Saturday, December 26, 2015

French Bread Toasts

French Bread Toasts are the perfect accompaniment to warm, steamy soups as well as tasty, spreadable, creamy dips.  They are so simple to make - I almost thought about not posting the recipe.  However, everybody loves them!  They are crunchy, a bit savory from the olive oil and store well in a sealed container.  You know what that means?  You can make them ahead of time before your big shin-dig and store them until you need them.  On the counter.  No refrigeration necessary.  And you serve them at room temperature.  You can thank me later.

This year on Christmas, we went with a self-service soup bar (how fun is that?!?!?).  We served 3 different soups along with these toasts.  They are just so much yummier than crackers.  Trust me.  And the neutral flavor of them goes well with all types of soups etc.  


French Bread Toasts

Ingredients:  
1 lb French Bread Loaf
Olive Oil

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  On a large baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil. 

Step 2: Carefully slice the French bread with a serrated knife into 1/2 inch slices (rounds).  Place them in a single layer onto the baking sheet.  Drizzle with additional olive oil.

Step 3:  Once the oven is preheated, place the pan in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops start turning golden brown.

Step 4:  Remove from oven and flip the slices over.  The bottoms are likely pale compared to the browned tops.  Once the slices are all flipped up, place back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes - or until golden brown.

You can serve these warm, cold, or room temp.  Once they are cooled, you can store them in an air-tight container for up to a week.  Please note, these do not freeze well.


Friday, December 18, 2015

German Chocolate Truffles

Here is another sweet treat for the coconut lovers!  These German Chocolate Lovers combine caramel, coconut, chocolate and pecans.   I cannot lie, my inspiration behind this one was the German Chocolate frosting you find on a doughnut or cinnamon bun in the bakery.  This is a little more chocolatey than that - but it is oh so good and easy to make!  


German Chocolate Truffles
Yield: Approximately 50 truffles using a 1-inch scoop

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Toasted
1 (13.4 oz) can of Dulce de Leche (I find it in the Hispanic section of our grocery store)
14 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1.5 LB Chocolate Candy Coating or Chocolate Candy Melts

To make the truffle centers:  
Step 1:  In a double-boiler, melt the the chocolate chips.  

Step 2:  Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, add in the Dulce de Leche.  Keep stirring until it is completely blended.  This may take a little work, but it will come together. Mix in the pecans and unsweetened coconut.  Cover and let rest for about a 1/2 hour.

Step 3:  Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

Step 4:  Pinch off small pieces of the chocolate dough or use a small scoop.  Roll it into a ball.  Experiment with a variety of sizes to decide what size you like best.  I have a small, 1-inch scoop that I've used for years.   With your hands, roll the dough into a smooth ball and the place on the wax paper.  Repeat until all dough is rolled into balls.

To Dip:
Step 1:  In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate candy coating until smooth.  Let it cool down until you can easily touch it without it being too hot.   You want it to be fluid and warm, not hot.  

Step 2:  Dip each chocolate ball into the melted chocolate coating (one at a time).  I like to do so by tipping the bowl slightly side-ways, tossing the ball in it, retrieving it with a fork and then tapping the fork to remove any excess coating.  Place on wax paper to set.  Top with a pinch of toasted coconut.  Repeat until are truffle centers are coated.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mexican Chocolate Truffles

This truffle is so smoooooooooooth . . .it is utterly amazing.  True Story.  The blend of chocolate with cinnamon and just a hint of cayenne . . .very flavorful, but not too spicy.  It is muy perfecto as is!


Mexican Chocolate Truffles
Yield: Approximately 20 Truffles

Ingredients:
8 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 LB Chocolate Melts or Chocolate Almond Bark (for coating the truffles) 
Sprinkles for Decorating (optional)


Step 1:  Place chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Place heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat just until it bubbles.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  

Step 3:  Pour the spiced cream over the chocolate. Give it a quick stir and then cover the bowl the let it sit for 10 minutes.  The cream will melt the chocolate while it sits.  

Step 4:  Remove the cover from the chocolate/cream and stir until smooth.  If, by chance, there are still some small bits of chocolate that didn't melt, you can put it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.  Then stir again.  All the chocolate should be melted at this point.

Step 5:  Cover the chocolate and let rest so that it can firm up.  You can place it in the fridge for 2-3 hours or let it sit overnight (I usually let it sit overnight).   

Step 6:  Once the chocolate has set up, scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate and roll into balls.  Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  If you have a small cookie scoop - I recommend using this.  It will make uniform sized truffles.  I also find it easiest to scoop out all the chocolate first and then roll them.  Seems a little less messy that way.  Once they are all scooped and rolled, place them back in the fridge until it's time to dip them.

Step 7:  To coat the truffles, melt approximately 1 pound of chocolate almond bark or candy melts.  Follow the instructions on the packaging for melting.  Otherwise, in the top of a double-boiler, add the melts/coating and over medium heat, let them melt.  Once melted, let the melted coating cool a bit.  You do not want it to be too hot.  Rather, just slightly cooled and still quite melty :)  

Step 8:  Dip each truffle ball into the coating and place on wax paper to dry.  Decorate with sprinkles as desired (be sure to do so while the chocolate has not yet set!).  Place dipped truffles in the fridge to expedite the setting process.  

Step 9:  Once the chocolate is set - they are ready to be served!  Enjoy :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Scalloped Corn

Need a side dish that feeds a crowd for the holidays?  This is it.  Trust me, it's delicious and absolutely not-healthy-for-you-but-could-be-considered-a-vegetable.  That makes it absolutely perfect for holiday gatherings :)


Scalloped Corn
Serves 12+

Ingredients:
4 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Salt
2 (16oz) Cans of Corn, drained
2 (16oz) Cans of Cream-Style Corn
8 Tablespoons Butter
1 Sleeve Saltine Crackers, Crushed (approximately 30-36 crackers)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
Step 2:  In a large microwavable bowl, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the milk, sugar, salt and corn.  Stir until combined.
Step 3:  Place 1/2 the corn mixture in the baking dish.  Top with 1/2 the crushed crackers.
Step 4:  Place the remaining corn mixture in the baking dish (on top of the crushed crackers layer).  Next, top with the remaining crushed crackers.
Step 5:  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the corn is bubbly and beginning to brown on the top.  Serve immediately.

