Tuesday, May 31, 2011

cherry cheesecake tartlets









My friend Annie made these darling, mouth-watering cherry cheesecake tartlets. Aren't they cute? I was pretty full after my huge plateful(s!) of dinner last night but had to have one. I went from pretty full to about to burst. These will be perfect for future Christmas parties, showers, picnics and any kind of party!

cherry cheesecake tartlets (my friend Annie found the recipe at Diana's Desserts)
1 1/8 cups graham cracker crumbs (see note below)
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened,
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling (see note below)

You will need:
standard size cupcake or muffin liners (and Annie used mini)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners into muffin tins.
In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and 2 tablespoons sugar; adding the softened butter to mixture until it forms small crumbs. Place approximately 1 tablespoon crumb mixture into each cupcake liner and pat it down.
Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Spoon a layer of cream cheese mixture on top of crusts; fill cups 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (shorter for mini cheesecakes like the photo). Let tartlets cool, and spoon cherry pie filling over the tops. Chill tartlets in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve chilled, and store any leftovers in refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
Notes: Blueberry pie filling may also be used for the topping, if desired. Other cookies or biscuit crumbs can be used for the crusts of these little tarts instead of the graham cracker crumbs, such as Vanilla Wafer crumbs, Shortbread Cookie crumbs, Chocolate Wafer Cookie crumbs or Hazelnut Cookie crumbs. Makes 16.








mini peanut butter cup cookies









Leslie made these mini peanut butter cup cookies for us for our dinner last night. I'd seen them before and have always wanted the recipe. It was a very hot evening and the peanut butter cups started to melt creating a marvelously oozy chocolate peanut butter experience for anyone seeking an indulgent bite or two.

mini peanut butter cup cookies (my friend Leslie)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag mini Reese's peanut butter cups

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together.
Add flour and baking soda.
Form balls (a little smaller than a golf ball) and drop into mini muffin pan (greased).
Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes.
Let cool 3-5 minutes in pan. Squish a peanut butter cup in each "muffin".

What Leslie has to say- hers began to melt after she put the peanut butter cups in so she put them in the fridge to firm up. They were super easy to get out of the pan after they were firm.



rio shredded pork









My friend Leslie made this pork for our dinner last night and she's an excellent cook. It is delicious! It's tender, sweet and rich and is excellent in tortillas or in a salad, just how Cafe Rio does it.

rio shredded pork (my friend Leslie)
1 cup salsa
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sprite or coke
3 pounds pork tenderloins, pork loin or other pork roast

Combine first three ingredients and pour over roast. Cook in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours. Shred meat for serving.

Monday, May 30, 2011

taco chicken










My friends Annie and Leslie and their families pampered my family with a very nice dinner tonight. MEXICAN! Not only Mexican but Cafe Rio style! I will start with Annie's chicken recipe and will add the others as I can- Rio shredded pork, cilantro dressing, Reese's mini peanut butter cup cookies, mini cherry cheesecakes, etc. I ate and ate and ate. I've never felt so good. This chicken is so moist and flavorful. I enjoyed mine in a salad. Soooo good! One salad wasn't enough. You know you're good friends when you can take seconds (or more) and not worry about being a piggy and when you can bring your camera along and take photo after photo of all the delicious foods they made. Thank goodness this wasn't a goodbye dinner. None of us are big on those.

taco chicken (my friend Annie)
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 packets taco seasoningLink1 cup chicken broth

Place in a crock pot and cook for hours. (I'll try to get some more specific directions like low or high and for how long)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

red, white and blueberries









This is the kind of breakfast you'll want to have all long weekend long! Delicious. Make sure you have lots of waffles on hand. One is definitely not enough.  Happy Memorial Day!

red, white and blueberries
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
8 ounces light sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
10 waffles, nice and hot
blueberries
strawberries, sliced

Combine first 3 ingredients with electric mixer until smooth. Place a waffle on your plate. Top with berries and top with yummy cream cheese mixture.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

chili cheese dog









 

