Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Peach Brie Chicken

Say cheese!  I received a big wheel of brie for Christmas from a co-worker.  Major score.  I love cheese and brie is a wonderful and versatile cheese to work with.  I decided to start off my cheese adventure using it topping some chicken breasts that had a peach baked on top of them.  I only made 2 but their was enough sauce for up to 4 chicken breasts, just add in additional brie for each one.
Peach Brie Chicken
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup peach preserves
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz Brie, rind removed, cut into slices

Season both sides of the chicken breasts and place in a greased baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix together the peach preserves and vinegar.  Spoon over the chicken breasts evenly.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350.  Remove from oven and top with the Brie.  Return to oven until the Brie has melted.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Peach Salsa Pork Chops

Last minute Christmas tasks and a lack of time to cook makes this a perfect weeknight dinner.    I had picked up mammoth pork chops (it was all they had, I normally prefer thinner ones) at the grocery store.    I happened to have a jar peach salsa in my pantry...time for an easy dinner.

Peach Salsa Pork Chops
2-4 center cut pork chops
1/3 cup peach salsa
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Season both sides of the pork chops and place in a greased baking pan.  Top with the salsa and bake at 350° for 30 minutes (40 minutes for thicker pork chops.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Brown Butter & Romano Fettuccine

After all the sweets and Christmas treats, it was time to start thinking more healthy.  I bought some whole wheat fettuccine with flax and chia in it to use for this recipe but regular fettuccine would be just as good.  I had some leftover unsalted butter from holiday baking so it was a good way to use that up.

Brown Butter & Romano Fettuccine

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
1 tsp parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz whole wheat fettuccine or any pasta will work

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir or whisk constantly until it turns a nice, golden brown.  Remove from heat.  In another small pan, toast the pine nuts until they are golden brown, no need to add any oils or butter.  Stir the pine nuts occasionally.  Cook your pasta per the package directions.  Drain and return to the pan.  Add in the brown butter, pine nuts, Romano cheese, parsley and seasonings.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chocolate Drop Cookies

It's getting closer to Christmas and I'm trying to finish up my holiday baking and gift wrapping.  I decided to make a new cookie this year.  These are soft cookies with a creamy icing and you can make them all year long - change the sprinkles to match the holiday or just leave them off.  Any extra icing makes a great dip for pretzels.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa (I used a dark cocoa)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add in the egg, sour cream and vanilla.  Gradually stir in the dry ingredients.  Scoop out into balls and bake for 8 minutes at 350°.  Let sit for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before tranferring to a cooling rack.  

Chocolate Icing

1/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups powdered sugar

Stir together the butter and cream cheese until completely blended.  Add in milk and vanilla.  Gradually add in the cocoa and powdered sugar.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Cranberry Turkey Sausage

Don’t you hate it when you have leftover bits and pieces of food items?  It generally happens with chocolate chips and nuts in my home but I managed to end up with a small amount of cranberries in my freezer.  I  happened to find some ground turkey and ground pork in there also so the idea came to me about making sausage.  It turned out really well and the cranberries added a nice flavor and color.  I cooked the cranberries ahead of time since I was making patties.  I didn’t think the cranberries would have enough cooking time to soften if I just chopped them in the food processor.

Cranberry Turkey Sausage
¾ cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp water
Cook the berries until they pop and then let them cool down completely
1# ground turkey
½#  ground pork
cooled cranberries
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp rubbed sage
¼ tsp garlic powder

Completely mix together all of the ingredients so the spices are distributed evenly.  I recommend frying a small piece in a pan to make sure your spice level is to your liking.  Cook all the pieces taking care not to overcrowd your pan.  Drain on paper towels before serving.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I wanted to try a new cookie this holiday season and I had a couple bags of Andes peppermint chips on hand.  What goes better with peppermint than chocolate?  This recipe is going to be a regular every holiday season.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
1 stick butter
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 bag Andes peppermint chips
1 tsp flour

Melt the butter and chocolate chips together, either in the microwave or a large saucepan.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until they are a pale yellow.  Add in the chocolate and butter mixture, along with the vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix together the peppermint chips and 1 tsp flour.  This is so they don’t sink to the bottom and melt on your cookie sheet.  Gently fold the chips into the batter and then scoop out onto parchment lined baking sheets.    Bake for 12 minutes at 350°. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.  Makes 48 cookies.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cinnamon & Apple Breakfast Risotto

There's nothing like starting off a lazy weekend morning with the aroma of apples and cinnamon in the air.  I saw a risotto commercial a few weeks ago and thought why couldn't a risotto be made for breakfast...hence my morning mission today.  I had a some apples in the crisper and a box of golden raisins on hand for holiday baking so I borrowed some of each.  Remember to heat the apple juice and milk before adding to the rice to keep the rice cooking.

