May 31, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken

Several weeks ago I came across this recipe for jalapeno popper stuffed chicken, and I thought " that sounds good!"  I knew it was going to the top of the pile of recipes I've been wanting to try.  I love chicken, but let's face it - it can get boring, to cook and to eat.  

Since both my husband and I love jalapeno poppers, I figured he might enjoy this dish as well.  So last week I set out to make it.  After I threw it together and put it in the oven, my left hand started to hurt.  It felt like I had paper-cuts all over my hand but I couldn't find any.  Not long after my other hand started to hurt....then it hit me - they were burning from handling the jalapeno peppers!  Haha, mystery solved.  Unfortunately they burned for a few hours, but once I figured out why I was able to ignore it. 

The burning hands were a small price to pay for this wonderful dish!  My son, who has never tried a jalapeno popper, LOVED this recipe.  So did my husband and I.  It's full of flavor, and it was just so nice to try something different and to discover a new dish that we all enjoyed.  My husband, whose favorite chicken dish is Chicken Cordon Bleu, said he liked this better!  I was shocked by this declaration.  This dish is now added to our "favorites" pile and will become part of the "chicken rotation".  You gotta try this one.... 

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken adapted from

2 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
3 jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds for milder)
3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
4 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar jack
2 tbsp chopped scallions
8 thin sliced skinless chicken breast cutlets
1/2 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh pepper
olive oil non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 450° & spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray. Washand dry chicken cutlets, season with salt and pepper.  Combine cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, jalapeño and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.
Lay chicken cutlets on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of cream cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out.  Place breadcrumbs in a bowl; in a second bowl combine olive oil with salt and pepper.

Dip chicken in oil, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spray the top of the chicken with oil spray. 
Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Serves 4 (2 per person).

May 30, 2012

Horseradish & Dill Dipping Sauce

My oldest stepson, Chad, used to work at The Outback Steakhouse years ago.  One day we had Chad and his wife over for dinner, and my husband was cooking a beef roast on the rotisserie.  Chad asked if I had a dipping sauce for the beef, and of course I did not.  He suggested that we whip up a sauce like the one for the beef at The Outback, so he got on the internet and found a "copycat" recipe for it.  Since I like horseradish and dill, I figured I'd give it a try.

We put the sauce together, tasted it, then altered it to suit our preferences.  This sauce is down-right delicious, and perfect on beef!  Either as a dipping sauce for a roast, or on a roast beef sandwich, or (as I soon discovered) it is also fabulous on potatoes.  I bet you could find several uses for this's that good!  Thanks Chad, this one is a keeper.

Horseradish Dipping Sauce

2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
5-7 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried dill (or 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped)

Stir all ingredients together and let set a couple of hours before using.  Excellent on beef!

May 29, 2012

Banana Breakfast Squares

Even though I aspire to make everything from scratch, there are times when I either just don't have time OR (as in the case with this recipe) it's just so good the way it is, so why mess with it??

Back in 2009 I bought one of those magazines that was filled with Blue Ribbon recipe winners.  This recipe was in there, and I loved it from the moment I saw the picture!  Thankfully it is as good as it looks, and I have been making it ever since.  Banana pancakes are my favorite pancakes, so I just knew I would love this as well.  Both my husband and son (who are not fans of banana pancakes) both really enjoy this breakfast dish. 

This dish is perfect for when you have company.  It's quick and easy, so you can spend more time with your guests.  Really, it's perfect for anytime....

Banana Breakfast Squares adapted from Debbie Bracker's recipe

1, 17 oz can Pillsbury cinnamon rolls 
1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 medium)
3 eggs
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 butter, softened
1/2 cup walnuts
maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine eggs, banana and sugar until well blended.

Cut each cinnamon roll into 8 equal pie-shaped wedges.  Add the cinnamon rolls to the egg mixture and stir gently to combine.  Spoon mixture into the baking dish.  In a separate bowl, mix flour and brown sugar together.  With a fork cut in the butter until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Stir in walnuts, and sprinkle mixture over banana dough mixture.  

Bake 35-40 minutes or until center is puffed and set, and edges are golden brown.  To serve, cut into squares & drizzle with maple syrup.

May 27, 2012

Parmesan & Dill Encrusted Haddock

I have to admit that there are not many fish lovers in our house.  I seem to be the only one who loves fish, but they'll eat it if I make it for dinner.  Needless to say I do not make it very often.  However, when my husband is traveling I tend to take advantage of that time and I usually cook up some fish.  