FYI:  this does reheat well as a left-over, but it loses that 'crunch' on the top.  As well, in case you aren't feeding a huge crowd . . .this recipe can easily be cut in half, but retain the same baking time and use a smaller dish to bake it in.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Parmesan and Chive Cous Cous

Alert:  Do not waste your money on buying flavored, boxed cous cous!  It is so simple to make flavorful cous cous without buying the boxed versions.  Rather, with a few simple things from you pantry and fridge, you can have an easy, super flavorful side dish with less sodium and preservatives!  Typically, most stores carry cous cous in the bulk area (you know the area - the one where you measure out your own ingredients . ..candy, grains, dried fruits etc).  It is so much less spendy buying it from this area.  You will save yourself a few bucks by going this route.  No lie.  And this side dish?  Guaranteed to be loved by everyone in your family.


Parmesan and Chive Cous Cous
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 Cup Cous Cous
1 and 1/2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Chives
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

In medium sized pot, add the chicken broth.  Heat until boiling.  Once boiling, remove the heat and add the cous cous, butter, chives and Parmesan cheese.  Cover the pot and let stand 6-10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago  . . .I learned that food can burn in the crockpot - especially if it is high in sugar.  And this is why you do not simply dump chicken into your crockpot and pour bbq sauce on it . . .it will char on the sides.  Of course, if you like scrubbing your crockpot - go for it!  Personally, I do not enjoy that task.  But I do love a good BBQ Chicken Sandwich - which is why I am sharing this recipe with you today.  With a few normal yet unlikely ingredients, this version of bbq chicken does not burn - but is full of yummy flavor.  Enjoy!



Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 Bottle BBQ Sauce
2 Pounds of Chicken Breasts (boneless)
1/2 Cup Italian Salad Dressing
1/4 Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
Onion Buns of Your Choice
Cheese (optional)
Red Onion (optional)

In your crockpot, add the BBQ Sauce, Italian Salad Dressing, Brown Sugar and Worcestershire Sauce.  Stir to combine.  Next, add in the chicken breasts.  Turn them over to coat with the sauce.  Cover and cook on low approx. 6 hours.  Once cooked, they should be very tender and easy to shred.  To serve, pile meat on your favorite type of bun and if you like cheese - I recommend smoked cheddar.  Top with thinly sliced red onion if you wish.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crockpot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

If you love cabbage rolls, here is an easy way to get all those great flavors in the crockpot . . .without having to roll them up!  Please note, you can make this recipe with ground turkey or ground beef - both are very tasty.


Crockpot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
Serves 6+

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 LBS Ground Turkey or Ground Beef
3/4 Cup Rice 
2 LBS Cabbage (1 medium-sized head)
1 (14.5) oz Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 Large Onion
4 Cloves of Garlic
3 Teaspoons Nature's Seasoning (or use 1/2 salt, 1/2 pepper)
2 Tablespoons Parsley
1 Tablespoon Marjoram
1 (14.5 oz) Can of Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Step 1:  Clean and dice the onion.  Add to a large bowl.  Also to the bowl, add the meat, uncooked rice, Nature's Seasoning, parsley, and marjoram.   Mince the garlic and add that to the bowl as well. Mix well.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In medium bowl or large measuring cup, combine the tomatoes, lemon juice and broth.  Stir and set aside.

Step 3:  Wash the cabbage.  Peel the outer leaves off and discard.  Remove the core and discard.  Cut the cabbage into thin slices.  Set aside.

Step 4:  Assembly.  Spray your crockpot with non-stick cooking spray (or use a crockpot liner).  Place 1/2 the meat mixture in the crockpot and spread out (doesn't need to be perfect).  Place 1/2 the cabbage on top of the meat layer.  Pour about 1/2 the tomato mixture over the cabbage.  Now, repeat these steps.  Place the last of the meat on top of the cabbage layer.  Distribute the best you can.  Add the remaining cabbage and then pour the remaining tomato mixture over the cabbage.  

Step 5:  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until meat is cooked through and cabbage is wilted.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mexi-Corn and Black Beans

I grew up not eating corn.  I can't say I never had it - after all, I did eat school hot lunch and they occasionally served corn.  However, I was raised in a family that didn't believe corn was a vegetable.  We were taught that it is a grain.  Specifically, a grain that is grown on the farm and then later fed to the animals. Therefore, you would never find corn being served at any dinner my parents served (even the holidays).  Fast forward a few decades to today . . .I still coincide with those beliefs.  But everyone once in a while I do have to give in and serve corn.  And when I do - it's usually this recipe.  The sweetness of the corn and meatiness of the beans are laced with taco seasoning that combines the flavors into a fantastic flavorful side dish.  Serve it up today!



Mexi-Corn and Black Beans
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 (14.5 oz) Can of Corn with Sweet Peppers
1 (14.5 oz) Can of Black Beans
1 Teaspoon Taco Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Butter

Open and drain the can of corn and empty into a large bowl.  Open, drain, and rinse the can of black beans (that sludge the coats the beans just totally grosses me out!).  Add the drained/rinsed beans to corn.  Add the taco seasoning to the corn/beans.  Add the butter.  Microwave the entire bowl of corny/black bean goodness until heated thoroughly (2-3 minutes, depending on your m'wave).  Remove from the microwave, stir again to distribute the melted butter and make sure everything is hot.  Serve and enjoy.



Friday, October 30, 2015

Thai Chicken Salad

Who loves Thai Peanut Sauce?!?!?!?  If so, this recipe is for you!!  A local restaurant used to have a Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap on the menu . . .but they removed it.  It's been a few years now . . .and I still crave it.  So, I finally buckled down and decided to try and recreate the dressing and make it into a salad (instead of a wrap).  Succulent grilled chicken, crisp lettuce, crunchy red pepper, cool cukes and let us not forget about that divine peanutty salad dressing!  


