Sunday, January 30, 2011

White Cheese Chicken & Spinach Lasagna

We try to eat pretty healthy through the week but Sundays I usually fix a nice big meal for us to really enjoy!  I have been wanting to make a chicken and spinach lasagna and this hit the spot.  I think if I added mushrooms next time it would be perfect.  The original recipe made it in a 13x9 pan, but considering its just the two of us and we didn't want to be eating on this for the rest of the week, I made it in an 8x8 pan and adapted the recipe to cut down the size by about half.  Here is the way I made it:

6 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/2 to 1 onion (depending on size), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon italian seasonings
fresh ground black pepper to taste 
1 cup ricotta cheese (or more if you are me) 
1 to 1/2 cup thinly sliced, cooked chicken meat
1 (10 ounce) package spinach 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil with a bit of olive oil so noodles don't stick together. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes (al dente). Drain, and rinse with cold water. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the flour and salt, and simmer until bubbly. Whisk in the broth and milk, and boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Season with the italian seasonings and ground black pepper. Remove from heat, and set aside. should be looking nice and cheesy
Wilt the spinach in a sauce pan with a little evoo (or you could use frozen spinach and thaw and dry it - this was just easier to me). Spread 1/3 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer with 1/3 of the noodles, the ricotta, 1/2 of the spinach, and the chicken. Arrange 1/3 of the noodles over the chicken, and layer with 1/3 of the sauce mixture, spinach, and 1/2 of the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Arrange remaining noodles over cheese, and spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles, and spinach, chicken, and ricotta. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. (your layers don't really matter which way you do them). Bake 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

Salmon w/ an Asian Fusion Salad w/ Sesame-Ginger Dressing

I finally made the plunge and purchased all those asian sauces that I have been avoiding buying because I didn't want to spend the money but I'm glad I finally did it!  I had to buy rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha asian hot chili sauce.  This salad was actually really good and an easy way to get in some veggies.  I served it with salmon because we all need more salmon in our lives.  I found the recipe courtesy of the pioneer woman's tasty kitchen, here.

Bag of shredded coleslaw mix (Green, napa, and red cabbage and carrots)
10 to 15 baby carrots, grated
3 whole Green Onions (or more), Sliced
⅓ cups Cilantro (or More To Taste)
4 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
5 teaspoons Soy Sauce
4 teaspoons Sugar
2-½ teaspoons Fresh Ginger, Minced (I didn’t buy this and just used dry ginger)
2 teaspoons Sesame Seeds (optional)
½ teaspoons Black Pepper
½ teaspoons Asian Chile Sauce (optional)
½ cups Honey-roasted Peanuts (or To Taste)
In a large bowl, toss green and red cabbage, carrots, green onion, and cilantro. Set aside.
In a jar or lidded airtight container, make dressing by combining rice vinegar, canola and sesame oils, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, sesame seeds, pepper, and chile sauce. Cover with lid and shake well to combine.
Up to an hour before serving, toss just enough dressing with the salad mixture to coat. You’ll likely have leftover dressing. Sprinkle with peanuts just before serving.

Simple, Light Crab Cakes

Ah crab cakes.  I wanted to make these as soon as I saw this recipe on how sweet.  Simple and Light...sign me up!  Next I attempt making crab cakes I will wait until I can spend the money to get high quality crab meat.  I purchased some pre-packaged lump crab meat from the grocery store refrigeration section and don't get me wrong, these were good and very simple to make.  just didn't taste as fresh as they could have.

Easy Light Crab Cakes
serves 1-2
1 pound lump crabmeat
8 saltine crackers, crushed (wheat)
1 egg
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon mayo
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoons olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl except oil and stir until thoroughly combined. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. While it’s heating, form the crab mixture into small patties – you will get about 5 to 6 cakes. Place them in the skillet and cook until lightly golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
I made a little lemon aioli (mayo & lemon juice) to top it with and a wonderful salad we used to have at the sorority (hey alpha phi)!

Salad is just spinach, strawberries, walnuts, and poppy-seed dressing (I found a fat free one this time!)  So easy and so delicious.

