Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Resolutions

Do you do New Years Resolutions? I don't.  I kind of do them all year long instead of making some big ones at the beginning of the year (and failing!).  Whether you make resolutions or you don't, I challenge you to get organized in your shopping and cooking for 2012.

If you are resolving to lose weight, cooking at home will help you do it.  If you are resolving to save money, being organized and making grocery lists will help you do that, too.  Here's how to do it:

1) Plan your meals.  Even if you plan sandwiches every night; make a list and stick to it.  Be flexible, of course, but don't buy 10 frozen pizzas just because they are on sale.   You don't need them! Really, you don't.

2) Have a list every time you go to the grocery store.

3) Eat at home; only eat out once or twice a week.

Here's the low tech list template I use at my Walmart Supercenter. I print it out and then write on it through the week and when I plan our meals.  I have a certain way I walk around the store, so I've organized the categories as such. I fold the paper in half so I can hold it easier while shopping.  I start on the Walmart side (that's what I call the side without the food), then head to the cleaning supplies, then to the snacks, and so forth, finishing with produce.
Confession:  I don't coupon.  I admire those ladies at the store with coupon binders and calculators who are passionate about saving money.  I just don't have it in me. 

I prefer to save money by meal planning and staying organized.  If you plan your meals, you won't waste food. If you have a list, you won't over-buy.  And if you HAVE to take children with you when shopping, a list will help you get out of the store without forgetting anything.

Use any list type that works for you; there are all kinds of free printables out there like this one and this extra cute one that has a chevron print.  If you like lists where you check off what you need,  this one is really good.  I've tried a cool list app on my phone, but I just ended up dropping my phone at the store (more than once!) so that didn't work for me.

You'll be happily surprised at how smoothly your shopping trip goes, how you save money, and have more time for Pinterest (um, I mean, your family)...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Burgundy Mushrooms

We had these mushrooms for Christmas dinner along with our Roast Beast (like in the Grinch, get it?).  Now typically, I don't cook anything that takes nine hours.  But these mushrooms, YES! Next time I'll have them as a main course...they are so delicious and almost beef-y.

Oh, and I didn't use Burgundy wine.  I used a Cabernet, but any red wine will do.  If you don't drink wine, get some for this dish; there is no substitution.  It doesn't have to be expensive (you need an entire liter), but it shouldn't be sweet at all.

Burgundy Mushrooms
4 pounds white button mushrooms
1 cup of butter
1 liter of red wine
4 beef bullion cubes
4 chicken bullion cubes
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups boiling water
2 tsp salt

Rinse the mushrooms and then add them to a stockpot with all other ingredients, except salt. Simmer covered for 6 hours. Then simmer with the lid off for 3 more hours. Salt at the end if desired.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Baked French Toast

Y'all, we've been eating around here.  A lot. So much, in fact, that I've been too busy eating to blog about it! I'm kind of stuffed.  But I want to tell you about a few recipes I made over Christmas that were extraordinary.  You may not want to cook these just now, since you're probably about ready to start that diet, but Pin them for later. You'll be glad you did! 

We had this Baked French Toast on Christmas morning after opening presents.  Yuumm.  Also, you can make it the night before you want to serve it, which is exactly how I prefer to "cook" breakfast.

Baked French Toast
1 loaf crusty sourdough bread
8 whole eggs
2 cups milk
1/2  cup whipping cream 
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut Into Pieces
Fresh Fruit (optional)
maple syrup 
soft butter for serving

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks and put them in the pan.
Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles (use a pastry blender or a fork). Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from fridge and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.
Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter, fresh berries, and drizzle with maple syrup.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sugar Cut Outs

There are a million different recipes for Sugar Cookies out there, I know.  What's special about this one, you ask?  Well, it doesn't have any secret ingredients or anything.  But it's a special recipe to us because it's the recipe John's mom always used at Christmas. And according to John, the cookies have to be pink and mint green, too, because that's how he remembers them from childhood (remember back in the 80s when all food coloring only made pastel colors?).   But I will tell you it's a solid sugar cookie recipe and they keep their shape well. 
Look at the cute ones the kids did....We make the candy canes into Js in our family...our last name is James, see....
Sugar Cut Outs

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

No instructions come with this recipe because it's an old one.  Here's how I make them:  cream butter (room temperature) and sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix until well combined.  Add vanilla.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients gradually until just combined.  Separate dough into 2 flat circles, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill them at least one hour. 
Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch and cut with cutters.  Bake 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees. 

Sugar Cut Out Icing (please don't buy icing in a can, please)

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add milk to desired consistency. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cranberry, Pistachio, and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I made these for a cookie exchange party because they aren't too sweet and they are so festive with the red and green.  They are incredibly easy to make, too, not to mention unbelievably good.

