Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve


I'll be slipping into pjs shortly.  Sushi is ready.  Sparkling red grape is chillin' in the fridge and pizza will be cooking on the stone soon.  Snacks and games and the new iCarly top the list of fun for the evening.   I know you're jealous.  Don't hate. 

Going out with a bang?  Need some last minute snackers and eats?
Try these out for a tasty New Year's Eve!

Cheesy Potato Dippers

1 package (24 oz) frozen potato wedges with skins
1/2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
Heat oven to 450°F. Bake potato wedges as directed on package.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, cook ground beef and onion over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in cheese, tomato sauce and chiles. Cook over low heat until cheese is melted and mixture is hot, stirring frequently.

Serve hot potato wedges with cheese dip.


Pepperoni Crescents
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (or my roll dough)
32 Pepperoni slices
4 cheese sticks (sliced in half to total 8)
Prepared marinara sauce

Slice each cheese stick in half. Unroll crescent rolls.

Place 4 slices of pepperoni on each crescent and then 1 cheese stick.

Roll up, starting with large end first, like a crescent, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve with marinara.

Cake Batter Dip

1 box of cake mix (any flavor) (Funfetti mix is really cute for a party)
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 cups cool whip
Animal crackers, graham crackers, Nilla Wafers or fresh fruit

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers.


Smores pockets
Crust

1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham cracker squares, finely crushed)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

1/2 cup marshmallow creme
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened (1 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 425°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.

Unroll pie crusts. With 3-inch round cutter, cut 10 rounds from each crust. In small shallow bowl, mix cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Brush both sides of pie crust rounds with butter; dip into crumb mixture to coat.

Place 10 coated pie crust rounds on cookie sheet. Stir together filling ingredients. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon filling in center of each of the 10 rounds. Place remaining pie crust rounds on top of the filling on each. Pinch edges to seal.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered in refrigerator.

Spinach and Bacon dip
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 lb. Velveeta cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 oz. Cream Cheese, cubed
1 can (10 oz.) Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
8 slices Bacon, cooked, crumbled

MICROWAVE ingredients in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 5 min. or until VELVEETA is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 3 min.

Great with Tortilla chips


Savory Parmesan Bites
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

HEAT oven to 350°F.
BEAT cream cheese and 3/4 cup Parmesan with mixer until well blended.
SEPARATE dough into 8 rectangles; seal seams. Spread with cream cheese mixture; top with peppers and parsley. Fold each rectangle lengthwise into thirds to enclose filling; cut into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet; top with remaining Parmesan.
BAKE 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown.

Calzones
1 loaf of French bread
1/2 pound sliced ham
1/2 pound sliced hard salami
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup jarred marinara sauce

Roll each loaf of dough into a rectangle about 8 inches by 12 inches.
Layer ham and salami down the center of each rolled loaf lengthwise.
Top meats with 1 cup shredded mozzarella for each roll.
Fold short ends of each loaf in about 1/2 inch and seal. Roll from the long sides and pinch well to seal the entire loaf. You should have 2 long rolls.
Bake, seam side down on a greased baking sheet in a 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cut each roll into 8 slices and serve with marinara for dipping.

(These could be done with cheese only if you like Ricotta and Garlic, mozzarella mixed together as the filling.)

Chicken Salad Curry Cups
1 can (12.5 oz) white chicken breast, drained
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1 tablespoon mild curry paste
24 frozen mini fillo shells (from two 2.1-oz packages)
24 fresh parsley leaves

In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except fillo shells and parsley.
2 Just before serving, spoon about 1 tablespoon chicken mixture into each fillo shell. Garnish with parsley.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ho ho ho....oh wait that was last week?

I hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful holiday and that you are ready to welcome 2012 with open arms!!
As for my family, we enjoyed a great Christmas with some good old fashioned family time!

We were fortunate to have our boys over on Christmas Eve and we enjoyed munchies and movies. Food on a stick is worth every second of time. And I have learned the secret to munchie making. Stick with easy traditional stuff. For example, pigs in a blanket. a package of dogs and a tube of crescents. Nothing to it and they were all eaten within minutes. However, the lovely buffalo chicken ring which took a few time to prepare and bake was semi-untouched. Seriously?

