Friday, November 21, 2014

Polynesian Party Wings

These are so dang good . . .I had forgotten about how delicious they taste.  When chicken wings were on sale last week at the grocery store, M & I thought to ourselves . . .yeah, we could totally go for some wings.  But we had just had spicy buffalo chicken not too long ago.  So then what?  Aha . . . . sticky wings!!  These are a potluck favorite and are always gone instantly.  Beware – although this recipe makes 3 lbs of wings, you soon learn that 3 lbs really isn’t that much!  You can easily serve these as a main dish with some rice on the side.   They also make a great finger food/appetizer (hint hint . . .holiday or Superbowl time).   The best way I can describe them is a blend between an Asian flavor and a Polynesian flavor.  They are not spicy at all – however, some red pepper flakes would add a new dimension for those who like it hot (experiment at own will)!  As well, I highly recommend lining the cookie sheet/baking pan with tinfoil OR just use a cheap tinfoil pan.  The sauce gets real sticky when you bake the wings – and the pan is not fun to clean!  Unless, of course, you are not the one doing the dishes – then who cares!  I also need to put a plug in about soy sauce in general.  Although this recipe calls for regular Soy Sauce, our family has discovered that we actually prefer Low-Sodium Soy Sauce by Kikoman.  It actually has flavor, other than salty.  If you haven’t tried it – I recommend it.

 Polynesian Party Wings

3lbs Chicken Wings, thawed or fresh
1 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
½ Cup Pineapple Juice
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Garlic Powder

 In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients excluding the meat.  Mix well.  Add the wings and stir to coat the meat.  Cover and let marinade for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours in the fridge.  I like to mix this up at night and let them marinade overnight.  

Prepare baking sheet:  line sheet with tinfoil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Or, prep tinfoil pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake wings for 1 – 1.5 hours, until tender and fall off the bone.  Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

Is there any soup more wonderful than butternut squash soup?  Mmmmmm . . .the natural sweetness of the squash kissed with a hint of earthy-ness, creamy and with a hint of cinnamon.  Comfort food at it's finest served on a cold fall day.

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4

4 Tablespoon Butter (unsalted)
2.5 Pounds of Butternut Squash - this is the weight before peeling it.
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Chives (for garnish)
Salt and Pepper 

Step 1:  Prepare the squash by cutting of the ends, removing the seeds and then peeling it.  Once peeled and gutted, cut into small chunks/squares and place in a microwavable bowl.  Add the water to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and cook on high for 10-13 minutes.  When it is done, it will be soft and you should be able to take a chunk out and squish it with a fork very easily.

Step 2:  In a blender, puree the squash.  To do so, add about 1/2 to the pitcher of the blender and puree.  If it is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water at a time until you can puree it to a smooth consistency.  Repeat this process with the remaining sauce. I ended up using roughly 1 cup of water to help puree it all.

Step 3:  In a large pot, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the squash and remaining ingredients.  Heat on low, stirring, until heated through.  Too thick?  Add in a little more milk.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish.  Serve warm.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pumpkin Delight Dessert

Pumpkin .. .the signature flavor of the fall season.  Sometimes I get little bored with pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bars etc.  I wanted to come up with something not-baked/not-cakey.  And I still wanted cream cheese too.  This creamy and dreamy dessert was exactly what I wanted.  I hope you enjoy!

Pumpkin Delight Dessert
Serves 9

Crust Layer Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Brown Sugar
4 Tablespoon Butter, room temperature
1/3 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts (or other nut of choice)

Pumpkin Layer Ingredients:
1 (8-oz) Package Cream Cheese
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 the Cool Whip Tub (see below)

Top Layer:
1/2 of a (8-oz) Tub Cool Whip

Crust Layer Instructions:
In bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended. Press into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Pumpkin Layer Ingredients:
Combine all ingredients into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well blended.  Fold in the Cool Whip.  Spread evenly over the cooled crust.

Top Layer:
Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top of pumpkin layer.  Garnish with additional hazelnuts and cinnamon if desired.

Cover and chill for 4 - 6 hours before serving.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Chili Corndog Casserole

So, I have this slight obsession with corndogs.  I've always loved them, but it's not something I typically buy or even eat often.  But I do really love them.  I also love chili dogs.  Once again, not something I buy when I'm out or even eat very often.  Then I came up with this crazy idea:  what if I made a casserole with all these ingredients in it?!?!?  Boo-ya!  You can thank me later.

Chili Corndog Casserole
Serves 4

4 Hot Dogs
1 Small Can of Chili with No Beans
1 Box Jiffy Cornbread Mix + Ingredients needed to prepare
3 Green Onions
Cheddar Cheese, Shredded 

Step 1:  Grease and prepare a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  Preheat the oven according to the Jiffy Cornbread box (following the instructions for 'Johnny Cake').

Step 2:  Prepare the Cornbread batter as directed on the Jiffy box.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Slice the hot dogs in coins and add to the cornbread batter.  Stir until well combined and pour into the prepared baking dish.  Bake according to the Jiffy Cornbread box (following the instructions for 'Johnny Cake').