Cranberry, Pistachio, and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup roughly chopped pistachios
1 cup white chocolate chips
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the flour & salt to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until it just starts to come together. Add the cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate a little at a time until it's incorporated. Mix until the dough forms a ball. Roll into a log about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. Roll the log in parchment paper and chill it for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Slice the log into 1/4 inch slices. Place the slices on the sheet pan. They don't spread much, so they can be pretty close together. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

How about a little Christmas gift for friends and neighbors that takes about 5 minutes to make?  These Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels are my new favorite thing.  Go ahead and double this recipe.  It's that good.  Package them in clear cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon. 

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

1 16-18 oz. bag of pretzels
2/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar for sprinkling (mix your own according to your taste)
1 cup white chocolate chips

Whisk together oil, sugar, and cinnamon in a large measuring cup.
Pour pretzels into a microwave safe bowl and pour oil mixture in.  Stir until coated.
Microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir.  Microwave another minute.   
Spread pretzels evenly onto two cookie sheets covered in foil or parchment.
While still warm, sprinkle cinnamon sugar generously. 
Melt white chocolate in microwave (about 30-60 seconds) and drizzle over cooled pretzels. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cookie Mix in a Jar

I love to receive (hint, hint) and I also love to give gifts of food.  Barefoot Contessa once said that any gift for an adult should be, gift card, tickets, liquor....and I tend to agree.   NOTE TO HUSBANDS: By "adult", I mean friends/neighbors/teachers/hostesses, NOT SPOUSES. 

Here's what I made last year for our teachers and friends: Cowboy Cookie Mix.  If you're already behind with all the present wrapping and Christmas parties going on and you don't have anything yet for your kids' teachers, this is quick and cute. Oh, and cheap, too.  And the cookies, once they are baked, are really good. 
Christmas Jar Cookie Mix

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup m&ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar

Basically, you just layer the ingredients in a jar.  But there are a few secrets to making it look perfect. 

1) Start with a 1 quart mason jar. I found these at Walmart. Cheap. Maybe $15 for 12 jars.  You also need a wide mouth canning funnel.  I found a plastic one right next to the mason jars for 50 cents. It's worth the investment to get the stuff into the jar!

2) Layer the ingredients in this order. 

First: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
Second: oats
Third: m&ms
Fourth: chocolate chips
Fifth: brown sugar
Sixth: white sugar

3)  After each layer, PACK down the ingredients with a wooden spoon.  Really pack it down, or else everything wont fit. 

4) Screw on the lid to the jar, add cute fabric to the top, and tie with a pretty ribbon.  Cut the fabric into 6 inch squares and the ribbon into 25 inch pieces. Place the fabric on top and tie ribbons around the lid to hold it in place.

5) Attach a tag with the baking instructions.  I just printed them out in a small font and taped it to the back of my gift tags with double sided tape.

1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup butter (melted slightly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2 in balls and bake about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spicy Tilapia with Fresh Pineapple Salsa

This flavors in this meal remind me of vacation.  And while I was just in the Caribbean 2 weeks ago, all this rainy, cold weather makes me feel like it's time to go back!

Spicy Tilapia with Fresh Pineapple Salsa

cajun seasoning (Tony's, y'all)
about a half of a fresh pineapple (NOT canned, not ever)
half a small red onion
a bunch of cilantro (I use a lot)
juice of a lime
salt to taste

Chop pineapple, red onion, and cilantro and add lime juice and salt. Salsa is done.

Thaw tilapia and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with cajun seasoning. Cook in HOT nonstick skillet drizzled with olive oil on one side until it's brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip fish and cook the other side, another 2-3 minutes. Serve with quinoa or rice and pineapple salsa.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Rice Bowl

I tried a variation of this recipe a while back, and I was not really a fan.  But THIS recipe I made for tonight was really, really, good.  I will certainly be making this again!  The easy to delicious ratio is high on this one!

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Rice Bowl

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
16 oz. jar salsa
1 can ranch style black beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups brown rice, cooked
about a cup of sharp cheddar, shredded
1/2 bunch cilantro 
1/4 cup water
fresh lime
Get this: put chicken into the slow cooker. Top with salsa, beans, and spices.  Press low. Walk away.  After 6-8 hours, make some rice, shred some cheese, chop the cilantro, and throw it all in a bowl. Squeeze a lime over the top.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread House Tips

Doing a gingerbread house is a tradition in our family. Up until this year, we've always done one of those kits from Sam's or Walmart.  Look at these cute little girls from 2006: they were 3 and 1.

