Monday, December 29, 2014

Bacon & Cheddar Meatloaf

I was trying to think of something new to make with a pound of extra lean ground beef that I had.  I had already made a bbq meatloaf but I wanted to change it up a little.  Bacon was the answer, and there's very few times that it isn't.  

Bacon & Cheddar Meatloaf

1 # extra lean ground beef
2 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 large egg

1 cup Mild Cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup barbeque sauce

In a medium bowl, add in all of the ingredients.  My method for combining is getting both hands in and mixing until it's all combined evenly.  Shape and place in a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and pan.  Cover and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Italian Sausage Bites

Ever buy ingredients for Christmas baking and run out of time before you get them made?  That's what happened to me this year and I had 3 packages of Puff Pastry in my freezer that I needed to start using.  Perfect timing to make a hot snack for the Vikings & Bears game today.  Besides the Puff Pastry, I had a package of mild Italian Sausage in my freezer that was already cooked and drained to make this an easy game day treat.

Italian Sausage Bites

1 package Puff Pastry, thawed for 45 minutes
1 # mild Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Cut each piece of Puff Pastry into 3 equal strips.  Line your Italian sausage and cheese down the middle of each piece.

Gather the edges together starting at the middle and pinch firmly to close.  

Cut each roll into 8 equal pieces.  Place on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.  

Melt together ~

1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Brush the tops of each Italian Sausage bite.  Place in a 400° oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Creamy Cannellini Chicken Soup

There's still only a dusting of snow on the ground but the mercury is taking a dive into winter mode.  I made a half-hearted attempt at cleaning my pantry today since my New Year's resolution is going to be more organized.  Actually have my home organized like my top of my work desk is.  Back to my pantry...I found 2 opened boxes of Orzo so that needed to be remedied and I love cannellini beans.  Since I had some chicken breasts in the refrigerator, I combined them into a delicious soup.

Creamy Cannellini Chicken Soup

1# chicken breasts, cut into small bite-size pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 - 19 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 cup Orzo 
3/4 cup milk
2 dashes hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat up olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or soup kettle.  Add in chicken pieces and lightly cook.  Add in the minced garlic and cook for a minute.  Stir in cannellini beans and carrots with chicken stock in the dutch oven.  Sprinkle in parsley, stir and cook partially covered until carrots are tender.  Stir in Orzo pasta and milk. Cook until the pasta is tender.  Taste and season accordingly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.  Thank you for reading my blog and trying out my recipes and/or craft projects.  

I'll be back soon with more recipes and crafts ~


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

As Christmas preparations wind down (or maybe speed up in a frenzy), here is an easy to make candy for gift giving or to have on your Christmas buffet ~

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Bottom layer ~ line a 8 x 8 baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil and melt together ~

1 - 4 oz Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate bar
1 - 4 oz Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate bar 60% Cacao

When melted, stir in 1 tsp peppermint extract and pour into the bottom of the lined baking pan.  Chill to harden.

When chilled melt ~

2 - 4 oz Ghirardelli White Chocolate bars

When completely melted, stir in 1/2 tsp canola oil and spead over chilled chocolate in the pan.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed candy canes on top and chill.  When cool, cut into small bite-size pieces.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chocolate Pizzelles

It's the weekend before Christmas and I'm finishing up my baking and adding the finishing touches to gifts.  These are one of things on my making list and they turned out delicious but I'll admit I did have some problems making perfectly round cookies.  I'm thinking about making Nutella sandwiches with them so odds are the slight imperfections will not be noticed.

Chocolate Pizzelles

3 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz chocolate, melted and slightly cooled ~ I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate
3/4 sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour

Cream together eggs, oil, vanilla, cooled chocolate and sugar.  Add in flour and baking powder.  Make pizzelles per your manufacturer's instructions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turkey Broth

The thermometer said 16 but the wind chill was much colder and my car needed gas.  My way to warm up after that was to heat a cup of turkey broth that I had made on the weekend (and froze a bunch for later use) with a couple of dashes of Frank's Hot Sauce in it.  There's been a lot of new studies conducted on the benefits of bone broths to your joints and other areas.  I grew up with my mom making pots of beef broth and it was time I started making some of my own.  I use it all the time for recipes but forgot how comforting having a cup or bowl was. It was the perfect time to make it because my work had given away turkeys for Thanksgiving.  I'm not a dark meat fan so it took a couple minutes to break down the turkey and the breast was heading to the oven later on in the day.  It was a 13 pound bird so it made lots of broth.

