Monday, December 31, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

mozzarella + jalapenos

and

buffalo sauce + chicken + blue cheese

with

bacon and four more types of cheese

=

Amazeballs. The end.


Y'all, I'm posting this on New Years Eve because I want you to enjoy this before you start with your "lose weight - eat better" resolution tomorrow. It's obscenely bad for you... but it's a delicious treat. And honestly, it's so decadent that you won't eat your weight in it. Well, at least we couldn't.

It is, however, one of the most amazing mac and cheeses I've put in my mouth. And I love me some mac and cheese. The ingredient list looks long but don't be overwhelmed - it's easy to toss together and you probably have most of it already in your pantry.

{Plus it's totally worth the effort}


Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
4 slices of bacon
1/2 large onion, diced {about 1 1/4 cups}
2 jalapenos, sliced {ribs and seeds removed}
1 pound elbow macaroni

for the sauce-
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups milk {whole or 2%}
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
1 pinch nutmeg
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon hot sauce {such as Frank’s Red Hot}
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated provolone
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 cup precooked and shredded chicken {optional}

for the topping-
1 cup corn flakes, crushed, or panko {optional}
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, drain on paper towels and crumble. Pour off excess bacon drippings, keeping 2 tablespoons in the pan. Place skillet back on heat and saute onion and jalapenos until soft, about 6 minutes over medium heat. Set aside.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Salt water generously and cook pasta 2 minutes short of package directions. You want the macaroni to be very al dente, but not still crunchy. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Increase heat to medium high and continue mixing until sauce thickens. Stir in cream cheese and hot sauce until melted smoothly into the sauce. Stir in cheeses. Pour cooked pasta, sauteed onions, and jalapenos into the sauce. Stir to coat. Stir in chicken.

Pour into a buttered baking dish {around 9×13 size} and spread out evenly. Top with blue cheese, corn flakes or panko, if desired, and crumbled bacon. Bake 20-30 minutes until top of macaroni has browned.

Eat.

Source: Lauren's Latest

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Merry Belated Christmas! We opted to not travel out of town to see family but were invited by friends to join their family for a delicious Christmas lunch. It was a laid back and relaxing day for us. Whether spent with family near or far, I hope your Christmas was lovely.

And now for a perfect winter dinner!

Acorn squash has always been a favorite fall/winter vegetable of mine. I have fond memories of mom baking them with brown sugar and serving them alongside pork chops. While a great side to just about any protein, transforming squash into a "one pot meal" is a new favorite way to enjoy it. The sausage stuffing is flavorful, delicious,  and perfect when mixed with the tender and slightly sweet acorn squash.

Don't be scared away from the inclusion of the apple! It adds a bit of sweet to balance out the natural spice in the sausage.


Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1 lb mild sausage
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sage
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the melted butter, garlic, and 1/4 tsp sage. Brush the inside and outside of each squash with the butter mix. Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until fork tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage. When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate, set aside. To the skillet add the onions, celery, and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the apples and cook for another 2 minutes.

Return the sausage to the skillet then remove from heat. Season with remaining sage, salt, and pepper. Stir in the panko and Parmesan. Add the egg and stir to combine.

Divide the stuffing evenly among the four squash halves. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

Source: Sunny Side Up

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crockpot Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

I think my husband is the only person in the world that doesn't like crust. Pie crust, quiche crust, even pizza crust! I adore quiche but always hear whining from the other side of the table couch about the crust. So, when I saw this crustless quiche I knew he'd especially love it.

{which he did}

A traditional quiche is easy to make but does take awhile to bake (especially for a weeknight meal). I loved coming home to the quiche already finished and ready to eat! It was perfectly cooked through with lots of flavor thanks to the veggies, herbs, cheese and - of course - bacon.


Crustless Spinach and Mushroom Quiche
1 disposable slow cooker liner
Nonstick cooking spray
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
4 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped red sweet pepper (1 small)
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese or Swiss cheese (6 ounces)
8 eggs
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup packaged biscuit mix

Line a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker with disposable slow cooker liner; coat liner with cooking spray.

Using clean paper towels, press spinach to remove as much liquid as possible; set aside.
 
In a medium skillet cook bacon until crisp; drain, crumble, and set aside. Discard drippings. In same skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sweet pepper; cook and stir until tender. Stir in spinach and cheese.
 
In a medium bowl combine eggs, half-and-half, chives, salt, and black pepper. Stir egg mixture into spinach mixture in skillet. Gently fold in biscuit mix. Pour egg mixture into prepared slow cooker. Sprinkle with bacon.
 
