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.