Cinnamon & Apple Breakfast Risotto

1 tbsp butter
1 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups apple juice
2 cups milk
1 apple, peeled and thin sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of nutmeg

Melt the butter in the bottom of a large saucepan.  Add in rice, stir and cook for a couple minutes.  Stir in the sliced apple and 1 cup apple juice.  Cook until the juice is absorbed.  Add in the additional 1/2 cup of heated juice.  Next start adding in the milk in 1/2 cup measures, stirring and cooking until it's absorbed.  Add in the raisins, honey, salt and spices.  Keep cooking until the rice is tender.  It will take about a half hour.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cracked Black Pepper & Parmesan Biscuits

Light and flaky biscuits are a great way to start the day, especially when they are topped with sausage & gravy.  I took out the pepper from the gravy that I normally add and redirected it into these easy to make biscuits.  The secret is let your food processor do all of the work.  These would also make a great side for any meal.

Cracked Black Pepper & Parmesan Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter

Combine all the dry ingredients and Parmesan cheese in the food processor and give it a couple pulses to mix them up.  Add in the butter, one tbsp. at a time and the egg.  Pour in milk and pulse until it combines and forms a ball.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Pat out dough until it's 1" thick and cut into rounds.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes at 450°.  Pull the biscuits from the oven and brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper.  Return to the oven for another minute.

Makes 24 biscuits

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Italian Roast Beef

It's time to get away from the turkey and leftovers and on to something different.  This is a delicious way to make a roast and you can either make it in the oven or crock pot.  If you do not have red wine to use in the pan, you can substitute red cooking wine, just don't use any salt in the rub or double the beef broth.

Italian Roast Beef

3# roast beef, I used a sirloin roast
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine

Combine all the spices in a small bowl and rub them on the roast.  Place the roast in the bottom of your crock pot and pour the broth and wine around the edges.  Cover and cook over medium for 6 hours.  Let rest 10 minutes before slicing on a plate.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I'd like to wish everyone celebrating today a very happy Thanksgiving full of good food and time spent with those who mean the most to you.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Sparkling Cranberry Dessert

Lots of layers to this cranberry dessert and they all combine to make a delicious bite. It's not overly sweet...just right for the holiday season.  I saw this recipe on the Taste of Home website and tweaked it by using my own graham crust recipe and the addition of sparkling water to the Jello layer.

Sparkling Cranberry Dessert

Bottom layer ~

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix together and press in the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Second layer ~

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz Cool Whip

Mix together and spread evenly over the bottom layer.  Return to the refrigerator.

Mix together ~

1 1/2 cups hot water
2 - 3 oz packages of cranberry Jello

Stir until completely dissolved.  Add in 1 - 14 oz can of whole cranberries and 1 1/2 cups of sparkling water.  Put in refrigerator for one hour and then pour over the second layer.  Return to the refrigerator for 4 hours before cutting into squares.  Top with the remaining whipped cream.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pumpkin Biscotti

I woke up feeling ambitious this morning.  After reading the news, I had a choice - craft, read or cook.  I had some pumpkin that I had baked this fall and froze in small packets so I grabbed one of those and thawed it in warm water.  Plus it was chilly outside (18) so warming up the kitchen was a nice start to whatever happens next.

Pumpkin Biscotti

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl ~

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt

Add in ~

1/2 cup pumpkin
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

This mixture will seem really dry at first.  Walk away, start the oven, grease the pan...the pumpkin will gradually work it's way and moisten the flour mixture.  When the flour is all incorporated, shape into a log shape - about 12" long and 3-4" wide, 1" high.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut at a diagonal in 1/2" slices.  Place back on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 300°.  Turn biscotti over and bake another 10 minutes.  Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Potato Chip Chicken

This is an fast meal to put together on a busy work/school night and a good way to use up an open bag of potato chips.  I had gotten a free bag from the grocery store and it wasn't my usual brand.  I found these to be way too salty so I wanted to find a way to use them up.  Of course, Sunday rolled around and I had chicken to make for dinner so I combined the two.  The chicken stays very moist thanks to the sour cream and chip coating.