Well, last year there was quite a bit of arguing involved between these 2 little sweeties (can you even believe it?) as they both worked on one gingerbread house, and little brother couldn't even get one gumdrop without a sister pushing him out of the way.  So I decided they'd each do their own graham cracker/gingerbread house this year.  It worked out much, much better.  And they turned out so cute!

I have a few tips for you on making the perfect individual gingerbread house. (go here to see detailed pics) 

1) Use melted white almond bark to assemble the house. Forget the royal icing, it takes too long to dry. Melt the bark in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then spoon it into Ziploc bags.  Cut a tiny bit off the corner of the bag and let the kids go to town "gluing" the house together.  It dries so fast and makes a really sturdy house.   You can use it to decorate as well. 

2) Use a plastic serrated knife to cut the graham crackers.  Like the kind you get with fast food.  A good quality serrated knife or steak knife will break the crackers.  A regular butter knife *might* work, but you should have an extra package of graham crackers on hand just in case.  

3) You need 6 full graham crackers per house.  Go look at these pics as to how you cut them to make a house.  It is so easy.  Why have I never thought of it??

Friday, December 9, 2011

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

If you're like me, you've got plenty of opportunities through the holidays to make sweets for parties and potlucks, or to give as gifts.  I made a batch of this Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark for my family as a try-out to possibly be our teacher gifts this year.  While it's one of the best candies I've EVER eaten, the finished product isn't exactly pretty enough to go to our very special teachers.  So we just gobbled it up and I'm on to plan B for the teachers...

Salted Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark (adapted from here)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
about 1/2 bag of mini pretzels
12-oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
coarse sea salt

Wrap a baking sheet with tin foil.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. As it melts, cover the baking sheet in an even layer of mini pretzels.

Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and stir to incorporate. Allow the sugar and butter to softly simmer and bubble for 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, pour the mixture evenly over the pretzels on the baking sheet. Bake the pretzel-caramel mixture in the oven for 5-7 minutes.

When the pretzels come out of the oven, sprinkle the entire bag of chocolate chips over the top. Wait for a minute, and then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate.

Sprinkle sea salt evenly over the bark. Place it in the fridge to cool and harden for about an hour and then break into chunks.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

The kids ate regular grilled cheese with cheddar, but John and I had Grown Up Grilled Cheese.  Yum.

Grown Up Grilled Cheese (serves 2)

4 slices rustic white bread or sourdough
2 tbsp butter
2 large sweet onions
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large crisp apple (have you tried the Jazz apples? They are so apple-y they taste fake!)

Caramelize onions. Slice onions thinly and begin to cook in 1 tbsp butter over medium heat..  Add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and cover.   Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on, and then take the lid off, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring only occasionally until caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Assemble sandwiches with caramelized onions, brie, and apple slices.  Use panini press to cook sandwiches, or just place sandwiches on a buttered skillet and weigh them down with something heavy like a saucepan.   Flip each sandwich and repeat on the other side.  Makes 2 sandwiches.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin
1 package boneless pork tenderloins (2 come in a package, about 3 lbs. total)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
olive oil

For the glaze:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, sliced 
Drizzle tenderloins with olive oil and then sprinkle both sides with sage, salt, and pepper. Place in 420 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the tenderloins (155 degrees internal temperature, and let it rest for 10 minutes and temp will rise to 160).   While the pork is cooking, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Boil and stir until mixture thickens. Spoon glaze over tenderloins 2 or 3 times during the last 10 minutes of cooking. You can turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes at the end if you'd like the pork to be really brown on top.  Serve with remaining glaze on the side.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quick Chicken Parmesan

I do love Chicken Parm....fried chicken with cheese and sauce on top....yum.  But really, you can't eat stuff like that everyday, ya know?  Here's my version.  It's quick, healthy, and even got this compliment from one of my children: "wow, Mom, this is actually good."  Hmph.

Quick Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thin sliced
salt, pepper, garlic powder
high quality jarred marinara
fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (the stuff that comes in round packages)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (grate it fresh for this, it makes a difference, and even my Walmart carries it now)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat ovenproof skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Salt, pepper, and garlic powder the chicken and brown it well on one side.  Flip chicken and add enough marinara to cover chicken.  Add thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese to each chicken.  Place entire skillet in the oven until everything is hot and bubbly and chicken is cooked through (5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken).
When they are cooked through, sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese.  I served this with a little whole wheat pasta and roasted broccoli.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Perfect Bacon in the Oven

We love our bacon around here.  I only cook 2 pieces per person because we could eat an entire package, easy.  Moderation, right?  And here's the secret to perfect, flat, crunchy (who asks for chewy bacon, anyway??), mess-less bacon every time: the oven.  No splatters, no standing over a hot, greasy skillet flipping bacon, no smokey kitchen.  Perfect.

