Monday, December 19, 2011

Reese's Fudge Pie

Peanut butter, fudge, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Mini's, Nutter Butter crust...this is the combination for a sugar coma, but more importantly the BEST dessert EVER!!
We all know that peanut butter and chocolate are my favorite combo...by far. So anytime I come across a recipe that has these two ingredients I have to give it a try. AND lately I've been all obsessed with the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Mini's. They're just so tiny and cute and melty and delicious!! I would call it a pregnancy craving, but I'm pretty sure I was obsessed with them BEFORE I got pregnant. This pie is so decadent, fancy, EASY (nothing to bake!) and sure to impress your holiday guests. In fact, I made this for my hubby's work and his boss took the leftovers home for his dinner party that night! I would say that's a good sign of yumminess!

For the Crust:
15-18 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix together finely crushed cookies and butter. Press evenly into the bottom of a springform pan.

For the Fudge Middle:
1 (140z) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 t salt
2 t vanilla
1 (8oz) bag Resse's Mini's

Mix all ingredients besides the Reese's Mini's into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Fudge will be thick. Spread over crust. Press Reese's Mini's into the fudge (tops can still be showing.)

For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (8oz) cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
1/4 cup melted chocolate for drizzle

Mix peanut butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar together in a mixer until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over top of fudge. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Chill for at least an hour before serving.

*Adapted From Cookies and Cups

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nutella Buttercream

I'm always VERY interested in anything that has Nutella in it. I usually don't like buttercreams, but this one...mmmmm. The Nutella gives it a whole new depth of flavor. And by whipping the butter for SO long, it almost dissolves instantly in your mouth. Buttery, airy, chocolatey, just pure delicious. Put it on a chocolate or vanilla cake - anything really! Or you can just be like me and eat it straight out of the mixing bowl.

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), at room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
2 t vanilla
1 cup Nutella

Cream the butter in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, about 5 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and mix, gradually increasing in speed, until the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes; you may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times.

When the buttercream is fluffy, add the Nutella. Whisk for another 5-8 minutes until the Nutella is fully incorporated and the buttercream is light and fluffy again.

*From Tasty Kitchen

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce

Make this. Love this. Don't feel bad about it!! This is my go-to recipe for Alfredo sauce. I will NEVER use another!!

2 cups low fat milk (not skim)
1/3 cup (3 oz) low fat cream cheese
2 T flour
1 t salt
1 T butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup freshly shredded parmesan

Put milk, cream cheese, flour and salt in a blender and blend until creamy. Saute butter and garlic in saucepan until tender, about 30 seconds. Add mixture from the blender. Stir constantly until thick, about 3-4 minutes. When it's nice and thick, remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir until creamy. Then die cause you've made the best sauce EVER!!

*From Our Best BitesLink

White Chicken Lasagna Roll-ups


I knew I wanted to try these as soon as I saw them. Anything that is covered in Alfredo sauce is right up my alley:) And definitely don't hesitate to make this homemade Alfredo sauce because it's lower in fat and is super delicious. It's my go-to now and I always have the ingredients on hand. These roll-ups are so delicious and look fancy too, so go ahead and impress your guests with your beautiful food!

1 lb chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzerella chees, plus more for topping
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Alfredo sauce (Delicious Homemade recipe here)
8 lasagna noodles, cooked and cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, mix the cooked shredded chicken, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, parsley and garlic until combined.

Spread a ladle or two of Alfredo sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

Lay out one lasagna noodle on a cutting board, spread about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture along the noodle and roll up the noodle from one end to the other. Lay the roll seam side down in the pan on top of the alfredo sauce.

Repeat with remaining noodles and filling, laying each on top of the sauce. Top with more alfredo sauce and as much mozzarella cheese as desired.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is browned slightly on top.

*From Tasty Kitchen

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This soup is the perfect fall dinner. It's so hearty, yet light. The flavor is to die for and it's easy-peasy to make. It might be my new favorite dish:) If you want to warm up this winter, try this soup.



2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 whole large carrots, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth
¾ pounds chicken breasts (cubed)
1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain And Wild Rice (6 Oz.)
1-½ cups milk

1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste


In large pot, heat butter and olive oil. Sauté onions, celery and carrots on medium low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Season vegetables with salt and pepper.


Pour in chicken broth and cubed raw chicken. Raise temperature to medium high heat to poach chicken in cooking liquid. Once chicken has cooked and become opaque, pour in rice and the seasoning packet that came with the rice. Cover and reduce heat to simmer lightly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


In a small bowl, whisk cold milk with flour until smooth. Pour into the soup pot and reduce heat completely to low. Cook 10 minutes or until rice is softened completely and soup has thickened slightly. Taste and season accordingly. Serve hot.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Snickers Cookies



With all of this Halloween candy craziness, I was looking for a way to get rid of some. How much does one 4 year old need anyway?! I picked out all of the Snickers candy bars and made these cookies. They turned out divine. The caramel melts into a delicious, gooey bite and the cookie itself proved to be perfect. Chewy and a little crisp on the edges...just they way they should be!