This recipe can be used with any white fish, so whatever kind you prefer will go wonderfully with the Parmesan dill coating.

Parmesan & Dill Encrusted Haddock

4 Haddock fillets
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
4 tbsp chopped fresh dill (more if you like)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 lemon, quartered

Preheat oven to 375, and spray a large baking dish with cooking spray (the size of your baking dish will depend on the size of your fish).  Pour milk into a large container, and place the haddock into the milk and turn to coat.  Add the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and dill to a large plate and mix it all together.  Take the each piece of haddock and dredge it in the Parmesan mixture and turn to evenly coat each side, pressing firmly.  

Place each haddock fillet in the baking dish.  Take a quarter of the lemon and squeeze the juice over the top of each fillet - a quarter of the lemon per each fillet.  Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave and sprinkle it evenly on top of each fillet.  Place baking dish in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  

May 25, 2012

Macaroni Salad

Ah, macaroni salad.  It's such a staple for cookouts, and in the summer everyone is making their own version of it.  Usually with waaaaay to much mayonnaise for my liking, but I won't get into how I don't like mayonnaise....again.  

I, of course, never ate macaroni salad when I was younger (yes, because of the mayo in it) but when I worked in the kitchen at my son's school there were several things I had to make that I didn't like.  Macaroni salad was one of them, so my co-worker Patty gave me a run down of how she made it at home for her family.  It sounded interesting, and more appealing to me than other versions I'd seen over the years.  Probably because she put tuna fish and peas in hers, and even though I don't like mayo, tuna is something I do like (even with mayonnaise in it).  I made it the way she instructed and I was shocked at how good it was.  I actually liked it!!!!

I brought a little of the left overs home for my husband to try, and he agreed it was delicious.  We were both excited - him because he knew it meant he would be eating it again in the future, and me because I discovered a macaroni salad that I enjoyed!  Since then, I have made this salad more times than I could ever count.  Even some picky eaters in our family like it!  Thank you Patty

Macaroni Salad

14.5 oz box elbow noodles (cooked, drained and cooled to room temp)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed (not cooked)
2 cans tuna (drained and crumbled up)
1 1/4-1/2 cup mayonnaise (start small and add more to suite your preference)
1 tsp salt
1/2 pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Once the noodles are cooled to room temp, add them to a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients, and stir until completely combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.  When ready to serve, give it a stir.  If it seems a little dry add 1/4 cup more of mayonnaise, or as much as desire.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed - it may need more salt and pepper, depending on your preferences.  Serves 10-12.

May 23, 2012

Sweet & Salty Cookies

As far back as I can remember I have always liked sweet and salty food combinations.  When I was very little I remember that my favorite thing to order at Wendy's was french fries and their chocolate frosty.  I always dipped my fries in the frosty because, even then, I loved the sweet and salty flavors.  I never would have eaten a frosty without the fries to dip in it (especially because I'm not much of a fan of chocolate), and I never would have ordered fries without the frosty!  Fast forward to now, and that is still my favorite thing to get at Wendy's!  Chocolate covered, let's just say that item would be on the top 10 list of my favorite things to eat.  

Recently we were going to have some family over for a cookout, and so early in the day I prepared a dessert.  It was something I had never made before, and without getting into details, it ended up being a kitchen disaster!  So, I had to come up with something else fast.  I had always wanted to try chocolate chip cookies with pretzels and potato chips in them, and I knew I had all the ingredients on hand so I quickly decided to go with that.   

Personally, I really like these cookies.  Now that I've created this recipe, I am already thinking of other ways to alter maybe using mini Reese's peanut butter cups (those really tiny ones I've seen at the grocery store lately)I bet those would go well with the potato chips and pretzels.  Mmmm.....

Sweet & Salty Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like to use Hershey chocolate chips)
1 cup crushed potato chips
1 cup pretzels, broken into little bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In separate bowl combine the flour and baking soda and set aside.

In another large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips, potato chips and pretzels. I usually measure out about a ¼ cup of dough for each cookie and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

May 22, 2012

Taco Casserole

So the other night I couldn't sleep, and was wide awake at 2am.  I got up to get a drink, then returned to bed and tossed and turned until I finally got comfortable.  As I was laying there trying to fall asleep I started to hear this faint rustling noise coming from the corner near my nightstand.  I tried to ignore it, telling myself that it was my imagination....but it continued.  I have a stack of papers and magazines in that corner, so of course my imagination started running!  I won't go through the list of things I imagined, but the bottom line is something was there moving around and I need to know what it was!  Mind you, this need to know what it was has nothing to do with me figuring it way, that has to be a job for my husband.  There is NO WAY I am going near that corner and pulling stuff out!  I am officially boycotting that corner.  The only problem is that it's very close to my side of the bed, and every night since then it's all I can think about as I lay there trying to go to sleep!