Potato Chip Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp parsley
3 cups ripple potato chips, crushed

Combine all of the spices together in a small bowl.  Rub each chicken breast with sour cream on both sides.  Sprinkle the spice mixture, also on both sides and then roll in the crushed potato chips.  Place in a non-stick foil lined pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350°.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cinnamon Cranberry Butter

Give me a bag of cranberries and I'm going to make sure I find a way to use it all.  This recipe is easy to make and a nice added touch to serve on your holiday table.  It also is great on a turkey sandwich for the leftovers you'll have to contend with.  And you can whip this up in your food processor so very little handwork.

Cinnamon Cranberry Butter

1/4 cup frozen cranberries, chopped
1 stick butter, softened
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Chop the cranberries in your food processor.  Add in the remaining ingredients and combine until completely mixed.  Refrigerate in an airtight container.  Take out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cranberry Lemon Bread

Cranberry and lemon flavors mingle together in this easy to make quick bread.  Normally I use orange and cranberry together, but I wanted to try using lemon this time and I was really pleased on how well they blend together.  Chopping the frozen cranberries was quick and mess-free using a food processor. 

Cranberry Lemon Bread

1 cup frozen cranberries, chopped
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, mix together cranberries, sugar, oil, eggs, milk, lemon extract and zest.  Add in dry ingredients and pour into a greased loaf pan or 3 small pans.  Bake for 50-60 minutes for a large bread or 40-45 minutes for 3 smaller ones at 350°.  Let cool for 10 minutes before turning out and placing on a cooling rack.  Icing is optional ~

Icing ~

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
Drizzle over the top of the cooled bread and let sit until it hardens.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sour Cream & Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes are one of those easy sides that everyone loves.  I was making baked chicken breasts that weren’t going to have gravy so I decided to make a potato that would stand on its own.  It’s an easy variation to the mashed potatoes you normally make.  Just reduce the amount of milk and add in the sour cream and cheeses.  I opted for  cheddar to create a nice color.  

Sour Cream & Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

2 ½# red potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½” thick slices
2 tbsp butter
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp chives

Boil the potatoes in a salted water.  When fork tender, drain and mashed together with the butter.  Add in the sour cream and milk.  Fold in the cheese and stir until melted.  Season to taste.  Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle chives on top.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Caramel Apple Dip and Cinnamon Dippers

This is a versatile dip that can be served warm or cold.  I do recommend making the dippers fresh to go with them.   I originally intended on making these for Halloween and using cutters of cats and ghosts for the dipper but I’m running a little behind so I went with fall leaves.  You can make these for any season or event since apples are always in the market. 

Caramel Apple Dip

3 lbs apples, peeled, cored and diced

2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup honey
11 oz caramels

Put chopped apples into a crockpot with the lemon juice.  Cook until apples are tender. Puree apples in a food mill or just simply mash with a spoon.  Add in caramels and stir well.

Cinnamon Tortilla Dippers

8 small Flour tortillas
3 tbsp butter melted
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cut flour tortillas into desired shapes.  Brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 5 minutes at 325°.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sweet Potato Bread

I always keep an abundance of fall vegetables on hand since they are my favorites.  I had a couple sweet potatoes and some buttermilk in the refrigerator that needed to be used and this is what I created.  It's very moist and dense and has all the spice flavors of Fall.  You can even see the orange flecks of sweet potato in every slice.

Sweet Potato Bread

2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cups flour

Microwave the sweet potatoes (remember to poke with a fork a few times) until completely baked.  Allow to cool completely.  In a medium bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, oil, buttermilk and eggs.  Stir in the sugars, baking soda and spices.  Gradually fold in the flour.  Spread out evenly in a greased loaf pan.  Bake for 70 minutes (it's dense so it takes awhile) at 350°.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out and placing on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Kentucky Hot Brown Pizza

I’ve been fascinated by this sandwich ever since I saw it on a Bobby Flay throw down.  Since I had made a small turkey breast and had some leftovers, I decided to incorporate it into a pizza instead of a sandwich.  There’s still the dough, it’s just spread out instead of stacked and it doesn’t take long to make it but you can buy a ready made dough too.

From now until Thanksgiving, I'm going to be making different recipes using Thanksgiving ingredients but in a non-traditional way.  My cranberries will not be in a sauce, sweet potatoes not covered with marshmallows...you get the idea.  This is how I'll be using leftover turkey because it's that good.