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granualted sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
10 fun size Snickers bars, cut into small pieces
1/2-3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (depending on how "chunky" you want them)

Cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and whip until well blended. Add salt, baking soday and flour. Stir until just combined. Stir in Snickers bars and chocolate chips. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool on tray for 2-3 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Garlic Shrimp Pasta

I was really feeling like a shrimp pasta dish today. And what Mommy wants, Mommy gets:) This is so light, yet packed full of flavor. I was worried that the sauce wouldn't be "saucy" enough and I can't eat a pasta without a flavorful sauce, but I was surprised at how thick and delicious the sauce was. If you're looking for a lighter touch to your life, try this recipe!

8 ounces spaghetti
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 lb shrimp
1 cup chicken broth
1 t. dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter
3 T parmesan cheese (or more depending on your taste)
Olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add spinach and 2 tablespoons olive oil; toss and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium high. Add onion and cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and garlic; cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp begins turning pink. Add broth, salt and pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked. Stir in butter and parsley. Toss with pasta and top with Parmesan cheese. Add more Parmesan cheese to taste.

*Adapted from Tasty Kitchen


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken Stuffing Casserole

I'm so tired of eating the same thing over and over and over...aren't you? Maybe it's because for the past 4 months I've been making the same thing. Well, that's over now. And I'm dying to eat new and exciting recipes! This was SO good to me. I was even surprised with my 18 month old shoveled it in her mouth by the handful since she's on a hunger strike now. The hubby even loved it even though he despises corn. It's just a great balance of flavor and turned into an awesome, fast fall dinner.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
11 oz frozen sweet corn (you can sub canned corn)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package cornbread stuffing

Make stuffing according to package directions. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper and lay chicken breast in the bottom of a baking pan. Saute pepper, onion and garlic in about 1 T olive oil till tender, about 3 minutes. Spread evenly over chicken. Mix corn and cream of chicken soup. Spread evenly over chicken and peppers. Top with prepared stuffing. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 for another 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

So have any of you been wondering where I've been?! I sure have! I found out several months ago that I'm pregnant with #3! Well, with that came EXTREME sickness and my inability to look at food, let alone cook it. This week I'm 15 weeks, which came with a little bit of relief. I found myself making dinner several times this week AND whipped up these puppies. They are SO easy, SO moist and SO delicious. I threw in a few peanut butter chips for good measure, cause it just sounded good to me. I definitely recommend this. Yummmm...

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/4 sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 small box chocolate pudding
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a standing mixer, cream together butter and sugars about 2 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add chocolate pudding and mix well. Add eggs and vanilla and whip another 1-2 minutes. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Mix until just blended. Stir in chips (you can eliminate peanut butter chips and just double the chocolate chips if you'd like, but come on, it's peanut butter and chocolate!!)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Me, I'm not much of a fan of Tres Leches. But we live in a world where a lot of people are. And I sometimes do what people want cause it makes me happy. This was a request from the hubs...he likes tres leches. And I have to say - not bad, not bad. If you're a Tres Leches fan, you must try these! Oh, and that Dulce de Leche whipped cream...DIVINE. These definitely hit the spot!


For the Cake:

1 box French Vanilla cake mix

1 small box French Vanilla pudding

1 cup sour cream

1 cup buttermilk

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan by lining it with cupcake liners. Mix the cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, milk and oil in a standing mixer and beat until well incorporated (about 2 minutes) while scraping the sides. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Place in preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until tops spring back when touched.


While cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the Tres Leches mixture: mix the whole milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk.


Remove cupcakes from oven. Immediately poke several holes in each cupcake with a skewer stick or knife.


Drizzle Tres Leches mixture over each cupcake, waiting for it to absorb, using all of the mixture evenly between eachcupcake.


Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream:


2 cups heavy whipping cream


1/4-1/2 cup dulce de leche (found in the mexican isle in the grocery store)


3 T powdered sugar (or more depending on how sweet you like it)


Combine all ingredients in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high until soft peaks form. Pipe over cooled cupcakes. Store extra cupcakes in the fridge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grilled Pizza

Oh boy. This is the death of me! If you've never tried grilled pizza you are DEFINITELY missing out! The perfect dough, with the perfect fresh mozzerella and a sprinkle of a little Italian seasoning...mmmm. Just thinking about eating this makes my mouth water. This pizza recipe is incredible. The best part about it is the options for toppings are endless, so it makes it easy to eat it 4-5 times a week:) Eat it. Then you'll die.


Pizza Dough:

1 1/2 cups warm (105-115 degrees) water

1 T sugar

1 T yeast

1/2 t salt

3-4 1/2 cups flour


In a large bowl (the bowl of a mixer, if you have one) combine water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until nice and bubbly.


Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the b0wl and it barely sticks to your finger.


Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubles in bulk. Remove from bowl and separate into about 4 equal sized balls if you are making individual sized pizzas or into 2 for larger ones. Roll out.


The ladies at Our Best Bites do everything perfect in my mind. They are the masters! I'm not going to attemt to try and explain how to grill the perfect pizza when they've done it for me. For instructions on grilling the perfect pizza go to their site here.


*For the maximum yumminess pizza, it's a MUST to use fresh mozzerella. Try it once and you'll understand why:)


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

One of my favorite things is eating cookie dough. I think I would rather eat the dough than the actual cookie. So when I saw these I knew I had to make them. It's a rich, fudgy brownie topped with straight cookie dough...uncooked. Now don't worry, there's no eggs in the dough so it's completely safe:) Wow, such a perfect combination!