But whatever, the food was delicious and the presents were fun to open and who doesn't love to watch Elf on the eve of Christmas?

We ended our evening with our annual reading of "Twas the night before Christmas" and my little girl angels were tucked in bed by 9 pm. No lie. It was a Christmas miracle.The sunshine greeted us early on Christmas morning and the living room became a heaping trash pile within minutes. Santa clearly left his mark. And I must've been a very good girl because I got a Keurig (which I had politely begged for while sitting on Santa's lap at the mall, did you know security frowns on adults sitting on Santa's lap?). Oh Mr. Keurig how I love you!

Scott wasn't feeling well enough to make the trek over the river and through the woods to see the parents, so I prepared a nice Grinchy meal with a Roast Beast, Who Hash(brown casserole), and some other green extras! My lovely friend E joined us for dinner and we enjoyed the entire weekend (...pretty much until Tuesday) in our pajamas.

And now that we are on the tail end of the year and a bright new one is about to begin I get to reflect on all of the many blessings and wonderful (and sometimes NOT so wonderful) things we've endured and enjoyed!

I have a few resolutions for the New Year and a list of things I wish to accomplish. What about you?

Now back to that Buffalo Chicken Ring. I'm going to make this easy for you.

1 can of white meat chicken (drained really well, although you can cook your own chicken and shred it...canned is just super easy)
1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce (heat depends on your preference)
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
Ranch Dressing for dipping (optional)

In a small bowl mix together chicken and 1/2 cup of wing sauce set aside. We always have wing sauce leftover from Buffalo chicken soup, so it's a great way to use it up!

Open crescents and arrange on a pizza stone or you could use a pizza pan, in the shape of a sun with the smaller points pointing outward, overlapping the larger triange portion into a circle. (Like the recipe for the Pampered chef taco ring)

Spoon chicken mixture onto the large part of the crescents, then fold over the small point of the crescent toward the middle of the circle.

Bake at 350 degrees until the crescent is golden brown. Serve with Ranch dressing.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the season for Baking!

Don't you love the way your house smells when you've been baking? The scent of sugar and cinnamon and flour wafting through the air, the bowls and pans and rolls of parchment paper stacked to the ceiling, and the delicious end product....be it, cookies, cakes, or bread.

After I made my Santa Bread I popped a few loaves of my Honey Wheat Bread into the oven. This is one recipe that is in the cookbook and is so easy and delicious! Pair it with some fresh jam and butter and you've got yourself a real winner!! This is a great "gift" for neighbors and friends. Wrap it in some parchment and tie with ribbon and you've got yourself a great treat!



Honey Wheat Loaf

3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Bread

Okay, so i saw some "Santa Bread" on Taste of Home and really wanted to try my hand at creating my own version. Let me tell ya one thing. It's not as easy as it might seem, on the first go around.

Here's a fact you may or may not know. I can be extremely impatient when cooking or creating a new craft. Well, maybe not necessarily impatient, but I like instant gratification which sometimes results in me appearing impatient. Making this Santa Bread could be considered one of those times.

I decided to use the frozen bread dough, although if you have time and patience then use your favorite bread recipe.

Brigford frozen dough comes 3 loaves to a tray, so I thawed it and began to make Santa man. I used one loaf for the Santa.

Using one loaf, cut 1/3 of the bread off of the end. (This we will save for the beard, nose and hat ball.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to make a candy corn kind of shape. A rounded triangle.

(This will take you back to playdoh days....)
Using the reserved dough, pinch and roll 2 small balls to form the hat ball and the nose. Use a small amount of dough to form the Fold the top of the "triangle" over to one side, to form the hat. Using another small piece of dough, make the hat trim. The rest of the dough, roll out and using scissors, pizza cutter or knife, cut into strips within 1" of the top of the dough to form the beard.

Carefully fold the top of the "triangle" over to one side to form the hat. Trim with one piece of dough and add the ball for the hat and the nose.

Carefully position the beard on the bottom of the "face" curling or twisting as desired. (I also used a small piece of dough to form a mustache.)

Using one beaten egg yolk, brush over the beard. Add red food coloring to the beaten egg yolk and carefully brush the tinted red yolk over the hat, nose and cheeks. (Using the egg wash really makes him shiny and golden, just as bread should be.)

