Monday, September 30, 2013

Friendship Dip

This is another great dip to enjoy during a game with family and friends.  The cream cheese at the bottom is such a great addition to this dip.  Enjoy!
-1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 (15 oz) can chili con carne
-1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chilies, drained
-1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
-1 cup sliced olives
-2 green onions, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Spread cream cheese evenly on bottom of pie pan.  Layer on top of cream cheese in this order: chili, green chilies, cheese and olives.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gypsy Stew

What a delight this dish is!  I love that you let it simmer over low heat for a whole hour, undisturbed.  In that time the flavors blend amazingly and everything becomes a-melt-in your- mouth concoction.  Great texture, great flavors, great dish!  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-1 lb pork loin, boneless, cut into 1 inch chunks
-3 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
-1-2 red bell peppers, cut into small strips
-8 oz mushrooms, sliced
-15 oz tomato sauce
-1 cup water
-1/2 lb Polska kielbasa sausage, cut into small chunks
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
Heat 2 Tbs of the oil in a large nonstick pan.  Add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown a little.  Add the onion, peppers and mushrooms.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and water.  Give it a good stir.  Lower the heat (to low), cover and let it simmer, undisturbed for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbs oil.  Add the sausage chunks and cook until browned.  When the stew has simmered for 1 hour, add the cooked sausage.  Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the parsley. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Serve hot with mashed potatoes or hot bread/rolls.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I love this soup.  The flavors are wonderful with the sweetness of the squash and the slight tartness of the apples and yogurt.  It's even better if you let it sit for a little after it's done because the flavors have more time to combine.  Great soup!  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs margarine
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
-3 medium sized Granny Smith apples. peeled, cored and cut into chunks
-7 cups chicken broth
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-plain yogurt for topping
Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened.  Add the squash, apples, broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and let it simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using your immersion blender, process until smooth.  If you do not have an immersion blender, process the mixture in batches either in your normal blender or food processor.
Ladle into bowl and top with a spoonful of yogurt.
Serve with some warm bread or rolls.  Enjoy!
Slightly altered from a recipe of my friend, Deb Steere.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hot Corn Dip

With the football season in full swing, is only natural that I try as many dips as I can to enjoy with my family.  This is quick and easy, and of course, tasty.  Once it's done, it will look oily, but it is not.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes and it will look "normal".  Corn chips go great with this dip. Enjoy!
-1 (11 oz) can Mexican corn, drained
-1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chilies, drained
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease 8x8 pan.  Set aside.
In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients well.  Pour into prepared pan.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.  Let is stand for 2 minutes, then serve hot with corn chips.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tilapia Milanese

Quick, simple, delicious and healthy.  Great dish.  I served ours with some mac and cheese and a salad on the side.  Enjoy!
-4 tilapia fillets
-1 1/2 cups milk
-2 cups ice
-1 cup flour
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-3 eggs
-1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
-zest from 1 lemon
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 Tbs unsalted butter
Pour milk and ice into a large bowl.  Add the fish and let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the flour with salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  In another bowl, beat the eggs.  In a third bowl, mix the crumbs with the lemon zest.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in large skillet. Dredge each fillet through flour mixture, then eggs, the crumbs.  Place in hot oil.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Transfer on prepared sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for about 8 minutes or until fish is cooked through.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Slow Cooker-Paula's Macaroni and Cheese

This is not your typical slow cooker dish, as it only takes about 2.5 hours and you need to stir quite often.  Still, I absolutely love this mac and cheese.  It's creamy, cheesy and delicious.  Enjoy!
-2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
-4 Tbs (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
-10 oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
-3 eggs, beaten
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 (10.75 oz) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
-1 cup whole milk
Boil the pasta for only 7 minutes.  Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and cheese in a small pan.  Once melted, pour mixture into slow cooker.  Add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, mustard, pepper and milk.  Mix well.  stir in the pasta.  Cover and cook on low for 2.5-3 hours, stirring at least every 30 minutes.  Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen.

Friday, September 20, 2013

White Chocolate Brownies

White chocolate is one of my big weaknesses.  I absolutely love it!  These brownies are soooo good!  They are nice and fluffy, but there's also the crunch from the white chocolate chunks.  Super good!  Enjoy!
-10 oz baking white chocolate
-1/4 cup unsalted butter
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/8 tsp salt
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp almond extract
-1 cup flour
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1 oz semisweet chocolate, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 8x11 pan with butter flavored cooking spray.  Set aside.
Met the butter and 5 oz of the chocolate.  Stir often and until all melted and well blended.
Meanwhile, cream the sugar, salt and eggs.  Beat at highest speed for 4 minutes.
Reduce the speed and add the melted chocolate mixture.  Add the extract and mix well.  Stir in the flour and baking powder.
Break the remaining chocolate into chunks and add to the batter.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool.
Melt the semisweet chocolate and drizzle over cooled brownies. Let it harden a bit and cut into pieces.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Wheat Chili

