October 30, 2012

Cornbread Chicken w/ Jalapeno Popper Sauce

Well, October is almost over...can you believe it?  The days just go by so fast, and then the next thing you know a month has gone by.  Then the next thing you know, another year has gone by.  And then all of a sudden you are thinking about your 20th high school reunion that's coming up and wondering if you should go...well, that one is still over 6 months away but it will be here in the blink of an eye and I'll be wondering how I got so old so fast!  Whenever I think about turning the big 40 I begin to panic.  Is this normal?  So many things run through my mind - I'm gonna die soon, how can I be this old when I still feel like a teenager?, what have I done with my life?, I better start enjoying every second of every day because....well I'm gonna die soon!  I am still 2 yrs and 3 months away from the big 40, so you would think I wouldn't be wasting my time thinking about these things right now but the truth is that I've been dreading turning 40 since I turned 30!  Enough about that - thinking about getting older makes me depressed. 

In an effort to not think about those things, I will just turn to food for comfort.  So this week my "new" recipe of the week that I tried was this cornbread crusted chicken with jalapeno popper sauce.  What a great recipe this turned out to be.  The sauce is what makes this dish - it definitely reminded me of a jalapeno popper (which I love).  This recipe was easy to put together, and was ready in about 45 minutes, which is nice if you're cooking it on a weeknight.  I've made a few changes to the original recipe, but overall two thumbs up from our house - we all thought it was very good.  It was a nice change from the old standby chicken recipes, so if you like jalapeno poppers give this one a try!

  Cornbread Crusted Chicken w/ Jalapeno Popper Sauce (adapted from letsdishrecipes.blogspot.com)

4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless and cut in 1/2 lengthwise so they are a bit thinner
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
3 slices of bacon, cooked then chopped
3 jalapenos, seeds removed & chopped
Salt & Pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken broth 
8 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 

Fry the bacon in a medium skillet until crisp, then remove bacon from pan and let drain on paper towels (set aside the pan with the bacon grease for later use).  Add vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet and turn the heat on medium high.  In a large bowl beat the egg and set aside.  On a large plate mix together the cornmeal, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Take the each piece of chicken and dip it in the egg, then in the cornbread mixture.  Once the skillet is nice and hot, add the chicken and shallow-fry it until it is crispy on both sides and completely cooked through.  Remove the chicken and place on a plate lined with paper towels, and cover with a lid to keep it warm.

While the chicken is cooking, take the pan you cooked the bacon in and add the chopped jalapenos to the grease and cook on medium heat until they soften.  Add the garlic, stir and let cook for about a minute.  Stir in the chicken broth, and deglaze the pan while it comes to a boil.  Add the cream cheese and whisk until it's melted and nice and smooth.  Add the cheddar cheese and bacon, and stir until the cheese is melted.  To serve, spoon the sauce over the chicken - don't skimp because there's plenty of sauce here, and the more the better!

October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies

I'm hoping you aren't sick of pumpkin recipes yet.  Even though summer is my most favorite season, when it comes to cooking and baking, fall is the best time of year.  There are so many seasonal recipes to make and discover, especially because the holidays are fast approaching and entertaining seems to occur more often.  

I love cookies.  It's my favorite dessert.  I have been making these pumpkin cookies for 15 years, and I just love them.  I only make them in October and/or November just so I can have a special cookie to look forward to in the fall.  These cookies are soft, full of amazing pumpkin spice flavor, and are just down right comforting.  Normally I am satisfied eating just one cookie for dessert, but not with these - I can't stop at one.  Trouble....that's what these cookies are!  

Pumpkin Cookies
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Beat sugar and butter in a large mixer bowl.  Beat in pumpkin, egg & vanilla until smooth.  Combine the rest of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and gradually add it to the butter mixture.  Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.  Bake in preheated  oven for 13-15 minutes or until edges are firm.  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to let cool on wire rack.  Drizzle glaze over cookies.

Glaze :  Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 ½ tbsp of milk, ½ tbsp melted butter and ½ tsp vanilla in a small bowl until smooth.