Bake according to the package directions for rolls, pizza dough, etc. My Santa baked at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. You can add raisins for the eyes....and since I couldn't find the little box of raisins right away, I used chocolate chips.

Next time I think I'll make the beard strips a little smaller so it will "fluff" a little differently and make his nose a little smaller so he doesn't look like a bearded Jimmy Durante. Just sayin'.

Merry Christmas!

"His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Honey Cajun Pork Tenderloin

Between wrapping presents and crafting gifts I have hardly had time to blog about our food happenings.

Each holiday season gets busier and busier. I have so many things I want to accomplish each day, but my checklist doesn't seem to get crossed off. Do you have those days too? Please tell me I'm not alone.

Oh well. Life happens.

The weekend was probably the most wonderful of all.



Just look at this adorable pillowcase dress and matching fabric flower headband I made for the sweetest little baby Londyn! Cute right??

Friday night was fantastic with a delicious dinner and wonderful time I got to spend with my girls. Saturday I spent time creating gifts and watching a plethora of Christmas movies and made a huge pot of chili. And sometime Sunday I received the gift of a stomach virus. Bleck!

I'm hoping it's all behind me now and I can move into the rest of this week with a positive attitude, because there is still so much to do!! And people wonder why I put my Christmas decorations up in November?

Well, this Honey Cajun Pork Tenderloin is so delicious and an easy fix for any weekend. Pork tenderloin is so easy to prepare. It's a special treat for a dinner throughout the week and as you know I think ALL dinners should be special.

Try it and let me know what you think!

4 tbs butter
2 tbs honey
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an ovenproof pot, heat butter and honey over medium heat until melted. Sprinkle pork tenderloin with Cajun seasoning and black pepper. Brown each side for 5 minutes.

Place pot in oven and roast for 7 - 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate covered with foil to rest. Add water to pan and stir over medium heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Slice pork on the diagonal and drizzle sauce over top to serve.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Breakfast Casserole

"Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too.....come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you...."

Today when I walked out of the office for lunch, standing in front of our building, there was a quartet of musical instruments playing the most festive of Christmas music spreading their holiday cheer in red vests over crisp white shirts and black pants. With the sun peeking through the hazy overcast skies, the music, and the city decked out in festive garland and bows, it was the perfect day! They definitely put a smile on my face! Maybe I'll see them again tomorrow!

Until then I've decided that breakfast casseroles are right up my alley and are perfect for office potlucks, Sunday school, and just to enjoy on a lazy weekend! This one is so good and easy!

1 package (12 oz) bulk pork sausage
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
10 eggs
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1 can "Grands" Layers refrigerated original biscuits

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, brown sausage, onion and bell peppers; drain well. 2 In large bowl, beat eggs.
Stir in cheese and sausage mixture. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Press biscuits into bottom of baking dish.
Pour sausage mixture over biscuit crust. 3 Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until egg mixture is set and crust is deep golden brown.
Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Toffee Crack-ers

These treats are totally perfect for sharing and are so easy the cat could do it. Unfortunately, my cat is napping. So, I guess I'm on my own. Lazy feline.

Toffee Crackers

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (no margarine allowed)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved.
Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly.
After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer.
(You can add nuts, cracker crumbs, sprinkles now....if it flips your switch)
Let cool and, if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate until hardened.

Break into pieces the size of your choice, who doesn't like a hand sized chunk?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto

Evenings in December usually consist of watching Hallmark holiday movies and consuming handfuls of Christmas calories. However, there are some beautiful sights to see during December in our community and it's a shame to not take advantage of them. Make the most of your holiday season....especially if you're in Norfolk!

The Norfolk Botanical Gardens hosts an amazing Garden of Lights display every year with over a million lights.Virginia Beach hosts the wonderful Holiday Lights at the Beach...where you can actually drive on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk or travel by horse drawn carriage.

Colonial Williamsburg hosts the annual lighting. And Busch Gardens, also in Williamsburg, hosts Christmas Town each year with amazing shows, lights, and shopping.

Before trekking out in the cold warm up with a bowl of Broccoli and Proscuitto Mac and Cheese. Yum!