Thai Chicken Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:
6-8 oz Grilled Chicken Breast
4 Cups Romain Lettuce
1/2 Cup Diced Cucumber
1/2 Cup Diced or Sliced Carrot
1/4 Cup Diced Red Bell Pepper
4 Green Scallions, Sliced
1/4 Cup Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles (optional)
3 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
2 TB Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Dried Cilantro
1/4 Teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce (aka Sirracha)
1 Teaspoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Drop Coconut Extract
1/4 Cup Water

Step 1:  Create the Thai Peanut Salad Dressing.  To do so, in a small bowl - combine the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, soy sauce, coconut extract and chili garlic sauce.  Mix together until well blended.  Add the water and stir until well blended.   Set aside.

Step 2:  Prep your salad by dividing the lettuce among two plates.  Top each bed of lettuce with chicken, carrot and cucumber.

Step 3:  Drizzle the dressing on the salads and then top with remaining ingredients (scallions, red pepper and crunchy noodles).

Enjoy! This may make more peanut dressing than you need for the salad.  If so, store in a covered container and place in the fridge for later use.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Seared and Roasted Cabbage

Cabbage.  Most people either love or hate it.  I am on the LOVE IT bandwagon.  Seriously, a good slaw can make or break lunch.  No joke.  But, let's talk about cooked cabbage . . .seared in a hot pan until the edges char a bit, then add a little broth or water and place in the oven to roast until tender.  SO YUMMY.  Once you make this, it will definitely go into your vegetable rotation.  It pairs excellently with a great roast.


Seared & Roasted Cabbage
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 Small Head of Cabbage (Red or Green)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
Nature's Seasoning (or salt and pepper)
1 Cup Chicken Broth or Water

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  For this recipe, you will be using the stovetop and the oven, so you will want to use a pan that can be transferred from the top of the stove and then into the oven.  
Step 2:  Prep your cabbage by washing it and then very carefully cut it into 4 wedges.  Leave the core in!

Step 3:  In a heavy duty fry pan, skillet or small dutch oven - heat the oil to medium.  Once heated, add in the cabbage.  Cook on one cut-side until deeply browned.  Turn the cabbage to the other cut-side and brown that side as well.  Once both sides of the cut wedges are browned, add the butter to the pan along with the broth (or water).  Season the wedges on all sides with the Nature's Seasoning or salt and pepper.

Step 4:  Place the pan in the oven, uncovered - and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crab and Cucumber Salad

In a quest of always trying to be a little more healthy, check out this delicious and refreshing, Asian-inspired crab salad.  So crisp and tasty with lettuce, succulent imitation crab and a little zip from a homemade vinaigrette dressing.  Perfect for a luncheon.  I originally found the recipe from Loius Kemp.  I have modified it just slightly by using romaine lettuce and powdered ginger.  I also thought this would be even better if I had topped it with some crunchy chow mein noodles . ..but I was all out.  So, I added them to the recipe regardless.  YUM.


Crab & Cucumber Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients: 
8 oz. Imitation Crab Lumps
4 Cups Romaine Lettuce 
1/2 Cup Cucumber, seeded and diced
2 Green Onion or Scallions, sliced
1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds (white or black)
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger Powder
1 Teaspoon Honey
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles (optional)

Step 1:  Create the dressing.  In a small bowl, add the honey, rice wine vinegar, ginger and sesame oil.  Mix together until well blended.  
Step 2:  Assemble the salad.  On two large plates or salad bowls, divide the lettuce.  Top the lettuce with the cucumber and crab.  Drizzle the dressing onto the salad.  Top with the sesame seeds, scallions and chow mein noodles.  

Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Baked Oatmeal Bars

In my never-ending quest for new oatmeal recipes, I have stumbled upon this one from here.  They are packed with healthy stuff (whole grains, nuts, fruit) and fairly low-calorie and definitely low-sugar.  You know me, always struggling to be healthy.  The thing I liked about this recipe is the mix n match of ingredients.  I used what I had in the house - which happened to be walnuts, sesame seeds and prune.  It doesn't sound that appetizing, but it truly is yummy;  they have a chewy, cakey texture that I absolutely love.  I think these would be very good with apricots/coconut and cannot wait to try them again going that route.  


Baked Oatmeal Bars
Serves 9

 Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts of Choice (almonds, walnuts, etc)
1/2 Cup Dried Fruit of Choice (apricot, raisin, etc)
1/4 Cup Seeds of Choice (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, etc)
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 and 1/4 Cups Skim Milk
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease/Spray a 9x9 baking dish and set aside.
Step 2:  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, fruit, seeds, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.
Step 3:  In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.
Step 4:  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine.
Step 5:  Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Note:  
A.  The only sweetness is from the dried fruit.  If you feel this needs sugar, add about a 1/4 cup to the dry ingredients.
B.  These will likely only last about 3-4 days sitting on the counter or in the fridge.  Wrap individually and freeze for extended life. 

Update:  I've found my ultimate combo!! I use unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs and dried apricots.  AMAZING!


Friday, October 2, 2015

Butter Rum Apple Bundt Cake

Gotta love fall and everything that comes with it . . .especially all the great apples that are ready to be harvested!  Here is a great bundt cake that you are sure to enjoy.


Butter Rum Apple Bundt Cake

CAKE BATTER
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Rum Extract or 2 Tablespoons Dark Rum
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
8 Oz. Sour Cream
2 Med/Large Sized Peeled Apples - chopped fine (use 3 small if necessary)
FILLING:  
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Walnuts

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour your bundt pan.  Prepare the topping mixture by adding the 4 ingredients into a small bowl and stirring with a fork until combined.  Set the topping mixture aside until Step 6.  
Step 2:  Place the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl and cream it.  Add eggs and beat until well combine.  Add the rum and mix to incorporate.
Step 3:  Next, in a separate bowl - combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Stir to combine.  
Step 4:  Add 1/2 the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and combine.  Add the sour cream, mix to combine.  Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix again until combines.
Step 5:  Fold the apples into the batter.
Step 6:  Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the topping mixture.  Add the remaining batter to the pan and top with the remainder of the topping. 
Step 7:  Bake for 50 minutes at 375 F until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

BROWNED BUTTER ICING:
Ingredients
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Milk
1 and 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla

Instructions:  Add the butter to a saucepan and cook over low heat until browned.  Stir in the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Mix until smooth.