Brownies:

1 cup butter

3/4 cup cocoa

2 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 t salt

3 eggs

1 t vanilla

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Prepare 9x13 baking pan by spraying with cooking spray. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add cocoa, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla. Beat with a spoon until combined. Add flour and baking powder and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Allow brownies to cool completely before moving on to the next step.


Cookie Dough:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

4 T milk

2 t vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl and cream together. Add flour and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in an even layer on top of the cooled brownies. Chill before adding chocolate glaze.


Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 T oil


Melt chocolate with butter and stir until smooth. I do this in the microwave in 20 second increments. Spread the glaze over the chilled cookie dough layer.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tuscan Chicken and Wild Rice



Have you ever had this rice? I recommend it. It's so hearty, flavorful and delicious. I use it for MANY of my dishes and it just completes it. Pick it up at your local Costco:) Now to the recipe. This is so incredibly delicious and simple that you must make it! It's hearty, yet light. Love it.


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup wild rice
10 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced

2 cups water

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in the crock pot. Add rice, garlic, red peppers. Mix water, lemon juice and oil in a mixing bowl. Pour mixture over rice and chicken. Stir once to coat chicken. Cover and cook on medium low for 4-6 hours.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cake Batter Cheesecake Cupcakes


Yeah, yeah...I know the 4th of July is over, but why can't we celebrate it longer than the actual day? Especially when I was gone on vaca during the holiday? 4th of July or not, these can be made for any occasion. Funfetti cake has to be THE funnest and best cake out there. My family LOVES it. Now when you add a cheesecake center and a cakebatter-cheesecake frosting...NOW you're talkin!! Such a fun, different cupcake that everyone is sure to love!

For the Cake:
Funfetti cake batter (Use your favorite homemade or box version - fully made batter)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 24 muffin tin with festive liners.

Spoon cake batter into each tin until it is half full. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Spoon one spoonful over top of each cupcake. Bake for about 15 minutes or until set.

Cake Batter, Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 t vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup white cake mix (MIX - NOT BATTER)

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar and cake mix and beat on low until just combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. If frosting is too thick, mix a bit of heavy cream or milk until desired consistency is reached.

Once cupcakes are cooled, frost generously. Enjoy!!

* From Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pesto Stuffed Chicken

I was in the mood for something different. You know, not the same old-same old chicken. I get tired of that every now and again. So I came up with this. What a new and refreshing way to eat chicken! I love how moist and flavorful it is and just how purely delicious it is. Eat your pesto in a new way and you won't be disappointed!


4 large chicken breasts

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/4 cup honey mustard

1 small jar pesto sauce (or your favorite homemade)

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

bread crumbs (I use Texas Toast croutons finely crushed)

1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese


Place chicken breasts in a ziploc bag with the 2 mustards and marinate overnight or at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the pesto with the ricotta cheese. Take a chicken breast and cut a "pocket" into it making sure to not cut all the way through the bottom or sides. Fill with pesto mixture until stuffed full. Mix bread crumbs with parmesan cheese. In a large skillet heat 2 T olive oil on medium-high. Coat stuffed chicken in bread crumbs and place in skillet to brown and crisp the outside making sure to only turn the chicken once. Once the outside is good and crispy place on a cookie sheet and place in the oven to finish cooking for about 20-30 minutes (depending on how thick your chicken breast was to start.) Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Texas Sheet Cake



I know, I know, we've all had Texas sheet cake...but have you REALLY?! This, my friends, IS the recipe. It's the way it SHOULD be and the way it SHOULD taste. Rich, light, chocolaty cake with a warm frosting that oozes into the cracks and crevises of the cake, creating a incredible chocolate haven. Now if you're gonna make Texas sheet cake, make it the right way - the way your grandma made it - and the way my MOM always made it. When I think of her, I think of this cake. And let me tell you, you'll be the talk of the town when you bring this to your next neighborhood party.
Cake:
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup cocoa
6 T buttermilk
1 t vanilla
2 - 21/2 cups powdered sugar (depending on your desired consistency)

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Mix butter, cocoa and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour cocoa mixture over flour mixture and mix on low until it comes together. Add milk, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Bake in a greased sheetcake pan at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes until the cake is not hot, but still very warm (this helps it seep into the cake better.)

After you remove the cake from the oven, start on the frosting. Bring butter, cocoa and buttermilk to a boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla and powdered sugar. With a whisk, beat the frosting until the sugar is well incorporated and there are no clumps. Pour over cake and spread evenly. If I were making it, I would then grab a fork and eat it straight out of the corner of the pan...all warm, gooey and delicious. But if you're taking it to a party I don't suggest this:)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

California Salad Bowl

My mother-in-law introduced this to me. I LOVE it. It's perfect for summer too. So fresh, crisp and the avocado dressing...MMMM. I could eat it by the spoonful. It goes great with everything and would be a wonderful addition to your next barbeque.