When I was a kid my two favorite fast food joints were Taco Bell and Wienerschnitzel. Taco Bell for their 49 cent tacos and Wienerschnitzel for their chili cheese dogs. Either one always tasted heaven-sent and I had a bottomless pit for them. I haven't lived near a Wienerschnitzel in years and years so when my craving for a chili cheese dog hits, which happens about once a year, I have to do the best I can. My kids had never had one before so I threw some together for lunch today.

chili cheese dog
Oscar Meyer Cheese Dog, heated
Hormel No Bean Chili, heated
really fresh hot dog bun

There's no one way to do it. I like to put the chili on the bottom and up the sides then place the hot dog inside. Make sure there's enough chili inside so that it gets on the corners of your mouth when you bite into it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

garlic chicken farfalle









What do you do when you want to take a meal to a friend who is having a baby very soon but 75% of your kitchen is packed and it's only going to get worse (11 more days!)? You make her a meal that freezes well! I've given this as a frozen meal before and was told it reheats like a champ. This is a great recipe and I have my friend Erin K. to thank. When I told her I needed to cook for a big group last summer she suggested I make this recipe. I was glad I did! I'm sending along some snickerdoodle blondies too. Yum!
P.S. The photo above is horrible! Don't go by appearance.

garlic chicken farfalle (Portland Mama)
16 ounces farfalle pasta
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3-4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon pepper (I used about half of this)
1/2 cup butter
1 pound bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (12 ounce) bottle Lawry's mesquite marinade with lime juice

Place chicken in crock pot with bottle of marinade on low for 6 hours. Pull marinated chicken out of the juices, allow to cool a little bit and shred. Set this aside. About a half hour before serving, boil the pasta. In a small saucepan, melt butter, add garlic, whipping cream, pepper, cheese and bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 3-4 minutes. In a large bowl, pour over cooked, drained pasta, add chicken and stir though. Sprinkle a little bit more shredded Parmesan cheese on top.

snickerdoodle blondies









When this recipe came up on my Blogger dashboard today I knew I had to make this recipe right away. The ingredients are so basic there's no reason not to make them right away! Luckily, I hadn't packed my 13x9 pan because these are heavenly, especially when they're still warm from the oven. You'll want to make them pronto. The gal at Delightful Bitefuls describes these beautifully.

snickerdoodle blondies (blog: Delightful Bitefuls)
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsaltd butter, softened to cool, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

cinnamon-sugar topping
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. LIghtly butter a 9x13x2 inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper and butter paper.
Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Add the flour mixture and mix until the flour is just incorporated. The batter will be thick like cookie dough.
Scrape batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly.
Make the topping by combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar topping evenly over the top of the batter. It will look like a lot, but trust me, it's perfect.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting (or as long as you can stand).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

emeril's kicked up tuna sandwiches









These are the sandwiches I made for Melissa's shower. I don't know why I get embarrassed to admit this but I love tuna! I was happy to see my kids grab several of these and enjoy them as much as I do (they take after me and not their father in this respect). I've tried a lot of tuna recipes and this is by far my favorite.

emeril's kicked up tuna (Everyday Food Magazine, May 2010)
4 cans (5 ounces each) solid white albacore tuna pcked in water, drained
1/3 cup light mayonnaise, plus more for spreading
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
crusty bread

In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayo, onion, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano and stir until thoroughly combined. Slice crusty bread and put a spoonful on top of each slice.
The original recipe called for tuna melts. For a tuna melt, heat broiler with rack in highest position. Divide tuna salad evenly among 4 crusty slices of read then top each with 2 slices tomato and 1 slice provolone cheese. Broil until cheese is golden brown and bubbling, 3-4 minutes.

cucumber tea sandwiches









My friend Shannon made these sandwiches for the baby shower. She said her mother used to make them for her all the time. They were colorful, creamy and very refreshing.

cucumber tea sandwiches (my friend Shannon)
sliced pumpernickel bread
cream cheese
most of a packet of Good Seasonings Italian Dressing Mix
cucumbers, peeled and sliced
radishes, sliced

Combine cream cheese with Italian dressing mix to taste. Spread some cream cheese on each slice of pumpernickel bread. Add a slice of cucumber and slice of radish to each slice of bread.