October 26, 2012

Apple Pie Muffins

Since it's fall, and since I'm always trying to come up with new muffin ideas, I decided to try an apple pie type muffin.  I've had this idea swirling around in my brain for a few weeks, so I didn't bother trying to find a recipe for it.  I made this one up, or at least I think I did, but you know how that goes - you think you've invented a new recipe, but then you find out someone already beat you to it.  So, I'm sure someone has thought of this idea already, but this particular recipe is my own.

I wasn't sure how they would come out, so my fingers were crossed as my son bit into the final result.  Turns out this recipe is a winner - he LOVED them!  So then of course I had to try them, and I have to say that I impressed myself with this one.  Love it when that happens!  These would be good for breakfast, snack, dessert.....lunch, dinner, really they are good to eat at any point in the day!  Yum, yum, yum!  I think this blog is making me gain weight.  I might have to start a blog on how to loose weight and exercise next!

Doesn't this muffin look so good?  It's got apple pie filling oozing out the side.....mmm.  That's it, I'm going to have another one right now!

Apple Pie Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup apples, peeled & chopped

Filling:  3/4 cup apples, peeled & chopped
              1/4 cup apple juice
              1/4 tsp cinnamon
              1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
              1 tbsp apple juice mixed with 2 tsp cornstarch until smooth

Topping:  1/3 cup brown sugar
                   1 tbsp flour
                   1/8 tsp cinnamon
                   1 tbsp butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.  Start by making the filling - combine the apples, apple juice, cinnamon & nutmeg in a small saucepan and cook on medium high until the apples start to soften.  Add the apple juice and cornstarch mixture, stir well and let it come to a boil.  It should thicken as it starts to boil, so once it does you can remove it from the heat.  This part can be tricky because different apples create different amounts of juice as they cook, so if it's not thick enough add a little more cornstarch mixed with a little more apple juice, or if it's too thick you can thin it by adding more apple juice (a little at a time).  The goal is for the filling to be thickened like an apple pie filling.  

In a medium bowl stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until well combined, then stir in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated.  Stir in the 3/4 cup of chopped apples (not the cooked ones).  Then add the flour mixture and stir just until it's blended together.  Fill each muffin cup just slightly less than 1/2 half full with the muffin batter.  Add about a heaping tsp of the apple pie filling to each muffin cup, then top each with the remaining batter divided evenly. 

In a small bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together with a fork until the mixture turns into crumbs.  Sprinkle this topping over each muffin cup, then place muffin pan into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let the muffins set in the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. 

October 25, 2012

Roasted Broccoli

One of my favorite "famous" cooks out there is Ina Garten.  I love how she takes fresh ingredients and prepares it in a simple, yet sophisticated way to create delicious dishes.  I definitely admire her and all she's accomplished.

I decided to try her recipe for roasted broccoli because she claimed it would turn even someone who hates broccoli into a broccoli lover, and since my son hates broccoli I knew I needed to put it to the test.  Unfortunately, it did not convert my son into a lover of broccoli.  It did however make me love broccoli even more!  This is so good, I could have eaten a plate of just the broccoli for dinner.  

This roasted broccoli recipe is exactly why I love Ina so much.  It's so simple to throw to together, yet it turns into a stunning side dish to accompany any meal.  Perfect for when you have company and hoping to impress your guests.  If you are looking to turn an ordinary vegetable side dish into something extraordinary, you have to give this recipe a try.  I know I will be making this many, many more times in the future!

Roasted Broccoli (adapted from Ina Garten)

2 heads broccoli, cut into 1-2 inch florets (about 8-10 cups of florets)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced (don't slice too thin because they will burn)
1 small lemon
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 420.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the broccoli florets on sheet in a single layer.   Sprinkle the sliced garlic over top of the broccoli, then drizzle about 4 tbsp of olive oil over the broccoli and toss to combine.  Add the salt and pepper, then place pan in oven to roast for about 20 minutes - the tips of the florets should be browned, but not burned).  Remove from oven.

Sprinkle the zest from the lemon over the broccoli, drizzle about another tbsp of olive oil over top, squeeze most of the juice from the lemon and add that to the broccoli, and finally top it with the grated Parmesan cheese.  Toss to combine and serve it hot.