Salad:

1 head romail lettuce, chopped

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1-2 tomatoes, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 (16oz) can pitted olives, drained and cut in half

1 cup slightly crushed corn chips

Avocado Dressing


Avocado Dressing:

1 ripe avocado, peeled and seed removed

Juice of 1 lemon (about 1-2 T)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup vegetable oil

salt to taste (You're going to have salt from the cheese and chips so keep that in mind)


In a blender, mix dressing ingredients together until very smooth. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss to mix well. Serve immediately.


PS: I don't recommend dressing the salad until RIGHT before you serve it. If you aren't going to eat it all, don't dress it all because it doesn't keep...but that's OK because you're probably going to eat the whole salad yourself:)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Homemade Fudge Rounds






I don't know about you, but I grew up eating these! My mom would pack them in my lunch for our "treat". I bet she knew that I ate it first:) I don't think I've had them since high school, but either way I knew I was up for the challenge to recreate them when I saw them on Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. The cookies are oh so soft and the filling, oh so delicious. Reminisce in the memories of your childhood with a batch of these cookies!




For the Cookies:
1 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 350. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing after each addition. Mix in vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add slowly to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat until combined. Drop spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 7-9 minutes. Remove baking sheets to cooling racks and remove cookies after a few minutes to continue cooling. While cookies cool, make your filling.

For the Filling:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons buttermilk


In a mixer, beat the shortening and butter on medium speed until smooth and combined. Beat in vanilla. Add cocoa powder and powdered sugar and beat on low until just combined. Add buttermilk and beat on medium high for about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Once cookies have cooled, pipe or spread filling on the flat side of half of them. Gently press another cookie on top of the filling.

For the stripes, microwave 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until smooth. Drizzle or pipe on top of Fudge Rounds. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

*From Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
* Also check over at Sweet as Sugar Cookies for a TON of delicious desserts!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Overnight French Toast


I love me some french toast. It's one of my favorite breakfasts. This recipe is such a wonderful, delicious and SIMPLE idea for breakfast! I love it. It's perfect for those times when you have a ton of company and no time or ideas for breakfast. You'll be sure to impress those guests with this one!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 loaf french bread, cut into 1 inch slices
1 cup brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk (you can substitute with regular milk)

Melt butter and put at the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Mix together sugar and cinnamon. Wisk together eggs, both milks and vanilla in a separate bowl. Put a layer of sliced french toast over the butter in the baking dish. Sprinkle half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the bread. Put another layer of bread over the sugar mixture. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread. Sprinkle the remaining sugar and cinnamon over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning cover with tin foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes until the top is browned and set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve! It can also be served with syrup.

*From frugalupstate.com

Friday, June 3, 2011

Caramel Popcorn

So my computer died. It was a REAL struggle there for about 2 weeks...for me to be out of a computer:) But now I have a back-up of delicious recipes that you're sure to love! I got this recipe from my friend Nettie when we went to a pool party and she broke this gem out. This caramel popcorn is the best I've ever had and positive to create heart attacks, so beware! Perfect caramel popcorn is ooey, gooey, buttery, and ADDICTING!! I promise you won't be disappointed. Just make sure you have A LOT of people to feed it to or you'll eat the whole bowl yourself...seriously. You can't stop eating it. Make it for your next movie night and your guests will think you're the best host in town! Now make it...and then hit the treadmill...

5 regular bags butter popcorn, popped
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Pour popcorn into a very large bowl or two large bowls. In a saucpan, put butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir until melted and boil about 2 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and boil for 3-5 minutes until very smooth and thick. Pour over popcorn and stir until each kernel is evenly coated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Best Ever Chocolate Frosting

Now personally, I've never found a homemade chocolate frosting I love. Some are good here and there, but I haven't found the perfect one...till today. And you know it's gotta be good because it comes from our friends over at Our Best Bites. This is the definition of what a chocolate frosting should be. Deep, dark chocolate flavor and smooth, airy texture. It's basically a whipped ganache which makes it the epitome of chocolate flavor. It does take a bit to make, but oh boy is it worth it!


16 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

1 stick (8T) butter

1/3 cup granuated sugar

2 T light corn syrup (I used honey)

2 t vanilla

1/4 t salt

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream


Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium, add sugar, corn syrup (or honey), vanilla and salt and stir with rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved, about 4-5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to a clean bowl of a stand mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.


Place mixer bowl over and ice bath and stir mixture constantly with a rubber spatula until frostin is thick and just beginning to harden against the sides of the bowl, about 1-2 minutes (frosting should be cooled and aroun 70 degrees.) Place bowl on stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.


*If you find that after beating, your frostin is still too soft for your liking, chill in the fridge until it sets up a little more. I ended up stiring the frosting in the ice bath for a little longer than they said, until it was cold to the touch and thick, before I started whipping it. I feel like I got a great consistency from this and it definitely wasn't too soft. It was perfect...this recipe is perfection!





Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nutella Cupcakes



I was itching for a new recipe, but being Sunday I needed to use what I had on hand. Somehow I had Nutella. Have you had Nutella? It's amazing. It's rapidly becoming one of my favorite spreads. I love the nutty, chocolaty, smooth taste. There's really nothing like it. It was the perfect ingredient for cupcakes:) I decided to go with a basic chocolate cupcake recipe, fill it with Nutella and then top it off with a Nutella cream cheese frosting. This might be my new favorite cupcake recipe! I got SO many compliments on these and I can't deny it...I couldn't keep my hands off them, especially when I did half the batter as mini cupcakes - perfect one bite treat:) If you love Nutella, you must try these!