Sorry, I'll move on to food now and hopefully I will forget about the corner for a while!  Taco casserole - another favorite of ours.  I, of course, love one dish meals.  Nothing better on a weeknight.  I like tacos, I guess, but I do prefer a taco salad to regular tacos.  I don't know why, it's just something about those shells.  For some reason I don't like the shells!  I think that's why this dish appeals to me so much - I get all the taco fixings without having to put it into a shell.  

I have a tendency to add vegetables to casseroles because, to me, it's just not a one dish meal without it!  So, even though most people don't put corn in their tacos, I just had to add it. This dish is pretty versatile.  You can change it up to include your personal favorite taco toppings....really, you can get pretty creative here.  The possibilities are endless!

Taco Casserole

1 lb ground beef
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cumin
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained 
1, 14.75 oz can of corn, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa  
3 cups Doritos, crushed (I like to use their taco or enchilada chips)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a 11 x 7 pan with cooking spray.  In a large skillet, cook beef until no longer pink and drain off any excess fat.  Add the chili powder & cumin and stir until well combined.  Add 1 cup of salsa and the beans, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  

Spread crushed chips into bottom of baking dish.  Layer the beef on top of the chips, then sprinkle the corn over the beef.  Spread the sour cream over the corn.  Add the remaining salsa on top of the sour cream and then sprinkle on the scallions.  Top with the cheddar cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.   

May 20, 2012

Spinach & Sausage Lasagna

I don't know what it is about lasagna, but to me it's the perfect comfort food.  Whether it's just a cold and snowy Vermont winter night, or I'm feeling a little down, or I'm just feeling like I wanna be over indulgent....lasagna always fits the bill.  

One of the things I love about lasagna is that you can add so many different things to it to make it different.  I love adding veggies to it, not necessarily to make it a "veggie lasagna", but just to give it another dimension and to make it a more well rounded one dish meal.  The possibilities are endless - carrots, zucchini, squash, etc.  Just saute it up with onion and garlic and layer it on top of your cheese layers....YUM!

This recipe is one that all three of us equally enjoy....even my 13 year old son.  It's really that good!  Today I used no boil noodles for the first time.  I always wanted to try them to see if it really works and to see how the end result would turn out.  I was delighted to discover that I actually like these no boil noodles better!  They are thinner which I liked very didn't feel so "heavy" for lack of a better description.  My husband agreed 100% - I think we are officially converted and will never go back to those other kind of noodles!

Spinach & Sausage Lasagna

9 oz package of no boil lasagna noodles
5-6 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
1/2 cup sauted sliced mushrooms 
1 lb hot sausage (or sweet Italian), crumbled and cooked through
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 Parmesan cheese, + some to sprinkle on top
2 packages sliced mozzarella cheese
1, 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375, and spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Warm your sauce at medium heat, until hot.  Add the sauted mushrooms and cooked sausage and let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.  In a large bowl add the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, spinach, Italian seasoning and nutmeg and stir until well combined.

Spoon about 1 cup+ of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish (we like our lasagna extra saucy, so I might use a little more than a cup here, measurements here can be adjusted to your own preferences). Layer the no boil noodles over the sauce, leaving about a 1/2 inch space on all sides to allow for the noodles to expand while cooking.  Layer on top of the noodles 1/2 of the cheese mixture and spread even to the sides of the dish, and top with the sliced mozzarella.  Add another layer of noodles in the opposite direction of your first layer, then top with another 1 cup+ of sauce.  Gently spread remaining cheese mixture over sauce, then add another layer of sliced mozzarella.  Add the last layer of no boil noodles (again alternating the direction of the noodles), and spoon 1 cup+ of the remaining sauce over the noodles.  

Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes in preheated oven.  Remove the foil and continue baking until hot and bubbly, about another 15-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cover with foil, and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

May 18, 2012

Edamame Salad

As I've said before, I try to eat healthy. Most days I have salad for lunch, and normally I don't get bored of it.  However, once in a while I do have an urge to eat something different. This salad is a nice change from my regular salad routine. 

Edamame is very healthy for you, and when you combine it with all these other ingredients it can actually be quite delicious. I love this recipe because it's quick to put together and it supplies me with a healthy lunch for most of the week. Give it a just might be pleasantly surprised!

