Thursday, January 29, 2015

Churro Cheesecake

Ingredients
  • 2 cans (8 oz. each) Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls
  • 2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese..softened
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup Sugar..divided
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 13×9″ baking pan
Instructions
  • Unroll one of the cans of the Crescent dough and press it onto the bottom of a greased 13×9″ baking pan, to form a bottom crust.  Firmly press the seams together to seal.
  • With a hand mixture, beat the Cream Cheese, Vanilla, Egg and 1/2 cup of the Sugar on medium speed until well blended…
  • Spread it evenly onto the crust.
  • Unroll the remaining can of Crescent dough onto a large sheet of wax paper.  Pat out the dough to form a 13×9″ rectangle, pressing the seams together to seal.
  • Invert over the Cream Cheese mixture to form a top crust.
  • Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Combine the remaining 1/2 cup Sugar and Cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle it all over the top…
  • NOW it’s Churro-fied…
  • Serve up a nice big square, or a few squares…and taste the amusing amazement! 
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Creamy Tomato And Spinach Pasta

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ lb. penne pasta
  • ½ (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.
  2. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.
  4. Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the parmesan and whisk until melted in again.
  5. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.
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Jalapeño Popper Egg Bake

Ingredients
  • 1 Jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 milk
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 cup cheese (I used shredded cheddar)
  • 1 cup bacon, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Start by whisking together the eggs, milk, seasoned salt, cheese and bacon. Pour this mixture into a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Pull of little chunks of cream cheese and place them around the top of the egg mixture. Do the same and place the jalapeño slices on the top as well.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes depending on how big of a baking dish you are using.
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Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Ingredients
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño (optional)
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about ¾ lb.)
  • 1 16oz. jar salsa verde
  • 2 15oz. cans Essential Everyday™ cannellini beans
  • 1 15oz. can Essential Everyday™ pinto beans
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Essential Everyday™ chicken broth
  • 4 oz. Essential Everyday™ Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Slice the jalapeńo lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with a spoon, then dice. Place the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and chicken breast in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans, then add them to the slow cooker, along with the salsa, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Pour two cups of chicken broth over the contents in the cooker and then give everything a brief stir. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.
  4. After four hours, the chicken should be tender and easily shreddable (if not, replace the lid and cook for one more hour). Carefully remove the chicken breast from the slow cooker and use two forks to shred the meat. Return the meat to the slow cooker. Stir the chili, slightly mashing the beans with the back of the spoon as you stir.
  5. Serve the chili hot topped with shredded Monterrey Jack cheese. Other optional toppings include fresh cilantro, diced avocado, freshly squeeze lime, or tortilla chips.
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Singapore Noodles

Ingredients
  • 8 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 Tbsp hot curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch bok choy
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 12 oz. bag bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the dry rice noodles in a bowl and cover with room temperature water. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain in a colander after they have soaked and are softened. Return the noodles to the bowl, cut the noodles into pieces (approximately 6 inches in length) to facilitate stir frying later. Sprinkle the noodles with curry powder and toss to coat. Set noodles aside.
  2. While the noodles are soaking/draining/marinating in curry powder, prepare all of your vegetables. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger, julienne the carrots, wash and thinly slice the bok choy, rinse the bean sprouts and slice the green onion.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry very briefly (1 minute or less) then add all of the vegetables, reserving some green onion for garnish. Stir fry the vegetables until they just begin to soften.
  4. Add the noodles to the hot pan and stir fry briefly (1-2 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce. You can either add them to the pan individually or mix them all together in a bowl then stir into the dish. Taste the noodles and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
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Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Ingredients
  • ½ bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup total)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips (2 cups)
  • Sea salt or table salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Then line a large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and lay a single layer of pretzels down. I was pretty meticulous about this and made neat little rows (you can fit more on that way right?).
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it boil gently just until it starts to stick to the bottom and it forms a nice smooth caramel. You’ll want to let it bubble a little and get really thick.
  4. Remove from heat and pour evenly over the top of the pretzels (don’t worry if every single pretzel isn’t covered). Put in the oven at 350 degrees for five minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. You can let the caramel melt the chips, but I prefer to put it back in the oven for one minute.
  6. Spread the chocolate chips around with a spatula until mostly melted.
  7. Sprinkle generously with salt.
  8. Let cool on the counter top for a few minutes and then pop in the freezer for at least two to three hours.
  9. When it comes out of the freezer, break it up into uneven chunks with your hands and serve.
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Gooey Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cake Bars

