Friday, February 28, 2014

Mini Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies

Back in December, hubby and I enjoyed a wonderful meal out for our anniversary.  We ended it with a delicious dessert of a huge sticky chocolate chip cookie, topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.  We loved it and I wanted to make it at home so that we can enjoy it again, and for the kids to have a chance to love it too. :)  So, here's my attempt to it.  YUM!  Beware though, this recipe makes quite a bit, so makes sure you have plenty of people to share it with.  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1/2 cup sugar
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1 large egg
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 cups flour
-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In your mixer's bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and brown sugar, until nice and creamy.  Add the egg and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla, then the baking soda and salt.  Mix well.  Slowly, add the flour, half a cup at a time.  Once well mixed, stir in the chocolate chips.
Divide the dough evenly between three ungreased mini skillets.  Press the dough down with your fingers and smooth it out.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until edges are brown and the top is golden.
Remove from the oven and place (still in the skillets) on the wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup on top.  Yum!  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Best Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

I just love how this one turned out.  Maybe it's the Gouda cheese with its extra smoky flavor that makes this mac and cheese such a success.  It is absolutely delicious!  Creamy, gooey, cheesy, anything you want a mac and cheese to be.  Enjoy!
-2 cups uncooked macaroni pasta
-1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
-1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
-4 oz Gouda cheese, shredded or shaved
-4 Tbs salted butter, cut into small pieces
-1 cup half and half
Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside.
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.
Layer the dish as follows:
-1 cup cooked and drain macaroni
-1/2 cup Cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup Swiss cheese
-2 oz Gouda cheese
-2 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
-1 cup macaroni
-2 oz Gouda cheese
-1/2 cup Cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup Swiss cheese
-2 Tbs butter, cut into small pieces
Pour the half and half over layers.
Cover and cook on low for 2-2.5 hours.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Slow Cooker Fish Chowder

Yes, I do use my slow cooker a lot.  But then, I am a busy mom, who also just started a part time job.  So, I am very grateful that I have this alternative to still be able to prepare nutritious meals for my family.  This chowder is great.  There is a beautiful combination of flavors and is quite filling as well.  The potatoes and corn go wonderful with the fish.  Enjoy!
-4 thick slices bacon, chopped
-1 onion, finely chopped
-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
-2 cups frozen corn (do not thaw)
-2 cups water
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
-4 fish fillets (tilapia, haddock, etc), cut into large chunks
Cook bacon in large skillet until it begins to brown.  Add the onion and cook until soft (by then, the bacon should be nice and crisp).
Transfer bacon and onion (and liquids) to the slow cooker.  Add the potato chunks, frozen corn, water, salt and pepper.  Stir well, cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
Add the milk and fish chunks, cover and cook on low for 1 more hour.
Adjust seasoning, if necessary, ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Surf and Turf Burgers

I just love the extra flavor added to this dish.  It gives a little umph to the regular cheeseburger. :)  Enjoy!
-lean or extra lean ground beef
-12 oz large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp Old bay Seasoning
-burger buns
-Caesar salad dressing
-your favorite sliced cheese (provolone, pepper jack, jabanero, American, etc)
-baby spinach, washed and dried
-tomatoes, sliced
Divide the ground beef into patties and grill according to your likeness.
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the oil and seasoning.  Heat up a large skillet.  Add the shrimp to it and cook for 1-2 minutes per side or until pink and plump (do not overcook it!).
Assemble the burgers like this: Spread some dressing on both halves of your bun.  Then on the bottom one, add the burger patty, cheese, spinach, tomato slices and shrimp.  Top with the other half.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Romanian White Bean Soup with Bacon (Ciorba de Fasole cu Sunca)

This is another one of those dishes that stirs up childhood memories.  I loved this dish then, and I love it now.  The flavors are wonderful, the dish is very filling, easy and delicious.  Enjoy!
-1 lb dry white beans (navy, cannellini, etc)
-5 strips of  thick cut bacon, chopped
-1 onion, finely diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 carrot, finely grated
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-5 cups chicken stock
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 Tbs tomato paste
Pick and clean the beans well.  Cover with water and let them soak overnight, until ready to cook.  Drain and set aside.
Cook bacon in large pot until nice and crispy.  Remove onto plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
Add onion, garlic and carrot in the pot with the bacon grease.  Cook until onion starts getting tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the crushed rosemary and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the chicken stock and drained beans.  Give it a good stir.  Season with the salt and pepper, and add the tomato paste.  Stir until well incorporated.
Bring soup to a boil.  Cover, lower the heat, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle into bowl, top with bacon pieces and enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Raspberry Cobbler with Chocolate Biscuits