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
 
*Mine lifted out easily using the liner - which makes it a piece of cake to cut/serve!
 
Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homemade Pimento Cheese

People in North Carolina are serious about their pimento cheese.

Don't get me wrong; people in Texas eat pimento cheese, too. I remember buying pimento cheese sandwiches at the Czech Stop in West, Texas anytime we traveled up or down I-35. But it wasn't a staple at every family gathering, church potluck, or camp meal like it is here.

Yep, we had pimento cheese offered everyday at (children and youth) camp. And not just the kind sold in a tub at the grocery store, I mean the homemade kind. And I may or may not have eaten quite a bit of it that week...

I truly think I've eaten it 12,438 times since moving here in June. Not that I'm complaining.

I've never made it myself so I thought I'd give it a shot. No doubt there are lots of homemade secrets out there that I haven't tapped into yet but this was a great start. It was sharp and tangy, but also smooth and cheesy. You can't get much better than a huge scoop of this slathered on two pieces of soft white bread. Or, you could kick it North Carolina style and slather it on your hamburger in place of a slice of cheese, use it for grilled cheese, warm it up and dip crackers in it, or stir it into grits. Anyway you serve it, it's good eatin'.

 
Homemade Pimento Cheese
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar, shredded (you have to shred it yourself!)
4 oz. diced pimentos
2 Tbs Greek yogurt
2 Tbs mayonnaise (the real deal - not Miracle Whip)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
 
Drain the pimientos and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and use a rubber spatula to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Before serving, refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Source: Tide and Thyme

Monday, December 17, 2012

In remembrance...

Friends,

The events on Friday have left me heartbroken, as I know it's left you as well. I have recipes ready to share but simply haven't been able to put together a post. I'll be back soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crockpot Mediterranean Beef Stew w/Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar

Growing up, every gathering of my mom's family included black olives. Us kids would down them faster than anything else on the buffet table. I suppose there are worse things to indulge in at Christmas, yes? I still have a deep love of all olives ~ especially black olives. When I spotted the olives proudly displayed in the forefront of this dish, I knew we were meant to give it a shot.

The olives are delicious but the stew is so much more. Thanks to the browned meat, garlic, capers, fresh herbs, and a healthy dose of balsamic vinegar, this stew explodes with flavor! It does take some browning prior to throwing it in the crockpot but I think it's worth the extra step to get the maximum flavor.

With the weather turning chilly, this is a belly warming meal you'll enjoy coming home to.


Mediterranean Beef Stew w/Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 T olive oil
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 onion, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 lbs. trimmed and diced chuck steak, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 cup beef stock
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 can black olives, cut in half or fourth
1/2 cup garlic cloves, cut in thin slices
2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary (or use 1 T dried cracked rosemary)
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley (or use 1 T dried parsley)
1 T capers (or more)
fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Heat small amount of olive oil in heavy frying pan, add mushrooms and saute several minutes, until starting to brown. Add mushrooms to slow cooker. Add a little more oil, then saute diced onions about 5 minutes, or until starting to brown. Add mushrooms to slow cooker. Add a little more oil again, then add diced beef and brown well, about 10-15 minutes. Don't rush the browning step. Add beef to the slow cooker.

Add 1 cup beef stock to the pan and simmer a few minutes until slightly reduced, scraping off all browned bits, then add that stock to the slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes and juice, tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, olives, garlic, rosemary, parsley, capers, and a little black pepper. Stir gently to combine, then put lid on Crockpot and cook 6-8 hours on low. Season to taste with salt and more fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

Source: Kalyn's Kitchen

Monday, December 10, 2012

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

I've been using Pinterest as my online recipe box these days. It's the first place I go when menu planning and where I catalog recipes I come across online while perusing blogs or cooking sites. Matter of fact, I've gotten in the habit of Googling recipes from magazines and pinning the recipe so I can toss the magazine. I'm trying really had to cut down on "stuff" in our new house. So far, this has worked great since almost all print magazines also catalog their recipes on their website!

This recipe was one I pinned a long time ago. Pinterest says I pinned it a year ago, actually. For whatever reason, I kept passing over it when menu planning. I think I was scared it would be OMGSPICY since it was cajun inspired. And if I took down the spices a notch, it would be flavorless.

Well needless to say, I was totally and completely wrong. I used all the spice except for the cayenne and while it had some heat, it was good heat. Not burn your face off heat. This recipe is a knock-off of the popular Cheesecake Factory dish of the same name except that Annie lightened it up some by not frying the chicken. It's still not light, don't get me wrong, but it's sooooooooo gooooooooood it's worth the splurge. So good that we'll probably have it again soon - which is a rarity in this house. It also cooks up fast and doesn't use a ton of dishes!