Ingredients
  • 1 Devils Food Cake Mix
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 14 Oreo Cookies, broken into bite size pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with tin foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place cake mix, butter and egg into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Use your hands, it works much quicker :) Press into prepared baking pan. Top with broken pieces of cookies.
  3. Pour sweetened condensed milk over cookies and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 23-25 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven.
  4. After 5 minutes of cooling, run a plastic knife around edges to loosen, this makes it much easier to remove from foil.  Let cool completely, remove foil from pan, then cut into squares.  I cut off all of the edges before cutting into squares (makes for neater squares), but do whatever you’d like!!
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Easy Turtle Tassies

Ingredients
  • 1 (16.5 oz) package Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 (16.5 oz) tub caramel dip
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Shape the dough into 24 1-inch balls. Press each ball into the bottom of a mini muffin cup, then use your fingers to carefully press the dough up the sides to form little “cup” shapes.
  3. Bake 8-9 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. The middles of the cups will likely bubble up to look like cupcakes. Remove the pan from the oven, and use a spoon to flatten out the bubbles, and reshape the dough to look like cups. (Try not to poke holes in the bottoms, though!)
  4. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the bottom of the cookie dough is cooked and the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven.
  5. While the cookie cups are doing their final round of baking, place the caramel dip in the microwave for 1 minute or so, until the dip is warm and easy to scoop.
  6. Immediately after removing the cookie cups, place about a teaspoon of chocolate chips in the bottom of each cookie cup, and then spoon in a tablespoon or so of warm caramel on top of each cup until the chocolate chips are covered.
  7. Once all of the cups are filled with chocolate and caramel, top with a pinch of chopped pecans.
  8. Let cookie cups cool to room temperature. Then remove from pan carefully with a thin spatula or spoon.
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Pizza Spaghetti Bake

Ingredients
  • 1 (12 oz.) box spaghetti  (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. mild pork sausage
  • 2 oz. (about 30 slices) turkey pepperoni, halved
  • 1 (26 oz.) jar basil & tomato pasta sauce
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (8 oz. ) package shredded Italian 5-cheese blend
Instructions
  1. Cook spaghetti, according to package directions, in water salted with the teaspoon of salt.  Drain well and place in a lightly-greased 9x13" baking dish. 
  2. Brown sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and no longer pink.  Drain and set aside.  Wipe out skillet with a paper towel.  Add pepperoni to skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly crisp (about 4 minutes).
  3. Top spaghetti in the baking dish with sausage.  Pour sauce over sausage.  Arrange half of the pepperoni slices over the sauce; sprinkle evenly with cheeses.  Arrange remaining pepperoni slices evenly over cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cheese should be melted and just beginning to brown.  If cheese is browning too much, cover with foil part way through baking.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cinnamon Apple Dessert Chimichangas

Ingredients
For the Apple Pie Filling
  • 4 baking apples, peeled and chopped (I used a mix of granny smith and gala apples)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
For the Chimichangas
  • 8-10 small tortillas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
For the Apple Pie Filling
  • Combine the water, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until the mixture becomes very thick.
  • Add the chopped apples and reduce to a simmer. Allow the apple mixture to simmer until the apples become just tender (approximately 10 minutes). Allow the mixture to cool.
For the Chimichangas
  • Mix cinnamon and sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  • Spoon apple pie filling across the bottom 1/3 of the tortilla.
  • Roll in both sides of the tortilla before rolling up the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, and then continue to roll the tortilla up like a burrito.
  • Meanwhile, heat a small skillet with 1/2 an inch of oil. Once oil is hot, fry the chimichangas on all sides until the tortilla turns golden brown. (approximately 30 seconds on each side)
  • Remove the chimichangas to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain briefly. Immediately roll the warm chimichanga in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat and serve.
  • You can serve the chimichangas drizzled with caramel sauce if you desire.
  • I desired so I drizzled caramel sauce over my chimi…and it blew my ever lovin’ mind.
  • There were a few extra of these little babies and I rewarmed them in the microwave the next day and they were STILL fabulous.
  • So, to all of you who are reading this post…do yourself a HUGE favor.  Make a fried apple pie burrito/Apple Cinnamon Dessert Chimichanga.  You deserve it.
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Zucchini Crust Pizza

Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 large egg or 2 small ones
  • About 3 small-medium zucchinis (mine were about 8″)
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan or mozzarella. I liked parmesan best for this one.
  • salt
For the toppings:
  • Use anything you like on a pizza. General formula:
  • Mild tomato sauce OR pesto
  • Grated firm mozzarella cheese OR sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Ricotta cheese or goat cheese, for small dollops on top (optional
  • Assorted vegetables. Pre-sauté for extra flavor, especially if you’re using onion, garlic and mushrooms. A little italian parsley or basil is nice too; the basil can be added fresh after the pizza is cooked, and the parsley is nice in the sauté. Finely chopped greens are nice. Fresh tomatoes can be added after the pizza is cooked too.
  • Meat if you like/eat meat on pizza: Crumbled sausage would work well. Pre-sauté. Ground lamb or chicken would be tasty, cooked with lots of garlic.
  • Olive oil, black pepper
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Grate the zucchini.
  • Sprinkle salt on the zucchini and stir. Let it sit a few minutes.
  • Squeeze the water out. I found the easiest way to do this was to wrap it in cheese cloth or butter muslin and squeeze. You can also put the zucchini on one plate and press another plate on top of it, or put it in a colander and press a bowl into it.
  • Mix with egg and grated cheese.
  • Spread parchment paper on a pizza stone or baking sheet. Spread out your dough batter about 1/2 inch thick into a circle.
  • Put it in the oven and cook until it has browned, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, as it is cooking, sauté any toppings you want cooked. I sautéed garlic, onions, mushrooms and Italian parsley.
  • Take the browned bottom crust out of the oven and admire it.
  • Cover it with your toppings.
  • Bake again until crust edges brown further and cheese on top melts into toppings. Take out of oven and add drizzled olive oil, grated black pepper, and optional fresh tomatoes and fresh basil. Serve hot.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hot Ham and Cheese Pinwheels

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 C warm water
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4-4 1/2 C flour
  • 1 pound deli ham, sliced thin
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Pour 1 1/2 C warm water into your stand mixer and preheat your oven to 170 degrees. (You read it right...170 degrees is all you need.)
  2. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon yeast. Turn the mixer on low for about 30 seconds allowing the ingredients to combine. Let it rest for 5 minutes, or until it gets all bubbly.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 cups flour. Turn the mixer on to low and let the flour mix in. Add the rest of the flour (2 1/2 cups worth) one cup at a time. When the dough pulls itself away from the side of the bowl, you have enough flour.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium speed and allow it to mix for 5 minutes.
  5. Spray your counter with cooking spray, divide the dough into two equal parts and allow them to rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Don't skip this step, ok? If you don't let the dough rest it won't roll out nicely and then you might start to cry and then your kids would think you have lost you mind. Thanks for your cooperation.
  6. After the dough has rested roll the old girl out into a large rectangle.
  7. Cover it with half of the ham and sprinkle it with 1 cup of cheddar cheese.
  8. Roll the dough up starting at the longer end.
  9. Spray a large knife with cooking spray and slice the roll into 12 rounds.
  10. Place each pinwheel onto a large cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  11. Repeat steps 6-10 with the other half of the dough.
  12. Place both pans into your warm 170 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until they start to rise just a bit. You don't want them to get super puffy, you just want the dough to have the chance to expand a little, like you see in the picture above. 
  13. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees (don't take the pans out of the oven) and let the pinwheels bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown along the top and bottom. 
  14. Take the pans out of the oven and let the pinwheels rest for about 5 minutes...then gobble them up.
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Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