October 23, 2012

Apple Pie in a Paper Bag

OK people, be prepared to be blown away here (well unless of course you've already heard of or tried this before).  About a year ago I was browsing through the King Arthur website when I came across one of their recipes for apple pie.  I know your probably thinking "Big deal, there are millions of apple pie recipes out there."  But don't stop reading yet!  It wasn't the recipe that caught my eye so much as it was the method of cooking it that startled me.  This recipe said to cook it in a sealed paper bag!  What?

I have been making apple pie for a long time (it happens to be one of my husband's favorite pies) and I will go so far as to say that I make a pretty darn good one, so I wasn't out there looking to perfect my go-to recipe.  I just stumbled on this, and it intrigued me so much I had to try it.....immediately.  

I honestly was not prepared for how wonderfully delicious this pie turned out to be.  I just didn't think it would yield anything that would leave an impression.  But boy was I wrong!  Don't you love it when that happens?  I swear on the Holy Bible that everyone who has had this pie insists it is the best apple pie they've ever had.  Cooking it in a sealed paper bag creates steam, pair that along with the high cooking temperature, and it somehow produces a down right amazing pie.  I will admit I was nervous about putting a paper bag in the oven, but as long as you are very careful and make sure it's not touching the sides of the oven, it will be fine.  Promise.  So don't be afraid.  You have to go try this pie....really, you just have to!

Apple Pie in a Paper Bag (adapted from King Arthur recipe)
For crust: half the Pie Crust recipe (click here for recipe)
About 10 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 425. Spray pie plate with cooking spray - you are probably thinking you can skip this because you don't normally do this, but I am warning you that it is necessary (something about that steam makes the crust stick to the pie plate if it's not greased). Line pie plate with the dough and fold the edges under, pinch seams all around or crimp it using a fork.  Put sliced apples in microwave safe bowl and stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and lemon juice. Microwave uncovered for 5 minutes. Spoon apples into pie plate, leaving the juices at the bottom. Add flour to bowl and whisk together with the juices left from the apples. Pour this over the apples. 

Topping: In bowl of food processor, add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup cold butter cut into pieces. Pulse until mix is crumbly. Spread topping over the apple filling.

Place pie into paper grocery bag. Fold it close and staple it shut all along the fold (can also use paper clips). Bake at 425 for one hour, then shut the oven off and let the pie set in there with the door shut for another 10 minutes. Remove pie from oven and carefully open it. Take pie out of bag and set on rack to cool completely before slicing (unless you like it warm and you don't care if it falls apart on you).

October 21, 2012

DIY Taco Seasoning

If you know me, or are familiar with this blog, you know that I try to make as much from scratch as possible.  For me, this includes putting together my own seasonings instead of buying them.  Why buy taco seasoning when you probably have all the components right on your own spice rack?  Plus you get the added benefit of eliminating from your diet those weird ingredients you can't pronounce on the packets you buy at the store.  Why put those chemicals in your body if you don't need to? 

Homemade taco seasoning is quick to put together, and will keep in an airtight container as long as all the other spices on your spice rack.  The best part about making my own taco seasoning is that I can control the quantities of everything - if you like it spicy, add more cayenne, etc. You can adjust it to suite your preferences, which in the end makes it a million times better than store bought.  Make a bunch of it so you will always have it on hand when you need it.  So easy and so smart....so go do it now! ☺

DIY Taco Seasoning

2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp coriander

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Transfer to an airtight container for later use.

October 18, 2012

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Making my own dressing is one of those things that I just love to do.  I eat salad for lunch almost everyday of the week for lunch and I always make my own dressing.  It's just healthier, easier and it just tastes better.  You can find my two favorite dressings by clicking here.

Since it's Fall, and since I wanted to try something new, I decided to make an apple cider vinaigrette.  I had some ideas kicking around in my head for a while, so I figured it was time to see how the flavors would come together.  There are three basic parts to a good vinaigrette: vinegar, oil and something like mustard to bind it/emulsify it.  Once you learn that, you can get creative with the ingredients.  The possibilities are endless.  