To Assemble Cake:
Turn out the bundt cake onto a plate or platter of choice.  Drizzle the the cake with the icing.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Open Face Tuna Melts

As a child, I hated tuna and not to be discriminating . . .most fish in general.  This is a tough route when your family is Catholic and ate fish every Friday.  And I do mean EVERY FRIDAY (not just the ones during Lent).  In fact, I was even known to tell little white lies about what we had for lunch at school on Fridays.
My Dad (who usually cooked dinner):  "What did you have for lunch today at school?"
Me: "Fish."

I always held out a little hope that if I responded that we had fish at school - that I wouldn't have to eat it again that night for dinner.  I would say it was only a lie about 50% of the time.  However, we did eat fish on Fridays at home 100% of the time.  As for the lying-part . . .I had to have something to confess about at my next round of Reconciliation!

This continued for nearly all my school-hood years.  And in all those years, I had never had a Tuna Melt.  Sure, we had tuna . . .tuna hotdish, tuna macaroni salad  or cold tuna sandwiches.  But never a Tuna Melt.

And how did I ever come about eating such a thing?  We'll just say it wasn't such a happy occasion . . .rather, it was while my father was in the hospital dying.  My Uncle Russell decided I should eat something and took me down to the hospital cafeteria.  And you guessed it . . .it was Lent.  And it was Friday.  And, as you recall, we are of Catholic Faith.  So, he ordered me a Tuna Melt.  It was on white bread, toasty and gooey with cheese  along with a couple slices of tomato.  And it was delicious.


Open Faced Tuna Melts
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 Cans of Tuna
4 Slices Bread
3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
2-3 Stalks Green Onion
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar or American Cheese
12 Grape Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Meanwhile, in your toaster (not the oven) - toast the bread.  Set aside as it is done.  

Step 2:  Drain the tuna and place the meat in a medium bowl.  Clean and finely slice the green onion and add it to the bowl.  Add the mayo to the bowl and stir to combine everything.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3:  Slice the grape tomatoes in half the long way.  

Step 4:  Place the toast on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Next, divide the cheese evenly among the toast.  Now, evenly divide the tuna mixture among the toast.  Top each one with 6 grape tomato halves.  

Step 5:  Place the tuna toasts into the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes - until everything is slightly bubbly.  Serve immediately.









Friday, September 18, 2015

Grilled Chicken Marsala

Who loves Chicken Marsala?!?!?!  ME ME ME!!  I just recently tweaked my original (more traditional) version into a grilled version . . .and I am enamored.   It's a few less calories because you omit the flour.  In fact, I might even like this version better . . .the sweet Marsala sauce, juicy and tender chicken breasts along with the meatiness of mushrooms.  Oh my, I'm swooning just thinking about it!  


Grilled Chicken Marsala
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 Pound Chicken Breasts, Boneless and Skinless
1 Envelope (about 1 oz) Brown Gravy Mix
3/4 Teaspoon Morton's Nature's Seasoning (OR 1/2 Teaspoon Salt and 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
2 Cups Fresh Mushrooms, Sliced
2/3 Cup Marsala Wine
1 Pound Pasta, Cooked and Drained

Step 1:  Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken with the Nature's Seasoning (or salt and pepper).  Cook on the grill until cooked through and juices run clear when cut into. 

While the chicken is cooking . . .

Step 2:  Prepare the gravy mix as directed on the packaging.  Set aside for later use.

Step 3:  In a large fry pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion and mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are soft.  Stir in the Marsala wine.  Then, add in the prepared gravy.  Stir to combine.  If it seems a little thick, add a bit of water to thin it.  Remove from heat.

Step 4:  To serve, place the grilled chicken on top of the bed of pasta.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and pasta.  Ta-Da!  Dinner is served.




Friday, September 11, 2015

Chicken and Stuffing Hot Dish

My favorite meal growing up was my mom's fried chicken served with stuffing (and mashed potatoes with gravy and vegetables . . .which were not my favorite parts of the meal).  We ate this almost every Sunday and I always looked forward to it.  Fast forward to adulthood - who has time to fry chicken now days?  Forget it!  Instead, this hot dish captures that essence of chicken and stuffing and is just as satisfying without all the oil of frying.  Tender chicken, creamy sauce . . .and stuffing on the top which remains soft and squishy and just a little bit crunchy.  Oh my.  All the things I love!


Chicken and Stuffing Hot Dish
Serves 4-8

Ingredients:
1 - 2 lbs of Boneless, Skinless Chicken 
1 (10.75 oz) Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (6-oz) Box of Stuffing, such as Stove Top
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups Frozen Peas (or other choice of frozen vegetable)

Instructions:
Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 degree F.  Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by spraying it with pan spray.
Step 2:  In a large bowl, dump in the stuffing mix.  Add 1 and 2/3 Cups really hot water (from your sink should be okay).  Stir to combine.  Set aside.
Step 3:  In a small bowl, combine the mushroom soup and sour cream.  Mix together until well blended.
Step 4:  Place all the chicken pieces in the prepared baking dish.  Spread the soup/sour cream mix over the chicken.  Pour the frozen peas over the soup/sour cream layer.  Lastly, top it with the stuffing.
Step 5:  Place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Let stand at room temp for 5-10 minutes before serving.  It will be very, very hot!!



Friday, September 4, 2015

Savory Breakfast Muffins

Okay, who doesn't need another new breakfast option?  This one is just too cool.  It's a savory breakfast muffin with an egg baked into the center of it.  yes, that right . .  a whole egg baked into the middle of each muffin!  Mind.Blowing.