Ingredients
  • 1-box store-bought refrigerated pie crust (2 rolls) *I like to use Pillsbury
  • 2 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (about 3 apples, diced small)
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Large flake sea salt
  • 10 store-bought soft caramels, cubed
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 Tablespoon water)
  • Crystal sanding sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the diced apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour. Mix until apples are thoroughly coated. Set aside.
  3. Unroll the pie dough onto a well-floured surface. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter or glass, cut out as many circles as possible. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the scraps and continue cutting out circles until you run out of dough.
  4. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the apple filling into the center of half of the pie circles. Make sure to leave enough of a border around the filling to seal them shut. Do not overfill!
  5. Top the apple filling with a few pieces of caramel.
  6. Brush around the edges of the dough with a finger dipped in egg wash. This will be the “glue”.
  7. Place a second dough circle on top each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together.
  8. Brush each pie with the egg wash, and cut two vents on the top of each pie with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the pies with crystal sanding sugar and place on prepared sheet pan.
  9. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  10. Bake the pies for 15 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
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Strawberry Cheesecake Chimichangas

Ingredients:
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 6 (8-inch) soft flour tortillas
  • 1 3/4 cups sliced strawberries, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Equipment: toothpicks; deep-fry thermometer
Instructions:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with the sour cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in 3/4 cup of the sliced strawberries.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the tortillas, slathering each portion in the lower third of each tortilla. Next, fold the two sides of each tortilla toward the center and then roll the tortilla up like a burrito and secure it with a toothpick. Repeat the rolling process with the remaining tortillas.
  • Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set it aside. Line a large plate with paper towels.
  • Add 3 inches of oil to a large, deep saucepan, leaving a minimum of 2 inches from the top of the oil to the top of the saucepan. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 360ºF on a deep-fry thermometer.
  • Working in batches, fry the chimichangas until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes, flipping them as needed. Transfer the chimichangas to the paper towel-lined plate to drain for 1 minute, and then roll them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Repeat the frying and rolling process with the remaining chimichangas, returning the oil to 360ºF between batches.
  • Remove all toothpicks from the chimichangas and transfer them to serving plates. Top each with a portion of the remaining 1 cup of sliced strawberries and serve immediately.
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Reese’s Bottom Cheesecake

Ingredients
  • 1 Box of JELLO instant NO-Bake Cheesecake Mix (Feel free to make your own no-bake Cheesecake)
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (one per each Cheesecake)
  • 1 Cup of Mini Chocolate Chips..for sprinkling on top.
  • Approx. 1 Cup of Graham Cracker Crumbs (either store bought, or you can crush your own..or use the enclosed bag of crumbs from the boxed No-Bake Cheesecake Mix)…for sprinkling on top.
  • Paper Cupcake Liners
  • A Cupcake pan
Instructions
  • Mix up the no-bake Cheesecake according to the box directions..or make your own fave recipe…
  • Unwrap the Reese’s and REMEMBER TO REMOVE THE BOTTOM PAPER!
  • Drop one Peanut Butter Cup down into each paper liner and pour the Cheesecake Mix onto it…
  • Into the fridge to chill for at least one hour!
  • Sprinkle them with the Graham Cracker Crumbs and/or Chocolate Chips!
  • Serve those sweet surprise bottom Cheesecakes up…
  • Take a bite and be amazed!  ~Enjoy! 
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Baked Ravioli

Ingredients
  • Bag of frozen ravioli
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9×13 rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Spread 3/4 cup of the pasta sauce in baking dish. Arrange half of the frozen ravioli in single layer over sauce; top with half of the remaining pasta sauce and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once, starting with ravioli. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  3. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot in center. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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Pizza Nachos