Needless to say, this dressing turned out perfectly!  It's such a nice and light vinaigrette, and it really turned my salad into a yummy treat.  It was like I hadn't eaten salad in a long time and the next day I was so excited to have it again!  This dressing would be perfect for a fall dinner party...I guarantee your guests will be impressed.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

1/2 cup apple cider
2 tsp spicy brown mustard

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients expect the olive oil.  Slowly drizzle the oil in while whisking vigorously.  This dressing can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks.

October 16, 2012

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Years ago, when I worked as the head cook at my son's school, I HATED making macaroni and cheese for lunch.  We made things from scratch as much as possible, so making homemade macaroni and cheese, and having it ready on time, for 225 kids wasn't easy! The worst part was scrubbing the pans after lunch.  I DO NOT miss that one bit!!  I tried making it by the method you'll see here in my recipe below, but it always ended up taking too long.  Instead, the way that worked the best was cooking the noodles, then putting them in large baking dishes and adding the milk, butter, cheese to the pan.  I'd stir it and season it, then pop it in the oven.  I'd pull it out after 15 minutes to check consistency and make adjustments as needed then pop it back in the oven to finish cooking.  Sounds weird but it worked out well. It seemed less time consuming and seemed to dirty less dishes, which was always a plus.

Compared to that experience, making homemade macaroni and cheese at home for just my family is a piece of cake!  It really doesn't take much time at all, so why bother buying it and consuming all those additives and preservatives?  Everyone in my house prefers homemade to store bought, although I do have a soft spot for Kraft because that's what I grew up with.  I used to eat it with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time as a kid! 

It's fun to experiment with different cheeses also.  Some work well, and others not so much.  You can add different ingredients to it like tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, lobster.....the possibilities are endless.  Don't be afraid to make it from scratch.  It's not as hard as you might think.

Little B's Homemade Macaroni & Cheese (about 6 servings)

3 cups macaroni/elbow noodles, cooked al dente & drained
1, 8oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
10 slices American cheese (I prefer to use the thick slices, white or orange)
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
2 tbsp flour
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water until it's almost done, then drain and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium-high heat.  Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux (this will be the base for your cheese sauce), and cook for 1 minute.  Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking constantly to make sure it's nice and smooth - it should start to thicken after a few minutes.  Start adding the cheeses, one kind at a time.  Continue whisking and allow the cheese to melt before adding the next cheese.  Once all the cheese is added and melted, the sauce should be at about a medium thickness - not too thick but not too watery either.  If it's too thick you can add a little more milk until you reach your desired consistency.  If it's too runny, you can add more cheese until it thickens up a bit - when this happens to me I generally end up adding more American cheese, but you can add which ever type you want or have. 

Add the macaroni to the baking dish, then pour the cheese sauce evenly over top.  Give it a little stir to make sure the sauce is well combined with the macaroni.  Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and add the seasoned bread crumbs to it, stirring with a fork until well combined/crumbly.  Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of the macaroni, and place baking dish in the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes, or until cheese sauce is bubbly and top is slightly browned.  Serve immediately.  

October 14, 2012

Cranberry Apple Cake

We got a new kitty a couple of days ago.  I am so in love with him.  I think I've finally found a cat that is going to be a snuggle bunny ♥  I have two other cats, but neither of them really want much to do with us.  Since we used to have three cats, until my other snuggle bunny disappeared, I figured it would be OK to look for another one.  My husband didn't love the idea, but he's been a good sport.  He knew how heart broken I was when my Misty Mae came up missing, so he agreed to one more.  I have been having so much fun with this little guy.....am I turning into some weirdo cat lady???  Whatever, he's so cute I don't even care if I am!  Look at this precious little guy:

Isn't he just the cutest???  He purrs like a mad man and he loves to snuggle....I'm in heaven.  OK, I'll stop going on and on about the newest addition to the family now :)

I know I said I wouldn't post tons of recipes involving cranberries, but I couldn't resist this one.  This is a cake I saw Ina Garten make on her cooking show, and I knew it would be good.  It is easy to make, and oh so delicious!  The cake is so tender and just soaks up all the juices from the cranberries and apples.  All the flavors go so well together.  Everyone in my house LOVES this cake.  I made a few changes to the original recipe to suite my preferences.  This cake has become a family favorite - thank you Ina!

