Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Barbeque Pork Quesadillas

We make a lot of quesadillas and I mean a lot! They are an easy and yummy way to use up leftovers. Plus we have two, yes I said TWO quesadilla makers, so now there is no waiting between quesadillas. This time I had some leftover pork chops to use up. I pulled the meat off the bone, shredded it, and added barbeque sauce. I spread the mixture between two flour tortillas with some shredded cheese and voila, barbeque pork quesadillas. I think these top my list of new favorites.

Barbeque Pork Quesadillas
*makes two quesadillas
4 large flour tortillas (I used fajita size.)
3 leftover pork chops
1/4 - 1/2 cup barbeque sauce
2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack.)
sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce

While quesadilla maker (or skillet) is preheating, pull pork from the bone.
Shred pork with a fork, add barbeque sauce, and mix well.
Layer half of the pork mixture and half of the cheese on top of a flour tortilla.
Cover with another tortilla.
Place on quesadilla maker (or skillet) and cook for about 4 minutes.
(If you are using a skillet, flip over after 2 minutes.)
Slice into triangles and serve with sour cream, salsa, and shredded lettuce.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Peanut Butter Blossoms (left) and Island Cookies (right)

I wanted to make a ton of different cookies this year, but I ran out of time. I finally decided on four kinds: toffee-studded snickerdoodles, oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, and Island cookies (coconut milk chocolate chip). I have to say that I honestly love all of these cookies, but the oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip are my new favorites. I made the peanut butter blossoms before and they never disappoint. I've never made the Island cookies and I was worried if anyone would eat them since they are filled with coconut. Well they were a hit as well. They were soft and chewy and stayed that way until they were gone. I arranged the cookies on a Christmas gift from my wonderful husband: a pretty plate atop a pedestal to display my treats for my blog. He's so thoughtful.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
adapted from: Hershey

40 Hershey's Kisses (I only get 40 cookies)
stick butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for rolling cookies
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove foil from Hershey's kisses.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
Beat butter and peanut butter until well blended.
Add 1/3 cup sugar and brown sugar to peanut butter mixture and beat until fluffy.
Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat well.
Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture.
Roll dough into balls and roll in sugar.
Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
After removing from oven, press a kiss into center of each cookie.
Cookie will crack around edges. (I wish they wouldn't.) 
Transfer from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool.

Island Cookies
adapted from 25 Years of Favorite Brand Name Cooking

1 and 2/3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 egg
1 package milk chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
Beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and coconut extract until fluffy.
Add egg and beat well.
Stir in chocolate chips and coconut.
Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned.
Transfer from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts 2009

For the past two years, I have been making homemade Christmas gifts for our families. Last year I made earrings (and this year, too, by special request) and this year I decided to make chocolate chip cookie mix in a jar. 

This was an easy project. I gathered my ingredients, filled my jars, popped on the lids, and attached the recipe, some fabric, and ribbon. I hope everyone liked them. I got the recipe and idea from Nestle.

*Tip: I used the stem of a wine glass to pack down the ingredients between layers.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Cake Ball Truffles

Instead of cookies, I treated my coworkers and Randy's coworkers
to cake ball truffles for Christmas this year. I didn't have any complaints, so I'm assuming they were loved by all. What's not to love about little bites of cake enrobed in chocolate. The red were filled with red velvet cake and cream cheese icing, the chocolate were chocolate cake and cream cheese icing, and the white were cherry cake with cream cheese icing (my favorite).

As a joke, I made our friend, Matt, a giant cake ball truffle. See the regular-sized cake ball on the left and the giant one on the right. He loved it. It was red velvet.

Christmas Eve Dinner: Vegetable Lasagna

We were talking about Christmas Eve dinner at my mother-in-law's after dinner on Thanksgiving and she mentioned she was going to switch things up and make a ham on Christmas Eve. Since I don't eat meat that day, I offered to make a vegetable lasagna. I don't know what I was thinking because when Christmas Eve rolled around, I was so stressed and tired after preparing for the big day. I threw this together and flung it into the oven with no time to spare. It was done the minute we had to be out the door and on our way to church. I had no time for error or even to think about if this would be good or not. Not to fear, this came out perfectly—cheesy, saucy, and full of veggies. It was delicious. Everyone loved it. I was worried about the veggies getting too soft while baking, but they remained nice and crisp. This is a great alternative to a meat lasagna.