Ingredients
FOR THE GARLIC CREAM SAUCE:
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced (or Use A Microplane If You Have It)
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream
  • ¼ cups 2% Milk
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 pinch Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • ¼ cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated
FOR THE NACHOS:
  • Your Favorite Crispy Tortilla Chips
  • ½ cups Garlic Cream Sauce (Recipe Included)
  • ¼ cups Onion, Diced
  • ½ cups Pepperoni, Cut Into Bite Size Pieces
  • ½ cups Black Olives Sliced
  • ½ whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeds Removed, Diced
  • 1 cup Colby-Jack Cheese, Shredded
Instructions
  1. Start by making your sauce. Begin by melting the butter, along with the olive oil on medium to low heat. Once melted, toss in the minced garlic, and give a good stir. Raise the heat up to medium, to medium-high. Add in the cream and milk and give a good stir. Keep stirring until it comes to a boil. Toss in the salt, pepper, and chili flakes, along with the cheese, and continue stirring. The sauce will thicken pretty quick, so continue to stir. Once the sauce is thickened, remove from the burner, and set aside.
  2. When you are ready to make your nachos, preheat your oven to 400ºF. I used a cast iron fajita skillet for this. If you do not have one, don’t worry, simply build your nachos on an oven-proof dish. First add your chips. Drizzle the garlic cream sauce all over the chips. Top with the onions, pepperoni, olives, and bell pepper. Make sure you get in there and do some great layering, leaving no chip behind.
  3. Top with the Colby Jack cheese. Place in the preheated oven, and cook until the cheese is nice and bubbly and the veggies are warmed through, roughly 7 minutes or so.
  4. As I sat down in front of the television to watch some football, I said to my wife that these could be my go-to nachos from here on out. Something about those deluxe pizza flavors when placed on a tortilla chip just gets your taste buds rocking. Give these a try and let me know what you think!
  5. The great thing about these pizza nachos, much like any nacho, is that you can make them your own way. Don’t like pepperoni? Try something else. Don’t like olives? Try artichokes, or broccoli, or heck, you can see where I’m heading. Use your imagination. I can guarantee you will love them. By the way, the garlic cream sauce will keep in the fridge for a handful of days. Feel free to use the leftover sauce on a pizza.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Valentine's Day Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. Butter (4 sticks)
  • 1 ½ C. Sugar
  • 2 C Brown Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 6 Cups Flour
  • ½ tsp. Salt (I used salted butter so I left out the salt)
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • Neon Pink Food Dye (Mine was Rose by Wilton)
  • 1 Bag of Chocolate Chips
  • Valentine’s M&Ms (optional but looks pretty)
Instruction
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. 
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla--mix until combined. 
  4. In a separate bowl mix the flower, salt, and baking powder. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar and butter mixture and mix until well 
  6. combined.  Add the neon pink food dye until desired color.  
  7. Add the chocolate chips and combine well. 
  8. Roll into balls or use a cookie scoop and place on a silpat or parchment lined 
  9. baking sheet.  Press several M&Ms into the top of each cookie--I used three or 
  10. four per cookie. 
  11. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes.  In my oven 15 minutes was perfect.  Time will vary 
  12. with each oven.  You don’t want them to be brown when they are done because it 
  13. takes away from the pretty color.  You want them to be barely cooked through in 
  14. the middle.  This will keep them chewy and soft. 
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Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding

Ingredients:
  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies OR 2 bags Vanilla Wafers
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (5 oz.) box French Vanilla pudding
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
Directions
  • Line the bottom of a 13x9 inch inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
  • In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.
  • Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth.
  • Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
  • Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.
  • Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve!
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Broccoli, Ham, and Mozzarella Baked with Eggs

