Friday, August 30, 2013

Ooey Gooey Peanut Bars



If you're on the hunt for a sinful addition to your Labor Day spread (or just to indulge in today!), check out these bars!

The bottom crust is flour, sugar, and butter, then you top it with lots more brown sugar, peanuts, coconut, and I threw in a handful of chocolate chips for good measure. Just a handful of basic ingredients transform into this gooey crumbly bar of goodness. They're rich so be sure and share with a crowd!

This recipe is not from a big blogger, magazine, or famous chef. It's a family recipe - a grandmother, to be exact. Handwritten on a little piece of paper and found by her granddaughter, who blogs at Southern Sweets and Eats. Aren't those the best?

This recipe had no name attributed to it - Amy came up with Gooey Crunchy Goodness Bars and challenged others to name it as well. Whip up a batch and see what you'd call them! 



Ooey Gooey Peanut Bars
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, separated
1 1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together the butter, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and flour until the mixture comes together to form little pebbles of dough. Press the dough into an even layer on the bottom of an 8" square baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups brown sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the coconut, chopped peanuts, and chocolate chips (if using). Spread the mixture evenly over the crust.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before slicing into bars. (Be sure and cool completely or you'll have a ooey gooey mess!)

Source: Southern Sweets and Eats

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crispy (Baked) Shrimp Taquitos



There is a (faux) Mexican food buffet chain back home in Texas that we ate at a lot growing up. Especially when the buffet price was cheap and we were growing teenagers. One of my favorite things on that buffet were the taquitos. Don't ask me what kind of meat was inside - I probably don't want to know - but they were deep fried goodness. Just thinking of that restaurant brings back childhood memories of Sunday afternoon lunches after church!

I probably wouldn't ever choose to eat there again but I'd order a taquito any day of the week! Taquitos are simply corn tortillas, stuffed with goodness, then rolled and fried.

Frying is my favorite way to cook them but I decided to save the calories {and the mess!} and bake them. They are still crispy and MUCH better for you (and less greasy).

I've made creamy chicken taquitos before but this time I stuffed them with this delicious tomato and shrimp mixture that's easily whipped up on the stove in just a few minutes.

These were tasty dipped into sour cream and salsa - queso would also be awesome!


Crispy {Baked} Shrimp Taquitos
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful cilantro, chopped
12-15 corn tortillas
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray and set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapenos, and cumin. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. 

Remove from heat, season with salt, and mix in the cilantro.

Wrap a slightly damp paper towel around 2-3 tortillas and microwave for 20-30 seconds. Working quickly, add 3 tablespoons of shrimp mixture to each tortilla, roll tightly, and place seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Once they are all rolled, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt. 

Bake 15-20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Serve with queso, sour cream, or salsa. 

Source: adapted from Closet Cooking

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Honey-Ginger Pork Tenderloin



It's pretty common for food bloggers to never repeat meals. In all honesty, we weren't repeating meals well before I even started blogging. Why? Because there are so many great looking meals out there to try and so little time to do it! I didn't want to eat the same thing all the time if I could try new things instead.

That probably says as much about my personalty as it does my appetite. I'm the one who takes a different route to/from work as often as possible just to change things up. And let's not talk about how many times I've repainted and redecorated my house...

However, there are some recipes that really are worthy of a repeat. You know, those recipes that become the benchmark for all others. Anytime we have pork, I compare it to this recipe. And it never ever lives up to the standard.

This recipe is so ridiculously simple yet it yields a fantastic and deliciously flavored tenderloin. One that doesn't just have flavor on the outside edge but all the way through.

Toss together the marinade and pork before you leave for work, let it marinate all day, and throw it on the grill with some veggies when you get home. Lean, easy, and tasty!

{I originally blogged this recipe over 2 years ago - it deserved another look and a better photo!}


Honey-Ginger Pork Tenderloin
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
two ¾-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the pork. Add the pork and the marinade to a gallon-size zipper-top bag and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. (You should be able to hold your hands 5 inches above the grate for 3 to 4 seconds.) Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade.

Grill the pork, basting with the reserved marinade, for 12 minutes, turning a quarter turn every 3 minutes. Discard marinade. Continue to cook pork, turning every minute or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin measures 145 degrees or the meat is slightly pink at the center. Let the pork rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Falafel Crusted Chicken with Hummus Slaw


You know what's awesome? Hummus. And pitas. And falafel! 

You know how to make those even awesomer? 

{is awesomer a word?}

Put all three into a single recipe.

Instead of breading your chicken strips in something like panko or breadcrumbs you use dry falafel mix. Genius, right? While it bakes, you whip up some hummus sauce - some is set aside for drizzling and some mixed into slaw. Stuff it all in a pita and you've got a healthy, easy, flavorful meal.

Oh yeah, you can do it in less than 30 minutes. Y'all know those are my favorite recipes!