{Notice something missing in the picture? I left out the peppers, as we don't/can't eat them but I'm still including it in the recipe - veggies are always good!}


Louisiana Chicken Pasta
For the chicken:
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning

For the pasta:
8 oz. bowtie pasta
Kosher salt

For the sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
3 scallions, chopped

To cook the chicken, heat a small amount of butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkle of Cajun seasoning. Add to the skillet and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and heat the butter and olive oil until the butter has melted. Add the bell peppers and onion to the pan. Mix in the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the half-and-half and heavy cream to the pan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and add to the skillet once the cream mixture has started to bubble. Allow to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

When the sauce has thickened, add the cooked pasta and chicken pieces to the pan. Stir well to combine and cook at medium-low heat just until the chicken is warmed through. Adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning if necessary to suit your tastes. Stir in the scallions. Serve immediately and top with additional Cajun seasoning, if desired.
 
Source: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Maple Glaze

When I menu plan, I try to include a variety of protein sources. I think it's really easy to get stuck in the "boneless/skinless chicken breasts" routine, which gets old. Pork is a great alternative to chicken. Like chicken, pork can take on a variety of flavors really well and cooks fast. Plus, it's relatively low calorie if you trim it down well. We don't eat nearly enough pork in our house - despite my deep, deep love for bacon - which I'm trying to change. While in search for easy pork recipes that didn't require an entire tenderloin, I came across this one!

This particular recipe cooks up fast and uses items that you probably already have on hand. It's delicious and easy to pair with a variety of side dishes and veggies - definitely a great weeknight meal!


Pork Chops with Balsamic-Maple Glaze
4 pork chops (I always use boneless)
4 tsp. herbs de Provence
salt and pepper
4 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Pat the pork chops dry and then rub each chop with 1 tsp. of herbs de Provence. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the pork chops and cook until a little underdone (about 2-3 minutes per side, will vary depending on thickness, etc.). Remove pork chops from the pan.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the balsamic vinegar. Deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits, and reduce the vinegar by about half. Stir in the maple syrup. Add the pork chops back into the skillet and continue cooking until done, about a minute per side. Most of the glaze should be soaked up by the chops. Drizzle the chops with any additional glaze.

Source: Elly Says Opa

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ginger Burst Cookies



Church members are usually incredibly generous when it comes to caring for their ministerial staff - especially at Christmas. Last year, one of the gifts I received was a box of these cookies. The recipe had been created and submitted to the local paper in a holiday cookie contest and a local grocery store chain made and sold the winning entry.

I usually receive quite a few baked goods but few disappear as quickly as these. Jason and I fought over the last cookie and I vowed to track down the recipe and make them this year.

Thankfully, they were just as good as I remembered! They are buttery, a bit chewy, and have such great flavor. A delicious twist on the traditional gingersnap. If you want to bake up something unique this Christmas, these are your go-to cookies.

Psst - don't leave out the crystallized ginger, it really takes the cookies over the top. I found it in the bulk section of the grocery store but have also seen them already bagged.



Ginger Burst Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
3/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine sugars, unsalted butter (softened), egg, and molasses. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, spices, crystallized ginger and salt. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

Shape dough into 1 inch (or smaller) balls; roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes.

Source: Winning entry of Fort Worth Star Telegram 2011 "Very Merry Cookie Challenge"
Recipe found at Central Market

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Skillet Chicken Tikka Masala

Man alive, I love Indian food! I think anyone who doesn't like it probably hasn't tried tikka masala. Tikka masala is simply a dish of chicken in a creamy spiced tomato sauce. The flavor is amazing - between the indian flavors and the heavy cream, how can it not be? It's evidently especially popular in Britain, though I wouldn't know since I've yet to visit there :)

I've made two other recipes for tikka masala, including my favorite, but as you can see, that ingredient list is quite long and the sauce is complex. This recipe gives you a great flavor without a long list of ingredients or time consuming steps. It was delicious, easy, and a great way to get that Indian flavor I love in a hurry.

Serve over rice with some store bought naan and you've got a tasty weeknight meal!


Skillet Chicken Tikka Masala
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garam marsala
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse just until partially broken down.

Pat the chicken dry then season with salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garam marsala, garlic and ginger and cook just until fragrant, only about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened slightly.

Stir in the cream and return the browned chicken pieces (and any accumulated juices) to the pan. Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened (it'll only take a few minutes), then stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.

Source: Tracey's Culinary Adventures


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