3 frozen large chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
1- 15.25 ounce can of corn, drained
1- 15.25 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1- 15 ounce jar of salsa
1- 8 ounce package of cream cheese
Cilantro Lime Rice (made with water instead of chicken broth)

Put the frozen chicken, corn, beans and salsa in a slow cooker. Cook on high heat for 4-5 hours. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, place the cream cheese on top of the chicken. Cover and heat until the cream cheese melts and mix in. Serve with rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. 

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On the blog... one year ago: Sparkling Raspberry & Blackberry Lemonade

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Jul 8, 2013

Sausage and Broccoli Penne Recipe

Hey everyone! We just got back from camping yesterday, and went to a St Cloud Rox baseball game tonight so I'm quickly getting this post up since we've been so busy!

I'm always up for new pasta recipes! My bestie and my niece came over for dinner a couple weeks ago, and I whipped up this pasta! We all loved how it turned out. It's nice and light, but still very flavorful. It comes together quickly, making it a great meal for weeknights! Enjoy!!

Sausage and Broccoli Penne (print recipe)

What you need:
3/4 pound penne pasta
3 cups fresh broccoli, cut into small florets
2 tablespoons bacon grease
1/2 pound ground pork sausage
1/2 cup onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup black olives, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more depending on how hot you like it)
salt and pepper as desired
shredded parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, Within the last 3-4 minutes, add broccoli and cook. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, set aside. Drain and rinse. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt bacon grease over medium high heat. I like the added bacon flavor, but you can just skip this ingredient if you prefer. Add the pork sausage, onion and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, black olives, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Saute until pork is cooked through and veggies are tender. Add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and toss veggie and meat mixture with the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve!

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

On the blog... one year ago: Baked Ziti with Parmesan Italian Chicken Sausage

This recipe is shared at these fabulous blogs!

Jul 3, 2013

Rainier Cherry Granitas Recipe

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! I hope y'all have a wonderful day eating lots of good food, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying some fireworks! We will be spending the day with family since my Mom is getting married tomorrow, then off to bed early to go camping for Girl Scouts on Friday! 

Today's recipe is for Rainier Cherry Granitas! I love this simple and delicious icy treat! I got a great deal on rainier cherries, which are usually way out of my budget, so I knew I had to make something with some of them instead of eating them all plain. Feel free to use bing cherries instead of rainier, if you have them on hand. They are a little more reasonable in price than rainier. Also, if you don't have a cherry pitter, invest in one! I recently found a great one at a garage sale for $1, and can't believe how amazing it worked! It was brand new in the box too, score!! I hope you enjoy this great summer treat!

Rainier Cherry Granitas (print recipe)

What you need:
1 pound rainier cherries, stemmed and pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

In a blender, puree cherries, sugar and lime juice until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Pour into an 8 inch square glass baking dish. Freeze for 3-4 hours, scraping mixture every hour with a fork. Mixture should be icy and fluffy.

Serve in individual dishes. Top with fresh cherries, if desired.

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

On the blog... one year ago: Crunchy Bacon & Broccoli Salad

This recipe may be shared at these fabulous blogs!

Jul 2, 2013

Book Review: Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Book summary:
To the outside world, they seem to have it all. Cassie Barrett, a renowned anthropologist, and Alex Rivers, one of Hollywood's hottest actors, met on the set of a motion picture in Africa. They shared childhood tales, toasted the future, and declared their love in a fairy-tale wedding. But when they return to California, something alters the picture of their perfect marriage. A frightening pattern is taking shape—a cycle of hurt, denial, and promises, thinly veiled by glamour. Torn between fear and something that resembles love, Cassie wrestles with questions she never dreamed she would face: How can she leave? Then again, how can she stay?

My thoughts:
This book has been on my shelf for a few years. I love Jodi Picoult, but the summary for this book just didn't catch my eye enough to where I wanted to read it. I finally decided to give it a try, and I'm so glad I did. Jodi Picoult never disappoints!

The story in this book is all too familiar for many people on a day to day basis. Cassie lives in fear of her once amazing husband's vicious cycle of abuse. She at first doesn't realize what she's suffered at the hands of her husband, because of the memory loss she experienced after one of his outbursts. Slowly memories start returning and she then remembers what she has been through.

The rest of the book tells the story of Cassie, after she remembers, and the decision she makes to change the rest of her life. It turns into a very beautiful story, but there are still some bumps along the way. Jodi Picoult has such a way with writing, that keeps you wanting to read more and more. I love the research she does prior to writing. That makes her books so realistic. Sometimes you can't judge a book from the summary, you gotta just dive in and see for yourself.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Jul 1, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Lasagna Recipe

Hello! I hope your Monday treated you well this week. I had such a hard time getting out of bed this morning to go to work. How I wish for just one more weekend day. As I'm sure we all wish for that lol!

Today's recipe is ah-mazing!! I came up with it, spur of the moment, when my sister wanted to come over for dinner one evening. It comes together so quickly using pre-cooked chicken and the flavor is incredible. We ate way more than we should have, but there was still a half a pan left. I left it on the counter to cool since it was still piping hot and hopped on the computer for an hour. I couldn't keep my eyes open after awhile, so I decided to go to bed. The next morning, I walked out of my bedroom and smelled garlic. I knew then, that I forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge. UGH! I hate when that happens!! I was so looking forward to leftovers for lunch that day!! Make this recipe, cuz you'll love it, but don't forget about the leftovers, like I did!! Enjoy!!

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Lasagna (print recipe)

What you need:
9 lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1- 14.5 ounce jar of alfredo sauce
1/4 cup milk
1- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, but drain and rinse pasta about 2 minutes before it is finished cooking. Set aside.

In a large skillet, saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Saute for a bout 5 minutes, then add the chicken, spinach, basil, alfredo, milk and diced tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat through and then remove from heat to assemble lasagna. 

In an 8x11 glass baking dish, spoon some alfredo in the bottom and spread to lightly cover the bottom. Lay 3 noodles across the bottom, cover with sauce mixture, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown. 

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

On the blog... one year ago: Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This recipe may be shared at these fabulous blogs!

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