Falafel Crusted Chicken with Hummus Slaw
Cooking spray
3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs), sliced into 1/4 inch thick strips
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup falafel mix
2 whole wheat pitas, halved
6 tablespoons hummus (I think roasted garlic is tastier than regular in this)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon harissa or other hot chile paste
4 cups shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Set a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss the chicken and olive oil together and then add the falafel mix. Toss to coat. Arrange the chicken on the rack and bake until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the chicken bakes, wrap the pita halves in foil and warm in the oven for 5 minutes.

Mix the hummus, lemon zest, lemon juice, harissa, and 3 tablespoons of water in a large bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of the sauce and set aside. To the large bowl, add the coleslaw mix and parsley. Toss to coat and season with salt.

Serve each pita with chicken, slaw, and a drizzle of the reserved hummus sauce. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cowboy Hash



I'm so honored to be a new contributor at The Best Blog Recipes! Today is my first time to share a recipe there and I chose one of our FAVORITE breakfast-for-dinner meals - Cowboy Hash. Loaded with potatoes, bacon, onions, mushrooms, and cheese and topped with an egg, it's on the table in about 30 minutes and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!


Hop over and check it out! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chicken Bacon Ranch Burgers



I'm back!!! We had a great week at camp and I'm mostly recovered... I think... And just in time for school to start back up!

Many kids are already back in the swing of things and many more are heading that way in the next few weeks. School here starts a week from tomorrow so I know the families in my life will soon be in the groove of stricter bedtimes, early mornings, and organizing breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners for those busy school nights.

I'm a fan of quick weeknight meals year-round but I know they are extra important when school is in session! This one is on your table in just 25 minutes.

{or less!}

And that's start to finish for a normal person, not just an Iron Chef.

Now, speed isn't the only thing going for this recipe - it's also darn tasty! They'll be back on the menu at our house soon.

Pretzel buns were the perfect match to the burger - if you're feeling adventurous, try making your own! My friend Jen at Juanita's Cocina made some gorgeous ones. Or, if you're like me and just need.a.burger.NOW, grab some at Trader Joe's. They're delish! 


Chicken Bacon Ranch Burgers
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
4 tbsp ranch dressing
4 slices cooked crispy bacon (see note below)
2 tbsp butter
4 buns (preferably pretzel)

Preheat your broiler to high.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the chicken, panko, bread crumbs, onion powder, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and BBQ sauce. Form into 4 patties.

Place a wire rack over a baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray, and place patties on rack.

Broil for 4-6 minutes a side, or until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

Remove patties from rack and set aside. Butter the insides of the buns, place on the rack, and broil for a few minutes or until golden brown.

Top each bun with a patty, strip of crispy bacon, and ranch dressing.

Note: bacon is amazing, but usually a messy extra step to make. I almost always bake my bacon - it turns out perfect, crispy, and less greasy. Plus it's completely hand's off! Lay your bacon slices on a wire rack and set it inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Place in the cold oven, turn the oven to 400, and set the timer for 17 minutes later. After 17 minutes, check and if they are not done to your liking, give it another 2-3 minutes. That's it!

Source: Adapted from Julie's Eats & Treats

Friday, August 9, 2013

Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls



When you start taking your food blog seriously (which I decided to do almost a year ago), one of the things "they" tell you is to post often and consistently. Preferably everyday.

It's supposed to help build your readership and, of course, earn you page views which = income. If you ran ads on your blog. I don't currently, but do understand people who rely on blog ad income to support their family so that would be especially important to them.

I've really tried to be consistent and post 3-4 recipes a week but I gotta be honest. Like most, I work full-time and during some seasons of the year, my work life is at a frantic pace and my hobbies - including this blog - get put off. Which is how it should be.

The summer is winding down but one of our big events of the summer actually happens right at the end - camp. In previous places, camp meant loading up the kids and some fun supplies and going. Someone else had spent their entire year working on our camp experience. This church, however, does their own camp - which is wonderfully rewarding but more work than you can imagine! Unless, of course, you've run your own weeklong sleepaway camp for kids that span from 8 to 18. And if you have - please email me so we can chat!

That, combined with my usual summer load, has me a little overwhelmed this week and will have me completely out of pocket next week. If I had thought ahead, I would have lined up guest posts but in my chaos I just couldn't think that far ahead. And I certainly can't spring a last minute guest post on a food blogging friend!

So, this is the last recipe I'll be sharing until next weekend. But it's a good one! A really, really good one, actually.

When you're trying to watch what you eat, just about anything Italiany is out of the question. Pasta! Cheese! Huge portions! Did I mention cheese?

Oh, how thankful I was to find this recipe - it tastes so much like Chicken Parmesan that you'll never know you're eating less than 300 calories for dinner. If you don't care much about calories, you could pull a Jason and boil some pasta to eat with it - he just added more marinara sauce to his bowl to cover all that pasta.

The chicken is flattened, stuffed with spinach and cheese, rolled and breaded in Parmesan. After baking, top it with marinara sauce, fresh sliced mozzarella, and basil. I mean, really. Who wouldn't love that?

