Friday, April 29, 2011

Buffalo Potatoes on the Grill

I think it's time to break out the grill and eat a few pounds of these!! Well, maybe not exactly a few pounds, but what a great side dish to a grilled burger or a tequila grilled chicken. YUM!

If you're a fan of buffalo wings, you'll enjoy these spiced potatoes that cook on the grill. Dip in ranch or bleu cheese dressing and you're all set!

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or white vinegar
3 to 4 teaspoons red pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 unpeeled medium potatoes (about 1 1/4 lb)
1 cup blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing

Heat gas or charcoal grill. In shallow dish, mix butter, vinegar, pepper sauce and salt. Cut each potato lengthwise into 4 wedges; pat dry with paper towels. Dip potato wedges into butter mixture; reserve any remaining butter mixture.

Place potatoes on grill rack over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 25 to 35 minutes, brushing occasionally with butter mixture and turning once or twice, until tender. Serve with dressing.

If you prefer, you can bake these. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 40-45 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Julie's Grandma's Pasta Pot

I MUST share this recipe with you! My sweet friend Julie, who lives in the middle of Georgia, sent me this recipe that came from her Grandma. I LOVE family recipes!!!

I met Julie circa 2004, She happened to be dating a guy that came to our church and she absolutely fit right in our young adults group in our small Georgia town. She always had such a positive and sweet spirit! So much that when she and whats his name broke up, we all wanted custody of her!! She's just a great gal. Julie is also a working mom and wife so she knows the power of a good quick meal. This recipe is like she says, " is good but grandmas recipes are ALWAYS the best!!!"

This Pasta Dish cooks in one pot! The pasta even cooks right in the dish, so there's no need to drain. The starches allow the sauce to thicken and there's a great balance of sauce, beef, pasta, and seasonings.

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion
2-14.5oz cans chicken broth
1 6oz can tomato paste (i use spaghetti sauce instead)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
7 oz uncooked spaghetti broken into 3 pieces (I did use macaroni....cause it's all I had on hand and it worked beautifully.)
ated cheese of your choice

Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet.
Drain and return beef to big pot.
Stir in broth, tomato paste and/or spaghetti sauce and seasonings
Bring to a boil, Add pasta, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often for 15 minutes or until tender. Top with cheese.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Afternoon Delights

It's a bit of a funny story of how these yummies got their name. I had a hard time coming up with what to call these, so after I baked up a batch, I had the guys and dolls at the office have a tray full and give it a go by midafternoon, one of the ladies came up with "Afternoon Delights". I have to give my buddy, we'll call him Tim, a pat on the back for his suggestion for coming in a close second. Not only did he offer a name which is rated M for Mature, but he also gave it a little dance that was somewhat a cross between the Running Man and the Boot Scootin' Boogy. Good times we have. Good times.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've had that song stuck in my head for a week now. Unlike the music, these will not be a one-hit-wonder!! You'll wanna make Afternoon Delights again and again. Thank you Starland Vocal Band for giving us your one of a kind tuneage!

These have an easy sugar cookie base that's perfectly baked and topped with a Texas two-step of sorts using a velvety white chocolate cream cheese and a fresh strawberry jam. They cut perfectly into squares and are best served cold. Admittedly, my first round got a little soggy 'cause I let 'em stay out too long.

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 1/2 cup white chocolate baking chips
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
10 drops red food color, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. Press cookie dough evenly on the bottom of the pan making a slight edge up the side. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds or until chips are melted and can be stirred smooth. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in melted chips until blended. Spread mixture over crust. Refrigerate while making topping.

In small bowl, crush 1 cup of strawberries. In saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir in crushed strawberries and 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in food color. (Food color is totally optional here. It gives the jam a nice blanket of color.)

Cool 10 minutes. Gently stir in remaining 3 cups strawberries. Spoon topping over white chocolate cream cheese. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set; serve cold. Store covered in refrigerator.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This recipe is DIVINE!! Melt-in-your-mouth, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, they-should-write-a-love-song-about-it DIVINE!!

This recipe was on the cover of Southern Living Magazine in March 2011, and I was a lucky girl to receive a samplin' of it at my work birthday party last month from one of my ever so sweet office ladies. She even brought sliced strawberries and whipped cream! What a treat!!

I really truly love it and I know you will too. It combines a delicious pound cake with a double strawberry ribbon through it. If you're headin' to the in-laws house or over to a friend, this would compliment any Easter dinner!!