Tonight we FINALLY put up our Christmas tree, so breakfast for dinner was just right for a rainy night in.  Chocolate chip pancakes with bananas and real maple syrup and Perfect Bacon.  Yum.  Oh, and I truly believe in my heart that Bisquick makes the best pancakes.

Perfect Bacon (you'll want to write this down, it's complicated)
Here's what you need: 
Bacon (I like Petit Jean (Arkansas product) but it's kinda $$$, so I usually get Hormel Black Label)
cookie sheet

Place bacon on a cookie sheet. Place in oven and turn it on to 400. Cook 17-20 minutes or until it's as brown and crispy as you like.  Thicker bacon will take longer to cook.  When cooked, remove bacon to paper towels to drain. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Greek Turkey Meatballs

Sometimes I'll cook something for dinner thinking it was the best thing I've ever eaten, and then the subsequent blog post will get a normal amount of traffic.  And then other times I'll cook something that was just pretty good or kind of boring and it will be crazy popular

These Greek Meatballs are one my most popular posts.  They've been pinned on Pinterest, linked to many times, and viewed more than most other recipes I've posted.  So I decided to bust them out again in case you missed them the first time.  This time I made them into a sandwich with some pita. Yum.

Greek Turkey Meatballs

1 pound ground lean, all white meat, turkey
1 10 oz box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add ground turkey, spinach, garlic, feta, egg, oregano, salt and pepper to large bowl and mix well. Make small meatballs by either rolling in your hands or using a ice cream scoop (I used the small ice cream scoop I use for cookies).
Place meatballs on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and return to oven for 10 more minutes.
I served them with grilled pita bread and tzatziki sauce. 

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and grated on a microplane
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
fresh mint, to taste
fresh dill, if you like dill. I do not. If you know about my pickle aversion, you don't need to ask why I hate dill.

Grate cucumber and allow to set in a paper towel over a bowl for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the water to drain.  Mix cucumber with yogurt, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Apple Salad

Sick of leftovers yet?  How about a salad to get all that gravy out of your system? :)  This salad is so festive with the red and's time to deck the halls! I think I'm the only person in the entire country who doesn't have a tree up yet...

Cranberry Apple Salad
serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (I use a food processor)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onions
romaine lettuce or spinach mix

In a small bowl, combine cranberries and sugar.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  You can just do this in the morning before serving the salad.  In a medium bowl, mix lime juice and mustard.  Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.  Marinate nuts, apples, and onions in dressing 1-4 hours. 

To serve (the really pretty way), line a large bowl with greens.   Spoon apple mixture over the leaves.  Make a well in the middle of the apple mixture and spoon in cranberry mixture.  OR you can just mix everything together (like I did).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Rolls

Here are the rolls my mom made for Thanksgiving.  They are really yeast-y and soft.  Love them! And they way they are rolled up is so pretty.

I've never been able to make bread at all, but my mom said these are easy. I don't know about that..the recipe is really long and also includes a video (all signs of a difficult recipe).  Maybe someday I'll try to make them.  Someday when I get a little more patience...But you should bake them for Thanksgiving; they'll be worth it.  You still have time and I'll bet you have all the ingredients in your pantry!

Homemade Thanksgiving Rolls (from here)

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 Tablespoons dry yeast (2 packages)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 egg
5-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour (bread flour can be used)
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir so the milk dissolves.
Add the yeast to this mixture then the sugar, salt, butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour then mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. The dough will be getting stiff and you may need to remove the bowl from the mixer and mix in the remaining flour by hand.
Add approximately 1/2 cup of flour and mix again. (This can be done by hand or mixer). The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour). The less flour you use, the softer the dough will be. Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour approximately on tablespoon of vegetable oil all around the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so it is covered with the oil. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size.
Sprinkle a cutting board or counter with flour and put the dough on the flour. You can roll these into crescent rolls or do it the traditional Lion House way. Here is a video showing how to roll them the Lion House way. Roll into a rectangle. You want to cut the rectangle into smaller rectangles that are 2"X4" (a little smaller than a dollar bill). Then you roll them (or flip them like in the video) and place them on a greased (or parchment lined) baking pans. 
Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are double in size (approx. 1-1 1/2 hours). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are browned to your satisfaction. Brush with melted butter while hot. Yields 2 to 2 1/2 dozen rolls.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving comes once a year, you know.  Since we will be traveling on Thursday, ours came early this year.  Every family has dishes that are specific to them, be it dressing (that's what we call stuffing in the South, y'all, and we don't stuff it), cranberry sauce, or sweet potatoes.  My mom always cooks Thanksgiving, and she made this sweet potato casserole this year that was so good.  So if you're up for trying a new recipe this year, make this one!