Edamame Salad

10 oz shelled edamame
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced chicken
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl, and stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour so all the flavors have time to meld together.

May 17, 2012

THE Best Coconut Cream Pie

Even though I try to eat healthy and watch my weight, I pretty much make some kind of dessert every weekend.  Why should my 13 yr old son and husband suffer just because I don't want to be tempted, right?? 

While cookies tend to be my favorite treat, this pie is my favorite as far as "cream pie" goes.  After many attempts at making the perfect coconut cream pie, I believe I have achieved greatness with this one!  To me it is perfect in all things - flavor, texture, thickness, etc.

I also think coconut and chocolate go well together, so I think in the future I will attempt this pie with a chocolate cookie crust.....mmmm, doesn't that sound good?  I will have to experiment with that idea soon!  Needless to say, the pie you see here didn't last more than two days and we all fought over the last piece

Coconut Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups of half & half
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups coconut, toasted
1 tsp vanilla
1, 9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed 

Toast coconut:  spread coconut onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 5-7 minutes until golden brown.  Stir occasionally and watch closely to make it doesn't burn. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the half & half, coconut milk, sugar, corn starch, salt and eggs.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the toasted coconut and the vanilla. Pour into the cooled pie shell and place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, or until firm. 

Top chilled pie with the whipped topping and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup toasted coconut.  Note:  I use Cool Whip because I find that when I use homemade whipped cream it just doesn't hold up well - after a little time the homemade whipped cream tends to deflate.

May 16, 2012

Zucchini Bread

I have to admit, this recipe is not one of my son's favorites...I really don't understand why though, because to me this bread is delicious!  He's not a fan of zucchini period, so maybe he is just hung up on the fact that this bread has zucchini in it.  He'll eat it though, but only if I don't give him a choice.  But, please don't let this confession deter you from trying this recipe - it does not taste like zucchini, I PROMISE!

I actually came across this recipe in a church cookbook that I purchased in Framingham, MA while I was at a yard sale the church was having.  This recipe for zucchini bread is really soooo good - it is the only one I will ever use.  I can't see any reason to try a different recipe because this one is so moist and delicious....why mess with perfection?

If you have a garden and an over abundance of zucchini and are looking for ways to use it up - give this recipe a try.  Everyone will love it .... just give it a different name so little ones won't think it's yucky and refuse to try it! 

Perfectly Moist Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 cups sugar 
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups packed shredded zucchini, unpeeled
8 1/4oz crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray two 9x5 loaf pans with cooking spray. In a large bowl beat eggs until frothy. Beat in sugar, oil and vanilla and beat until mixture is thick and foamy. Stir in zucchini and pineapple.

In another bowl combine and whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing them from pans and placing onto wire rack to cool completely.

May 14, 2012

Cranberry Walnut Rolls

I wish I knew where I got this recipe so I could give credit where credit is due, but sadly I have no idea.  I used to find and print recipes without any info on where they came from.  However, with the blog I feel it's important to know where the recipes came from, so now I always make sure to jot it down somewhere.

Anyway, I came across this recipe and thought it sounded interesting.  I wasn't sure if they would turn out like a dinner roll or more like a sweet roll to have with brunch or breakfast or something like that.  But to my surprise they turned out to be more like a dinner roll, and actually go quite nicely with almost any meal.  I am excited to make them to go with a holiday meal sometime in the near future.  I think Thanksgiving would be perfect for these rolls.  This recipe is a keeper for sure!

Cranberry Walnut Rolls, Yields 12 rolls

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp quick-rising yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil, + extra to coat a large bowl
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Place walnuts in a dry skillet, and toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the flour, brown sugar, yeast and salt in bowl of electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until it reaches about 95 degrees.  Add the oil and remove from heat.  Add the milk mixture and the egg to the flour mixture, and mix on low until a wet ball forms (about 1 minute).  Add the cranberries and the walnuts, and replace the paddle attachment with a dough hook.  Mix dough on medium-low until it's smooth and elastic, adding more flour by the tablespoon as needed, for about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a floured surface and knead the dough for about 2 minutes. 

Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Transfer dough to a slightly floured surface and divide dough into 12 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth round ball, and place on baking sheet.  Spray a little cooking spray on the top of each roll, and cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.  Preheat oven to 425.

Place rolls in preheated oven and reduce the heat to 400, and bake for about 7 minutes.  Rotate baking sheet and continue to bake until golden brown, about 8 more minutes.  