Vegetable Lasagna
Box of no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Barilla brand.)
2 jars favorite sauce or homemade (I used jarred with mushrooms in it.)
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
2 - 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
salt, pepper, parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly spray 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
3. Thinly slice zucchini and chop the rest of the vegetables into bite-size pieces.
4. Combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 egg, and parsley. Mix well and set aside.
5. Combine pumpkin puree, 1 egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
6. Assemble lasagna: Ladle sauce onto bottom of baking pan. Place 3 lasagna noodles on bottom of pan. Top with 1/2 ricotta mixture and some sauce. Place 3 more noodles on top of ricotta layer. Top with 1/4 of the zucchini, the rest of the vegetables, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, and more sauce. Place 3 more noodles on top of veggie layer. Spread pumpkin mixture on top of noodles, and top with the remaining zucchini slices and more sauce. Place 3 more noodles on top of pumpkin layer. Spread the rest of the ricotta cheese mixture and top with sauce and remaining 3 noodles. Spread sauce and the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top of noodles.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.
8. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the First Day of Christmas...

Ange baked up to eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since we were putting the Christmas tree up, I figured we needed some cookies. I would love to bake on all 12 days of Christmas, but with the busy holiday season, I don't think I will have time to do it. Anyways, I sure will try to bake a treat on most of the 12 days. This is the first Christmas cookie of the year, requested by my loving husband. I use the Nestle Tollhouse recipe.

Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies
adaptations in red
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt (since I use salted butter)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water
2 large eggs
12 oz. package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and water until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Roll dough into balls and bake on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 - 11 minutes.
Cool on baking sheets for 2 - 4 minutes.
Place on wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken

I was planning to make grilled chicken with pasta and vodka sauce for dinner, until I remembered we had a bag of mozzarella cheese in the fridge. I decided to jazz dinner up a bit and make something similar to my bleu cheese stuffed buffalo chicken. I stuffed the chicken with mozzarella cheese, lightly breaded it, and popped it in the oven. This was delicious and easy. As soon as you cut into the chicken, nice melty cheese oozed out. My husband called it a new take on chicken parmesan. I served it with a side of pasta and vodka sauce.

Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut each chicken breast in half.
Cut a slit in the middle of each chicken breast.
Stuff slit in chicken with mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
Lightly coat chicken with bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Serve with your favorite sauce and pasta.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Creamy Herbed Pork Chops

I'm always looking for different ways to cook pork chops. I have so many recipes for breaded pork chops or baked pork chops and we are sick of them all. When I came across this recipe, I knew it would be delicious over egg noodles. I was right. The sauce is creamy and garlicky and compliments the herb-seared pork chops nicely. This is an easy dinner to whip together when you're busy or too tired to cook.

Creamy Herbed Pork Chops
adapted from Peace, Love & French Fries

6 boneless center cut pork chops

1 can cream of mushroom soup (98% fat free)
1 can of water
1/4 cup sour cream (fat free)
1/2 - 1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme
1 - 2 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sprinkle pork chops liberally with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.
Heat canola oil over high heat in a large pan.
Pan sear pork chops 1 - 2 minutes on each side.
Transfer pork chops to lightly greased baking pan.
Whisk together soup, water, sour cream, and garlic.
Pour mixture over pork.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 10 - 20 more minutes.
Serve over egg noodles.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, we survived Thanksgiving with both families. No drama, good eats, and too many drinks! I had a really good time spending time with family. I got to see my niece and nephew that I haven't seen since we got married two years ago! We really miss them and wished they lived closer. Sorry, I have no Turkey Day posts. I was in charge of desserts. I made a caramel banana cream pie (that I previously blogged about) and pumpkin cream pie (aka the pie that won't die) for each family. As always they were delicious, devoured, and the leftovers sent to work with Randy. Hope everyone else had a nice holiday! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fiesta Tater Tot Casserole

Sorry about the bad photo, but this was actually a good meal. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew my husband would enjoy it. Who doesn't love tater tots? I altered the ingredients a bit from the original to lighten it up and liven it up. Next time I might add salsa and corn. This was a quick, easy, and yummy weeknight meal.