Friday, January 28, 2011

French Bread Pizzas

I have a lot of recipes to post and get caught up on...but tonight is Friday night, and I have the perfect night to look forward to!  Time with my husband and pup, a glass of wine, french bread pizzas, and a movie.  Now this may sound like a normal friday in to most of you...but it is a big deal in this household to watch a movie.  If you know us very well, you know my husband is c.r.a.z.y and does not like movies.  He is the only person I know that doesn't like movies.  On rare occasion though, I find a movie he is actually interested in seeing and have to jump on the opportunity!  Tonight we are seeing the social network...I'll let you know what we think.

I've been wanting (or more Corey has been wanting me) to make french bread pizzas since a friend of ours mentioned it when we were vacationing together this summer.  If you have never made homemade pizzas of any sort, I highly suggest it!  It is so fun to raid your fridge for ingredients and come up with fun creations.  I have great memories of making these with my Dad and sister when I was younger.

I stopped by the grocery on the way home from work and found a great Roasted Garlic French Bread loaf and picked up a few other things.  We also had some chicken, red onion, tomato, some green and yellow peppers, feta cheese, and barbeque.  We cooked these at 350 for 10-12 minutes and then turned on the broiler to brown the cheese.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Greek Chicken Wraps

These were so easy and so tasty, oh and so healthy!  You need to make them for dinner...tomorrow.

So here is your starting point, you'll need some fresh veggies, chicken, a good wrap, feta cheese, and a Greek vinaigrette.  We used Spinach, Tomato, Kalamata olives, Cucumbers, Red onion, and a little green onion.
A good Greek vinaigrette:  3 parts Olive oil to 1 part Red Wine Vinegar and season with oregano, salt, and pepper.  I just cooked a couple chicken breasts on the stove quickly with some garlic and Italian seasonings on both sides then sliced thinly.  Wrap the veggies, chicken, feta, olives (none for me thank you), and a little drizzle of vinaigrette and you have a great dinner!  

Beef Brisket w/ a Sweet BBQ Sauce

I may need a little practice cooking my brisket (ok, a lot of practice), but this sauce made it all worth it!  Brisket is a cut of meat that needs to be cooks very slow on low heat.  I had been wanting to make this brisket on Sunday, but unfortunately was unable to get it in the oven until about 4.  The recipe called for cooking it 6 hours at 250, so I decided if I just kicked up the heat a bit to 325 I could cook it quicker...maybe in 3 hours.  While I was fully warned by Corey's mother (this was her recipe) that you needed to keep watching it because it can overcook very easily, I for some reason had it in my mind that it was going to take a while so I didn't start checking it until it was too late!!!  I think I cooked it for about 3 hours (a little over a 3 pound chunk of meat - and really half of that was probably fat that I trimmed off).  Long story short, next time I'll be using the crock pot and make this an all day affair.  I have made brisket one other time (in the crock pot) and it was much better!  Or just check it starting every hour if I do it in the oven - oh and follow the recipe and cook at 250!

I served ours with green beans and sour cream mashed red skin potatoes.

Liquid Smoke
1 stick butter
1 onion
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 cup BBQ
garlic powder
3/4 cup water

1.  Poke brisket all over with a fork and pour liquid smoke over it (totally forgot to buy this stuff at the store so I didn't get to do this step)  Cook at 450 for 20 min wrapped in a foil "package"
2.  Mix all other ingredients (to taste if I didn't specify above)  I didn't have A-1 so I randomly threw in some tobasco sauce!  Pour sauce over brisket and cook slow (Checking often!!!) at 250.