Note from Shannon: Shannon said next time she would place a toothpick in the center of each sandwich.

chicken salad tea sandwiches









My friend Laura made these sandwiches for Melissa's baby shower. They were delicious. On the way home my oldest said, "Those chicken sandwiches were so good! I ate like 40 of them."

chicken salad tea sandwiches (my friend Laura)
picked chicken from large rotisserie chicken, chopped in food processor
10 sweet gherkins pickles, chopped finely
3-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
a few dashes of salt
pepper
3 big scoops of mayonnaise, maybe 6 tablespoons
1 small onion, chopped finely
a splash of lemon juice, maybe 2 teaspoons

Combine all ingredients and chill until ready to spread on sandwiches. Laura used half wheat bread and half rye bread.

Note from Laura: She would have added chopped celery but didn't have any.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

pink lemonade cupcakes









When I saw these cupcakes I knew I had to make them for something special. Today is that day! My neighbor friends and I are honoring our friend Melissa with a tea party baby shower at the park this afternoon and these should fit the theme quite well. They are dainty and girly and yes, they are quite pink.

pink lemonade cupcakes (blog: Amy's Cooking Adventures)
1 package white cake mix
1 small package instant lemon pudding, 4 serving size
1/4 cup presweetened pink lemonade mix
1 cup milk
1 cup canola oil
4 egg whites
10 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 325. Line two muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase to medium speed and beat for another 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely. Makes 24 cupcakes.

pink lemonade frosting (my friend Nikki P.)
Don't do what I did and use presweetened pink lemonade mix in your icing. It turned out grainy. Instead, use my friend Nikki's pink lemonade icing recipe! Here it is:

3 cups powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pink lemonade concentrate
powdered sugar
red food coloring


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

green chile casserole









Tortillas, lots of cheese, ground beef and green chiles- I knew this casserole was going to be good and it was better than good. It was super good. I loved it and my kids really, really loved it.

green chile casserole (blog: Taste and Tell)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pound grated cheese (I used Cheddar)
1 cup milk
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
salt to taste
garlic to taste
1 tablespoon oregano
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 (10 ounce) package corn tortillas, each tortilla cut into eighths

Preheat oven to 350. In a saucepan, combine the soup, milk, and the cheese (reserving some cheese for topping the casserole). Once the cheese is melted, stir in the green chiles.
In a skillet, brown the beef with the onions. Add in the salt, garlic and oregano.
In a well greased 9x13 casserole dish, layer half of the tortilla strips. Spread 1/2 of the beef mixture on top, followed by 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top.
Bake in a preheated oven until heated through and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.

What I have to say- I used half cream of mushroom soup and half cream of chicken soup and I think it added some depth. I also used whole wheat tortillas.

Monday, May 23, 2011

spicy peanut chicken over rice









It was my neighbor friend Shannon's night to cook. This was our family's very last meal swap meal and it ended on a terrific note. This dish is DELICIOUS! I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Myrecipes.com gave it 5 stars. Two weeks and one day until Shannon takes us to the airport!

spicy peanut chicken over rice (Cooking Light recipe found at myrecipes.com)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic, about 4 cloves
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups chopped plum tomato, about 6 tomatoes
2 (14 ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
8 cups hot cooked brown rice
3/4 cup 2% Greek-style yogurt
cilantro to garnish
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in peanut butter and next 5 ingredients (through tomato paste); cook 1 minute. Add tomato and broth to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Serve chicken mixture over rice; top each serving with yogurt.