Fiesta Tater Tot Casserole
adapted from Duggar Family, also seen on Lemons & Love
half a bag of frozen tater tots
3/4 can cream of chicken soup (I used 98% fat free.)
3/4 can black beans, drained
1 pound ground beef
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar.)
salt (a few shakes)
pepper (a few shakes)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon regular chile powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (Use temperature from tater tot bag.)
Brown ground beef with salt, pepper, minced garlic, cumin, and chile powders.
Drain ground beef.
Add in beans and soup and mix well.
Transfer beef mixture to lightly greased baking pan.
Sprinkle cheese on top of beef mixture.
Arrange tater tots on top.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until tater tots are done.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Caramel Banana Cream Pie

This a test. This is only a test. I have been tasked with making desserts for Turkey Day for both parents' houses this year. I always make a pumpkin cream pie (a pie that I have to make every year), so I wanted to keep with the theme and make some other kind of cream pie. I was torn between either banana cream pie or chocolate cream pie. I planned on testing them both, but after trying this pie, I forgot all about the chocolate cream pie as banana cream was clearly the winner. I originally had this pie from Kraft bookmarked, but it called for white chocolate pudding. Do you know how hard it is to find white chocolate pudding? I didn't, but after three different stores I know now. So I made this one with a few changes instead.

Caramel Banana Cream Pie
adapted from Kraft

1 pie shell (I used graham cracker crust)
1 box of vanilla instant pudding
1 box of banana instant pudding
2 bananas
1 container whipped topping
2 cups milk (I used skim.)
2 - 3 tablespoons caramel sauce

1. Slice bananas.
2. Whisk together banana pudding and 1 cup of milk.
3. Stir in 1/2 cup whipped topping into pudding.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with vanilla pudding.
5. Layer half the banana slices on bottom of pie.
6. Drizzle with 1 - 2 tablespoons caramel sauce.
7. Top with banana pudding mixture.
8. Top pudding layer with the rest of banana slices.
9. Top bananas with vanilla pudding layer
10. Top pudding layer with thin layer of whipped topping.
11. Refrigerate 4 - 6 hours.
12. Right before serving, drizzle 1 tablespoon of caramel on top of pie.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been saving an empty crasins bag for a while now with every intent to
make these cookies. I completely forgot about them until I saw them on 
LovesToEat's blog a few days ago. I was nervous about trying another new recipe for cookies since last week's cookies were a flop. I was even more nervous after I mixed everything together. The batter was very sticky, almost too wet. I was sure these were going to be another fail. Boy, was I wrong. They came out perfect. Chewy and delicious. My husband declared these his new favorite. 

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Ocean Spray Craisins bag, also seen on  LovesToEat's blog
*modifications in red

2/3 cup butter (10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 oz. package craisins
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Beat together butter and brown sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture in several steps. Mix well.
Stir in craisins and white chocolate chips.
Place rounded teaspoonfuls of batter on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Who doesn't love spaghetti? Well my husband doesn't, unless, however, it is accompanied by meatballs. He won't even eat spaghetti unless the sauce has some kind of meat in it. I have made meatballs a few other times, but they didn't come out as good as I hoped. I tweaked the spices a bit and pan seared them before cooking them in the crock pot. I think I finally got it right this time. They were perfect.

yields about 20 medium-sized meatballs

1.5 pounds ground beef
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon onion salt
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Be careful not to over mix.
Shape into round balls.
Fry in canola oil on medium-high heat 1 - 2 minutes on each side.
Transfer to crock pot with your favorite sauce.
Cook on low for 4 - 6 hours.
Serve over angel hair pasta with bread and a salad.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Candy Studded Cookies

I had some leftover candy crowding my cupboards, so I decided to throw it all together in some cookies. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, Rolos, peanut butter cups, and chocolate bars. I found this recipe in relish after Halloween and tucked it away. I was going to use my old standby for chocolate chip cookies and just add the candy, but I wanted to try something new. These cookies were a flop. I expected them to be nice and gooey from the caramel and peanut butter, but they turned out very crispy. They were actually too crispy. I followed the baking instructions exactly and even underbaked them a few minutes. The flavor was good, but they needed to be soaked in milk before they were close to edible. I will not be making these again.