Kentucky Hot Brown Pizza

Toppings –
1 ½ cups turkey breast, cooked and diced
3 thick slices of bacon, cut into 1” pieces, cooked and drained
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 ½ cups Pizza cheese
1 tsp parsley

Dough –
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water

Mix sugar and yeast into the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups flour and 1 1/2 tsp sea salt.  Slowly mix in water.  Mix together (using your hands works best) until it forms a ball.  Knead for a couple minutes on a lightly floured surface and return to the bowl and rub 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil on top.  Cover with a towel and let rest for about 45 minutes.
Sauce –
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup Romano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Stir in flour and allow to cook for a minute.  Gradually stir in milk ¼ cup at a time, allowing to thicken after each time.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese and spices.
Spread out the dough to your desired shape.  Spread the sauce on top.  Sprinkle the turkey, tomato and bacon pieces over the sauce.  Top with the pizza cheese and then sprinkle the parsley on top.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken

This is an easy and spicy meal.  Perfect to start off on a Sunday morning before the football games begin in the crock pot and then all you have to do is make the glaze and sides and you have dinner.  

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken

4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Mix the brown sugar and spices in a bowl or on a plate.  Rub the chicken pieces with the mixture and place in your crock pot.  Cook over medium heat for 5 hours.  Make the glaze and brush it on 15 minutes before serving.

Apple Cider Glaze

3/4 cup apple cider
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp salt

Cook in a small saucepan until completely heated and brush on your chicken.  Save some for dipping.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cinnamon & Spice Apple Muffins

I love this extended Fall season with very little rain.  The leaves are gently dancing down the street and hopefully departing my yard.  I am a dreamer.  Any that have left are being replaced.  At least I can enjoy the aroma of cinnamon and apples that just came out of the oven with a cup of tea.  These muffins are not overly sweet, nor were my apples so it's a nice break from the Halloween candy.

Cinnamon & Spice Apple Muffins

1 1/2 cups apples, peeled and diced
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cup flour


1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, softened

In a medium bowl, combine butter, mascarpone and both sugars.  Add in the buttermilk. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.  The dough will be dense, but it will loosen up as the apples release their juices while baking.  Fill cupcake liners up 3/4's full.  In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Blend in the butter and sprinkle on top of each of the muffins.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

I finally got back to this recipe idea from a few weeks ago when I made the Italian Chicken Pot Pie but opted to top it with biscuits instead of these potatoes.  They are a great side for any protein and so tasty that no additional toppings are needed although I did sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan on each serving for fun.

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
3# red potatoes, peeled and slice into small pieces
Salt for water
3 tbsp butter, softened
½ cup milk
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp parsley

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain and add in butter to melt.  Mash until smooth and add in milk, Parmesan cheese and spices.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Beef & Squash Stew

After several cool days, it just seemed like a good time to make a beef stew in the crock pot.  I had a lone acorn squash sitting around waiting for a warm home and it found it.    I substituted the squash for the potatoes that I would normally add in and it turned out great.  I still added in some carrots and peas for a variety of vegetables since I had both on hand. 

Beef & Squash Stew
1# beef stew meat, cut down into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 acorn squash,  peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
¼ cup, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups beef broth
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
½ cup peas
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bowl or plastic bag for coating the beef on all sides.  Place in the hot frying pan with the heated olive oil.  Brown beef pieces on both sides, before it’s completely cooked, add in the onions and garlic and cook all together.  Add into crock pot, along with the beef broth, thyme and parlsey.  Prepare you squash and carrots and add into the stew.  You can wait to add in the peas until ½ hour before serving.  Taste and see if additional salt and pepper are needed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall Snack Mix

The Fall and Christmas season always makes me think of snack mixes.  Maybe it's the return of football and hockey seasons and having a fun snack on hand to enjoy the games with.  The only question was whether to make it a savory or a sweet mix.  This time, I went with the sweet option with a hint of cinnamon.  The blue tortilla chips were a colorful addition.  You can sub in regular ones but with Halloween fast approaching, I liked the color.

Fall Snack Mix

Place in a roaster pan ~

1/4 cup popcorn, measurement is unpopped
4 cups Crispix
2 cups tortilla chips, blue or regular
1 cup pretzels
2 cups apple chips
In a small pan, melt 1 stick of butter.  When melted, add 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Stir and pour over the popcorn mixture.  Bake for 1 hour at 250°, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and pour into a serving container.  

Add to this mixture ~

1/2 cup Peanut M & M's in fall colors
1 cup Candy Corn

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Taco Quesadillas

It's college football game day so a special snack is needed for viewing the game.  Today I made these taco quesadillas....yes, I still have a quesadilla maker but you can easily assemble these and cook in a large frying pan (turning once).  Plus you can make these in any size of flour tortilla that you want.  I used the 8" tortillas.  I'm adding in my recipes for refried (crock pot) beans that I freeze in 1 cup containers and my homemade taco seasoning (little salt vs commercial...I just add in the amount that I prefer).  You can make the quesadillas ahead of time and do a quick reheat in the oven to serve a crowd instead of making them one at a time.