Step 4:  While the cornbread is baking, open the can of chili and empty into a heatproof container and microwave until hot.  As well, clean and slice up the green onions.

Step 5:  Once the cornbread/hotdogs are done baking, cool for 5 minutes.  Cut into slices for serving.

Step 6:  To serve, top each piece with a heaping spoonful of chili, a sprinkling of cheese and smattering of green onions.


Friday, October 24, 2014

White Cake with Lemon Filling

This fall my hubby and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary.  Still newlyweds, right?  To commemorate the date, I made a white cake with lemon curd filling - which is what we served at our wedding reception oh so long ago.  It is such a great flavor profile - tender white cake with thick layer of lemon curd along with creamy white frosting.  Hope you enjoy!

White Cake with Lemon Filling

1 Box White Cake Mix + Ingredients to Prepare
1 Can White Frosting (or one batch of your favorite homemade vanilla frosting)

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1 Cup Water
2 Egg Yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 Cup Lemon Juice 
Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Cake Instructions:
Step 1:  Grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.  Preheat the oven per the directions on the cake mix box.
Step 2:  Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box.  Pour into the cake pan and bake as directed.  
Step 3:  Once cake is baked, set aside and let cool completely.

Lemon Filling Instructions:
Step 1:  In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar and the cornstarch.  Gradually stir in the water.  Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils.  Boils and stir for 1 minute.

Step 2:  Gradually stir in at least half the hot mixture into the egg yolks.  Stir well.  Pour that mixture back into the pan.  Boil and stir for 1 more minute.  Remove from heat.

Step 3:  Stir in the butter, lemon juice and food coloring.  Set aside and let cool.  Store in fridge until the cake is completely cooled.

To Assemble:
Step 1:  Remove the cake from the pan.  The easiest way I know to do this, is to run a butter knife around the edge of the pan.  Then, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap.  Standing over a counter or table (so you have someplace to place the cake) - tip the pan upside down and set on the table.  Lift the pan and if you had greased and floured your pan well, the cake should have popped right out.

Step 2:  Slice the cake in half.  To do so evenly, I like to mark the edge with toothpicks.  I use a ruler to measure where the middle of cake is on the edge and then place a toothpick there.  I do this twice on each short end and three times on each long side.  Using a serrated knife, gently saw through the cake, aiming for the toothpicks as markers.  You should know have two slabs of cake.

Step 3:  Place the bottom of the cake (1 slab) back into the cake pan with the cut side on top.  Slather on the lemon curd in an even layer.  Place the top of the cake onto the curd.  

Step 4:  Frost with your favorite vanilla frosting.  I recommend a soft frosting - because you will need to store this cake in the fridge due to the lemon curd.  Stiff frosting will be hard to cut through when refrigerated. 

Store the cake in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sunny Italy Hot Dish

Looking for a great way to change up your ho-hum spaghetti routine?  This recipe could be the winner for you!  It's all your regular spaghetti ingredients spiffed up some extra cheese and pepperoni and then baked.  Not only is it delicious, you can assemble it ahead of time - and then bake it later.  Yeah baby - that's my kind of recipe!  We are in full blown hockey season here, so I assembled this in the morning before I went work.  Later that day, I just popped into a preheated oven and voila!  Delicious dinner, happy hockey player.

Sunny Italy Hot Dish
Serves 6-8

1 LB Ground Meat (I use sweet italian sausage)
1 LB Shredded Mozzarella (approximately 2 cups)
1/2 LB Spaghetti Noodles
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk
28 OZ Spaghetti Sauce
Parmesan Cheese

Step 1:  Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

Step 2:  Brown the ground meat and drain.  Meanwhile, cook the noodles as directed on the package.  
Step 3:  Drain the noodles and place in the 9x13 pan.  In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk.  Pour it over the noodles.

Step 4:  Now, sprinkle the mozzarella over the noodles.  Then, sprinkle the cooked, ground meat over the mozzarella.   Pour the spaghetti sauce over the ground meat.  Top with pepperoni and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Step 5:  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes-1 hour or until hot in the center.

To make ahead, complete steps 1-4.  Then, cover the pan and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  When it's time to bake it, you may need to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Yum.  Mad props to my girlfriend who originally shared this recipe many, many years ago.  My family loves, loves, loves it! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spanish Rice

Here is my favorite recipe for Spanish Rice.  Once you make this, you will never go back to buying the canned or boxed version.  Trust me, this is easy and delicious!  Added bonus:  this freezes great!  Cook up a double batch and freeze half . . .then thaw out at a later date.  Totally worth it.  Ole!

Spanish Rice
Serves 4-6

1 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1/8 Cup Chopped Green Pepper
14 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
3/4 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Uncooked Minute Rice
1/4 Cup Chili Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Celery Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

In a large saucepan, add the butter and saute the onion and green pepper until fragrant and translucent (do not let it get brown).  Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the cheese.  Simmer on low and uncovered until thick - about 35 minutes.  Check frequently and stir occasionally to make sure it isn't sticking to the pan.  To serve, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.