Candy Studded Cookies
adapted from relish

3 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon regular salt)
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 cups candy (I used 3 cups of Rolos, peanut butter cups, Hershey's bars, and semi-sweet chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Chop candy and set aside. 
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl. 
4. In another bowl, beat together butter and both sugars with mixer until light and fluffy.
5. Add eggs to butter/sugar mixture and mix well.
6. Add vanilla and flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined.
7. Stir in candy.
8. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
9. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.
10. Cool cookies on wire rack.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chocolate Marshmallow Ying Yang Cake

I made this cake for our nephew's birthday. He is 17 and requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing decorated as a ying yang. I chose to go with flavor over looks with this cake. I really wasn't feeling the design, so I concentrated on making it taste perfect. It didn't come out too bad, but I know it could have looked so much better had I spent more time on it. I made a three-layer Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake. I filled it and iced half of it with marshmallow icing and the other half with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting. I had some cake complications and had to re-make the cakes because they got stuck in the pans. I don't know what happened, but the second cakes came out perfect. I think it came out pretty good despite the complications. Plus it tasted awesome. If you love chocolate and marshmallow then you will love this cake.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mexican Sour Cream Rice

I marked down this recipe a few months ago and completely forgot about it. A few days ago, I was looking for recipes to use up leftover cilantro and this recipe was suggested on the cooking board I frequent. I wanted something different to go with chicken tacos. We usually eat refried or black beans on the side. This dish was very good and very filling. It has a nice kick to it. I did use reduced fat sour cream and Neufchatel cream cheese to lighten it up a bit. This went perfectly with chicken tacos. It made a lot, so next time I will probably half the recipe. I actually ended up eating the leftover chicken over the rice. I don't think the cilantro added anything special, so I would probably make this without it next time unless I had it on hand. This recipe is also versatile, so next time I think I'll add black beans and salsa to it. This is a keeper.

Mexican Sour Cream Rice
adapted from Allrecipes as seen on Lemons & Love

2 bags boil-in-bag white rice
1 cup sour cream (I used low-fat.)
2 oz. cream cheese (I used Neufchatel.)
1 small can diced green chilies
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar.)
1 can corn, drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Pepper and garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Make rice according to directions on box.
Drain rice and transfer back to pot.
Season rice with pepper and garlic salt.
Add sour cream, cream cheese, green chilies, corn, half of the cheese, and cilantro to the rice and mix well.
Transfer to baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken Chili

I love chicken chili. It's the perfect cold weather dinner. This is a versatile recipe that you can add whatever you have on hand or omit whatever you don't like. I adapted this from multiple recipes and by trial and error. This is an easy dish to throw together. You just put everything in the crock pot and let it go for a few hours. This is a spicy, flavorful broth-based chili. It's healthier than white chicken chili because there is no cream in it. You can mix sour cream into your individual bowl to make it "white" chicken chili.

Chicken Chili
1 pound chicken breast
1 whole bell pepper (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 green)
3 cans chicken broth (low sodium)
3 cans great northern white beans (1 drained)
1 can corn, drained
1 cup water
2 small cans green chilies
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
2 tablespoons adobe sauce from chipotle peppers
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper)
optional toppers: sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro

Add chicken to slow cooker.
Add 1/2 can chicken broth, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon garlic.
Cook on high for 3 hours.
Drain and remove chicken.
Shred chicken with two forks.
Add chicken back to crock pot.
Chop bell pepper, chipotle peppers, and cilantro.
Add to crock pot.
Add remaining ingredients to crock pot.
Cook on high for 1 hour.
Cook on low for 3 additional hours.
Serve topped with sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, and cilantro. (optional)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Oktoberfest Cupcakes

For all those Oktoberfest beer lovers, you have to try these! I stumbled upon these cupcakes on the Woman with a Whisk blog and knew I had to make them right away. I love October. It is the month I was married, it's fall, the leaves are changing, the weather is cooler, and best of all—Oktoberfest beer returns. We've sampled a few new seasonal beers this year and fell in love with Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. It's a wheat ale with subtle spices of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It's pumpkin pie in a bottle, but it's not overly spicy or flavorful. If you haven't tried it, get yourself to the nearest beer distributor and pick some up, but hurry since the season is almost over. These cupcakes were awesome. I thought they would taste mostly like pumpkin, but they really picked up the flavor of the beer. They're more of a spice cupcake with cinnamon undertones. I topped them with a cinnamon cream cheese icing. They are my new favorite cupcake. I stashed a few bottles of this beer from my husband, so I can whip a few more batches soon.