Ingredients:
  • 4-6 cups very small broccoli flowerets, blanched about 2 minutes, then drained well.
  • 1-2 cups diced ham (1/2 - 1 lb.)
  • 1 cup low-fat grated Mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion (optional, but good)
  • 8-10 eggs, well beaten
  • Spike Seasoning (or other all-purpose seasoning blend) to taste (I use about 1 tsp.)
  • fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • low-fat sour cream, for serving (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Heat oven to 375F/190C. Spray a 9"x12" casserole dish with non-stick spray. (The dish can be slightly smaller too, especially if you use the smaller amounts of ingredients.)
  2. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and cook the broccoli just 2 minutes; then pour into a colander placed in the sink and let it drain well. Dice the ham while the broccoli drains. 
  3. Layer broccoli, ham, Mozzarella, and green onions (if using) in casserole dish. Season with Spike Seasoning and fresh-ground black pepper and pour beaten egg over. Use a fork to "stir" the mixture just until all the ingredients are coated with egg. (It might look like there is not enough egg, but carry on!)
  4. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until all the mixture is set and the top is starting to lightly brown. (If you use the higher amount of eggs, it will take the longer baking time, but start to check after about 30 minutes.) Serve hot, with low-fat sour cream if desired. This can be kept in the fridge for at least a week and reheated in the microwave.
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Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 4 T butter, 
  • 2 C whipping cream
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 2 C parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 C rotisserie chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1/8 t granulated garlic
  • 1/2 t thyme
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 C panko crumbs (optional)
Instructions
  1. Boil yourself some water, salt it generously and cook half of a 16 ounce package of penne pasta.
  2. In a large skillet melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat.
  3. Add 2 cups whipping cream and 1 cup whole milk. Sprinkle in 2 cups shredded parmesan cheese and stir it in with a nice wisk. Bring the mixture to a simmer, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. The sauce will start to thicken after several minutes. Turn your oven on to the broil setting.
  4. Find yourself a nice rotisserie chicken.Remove the skin and take out the breast meat. Chop the chicken into medium-sized chunks. Toss the chicken into the sauce. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Give it all a nice stir, taste it and add salt and pepper to your liking. Let it come to a simmer again and let the sauce cook for about 3-4 more minutes. You want the chicken to get nice and hot and the sauce to thicken just a bit.
  5. Spray a 4 quart casserole dish (or a very deep 9x9 pan) with cooking spray. Place your cooked pasta into the dish and pour the sauce over the top.
  6. Grate 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle it all over the top of the saucy pasta.
  7. If you like your pasta with a crispy top, then sprinkle 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs over the top of the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Pop the dish in to the oven. Watch it carefully here, you want to be sure not to let the panko crumbs get burned. When the cheese is bubbly and the crumbs are toasted (should only take about 5 minutes) remove the pan from the oven and serve immediately.
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Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 16 ounces macaroni
  • 16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
  • 16 ounces Colby cheese, cubed
  • 16 ounces Velveeta (cubed)
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into slices
  • 16 ounces milk
  • salt & pepper, to taste 
Directions:
  • Spray crockpot lightly with cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of the macaroni in bottom. Layer half of cheese, butter, salt & pepper. Repeat, ending with last 1/3 of macaroni on top. Pour milk over mixture.
Cook on low for about 4 hours and stir about mid-way.
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Chicken Roll Ups

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 tube of crescent rolls
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
Directions:
  1. Boil chicken breasts for half an hour (if frozen for an hour). Shred chicken Preheat oven to 375
  2. Roll up shredded cheddar cheese and chicken into each crescent roll and place in a 9x13 baking dish.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of water with cream of chicken soup and pour over the roll ups
  4. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
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Sunday, January 4, 2015

egg and ham muffins

Ingredients
  • 12 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup of diced ham
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar, colby or swiss cheese
Instructions
  • Mix all of the ingredients together. Grease muffin tins and pour 1/3 cup of mixture into each muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees.
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Crockpot Cheese Tortellini

Ingredients
  • 1 (19oz) bag of frozen cheese tortellini 
  • 1 small bag of fresh spinach (I used about half of a 5 oz package, but more is better!)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of Italian style diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 block (8 oz) of cream cheese or neufchatel (less fat)
  • 1 lb. of ground sausage or chicken/turkey sausage
  • 4 cups of chicken broth 
Instructions
  • Brown the sausage and put all ingredients in crockpot,
  • chunking up the cream cheese.
  • Cook on low for 4-6 hrs.
Serves 4-6

