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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Betty Crocker: Sugar Cookie Mix Recipes and Easter fun


Betty Crocker has been a part of family traditions for over 90 years. From simple and quick to deliciously gourmet - you can create an entire meal with the help of this icon.
You’ll enjoy these recipes plus many more when you start with Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix.
This dessert was voted Best Red Carpet Dessert of 2008 and continues to be a favorite of mine. Using Betty Crocker's Sugar Cookie Mix, this recipe can be made quickly and easily.
Photos from BettyCrocker.com
Strawberries and Cream Dessert Squares 
Crust
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg 

Filling
1 cup white vanilla baking chips (6 oz)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

Topping
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
10 to 12 drops red food color, if desired
Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 15x10x1- or 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. Press evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds or until chips are melted and can be stirred smooth. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in melted chips until blended. Spread mixture over crust. Refrigerate while making topping.
In small bowl, crush 1 cup of the strawberries. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir in crushed strawberries and 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in food color. Cool 10 minutes. Gently stir in remaining 3 cups strawberries. Spoon topping over filling. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set; serve within 4 hours. Store covered in refrigerator.

Makes 20 servings  

How about these fun cookies just in time for Easter.

Rainbow Egg Cookies

1 pouch Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 food colors
White coarse sugar crystals or granulated sugar, if desired
1/2 tub Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla ready-to-spread frosting

Directions
Heat oven to 375ยบ. Stir cookie mix, margarine, flour and egg until soft dough forms. Divide dough evenly among 3 bowls; tint each dough by stirring in a few drops of desired food color. For a variety of colors, make several batches of cookies.
Shape 1/3 cup of each color of dough into a rope about 5 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Place ropes side by side and a little more than 1/4 inch apart on floured surface; roll until 1/4 inch thick. Cut with 2- to 2 1/2-inch egg-shaped cookie cutter so each cookie has 3 colors. Sprinkle with sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. (When rerolling doughscraps, carefully lay matching colors together. For marbled cookies, mix colors of dough scraps- but don't mix colors too much or they won't be distinct.)
Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Spread frosting on bottoms of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies.
Makes 18 sandwich cookies

Maybe you’re thinking an Easter brunch. Try these make-ahead dishes.

Three Cheese-Vegetable Quiche



Ingredients
1 Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 cup milk
1 box (9 oz) Green Giant® frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/3 cup egg whites (about 3 egg whites)
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 to 2 tablespoons Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Make 1 pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust-Filled Pie. Using fork, poke holes in the base all over and bake according to package directions.
Meanwhile in medium skillet, heat oil. Add mushrooms and red onion slices; cook over medium-high heat until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
In medium bowl, combine milk, spinach, minced onion, egg whites, eggs, salt and pepper; stir until all ingredients are well combined.
Stir in Gouda cheese, Cheddar cheese and cooled mushrooms mixture. Pour egg mixture into pie shell. Sprinkle Gorgonzola cheese over top. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is puffed and light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes.
The use of cinnamon bread gives this French toast a burst of flavor.

Bananas Foster French Toast

8 slices cinnamon bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
8 eggs
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups real maple syrup
1 teaspoon rum extract
6 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup chopped pecans
Directions
Spray bottom of 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange bread cubes in baking dish. In large bowl, beat eggs, milk and 1/2 cup of the maple syrup with wire whisk. Pour over bread in baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover; bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown along edges. Let stand 7 to 10 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 2 cups maple syrup uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until warm. Stir in rum extract.
Sprinkle banana slices and pecans evenly over bread; drizzle with 1 cup of the warmed syrup mixture. Serve immediately with remaining syrup.
Makes 8 servings 




Watch this video for step-by-step directions for the Bananas Foster French Toast.

Looking for a little Easter fun. Watch this video on How-To: Bunny Cakes

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St. Patrick's Day: A Recipe for History

This St. Patrick's Day the Irish and just about everyone else will celebrate the day wearing, eating and drinking something green.