Oktoberfest Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
adapted from Woman with a Whisk

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (Omit if using salted butter.)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup Oktoberfest beer (I used Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale.)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 sticks salted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Set up cupcake pan with 24 liners.
Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and spices and set aside.
In another bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture.
Beat until well incorporated.
Alternately add flour, then beer to butter mixture, beating on low.
Pour batter into cupcake liners, about 2/3 full.
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1/2 block (4 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature (I used Neufchatel)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus more for topping cupcakes)
3 cups powdered sugar

Cream together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.
Add cinnamon and powdered sugar one cup at a time.
Beat well.
Top cupcakes with icing and a light dusting of cinnamon.
Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mustard-Herb Crusted Pork Chops

Randy brought me home this recipe to try. He found it in an old magazine and tore it out. It's an Emeril recipe. I never made one of his recipes before, so I was excited to try it. The original recipe called for lamb chops, but I opted to use pork chops instead. Don't get me wrong, I love lamb, but I have never made it before. It's one of those meats like veal that I let restaurants cook for me. Plus it's also hard to find in crappy NEPA grocery stores. This recipe was delicious, so flavorful. I can't even describe how good it was, plus it was simple. I'm always looking for new ways to jazz up breaded pork and chicken and this recipe is a keeper.

Mustard-Herb Crusted Pork Chops
adapted from Emeril Lagasse, Emeril 20-40-60

6 boneless center-cut pork chops
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix together mustard and garlic.
Mix together bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and herbs.
Salt and pepper pork chops.
Brush mustard mixture on pork chops.
Dredge chops in bread crumb mixture.
Heat oil in skillet on high heat.
Cook pork chops 2 minutes on each side.
Place in baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Not a T.V. Dinner Salisbury Steak

You remember those gross T.V. dinners with salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and corn? The ones where you were lucky if they included a brownie for dessert? I grew up eating a lot of those frozen, processed dinners. That's what happens when you come from a single-parent family. They were awful and I vowed I would never eat frozen salisbury steak ever again. I hadn't eaten those little beef patties for quite some time and a few years ago my cousin gave me this recipe. I did modify it a bit to exclude onions since we don't eat them. So if you like hamburgers covered in gravy, then you'll love this recipe.

Salisbury Steak
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
10 - 15 saltine crackers
2 - 3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 packet brown gravy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray baking pan with nonstick spray
Make gravy as directed and set aside.
Crush saltines and mix with milk.
Add saltine mixture, garlic, onion salt, and pepper to ground beef.
Mix and shape into 6 patties.
Cover with mushrooms and gravy.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes and corn for the full T.V. dinner experience!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Fluff

We were over my mother-in-law's a few weeks ago for dinner and she made a pumpkin dip for dessert. It was so good! I asked for the recipe, but it was a mix she bought while she was on vacation. Instead of trying to find a mix, I decided I would go home and recreate it. After making the pumpkin lasagna the other night, I had leftover pumpkin puree, so I decided to experiment. I think I got the recipe pretty close to the mix. This dip is addicting. I served it with pound cake slices.

Pumpkin Fluff
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 block cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whipped topping

Cream together cream cheese and sugar.
Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and powdered sugar.
Beat well.
Fold in whipped topping.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin, Zucchini, & Sausage Lasagna

Now that it is fall, I feel the need to make something pumpkin. I couldn't decided between pumpkin pie, cookies, whoopie pies, bread, cheesecake—the list goes on. Randy suggested a recipe from my new Food Network Magazine and asked me to try it: Pumpkin Lasagna. It just didn't seem right to me. When I think pumpkin, I think of something sweet not savory. I was skeptical, but I gave it a whirl. And boy was I glad I trusted my husband! It came out great. The pumpkin paired nicely with the zucchini, sausage, and cheese. It added a nice spice to it. It wasn't sweet at all. So don't fear the pumpkin and give this recipe a try! This recipe would work well with any combination of veggies and meat.