2 cups pasta
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup of flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
2 cups shredded cheese (reserve 1/2 cup)
1 (10 oz) package frozen broccoli, cooked according to package directions (seasoned to taste)
thin sliced proscuitto or ham

Prepare pasta as directed on package, cook until al dente.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a saucepan melt butter, add flour to make a thick roux, season with salt and pepper, slowly add milk just to thicken, remove from heat and add cheese (be sure to mix up your cheeses to make it just to your flavor) and stir quickly to allow cheese to melt.
Add drained macaroni to cheese mixture and stir well.

Pour into a 8x8 casserole. Top with broccoli and sliced proscuitto and reserved cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wassail

Every year I love watching Little Women and I pretend I'm living in Civil War times, then I quickly remember how much I love my indoor plumbing and the internet and I snap out of it.

I just love the part when the March sisters sing "Here we come a Wassailing". Makes me smile just to think about it. It also reminds me to DVR it the next time I see it on one of the movie channels because the only copy I have is on VHS and let's face it does anyone own a VCR?

I bet I could score a deal at the thrift store....on second thought...nah!

Traditionally, wassail is kind of like a mulled cider, usually made of apples. Wassail is kind of an homage to the apple crop. I can't say I'm totally crazy about apple cider, but I do appreciate a citrus one. So here's a "dry mix" version of wassail that can be made as a gift: packed in a cute ziploc bag or airtight glass jar and tie with a bow and a tag with directions.

2 C. Tang
1 ¾ c. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ginger
1/3 C. pre
-sweetened lemonade mix

Mix ingredients and place in airtight container.

Directions for mixing: Add 2-3 spoonfuls of dry mix to a mug of hot water. Add more if you like it sweeter!

S'mores Crescents

Delicious Amazing little treats! I gotta tell ya these are melt in your mouth delicious. A great twist on a chocolate chip cookie and these take almost no time at all.

1 tube crescent rolls (or my crescent dough)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

Take a crescent roll and add a spoonful of chocolate chips, a spoonful of marshmallows.Eat a handful of chocolate chips!

Roll up and bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.



These are fantastic treats and would be wonderful to give to neighbors for a gift!

My baby girl gives it her seal of approval.
To give them that "fresh from the bakery" look, brush with an egg wash. The best recipe I've found is this:
The basic rule of thumb is 1 tsp of liquid per egg. The part of the egg you use and liquid you add to your egg wash will determine the finished look of the pie crust.

For this result:

Make an egg wash with:

Shiny

whole egg, salt

Faint Shine

whole egg, milk

Matte, golden-brown

whole egg, water

Shiny, golden-brown

egg yolk, water

Shiny, golden-brown

egg yolk, salt

Shiny, dark

egg yolk, cream

Crisp, pale

egg white

Matte, golden-brown

heavy cream or half & half

Faint shine, golden-brown

olive oil


Friday, November 25, 2011

After Thanksgiving

I hope all of your Thanksgiving meals were successful. Our holiday was certainly fantastic. Good food. Good friends. Good wine.

While half of us sat around in pjs and the other half in Pajama jeans. We all crammed ourselves into my tiny living room and stuffed our faces while watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory on ABC Family. No joke. It was so relaxed, casual, and ridiculously fun!

My pumpkin cheesecake was a hit and I even made a lemon meringue pie from scratch. I'll smell like lemons for a few more days I'm sure. (I hope you liked it Andy)

Now the leftovers have been cleaned out and with the Christmas season upon us, I've got some new recipes to share. I'm excited to try some of the ideas I've found on pinterest and I'm excited to simply enjoy the Christmas season and sell some cookbooks.

If you haven't bought one, there is plenty of time to get your copy in time for Christmas.

Click on the Cookbook!!!

You can also get 25% off until December 14, 2011. Use coupon code: BUYMYBOOK305 at checkout. Max savings of $50.00

Tonight, we're revisiting a spaghetti dinner.

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 pound ground beef
1 large can spaghetti sauce (26.5 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1/3 cup chopped onions
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
French Fried Onions (small can)

Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
Brown ground beef. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat.
Combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft. (If you don't want to use the microwave, you can easily saute the veggies and add softened cream cheese, mix well.)
Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well.