You will need either a Bundt Tube Pan or an Angel Food Cake Tube Pan for this recipe!! I didn't have either and I didn't feel like running to the store, so I ordered one with a one click shopping app on my iPhone, just for this particular recipe. Thanks to Amazon prime, I didn't have to worry with pesky shipping fees.
Now there is nothing holding me back from making other delicious bundt cakes, so I had better get cookin'.

Here's the recipe for Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup strawberry glaze
1 (6-inch) wooden skewer

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese, beating until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Gradually add flour to butter mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Pour one-third of batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (14-cup) tube pan (about 2 2/3 cups batter). Dollop 8 rounded teaspoonfuls strawberry glaze over batter, and swirl with wooden skewer. Repeat procedure once, and top with remaining third of batter.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Note: We tested with Marzetti Glaze for Strawberries.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eat Pray Love Me Some Pasta

For the last couple of weeks I was reading a little novel known to you as "Eat Pray Love".

It's actually quite a magical read. I know I know....I was written several years ago. I'm not with the times....or maybe because with all of my interests, I have very little time to actually read. It's been on my list, but I was finally able to savor the adventure. When she arrives in Italy, I swear, I could've been right there too!

Maybe because I have always wanted to go to Italy, since the first time I watched 'Only You' and laid eyes on the ever suave Robert Downey Jr. Or maybe it's because the language of Italy is just so darn sexy, or maybe because of the architecture, literature, and history that dwells within that beautiful country!

I can imagine sitting in an Italian cafe in the midst of gardens and fountains, sipping vino and devouring this rustic Italian dish made with the simplest of ingredients with classic Italian flavors.

Here's what you need for this
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

1 box of uncooked penne pasta (16 oz)
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 Tbl. minced garlic
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with basil
1/2 cup whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbl dried oregano, basil, or Italian herbs/seasonings
2 cups packed FRESH baby spinach leaves

Cook and drain pasta as directed on box. (This is a great recipe to use whole wheat penne). I prefer penne in this recipe, because the ridges really make the sauce "stick". Return to saucepan; keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain. Crumble when cool.

In same skillet, using bacon fat, cook garlic and mushrooms 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender.

(Crimini Mushrooms are actually Baby Portobella mushrooms so if your market carries "Baby Bella" mushrooms, that's what you can buy. They're the brown variety, not the white button mushrooms you typically see. They have a nice nutty woodsy flavor. Be sure to get fresh ones!!)

Stir in tomatoes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in whipping cream; heat just until hot. Do Not NOT allow it to Boil. Add spinach; toss until spinach is wilted.

Season with salt and pepper, and any Italian seasonings. This is your dish, be creative. I prefer Oregano for this sauce.

Sprinkle individual servings with crumbled bacon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake squares

In a strange and exotic twist of fate, Chocolate Chip Cookies get married to Cheesecake!!! This is a seductive union. The next most beautiful couple since William and Kate.

Super easy, 6 ingredients, and a fast way to make a dessert for a last minute affair. Double the batch to take to your next party. You'll be the star of the show with this recipe!!

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup coconut, if desired
1 roll (16.5 oz) chocolate chip cookies

Heat oven to 350°

In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg until smooth. Stir in coconut.

In ungreased, 9- or 8-inch square pan, break up half of cookie dough. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan to form crust. Spread cream cheese mixture over dough. Crumble and sprinkle remaining half of dough over cream cheese mixture. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until chilled. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows. Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Sometimes I bake with only the intention of sharing with others. I'm pretty sure it makes the day of an unsuspecting friend or neighbor. I love the smiles on the faces of happy people. Try it. Bake something for someone. Split a batch of cupcakes or muffins and share with your friends or a neighbor or someone from church. Watch their smile and you'll know what I mean. Here's a tasty treat to try out! These are light and lowfat and make about 18 muffins, perfect for sharing. They're so pretty too!! Put a half dozen in a lovely little box tied with a ribbon and there you have it!!
Ridiculous Raspberry Cream Cheese Muffins

2/3 cup (5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg whites, and egg; beat well.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. In a separate bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Gently fold in raspberries and walnuts.

Place 24 foil cup liners in muffin cups. Spoon batter evenly into liners. Bake at 350° 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Zesty Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

Cornbread is so versatile. It's perfect any time of the year, because it can go from a 4th of July picnic in the summer, next to a bowl of chili in the fall, with soup in the winter, and as a salad in spring. This particular cornbread kicks it up with jalapeno and a subtle mix of cheese. It makes great muffins and is wonderful to take to a backyard bbq. I enjoy this with a big bowl of Jambalaya or soup. The base is made from Jiffy Cornbread Mix and it's like 50 cents a box. Enjoy!!
2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix

2 eggs

5 Tbl. butter melted

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1 (4oz) can diced jalapenos (drained well)

1 1/2 cups frozen corn niblets (thawed and drained)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheeese

Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or unti golden brown and set.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Please Pass a Budget Dinner

Okay, since we are all being affected by this government shutdown, I feel like I should post some "cheap eats" for my fellow Government Employees, Military, and Contractors and the such. May we all make it through this together, and may it come to pass quickly. Amen!!