Taco Quesadillas

1# ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup onions, minced
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp taco seasoning (recipe below)

Brown the ground beef and seasonings.  Add in onions before it's completely cooked and finish cooking with them in.  Add in the seasoning and water and cook another 5 minutes.
Spread one tortilla with refried beans (about 2 tbsp for an 8" tortilla).  Top with 1/3 cup taco meat and then 1/4 cup shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese.  Cook in your quesadilla maker or frying pan until a nice, golden brown.  Cut into 6-8 pieces and serve with hot sauce and sour cream.

Taco Seasoning

1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp  oregano
1 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1/2 tsp salt

Place in a sealable plastic bag or container that's airtight and mix well.  Double or triple the recipe to have on hand for future use.

Crockpot refried beans

2 cups pinto beans
1/2 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 dried chile chipotle
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 cup V8 Juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse and clean pinto beans and soak overnight.  Put in crockpot on high with onions, garlic and chile chipotle on high.  Cook for 8 hours occasionally stirring and adding liquid as needed (the V8 juice and water).

When the beans are soft, mash and add cumin, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Italian Chicken Pot Pie

We are back to cooler temperatures again after a record breaking 97 degrees on Sunday.   I wrote down an idea for a recipe a few months ago when it was too warm to think about turning on the oven but now it’s the perfect time for it.  My only debate was how I wanted to top it – with biscuits or Parmesan mashed potatoes.  I opted to try the mashed potatoes later in the week with pork chops. 

Italian Chicken Pot Pie
1 pie crust, I used a frozen deep dish one that I pre-baked
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken stock
½ cup milk
¼ cup flour
½ cup carrots
½ cup green beans
½ cup corn
1/3 cup peas
½ cup Fontina cheese
1 tsp parsley
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the vegetables and chicken pieces in your baked pie shell.  In a saucepan, whisk together flour and chicken stock.  Add in milk and heat until it thickens.  Add in salt, pepper and parsley.  Pour over the vegetables.  Top with spoonfuls  of biscuits (recipe below).  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.  Brush tops of biscuits with 2 tbsp softened butter and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  

Parmesan Biscuits

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Coca-Cola Sloppy Joes

Unseasonably warm temperatures and college football meant it was another good day for using the crock pot.  Using ingredients that I had on hand, I decided to throw together some sloppy joes using Coke that I had in the refrigerator instead of brown sugar.  I stirred in a tablespoon of flour into the ground beef mixture to thicken up the joes.

Coca-Cola Sloppy Joes

1# extra lean ground beef
1/4 cup onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Coca-Cola
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Brown the ground beef (drain if you do not use extra lean).  When almost cooked through, add in onions, garlic and red peppers until it's no longer pink.  Stir in flour and cook for another minute.  In your crock pot, (or you can just add these ingredients to your frying pan) stir together Coke, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire and seasonings.  Mix in the ground beef mixture and set on low for a couple hours until you're ready to serve.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

The smell of apples and cinnamon is always one of the scents that make your house seem like a home.  And what a delicious way to start off your day and you can kind of convince yourself it’s almost healthy because there are apples in these rolls.  Make these the night before and let the dough rise for the second time (after you’ve made the actual rolls and put them in the greased pan) covered by plastic wrap in the refrigerator.  If you want an even easier way, you can buy the sweet dough frozen at the grocery store and allow it to rise for the first time before spreading it out and filling it.  I used a bread machine to do all the hard work for me this time.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Dough –
1 pkg yeast
½ cup warm water
¼ cup sugar
Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat until the butter has melted –
½ cup milk
1/3 cup butter
¼ cup sugar

Put In your bread maker  -
4 ¼ cups flour
1 1 /2 tsp salt
1 egg
Add in the yeast and milk mixtures and turn on machine on the dough setting.
When done, spread out into a 12 x 18 shape and top with –
3 tbsp butter, softened to spread over dough
3 apples, shredded and mix in 2 tbsp lemon juice so they don't turn brown
½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp flour
¼ tsp salt

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough.   Roll up the 11” way.  Cut dough.  I cut in half, in half again and then half for the final time so you end up with 8 equal slices. And place in a greased 9 x 13 pan and allow to rise until it reaches the top of the pan.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350°.  Allow to cool before icing.
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Mix together in a small bowl and spread over cooled apple cinnamon rolls.