Pumpkin, Zucchini, & Sausage Lasagna
adapted from Robert Irvine's Pumpkin Lasagna, Food Network Magazine 11/09

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
Box of no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Barilla brand.)
2 jars favorite sauce or homemade
16 oz. ricotta cheese
2 cups favorite shredded cheese (I used a mix of raw milk sharp cheddar and mozzarella.)
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 eggs
salt, pepper, parsley, Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly spray 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
3. Slice zucchini very thinly. Salt and pepper zucchini and set aside.
4. Brown sausage in a skillet over high heat. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to sausage while cooking. Drain sausage and mix with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce and set aside.
5. Combine pumpkin puree, 1 egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
6. Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 1 egg, salt, pepper, and parsley. Mix well and set aside.
7. Assemble lasagna: Ladle sauce onto bottom of baking pan. Place 3 lasagna noodles on bottom of pan. Top with 1/2 sausage and sauce. Top with 3 more noodles. Top with ricotta cheese mixture and more sauce. Top with 3 more noodles. Spread pumpkin mixture on top of noodles and top with zucchini slices and sauce. Top with 3 more noodles. Spread the rest of the sausage, ricotta cheese mixture, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Top with sauce and remaining 3 noodles. Top noodles with sauce and the rest of the shredded cheese.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.
9. Remove foil and cook an additional 10 minutes.
10. Serve with salad and Italian bread.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Go Blue! Buffalo Chicken Pizza

PSU Football + Buffalo Chicken Pizza = Good Time

GO Penn State! As most people know, I graduated from Penn State and I am a huge PSU football fan. Randy and I managed to get to the homecoming game last weekend. They defeated the MN Golden Gophers 20-0. A very good game, despite the snow. Last night, I whipped up some buffalo chicken pizza for us while we were watching the game on TV. PSU played a good game and finally defeated Michigan on their turf—first time since 1997! This pizza is spicy and delicious, plus quick to whip up, especially if you use pre-made crust as I did. I made it during half-time with time to spare.

Go Blue! Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Favorite crust recipe (I used pre-made)
1 pound boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 - 1 cup cup favorite buffalo sauce
1/2 - 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 - 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 - 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare crust as directed.
Preheat oven to temperature indicated by crust instructions.
Salt and pepper chicken.
Saute chicken in canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, until no longer pink.
Toss chicken with buffalo sauce.
Top crust with buffalo chicken mixture.
Top chicken with cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
Sprinkle bleu cheese crumbles on top.
Cook according to crust directions.
Serve with bleu cheese, celery, and cold beer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bleu Cheese Stuffed Buffalo Chicken with Roasted Seasoned Potatoes

My husband loves anything buffalo—chicken wings, crack dip, potato wedges, fries, chicken fingers, etc. Every time we go out he orders wings. He requests this dish quite often and I don't mind since I love buffalo, too. This recipe isn't figure-friendly, but it is definitely healthier than deep fried wings, plus it's delicious. I made seasoned roasted potatoes on the side.

Bleu Cheese Stuffed Buffalo Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 wing sauce
4 - 6 tablespoons bleu cheese crumbles
1 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix together ranch dressing and wing sauce.
Cut a slit in the middle of each chicken breast.
Pack chicken with bleu cheese.
Brush wing sauce mixture on both sides of chicken.
Coat chicken with bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.

Roasted Seasoned Potatoes
4 large potatoes
1/2 green bell pepper
2 - 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Chop potatoes and bell pepper into bite-sized pieces.
Add oil, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper to potatoes.
Shake to coat.
Place potatoes on cookie sheet.
Bake 34 - 45 minutes until potatoes are done.

Razzberry Filled Vanilla Cupcakes

I love to bake, especially cupcakes! The recipe I used the other night for the apple pie cupcakes yielded over 30 cupcakes, so I had a few extra left over. I wanted something other than plain vanilla cupcakes, so I decided to fill them with raspberry preserves. I made these once before for my husband's birthday, but I topped them with cream cheese icing. This time I used buttercream since I already had a batch made for the apple pie cupcakes. I think these are my new favorite cupcakes—they were so good! Since I love to share my baking creations, I brought some of these into work with the apple pie cupcakes. These were the first ones gone. They were a huge hit and everyone raved about them.

