Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Eve Brunch 2010

It's time again for our annual Christmas Eve Brunch with our families. Last year Abbie was just a month and a half old and we were still getting used to a newborn in the house. This year she is a walking, talking toddler who gets excited to see the tree lit up and loves every Santa and snowman she comes across.

My menu contains some old favorites as well as new recipes I want to try out. Happy Holidays everyone!

Christmas Eve Brunch 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Parmesan Rosemary Breadsticks

This is a nice little appetizer to put with an antipasto platter or a nice little side dish to put with soup or salad. It's very easy and quick since it uses refrigerated breadstick dough and develops a nice flavor from the rosemary and Parmesan.

I got this recipe at a cooking class I attended a few years ago so I have no way to cite this or give credit for this recipe. Just know that it's not mine but I use it a lot!

Parmesan Rosemary Breadsticks
from unknown source
Makes about 24 breadsticks

1 package Pillsbury breadstick dough (12 breadsticks)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a two heavy baking sheets with nonstick foil, parchment paper, or cooking spray.

Combine the grated cheese and rosemary on a large, shallow plate. Set aside.

Lay the breadsticks out on a work surface and cut each in half lengthwise, to make 24 long strips. Lightly brush olive oil over the strips; place strips in cheese mixture and turn to coat both sides. Then roll the strips with your palms on the work surface or between your hands to incorporate the cheese mixture into the dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all strips (12 on each baking sheet).

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately. If you need to make these ahead, prepare through placing them on the baking sheet and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Delights

These delicious bars received rave reviews from everyone who ate them. The most frequent comment is that they taste like Girl Scout Samoa cookies. So if you like caramel, chocolate, and shortbread, you must make these cookies soon! I kept them in the fridge so the base held together better and it was a crisper bite.

The original recipe called for almonds mixed with the coconut, but I am not a huge fan, so my changes are below. To see the original recipe, you must become a member of the Taste of Home website.

Chocolate Toffee Delights
slightly adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 24-30 bars

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flaked coconut
1 jar (12.25-ounce) caramel ice cream topping
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish.
Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in extracts.

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; gradually add to the butter mixture and mix well.

Press into prepared baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Prick crust with a fork all over; sprinkle with remaining sugar and bake 15 minutes more or until set.

Combine caramel topping and coconut in small bowl. Spread over warm crust. Bake 5-10 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Cool.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave at 1-minute increments until smooth. Drizzle over cooler bars. Let stand until chocolate is set and cut into bars.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole

Ahh, it must be the holiday season because the only things on my blog these days are menus and slow cooker meals. Meaning that I am cooking so much for parties on the weekends that weeknight meals must be simple and quick to throw together.

Chuck picked this recipe out for me to try and we both liked it. I didn't even miss the meat but Chuck said it needs some sort of crunch for texture. Maybe crushed up tortilla chips sprinkled over the top? I used black beans instead of the chili beans and probably added a leeeeetle more cheese than it called for. :)

Also, if you are using anything other than regular rice, adjust the cooking time. For instance, I bought converted rice for some reason, which takes the half the time to cook normally as regular rice. So I adjusted the time and added my rice after 2 1/2 hours to the slow cooker with everything else - halfway through the cooking time. If I had added it at the beginning, it would have been gummy and mushy by the end.

Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole
Makes about 4 servings

1 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
2/3 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) spicy chili beans or black beans, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, lightly drained
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Spray large skillet with cooking spray or heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add rice, cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes until light golden brown.

Combine browned rice and all remaining ingredients except cheese in 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Mix well. Cover; cook on low setting at least 5 hours.

After 5 hours, stir mixture and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Cover and cook 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Slow-Cooked Asian-Style Pork

This was another simple, tasty weeknight dish; pretty much just browning the meat and then combining all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. It uses a jar of sweet and sour sauce, which I have talked about before as being very salty, but I feel like this recipe made a lot more food (and some for the freezer, of course!) so that made it ok in my mind.

Also, this recipe rightly called for adding the frozen vegetables about an hour before cooking time is finished, instead of at the beginning. That keeps them crisper and brighter, as you can see in the picture above. I served this over brown rice.