Layer in your casserole dish in the following order:
Thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.
Spaghetti
Cream cheese/vegetable mixture
Spaghetti sauce
Parmesan Cheese (amount subject to your own taste)French Fried Onions (added during last 5 minutes of cooking)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with French Fried onion and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient–don’t let them burn.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cake Batter Cracker Dip

Do you ever just mix up the batter and eat it straight from the bowl? Because I do that. Don't judge me. If I could only eat cake batter for the rest of my life I'd be okay with it. Seriously. When I came across this recipe for Cake Batter Dip my mouth dropped open and I reached for my spoon....and Vanilla Wafers. This seriously is a dangerous recipe...for me, at least. And the possibilities are virtually endless. Imagine Chocolate Cake Batter dip with strawberries? Spice cake with apple slices? White cake with animal crackers? It's time for me to make another batch. Try it. You'll never leave the couch.

Cake Batter Dip


1 box of cake mix (any flavor)
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 cups cool whip
Animal crackers, graham crackers, Nilla Wafers or fresh fruit

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The countdown is ON!


I certainly love Thanksgiving and all that it entails! Even the "why don't we just go out to eat instead" crisis I have oh, about the same time, each year. (I would just as soon show up at the Chinese place and hope they sing "Deck the Halls" just like in 'A Christmas Story'. Farararara.....)

The city really started sparkling this week as everyone began preparations for the Grand Illumination Parade!! It's a very fun event for Norfolk and for Hampton Roads in general. Downtown Norfolk and our neighboring Portsmouth will have a synchronized countdown to light up the skyline!

The lightposts were dressed in greenery and big red bows, sparkling lighted ornaments topped the light poles, and the 24/7 Christmas music station debuted early this year, and I've been watching Hallmark Channel's countdown to Christmas nonstop!! T'is the season.

I've got so many plans to finish up my prep work for Thanksgiving and finalize my decorating for this holiday season! So, what can I throw in the crock that will be a great dinner? Since obviously I have no time to cook today. My magic crock fairy will save the day!!

"Hello, Honey! Chicken"

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion (or 1/8 cup onion flakes)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 hours or on high 1 1/2 hours. Chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce. Serve over rice or noodles.

To bake chicken as a 30 minute meal:
Dice chicken and season both sides with salt and pepper, place in 8x8 pan. Pour sauce over chicken and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A great guide to Thanksgiving Planning

Here is a helpful guide (modified from the Food Network website) for planning your Thanksgiving dinner. You have just over one week until Turkey Day. Have you done any prep work?

One week ahead:

  • Shop for hardier vegetables like butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips.
  • Buy heavy cream now; it's hard to find right before Thanksgiving.
  • If necessary, wash and iron linen or polish silver. Dig out your turkey roaster and platter and any serving dishes hidden away in closets or high shelves.

Three days ahead:

  • If you have a frozen turkey, clear a space in your fridge and put the bird in now to defrost.
  • Clean the house, or put non-cooking household members in charge.
  • If you're having a lot of guests, you may want to set up the table(s) and make sure you have enough space and chairs.

Two days ahead:

  • Make pumpkin pies or pumpkin cheesecake, rolls, breads and cornbread for stuffing. Refrigerate pies; you can always warm things up again before serving. Apple or pecan pies don't do well in advance, though; the crust doesn't stay flaky and crisp.
  • Make things that can sit for two days in the fridge, like soups and cranberry sauce.
  • Assemble casseroles (like sweet potato or green bean); they can be stored uncooked in the fridge and baked on Thanksgiving.

One day ahead:

  • Set the table now so you won't have to worry about it later.
  • Set up a coat rack with extra hangers.
  • Do any remaining baking, including apple or pecan pies.
  • Buy your salad greens and perishable vegetables. Wash lettuce leaves now, dry well, and store by packing them in paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up from the butcher.
  • Calculate your cooking time (and cooking order) for tomorrow.
  • Figure out what can't be cooked along with the turkey in the oven, either in terms of temperature or space. Plan to cook those things before or after the turkey is done, or on the stovetop while it's cooking; better still, make them today.