The sauce makes a good amount so I didn't pour it all over the top but its nice to have extra for dipping.  Or pouring all over the plate if you saw mine above!  Slice brisket against the grain to help with tenderness.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Caramelized Pear & Goat Cheese Quiche

When I saw this recipe on Closet Cooking I had to try it.  I told Corey about this recipe I wanted to try and he looked at me like I was crazy.  A pear quiche, for dinner?  Don't get me wrong, we have quiches every once in a while for dinner, they are so good!  But I think he was a little weirded out of the idea of a pear one!  It reminded me of this recipe for Pancetta Crisps w/ Goat Cheese and Pear so I knew the flavors would be good.  I'll be honest, this recipe was a lot of work for the results.  I think if you make the pie crust before hand (as in a day before) it would make things a lot easier.  And I honestly felt like I could have skipped the caramelizing of the pears part.  The pears I used were pretty ripe so I barely cooked them for that long or they would have become mushy.  Plus they didn't really all fit in one pan to reach the bottom and get caramelized.  But if you were using not too ripe of pears I think its a good idea.

Caramelized Pear and Goat Cheese Quiche

1/4 cup pancetta (diced) (I actually used 3 slices and it just broke them up once they were crispy)
1 large shallot (diced)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 pears (cored and sliced into bite sized pieces)
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup goat cheese (or Gorgonzola the original recipe calls for)
1 pre-baked walnut butter pie crust (see below)
1. Cook the pancetta and shallot in a pan.
2. Add the butter and let it melt.
3. Add the sugar and cook until bubbly, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the pear and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Mix the pears, eggs, half and half, thyme and goat cheese and pour it into the pre-baked pie crust.
6. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until golden brown on top and set in the center, about 25-45 minutes. (mine took more like 45) 

Walnut Butter Pie Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground walnuts (toasted before ground)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter (cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
4-5 tablespoons water (cold)

1. Pulse the flour, ground walnuts, salt and sugar in a food processor to mix.
2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 6-8 times.(if you remember my food processor is TINY so I had to do in batches, then mixed together with a hand mixer)
3. Add a tablespoon of water at a time pulsing in between until it starts to clump together.
4. Place the dough on a clean surface and shape it into a disc.
5. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle about 1/8 of an inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
7. Place the dough into a 9 inch diameter spring form pan with the edges going up the side of the pan.
8. Place a piece of parchment paper in the pie and fill it with rice or beans to hold it down.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.
10. Remove the parchment paper and weight and poke the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times.
11. Bake until a light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Parmesean Crusted Tilapia over whole wheat pasta

I never thought making Parmesan crusted anything would be so easy.  Now my way was very simple for a quick lunch last Saturday after the gym, but you could definitely punch it up by adding some other ingredients and spices.

1.  Brush tilapia lightly with an egg wash (egg white and a splash of water) and then press the filets into Parmesan in a low bowl to make the Parmesan coat the fish.  (I just used the Kraft Parmesan off the shelf in the grocery- nothing fancy).
2.  Heat olive oil in a pan and brown both sides of the tilapia.  Tilapia is a very thin fish that cooks very quickly so a few minutes on each side did it for me.  When you are just serving your self and your husband you can cut it open in the middle to make sure its flaky and done.
3.  Serve over a small sized portion of whole wheat angel hair pasta tossed with a little olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice.

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Tropical Salad

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken
adapted from the Ungormet

6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cups pineapple juice
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fresh minced ginger

Combine all the ingredients except the chicken. Pour marinade over chicken, cover and refrigerate at least overnight. Grill until done.  I made this during the winter however, and last minute, so I just cut up two chicken breasts and sauteed them in a skillet with worcestershire, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and a tiny dash of Cayenne pepper.
Tropical Salad
1 bag of arugula
3 green onions, thinly sliced
6 sliced of turkey bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 can pineapple tidbits, drain and reserve juice for dressing
1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
1/4 cup toasted coconut

I wished I had all these ingredients on hand, but unfortunately did not.  I made this with a bunch of romaine, some orange segments, almonds, sunflower seeds, chopped green and yellow peppers.  I think red onion would have been a good addition too.

1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I didn't have pineapple juice so I substituted a little lemon and orange juice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cinnamon Pecan Crusted Salmon

Finally I have found a new fun way to switch up my salmon!  We generally try to eat pretty healthy most nights of the work week so it was nice to find a new way to cook a type of fish that graces my kitchen table at least once every other week.  This creation comes from Mrs. How Sweet.  We served this on a salad.