For the Cake:
1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small box white chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small jar Nutella

For the Frosting:
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
1/4 cup Nutella

Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan by lining it with cupcake liners. Mix the cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, milk and oil in a standing mixer and beat until well incorporated (about 2 minutes) while scraping the sides. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Place 1 teaspoon Nutella on top of each cupcake batter. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until tops spring back when touched. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.

For the frosting cream cream cheese and butter until really smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Add vanilla and Nutella and beat until very creamy. Add powdered sugar - enough to get your desired spreading consistency. Personally I like it a little thin and creamy instead of stiff like icing. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Bake

This is the perfect weeknight dinner. It tastes just like enchiladas with half the work. I love twists on classic recipes and this is one of them. You won't be disappointed!

2 cups white rice
2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 (15oz) can mild green enchilada sauce
1 (4oz) can sliced black olives
1 (15oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t cumin
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained ans rinsed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. and spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Cook rice according to package directions. Place chicken, enchilada sauce, olives, tomatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper and cumin into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Pour cooked rice into prepared baking dish and layer beans on top of rice. Pour chicken mixture over rice and top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until cheese is melted and rice is hot.

*From Picky Palate.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars

I found these on bettycrocker.com and knew I needed to try them. Surprisingly they taste just like creme brulee! The toffee bits give them that crisp top layer just like it. I sent them to work with Justin and they were gone within 5 minutes. If you're in the mood for a simple, delicious, sophisticated dessert this is the one for you.

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 small box french vanilla instant pudding mix
2 T packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 t vanilla, separated
2 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup toffee bits, finely crushed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, pudding mix, brown sugar, melted butter, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla an 1 whole egg until a soft dough forms. Press dough in the bottom of the pan

With a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping the sides. Add sour cream and sugar and beat on medium until really smooth. Add remaining whole egg, 3 egg yolks and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. Beat until smooth and spread over crust.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with toffee bits. Place a cookie sheet over the top and let sit about 10 minutes. Remove cookie sheet and cool for 20 minutes. Refrigerate about 3 hours or until chilled. Cut into bars and serve. I like to let them sit out for at least 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off. I think they taste better that way:)

*From Betty Crocker.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

I've had these pork roasts in my freezer and I got tired of the same old-same old. I wanted to switch it up. I looked in my cupboards to see what I had to transform this hunk of meat into a magical, tasty, mouth-watering meal. I came up with this. It's incredibly delicious and I also love it because I basically do nothing and have an instant dinner. You could even do this with pork chops in the crock pot...I bet that would change your life:)

1 (2-3 pound) pork roast
1 (1 oz) packet Lipton's Savory Herb and Garlic seasoning mix
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T soy sauce
1/2 onion, diced

Mix seasoning mix, beef broth, garlic, soy sauce and onion in a large bowl. Pour into crock pot. Place roast in the middle of the crock pot. Cook on high for 6 hours basting and turning every few hours. Remove roast and strain leftover juices in a strainer. Use for a sauce to top the pork or as a gravy for rice or mashed potatoes. You'll be amazed!!

Alfredo Pasta Bake


This is a perfect, easy dinner that your family is sure to love. Come on...it's a creamy Alfredo sauce!! I made it meat-less because sometimes I just love to go against the norm and personally, I don't love meat. You can definitely add some cooked, diced chicken if you feel the need, but I really feel it's great on it's own! It does have bacon so maybe you could count that as meat:) I also love how by adding the tomatoes it gives it a feel of adding a red sauce to a white sauce, which is one of my favorite things. It's so delicious and sure to please your picky eaters.

16 ounce package uncooked radiator pasta
1 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream**
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese (I used Asiago)
4 oz cream cheese
pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked, fresh broccoli
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
1 cup shredded mozzerella (I used shredded provolone)

In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions. With 2 minutes remaining, add the broccoli and green onions to the pasta. Meanwhile in another sauce pan over medium to low heat, heat the butter and whipping cream until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese, parmesan and pepper and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Drain the pasta, broccoli and green onions. Add to cheese sauce. Add tomatoes and bacon. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella (or provolone.) Broil under high heat until cheese is melted and bubbly.

** Note: evaporated fat free milk can be substituted for whipping cream for a lower fat option.

*Adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Fudge Cupcakes


One of my favorite things is peanut butter and chocolate. To me there's nothing better. This cupcake really reminds me of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. The frosting is the perfect balance of salty peanut butter and sweet. Oh, and the hot fudge is the perfect touch. It sets up perfectly for a cupcake like this. If you're having a peanut butter and chocolate craving, you should definitely make these!

Cake:
1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small box chocolate fudge pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cups creamy peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar (you may want 1 more cup depending on how sweet you want it)
2-3 T whipping cream (may need more to reach your desired consistency)
1 t vanilla

Hot Fudge Sauce:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
1 t vanilla

For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners. To prepare cupcakes place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk and sour cream into stand mixer. Beat until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scoop batter evenly into 24 cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cupcakes are cooked through, a toothpick comes clean from center. Remove and let cool.