Thanksgiving Day:

First off:

  • Prepare stuffing for the turkey (if you're stuffing the turkey) and/or the dressing to cook on the side.
  • Prepare your vegetables for cooking-clean, peel and chop. Cover the ready-to-go vegetables and put them in the refrigerator. Boil potatoes and mash them; they can be reheated just before serving.
  • Stuff the turkey and get it in the oven according to the schedule you calculated yesterday.

Then:

  • After the turkey is in the oven, you should have a little time to relax away from the kitchen.
  • Just before the turkey's done, begin cooking fresh vegetables, and get anything else that needs to go into the oven ready (stuffing, storebought rolls, etc.)

While the cooked turkey is resting:

  • Put a foil tent over the turkey. You now have about an hour to do the remaining cooking.
  • If you have a pan of stuffing/dressing on the side to bake, put it in now.
  • Warm whatever needs to be warmed, including mashed potatoes, rolls, soups and casseroles.
  • Cook frozen vegetables.
  • Make the gravy.
  • Put all the food on the table or buffet. Don't hesitate to press guests into service to put food in bowls, open wine bottles, fill glasses and dish up the cranberry sauce.
  • Get a plate and eat! Don't spend the meal running back and forth to the kitchen and end up missing out on the Thanksgiving feast you've created.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

This isn't any new recipe.
It's been around for a while, but the fact remains.... it's seriously the easiest cake to make and it's perfectly delicious too! The best part is: 2 INGREDIENTS. Can ya believe it?

1 box of Chocolate Cake Mix
1 can pumpkin puree (Not pie filling mix)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together in a bowl. Pour into a greased baking dish or cake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


*If using a bundt pan, you might need a little extra baking time.

*If mixture is too thick for your preference, add a few tablespoons of applesauce to help thin it out a little.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Layered Spaghetti Casserole

I have been so busy lately, there's almost no time to blog anymore. And I see a nice blogging break in my future due to reasons that I can't disclose just yet. Just when I was gettin' used to 2011--BAM! it's almost over. I've been preparing things for our Thanksgiving dinner. Cleaning the house and decorating for Christmas. It's been an amazing year!

However, I came across this recipe and lemmetellya it's easily one of the most amazing spaghetti recipes you will ever make. If you don't believe me, just try it.

The creamy layer of cheese mixed with veggies is my favorite part, next time
I think I'll make a little more of that layer. Yum!!

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 pound ground beef
1 large can spaghetti sauce (26.5 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1/3 cup chopped onions
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
French Fried Onions (small can)

Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
Brown ground beef. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat.
Combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft. (If you don't want to use the microwave, you can easily saute the veggies and add softened cream cheese, mix well.)
Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well.

Layer in your casserole dish in the following order:

Thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.
Spaghetti
Cream cheese/vegetable mixture


Spaghetti sauce


Parmesan Cheese (amount subject to your own taste)French Fried Onions (added during last 5 minutes of cooking)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with French Fried onion and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient–don’t let them burn.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Roasted Veggies

Acorns bouncing off the cold ground and crunchy leaves under myfeet are the soundtrack for the season. Warm colors brighten the landscape and the chill of the air screams that it's undeniably autumn. Oh how I LOVE autumn.

Crisp harvest vegetables are plentiful in every inch of the produce department in the market and make for a fantastic addition to any meal.

1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium summer squash, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 bag baby carrots
2 baking potatoes sliced and quartered
1/2 red onion
1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place the vegetables in a roasting pan. Toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper to mix and coat. Spread in a single layer in the pan. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Never too old for Halloween

We make Halloween a month long celebration! The fun of watching spooky flix, eating cauldrons full of holiday inspired treats, and partying with zombies fills the air with excitement.

The kiddos scuffle in their costumes down each street, the air heavy with the scent of sugary sweets and freshly carved pumpkin.

Front porches are layered in a canvas of mums and the grinning face of a Jack-o-lantern beams behind the flickering candlelight.

The crunching of every leaf fills my heart with joy, because Autumn is happening NOW.

As you enjoy the holiday with your family and friends,
exploring old traditions and starting new ones,
Pour yourself a goblet of witch's brew and drink a toast to this magical time of year.

You're never too old to celebrate your favorite holiday!