What Shannon has to say- she doubled everything for our meal swap except she tripled the peanut butter and curry. She used one whole large can of whole tomatoes which she chopped by hand and because of the juice she did not double the broth. She did not use the yogurt and it was just great without it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

adirondack red wing burgers









I had something else planned for dinner but switched gears because I suddenly needed something really bad. Chicken wing-themed burgers seemed bad enough. They were bad to the bone in a very good way. My 3-year old raved about them so that nobody could get a word in. She asked if we could eat them for a year and followed it up with, "I'm going to keep you." I think I'll keep her for her compliments.

adirondack red wing burgers (Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine, April 2010)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup blue cheee crumbles
4 deli slices Cheddar cheese
4 sandwich-size english muffins, toasted
1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/4 cup pickle relish

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Reserve the skillet. Mix the chicken, dill and poultry seasoning into the vegetable mixture; season with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
In the reserved skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the patties and cook, turning once, until firm, about 12 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the butter to the skillet to melt, then stir in the hot sauce, turning to coat. Top each with some of the blue cheese and a cheddar slice. Tent with foil, turn off the heat and let stand until the cheese is melted.
Top each muffin bottom with some lettuce, a patty, some relish and a muffin top.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

chap chee noodles









Hall of Fame. Always has been and always will be. My husband sat down and said, "Alright! My favorite." My kids counted how many servings I dished up (I was out of my chair more than I was in it). I've recommended this recipe to friends and the reports have always been stellar. We like to put lots of garlic chile sauce on our noodles, so much so that the four oldest in the family sniffle our way through dinner. Excellent way to clear your sinuses.

chap chee noodles (allrecipes.com)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 pound beef top sirloin, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1/4 pound napa cabbage, sliced
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
3 ounces cellophane noodles, soaked in warm water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (since I usually triple the meat, I triple these ingredients as well). Stir in sliced beef, and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, then drizzle with oil. Cook beef until evenly brown. Stir in carrots, bamboo shoots, napa cabbage and spinach. Add cellophane noodles, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook until heated through.

roast beef wraps with dill slaw













This is a really good sandwich. Everything is just so good together. My husband is not a fan of dill so I left the dill out of his.

roast beef wraps with dill slaw (Food Network Magazine, June 2011)
3 cups shredded coleslaw mix
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used garlic flavored rice vinegar)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoons horseradish, drained (I used horseradish sauce)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound sliced dill-flavored havarti cheese (definitely use havarti! I couldn't find dill-flavored so I used regular)
1/2 pound deli-sliced roast beef
4 whole wheat wraps

Make the slaw: Toss the coleslaw mix, dill, vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in bowl. Layer the cheese, roast beef and slaw int he center of the wraps. Fold in the sides, then roll up tightly. Cut in half and serve with chips if desired.

baked oatmeal









I've always wanted to make baked oatmeal and I had all the ingredients on hand. I love when that happens. Ordinarily I'm not an oatmeal fan- too warm and mushy for me. This was the first time I've tried baked oatmeal and I really, really enjoyed it! It was more like a warm blueberry muffin, not mushy at all and full of flavor.  It's delicious with fresh raspberries too.

baked oatmeal (blog: Your Homebased Mom)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup fruit or nuts of choice

In a bowl mix together the butter, honey and eggs. Add in the oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and the milk. Mix and then fold in fruit of choice.
Bake in a lightly greased 8x8 pan at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. May be served with milk and more fruit on top.

Friday, May 20, 2011

tortilla pizza









 

My kids love pizza. Any kind of pizza, really, except they never really liked English muffin pizzas. They've always loved tortilla pizzas so I thought I should add this to our family's collection of recipes. It's a quick and easy go-to lunch and I know they will eat every bite.

tortilla pizza
2 tortillas
couple spoonfuls of pizza sauce
handful of mozzarella cheese
6-7 slices of pepperoni

Place a tortilla in a grill pan. Spread one spoonful of sauce over the tortilla. Sprinkle a half handful of cheese on top. Place pepperoni slices on top of cheese. Sprinkle a half handful of cheese over the pepperoni. Before placing the second tortilla on top, spread a spoonful of pizza sauce on it.
Turn the stove on to medium low and flip halfway through.