Turkey Broth

Approximately 6.5" turkey dark meat, including legs
9 gallons water
1 onion, skin removed and cut in quarters
4 carrots, rough chopped
2 stalks of celery, rough chopped
1 head of garlic, halved
2 bay leaves
1 - 15 oz can tomatoes, drained

Bring the turkey and water to almost a boil.  Skim off the foam and add in the remaining ingredients.  Turn down the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 3 hours at least.  Strain the broth through a fine sieve.  Refrigerate and skim off any fat.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hamburger Wild Rice Hotdish

Another foggy day but considering it could be below 0 temperatures, 46 degrees is looking pretty good even with the fog.  I happened to have a package of white & wild rice on my kitchen counter and a pound of ground beef in the refrigerator so I decided to make a Minnesota comfort food staple ~ hotdish (or a casserole for everyone not from the upper plains area).  

Hamburger Wild Rice Hotdish

2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
1 cup wild & long grain rice
1 pound ground beef, seasoned and cooked
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup carrots, diced1 tbsp celery flakes
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the chicken broth and butter to a boil.  Add in the rice, stir, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a half hour or until the water/broth has been absorbed.  Stir in the milk and sour cream.  Mix in the remainder of the ingredients and placed in a greased casserole.  Bake for a half hour at 350°.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Italian Cheese Ball

It's a football weekend here in the valley.  Congratulations Bison on your win today.  What better snack to watch football or any other sporting event with than a cheese ball?  Today's was a combination of 3 Italian cheeses.

Italian Cheese Ball

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano

1 tbsp parsley
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, chopped

Mix together softened cream cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Add in the garlic and spices. Shape into a ball shape in bowl and cover
with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove and roll in chopped

Return to refrigerator. Remove 15 minutes before
serving.  Serve with crackers or vegetables.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake

Growing up, hot fudge pudding cake was always a treat.  The crunchy cake top with the warm, thick pudding below topped with melting ice cream.  Decadent, sure but so worth it as occasional winter dessert.  I tweaked my family recipe slightly.

Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake

Bottom layer ~

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp dark cocoa (I used King Arthur Flour Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa)
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp canola oil

Mix together in a bowl and spread into a greased 9 x 9 pan.

Top with ~

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa

Combine in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the batter.

Pour 1 3/4 cup of hot water on top.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mac and Italian Cheese

My refrigerator is always well stocked with cheese.  Lately there's been an abundance of Italian cheese and what better way to use them than with a comforting mac and cheese.  Extra creamy thanks to the Mascarpone and Fontina with a touch of saltiness from the Parmesan.

Mac and Italian Cheese

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour

1 small garlic clove, grated
2 cups milk
2 cups Cavatappi, or your favorite pasta
4 oz Mascarpone, room temperature
8 oz Fontina, grated

1/3 cup Parmesan, grated

1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt 4 tbsp butter and stir in flour.  Allow to cook for a minute before adding in the grated garlic.  Cook for another minute.  Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly.  When thickened, remove from heat and add in cheeses.

In a casserole, put cooked Cavatappi and cheese sauce.
In a small pan, melt 1 tbsp butter.  Add in Panko bread crumbs and spices.  Top macaroni mixture.

Servings: 8

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Italian Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Occasionally even mashed potatoes need an update and what better than with some creamy Mascarpone cheese and a touch of salty Parmesan cheese blended together.  

Italian Cheese Mashed Potatoes

2# potatoes (I used russet), peeled and sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes with salt in a large saucepan until fork tender.  Drain and mash with the butter and cheese.  Add parsley and season to taste.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken & Parmesan Dumplings

Crock pot meals usually equal comfort food and this one covers all the bases with creamy chicken, vegetables and tender dumplings.  

Crock Pot Chicken & Parmesan Dumplings

1# chicken tenders
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup milk
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Place chicken tenders at the bottom of your crock pot.  Season with salt and pepper and then add the chicken broth to the pot.  Cover and heat over medium heat for 4 hours.  Fork shred chicken and add in the carrots to cook.   After 1 hour add in the peas and milk.  Cook for an additional half hour.  In a small plastic container that has a cover, shake together 1/4 cup milk and 2 tbsp flour.  Stir into chicken mixture and allow to heat up.  After it's thickened, turn up the heat and drop in the Parmesan dumplings (recipe below).  Cover and cook for 12 minutes before gently turning over and cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

Parmesan Dumplings

In a small bowl, mix together

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
2 tsp canola oil