It's super easy but gorgeous and impressive enough for guests! If I were coming to your house for dinner, I would want you to make this for me. Please?

Psst - this makes 8 portions so feel free to cut it in half! 


Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls
2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts 
1 cup whole wheat Italian bread crumbs, or sprinkle Italian spice blend into plain whole wheat breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided
5 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
olive oil
1/2 cup part-skin ricotta cheese
1/3 cup beaten egg whites
1 cup marinara sauce
fresh basil, thinly sliced

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and pound each piece until thin. 

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Drizzle in some olive oil and add the garlic and spinach. Cook 2-3 minutes or until just barely wilted. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the sauteed spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, and 2-3 tablespoons of the egg whites. 

Place the remaining egg whites in a shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons Parmesan in another shallow bowl.

Spray the bottom of a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and preheat the oven to 450. Place one piece of chicken on a working surface. Put a spoonful of the ricotta-spinach filling in the middle and roll the chicken up so that the edges meet. Dip the entire piece in egg whites and then roll in breadcrumbs. Place in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining 7 pieces, being careful to not crowd the pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through and browned on top. Cover the pieces with marinara sauce and slices of mozzarella. Bake for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melting. Sprinkle with fresh basil.

Serves 8. Each portion is 264 calories, 9g fat, 11g carbs, 33g protein.

Source: Pinch of Yum

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Apple Turnovers (Arby's Copycat)



I kid you not, every single time Jason tries to order an apple turnover at Arby's, they are out.

It's become a running joke.

Instead of just picking up a box of frozen ones at the store, I found a copycat recipe to try instead so he could get his apple turnover fix.

And y'all. They're amazing.

I wasn't even a fan of fruit turnovers until I tried these. To be honest, I would have been fine just eating the cinnamon apple filling with a spoon but the addition of puff pastry is always a good idea.


Apple Turnovers {Arby's Copycat}
For the turnovers:
1 package puff pastry sheets
4 large cooking apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water

Peel, core, and dice the apples. In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the apples, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cinnamon stirring frequently, until apples are tender. Refrigerate until cool.

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400.

Unfold the first sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll it into a 12 inch square and cut into four 6-inch squares. Repeat with the second sheet.

Place 1/4 cup apple mixture in the center of each square. Brush the edges with water and fold to form triangles, sealing the edges firmly. 

Place on baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack. 

To make the glaze, stir together the sugar and water. Using a spoon, drizzle over top of turnover, allowing to set before serving. 

Source: slightly adapted from CD Kitchen

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca


Sometimes simple meals are the best, am I right?

It seems that the trend with food blogs is to step up your game and churn out recipes that are more elaborate, crammed with strange ingredients, and bearing a title that's a million miles long. Sometimes I enjoy those meals... but they are typically anything but easy and weeknight friendly. And often, they aren't any tastier than a simple, fresh, tried and true recipe that's been around for generations.

This is one of those kinda meals.

Pasta Puttanesca is a simple Italian dish that's been around awhile. Gather a short list of ingredients, make a quick sauce, toss it with pasta, and it's on your table in 15 minutes.

Did she say 15 minutes?

Yup, I did - and it's true! Maybe make it 20 if you're a slow chopper :)

Some of my favorite foods are in pasta puttanesca - capers, arugula, olives... it's flavorful, salty, with some bite!

This is also a lighter version, thanks to the whole wheat pasta. Clocks in around 350 calories a serving. Yum!

I included shrimp, since Jason is not a fan of meatless meals, but you could easily leave them out!


Pasta Puttanesca
8 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti, vermicelli, or angel hair
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pitted chopped Spanish or Greek olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably "no salt added" 
1/2 lb raw peeled and deveined shrimp
3/4 cup chopped fresh arugula
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta, and cook according to directions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano, and crushed red pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and shrimp and simmer for 5 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked through. Stir in the arugula and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly. 

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing with the sauce to combine. Top with grated Parmesan. 

Source: slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blueberry BBQ Sauce



Yep, I'm back with yet another blueberry recipe. They are cheap, sweet, and I'm addicted. Now if you're like my husband and not a blueberry fan {the horror!!}, don't click away! He loved this sauce and didn't have a clue that blueberries were in it.

Really.

I promise.

This sauce is tangy, sweet, inexpensive, and a piece of cake to make! It'd be great on a variety of grilled meats ~ especially seafood. We brushed it on salmon as it grilled and it was SO good.

Have some blueberries hanging around? Drag out some basic pantry items and make a batch of BBQ sauce!


Blueberry BBQ Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just start to brown around the edges. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the blueberries, and cook until they begin to soften and burst, about 10 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to mash them, then add the ketchup, both vinegars, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. 

Whisk well to combine and break up the blueberries, and then increase the heat to medium. Stirring often, cook until it begins to bubble, then lower heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, another 10-20 minutes. The sauce will be thicker and clumpier than a traditional BBQ sauce. 

As you grill, simply brush on the prepared sauce. 



See Aimee Cook

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