Slow-Cooked Asian-Style Pork
Makes 6-8 servings

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 (10-ounce) jar sweet and sour sauce
1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetables (broccoli, carrots, onions, red peppers, celery, water chestnuts, and mushrooms)
3 cups hot cooked rice or rice noodles

Light coat a large skillet with cooking spray (or vegetable oil); heat skillet over medium heat. Brown pork, half at a time, in a hot skillet. Do not crowd the pork in the skillet or it will steam, not brown. Drain off fat.

Place pork into 3 1/2-4 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with tapioca; pour sweet and sour sauce over pork in cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours or high heat for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. At the end of 7 to 8 hours, turn to high heat setting and stir in frozen vegetables. Cover and cook for additional 30 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunday Funday Menu

I know, there are a lot of teams happening in this photo, some not even football.

This Sunday we are having some good friends over to watch the Giants game. I wanted to plan a menu that allowed us to snack heartily while the game was on and eat a casual, yet still delicious meal afterwards. This menu is not complete - my friends are bringing two more appetizers as well as a dessert.

Sunday Funday Menu



  • Baked rigatoni with eggplant and sausage
  • Mixed greens with mandarin orange slices, dried cranberries and goat cheese crumbles tossed with raspberry vinaigrette
  • Parmesan-rosemary bread twists


  • Chocolate toffee delights

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Baked Macaroni

This is the last party post and I wanted to get it in before everyone goes off to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. This Giada dish is an old favorite of mine - it has great Italian flavors and it preps easily in advance. I often make it the night before I need it, bring it to room temperature before baking, and bake just in time to serve warm on the dinner table.

I have also made this as a main dish - just use 3/4 pound of pasta instead of one pound, and add 1 pound crumbled, cooked Italian sausage to the mix. Otherwise, I don't make any changes to Giada's great recipe so the link is below:

Spicy Baked Macaroni

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing

This was a simple and delicious main dish - from Giada of course. I am glad I chose to make this after seeing it on The Piggly-Wiggly. I made the basil dressing the night before the party, marinated the chicken the morning of, and Chuck grilled it right before serving. The dressing recipe makes a lot, so even though I doubled the chicken and marinade, I probably could have made the original amount of dressing and been fine. Use fresh basil - you'll notice the difference! Link below:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Bites

With all the craziness of the party, I didn't get a chance to take an individual picture of these little guys. But if you look closely they are on the plate at the front of the table, the one with the green bowl of dip on it.

I really liked the idea of this recipe because they aren't fried, but baked. Not that I have anything against deep-frying itself, but I really don't want to do it in my kitchen. So I prepped these bites the morning of the party, stuck them in the fridge, and baked them right before the guests showed up. They were delicious - nice and cheesy, not too spicy, and crispy enough on the outside. Serve with blue cheese dressing or the dip of your choice!

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Bites
adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake, originally from Made by Melissa via Food Network
Makes about 3 dozen bites

2 small cans Swanson chicken breast, shredded
1/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or lightly spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, hot sauce, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out mixture, roll into a ball between your hands, and place on a plate to begin dipping process.

Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into three separate bowls for dipping. Take each buffalo chicken ball and roll it in the flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet or in baking dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Antipasto Platter

No real recipes for this dish, just ideas for a large platter with a variety of food. I wanted to keep it low on prep time, since I was making so many other things for Abbie's party. You just need to spend a little bit of time in the gourmet section of your grocery store, and many of these things can be substitued out for others. For example, use Serrano ham instead of the prosciutto with the cantaloupe, or serve slices of goat cheese with the sundried tomatoes.

Antipasto Platter

  • Marinated bocconcini (tiny mozzarella balls) skewered on a toothpick with marinated julienned sundried tomatoes
  • Cantaloupe scooped out with a melon baller or cookie scoop wrapped in slices of prosciutto and skewered on a toothpick
  • Slices of roasted eggplant - make it like this recipe directs
  • Roasted red peppers marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper
  • Chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • Chunks of Asiago and Parmesan cheese
  • Marinated assorted olives

Serve with assorted crackers and breadsticks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip and Pumpkin Pie Dip