I saw these originally over at Jo and Sue.  And I also viewed their inspiration for the muffin at Recipe Tin Eats.  Here is my version.  What makes mine different?  I made mine a lower-fat version by using reduced fat cheddar cheese, omitting the oil and using applesauce instead (it adds no flavor), as well as lessening the amount of bacon and cheese.  If you want to go with the original version, more power to you!  I just wanted to 'healthy-ize" these a bit.  I also want to try them with spinach and Swiss cheese . . but that's for another day.  

Enjoy.  These are just too yummy to not make!


Savory Breakfast Muffins
with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Bacon Pieces (I used real bacon pieces that you buy in the salad fixin' aisle at the grocery store)
1/4 Cup Chives
4 oz Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
1 and ¼ Cup Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Cup Buttermilk
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons Lite Sour Cream 
2 Tablespoons No-Sugar Added Applesauce
5 Eggs (1 for the muffin batter and 1 ea for the center of each muffin)

Instructions:
Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare your extra large muffin tin by lining it with paper liners and spraying them with pan spray.  Remember, this will make 4 extra large muffins.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix together.
Step 3:  To the dry ingredients, add the chives, bacon and cheese.  Stir.
Step 4:  In a seperate bowl, stir together the buttermilk, lite sour cream, applesauce and 1 egg.  Mix until well combined.
Step 4:  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Step 5:  Place 3 tbsp of the batter into each of the 4 muffin tin holes. Flatten the batter by tapping the tin against the counter a few times.
Step 6:  Make a divot in the center of each muffin batter (so the egg yolk settles in the middle). Crack an egg into each hole.
Step 7:  Divide the remaining batter between each hole to cover the egg. Don't dump the batter right on top of the yolk - you may break it that way.  Rather, I found it best to place about 3 tablespoons of batter around the edge of each muffin, which kind of forced the yolk to stay in the center.  Then, with any batter left in the bowl, I placed it on top of the yolks.  I then dipped my finger in water and gently spread the batter of each muffin so that it covered the entire egg.

Step 8:  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the begin to brown.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Serve warm.


Note:  I've made these a few times now and am really loving them.  I did a second version with bacon, Swiss and spinach.  They were definitely tasty, but weren't as visually appealing.  I had one yolk break and ooze out during the baking process . .. I think my frozen spinach poked it.  As well, of all things, when I pulled the these ones out of the tin, the liners were wet.  I'm sure it was from the batter/spinach - I used frozen spinach that is IQF (not the block spinach) - and I am sure it was from the extra moisture.  They were completely cooked though and mighty delish.





Friday, August 28, 2015

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken

Every once in a while you just have to treat yourself to something sweet, succulent and savory . . .such as Honey Mustard Chicken.  This recipe is really about the sauce.  The honey-mustard sauce is a home made, easy, and delicious.  You don't even really need to put it on chicken.  A spoon is a perfectly acceptable vehicle for consumption of the sauce!!  But, it does make a mighty fine glaze for grilled chicken . . .


Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lb Boneless Chicken Pieces (I used breasts)
Salt and Pepper
1 Teaspoon Rosemary (crushed)
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/3 Cup Honey

Step 1:  Prep your chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Preheat your gill to medium.

Step 2:  Now to make the honey  mustard sauce.  In a small/medium sized bowl, combine the mustard, mayo and honey.  Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the rosemary and stir until combined. Divide the mixture in half so that you have 2 containers.  You will use one of these for glazing the chicken and one as reserve for extra sauce :)

Step 3:  Once the grill is heated, place the chicken on the grill and cook as you normally would (over medium indirect heat).  When you are ready to flip the chicken, flip it - usually about 5 minutes on our grill.  Then take a cooking brush and brush the honey mustard on top of the chicken.  Continue to grill the chicken until it is nearly done.  Once it appears close to being done, flip the chicken and spread the new topside with the honey mustard.  Continue cooking the chicken until it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Discard the any leftover honey mustard sauce that the brush has touched.  We do not want any cross contamination or any potential raw chicken juice to be consumed.

Step 4:  Remove the chicken from the grill and serve with the additional honey mustard sauce that you set aside earlier.  You can store any unused or leftover sauce in the fridge for later consumption.

  
Tips:  
A.  Don't have crushed rosemary?  Take your regular dried rosemary and mince it with a knife.  Or, run it through a spice grinder.  

B.  Watch your chicken so it doesn't burn!  Especially once you have glazed it with the sauce.  The sauce contains honey - which will burn if a flame catches hold of it.  This is why you should cook with indirect heat (not direct heat) on the grill for this recipe.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lemon Pepper Pork Piccata

Thinly sliced pork cutlets that are breaded and sauteed - laid upon a bed of pasta along with a sumptuous sauce made from the pan drippings along with lemon juice and zest, capers and butter.  Soooooo gooooooood.  Fancy-schmancy with little effort.  It takes about 1/2 hour to pull this meal together - and well worth every minute!


Lemon Pepper Pork Piccata
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lb Thinly Slices Pork Cutlets
1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Capers
2 Green Onions (optional)
3/4 Cup Flour
1 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper, Divided (in other words, 1/4 teaspoon and another 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
Pasta for 4 Servings (prepared according the package instructions)

Step 1:  Zest your lemon and set the zest aside for later.  Juice the remaining lemon and save the juice for later in the recipe.  Clean and slice the green onions.  Set aside for later.

Step 2:  Step 3:  In a large skillet, heat 1 TB olive oil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl or dish, combine the flour, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Dredge each thinly sliced pork cutlet in the flour.  

Step 3:  You will cook the pork in two batches. Place half of your dredged cutlets in the hot pan.  Let cook until the bottoms are browned - then flip them and let cook until browned on both sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the remaining olive oil to the pan.  Let the oil heat for a minute or two and then cook the remaining pork cutlets.