What I have to say- if we're short on time I make "pizza pinwheels". I use one tortilla and place it on a dinner plate. I add the sauce, cheese and pepperoni on it. I put the plate in the microwave for about 45 seconds. I roll up the tortilla and cut it into little finger-sized pinwheels.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

cheesy chicken









Attention cheese lovers. This chicken is what it says it is. It was really yummy. Really easy and yummy. My family enjoyed their chicken with mashed potatoes but I enjoyed mine with quinoa. The cashews in this dish are a must!

cheesy chicken (blog: Home Based Mom)
8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 stick butter
2 ounces whole cashews
1 pound grated Monterrey Jack cheese

sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 can beef broth
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes

Melt butter in a 9x13 dish. Lay chicken over butter. Cover with 3/4 of sauce. Bake 1 hour at 325. Add the rest of the sauce and cashews. Top with cheese. Turn oven off. Leave in oven for 5 more minutes.

What I have to say- I threw some mushrooms in and was glad I did. They were super flavorful. I happened to eat every last one of them in the entire dish. Maybe my husband got one or two. That's if he was lucky.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

cajun shrimp salad









We've had a lot of rain which persuades me to want to enjoy a bowl of soup or a plate of seafood. This salad is from Alexander Hoover's restaurant called Hoover's Cooking in Austin. It is made with grilled or smoked shrimp and a spicy cream cheese dressing. Savor that! I sure did. I thought it was really, really delicious.
We fly out 3 weeks from today and I am looking forward to two weeks of rest and relaxation (which includes a lot of cooking in my mom's kitchen). I'm tired. I've been packing furiously, expecting my house to take shape and look cleaner but the more I pack the worse the house looks. It's starting to make me crazy. I decided while my kids were out of sight I should sit down and have some shrimp salad. Alone (don't get me wrong, the kids are in the house somewhere). It did the trick. This salad is so good it might be Hall of Fame.

cajun shrimp salad (Saveur Magazine, April 2011)
2 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing (I used Greek Vinaigrette with Feta and Oregano)
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Combine shrimp, dressing and 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat, and add shrimp; cook, turning once, until just cooked, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Stir cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Add remaining Cajun seasoning, celery, scallions, lemon juice and parsley and stir until combined. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serve on a freshly toasted slice of french bread or on a crisp lettuce leaf.

Monday, May 16, 2011

bacon wrapped blue cheese stuffed chicken









My neighbor friend Melissa cooked for our meal swap tonight. Dinner was delicious. The bacon wrapped blue cheese stuffed chicken was rich and cooked perfectly, the orzo with parsley and lemon zest was refreshing and the corn was crispy and sweet, exactly how a cob of corn should be.
I'm bummed that this is the last meal swap meal she'll make for our family.
If you're a Rachael Ray fan, check out Saturdays with Rachael Ray!

bacon wrapped blue cheese stuffed chicken (Melissa got this recipe from Rachael Ray)
4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts
black pepper
4-5 ounces blue cheese crumbles (Melissa used feta)
1 handful arugula leaves, chopped
1 handful baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 slices bacon (2 for each breast)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife cut into the thick end of the chicken and make an incision (is this surgery?) reaching 2/3 the way down the breast (Note: Melissa saw the 30 minute meal show for this entree, which shows how she also turned the knife some to loosen up the incision, and then you can use your fingers to stretch out the hole too). Season the chicken with pepper. Combine the cheese with arugula and baby spinach and stuff the breasts. Spiral wrap the breasts with the bacon tightly to cover the meat evenly. Place chicken on a nonstick baking sheet and roast 20-22 minutes (for small breasts) until bacon is crispy and chicken is firm.

orzo with parsley and lemon zest









I was so glad Melissa made this side dish for the meal swap because I've never made orzo before. Now I will! This was a terrific, refreshing side dish. Perfect for a summer meal. I bet you could toss in any vegetables to your liking, too!

orzo with parsley and lemon zest (Melissa found this recipe at FoodNetwork.com)
1/2 pound orzo
coarse salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large lemons, zested
black pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls

Cook orzo in salted water about 12 minutes, to al dente. Drain orzo well. Do not run under cold water. You want the cooked pasta to remain hot. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl. Drizzle orzo with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add lemon zest and parsley and toss to combine the flavors with the pasta.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

grilled fish tacos with chipotle lime dressing









I remember many years ago when a colleague of my dad's told him before taking our family on a trip to Southern California that we had to go to Rubio's for fish tacos while we were there. That's where I had my first fish taco. I don't remember much about it except that I enjoyed it. This fish taco is exceptional. I went on an on about my fish taco so much so that my second daughter asked for a bite then wanted her own. My son was only interested in throwing food at his sisters and dumping cottage cheese on his head. Remember that game "One of these things is not like the other" on Sesame Street? I find myself humming that to myself quite a lot lately.

grilled fish tacos with chipotle lime dressing (allrecipes.com)
marinade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning such as Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into chunks

dressing
1 (8 ounce) container light sour cream
1/2 cup adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning such as Old Bay
salt and pepper to taste

toppings
1 package tortillas
3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch cilantro
1 small head cabbage, cored and shredded
2 limes, cut in wedges

To make the marinade, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning, black pepper and hot sauce in a bowl until blended. Place the tilapia in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the fish. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours.
To make the dressing, combine the sour cream and adobo sauce in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning. Add salt and pepper in desired amounts. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. Set grate 4 inches from the heat.
Remove fish from marinade, drain off any excess and discard marinade. Grill fish pieces until easily flaked with a fork, turning once, about 9 minutes.
Assemble tacos by placing fish pieces in the center of tortillas with desired amounts of tomatoes, cilantro and cabbage; drizzle with dressing. To serve, roll up tortillas around fillings and garnish with lime wedges.

yummy potatoes
Quarter a handful of tiny red potatoes and microwave them for a few minutes. Heat some oil over medium high heat and add the potatoes with 1 teaspoon Old Bay. They're delicious!

crockpot brisket









Our family often needs meals that are ready for us to eat when we come home from running around.  This is an incredibly flavorful meal and we poured the gravy over mashed potatoes. My kids absolutely loved it- this was their kind of meal (they like to mix the meat, potatoes and veggies and pour the gravy on top).  This was my first time preparing a brisket.  Next time I will definitely use a roast as briskets don't seem to cook up as tender.

crockpot brisket (blog: Home Based Mom)
3-4 pound brisket (use a beef roast instead)
yellow mustard
one package Lipton's Onion Soup Mix (or make your own, recipe below)
1 cup water

Place your brisket in your crock pot and squirt yellow mustard over the top. Mix one package of Lipton's Onions Soup Mix with one cup of water and pour over brisket. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes.

What I have to say- I used Grey Poupon's spicy brown mustard and instead of using a packet of Lipon's I used a copycat recipe for food that's a little more pure. I'd do it the same next time! I'm pretty sure you could use any kind of roast for this recipe.

copycat lipton's onion soup mix (food.com)
3/4 cup instant minced onion
1/3 cup beef bouillon powder
4 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed celery seed
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. About 5 tablespoons of mix are equal to a 1 1/4 ounce package. To make onion dip, mix 5 tablespoons with one pint of sour cream.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

pool party cake









My oldest daughter is celebrating her birthday with a big pool party. We went online hoping to find a totally awesome cake and this is exactly what she wanted. It was a blast to make.
Did I tell you I do not like pool parties if I have to put my entire body in the pool? I must love her a lot. A lot lot because I anticipate having to get into a cold pool. Brrrrr....
This summer we'll be at the pool everyday for six weeks of swimming lessons. Fortunately I will be pool side or enjoying the zero entry pool getting only my feet wet and possibly my knees.

pool party cake (idea from FamilyFun.com)
1 white cake mix
1 container white icing
1/2 container chocolate icing
2 packages Keebler wafer cookies
blue food coloring
2 big gumballs
2 umbrellas
2 gummy rings
Polly Pocket dolls