Bake your favorite white cupcakes. (I used Martha Stewart's recipe. They are a denser cupcake and held up well when I added the preserves. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect white cake recipe, though.)

To fill cupcakes:
Use the cone method to remove a chunk from the center of each cupcake.
Put aside chunk of removed cake.
Fill the holes with seedless raspberry preserves.
Place chunk of cake back on top of cupcake like a plug.
Top with vanilla buttercream.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I was looking for a different recipe for pork chops. I couldn't think of anything except the old standby: breaded pork chops—boring. My husband suggested flavoring them with garlic before breading them. At first I was going to melt butter and garlic together and dip them in the butter mixture before breading them. But I didn't have much butter in the house and didn't want to run to the store. I racked my brain and came up with another idea—garlic mayo. I brushed it on both sides, breaded the pork chops, and baked them. They came out moist, and garlicky. These were so good that you can chase away vampires after eating them. My husband named these "NO KISSING GARLIC PORK CHOPS." I will definitely make these again.

6 boneless, center cut pork chops
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
Garlic salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease baking pan with nonstick spray.
Mix together mayo, minced garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.
Brush on both sides of pork chops.
Coat both sides of pork chops with bread crumbs.
Bake 40 minutes.

Apple Pie Cupcakes

I came across this recipe on a fellow nestie's blog and immediately bookmarked it. My husband and I visited a local orchard last week and came home with honey crisp apples. If you've never tried a honey crisp apple, run don't walk, to the nearest orchard or grocery store and get yourself some. They are the best apples in the world—sweet and crispy. I had a few apples left to use up, so I decided to try out this recipe. My husband loves apple pie, so he was excited when I told him I was making them. He loved these, especially since the apples were still warm when he took a bite. I can't express how delicious these were. They are a perfect fall treat. I took a few of these to work for my coworkers to sample. They enjoyed them as well.

Apple Pie Cupcakes
adapted from: Annie's Eats via Fatty Fat Fats


Bake your favorite white cupcakes.
(I used Martha Stewart's recipe. They are a denser cupcake and held up well when the apple mixture was added. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect white cake recipe.)

Apple Filling:
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
2 large Honey Crisp apples

Peel, core, and dice apples.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Add the apples, cinnamon, and sugar.
Mix well.
Cook about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool.

To fill cupcakes: Use the cone method to remove a chunk from the center of each cupcake.
Discard (or eat) chunk of removed cake.
Fill the holes with the cooled apple mixture.
Top with vanilla buttercream.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cheddar Onion Crusted Chicken

I didn't think I liked French's French Fried Onions. I'm not a fan of green bean casserole. But my co-worker was raving about this baked chicken she made using french fried onions. She said her kids don't like onions and they loved this dish. So I decided to give it a try. She used French's French Fried Onions to coat the chicken and baked it. When I was at the grocery store, I found French's Cheddar French Fried Onions and decide to give those a try instead. This chicken is moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and delicious. I think this recipe will work well with pork also.

Cheddar Onion Crusted Chicken
source: French's Cheddar French Fried Onions container

3 chicken breasts, cleaned and sliced in half
1/4 cup honey mustard
1 cup French's Cheddar French Fried Onions
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat bottom of baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Crush French's Cheddar French Fried Onions and place on a plate.
Salt and pepper chicken.
Brush honey mustard on both sides of chicken.
Coat both sides of chicken with crushed french fried onions.
Place in baking pan.
Bake 30 minutes.

Stuffed Peppers

Since it's getting colder outside (we had our first snowfall here already!), I like to make warm, satisfying meals. Stuffed peppers is just that. These aren't one of our weeknight meals because they are a tad time consuming, so I usually reserve this meal for Sunday dinners. I like to use yellow, orange, and red bell peppers because they are sweeter than green. I also add Parmesan cheese to the tops of the peppers while they are baking for a nice crust on top.