Step 4:  It's time to make the sauce!  In the skillet, add the butter and let melt.  Next, add the chicken broth and stir, stir, stir - all the while scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all those great tasty bits of pork.  Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Stir and continue to let the sauce cook and reduce to desired consistency.  Taste and adjust seasoning of salt/pepper to your desire.

Step 5:  To serve, place the prepared pasta on a large shallow serving dish.  Lay the pork cutlets on top.  Pour the sauce over the cutlets.  Top with the capers and green onion.

Tip:  Instead of using regular pasta - try using lemon pepper pasta for a little extra lemony kick!





Friday, August 14, 2015

Unstuffed Tomatoes

Ahhhhhhhh . . .the dog days of summer.  Hot, humid days and the kids are almost ready to go back to school.  Scratch that (kids are almost ready to go back to school).  I am ready for the kids to go back to school ;)

In the meantime, why not feed them something easy and fresh while we enjoy these last few days of summer?  If you are like me, your tomatoes are going crazy!  I had planned on using some of my bumper crop of tomatoes to make 'stuffed tomatoes'.  However, I realized that my sweet, precious, -baby-boy-who-isn't-a-baby-but-really-a-little-and-mischevious-boy had decided to take a bite out of each tomato that I had picked and placed on the counter.  Yes.  I said each tomato.  Not one tomato.  Not two tomato.  But all 5 of them.  And as my memory flashed back, I can pinpoint the time of the crime . ..we were getting ready to leave the house and I had heard him say "mmmmmmmmmm...tomatoes yummy!" And then we were out the door.  

Anyhow, I decided to make the tomatoes regardless.    I had my heart set on them for dinner.  So, I took the recipe and made them 'unstuffed'.  I removed the 'bites' and used the remaining tomato parts.  What else was this mom supposed to do?  Any how, this recipe is not so much the visual show-stopper as when they are stuffed, but equally delicious.  


Unstuffed Tomatoes
Serves 2 as a Main Dish or 4 as a Side Dish

Ingredients:
3-4 Medium Sized Fresh Diced Tomatoes 
12 oz Mushrooms
2 TB Low-Sodium Soy Sauce 
3 TB Butter
2 Green Onions
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Step 1:  Spray a 9x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  While the oven is heating, wash the tomatoes.  Cut each tomato in half and remove the core, seeds and excess "slimy guts" part.  We really just want the firm flesh for this recipe.  Dice the firm flesh part of the tomato into medium sized pieces and place in the baking dish.

Step 2:  Finely chop the fresh mushrooms or pulse in a food processor.  Set aside.  Clean and prepare the green onions.  Thinly slice them.  Set aside.  Next, In a medium saute pan, melt the butter.  Add the mushrooms, green onions, soy sauce and garlic to the pan.  Saute over medium high heat until the butter and any liquid is absorbed and the mushroom mixture appears 'dry' and hot.

Step 3:  With a spoon, place "dollops" of the mushroom mixture on top of the tomatoes in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Step 7:  Place baking dish into oven and bake for 15 minutes or so - until the Parmesan cheese browns.  Serve hot.



Friday, August 7, 2015

Blueberry Cookie Crumble Bars

Do you ever find that you've invited company over to visit . . .and then realize that 1) your schedule is soooooooooooooo busy that you don't have time to make anything not mention pick up the house and 2) your cupboards are bare?  
Well, I think most people in this situation would like get some take-out of some sort.  Not this girl though.  No, no, no . . .just not my style!  I put the teenager and hubby to work cleaning the house while I comb the cupboards for a culinary challenge of something that will be quick, easy and delicious.  The only catch:  my hubby insisted on something blueberry.  

Bam!  That's how these crazy, delicious and easy bars came about.  They are very blueberry and very sweet.  It like a cookie, a pie and crumble collided . . .with all the sugar and the easiness of a handheld bar.  I will warn you though - they are very sweet and very indulgent.  A small piece goes a long way.  The picture below doesn't show it . . .but they also pair well with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Just sayin'.  


Blueberry Cookie Crumble Bars
Serves 9-12

Ingredients:
1 Tube Sugar Cookie Dough
1 (21 oz) Can Prepared Blueberry Pie Filling
1/3 Cup Oatmeal
1/3 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter (room temperature)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9x9 glass baking dish with baking spray.  Press the cookie dough into the pan to form a crust.  When pressing in the dough, go up the sides of the pan as well - about 1/2 up the pan (don't go to the top).  Place pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until starting to brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  Keep oven on.

Step 2:  While the crust is baking, prepare the crumble.  In a bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon and salt.  Mash together with a fork until all is incorporated.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the blueberry pied filling over the top of the crust.  Spread it out evenly.  Next, pour the crumble mixture over the blueberry filling.  Try to distribute evenly.  Do not "pack it down".  It's okay to be lumpy!

Step 4:  Return to the heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the blueberry is bubbling and the crumble is lightly browned.  Cool completely before serving.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Italian Sausage with Pesto Toasts

My perfect, easy, quick and delicious dinner.  Yes.  I know.  It is hard to believe.  But it is soooooo goooooooooood.  And easy.  And quick.  Did I already mention how delicious it is?  Italian sausage, red sauce and pesto toasts.  The flavors all complement each other so well - the slight saltiness from the sausage and pesto, the natural sweetness from the sauce along with crusty bread.  It's enough to make me swoon with gastronomic excitement!  


Italian Sausage with Pesto Toasts
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 Italian Sausage, cooked (I like to use hot or spicy)
3/4 Cup Red Pasta Sauce (spaghetti sauce from a jar works just fine - use your favorite!)
2 Pieces of Crusty Bread
2 Tablespoons Basil Pesto

Step 1:  Spread the pesto on top of the bread.  Place on baking sheet and put under the broiler.  Broil until toasty.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Meanwhile, slice your Italian sausage into small bite sized pieces.  I like to slice the sausage the long way first and then slice it into smaller bits from there.  Put the sausage into a small pan and head on medium high heat, just until it begins to sizzle.  We want to brown the sausage just a bit.  