Cinnamon Pecan Crusted Salmon
serves 3-4
1 pound of salmon, cut into 4 pieces, or 4 salmon filets
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (or glaze)
2/3 cup pecans, finely ground in a food processor
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add ground pecans to a large plate and stir in cinnamon. Brush salmon pieces with BBQ sauce/glaze. Coat with pecan mixture, pressing so the mixture sticks.
Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Brown salmon on each side until pecan crust is golden. Remove and put on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon flakes with a fork.

Picture courtesy of How Sweet Eats blog.  Check her out!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lime Meltaways

OK, OK, I said I would slow down with the baking...but this was the last one I had been eyeing that I wanted to make!  And they were worth it.  And I will stop after this...maybe.

These lime meltaways are basically a shortbread cookie with a fresh lime hint.  I think next time I would add a little more lime.  And I wish I knew a trick to make the powdered sugar stick more to the cookies!

Lime Meltaways

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 limes (zest)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1. Cream the butter with the 1/3 cup powdered sugar.
2. Beat in the lime zest, lime juice and vanilla.
3. Mix the flour, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl.
4. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet.
5. Roll the dough out into a 1-2 inch log.
6. Wrap in plastic and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
7. Slice the dough into 1/4 to 1/2 in thick slices and place them on a baking sheet, 1 inch apart from each other.
8. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until just lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
9. Let cool on a wire rack for 4 minutes.
10. Dredge cookies in powdered sugar to coat.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Philly Cheesesteaks

Alright, I have to admit, half of my inspiration comes for my husband.  All I have to do is ask him if there is anything he would like this week for dinner and he will come up with a great idea that I can't wait to tackle.  Today we were strolling through Sam's club and he mentioned "mmmm philly cheesesteaks sound so good."  Quick internet search on the way to the grocery is all it took, these were so easy to make!  Did you know you could ask the meat counter at the local grocery to slice up the meat any way you like it?  I grabbed the pre-packaged steak I wanted and brought it over to the counter and they sliced it really thin for me.

Philly Cheesesteaks - adapted from Emeril Legasse

1/2 lb rib-eye steak sliced very thin
1 onion
1/2 green pepper
banana peppers
provolone or motzerella cheese
italian bread or other hoagie rolls

Carmelize the onions and peppers in butter and sugar.  I usually use a few tablespoons butter and sprinkle sugar over the top.  Let this simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until they start getting brown.  Then add mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes.
Slide the veggies over on your griddle or use another pan.  Season the steak with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook the until no longer pink.
Add the banana peppers and mix everything together move over to one side of the griddle.  Butter your bread and put them butter side down on the griddle to toast them.  (Did you know you can get day old bread from Jimmy John's for 50 cents a loaf - thats what we used.  brought back good memories of my college days with Katie.)  Once you are toasted up you can make up your cheesesteaks.  We put mayo and mustard on one side and pizza sauce on the other side before piling up some steak and veggies on the sandwhiches then of course you can't forget your cheese!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've made chocolate chip cookies a number of times but there is always something I have wanted to change in the recipe.  My biggest complaint is that they spread out and get to thin and I like a thicker chewier cookie.  I finally found the recipe that works!

1/2 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12 oz) bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (or less if you wish)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda

Evenly position 2 racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or just lightly butter them.  Melt the butter in the microwave and cool slightly. Whisk the sugars, eggs, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Scoop tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared pans.  Space the cookies about 2-inches apart on the pans. Bake, until golden, but still soft in the center, 12 to 16 minutes (12 minutes was plenty for mine).  Transfer hot cookies with a spatula to a rack to cool.  Perfection!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spinach & Feta Quinoa