"Another thing about Thanksgiving that is cool?  It's the only time you eat marshmallows at dinner!"-Alpha, age 8

Sweet Potato Casserole (this is a straight up Southern Living recipe)

4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Bake sweet potatoes at 400° for about 1 hour or until tender. Let cool to touch; peel and mash sweet potatoes.
Beat mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, and next 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.
Combine cornflakes cereal and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over casserole in rows 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle alternate rows with marshmallows; bake 10 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ravioli with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins

This is the best left-overs meal I think I've ever made! I was trying to use up some stuff in the fridge and based the recipe on this Caramelized Brussels Sprouts recipe (which I thought was a little too sweet, by the way).

Ravioli with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins
serves 4-5

1 package refrigerated cheese ravioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook garlic in olive oil for a few seconds and then add the Brussels sprouts.  Saute for 5-7 minutes, or until tender.  Add pecans and raisins and stir.  Toast the pecans in the pan for a minute or so. Take the pan off the heat, add the vinegar, stir, and toss with ravioli.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


1 1/2 tablespoons butter melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Generously grease popover pan (use a muffin tin if you aren't as fancy as Ina and Jeffrey, that's what I did) with softened butter. You'll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter to the blender and blend until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parmesan Baked Eggs

I got a treat this morning when my friend brought over a dozen fresh eggs laid by their chickens.  We've had fresh eggs before, but never from a chicken-friend.  Ha!  Here is a pic from this summer of my baby with our friend Henry, and Nugget, his chicken.  Is that not the cutest name for a chicken?  And look at that adorable red chicken house!

Parmesan Baked Eggs

12 eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated really does make a difference)
pinch of dried rosemary for each ramekin
pinch of fresh thyme for each ramekin
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
6 ramekins

Heat oven to 400.  Spray 6 ramekins with nonstick spray.  Crack two eggs into a small bowl, and then  pour the two eggs into a ramekin and repeat until all 6 ramekins have eggs.  Add bacon, Parmesan cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper to each ramekin.  Add a dash of heavy cream to each one, too. 

Bake the eggs for 15 minutes or until the eggs have achieved desired doneness: less time for runny yolks, more time for firm yolks. Remember that shallow ramekins will cook faster than deeper ones and that they will continue to cook as they cool.   Note: you can easily remove the eggs from the ramekins to serve them to kids; the ramekins are too hot for them to touch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baked Pesto Chicken

I'm sure all you Martha types out there made homemade pesto with the end of season basil plants in your garden.  And that pesto will make this recipe just wonderful! But for those of us who quit watering around mid August, you can get a quality pesto in the refrigerated section of a good grocery store or Sams Club (those jarred ones at the grocery store by the spaghetti sauce? Well, don't buy them). 

This chicken was a real hit with the whole family!  And we all love roasted broccoli.  I added a little rice (about 1/4 cup per serving) when I realized all the yummy pesto sauce the chicken had made while cooking.   A big hunk of garlic bread would be awesome, too, but I've gotta wear a swimsuit next week so I'm steering clear of garlic bread right now....

Baked Pesto Chicken (another Pinterest recipe find)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used fresh mozzarella because it melts so well)

Preheat oven to 375; Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces strips.

Spray a 9x12 casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is firm and cooked through.

Remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. After 5 minutes, turn on the broiler and cook until cheese is lightly browned.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

This is such an interesting change from my usual brussels sprouts recipe.  Served with a little quinoa and my old standby, Simple Salmon, it was a quick and healthy meal.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts from Eat, Live, Run

12-14 large brussels sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch sea salt
1 1/2  tbsp brown sugar (I thought this was a tad too much sugar; I'd decrease to 1 tbsp)
1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted

Slice each brussels sprout very thin until you have a mound of brussels sprout ribbons. Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large skillet and saute the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the brussels sprouts and continue sauteing for another 4-5 minutes, until tender and a little browned. Add the sea salt and brown sugar and toss together. Finish by adding the toasted nuts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Salted Caramel Pecan Tart

I love this tart as an alternative to traditional pecan pie.  And if you bake it in a pretty tart pan, it looks beautiful, too.

Salted Caramel Pecan Tart

3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse salt 

In a food processor, pulse 3/4 cup butter, flour, and powdered sugar until it resembles coarse meal.  Pat mixture evenly into a lightly greased 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool.

Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in pecans, and spoon hot filling into prepared crust.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cranberry Salsa

It's no secret in my family that I don't like cranberry sauce.  Even homemade cranberry sauce is yuck to me.  It's so gelatinous. And that stuff from the can? Ugh, can't even think about it! Gross.  But this Cranberry Salsa is sensational!