6 bell peppers, hulled out (I use yellow, orange, and red.)
1 pound ground beef
1 bag boil-in-bag white rice
2 jars of favorite tomato sauce
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, to taste

Hull out peppers removing seeds and ribs.
If needed, slice bottoms to make them stand up.
Lightly grease glass baking dish.
Boil rice according to directions.
Drain rice, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
Brown ground beef.
Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic to ground beef.
Drain ground beef.
Mix together with rice.
Add 1 jar of tomato sauce and a few shakes of salt and pepper.
Add bread crumbs, half of the Parmesan cheese, and cheddar cheese.
Mix until well combined.
Stuff each pepper with beef and rice mixture.
Stand up peppers in baking dish.
Pour 1 jar of sauce on top of peppers.
Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.
Remove foil and sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake an additional 20 - 30 minutes until peppers are soft.
Serve with crusty Italian bread and a Caesar salad.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

I've been a slacker lately. I have good reason since Randy and I were busy celebrating our second wedding anniversary. We hit a local wine festival, ate at a Thai restaurant, and spent the night at the hotel where we were married.

When we got back we were craving Italian food, so I decided to make one of our favorite dinners. I know there are tons of different recipes out there for chicken parmesan and everyone makes it differently. I adapted this recipe from my mother-in-law. She double breads the chicken and pan fries it before baking it in the oven. It comes out nice and crispy.

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cleaned and cut in half
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
Italian seasoning, salt, pepper
Canola or olive oil, for frying
Favorite sauce
Provolone or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Season chicken with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Coat chicken with bread crumb mixture.
Dip in beaten egg.
Coat again with bread crumb mixture.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan on high heat.
Fry chicken for two minutes on each side.
Place chicken in a lightly greased pan.
Bake 30-40 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.
Top with cheese and sauce.
Serve with a side of pasta and Italian bread.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wilton Buttercream Icing

adapted from: Wilton

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 - 4 tablespoons water

Cream shortening and vanilla until smooth.
Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water until desired consistency is reached.
Beat well.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting

Source: Hershey's

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter.
Stir in cocoa.
Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount of additional milk, if needed.
Stir in vanilla.

Coconut Buttercream Icing

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
2 - 4 tablespoons milk (or any other liquid of choice)
2 teaspoons coconut extract

Beat butter and coconut extract until smooth.
Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and milk until desired consistency is reached.
Beat well.
Frost cupcakes.
Dip frosted tops in flaked coconut.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

2–4 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
4 - 6 tablespoons water (or any other liquid of choice)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

Cream butter and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 3 to 5 minutes until smooth and whipped. With the mixer on low, add powdered sugar one cup at a time and water (or any other liquid) one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Beat well until combined.

Marshmallow Icing

1 stick butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
7 oz. container of marshmallow fluff

Cream together butter and vanilla until fluffy.
Add powdered sugar and beat well.
Add marshmallow fluff and beat until combined.

Cream Cheese Icing

1 8oz. block cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
5 - 6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.
Add powdered sugar one cup at a time.
Beat well.
Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whoopie Pies

I was recruited to make something for the church bake sale by my mother-in-law. She told me to make something easy, but as everyone knows, I don't do easy. I wanted to do a trial run before the actual bake sale since I have never made whoopie pies. I had been eying a bunch of whoopie pie recipes and I came across this one when I was flipping through the Good Housekeeping: The Great Bake Sale Cookbook while I was at Barnes & Noble one night last week. This recipe looked pretty easy and it was. I followed the recipe exactly. These were delicious and will hopefully "WOW" my mother-in-law and sell out at the bake sale next weekend.

Recipe from: Good Housekeeping

Spicy Chipotle Beef and Bean Chili

My husband has been asking me to make chili for the past month, but it wasn't chili time yet. Now that it's almost fall and the temperatures have dropped, it's chili time. This recipe is spicy and hearty and packed with beef and beans. If you like your chili with a kick, then this recipe is for you. It's perfect for a cool fall day while watching a Penn State football game.

Spicy Chipotle Beef and Bean Chili
adapted from: Hanover

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large can (40 oz.) kidney beans
1 large can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
2 small cans (15 oz.) chopped tomatoes with chipotle peppers
1 small can (15 oz.) black beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips for garnish (optional)

Brown ground beef with peppers, red pepper flakes, and half the garlic.
Drain ground beef mixture.
Add to crock pot with rest of ingredients.
Cook on high 1 hour.
Cook on low an additional 2 hours.
Serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla strips.