Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Frog's Eye Salad

This recipe has become a holiday tradition for my family. My mom has been making this delicious dish for many years! It is the perfect side to any type of meal….it pairs very well with a baked ham or roasted turkey. The surprising taste of pasta combined with the sweet fruit and whipped cream is amazing!!! The name "Frog's Eye" comes from the small acini di pepe pasta that cooks into tender round balls…..like eyes. Needless to say the name alone thrills my kids and encourages them to always ask for seconds!!!

You can find the very important ingredient, Acini Di Pepe, in the pasta section of your grocery store. It is truly unbelievable how one little bag of pasta can grow into such a large bowl!!! This recipe makes a crazy amount which is perfect for family events and potlucks. I'm always secretly thankful to have leftovers though…the flavors meld together beautifully the next day!!!

Frog's Eye Salad

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits, undrained
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 package Acini di Pepe pasta, uncooked
2 cans (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1 (16 oz.) container Cool Whip
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped
1/2 cup flake coconut (optional)

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, flour and salt.  Drain pineapple; reserving juice to equal 1 cup.  With whisk; gradually stir juice and egg into sugar mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in lemon juice.  Cool mixture to room temperature.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Rinse with cold water to cool quickly; drain well.  In a large bowl, stir together pineapple juice mixture and cooked pasta.      Cover, refrigerate several hours or overnight. Add crushed pineapple, pineapple tidbits, mandarin oranges, cool whip, marshmallows and cherries; mix gently and thoroughly.  Cover; refrigerate until cold.  Makes 12 servings (about 1 cup each)

Because this recipe involves several steps, I like to prepare the pineapple juice/pasta mixture in the evening before a potluck. The next morning I simply mix in the remaining ingredients and then let the salad chill in the refrigerator before the event.  Also don't forget to store the drained pineapple in a small container in the refrigerator.  It will be nice and cold when you mix it in the next day. This recipe can easily be adapted to your own preference…..you can add sweetened coconut flakes or omit the cherries or increase the amount of mandarin oranges. Either way this creamy fruity pasta dish will stand out at any get together!!! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dill Ranch Crackers

 For many years I've made (and loved) the well-known dill weed oyster crackers snack. The oyster cracker recipe typically involves mixing the crackers with seasoning/oil and then baking it in the oven. When I came across this recipe I thought it was interesting that the crackers simply marinated with the seasoning overnight. 

This version is so easy to throw together with other a few ingredients! I used a whisk to combine the oil, ranch dressing and dill week in a glass measuring cup. I also divided the seasoned crackers into two (1 gallon) ziplock bags.

Dill Ranch Crackers
from Eat & Explore Oklahoma cookbook

1 package dry ranch dressing mix
4 tablespoons dill weed
1 1/3 cups Canola oil
1 box (4 sleeves) saltine crackers

Empty crackers in 2-gallon ziplock bag. Mix oil, dry dressing mix and dill weed thoroughly. Pour over crackers.  Seal bag.  Turn and toss to coat crackers.  Let stand 12 hours; turning periodically. Remove crackers from bag and place in dry container for storage.  

These dill ranch crackers are addictive!!! You can not stop at just one. The tasty dill flavor develops the longer the crackers marinate. It is the perfect snack for adults and kids....not just around the holidays but anytime of the year.  This recipe can be made with saltine crackers, bite-sized oyster crackers or even with pretzels.  It would also be a quick hostess gift to package in a cute container during the busy holidays. Thankfully it is super easy to make because these do not last long!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ham & Cheese Souffle

Cheesy, fluffy, savory and comforting are just a few words to describe this egg casserole. It is the type of recipe that is easy to prepare the night before you are expecting guests and then simply bake it in the morning! The blend of ham and cheese plus the crunchy buttery topping makes this the perfect dish any time of day.

Ham & Cheese Souffle
 from the Taste of Home cookbook

16 slices white bread (crusts removed), cubed
16 slices (about 1 lb.) ham, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
5 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
2 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes
1/3 cup butter, melted

In a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish, layer half of the bread, half of the ham and half of the cheeses. Repeat layers. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard and onion salt; pour over layered mixture.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. Combine cornflakes and butter; sprinkle on top.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

If you would like to freeze this dish for later simply cover and freeze the unbaked soufflĂ©. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake soufflĂ© as directed, increasing time as necessary for a knife inserted near the center to come out clean. 

I wish you could taste this scrumptious casserole!! Perfect served along with some diced fruit and a steamy hot cup of coffee!!! Enjoy!