I had never has Quinoa, much less heard of it until probably a few months ago.  If you are unfamiliar as well you need to give it a shot!  Its a grain and is packed with a ton of protein and a lot of other goodness.  To someone like me who had never tried it, I would compare its taste to rice.  Really great!  Especially this dish, who doesn't love the combination of spinach and feta?  So easy and it was an awesome side dish for chicken or fish.  I also got this one from Closet Cooking ... I know I know, recently it seems like I only get recipes from this blog, but I can't help myself!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 bunch spinach (roughly chopped)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth or water)
1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
1/4 cup dill (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1/4 cup feta (crumbled)
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts.
5. Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, parsley, dill and season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
7. Remove from heat and hit it with a splash lemon juice and mix in the feta.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cinnamon Bread

I have been on a bit of a baking kick lately I'm beginning to notice.  Which is not so good for my diabetic husband!  Don't worry, he is surviving, and I am going to chill it out soon!

Yum, this Cinnamon Bread was sort of like a banana bread...something you can get away with eating for breakfast, even though it should really be classified as a desert.  The cinnamon sugary crust of this bread was absolutely no exception.  I think I wish you could somehow coat all edged of each piece with that stuff!  I had intended on bringing this into work so we didn't end up eating it...but just couldn't do it.  Too edible...

Warning: don't get nervous about this recipe, I got a little confused with all the steps when reading over it, but if you follow along as you go it makes sense!

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup brown sugar
2 heaping tablespoons ground cinnamon
1. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in another bowl.
3. Beat in the eggs, salt, vanilla and lemon zest.
4. Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
5. Mix 1/2 of the buttermilk into the wet ingredients.
6. Mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
7. Mix the remaining buttermilk into the wet ingredients.
8. Mix 1/3 the remaining dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
9. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
10. Pour 1/3 of the batter into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
11. Pour 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture on top.
12. Pour 1/3 of the batter on top.
13. Pour 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture on top.
14. Pour the remaining batter on top.
15. Pour the remaining cinnamon mixture on top.
16. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until a toothpick pushed into the center comes out clean, about an hour.

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Soup

This is definitely one of those soups that gets better the next day.  We liked this a lot, the flavours were really great.  I think we both decided we aren't huge fans of pureed potato in soup.  I was deciding between this one and a Roasted Red Pepper w/ Black beans soup and that may have been the better choice for our taste.

Picture courtesy of Simply Recipes...once again! 
4 large red bell peppers
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cup) (or 2 or 3 red potatoes - and I forgot to peel mine)
3 cloves garlic
1 quart chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/4 cup cream or milk
3 Tbsp butter
Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
1 Roast the red bell peppers by placing them over or under an open flame until they blacken on all sides. (I did this in the oven under the broiler.) Place the blackened peppers in a bag, close the bag and let the peppers steam for 10-15 minutes, or until the skins feel like they can easily be slipped off. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the blackened skins, remove the seeds. Chop the peppers roughly.
2 Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes, then add the garlic and roasted peppers. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
3 Add the stock, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft.
4 Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Fill the blender about halfway with the soup. Start the blender on low and keep your hand on the top, in case the lid wants to pop off from the rising steam. Once everything is well chopped, turn the blender to its highest setting and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. You might need to do this in batches.  If you know me, you would not be surprised to know I went through 2 blenders in the first, oh, 6 months of marriage...and by went through...I mean broke.  So I had to blend mine in the tiniest food processor that Cuisinart makes.  I should probably ask for an immersion blender for Christmas, or just a regular blender...
5 Return to a clean pot set over low heat. Add the cream, stir well and taste. Add some cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4-6.

We had this with an awesome salad with cut up chicken breast, chopped walnuts and apples, feta, and a simple dressing of evoo, lemon juice, and some italian spices thrown in.  YUM!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jalopeno Cheese Grits & Apple Walnut Sticky Buns

I thought I would post a few breakfast items I've made recently on the weekends! 

Jalopeno Cheese Grits - from Messy Aprons.  These are soo good.  If you follow the original recipe for Shrimp and Grits this is one of Corey's other favorites.  They are amazing.  But on occasion I will make just the grits with eggs over easy for a special breakfast.  I like to cook...