I've actually given this as a hostess gift by putting it in a mason jar with a pretty ribbon.  And you could serve it poured over a block of cream cheese for a party.  Or call it Razorback Cranberry Salsa and serve it at your tailgate tomorrow (like I'm going to do!)  Fresh cranberries are only in stores until December, so hurry and make this salsa now!

Cranberry Salsa

12 oz fresh cranberries
large bunch fresh cilantro
5-6 large green onions, cut into 3 inch pieces
juice of 2 fresh limes
1/2-3/4 cup sugar

Add cranberries, lime juice, cilantro, green onions, and 1/2 cup sugar to the food processor and pulse until combined.  Taste salsa, and add more sugar and salt if necessary.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Green Chile Enchiladas

My friend, said that if she were on death row (I wonder what got here there??), these enchiladas might be her last meal.  Yep, they are good.  But I'd say they are a little too healthy to be my LAST meal....I'd probably choose something with way more cheese and fat.  Anyway, this is a great recipe for the leftover Slow Cooker Black Beans from last night.  The kids had just beans and a cheese quesadilla instead, because I wasn't sure they'd go for the salsa verde (you know they immediately start making gagging noises at the sight of something green these days).

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas (from here)

2 large sweet potatoes
2 cups leftover Slow Cooker Black Beans
1 cup diced green chilies (2 small cans)
About 2 cups salsa verde
8 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
10 flour tortillas
Salt and pepper
Sour cream, one lime, and fresh cilantro, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel and dice the sweet potato. Place in a pot and cover with water; add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, around 12 to 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked sweet potato, black beans, diced green chilies, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
In a large baking dish, spread 1 cup of the salsa verde.  Fill each tortilla with a scoop of the filling, add a handful of cheese, and roll it up. Place the enchilada seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas. When all enchiladas are in the dish, top with the remaining cup of salsa verde and the remaining cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Serve, garnished with sour cream (mixed with the juice of a lime to loosen it) and chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Black Beans with Cilantro Lime Rice

I love a slow cooker recipe that doesn't require much prep or pre-cooking.  And how can you beat a dinner that ends up costing less than $5 to feed a family of 5 (with leftovers!)?  Beans are where it's at, folks. 

I found this recipe here, but I changed a bunch of stuff.  Here's my recipe:

Slow Cooker Black Beans

1 pound dry black beans
4 cups beef stock, plus water to cover beans
1/2 an onion whole, so you can remove it later (I used leftover red onion from yesterday)
1/2 red bell pepper, whole with seeds removed (also from yesterday)
3 large cloves garlic, whole
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper

Rinse beans and check for rocks.  Cover beans with water and soak overnight.  In the morning, rinse the beans and place in the slow cooker.  Cover with beef stock/water and add the onion, garlic cloves, red bell pepper, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for 6-8 hours on low in the slow cooker.  About an hour before serving, add the tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper, and cumin.  Stir and then taste for salt and add more if necessary.  Cook for another hour on low.  Remove onion, garlic, and red pepper.  Serve over cilantro lime rice.

Cilantro Lime Rice (2 half cup servings)
1 cup prepared rice, white or brown
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro

Prepare rice (I like to use the Uncle Ben's Ready Rice that heats in 90 seconds for this; it's just rice no extra spices).  Mix with cilantro, lime, and salt.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Greek Salad with Chicken

This is a quick one.  It's also super healthy and yummy.  The kids made gagging noises at the thought of salad with feta in it.  I don't like fake (or real for that matter) vomit noises at the table (or anywhere else!),  but I was too exhausted to acknowledge said noises, so they just ate chicken.  John and I loved this salad. 


1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
white meat of rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/2 large seedless/hothouse cucumber, chopped
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Whisk vinegar, oil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, red pepper, and feta; toss to coat.

Monday, November 7, 2011

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is really simple to make, but it has to cook for a long time.  You can try the slow cooker French Onion Soup recipe that's going around Pinterest, but I can't image it would have the same flavor.  You have to caramelize the onions to get the flavor of French Onion Soup and it just takes an hour or so on top of the stove, no getting around it. 

But.....I ran out of time and I had to pick up the kids and take them hither and yon, knowing I wouldn't return home until after our usual dinner time.  So I used my slow cooker for the final cooking!  If I had been home, I would have just followed the recipe, but this worked great because I could just let it go on low for a few hours.  And I remembered to use the slow cooker liner so there was no extra clean up involved.  When I got home, I just popped the soup under the broiler with the bread and cheese and it was done in a few minutes.

This soup is seriously delicious.  Seriously.