May 11, 2012

Kielbasa with Maple Syrup

Please excuse these pictures - I had a hard time getting creative when trying to photograph this yummy appetizer!  I really wanted to capture how beautiful it looked in the serving dish, but it just wasn't translating properly.  I guess the creative juices were just not flowing on the day I took the shots because now I can think of several different/more creative ways to showcase this dish.  Oh well, I guess there will be days like that!

Anyway, this appetizer is my husband's invention....I think.  Well, in any case, he was the one who introduced it to me years ago while we were preparing appetizers for a holiday get together.  At first I thought it sounded a little odd, but then I tried it.  It was sooo good!  Who would have thought that kielbasa and maple syrup would blend so nicely together?  A very pleasant surprise indeed.  If you decide to make this, make sure to use real maple makes a big difference.  Obviously Vermont maple syrup is ideal, but if you don't have it than any other pure maple syrup will do.

 Kielbasa with Maple Syrup

1 Package Kielbasa, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 real maple syrup (Vermont syrup is best of course)
1-2 tsp spicy or stone ground mustard (optional)

On stove top in large pan, heat a little olive oil to coat the pan.  Add the Kielbasa and cook stirring occasionally on medium heat until it starts to brown.  Add the syrup (and mustard if you want), stir and let it warm through for about 5 minutes.  Spoon into dish and serve with toothpicks.

May 10, 2012

Chocolate Cookies with White Chips

I have a confession.....I am not a lover of chocolate.  I think my sister, who can't go a day without it, must have gotten all the "chocolate genes".  Now, white chocolate on the other hand, mmm yummy.  I adore white chocolate, especially Lindt white's like heaven in my mouth!  I know there are some of you out there that will say "white chocolate isn't chocolate".  I don't even care, all I know is it makes me very happy. 

Many years ago I would make platters of cookies to give away at Christmas, so there was a time that I collected LOTS of interesting cookie recipes.  This recipe was one of them, however even though I made them to give away, I never actually ate one.  I did keep the recipe though, just in case.  

A couple of years ago we were going to have people over so I felt the need to make some kind of goodie for people to pick at, and I had a bag of white chocolate chips needing to be used up.  Since I know other people like chocolate I decided to make these cookies.  Imagine my surprise when I tried one and I actually liked it!  I'm sure it is the white chocolate chips that make these cookies so delicious   But you decide.....

Chocolate Cookies with White Chips

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 & 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350, and spray two cookies sheets with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until well blended.  Beat in the eggs & vanilla.  In a separate bowl add the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and stir with a wire whisk to combine.  Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then fold in the white chocolate chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

May 8, 2012

Chicken Chili

Years ago I saw Ina Garten make this dish on the Food Network.  I thought it was such a great idea to make a chicken chili.  Everyone loves chili, and using chicken instead of beef is the perfect way to make it a little healthier - GENIUS!  So I set out to make it right away.  

I LOVE this chili.  I like it better than beef chili.  In fact, this dish is one of my all time favorite meals.  I have adapted it to my personal preferences - Ina's version has only a little chili powder and cumin, and no beans.  Chili just isn't chili without beans, and I felt it needed more chili powder and cumin to give it more of a chili flavor.  

This is a hearty and healthy chili, perfect on a cold Vermont night!

Chicken Chili  

2 large onions, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 yellow pepper, cut up into chunks
1 orange pepper, cut up into chunks
1 red pepper, cut up into chunks
2 tbsp+ chili powder
2 tsp+ cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
2 (28 oz) cans pureed tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
4 chicken breasts
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (can use kidney beans instead)
Shredded Cheddar cheese for topping

Coat the chicken with garlic pepper salt.  Cook in pan on stove-top, or roast in oven until cooked thru. Let cool enough so that you can pull it apart/shred it (you can cut into cubes if you like instead) and set aside.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato puree and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes stirring every now and then. Add chicken and beans, and simmer for at least a half an hour.  Top with you favorite chili toppings.  Serves 6-8.

May 5, 2012

Pulled Pork

Mmmmm, pulled pork - YUM!  I don't know why, but I only seem to make it in the summer....I am going to have to put an end to that.  I have so many different recipes for pulled pork that I have collected over the years, so I think it's about time I actually make them.  