Yum, yum and more YUM!  This dish is simply a winner.  I love the tanginess of the raspberries combined with the sweetness of the chocolate.  Great combination.  Enjoy!
For filling:
-24 oz frozen raspberries (do not thaw)
-4 Tbs sugar
-3 Tbs cornstarch
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1 Tbs vanilla extract
For biscuits:
-1- 1.5 cups flour 
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-3 Tbs sugar
-a pinch of salt
-1/2 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
-1/4 cup + 2 Tbs buttermilk
-1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 425 F.  Coat a 2 quart baking dish with butter flavored non stick spray.  To the dish add all of the filling ingredients and gently fold until well mixed.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dough for the biscuits by combining 1 cup of the flour, the cocoa, sugar and salt.  Add the butter and mix until crumbly.  Stir in the buttermilk.  If dough is too soft, add the extra 1/2 cup flour.  If not, leave it alone.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
On a floured surface, pat down the dough into a 1 inch layer.  Cut biscuits into your favorite shapes.
Top the warm filling with the cut out biscuits.  Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is bubbly and biscuits are done.
Serve hot with vanilla ice cream on top.  Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe found here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Easy Heavenly Chicken

This is probably the best chicken I've ever made in the slow cooker and easiest too!  Just 4 ingredients!  The sauce mixture is absolutely amazing.  Super creamy and so packed with flavor!  Super extra YUM for this one.  I served ours on cooked rice, but pasta would work just fine too.  Enjoy!
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
-1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
-1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of celery soup
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.  Add the chicken on the bottom.  In a large bowl, mix well all the soups.  Pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for 4.5-5 hours.  Serve over hot rice or pasta and make sure to top with plenty of the sauce.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Slow Cooker Easiest Pork Chops

There are only three ingredients needed for this recipe and it tastes so delicious at the end.  You can serve it with any carb or veggie side you'd like. It goes with pretty much anything.  Enjoy!
-4-5 pork chops, boneless
-1 package onion soup mix
-1 cup chicken broth
Coat slow cooker with cooking spray.  Lay the pork chops on the bottom.  Mix the soup mix with the broth and pour over chops.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Toasted Coconut Banana Smoothie

I had a couple of ripe bananas that no one wanted to eat, so I needed to use them somehow.  I didn't want to make another banana bread.  A smoothie sounded wonderful though.  A banana smoothie with toasted coconut sounded even better! :)  So, here it is!   Enjoy!
-1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
-2 bananas
-2 cups crushed ice cubes
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small skillet, toast the coconut.  Make sure to not burn it.  Save a little to top your glass, then pour the toasted coconut into your blender.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix until well blended.  Pour into glass, top with the remaining coconut and enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken and Creamy Broccoli Rice

Quick and delicious, this recipe is perfect for ending a busy day.  Enjoy!
-2 (6.5 oz each) packages of broccoli rice
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
-2 Tbs salted butter or margarine
-4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Coat your slow cooker with some cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix the broccoli rice (including the seasoning) with the broth and milk.  Mix well and  pour into the prepared slow cooker.  Stir in the the butter.  Add the chicken on top.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Easy Coconut Pie

This is also known as the impossible pie because all the ingredients are mixed in the blender, then baked and it "magically" forms a crust on the bottom and the yummy filling inside.  Very nice, right?  The pie is creamy, sweet, a little crunchy from the crust on top and altogether simply delicious.  Enjoy!
-2 cups milk
-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
-4 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup flour
-1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Place pie plate on top of that.  Coat pie plate with baking cooking spray (the one with flour in it).  Set aside.
Place all ingredients, except for the nutmeg in a blender.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared pan, sprinkle with nutmeg and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely and serve.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Baked Lemon Chicken