1 tablespoon butter
1 red bell pepper, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, chilies, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the bell peppers are tender. Combine the chicken stock and cream in a large saucepan. Add the grits in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Whisk for 6 minutes or until the grits are cooked and the mixture has thickened. Add the bell pepper mixture and cheese. Cook until the cheese melts, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

These Apple Walnut Sticky Buns are "semi homemade" from Sandra Lee.  Some day when I'm really in the mood to set aside what to me seems like it would take half the day, I will attempt some real homemade cinnamon rolls from Pioneer Woman.  But today is not that day.  These are super easy and your guests will be impressed at what you whipped up.  They will have no idea you just opened up a can of pre-made cinnamon rolls from the refrigerated section at Walmart. 
Sorry for all the links below...I copied from the food network website.  And now that I am reading this recipe below I realize that I don't think I have ever buttered my muffin pans...oops...but they never stuck so I think you can skip that and cut out a few calories.

3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 (8-count) tubes refrigerated cinnamon rolls
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 to 2 teaspoons water
vanilla extract to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a 12-count muffin tin.
Peel, core and dice the apples. In a medium bowl stir together the diced apples with the walnuts and brown .
Divide the apple mixture evenly into the muffin tin. Put cinnamon buns, cinnamon side up, on top of the apple mixture. Put the muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes or what cinnamon roll container says.
Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Put a clean baking sheet on top of the muffin tin and flip to remove the sticky buns.
In a small bowl, combine 1 container of the vanilla frosting with the cinnamon or spice, vanilla, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of water. Mix until very thick and of pourable consistency. Drizzle over buns and serve.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blackened Tilapia w/ Mango Salsa & Graham Cracker Cookie Bars

I can't take credit for making this fabulous mango salsa...this was all our friend Joe.  I have never had it before but it was so good.  Sort of sweet with a major kick.  I believe the ingredient list included mangos, tomatoes, jalopenos, avocado, red onion, cilantro, lemon & lime juice....and other things I'm sure I missed!  I just blackened some tilapia filets (or any white fish or chicken would work) by coating them with blackened seasoning on both sides and cooking for a few minutes each side on a skillet coated with just a touch of olive oil.

This "cookie" recipe if you can call it a cookie I found on who else... Pioneer woman!  They are super easy, I think they take a whole 15 minutes to make.  Start by preheating your oven to 350 and cover the bottom of a cookie sheet (with edges!) with graham crackers.  Then bring 2 sticks of butter and 1 cup of sugar to a boil in a sauce pan and allow to boil for 5 minutes.  At this point I got a little impatient and decided to dip my extra graham crackers in the boiling goodness.  I would highly recommend not skipping this step.  Once you are finished boiling you will pour and spread the caramel sauce over the graham crackers and then bake in the oven for 7 minutes.  Once you take this out of the oven (it will be bubbly still), immediately sprinkle 1 cup of chocolate chips over hot caramel.  Let the chocolate sit 1 minute until it starts to melt and then spread it over the caramel.  Finially you can finish by sprinkling chopped pretzels, almonds, candy canes, etc. over the top.  I stuck with pretzels because you can never go wrong with the sweet and salty combo!  You must make these now.  You could whip them up before you hubby is out of the shower like I just did!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Half Bath Re-do & a Mexican Chef Salad

I think we have both been wanting to repaint since we moved in a year ago but just weren't ready to make the decision.  Our half bath downstairs and our living room were both browns and they were nice looking...but we realized our house was becoming very brown.  Our sofa, chair, and most of the furniture is dark brown (most of these purchased before we moved into this house).  So it was time for a change!  Here is the color of the bath before...notice we are halfway into construction at this point:

Decided to go with a Grey
Corey took the floorboards up
And a couple new coats of paint and bead board and chair rail down

Sorry for the lighting in this one, I hadn't figured out how to turn off the flash yet apparently...good thing the camera class is in a few weeks!