Let's start with dessert first, shall we? Besides wonderful cupcakes that were a gift from Liz at from Pink Cake Box at Abbie's birthday party, I chose to serve these two dips. They both go very nicely with assorted small cookies like 'Nilla Wafers and Teddy Grahams as well as fresh fruit.
As you can see in the pictures, the pumpkin dip is a little creamier while the cookie dough dip is more of a spread. Both are delicious!
I make both of these exactly as the recipes state so just follow the links:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ladies' Lunch Menu

The party for the birthday girl this past weekend went off without a hitch; but before I share some of the recipes I have another menu to share with you! The birthday celebration continues this coming weekend when a few of my good friends are bringing their toddlers over for a little celebration for Miss A. The original plan was brunch, but I like lunch food much better so I planned a kind of combination. The food is not particularly kid-friendly (except for the most sophisticated palate, of course); but my friends have no problem bringing food, and I included a dessert for them at the end!

Ladies' Lunch
  • Wild mushroom, cheese, and bacon quiche
  • Romaine salad with chicken, cheddar, apples, and cranberry vinaigrette
  • Parmesan-rosemary breadsticks
  • Assorted fruit with cream cheese dip
  • Pumpkin pie crunch for the moms and cupcakes for the kiddos :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Over-the-Border Shrimp Enchiladas

There are a few commercials out that advertise a lot of ideas for using cream cheese. Being a dairy addict myself, a lot of these look delicious! This first one I tried was really good - and nice and easy for a weeknight. The cumin and green chilies add a nice southwestern flair to these and of course the two kinds of cheeses make it nice and creamy.

I made the entire recipe and froze half of the enchiladas for another meal. If you do this, freeze the enchiladas before adding the salsa and shredded cheese, then just defrost, place in a baking dish and cover with the cheese and salsa before baking.

I served this with sauteed corn and salsa and roasted zucchini. And for some reason, I can't find the actual recipe on the website so I typed it again here for you:

Over-the-Border Shrimp Enchiladas
Makes 8 enchiladas

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large shrimp and cut each one into 3 pieces)
1 can (4-ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 package (8-ounces) cream cheese, cubed
8 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
1 1/2 cups chunky salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheeese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, green chilies, chili powder, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in cream cheese until melted.

Place 1/3 cup shrimp mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam-side down in a greases 13x9 baking dish. Pour salsa over top of tortillas and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

My staple sandwich to make in the slow cooker is pulled pork. But as I was browsing the internet one day this recipe stood out to me because A. it calls for chicken and B. it uses the North Carolina style of barbecue sauce which is vinegar-based instead of tomato-based.

This was simple to put together and ended up tasting really good. The cayenne pepper gives it a hearty kick so don't use as much if you don't like spice. The original recipe just called for a cut-up rotisserie chicken but I used raw chicken breasts and turned it into a slow cooker meal. And simple double or triple the recipe if you have a lot of guests or want to stick some in the freezer!

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

adapted from Food & Wine

Makes about 4 servings

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound

1 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup beer

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 hamburger buns, split

1 cup prepared coleslaw

Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and lay the chicken breasts on the bottom.

In a medium saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients except hamburger buns and coleslaw over high heat and bring to a boil. Continue cooking about 15 minutes, or until reduced by half. Pour over chicken in slow cooker.

Cook for 7 hours on low heat. Shred chicken, cook for 1 more hour. Serve on buns topped with coleslaw.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Abbie's Birthday Party Menu

It's hard to believe, but this little lady:

is about to turn ONE! We are having a small party with all of Abbie's aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Not too many people, so that allows me to make all of the food and be more creative with my ideas. I liked the idea of an anitpasto platter because you can incorporate a lot of different components without taking too much prep time. And virtually everything on the dinner menu can be prepared the day before. More time to celebrate my baby girl's big day!

Happy Birthday, Abigail Claire!

Abbie's Birthday Party Menu




Monday, October 25, 2010

Penne Vodka with 3 P's - Prosciutto, Pancetta, and Peas

Recently, Chuck and I booked a session with a professional photographer to get some photos taken of Abbie. It was a brisk fall day and we met the photographer at a local park to take some shots. It was late afternoon, the leaves were changing, the air was crisp, and Abbie was smiling up a storm. We came home and I wanted to make something hearty and delicious for dinner -this dish certainly delivered! With just a little bit of time spent on the sauce, this resulted in a flavorful pasta chock full of crispy pancetta and prosciutto. I served this with caprese salad and some nice red wine for the end to a perfect fall day.