Bake two round cakes as directed on the box. Place one cake round on a tray. Use some white icing to cover the round and place the other on top. Spread the chocolate icing around the sides of the cake. Place the wafer cookies around the sides of the cake. Mix some blue food coloring into the rest of the white icing and ice the top of the cake. Use lots of icing. Use the back of a spoon to to make decorative waves by pressing the spoon into the icing then back out again. Place gumballs, umbrellas, gummy rings and dolls into the cake as desired.

peanut butter brownie bites









When I saw these I knew I had to make them to so I made them for my daughter's birthday party knowing that after a good swim they'd need some birthday cake and refreshments. I don't need to tell you that they taste good as that's pretty obvious. Brownies and peanut butter cups! As my second daughter and I made them I was reminded of the cookies that we frequently watch being made as we come off the ride at Chocolate World. A lady takes ginormous cookies out of the oven, unwraps a king size Reese's peanut butter cup and places it in the center of the cookie then uses the palm of her hand to push it in then puts an icing drizzle over the top. I love to watch her smoosh those Reese's inside! Next time maybe I'll put a chocolate drizzle over the top of these!!

peanut butter brownie bites (my friend Camille's blog: Flipping Amazing)
1 box brownie mix
Reese's peanut butter cups

Mix up brownie mix as directed on the box. Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill each muffin tray shape half full with brownie mix, insert a peanut butter cup and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

ultimate chocolate brownies









We were fortunate to have two lemonade stands/bake sales in our neighborhood back to back. My friend Morgane used the recipe on the back of her Hershey's chocolate chips to help her son make these brownies that were divine. I think she was able to cut at least 16 brownies from an 8x8 pan. I've always told myself that box brownies were even better than from scratch but I've changed my mind.
(How many people buy a baked good then run home and take a photo? Crazy.)

ultimate chocolate brownies (Hershey's)
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or two 8-inch square baking pans.
Stir together cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, 30 to 35 minutes for square pans or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.



parmesan chicken (salad)









This salad has a zing to it that I love every time. My husband has had it before but said once again, "Wow this is good!".

parmesan chicken (salad) (my friend Erin R. shared it from her cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra large eggs
1 1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (I used Panko with some 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning this time)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
unsalted butter
good olive oil
salad greens for 6 washed and spun dry
lemon vinaigrette

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4" thick.
Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides int he bread crumb mixture, pressing lightly.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

lemon vinaigrette
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil (I used 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

almond cake bars









This recipe looked like a snap to make and my family is starting to expect a steady steam of baked goods so I figured we'd try this one. They are outstanding. I'm not a huge sweet lover because the result is a huge migraine headache afterwards but I had a hard time staying away from these.

almond cake bars (Hershey Ward Cookbook)
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons almond extract
sliced almonds

Mix butter and sugar together then add eggs. Add in flour and almond extract. Pour in 8x8 greased pan. Sprinkle almonds on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Do not over bake. Note: Double the recipe to fit in a 9x13 pan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

caprese burger









I've been in the mood for a burger and this one looked perfect for tonight. It was! The marinated tomatoes on top of this burger made it Hall of Fame! My youngest daughter said, "This is yummiest dinner in the whole world!" and she ate her entire burger. You won't be disappointed by this burger.

caprese burger (allrecipes.com)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used half the amount)
salt and pepper to taste
4 thick slices tomato
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup pesto sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 hamburger buns, split

Whisk the balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over tomato slices to marinate. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
Mix ground beef, tomato paste, pesto, Parmesan cheese, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Form beef mixture into 4 equal patties.
Cook on the preheated grill until the burgers are cooked to your desired degree of doneness, about 5 minutes per side for well done.
Top each burger with mozzarella cheese; allow to melt. Serve on hamburger buns with marinated tomato slices.

What I have to say- I was sure glad I doubled the amount of tomatoes I needed. Next time I will marinate some rings of red onion along with the tomato!