French Onion Soup (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (4 or 5 onions)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
french bread
swiss cheese, grated

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; now would be a good time to touch up your eye makeup that you cried off during the onion chopping process!

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes.
****At this point, I instead transferred the soup to a crock pot and cooked it for a few hours on low.

To serve: cut french bread to fit broiler-safe bowls.  Broil bread on high for less than a minute, until browned on one side.  Put browned side down on top of each soup bowl and top with grated cheese (as much as you want).  Put bowls on a cookie sheet and broil soups until bubbly and golden.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flank Steak with Cilantro Chimichurri

Chimichurri is kind of like pesto with different herbs.  I've had it in restaurants and it's made with parsley (I think), but since we like cilantro so much, we thought this one was great.  Use half the sauce for a marinade for the steak, and reserve about a tablespoon per serving to spoon on top of the meat after it's cooked.

Cilantro Chimichurri 
a large bunch of cilantro, about 1 1/2 cups packed
 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake, optional
1/2 jalapeno pepper, membranes and seeds removed
kosher salt

Combine cilantro, garlic, vinegar, oregano, cumin, jalapeno, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse until fine.
Turn food processor on and stream in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the flank steak:  marinade meat for an hour or longer, up to overnight, in the chimichurri (reserve about a 1/4 of a cup for serving).  Grill steak on the highest heat for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat.   Flank steak should only be cooked to medium, but medium rare is better.  Slice the steak against the grain after letting it rest for 5 minutes.  Spoon the reserved chimichurri over the top of the steak.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baked Meatballs

This is a lighted up version of my favorite spaghetti and meatballs recipe from Barefoot Contessa.  I used extra lean beef (no veal or pork) and baked them instead of frying.  And instead of regular spaghetti, I used the high protein farfalle (less messy for the kids to eat that way).  Also, even though her sauce is fabulous, I use jarred marinara to make dinner faster.  Just look at the labels and find one that only has a few ingredients (I like Rao's): tomatoes, olive oil, onions, basil, salt, garlic, pepper, oregano. 

 Baked Meatballs
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and combine very lightly with a fork. Using a small ice cream scoop, lightly form the mixture into meatballs. Bake at 400 on a greased cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat marinara on the stove.  Add the almost completely cooked meatballs and simmer on low for 10 minutes (or longer) while the pasta is cooking. Serve with extra parm and fresh basil.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

We went trick or treating in the hood last night, but it's still Halloween tonight, so the kids had Mummy Dogs for dinner.  They are just hot dogs cut in half and wrapped in crescent roll strips.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  My Mummy Dogs are kind of struggling, but I'm sure yours will be perfect.

John and I, however, had Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.   It's got roasted garlic in it! Yummm.

1 butternut squash
1 head garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Fuji apple, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1/2-3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
shredded cheddar cheese
diced apple
fresh thyme

Cut squash down the center and remove seeds.  Drizzle squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast skin side up at 400 for 30 minutes, or until squash is soft.  When the squash is cool, the skin will just pull off.
Cut the top off a head of garlic.  Add olive oil and salt and pepper and wrap in foil.  Roast garlic in the oven with the squash. 
(I did all the roasting earlier in the day and finished the rest of the steps right before dinner.)
Saute onion and apple in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and deglaze the pan and bring it to a boil.   Add squash and roasted garlic cloves to the pot (just squeeze the garlic to remove the roasted cloves) and simmer for 10 minutes, or longer if you have time.  Next puree the soup with an immersion blender (or you can use a food processor) until smooth.  Add skim milk to thin the soup to desired consistency.  Last, add 1/4 cup heavy cream, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with chopped apples, shredded cheddar cheese, and fresh thyme. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Easy Mexican Layer Dip

This is just a throw-together dip, and everything was store bought, but you can do a little number with the sour cream to make it really Halloween-y and festive.  I took it to a Halloween party, and it was all gone by the end of the evening!  I'm still a little worried that someone ate the plastic spiders....

 Easy Mexican Layer Dip (from Pioneer Woman)

1 can refried beans
Tabasco Sauce, to taste
1 can diced green chilies
taco seasoning, to taste
3/4 cups grated cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup guacamole (homemade is better, but I used store bought for this)
1 cup pico de gallo (again, from the deli, but homemade is better)

Heat the refried beans in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add several dashes of Tabasco sauce and a small can of (undrained) diced green chilies. Stir well. Next, sprinkle a little bit of taco seasoning.
Spread the beans on the bottom of a serving dish.  Next, add the grated cheese.  Add the pico de gallo around the edge.  The next layer is the guacamole. To make the last layer like a spider web, pipe the sour cream in a swirl patter using a plastic bag (put the sour cream in a Ziploc and cut off the corner).  Run a toothpick or end of a fork from the center out to make the spider web.  Add some plastic spiders. Make sure nobody eats the spiders (I should have done that!).  Serve with tortilla chips.