Note: I printed this recipe out way before I started blogging so unfortunately I don't have any citation. If this is yours, please leave a link to your post in the comments and I will link to you within the post.

Penne Vodka with 3 P's
slightly adapted from unknown source
Makes 6-8 servings

1 pound penne pasta
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 pound pancetta, sliced 1/4" thick, diced
1/4 pound prosciutto, sliced 1/4" thick, diced
1 large (28-32 ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
kosher salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup green peas
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the garlic, pancetta, and prosciutto. Cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes.

Either pour tomatoes with their juices into a food processor and pulse several times to chop them or simply pour into a large bowl and break them up with your hands. Add to the saute pan with the meat. Season with salt and red pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

Lower the heat and add the vodka carefully. Turn heat back up and bring sauce to a boil; then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the peas after about 5 minutes.

Slowly stir in the cream, then add the pasta to the sauce. Gently toss to coat the pasta. Add the cheese and top with parsley. Serve immediately.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Irish Tea Bread

This is a delicious little quick bread from my good friend Rita. Best served warm with butter, it's a hearty bread that goes well with tea (obviously) or coffee. It is simple to make and freezes well, so make some for a leisurely weekend breakfast. :)

Irish Tea Bread
from Rita
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cup raisins
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
2/3 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
raw/turbinado sugar, to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 x 4 or 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Place raisins in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, let sit about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, softened raisins, melted butter, and egg. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix just until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle raw sugar over top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick stuck into center comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cheesy Sausage Penne

If you love creamy, cheesy goodness with your pasta; then this is for you! It is basically a delicious combination of Italian sausage, three different kinds of cheese, and your favorite "spaghetti" sauce. I was a little hesitant to use the green onions at first, but they add just the right amount of flavor to the dish. Additionally, the original recipe calls for cheddar cheese, which I didn't think went all that well, so I used a 6-cheese Italian blend. I would also recommend a simple mozzarella as well. That is the only modification I made to this recipe so I will link you right to the Taste of Home website below:

And, as always, gooey, cheesy comfort food doesn't photograph all that well!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Sour Cream Cake

This is a delicious little recipe that I got from my mom awhile ago. It's really more of a dessert bar than an actual cake, but uses a cake mix so I guess that's where the name came from. And it is my favorite way to use a cake mix - just mixing it with butter to form a delectable crust. Then it's topped with fresh apples, apple pie filling, and a sour cream/egg mixture. You really can't go wrong - oh, and I forgot to mention the cinnamon and sugar. :)

Apple Sour Cream Cake
from Jo's kitchen
Makes 13 x9 pan

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can apple pie filling
2-3 fresh apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine butter and cake mix and press in 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on).

Scatter sliced apples over warm crust. Spoon pie filling over apples, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. In small bowl, combine sour cream and egg; drizzle over top of bars.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feta Crostini with Tomato, Bacon, and Apple Jam

This was an elegant little appetizer that was easy to put together and made an impressive presentation. The bacon gives the jam a smoky, salty flavor; while the apples give it a little bit of sweetness. Try to cut the apples and onion the same size as the diced tomatoes so that the jam has a uniform look to it and you get all the flavors in one bite.

So make this for a cozy evening in at home or to bring to a dinner party - it will be a hit!
Feta Crostini with Tomato, Bacon, and Apple Jam
from Better Homes and Gardens, September 2010 issue
Makes about 30 pieces

1/2 pound smoked bacon, or 8 tablespoons REAL Bacon Bits
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup sugar
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 loaf baguette style French-bread, thinly sliced (toasted, optional)
8 ounces crumbled Feta cheese
snipped fresh or dried chives

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until just browned, about 5 minutes. (Omit if using Bacon Bits.) Transfer to paper towel to drain and cool; crumble.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine drained tomatoes, sugar, apple, onion, vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes or until apples are tender and most of the liquid is reduced.

Remove pan from heat; let sit for 5 minutes. (If making jam ahead, just rewarm.)