I have been using the same recipe I got from a former co-worker, who used to enter pulled pork contests, for about 10 years now .  While it is a very good recipe, mine never did turn out quite like hers.  Now that it's getting warmer I decided to pull out another pulled pork recipe that I've been meaning to try.  It caught my attention because it uses Dr. Pepper, and I was curious to see what effect cooking the pork in Dr. Pepper would have on the overall taste.  Turns out the Dr. Pepper didn't seem to have any impact on the taste of the pork, instead it seemed that the purpose of it was to tenderize the meat.  The end result - the best batch of pulled pork I've made yet!  I look forward to trying other recipes in the future to see how it will compare to this recipe.....because as of right now, this is my new favorite pulled pork recipe! 

 Pulled Pork

4-5 pound Boston butt
1 onion – sliced
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups Dr. Pepper

Combine the cayenne pepper, dry mustard and brown sugar together in a small bowl and stir to combine.  Rub spice mix all over the pork and refrigerate overnight. 

Place sliced onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the pork on top, fat side down. Pour apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and Dr. Pepper over top. Cover and cook 2 hours on high and then 6 hours on low, or until meat is tender and pulls apart using two forks. Check meat every so often and turn about half way through.

Remove pork from slow cooker and place into a large bowl.  Using 2 forks pull pork apart. Discard any bones and excess fat. Once pork is completely pulled, add your desired amount of BBQ sauce of your choice and mix to combine – I added a little of the cooking liquid to keep it moist and just a touch of BBQ sauce. When we were ready to eat we added more BBQ sauce on top on the pork.

May 3, 2012

Rhubarb Crisp

I got this recipe from the kitchen at the school I used to work at.  One year a local farm gave us tons of rhubarb, so we used it to make this rhubarb crisp.  I was skeptical about how it would turn out, and was very surprised to discover that it didn't turn out at all how I thought it would.  The texture is almost like a custard....that's the only way I can think of to describe it.  The kids at school loved it, I loved it, so I decided to try it at home for my family.

The first time I made it my step-daughter informed me that she had never eaten rhubarb before, and so she was very cautious about trying it.  Curiosity got the better of her, and in the end she liked it so much she ate about half the pan by herself! 

If you have an over-abundance of rhubarb, and are looking for something different, give this recipe a try!

Rhubarb Crisp

1 cup all purpose flour
Dash of salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten slightly
3 cups diced rhubarb (about 3 large stalks)
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 350.  Mix ¼ cup flour, salt, sugar and eggs together in a medium sized bowl.  Add the diced rhubarb and pour into baking dish. 

Combine the brown sugar, ¾ cup flour and the butter in bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture and bake for about 45 minutes. Serves 5-6.

May 2, 2012

Wanda's Coleslaw

If you read my post on potato salad you already know that I have a strong aversion to mayonnaise.  I am not sure why exactly, but one thing that always comes to mind is a particular incident with my best friend Dee when we were in high school.  She read in some magazine that it was good for your hair to put mayonnaise in it (kind of like an oil treatment).  I don't know if she put too much, or if she let it set for too long, but it took her a looooonnnggg time to get it all out!!  I remember her hair smelling like mayo for at least a week, if not longer!  It was disgusting.....I think it left scars in my mind on the thought of ever eating mayonnaise.  

It really wasn't until about 8 years ago that I would even consider making anything with mayonnaise in it.  And it is only in the last few years that I have succumbed to taking bites of my husbands sandwiches despite the amount of mayo on it.  Anyway, my husband likes coleslaw and asked me to make some.  Since he knows of my dislike for mayonnaise, he managed to get his mother's recipe for me to use.  He claimed I would like it and that it uses little mayonnaise.  

His mother, Wanda, was a wonderful cook and made everything from scratch (according to my husband).  I never had the opportunity to try any of her cooking because by the time I entered the family, and after raising 13 kids, she is no longer able to get around very well and so cooking has become a thing of the past for her.  I have heard several people rave about her cooking over the years, so I was excited to have and try her coleslaw recipe.

Needless to say, in my eyes, it is the perfect coleslaw.  Very light on the mayo, and overall it is a refreshing change from other coleslaws I've seen and tried in the past.  Her recipe did not include raisins or pineapple (and I'm not sure whose idea it was to add it), but we have come to prefer it with the fruit in it.  I hope you will give it a try and enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Wands's Coleslaw

2 cups shredded cabbage (or packaged coleslaw mix)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 tbspn fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt & pepper
1/2 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup shredded pineapple, or a little of both)

Add the cabbage to a large bowl and set aside.   Place the rest of the ingredients (except the raisins) into a smaller bowl and whisk until well blended.  Pour over the cabbage and toss to combine.  Add the raisins and stir them in.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.  It may seem like there is not enough dressing at first, but after it sets for a while you will find that there is plenty.