I have to admit that I was a bit scared trying this recipe.  I have never had cooked wheat before.  I always grind mine into flour and make bread or rolls.  But this was really good.  The wheat plumps up beautifully and it becomes nice and soft.  It is also very filling.  Make sure you put everything in the slow cooker early morning because it takes 11 hours to cook on low and 7 on high.  I also like that it uses a lot of food storage items.  When it finished cooking, mine didn't have much liquid left to it, so I added 2 cups of chicken broth.  It immediately solved the problem.  So, if you have that problem as well, just add the broth.  Otherwise, enjoy!  Also, this recipe makes a lot of chili.  If you have a smaller family or don't want this as leftovers for 2 or more days in a row, you can bag the rest and freeze it for up to a year.  Then, when you feel like having it again, just thaw it out, warm it up and enjoy it.
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-1 onion, diced
-5 cups water
-2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat kernels
-1 tsp paprika
-1 Tbs chili powder
-1 tsp oregano leaves
-1 tsp sugar
-2 tsp pepper, divided
-3 tsp salt, divided
-1 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 (14 oz) can stewed tomatoes
-32 oz tomato sauce
-2 cups chicken broth, optional (see intro note)
-shredded cheese, sour cream and green onions, for topping
Brown beef and add the onions.  Cook until softened.  Drain and place mixture in slow cooker.  Add the water, wheat, paprika, chili powder, oregano, sugar, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp salt, onion powder, garlic powder, stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Give it a good stir, cover and cook 11 hours on low.
Once it's done, add the broth, if needed.  Add the remaining salt and pepper.  Give it another good stir.
Ladle into bowl and top with cheese, sour cream and green onions.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Parmesan Artichoke Pork Chops

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and I knew immediately that I wanted to try it.  The mixture of the mayo with the marinated artichokes and Parmesan cheese is to die for.  Plus, there's the added flavor and crunch from the green onions.  The chops are super moist and tender.  And the biggest plus is that this dish can be put together in under 15 minutes!  How cool is that!  I served ours with broccoli rice, but plain rice or some sort of potatoes would work just fine.  Enjoy!
-5 pork chops, bone-in
-salt and pepper
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
-1 (6.5 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
-3 green onions, sliced
Preheat broiler on HIGH.
Season chops with salt and pepper on both sides and set on a broiling pan.
In a bowl, combine the mayo, chopped artichokes, cheese, and onions.  Mix well and set aside.
 Place pork chops in the oven and broil for 4 minutes.  Flip on the other side and broil for 2 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and scoop a generous dollop of the mayo mixture on top of each chop.  Return to oven and broil for 2 more minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the juices from the meat run clear.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Another great and simple dish for a busy night.  Enjoy!
-4 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
-1 medium carrot, finely grated
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-6 cups chicken broth
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup whole milk
-1/2 tsp pepper
-2 cups (8 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
Place potatoes, carrot, onion, broth and salt in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Stir in milk and pepper.  Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes.
Turn off slow cooker and stir in the cheese until melted.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

With school back in full swing and lots of activities to take my five kids to and from, I rely again a lot more on my slow cooker.  I love this thing!  And this recipe is one of those that cooks for most of the day, then stays in there being kept nice and warm until we're ready to devour it.  :)  This is a simple, yet great sandwich.  Enjoy!
-cooking spray
-4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
-1 (5 oz) bottle of Frank's hot sauce
-1 (1 oz) packet dry ranch dressing mix
-3 Tbs unsalted butter
Generously coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.
In a shallow bowl, mix the hot sauce with the ranch.  Dredge each chicken breast through the mixture, then place on bottom of prepared slow cooker.  Pour the rest of the sauce mix on top.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
Shred the chicken (most of the liquid will be absorbed after this).  Add the butter and give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for 1 more hour.
Scoop some on buns and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Risotto with Sweet Italian Sausage and Vegetables

This dish was a bit out of my comfort zone, probably because of the sausage.  However, the flavors were nice and I loved the veggies, especially the crunchiness of the broccoli.  Enjoy!
-3 Tbs unsalted butter, divided
-1 head broccoli, trimmed and roughly chopped
-1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
-1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
-1 medium carrot, finely chopped
-1 cup long grain rice
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1/3 cup apple juice
-2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with jalapenos, undrained
-1 cup grated fontinella cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Heat 1 Tbs of the butter in a Dutch oven or ovenproof pot.  Add the broccoli and cook for about 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and set aside.
Return pot to the stove and add the sausage, onion and carrot.  Cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, for about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and garlic, and cook, stirring, 1 more minute.
Add the apple juice and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the broth, tomatoes and 1 cup water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Transfer the pot, with the lid on, to the preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven (the risotto will be wet, but it will thicken with the additions).  Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs butter and the cheese, until melted and creamy.  Stir in the broccoli and enjoy!
Adapted from a Food Network recipe.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

