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.