Here are 4 recipes that will sustain you even through the toughest of times without sacrificing deliciousness. Stuff It In Your Pepper and Put it In Your Crock

1 pound ground beef
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small onion, diced (I prefer red onions or Vidalia onions)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 large bell peppers, tops cut off and hollowed out
32 ounce (can) crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Mix together first 8 ingredients in bowl. Spoon mixture into peppers, filling about 3/4 of the way. (Discard pepper tops.) Place stuffed peppers into 5-quart slow cooker. Pour crushed tomatoes over peppers, then pour beef broth around the sides. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Top with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Get it Done NOW Steak Bruschetta

1 Tbsp. oil
6 thin boneless beef minute steaks (1-1/2 lb.), 1/4 inch thick
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stove Stuffing Mix for Chicken, prepared as directed on package
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook 1 min. on each side or until lightly browned on both sides. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, peppers and dressing. Spoon tomato mixture over steaks; top with stuffing and cheese. Cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 3 to 5 min. or until cheese is melted and steak is cooked to medium doneness.

D.C. Tortellini

1 pound frozen cheese tortellini
1 cup shelled edamame*
1 cup diced red pepper
1 pound smoked sausage
1/2 cup Italian dressing

Set 6 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, chop red pepper and slice the smoked sausage into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Stir-fry red pepper and sausage together until heated through -- about 5 minutes. Add tortellini to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Add edamame to water and boil for another 2 minutes. Drain tortellini and edamame well. Toss everything together with the Italian dressing and heat through one final time.

Capitol Hill..billy Chili
1 lb ground beef
1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 envelope or homemade taco seasoning mix
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 package (9 oz) frozen corn, thawed, drained
2 cups water
shredded cheese
sour cream (Optional)

Spray 4-quart Dutch oven with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook beef in Dutch oven 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve individual bowls topped with shredded cheese and sour cream if desired.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings with the Crock

I have to tell you....when I took my first bite of chicken and dumplings after not making these in a coon's age (I am from the south...if you are too, then you know just how long a coon's age is), and the flavors and aroma of dinner somehow transported me back in time to circa 1990 and there I found myself perched on the bar stool at the counter in my mom's kitchen. Flavors really do take you to unexpected places and bring back beautiful memories. There is just something about Chicken and Dumplings that is the epitome of comfort food. And if you've ever been lucky enough to eat my mom's cookin', then you know exactly why I time-traveled today! I immediately called my mom and had to leave a message to tell her how much I love her and to thank her immensely for teaching me how to cook. Not only did I thank her, but I know my family was sending their thanks as well. Here's how I do it! I start with a package each of chicken thighs and breasts! Place in the bottom of the crock season with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of rosemary, thyme and sage. Top with 1/2 bag of fresh baby carrots, 3 stalks of celery (I usually chop them in quarters), 1 small onion chopped Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes (I know, I know MSG, but this will give you great flavor) Add 3 cups water Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken and veggies are tender.
This is GOLD!!

Not just for Thanksgiving anymore, It's perfect with Chicken dishes.

Chicken will be so tender and juicy!! Why yes, there is a spaghetti spoon in my bowl of chicken. Don't ask!
Here comes the fun part!! When your chicken is done. Remove it from the crock and allow it to cool slightly so it will be easier to handle. Give it a coarse chop or pull apart. Reserve all veggies and broth and pour into your blender, give 'em a good chop, until the veggies are blended very well. 30 seconds should do it.
The veggies will melt away into the broth.... the kids will never know.

In a large dutch oven, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add broth/veggies mixture. Bring to a slow boil. Season with salt and pepper if needed. You need at least 8-10 cups of broth for this dinner. If your chicken doesn't make a lot of broth, Add store bought chicken broth (or homemade broth if you happen to keep it) until you have enough.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 egg, 3/4 cup of broth, and slowly add 1 1/2 cups of ALL PURPOSE flour. Mix together until soft dough forms.
The dough will have lots of flavor from using the broth, for added flavor, season with S&P.
Pinch off dough in Tablespoon size bits, dip in a shallow dish of flour, shake off excess, and drop in broth. Alternating with handfuls of chicken.
And here you have it!! A one pot wonderful meal, complete with veggies (hidden from the kids), a rich flavorful broth and delicious dumplings!!