Witch's Brew
1 can (12 ounce size) frozen orange juice concentrate
1 can (12 ounce size) frozen white grape juice
2 light 7-Up
1 pint sherbet, lemon or lime

Mix all ingredients together in a large punch bowl and serve immediately.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pepperoni Crescents

So, we spent the day FREEZING our tails off at a soccer match in the middle of Nowhere, North Carolina. Rain, dark skies, wet grass, 35 mph wind, 50 degrees. Yeah, it was a great day. *Insert sarcasm here*

I was ready to curl up on the couch and warm my toes under the blanket with munchies and zombie flix.

This is one of those fabulous simple appetizer recipes or a quick snacky supper.

1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (or my roll dough)
32 Pepperoni slices
4 cheese sticks (sliced in half to total 8)
Prepared marinara sauce

Slice each cheese stick in half. Unroll crescent rolls.

Place 4 slices of pepperoni on each crescent and then 1 cheese stick.
Roll up, starting with large end first, like a crescent, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Serve with marinara.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tuscan Tomato Basil Tortellini with Chicken

This Tortellini is so easy and delicious and a perfect supper for a cool fall night.

1 package three-cheese tortellini (you can use refrigerated or dry)
1 batch of Natasha's Alfredo sauce
2 tablespoons white wine
2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
fresh basil strips for garnish
Chopped cooked chicken

Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, prepare Alfredo sauce in a medium saucepan. Stir wine into alfredo sauce.

Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish, if desired and serve with coked chicken.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

Oh my word, this little treat is so decadent and perfect for the pumpkin lover. I found this treat on Pinterest and had to share. If you must eat the entire batch, just eat it on a Sunday. Calories don't count on Sundays.

1 3.3oz bag Kettle Corn popcorn, popped remove all unpopped kernels
1 Cup dry roasted peanuts
2 Cups unwrapped pumpkin spice hershey kisses (If you cannot find the kisses, substitute 1 Cup of butterscotch chips)
4 Tablespoons butter
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/3 Cup corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popped popcorn and peanuts onto a large rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed lightly with non stick cooking spray.

Place kisses, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a light boil. Remove from heat and pour evenly over popcorn and nuts. Gently stir to coat mixture over popcorn. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and pour onto parchment paper to cool. Break into pieces and serve. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cherry Mice Treats

This is one of the cutest spooky treat ideas that I've seen. My wonderful friend Melissa handed me this recipe for her Chocolate Cherry Mice Treats and it's perfect for a Halloween party or a little snack-a-roo.

Here's her photo of these tasty little critters.
Amounts will vary depending on how many mice you want to make.

Maraschino cherries with stem
Hershey kisses
semi-sweet chocolate chips
sliced almonds
icing for eyes ( I usually just get a red or orange gel tube)

Instructions
1. Drain the cherries and pat them dry with paper towels. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them until smooth, working in 15-second intervals, stirring between each.

3. Holding a cherry by its stem, dip it into the chocolate and swirl it around to completely cover the fruit. Set it on its side on the waxed paper and immediately press a Hershey's Kiss onto the cherry for the head. For the ears, gently wedge two almond slices between the Kiss and the cherry.

4. Using icing, decorate eyes. Can do a pink tip for a nose, just depends what you like.

Now, I'd better get back to watching "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!" Happy Halloween. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Easy Taco Pockets

Halloween finger foods are so fun to make for those nighttime spooky movie marathons. Forget vamps, I'm all about the zombies.

In fact, we have plans to be a part of the 2nd Annual Survive Norfolk Zombie Tag this year. Basically it's a huge game of tag....zombie style. AND it's RIGHT in my 'hood. Literally all around my house!!! Thousands of participants will flood the area . I can already hear the screams now. Each participant has 2 hours to check in at 4 checkpoints along the way. You must outrun the zombies. How you survive is up to you. If you're tagged, you turn into a zombie. Exciting stuff!

So for a quick Zombie night supper how about some Easy Taco Pockets? Only 4 ingredients.

1 lb lean ground beef, cooked, drained (or turkey)
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 can large refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, mix cooked beef and 1/2 cup of the salsa. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.
Press each biscuit into 6-inch round. Spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese onto center of each round. Fold dough in half over filling; press to seal. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375° for 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with remaining salsa.

Signature