Top each baguette slice with a spoonful of warm jam, then sprinkle with crumbled Feta and chives. Serve immediately.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Peanut Chicken Stir Fry

Since I get so many of my recipes from the internet these days, I like to take cookbooks out from the library so that I can browse them and save some recipes without paying for a whole cookbook. :) I often pass them over to Chuck and ask him to pick a few meals that he would like me to make - this was one of them.

This recipe was fairly easy to make - frozen vegetables and coleslaw mix shortens the prep time. Chuck and I both liked it but thought there wasn't enough peanut taste. Admittedly, I didn't sprinkle the final dish with peanuts like the recipe called for, but next time I will probably just use more peanut butter. I also served this over noodles to make more of a complete meal.

You can only access this recipe on the Pillsbury site if you are a member so I have copied it below for you. I halved the recipe for the two of us.

Peanut Chicken Stir Fry
Makes 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli florets, carrots, and water chestnuts (or something similar)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ginger
5 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
3 cups purchased coleslaw blend
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook and stir 3 minutes to brown. Add frozen vegetables; cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is no longer pink.

Add all remaining ingredients except coleslaw and peanuts; cook 2 more minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in coleslaw; cook and stir 2 minutes. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Serve over cooked pasta.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gingerbread Cake

Along with pumpkin, apples, and cranberries; gingerbread reminds me of the fall/holiday season. This is a delicious little cake with the perfect amount of gingerbread flavor. It is supposed to be a layer cake, but I had too many people I wanted to share it with so I made two single-layer cake rounds and iced them separately. I used a simple cream cheese icing instead of the orange cream from the original recipe and everyone loved it.

No major changes from the original recipe so I have linked you below - enjoy!

Yes, that is a Christmas plate!

Friday, October 1, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ chicken pizza is one of my new favorites to order out or even buy as a last-minute frozen dinner. So when I saw this recipe in one of my mom's cookbooks I copied it down right away. It happens to be California Pizza Kitchen's recipe for one of their most famous pizzas. And it. was. awesome. Seriously, if you even remotely like BBQ sauce, please try this soon.

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of smoked Gouda, but I don't like that taste enough to buy a whole hunk of cheese for 2 tablespoons, so I used some leftover crumbled blue cheese I had on hand and I am glad I did! Blue cheese and BBQ sauce go great together, especially if you use Sweet Baby Ray's like I do :) Additionally, I may try to caramelize the red onions next time I make this. I think the sweeter flavor would go better with the rest of the flavors, rather than the slight crunch they had here.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Makes 1 10" pizza

1 chicken breast or 1/2 pound chicken tenders
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup BBQ sauce, divided
pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup red onion, sliced (caramelized, if desired)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare pizza stone or baking sheet.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook thoroughly. Remove from heat and cool slightly, coat with 1/4 cup BBQ sauce. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Form dough into 10" crust. Spread remaining 1/4 cup BBQ sauce evenly onto crust, leaving small border around edges. Sprinkle blue cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella over crust. Add chicken, red onion, remaining mozzarella, and cilantro.

Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is slightly browned. Cool slightly before slicing.

Don't mind the free-form crust. I had a little issue transferring from the counter to the pizza stone

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicken with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers

Last week, I had some leftover artichoke hearts in my fridge so I went browsing through my Google Reader and found this recipe. I also had some leftover roasted red peppers which led to my first adaptation to the original recipe. I changed a few other things around and ended up with a good weeknight meal.

Pan sauces have given me problems in the past - mine are never flavorful or rich enough but I think this one came close. Next time I will may try adding a bit of butter right at the end to bring some creaminess to the dish. I served this over rice pilaf and alongside some roasted broccoli.

Chicken with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers
adapted from Aggie's Kitchen
Makes 4 small servings

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1-1.5 pounds)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 of a large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
small jar (about 7 ounces) roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place top side down in skillet. Cook until golden-brown, about 7 minutes on each side; and remove to a plate. Keep the skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic to the chicken drippings in the skillet and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, wine, chicken broth, and red peppers. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes. Add the parsley, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Dang Thing EVER Bars

No arguments here about the name of these bars. They certainly live up to their name with a crumbly chocolate crust, a buttery caramel layer, topped off by some more chocolate crumbles and chocolate frosting (and nuts, if you wish). And since this uses a cake mix as a base, fairly simple to make!
The original recipe calls for German chocolate cake mix, but my wonderful supermarket didn't have that in stock, so I chose Devil's Food with great results. I also did not add the pecans since nuts are not my favorite, but I am sure they would add a nice crunch. Other tips - unwrap the bag of caramels before you start anything, since melting the caramel takes longer than the crust takes to bake. And don't add too much water to the frosting - it doesn't harden up in the fridge, so don't make it too runny. Otherwise, make these soon!