A lot of people probably don't know where or how St. Patrick's Day originated but the celebrations will be plentiful.
They probably don't know that Patrick was not born Irish but born in Britain around 390 A.D. to wealthy parents and although his father was a Christian deacon, there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family.

That at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland. Although there seems to be a dispute as to where he was taken, everyone seems to agree that the young Patrick found religion during his captivity. Alone and afraid, tending sheep somewhere in the mountains, it is believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish to Christianity during his captivity.

After escaping, whether by pirate ship or by walking - as both stories have been told - Patrick returned to Britain, where after years of training was ordained a priest and then made his way back to Ireland.
With a reported small number of Christians already in Ireland when Patrick arrived, his mission was to minister to the Christians already there and to convert the Irish. According to National Geographic, St. Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


While St. Patrick’s Day occurs on what is believed to be the advent of St. Patrick’s death, March 17, 491 A.D., it also occurs during the Catholic religious season of Lent, which spans from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. 

And so begins the traditions of Corned Beef and Cabbage, green beer and the 3-leafed clover.
And what's a St. Patrick's Day celebration without a few good recipes.

McCormick's, known for their flavor expertise, spices, seasonings and flavorings; offer these simple recipes to make your St. Patrick's Day experience - a "lucky" one!

Slow Cookers Hearty Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package McCormick® Slow Cookers Hearty Beef Stew Seasoning
1 1/3 cups water
Slow Cookers Hearty Beef Stew/Photo courtesy of McCormick
1 1/4 cups fresh cut-up carrots
1 1/4 cups fresh cut-up celery
1 1/4 cups fresh cut-up onions
1 1/4 cups fresh cut-up potatoes

Directions:
  1. Place beef and vegetables in slow cooker.
  2. Mix Seasoning Mix and water until blended. Pour over beef and vegetables; toss to coat well. Cover.
  3. Cook 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Stir before serving.


Green Ombre Cake 

Green Ombre Cake/Photo courtesy of McCormick

Cake:
1 package (15 ounce) white cake mix
2 tsp McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
McCormick® Green Food Color

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 tsp McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1 package (16 ounce) confectioners' sugar
2 tbl milk

 Directions:
McCormick Green Food Color
  1. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, using whole eggs. Stir in vanilla. Divide batter evenly into 3 bowls. Stir 50 drops (about 1/2 teaspoon) food color into one of the bowls, tinting batter dark green. Stir 15 drops food color into another of the bowls, tinting batter medium green. Stir 2 drops food color into last of the bowls, tinting batter light green.
  2. Pour each bowl of batter into a greased and floured 8-inch round cake pan.
  3. Bake as directed on package. Cool cakes on wire rack.
  4. For the Frosting, beat butter and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk; beat until light and fluffy. Place dark green cake layer on serving plate. Spread with 1/3 cup of frosting. Top with medium green cake layer. Spread with 1/3 cup of frosting. Top with light green cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.

These cheesecake bars — with contrasting layers of green, white and black — get a hint of sophistication from rich dark chocolate and refreshing Pure Peppermint Extract.


Green with Envy Cheesecake Bars

Green with Envy Cheesecake Bars/Photo courtesy of McCormick
1 1/2 cups of chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 30 cookies)
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp McCormick® Pure Peppermint Extract
1/2 tsp McCormick® Green Food Color
3 eggs
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and peppermint extract; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour 1/2 of the batter over crust. Tint remaining batter green with food color. Pour over batter in pan.
  3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into bars. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate. Store leftover bars in refrigerator.
For more St. Patrick's Day recipes visit McCormick.com

Pillsbury.com offers this recipe for those who want to add a little "Irish Whiskey" to their St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Whiskey Walnut Mini Pies

1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbl whiskey
1 tsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 24 mini muffin cups or mini tart pans with cooking spray.
Remove pie crusts from pouches; unroll on lightly floured work surface. Using 3-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut 10 rounds from each crust. Reroll scraps and cut an additional 4 rounds. Press rounds in bottoms and up sides of muffin cups.
In medium bowl, mix corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, whiskey, butter and salt with whisk until blended. Add walnuts; mix well. Spoon 1 tablespoon filling into each crust-lined cup.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is set. Serve warm or cool.
 

Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 Products of the Year USA winners

From laundry detergent to Girl Scout cookies, shoppers all across the U.S. have made their choices. Now in its fifth year, Products of the Year USA was recently honored in New York City where marketing and media executives from leading manufacturing companies, experts in packaging and design as well as industry media all mingled together.
Parade Magazine calls the competition a 'People's Choice' for consumer products. The nation's largest consumer survey on product innovation began when a jury of industry leaders and journalists chose products from all aisles of the supermarket and drugstore that showed innovation in function, design, packaging, or ingredients.
From there, 50,000 shoppers across the United States chose 26 winners.
According to Product of the Year USA  entry to this prestigious contest is as follows:

Product Entry: Free
Finalist Fee: $7,000
Winner Fee: $63,000

What is the Finalist Fee? Before being reviewed by 50,000 consumers, entered products are put in front of a Jury panel of industry experts and members of the media who make sure the submissions meet innovation criteria. Products that pass this step are put into the consumer research and must pay the Finalist Fee.

What is the Winner Fee? All Finalist products are put into the nation’s largest research study on product innovation with over 50,000 consumers. Consumers vote on products in each category based on innovation appeal, use, satisfaction and purchase intent. Products with the highest score in each category are named Product of the Year winners

All Mighty Pacs
Seem like a lot of money? Ninety percent of the winners will enter again, and 44 percent will increase their number of entries from the previous year. Manufacturers claim they see an increase in sales up to 120 percent from the contest campaign. Winning products often use the "Product of the Year" logo on advertising, packaging and social media.

Here are eight trends that represent the 26 winning Products of the Year for 2013:
Trend #1 - Nostalgic: Nestle Crunch and Girl Scout Cookies; M&M's; Vlasic pickles.
Trend #2 - No-Hassle Healthy Food: Dole; Quaker Oats; Healthy Choice; Green Giant; SK Energy.
Trend #3 - More Time Outside: OFF! Bug Control; Adams Smart Shield Pet Applicator; Dixie paper plates.
Trend #4 - Ready to talk Development Stages: Poise; MidNite; GoodNites.
Trend #5 - Value in Green: SodaStream; All Mighty Pacs.
Trend #6 - Sensitive About Our Mouths: Aquafresh; Tums; Listerine; Abreva.
Trend #7 - Cleaning Products: Finish; Resolve; Surf; Brawny.
Trend #8 - Pampered in the Bathroom: Quilted Northern; Dial.
Nestle Crunch Girl Scout candy bar

Now for the winners............

1. Quilted Northern Ultra Plush
2. Healthy Choice Baked Entrees
3. Brawny Paper Towels
4. Tums Freshers
5. Off! Bug Control Backyard Pretreat
6. Abreva Conceal
7. Dole Frozen Fruit Single-Serve
8. Nestle Crunch Girl Scout candy bar
9. GoodNites Disposable Bed Mats
10. Surf liquid Laundry Detergent
11. Green Giant Seasoned Steamers
12. Finish Quantum with Power Gel
13. M&M's Brand Snack Mix
 
Brawny Paper Towels
14. SodaStream Revolution Home Soda
15. Adams Smart Shield Applicator
16. Poise Feminine Wellness line
17. Farmer's Garden by Vlasic
18. All Mighty Pacs
19. Resolve All-Stains
20. Listerine Ultraclean Mouthwash
21. Quaker Real Medleys
22. MidNite for Menopause
23. Dial Triple Moisture body wash
24. SK Energy shot
25. Aquafresh Extreme Clean Pure Breath Action
26. Dixie Ultra Tableware