On to food!  Another of Corey's Mom's recipes - and an absolute favorite of ours!  Mexican Chef Salad:
Brown 1 lb lean ground beef then season with 1 pkg of taco seasoning.  Mix in 1 can black beans to warm them (sometimes I also throw in some frozen corn at this point).  Chop up your choice lettuce, we used a bunch of red leaf lettuce last night.  Mix Lettuce, beef and bean mixture, shredded cheese, crunched up Frito's, diced tomatoes.  Serve in bowls with ranch, salsa, or sour cream (or all three if you are us)!  Yummy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Candied Pecans

How cute is this bowl...I wish it were mine...but it is not.  I really need to shape up with my picture taking of my recipes.  This little snack I also made up for NYE and it may have received the most compliments of them all!  Wow, I have made candied nuts before but they did not turn out near as good as this recipe did.  And sooo easy!  The recipe (and picture) is from Kevin and Amanda.  I did a half batch of this and used half pecans half walnuts.  It looks like a lot of coating at first but once it cooks it is just perfect.  Also, I missed the part about spraying the pan first...don't do this, trust me :)  But trust me on this and do make this recipe for your next party or just as a nice gift for someone.

Candied Pecans
2 egg whites
2 tbsp water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 cups (16 oz) pecans
Preheat oven to 225. In a large bowl beat the egg whites and water. Add pecans and stir to coat. Whisk together the sugar, salt and cinnamon, then pour over the pecans, stirring to coat. Spread pecans on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray and bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

This is a great easy meal to make in the crockpot when you have company in town.  It cooks all day and makes the house smell yummy and makes it easy for everyone to jump in when they are hungry.  It is very convienent when you will be gone all day or feel like relaxing, you can throw it together in the morning and its done that afternoon.

This recipe is from Eat at home.  Pictures courtesy of eat at home as well

1 large roast (fat trimmed if needed)
1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
1-2 cans chicken broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 package brown gravy mix
1 green pepper, sliced
1 small jar pepperoccinis with juice
Poke the meat with a fork or knife and put it in the crockpot.  Mix all the ingredients and pour over the meat.  Let it marinade overnight or cook it right away on low for 8-10 hours.  Or, be like me and don’t fix it until lunch time then crank it up on high and cook it for 5-6 hours. 
Shred the meat and serve on hoagie buns with the peppers and sauce for dipping or just do it like we did and pour the juice right on top with some motzerella cheese.  I think it would also be great without the bread and that is probably how I'll end up eating some of the leftovers.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


We had a party at our house on NYE this year.  We were a little nervous how it would turn out but it was a blast!  Corey had the brilliant idea of doing a white elephant gift exchange with your choice of wine, beer, or liquor.  It was a really good time and I think we'll do it again.  The gifts ranged from Natty Ice beer to a fifth of Jack Daniels.  Here are the appetizers I made for the party:

Pancetta Crisps w/ Goat Cheese & Pear - I got this idea from my friend Katie's Christmas party.  They are phenominal and so easy.

16 thin slices pancetta
16 teaspoons soft fresh goat cheese (from 5-ounce log)
2 very ripe small pears, halved, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Fresh thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place pancetta slices in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Using spatula, slide pancetta crisps onto platter. Top each with 1 teaspoon goat cheese and 1 pear slice. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.  (I didn't have fresh time and worked just the same).

Puff Pastry w/ Cranberry and Brie
This is something I made form thanksgiving from Closet Cooking.  This time I decided to make them small & bite sized. 
Two Sheets Frozen Puff Pastry
One round Brie
Cranberry Sauce

Cut pastry into small squares, place small piece of brie (rhind removed) on each square and top with one or two teaspoons cranberry sauce.  Pull corners up and over to contain brie and cranberry.  Bake at 350 on ungreased baking sheet for 15-25 minutes.
Here is the original recipe picture

Seven Layer taco dip
This has been a long time favorite when ever we all get together.

1 pound ground beef
1 pakage taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa
1 container sour cream
1 pakage shredded cheese
green onions, black olives, or other add'l toppings you might like

Brown beef and add seasoning.  Spread beans along bottom of a 13 x 9 dish, then meat, then salsa, then sour cream, then cheese.  Top with any toppings and serve with tortilla chips.  Yummy!