I didn't make any other changes to this recipe (other than only cutting them into 32 bars) so I will link you right to Beantown Baker with the original!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Mmmm, the first slow cooker meal of the season, and it also happens to be a soup! Perfect comfort food while I am awaiting the changing leaves and pumpkin picking with Abbie. This recipe is actually a little reminiscent of the last soup I blogged, but easier to make and tastier in my opinion.

Fairly easy to prep, with browning the ground beef and chopping the onion the only real work you have to do. The cayenne pepper gives it a little kick and the broth is nice and rich with the beef and tomato taste. Add some Parmesan cheese to give it a nice salty bite and enjoy this while watching the leaves fall!

Pasta Fagioli Soup
Makes 6-8 servings

1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I omitted)
2 (10.5-ounce) cans beef broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, broken apart
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cups dried pasta, cooked (I used elbows)

Combine all ingredients but pasta in a 4 to 7-quart slow cooker. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours or High for 4-5 hours. At the end of cooking time, add the cooked pasta and serve immediately.

Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Matt's Turkey Burgers

My friend Nicole's husband, Matt is a great cook. So when he was waxing poetic about his turkey burgers I knew I had to get the recipe! This is a delicious change from my regular turkey burgers - the mayo and Dijon add a creaminess and bind the burgers together without an egg or bread crumbs; and the other spices all work together to create a great flavor. Matt recommends serving them with crumbled blue cheese melted on top (which we did) and grilled red onion. Yum!

We liked these so much we had them twice in one week! The first time I served them with sweet potato fries and sesame spinach salad and the second time I served them with cole slaw and sauteed zucchini and tomatoes.

Matt's Turkey Burgers
from Matt of Ingredients for a Wonderful Life
Makes 4 burgers

1 package lean ground turkey (about 1.25-1.33 pounds)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
splash of soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder (I used chili powder)
2 teaspoons salt (I would recommend 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and form into 4 patties. Grill over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes each side, flipping only once until meat is no longer pink in the middle.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bacon Appetizer Crescents

Yes, another post with no photos - I do apologize! I brought these to a barbecue and neglected to take any pictures as they were being gobbled up by everyone. But I got so many compliments (and they are so EASY) I couldn't keep them all to myself. And you can look at some nice photos over on Delish where I found these!

You can pretty much change up the add-in ingredients here to suit your tastebuds, I can't wait to try some new variations! I wouldn't make these too far in advance, and if you do, warm them slightly before serving.

Bacon Appetizer Crescents
slightly adapted from Delish
Makes 32 pieces

1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
8 sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled, or 1/2 cup REAL Bacon Bits
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon milk
2 cans (8-ounce) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick foil.

Mix together all ingredients except crescent rolls until well-blended. An electric mixer helps, but is not necessary.

Separate each can of dough into four rectangles on a work surface. Firmly press perforations together to seal. Spread each rectangle with about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture; cover evenly. Roll up each rectangle (starting with the shorter side) and then cut each cylinder into 4 equal pieces with a serrated knife. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Whew, with a name like that you know this dessert HAS to be out-of-this-world and it certainly delivered! I thought this would be very time consuming to make with all the steps it calls for, but it was surprisingly quick to make and the end result certainly made it all worth it.

You start with a layer of graham cracker crumbs mixed with chocolate chips, then top it with a sweetened cream cheese layer, then top with a layer of crumbled cookie dough and bake. How can you go wrong here?
Other than not finishing these off with the chocolate drizzle and only using 8 ounces (1 bar) of cream cheese instead of the called for 10 ounces, I didn't make any changes to the original recipe so I will link you below. If you make these in an 8x8 pan, like I did, just bake a few minutes longer until the center is set. Enjoy!

Note: Ok, sooo it has come to my attention that these were posted last year (at almost the same time, which is odd) but they were so good I want you to try them again!