This dish is quite simple, yet full of flavor.  The combination between the garlic, herbs and lemon is amazing!  I served ours with some pierogis, but any side of potatoes, rice, pasta, bread or salad will do just fine.  Enjoy!
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-9 cloves garlic, minced
-1/3 cup chicken broth
-2 lemons
-1 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-salt and pepper
-4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Heat oil in large skillet.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from the stove.  To the skillet add the broth, the zest from the 2 lemons, the juice from 1 of the lemons, oregano, thyme and about 1 tsp of salt. Mix well and pour into 9x13 baking dish.
Pat the chicken thighs dry and place in baking dish skin side up.  Brush the skin with some olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.  
Cut the remaining lemon into 8 wedges and tuck between the chicken.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is beautifully browned and crisp.
Remove from the oven and cover tightly with foil.  Let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a recipe courtesy of Ina Garten.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

I love, love, love the flavor of this dish.  The peppers are a nice sub for the heavy bread.  This is a lighter version of the popular dish, but is a must try.  Delicious!  Enjoy!
-2 Tbs butter
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
-8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-7 oz deli sliced roast beef, cut into thin strips
-2 large bell peppers, halved and cleaned
-8 slices provolone cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Melt the butter in large skillet and add the oil.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  Saute for about 20 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the beef strips and cook for 7-8 minutes.
Place pepper halves into prepared baking dish.  Place 1 slice of  cheese inside each pepper.  Fill each pepper evenly with the meat mixture.  Cover each pepper with 1 more slice of cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden brown.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cream Puff Cake

Let me tell you this: if you're into cream puffs and eclairs, then this is like Heaven!  It's insanely delicious, so creamy and tasty.  Super YUM!  The crust is a giant puff (it literally puffs up quite a bit).  The filling is also to die for.  Amazing combination!  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
-1 cup water
-1 cup flour
-4 eggs
-1 (5.1 oz-the large one) box instant vanilla pudding
-3 cups milk
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-8 oz whipped topping, thawed
-chocolate syrup
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Coat a 9x13 baking pan with baking spray (the one with flour in it).  Set aside.
Boil together the margarine and water.  Pour hot mixture into your mixing bowl and stir for a couple of minutes.  Add the flour and mix for about 2 more minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix until nice and smooth.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  It will puff up like this:
Cool crust completely.
In your mixer's bowl, add the pudding, milk and cream cheese.  Stir until combined, then beat on medium-high until smooth, with no more lumps, and thickened.  Spread evenly on top of cooled crust.
Spread thawed whipped topping on top of pudding.  Drizzle chocolate syrup on top.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Chunky Chicken Soup

Great flavors combined together in this soup!  I love that you just throw all the stuff into your slow cooker and have a wonderful soup waiting for you at the end of the day.  Enjoy!
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper
-1 small onion, finely chopped or a handful of dehydrated chopped onion
-2 potatoes, diced
-2 cups dry coleslaw mix
-1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
-1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos
-1 cup frozen peas
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 tsp dry thyme
-1 bay leaf
Place chicken chunks on bottom of slow cooker.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Add the onion, potatoes, slaw, drained beans, tomatoes with the juice, peas, broth and thyme.  Give it a good stir.  Add the bay leaf.  Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  
Uncover, remove the bay leaf, ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Black Bean and Chicken Lasagna

This is a quick, easy and filling dish.  If you have leftover rotisserie or otherwise cooked chicken, this is a wonderful way to use it.  Great flavors.  Enjoy!
-2 cans (14 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onions, undrained (leave the liquid there)
-1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes, mild with green chilies, drained
-1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes with cilantro and lime, drained
-1 tsp mild taco seasoning
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
-3 cups shredded fiesta cheese blend
-12 flour tortillas, fajita size (the small ones)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, mix the beans, tomatoes with the liquid, drained Rotel tomatoes, taco seasoning and salt.  Mix well.
Spread one cup of that mixture on to the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Top with 6 of the tortillas, overlapping them slightly.  Top with half of the remaining bean mixture.  Spread 1 cup of the cooked chicken, then half of the cheese.  Repeat layers with bean mixture (including the liquid), chicken and cheese.
Coat one side of a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish tightly with the foil.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and enjoy!


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