Cranberry Apple Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 apple, peeled & diced
12 ounces cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 and spray a 10" pie plate with cooking spray.  Add the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon & nutmeg to a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Add the eggs to the bowl of an electric mixer, and using the paddle attachment beat the eggs on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  While the mixer is running add 1 cup white sugar, vanilla, sour cream and butter  and beat until just barely combined.  Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the four and salt, and only mix until combined.

Pour the fruit mix into the pie plate, add the batter and spread evenly over the fruit.  Combine the 1 tbsp of sugar with the 1/8 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle over top of the batter.  Bake for about an hour or until cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.

October 12, 2012

Alice Springs Chicken

In our house we eat chicken for dinner at least once a week.  While I could eat chicken every 
night, the boys get tired of it easily.  So I am constantly on the hunt for new chicken recipes. 

Months ago I saw a recipe for Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken.  It sounded yummy,
but I put off making it because it's not exactly a low-calorie meal!  This week however, I was out
of ideas so I decided to give it a try.  I read over several versions of it, and put together my 
own.  Man oh man, is this yuuuuummmmy!  I mean really, how can you go wrong with bacon,
mushrooms and cheese????  So bad for you, but oh so good!  I served it with salad so I 
could justify this as a "healthy" well rounded meal in my head.  Whatever you serve it with 
though, you gotta try this dish.  My son loved it, and my husband and I gobbled it up.  Next time
I make it I might add some caramelized onions......I think that might send it over the top for me! 
Definitely adding this one to my ever growing recipe book! 

Alice Springs Chicken (knockoff from Outback Steakhouse)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Garlic salt & pepper blend
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup honey
1 tbsp regular yellow mustard
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
¼ tsp onion powder
6 slices bacon
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Season the chicken with the garlic salt & pepper blend on both sides and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Place the bacon in a medium sized skillet and cook until crisp, then remove from heat and set aside.  While the bacon is cooking, place your chicken on the grill and cook for about 4 minutes on each side (you can of course skip the grill & just cook it in a pan on the stove top, I just like the flavor the grill gives it).  Remove the chicken from the heat and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 11x9 baking dish with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl mix together the Dijon, honey, yellow mustard, brown mustard and onion powder until well blended.  Spoon about 1/3 of the honey mustard mixture over the bottom of your baking dish.  Place the chicken in the baking dish, then spoon the rest of the honey mustard mixture on top of the chicken.  Layer on top of the chicken the mushrooms, the bacon (I tore each slice of bacon up then divided it evenly), and the cheese (1/4 cup of each cheese on top of each piece of chicken). 

Cover baking dish with tin foil, but give it a little “tent” in the middle.  Place in oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes (depends on how thick your chicken is).  Make sure chicken is cooked completely and cheese is melted. 

October 10, 2012

Orange Cranberry Bread

You'll have to bear with me because I'm on a little bit of a cranberry kick lately.  I'll try not to post too many recipes with cranberries though!☺

One of my favorite combinations is cranberry and orange, and so this bread fits the bill whenever I am craving cranberry anything.  As with all breads that I make, I tend to divide the batter out into mini loaf tins and freeze one or two of them.  This time of year it is especially important for me to stock up a little on the mini breads in the freezer because hunting season will start soon, and the mini breads are an easy snack for the boys to take with them.

I'm eating a piece of this bread right now and it's making me think of Christmas.  Uh-oh.....I feel a stress headache coming on!  OK, don't think about Christmas - just think about cranberries and how delicious this bread will taste with a little butter slathered on a big thick slice.  

Orange Cranberry Bread

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup cranberries, whole or chopped in half
1/2 cup walnut, chopped
2/3 cup orange juice
2 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp butter, melted
Zest of one orange, grated
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
Sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 325, and spray your loaf pan (or pans) with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and set aside.  In smaller bowl add the melted butter, hot water, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, egg and whisk together to combine.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Fold in the cranberries and walnuts, then pour batter into loaf pan (or divide evenly into mini loaf pans).  Sprinkle the top with a little sugar, then place pan in oven - for one regular loaf pan, bake for about an hour and if using the mini loaf pans, bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Make one regular size loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans. 

October 8, 2012

Turkey Pesto Sandwiches

This sandwich is amazing.  There really isn't a whole lot more I can say about it.  I crave this sandwich.  I look forward to this sandwich.  I love this sandwich.

