Spring rush treats

While I still have some down time before the spring rush hits, I took advantage of the lull to clean out my recipe collections. I have snippets and clips of recipes from newspapers, magazines and friends in a box. It is amazing the “lost” treasures you can find when you aren’t rushed to the next job. These are recipes I wanted to make or have already incorporated into my routine. The common thread between all of them is simplicity. These are all recipes you can whip up in less than 30 minutes. Or better yet, you can prep in the morning and bake later when you want a fresh, hot meal in the evening.
One of Mark’s favorite candies is peanut butter Easter eggs. Since I forget to pick them up when I’m in town and I have all the ingredients in the cupboard, I decided to give this recipe a try. Just don’t make the eggs too big. I’m thinking the peanut butter raisin balls will be a big hit this spring for a snack to grab and go. With family popping in and out this Easter season, these two desserts can be whipped up in a moment’s notice. There are so simple and easy that even Mark could make them.
Of course, we can’t forget the main dishes. Shanghai beef is one of my favorites that I found on a Minute Rice box years ago. I will even add other vegetables like sliced carrots, celery and mushrooms to give it a different look. I am looking forward to cooking dinners in foil packets. I haven’t done that since 4-H camping days. This chicken dinner in a foil packet fits my schedule of prep in the morning and throw in the oven at the end of the day. Enjoy!

Peanut butter eggs
1 1/2 boxes powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix well. Form into egg shapes and dip in melted chocolate.

Peanut butter raisin balls
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
Crushed graham crackers
Mix all together except for graham crackers. Roll into balls. Roll balls in graham cracker crumbs. Store in airtight container.

Cookie crumble dessert
1 cup buttermilk
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups whipped cream (or 8 ounces Cool Whip)
1/2 package crumbed fudge striped cookies
    Mix together milk and pudding. Add fruit and whipped cream. Fold in cookies. Refrigerate for an hour.

Black forest pie
3 1/2 cups whipped cream (or Cool Whip)
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 cup cold milk
1 package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup cherry pie filling
Combine milk and pudding with wire whisk for 1 minute. Fold in 1 1/2 cups whipped cream (or Cool Whip). Spread 1 cup whipped cream (or Cool Whip) on bottom of pie crust. Spread pudding mixture over this layer. Spread remaining 1 cup whipped cream (or Cool Whip) over top leaving a 1-inch border and forming a depression in the center of topping. Spoon cherry pie filling in the center of topping. Chill at least 2 hours. Garnish with melted chocolate.
Shanghai beef
1 pound round steak, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups beef broth
8 ounces sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 medium red pepper, coarsely chopped
5 scallions, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces or 1 onion thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cup dry Minute Rice
Sauté beef in oil in large skillet until browned, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and blend well. Add broth, water chestnuts, red pepper, scallions, soy sauce and pepper. Bring to a full boil, stirring frequently. Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Chicken baked in foil from Cook’s Country Collection
5 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch lengths
1/2 red onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Spray center of four 20-by-12-inch sheets of aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray. Com-bine oil, garlic, thyme and pepper flakes in small bowl. Microwave until garlic begins to brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Combine potatoes, carrots, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic oil in large bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper on each side of chicken breast. Position one piece of prepared foil with long side parallel to counter edge. In center of foil, ar-range one quarter of potatoes in two rows. Lay chicken breast on top of potatoes. Place a quarter of vegetables around chicken. Repeat with remaining foil, potatoes, chicken and vegetables. Drizzle any remaining oil mixture from bowl over chicken. Bring short sides of foil together and crimp to seal tightly. Crimp remaining open ends of packets, leaving as much headroom as possible inside packets. Place packets on large plate and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Arrange packets on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees (about 18-23 minutes). Let chicken rest in packets for three minutes. Transfer packets to individual plates, carefully open (steam will escape) and slide contents onto plates. Drizzle lemon juice over chicken and vegetables and sprinkle with chives.


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