Step 3:  Once the sausage starts to brown, add the pasta sauce.  Stir until combined and continue cooking until the sauce is heated through.

Step 4:  To serve, ladle the sauce/sausage into a shallow bowl and place the warm pesto toast on the side.  To consume, dip the toast into the sauce.  Or, place the sauce on top of the toast with a piece of sausage . . ..heaven!






Friday, July 24, 2015

Burnt Sugar Cake

I love burnt sugar cake.  I cannot tell a lie.  The subtle hints of burnt sugar flavor along with vanilla overtones are amazing.  What does burnt sugar taste like?  Toasted marshmallows.  No lie.  And to make this cake, you first melt some sugar down into a syrup.  And then you use that syrup as an ingredient in the cake and the frosting.  I'll warn you though - the cake and the frosting are both very sweet.  In the photo below, I made a layer cake and used vanilla custard as the filling and topped the cake with some fresh raspberries for depth and contrast.  It was amazing.  In fact, I'm a little sad the entire cake is now gone.  I sure could go for a piece.


As well, I have to confess that the recipe below is one I found here.  The only differences I made are that I filled the cake with custard (instead of frosting) and I used raspberries to adorn it instead of pecans.  I also wanted a more stiff frosting, so I used more butter/shortening + vanilla.   Be sure to check out that blog.  She has some great photos to go with the instructions.

Burnt Sugar Cake & Frosting

Ingredients & Instructions For the Burnt Sugar Syrup:
1 and 1/3 Cup White Sugar
1 and 1/3 Cup Water

Step 1:  In a skillet on the stove, add only the sugar.  Turn on the heat and set to medium-low.  Don't stir, just let it be.  It will begin to melt.  Just let it do it's thing.  Go empty the dishwasher, pet the dog, enjoy a Diet Coke.  Do whatever, just don't disturb the sugar.  Let it melt until it becomes a thick amber liquid.  This took about 5-10 minutes for me.  

Step 2:  Once it has melted, add the water by stirring in a little at a time.  It will sizzle and talk back to you, but it will calm down.  Little by little, add the water and keep stirring.  Add all the water and once it is all incorporated, let it cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You will now have a nice, beautiful and delicious burnt sugar syrup.  Turn off the heat and set aside the syrup until later.

Ingredients and Instructions for the Burnt Sugar Cake:
1 and 1/2 Cups White Sugar
3/4 Cup Butter, room temp
2 Eggs (yolks/whites divided)
3 Cups All Purpose Flour + extra for preparing your baking pans
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Burnt Sugar Syrup
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 Cup Milk

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare your baking pans by greasing and flouring them (I used a set of three pans).  Set aside the pans.

Step 2:  In your mixer bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until completely cohesive.

Step 3:  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Then,add this to the creamed butter/sugar.  Also add the egg yolks and mix on low until combined.  While running, slowly add the milk and vanilla.  Once combined, add the 1 cup of burnt sugar syrup and continue to mix until all combined.  Stop and set aside.

Step 4:  In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Once formed, gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  

Step 5:  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pans.  Place pans in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Set aside and let cool.

Ingredients and Instructions for the Burnt Sugar Frosting:

1 Pound Powdered Sugar
Remainder Burnt Sugar Syrup
1 Cup Shortening or Butter (room temp)
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Step 1:  In a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer) add 1-2 cups of powdered sugar along with the shortening or butter.  Beat until well combined.  Now, add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until well combined.  It should be very thick.  

Step 2:  Into the sugar/shortening blend, add about half the syrup.  Mix well to incorporate.  Add in the vanilla and milk.  Beat well to incorporate.  At this time, determine if your frosting is too thick, too thin or just right for your needs.  If too thick, add a little more syrup and continue to beat the frosting until it's mixed in.  Continue to do this until you reach your desired consistency.  If too think, add a little more powdered sugar.

Once the cake has cooled completely, assemble the cake as you normally would for any other layer cake.

In my picture above, I used 1 cup of custard (2 cups total) between the cake layers instead of frosting.  Once I frosted the cake, I added fresh raspberries to the top.




Friday, July 17, 2015

Basil Pesto

So, I feel kinda weird about posting a recipe for basil pesto.  It's just so easy to make . . .but here I go.  And here is why:  I LOVE BASIL PESTO.  Can I get an Amen?

The garlicky, slightly salty flavors blended with fresh basil just pair so gosh darn well together!  And it is sooooooooooooo versatile.  So many applications; so little time.   I will share a list of some quickies at end of this post.  But for now . . .without much further adieu . . .


Basil Pesto
Yield:  Approx. 1 pint

Ingredients:
2 Cups Packed Fresh Basil Leaves
2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
2/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
Kosher Salt
Pepper

In a food processor, add your basil leaves to the bowl of the machine along with the garlic and cheese.  Pulse a few time to begin the breakdown of the leaves and garlic.  Scrape down the sides and add a generous shake of pepper and Kosher Salt and also add the pine nuts.  Replace the lid and begin to process.  While the machine is running, slowly stream-in the olive oil.  Once all the olive oil is combined with the leaves, taste.  Does it need more salt or pepper?  If so, add to-taste.  

To store, place in a jar and store in the fridge.  

Here are few of my favorite ways to use pesto:

  • Eat it straight off a spoon 
  • Schmear it on a piece of toast and top with tomatoes and bacon
  • Take a fresh tomato, dice it and toss with pesto for an easy side dish
  • Top a tortilla with pesto, add sliced tomato and some mozzarella.  Place it under the broiler until the cheese melts.  Viola!  Quick and easy pesto pizza!
  • Toss with pasta - add in some chicken and your favorite veggies for a yummy hot or cold dish

Friday, July 10, 2015

Frozen Mocha

A long, long time ago Dairy Queen had something on their menu called Frozen Hot Chocolate.  It was my favorite . . . .it was a cross between a slushie and milk shake and it was chocolaty.  It wasn’t as heavy as a milkshake, but it was plenty dairy-liscious (unlike slushies).   After a few years, it disappeared off of their menu but it has never disappeared from my memory.   Over the years, I've managed to replicate it.  It's cool, it's frosty, very rich and chocolaty.  It's the perfect treat for a hot July Friday morning ;)  And when I thought about it, you know what makes it even better?  Instant Espresso.  Oh yes.  Yes, indeed.  This just went from frozen hot chocolate to Frozen Mocha!  You can thank me later.