For the Frosting:
Cream butter and peanut butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla. Beat until frosting is smooth. If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar.

For the Hot Fudge Sauce:
Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, or until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

After cupcakes have cooled completely, take the core out to prepare to fill them. Drizzle some hot fudge sauce into the center and then fill the rest of the hole with peanut butter frosting. Then dip the tops of the cupcakes into the hot fudge sauce. It sets up pretty fast, so it shouldn't be too messy. Top with peanut butter frosting and then drizzle with hot fudge. It might seem like a lot of work, but believe me...IT'S WORTH IT!!

*Peanut Butter Frosting adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Buttermilk Bread


Sweet, smooth, soft and sturdy. That's how I like my homemade bread. I do love incredibly soft homemade breads, but sometimes I like to have one that can be sturdy enough to hold up a stuffed sandwich. Justin has been all about this certain buttermilk bread we buy at the store, so when we ran out I decided I would see if I could make something similar that he would love. This hit the spot! It has such interesting ingredients also: buttermilk, mashed potatoes and honey. I love things that are out of the box! Well it really made a difference here. It rose perfectly and baked up good and soft. If you're looking for a twist on your regular homemade bread routine, try this one!
1 cup warm water
1 T active dry yeast
1 cup warm buttermilk*
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 T salt
1/2 cup mashed potatoes**
6 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in very warm water. Combine all ingredients besides flour. Add flour and knead til smooth and springy, 5-10 minutes by hand, adding a little flour only if necessary, dough will be slightly sticky (I did this all in my Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment and let it knead itself until it completely cleaned all of the sides of the mixing bowl.) Place in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then a dish towel. Let rise til doubled. I usually turn my oven on to 100 degrees and turn it off and then place my covered dough in the warm oven for about 2 hours. Gently deflate dough, divide into two equal halves and place into 2 greased loaf pans. Punch them down into the pans. Place back in a warm oven covered with a dishtowel. Leave until dough has topped the pan but not over-proofed, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until well-browned and sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from pans to cool and brush tops with melted butter. Immediately enjoy a thick slice smothered with butter and homemade strawberry jam...or maybe that's just what I do:)

*If you're like me and go through spurts when you use buttermilk, but don't constantly keep it on hand, I would recommend buying powdered buttermilk. I buy SaCo Cultured Buttermilk Blend and it works great and lasts a lot longer than fresh buttermilk.

**If you don't have any leftover mashed potatoes, I use instant. I actually use Augason Farms Potato Gems food storage potatoes. They are wonderful and super quick!

*Adapted from The Fresh Loaf

Monday, April 18, 2011

Buttermilk Brown Sugar Cookies

If you want to eat the best cookie you've ever tasted, try these. I was shocked at how wonderful they were. The cookies are super soft and the glaze is decadent. Justin took these to work and they were gone in 30 seconds flat. Even people that don't eat sweets ate 2 or 3 and then asked for the recipe. Believe me they are that good. So just make them and impress everyone at your next dinner party:) They do require to sit in the fridge overnight, but don't worry...it's worth it. They are so interesting because they contain ONLY brown sugar so they have a deep, rich flavor that is unbelievable. They also plump up so light and fluffy because you use basically double the baking powder and soda. I can't say anything better about these cookies...they are divine.

For the Cookies:
2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup butter
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 t baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
4 cups Flour
2 t baking powder
brown sugar for sprinkling

For the Frosting:
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup milk
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

*NOTE: Dough needs to be refrigerated overnight!**

Cream sugar and butter; add vanilla and eggs and beat well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add buttermilk and flour mixture alternately to the creamed butter mixture. Combine thoroughly (the dough will be very sticky.) Then store covered in refrigerator overnight.

Scoop cookie dough and roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Sprinkle a little bit more brown sugar on top of the balls (this gives a nice little crunch against the soft, fluffy cookie) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. The cookies may seem like they need more time and will be really soft, but you REALLY don't want to overcook them! Remove from the sheets onto cooling rack to cool. While they are cooling, make the brown sugar caramel frosting.


Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan. Blend in brown sugar and salt. Cook this on low heat for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add milk and remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Let cool. At this point you can either frost the cookies like you would a sugar cookie (with a knife) or you can pour into a piping bag and drizzle over the cookies for a fancier look.

* Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cream Cheesy Mac and Cheese

If you're looking for a quick, easy, delicious dinner look no further! This is the ultimate comfort food. I love how the cream cheese adds a little tang...and oh do I love cream cheese! Try it and you won't be disappointed.

1 pound elbow macaroni
4 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups milk
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm until sauce is ready.

For the sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or deep pan. Add flour to the butter and stir until smooth. Gradually add in milk, stirring continuously. Allow milk mixture to come to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the elbow macaroni and mix together.

Pour mixture into greased, large casserole dish. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese over the top. I used grated Parmesan and cheddar. Broil until cheese is bubbly and browned.

*Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake


I know it seems weird, but I had never actually tried Nutella until about a year ago. It just seemed so bizarre. Then I tried it. It has to be one of the most delicious spreads out there! I saw this recipe and knew I had to try it because it was so easy and such a great twist on a regular "cheesecake." In fact, the original recipe says to just make it in a 9 inch pie dish, but it reminded me so much of a cheesecake that I ended up seeing if it would stand up in a springform pan. It was a success! And I think it was easier to cut and serve. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it sliced because it cut so beautifully...but I took it to a dinner party. I took this horrible picture right before we left. Either way, people were begging me for the recipe because it was so good. I'm definitely going to be making this again especially since it's getting to be summer and I love a no-bake dessert recipe!

For the Crust:
20 whole Nutter Butter Cookies
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

For the Filling:
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup whipping cream

For the Nutella Ganache:
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup whipping cream

Spray a cheesecake pan (springform pan) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside (you may use a 9-inch pie plate.)

Place Nutter Butter cookies into a food processor and grind until they are fine crumbs. Stir together with melted butter.

Press into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Place into refrigerator to chill.

For the filling, whip cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Mix in vanilla extract and Nutella. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Mix in cream and then increase speed and whip 3 minutes or until very thick.

Pour on top of Nutter Butter crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

To serve, prepare Nutella ganache by microwaving Nutella and cream together until a thin sauce forms. Spread on top of pie. Refrigerate until set. Keep refrigerated until serving.

*From Tasty Kitchen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Caramello Cupcakes

I woke up at 5am this morning with an idea...what about a Caramello Cupcake? I don't know about you, but Caramello is one of my most favorite candy bars!! When I was younger it was my candy bar of choice...every time. I don't know how you can go wrong with chocolate and caramel. So that's why I thought it was a MUST to do a Caramello cupcake. Soft caramel on the inside encased in a decadent, soft, moist and chocolaty cupcake then topped with a light, whipped milk chocolate frosting (check out the secret ingredient:) and a drizzle of caramel. Yum!!

And do you see my new purchase? I love it!!! I would recommend a cupcake stand to anyone and everyone. This one holds 24 cupcakes and it's incredibly sturdy. I can put it on the front seat floor in the car and not worry at all about it tipping over. I found it at my new favorite store...Home Goods. If you have this store anywhere near you, you must go! Also...don't you love my flowers? I'm pretty sure I have the greatest husband in the world...a "hope you have a good day" gift. I live for times like those:)
Just look at that ooey, gooey caramel!! The best part is that when it cools it firms up, but is still very soft so when you bite into the cupcake it oozes all down your chin...my kind of treat!

1 recipe of your favorite chocolate cupcakes (I would recommend this one...it's the only one I use now)
6 Caramello candy bars
Caramel Ice Cream Topping (NOT the syrup)
1 bag Caramel Bits (unwrapped caramel balls used for cooking - found by the chocolate chips and they look like this)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 recipe Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)

Make cupcakes, cool and scoop out center (a good tool for this is the Cuisipro Cupcake Corer - It works wonderfully.) In a microwave-safe bowl place the entire contents of the Caramel Bits and the whipping cream. Microwave for 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Let cool about 5 minutes. You can either put it in a piping bag to fill the cupcakes or just scoop with a spoon. I actually preferred to do it with a spoon. As the caramel cools even more, it will seep into the cupcake. After about 5-10 minutes I actually went back and filled the cupcakes again with more caramel and used it all up. Pipe with chocolate buttercream frosting. Then drizzle with Caramel topping. Top the cupcake off with a square of a Caramello candy bar. Enjoy the gooey goodness!!

Chocolate Buttercream:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 t salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 T milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes. This makes enough to pipe 24 cupcakes. **This frosting recipe from Joy the Baker

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I saw this one on Our Best Bites and knew I needed to try it right away. It definitely hit the spot! It was simple and delicious. Instead of using ground chicken, I used ground turkey and we loved it! I tell ya...I'm completely converted to ground turkey. I have not been disappointed yet. Try this and you'll love it!

2 t olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I used about 1 t ground ginger since my fresh ginger was bad)
1 lb ground chicken (I used ground turkey)
3 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped (about 8 small mushrooms)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 C bagged coleslaw mix or thinly shredded cabbage ( I used about 3 cups of shredded cabbage)
1 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, and finely minced
1/2 C thinly sliced green onions
4 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 3-4 Tbs juice)
1/2-1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce (I omitted this)
1/3 C roughly chopped cilantro (I omitted this)
1-2 heads iceberg lettuce

Dipping/Drizzling Sauce
4 Tbs soy sauce
4 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs water
2 tsp honey
1-2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger (I used a few sprinkles of ground ginger)

Heat a very large skillet to medium-high heat on the stove top. When hot, add vegetable oil and then garlic and ginger. Saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, and then add ground chicken, chopped mushrooms, and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through. (*At this point, sometimes I have some extra liquid in the pan from the chicken. If it’s quite a bit, I tilt the pan and spoon it out so the chicken can cook and not boil.) Add cabbage/coleslaw, water chestnuts, and green onions. Cook for about 2 minutes, until cabbage starts to wilt. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, the zest from the lemon and the lemon juice, and hot sauce to taste. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro (if you are adding.)

To prepare dipping sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.

To serve, carefully remove the individual leaves from the head of lettuce. (The closer you get to the center, the easier it becomes!) Place chicken mixture in the leaves and serve with sauce.