It's all about the perfect combination of quality ingredients.  The perfectly soft, yet chewy sandwich roll.  The homemade pesto.  The gobs of melted cheese.  The moist turkey breast....when they all come together they form the perfect sandwich.  You just have to try it.  It could change your life!

Turkey Pesto Sandwich

1 Torta Roll, or any other soft yet chewy roll
Turkey breast, either roasted or from the deli & cut 1/4" thick
2 slices Provolone cheese
1 tbsp pesto, homemade is best - Click here for the recipe
1 tbsp good mayonnaise

In a small bowl mix together the pesto and mayonnaise.  Cut the roll in half and slather the pesto mayonnaise on both sides of the roll evenly.  On the bottom half of the roll place your turkey, then top it with both slices of Provolone cheese.  Place the just the bottom half of the sandwich (without the top) into the oven and broil on low just until the cheese melts then remove from oven.  Place the top of the roll onto the the sandwich and cut in half.  Enjoy!

October 5, 2012

Spinach & Broccoli Stuffing

It's that time of year when I start thinking about the holidays and what I'm going to cook, and planning out the Christmas shopping.  I like to get a head start.  Although last year was the first time I didn't have everything done by December 1st, and boy was that stressful for me!  There's a lot of people to buy for in this family, so planning and organizing is essential (for me anyway).

Since I've been thinking about holiday cooking, I've come across a few recipes that I usually only make at that time of year, like this one for Spinach Broccoli Stuffing.  My mother starting making this side dish back when I was a teenager and I liked it back then and I still do.  It's a simple recipe, which makes it convenient when having lots of people over for a holiday meal.  It also seems to go nicely with almost anything, which is an added bonus.  

I don't know why, but I only make it as a holiday side dish and it never makes an appearance again for the rest of the year.  Since this year my son will be at his father's for Thanksgiving, I decided to do up a little semi-holiday meal so he wouldn't have to miss out on dinner with us completely.  I know I'm a little early, but I figured I'd do it now because hunting starts soon up here and the weekends are already starting to get filled up with plans for the coming months.  So much to do, so little time!  Anyway, hopefully you'll give this a try and like it as much as we do.

Spinach & Broccoli Stuffing

6oz box of stuffing mix
1 package frozen chopped broccoli
1 package frozen chopped spinach
10oz can cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Prepare stuffing according to directions.  Place the broccoli & spinach in a large microwave safe bowl and cook on high in the microwave for 8 minutes.  Drain off the excess water from the spinach and broccoli, then add the stuffing and cream of mushroom soup to the bowl and mix well to combine.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until hot. 

October 4, 2012

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp.....such an all-American classic dessert.  Who doesn't love apple crisp?  I've never met anyone (actually, maybe one person) who doesn't love it.  It's definitely a favorite in our house.  I've probably made it a thousand times, and each time I feel like it gets better and better.   I mean, just look at this apple yumminess!  Nothing screams fall more than apple crisp.....well, except maybe apple pie.

My husband and I both prefer a thick, crunchy oat topping and I think I have finally perfected it.  We both also like the apples to be well done, if not slightly mushy.  I personally like putting a few cranberries in it, but I am alone on that one.  The boys both said they don't like it with cranberries, but yet they have no problem eating it!  This time when my husband finished his first bowl, he said it was delicious.  I said "Even with the cranberries?" to which he responded that he didn't even notice them.  Enough said!

Little B's Favorite Apple Crisp

1 stick of butter, room temp is fine & works better
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
7 medium apples, cored & peeled & sliced
1/4 cup apple cider
pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 cup cranberries, if using dried cranberries soak them in apple cider to cover for 1-2 hrs

Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl stir together the brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon and salt.  Add the butter and with a fork, or using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms crumbs (about the size of peas, a little larger is fine). 

Place the sliced apples in your baking dish, along with the drained cranberries, then add a dash of nutmeg.  Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of apple cider evenly over top of the apples, then do the same with the topping.  Place in oven and cook for about 45 minutes, or until your apples reach your desired doneness (is that a word?).  If you like your apples to be a little more firm, I'd cook it for about 30 minutes.