Frozen Mocha
2 Servings

Ingredients:
1 cup Milk (I used skim)
½ cup Half and Half
½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ cup packed Brown Sugar
¾ tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Tablespoons Instant Espresso
Pinch of Salt
2 cups Ice Cubes

Blend the milk, cream, cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a blender until well combined and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the ice and blend until slushy.  Transfer to glasses and serve immediately.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

This may just be my kryptonite (I don't even know how to spell that!).  Seriously, I am addicted.  These scones are the reason I have gotten up each morning for the past 10 days.  The anticipation of eating them with a nice iced latte is almost too much!  They are tender, slightly buttery with fresh, juicy raspberries and sweet bits of white chocolate.  And they are a cinch to make.  I promise.  These would be great for a 4th of July breakfast . . . sub 1/2 the raspberries with blueberries and you'll have a red, white and blue scone!


Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
Yield:  12

Ingredients:
6 Oz.  Fresh Raspberries
1 Cup White Chocolate Chips
2 and 1/2 Cups Flour, plus more for your work surface
1/2 Cup (1 Stick) of Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 Cup Sugar + additional for sprinkling on top
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Course Salt
2 Egg Yolks
3/4 Cup Buttermilk

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two large cookie sheet by spraying them with non-stick spray and set them aside.

Step 2:  In a food processor, pulse together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size pieces form. Don't have a food processor?  No problem!  In a large bowl, add the same ingredients.  Cut in the butter until pea-sized pieces form.  This can be done using two forks or by using a pastry cutter.

Step 3:  In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg yolks. Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture through feed tube into processor, pulsing until dough just comes together.  Or, if you are not using the food processor - pour over the crumbly mixture in the bowl and gently stir with a rubber scraper until just barely incorporated.

Step 4:  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface pat flat with your hands - just flat enough to sprinkle the raspberries and white chocolate chips on top.  Next, carefully fold the dough in half and pat out again.  Be sure to capture any escaped raspberries or white chocolate chips and exile them to the top of the dough.  Fold the dough in half again and pat out again.  Once again, capture any renegade raspberries or chips and exile to the top of the dough.  Once last time, fold in half and pat down - this time pat down to about 1 inch high oval/rectangular shape. 

Step 5:  Cut the dough into 12 pieces.  You can this with a sharp knife or pizza cutter by cutting down the center to make two long pieces - and then cutting each long piece into 6 equal pieces.  Using a spatula to gently lift the scones one at a time - place them on the cookie sheets (6 scones per cookie sheet).  Sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar and place the baking sheets into the oven.  Let bake about 15 minutes, until just beginning to brown.  

Let cool slightly before eating.  Store in fridge.






Friday, June 26, 2015

Alfredo Jo's

Need something quick, easy and delicious for dinner?  How about these Alfredo Jo's?  It's a twist on Sloppy Jo's - but made with alfredo sauce instead of the traditional sauce used with Sloppy Jo's.  Serve on toasted garlic bread with a side salad and you have yourself one heckuva meal!


Alfredo Jo's
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 LB Ground Turkey
8 oz Mushrooms
8 oz Alfredo Sauce
1 Tablespoon Butter
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper or Nature's Seasoning
Garlic Toast (optional)

In a large non-stick skillet, add the butter and let it melt over medium-high heat.  Once melted, add the meat.  Season with salt and pepper or Nature's Seasoning.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Cook until the turkey is browned and cooked through.

Next, add in the alfredo sauce.  Stir together and heat until the sauce is heated through and bubbling.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve toasted garlic bread (or garlic toast).  As well, if you like a little kick - sprinkle a bit of crushed red pepper on top.  Yum.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fancy Pants Chicken and Mushrooms

I made this dish the other night and I think I may have received the best complete ever from the teenager.  She said, "This chicken is soooooooooooo good, it makes me feel like I am eating in a fancy restaurant even though I'm wearing sweatpants."

Yeah.  It's that good.

It's a recipe originally featured on Lydia's.  I modified it a bit to suit my family.  It was very easy to make and turned out wonderfully.  I served it with a side of Macaroni with Browned Butter Sauce.  All was divine, everyone was full and still asked for a second helping.  Yep.  It was that good.


Fancy Pants Chicken and Mushrooms
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 LB Chicken Breasts, Boneless and Skinless
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup White Wine (I used a Chardonnay)
1 Pound Sliced Mushrooms
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Cup Flour
Salt & Pepper or Nature's Seasoning Blend
1 Tablespoon Sage

Step 1:  Prep your chicken by washing it and patting it dry.  If you are using really thick chicken breasts, pound them between two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap with a mallet until they are about a 1/2 inch thick. 

Step 2:  In a large fry pan, add 2 TB of Olive Oil and 2 TB of Butter.  Heat over medium-high heat.  

Step 3:  Place the flour in a shallow dish (I use a pie pan).  Sprinkle the chicken with Salt and Pepper or Nature's Seasoning Blend.  Dredge the chicken, 1 cutlet at a time, in the flour.  Tap the excess flour off the cutlet and place in the heated frying pan.  Do this with all the chicken.

Step 4:  Lightly brown the chicken on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, then remove to a plate.

Step 5:  Once the chicken is out of the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, slice mushrooms and garlic. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of water and cook until mushrooms are softened and the water evaporates, about 4 minutes.

Step 6:  Slide the mushrooms to the side, and put the chicken back in the pan, in one layer, and arrange the mushrooms on top of the chicken. Increase the heat to medium-high.  Add the sage and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, in pieces, in the spaces in the pan. Pour the white wine and tomato sauce into the spaces in the pan as well. Sprinkle each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese. Cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to reduce the sauce to your liking, and serve.