Yield: about 5 C chicken mixture. Makes 14-16 lettuce wraps.

*From Our Best Bites

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Taco Soup


This is the most perfect meal when you have nothing in the cupboards and no time:) The best part is that you don't sacrifice flavor here. It's the perfect medley of flavors and the ultimate comfort food. I like to serve it with a great recipe of cornbread and a bowl full of tortilla chips. In fact...have you had the Roasted Garlic and Black Bean Tortilla Chips from Tostitos? Buy them, eat them and realize all is well in the world. They're delicious. I like to eat this soup with those chips. Perfection. Enjoy!

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey (I won't lie...I've converted to ground turkey and I'm not turning back! In my opinion though, the only good ground turkey is Foster Farms. It's the moistest, most flavorful and almost melts in your mouth. If you're not a ground turkey fan, ground beef can definitely be substituted here.)
1/2 onion, diced small
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (11 oz) can Mexicorn
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 taco packet
1 (1 oz) Ranch dressing packet
2 cups water
Shredded cheese and sour cream to serve

In a large skillet, brown ground turkey with onion. Add half of the taco seasoning packet to the meat. In the meantime, add the diced tomatoes, Mexicorn, black beans, diced green chilies, and kidney beans to a large pot NOT DRAINED. This adds a great flavor when all juices are added together. Add browned meat, the remaining taco seasoning, ranch packet and water. Stir to combine. At this point you're ready to eat if you like. Personally, I like the soup to simmer for a good 20-30 minutes so that it thickens and the flavors meld. Either way you won't be disappointed. Top with cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Black Bean Quesadillas

This is the perfect recipe for me. Simple, fast and delicious. I don't know anything more delicious and quick as quesadillas. I just don't make them that often cause they don't seem like a "dinner" meal to me, but by adding the black beans it really beefs them up. These are nutritious and filling and the perfect kid food...so you know the little ankle biters'll be happy! Love, love, love these!!

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
5 flour tortillas (use whole wheat for a more nutritious option)
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pepperjack cheese

In a large bowl mash the black beans. Add salsa. Spread about 1/3 of the mixture onto a tortilla. top with cheese. Place on a hot griddle or skillet. Top with another tortilla. Cook till both sides are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Cut and serve with additional salsa and sour cream. Makes 2 whole quesadillas and one half size. (This was perfect for our family because we only have 2 1/2 people to feed...if you have more people in your family, double or even triple the recipe.)

*Adapted from Taste of Home

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Other Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I've been married to Justin I've sworn by this chocolate chip recipe (shown here). It's my mother-in-laws and it's the best in my opinion. But the thing about her recipe is that it requires a box of vanilla pudding. Now most of the time I keep it on hand and you wouldn't catch me dead without a box of pudding in my house, but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Today was one of those days. After dinner I asked Justin what he wanted me to make and he insisted on chocolate chip cookies. Then I realized I was plum out of pudding. How disappointing! So I got mad and went on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie with ingredients that any casual baker would have on hand at all times. And I found this. Dare I say they are better than my mother-in-laws original perfect cookies? Now I'm not out to put anyone down or come out with a statement that the recipe I have is better than yours, or your moms, or your grandmas. I'm just sayin they're pretty dang good and if you're bored one day, just whip them out and you will NOT be disappointed! I also came to realize a few pointers about making chocolate chip cookies that aren't flat as a pancake, super tender on the inside and a little crisp on the edges:

-Make sure you cream your butter and sugar to start until is light and creamy. This can take up to 3-5 minutes folks. When you taste it, it should taste whipped and airy.

-Add the eggs and vanilla and beat ANOTHER several minutes. If you aren't diligent about this, your cookies will fall flat on their faces.

-You have to be spot on with your flour. I like to measure, but I always scant on every recipe. I beat the flour and then feel the texture between both fingers. If it's extremely sticky and sticks to both fingers, you need to add more flour. Obviously if it's crumbly, you've added too much. It's a fine science really. The perfect texture is when it's very tender so you can handle it, but it's not sticking to your hand if you roll it into a ball. So I usually add flour till I get this texture.

-DON'T skimp on the chocolate chips!!! They are the heart and soul of the cookie. If you're not going to go big, just don't even make them:)

-Cook them till they are BARELY brown on top. There is a fine line between undercooked and over cooked. You don't want them all over brown. As soon as you see a tiny bit of color coming to the top or sides of the cookie, take them out.

I swear if you follow these rules your cookies will come out perfect every time! With the right recipe of course...

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (or until the perfect texture is achieved)
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
2 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla and beat another several minutes until very airy. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour and beat until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Batter should be thick. Drop onto a cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes depending on your oven. Remove immediately from the cookies sheet to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

* Adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sausage Balls

I had these for the first time at Christmas. My brother-in-laws mom makes them every year as a tradition. They are SO GOOD!!! They're incredibly addicting also. If you don't plan on eating the whole pan, just don't even make them. They're the perfect appetizer (or meal at our house:)) They also freeze really well. I made a huge batch and then froze the leftovers for a later treat.

3 cups Bisquick
1 lb Jimmy Dean Regular Sausage (you can use hot if you like)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine Bisquick and sausage until well incorporated. Add cheese. Roll into 1 inch balls. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. ENJOY!!