Yep, another simple meat and potatoes dish.  This is a relatively quick, but filling meal.  The flavors are simple and combine wonderfully together.  Enjoy!
-2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-salt and pepper
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-2 Tbs brown sugar
-1 Tbs lemon juice
-pinch of red pepper flakes
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-a handful of chopped chives
Preheat oven to 425 F.  Toss the potatoes with 1 Tbs of the oil and some salt and pepper, to taste.  Mix well and spread in a large baking dish.  Pop in the oven and let them roast for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbs oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
Once the 20 minutes have passed, remove the baking dish from the oven.  Push the potatoes to the sides.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt.  Place chicken on the baking dish, in the middle of potatoes, skin side up.  Drizzle the chicken with the garlic mixture.
Return to the oven and bake for about 30 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Coconut Cupcakes

My oldest turned 11 just a few days ago.  My, how time flies!  She asked for these cupcakes and I happily complied. :)  They are just delicious!  They are light and fluffy and sweet and a bit tangy.  Pure delight!  Make sure you whip up the butter and sugar for the full 5 minutes or you'll get dense cupcakes instead of nice, fluffy ones.  Enjoy!
**this recipe yields 24 cupcakes
For cupcakes:
-2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
-2 cups sugar
-5 large eggs, at room temperature
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp almond extract
-3 cups flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 cup buttermilk
-7 oz sweetened shredded coconut
For cream cheese frosting:
-2 (8 oz each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
-2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp almond extract
-3 cups powdered sugar
For topping:
-7 oz sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line two regular size muffin pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 5 minutes on high.  This will make the whole batter light and fluffy.
Return the mixer to low and add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts.  Mix well.
Then add in this order: 1 cup flour, the baking powder and baking soda, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 cup flour, the other 1/2 cup buttermilk, then the last cup of flour.  Mix very well.  Gently fold in the coconut.
Fill the prepared pans with the batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to baking rack and cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by creaming the cream cheese, butter and extracts.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
Frost the cupcakes, then sprinkle the toasted coconut on top.  Enjoy!
Adapted from a recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Simple Oven Roasted Chicken

I love to occasionally roast a whole chicken.  It's super simple and delicious.  I usually get the 2-pack of young chickens from Costco and they are quite inexpensive-cheaper than buying a rotisserie chicken.  You can add any spices and herbs you want.  I just choose to keep mine very simple.  There's plenty of flavor!  Enjoy!
-one whole chicken (4-5 lbs)
-extra virgin olive oil
-seasoned salt
-garlic powder
-ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Fit a roasting rack onto a baking sheet and set aside.
Clean the chicken of any giblets, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
Carefully, rub the whole chicken with the oil.  Season generously with the salt, garlic powder and pepper.  Don't forget to season under the skin and inside cavities as well.
Place seasoned chicken on prepared sheet.  Roast in preheated oven for 75-90 minutes or until juices run clear.
Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hearty and Spicy Fresh Tomato Soup

I love, love, love fresh tomatoes.  There is nothing like the taste of a tomato freshly picked out of the garden.  Yum!  We did not plant any in our garden this year, but we have great neighbors who shared some with us.  Of course we ate most just raw, but there were still quite a few left that needed to be used as soon as possible.  I immediately though of making a soup because it's quick, easy and delicious.  So here it is.  Enjoy!
-2 lbs fresh tomatoes
-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 large carrot, peeled and largely grated
-1 small onion, finely diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 cup elbow macaroni
-salt and pepper, to taste
Place washed fresh tomatoes in your blender (skin on).  Blend until nice and smooth (you should get 3 /1/2 to 4 cups pureed tomatoes out of them).  Set aside.
Heat oil in large pot.  Add the carrots, onion and garlic.  Saute until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
Pour into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Spinach-Avocado Hummus

I know, this is not the prettiest picture, but it is hummus after all,and while it tastes great, it's not the best looking thing.  Anyways, this is super easy, simple and quick.  It's also delicious and packed with goodness.  Enjoy!
-1 (15 oz) can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
-2 avocados, peeled and pitted
-1/2 cup packed fresh spinach
-2 Tbs lemon juice
-1 clove garlic
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper, to taste
Place all ingredients in food processor.  Pulse until nice and  smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.


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