Caramel Apples

This is a beginner from-scratch caramel apple recipe.  It's only slightly more difficult than melting store bought caramels.  But then again, given how much I hate going to Walmart, I'd say this recipe brought me significantly less stress than a trip to the store for caramels and was therefore much EASIER!

Anyway, melt store bought caramels and dip the apples or make this recipe;  they are both great.   Just make these before fall is over. Yum!  Oh, and you need a candy thermometer and some sort of stick for the apple.  You can also use a plastic fork in a pinch...

Caramel Apples

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups light brown sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
washed and dried apples

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F, also called soft ball stage.  I don't exactly know what that means.  I just use a candy thermometer.  Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Dip the apples in the caramel and then in whatever toppings you like.  I made walnuts with sea salt and m&m versions.   Put the apples in the refrigerator to harden before eating.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

PSY-Pumpkin Spice Yogurt with Maple Spice Granola

These days everybody's all runnin' around gettin' their PSLs from Starbucks.  So I had this idea to make PSY (Pumpkin Spice Yogurt).  Healthy and yum. 

I made a lot because I took it to the elementary school for a teachers' brunch.  You can adjust the recipe to make fewer servings or just store leftovers in the fridge. Don't add the granola until the last minute, though, or it might get soggy.

Pumpkin Spice Yogurt

32 oz container plain fat free Greek yogurt
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice 
2  teaspoons vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you like it, and I'd use Splenda brown sugar if I were making it for myself to cut calories)

Whisk all the ingredients together and serve with granola on top.

Maple Spice Granola 

4 cups oats (not quick cooking)
2 T brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup craisins

Combine oats, nuts, brown sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix canola oil and maple syrup with vanilla in a large measuring cup and pour over dry ingredients.  Mix well and spread on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so until brown.  Let cool and then add craisins. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Monster Munch

I made Monster Munch for the teachers at our elementary school to snack on during parent/teacher conferences this week.  I was extremely glad to get it out of the house; it's so good I couldn't stop eating it!! 

Monster Munch
This recipe makes a lot.  You can adjust all the amounts to your tastes.  
1 package almond bark (this stuff tastes like white chocolate, but melts easily and perfectly)
3 bags Orville Redenbacher Tender White microwave popcorn (this is the best popcorn ever)
1 bag candy corn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 package Reeses Pieces

Line 3 sheet pans with wax paper.  Pop popcorn.  Melt almond bark in microwave until smooth.    Add candy corn, peanuts, Reeses Pieces to the popcorn.  Pour chocolate over the popcorn, candy, and peanuts and stir until everything is coated.  You'll probably have to do 2-3 batches, depending on the size of your bowl.  Spread popcorn mixture onto the sheet pans and let cool.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala

The easy to delicious ratio on this dish is really low, I'll be honest with ya.  It took a long time to prep, dirtied my dutch oven AND the crock pot (I keep forgetting about those slow cooker liners sitting in my cabinet!), and had a lot of ingredients, including garam masala that required a trip to the natural foods store. was delicious! It was a great change of pace!

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala (from Tasty Kitchen, but originally here)
  • 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (I used chicken breasts)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
  • 4 cups Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • Rice
  • Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Cut the boneless, skinless chicken  into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/4 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished, and repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker.
Prepare the sauce. Return the pan to the heat and melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken in the slow-cooker.
Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch into the heavy cream until smooth. Pour into the slow-cooker and stir gently until the color is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.
Serve over hot rice, topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quinoa with Roasted Fall Vegetables and Pistachios

Quinoa. Pronounced KEEN-wah.  If you're not eating it yet, now is the time.  It's super healthy and finally readily available in regular grocery stores.  I like this recipe a lot.  And I'll bet the leftovers will be great tomorrow for lunch..

Quinoa with Roasted Fall Vegetables and Pistachios
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 butternut squash, seeds and skin removed
1 medium sized eggplant
2 cups crimini mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, whole
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (this just thickens the sauce a little, you can leave it out)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pistachios
salt and pepper

Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces, place on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil.  Add whole garlic cloves and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Toss everything together and roast at 450 for about 30 minutes, turning once.  Vegetables should be brown.

Prepare quinoa according to package directions:  bring quinoa to a boil, add a pinch of salt, lower heat to simmer, put a lid on it, and cook for 10-15 minutes. 

In a large bowl, mix lemon juice with mustard and add salt and pepper.  Whisk until combined and then whisk in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add quinoa and vegetables, then stir to combine. Add a few pistachios to the top when serving.