*Keep an eye on your tortellini, it may be done sooner.
*If still soupy, leave lid off for the last half hour or so of cooking.
*For a vegetarian version, omit sausage and use vegetable broth instead.
**If you use neufachtel (1/3 fat of cream cheese) be prepared that it doesn't melt as well and leaves little curds.
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Muffin Tin Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipes

Ingredients
Cake:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Topping:
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 pineapple rings
  • 6 maraschino cherries
  • upside down cake supplies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, and pineapple juice. Using a hand mixer, beat for 2 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat another 2 minutes.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt together butter and brown sugar over low heat. Stir frequently until well combined.
  6. Spray jumbo muffin pan with non-stick spray. Then spoon brown sugar mixture evenly into the bottom of each section. (Approx. 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. each.)
  7. Place a pineapple ring into each section, pressing gently to fit. Then add a cherry to the center of each ring.NOTE: If you only have a standard sized muffin tin, try using pineapple tidbits or trim the rings to fit.
  8. Pour batter, evenly divided, into each section. (Approx. 1/3 cup each.)
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then loosen with a butter knife along the edges.
  10. Place a piece of waxed paper or a cookie sheet on the counter, to catch any drips. Then invert the muffin tin onto a wire rack. Enjoy!
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Oreo Snowman Pops

Ingredients
  • Oreo Cookies
  • Cake pop sticks
  • Vanilla quick-melt candy coating
  • Orange Tic-Tacs for nose (cut in half)
  • Black frosting for eyes and mouth
Instructions
  1. Insert the cake pop stick in the cream filling of the Oreo, pressing gently so the cookie doesn’t break.  
  2. Melt the vanilla candy coating according to package instructions.  Drizzle a very light coating over the cake pop, coating all sides.  Do not dip the cookie – it will fall off the cake pop stick!  I found the drizzle method much more effective.  You need to go gently here, as the coating can be heavy.   If your cake pop sticks are coming undone at this point, try adding a little bit of the candy coating as glue to get them to stick inside.
  3. Place your pops on wax or parchment paper to cool.
  4. Before the candy coating has cooled completely and is still slightly soft, push the snowman’s nose into the middle of the cookie.  Allow to cool before adding the black frosting dots for eyes and mouth.
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Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup of any Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1/2 cup of Honey
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 Garlic Clove, smashed and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Reserve 4 tablespoons of sauce and then pour the rest over the chicken, toss and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 30-45 minutes at room temp.
  3. Preheat the grill on medium- medium high heat, grill chicken for about 6 to 7 minutes per side or until chicken is done.
  4. Pour the reserved 4 tablespoons of honey-mustard sauce over chicken and let rest under foil for about 5 minutes.
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Skillet Pizza

Ingredients
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Toppings of Choice
  • 10 inch non-stick skillet
Instructions
  1. Set skillet over medium high heat.  Add a layer of Mozzarella cheese to the bottom of the pan. When the cheese starts bubbling, add toppings (don't overload it or you'll have a tough time later). Here I just added pepperoni.
  2. Start watching the edges of the cheese. Once the edges start to brown, you can use a spatula to lift the them, as seen below.
  3. Once the edges are browned all the way around, you can carefully slide the spatula under the pizza and slide it off onto a plate.
  4. Let the pizza cool just a bit so the cheese will firm up. Then you can use a pizza cutter to slice it up. Now you can pick it up with your hands and eat it just like a regular pizza. It gives you all the taste, but leaves out all the carbs!
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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Ingredients
For Pancakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cinnamon Filling:
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Glaze:
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese 
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  • Prepare Cinnamon Filling first: In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a small zip baggie and set aside. (You want this to rest and 'set up' while your preparing the other ingredients. Its best if it gets a little thicker, you dont want it liquidy)
  • Prepare Pancake batter:  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in milk, oil and egg just until batter is moistened.  (a few small lumps are fine)OR If using a boxed mix, prepare according to package directions.
  • Prepare Cream Cheese glaze: In a medium glass or microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter and cream cheese until melted. Whisk together until smooth, then whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Scoop about 1/2 cup of pancake batter onto the skillet. Snip the corner of your cinnamon filling baggie and squeeze a spiral of the filling onto the top of the pancake. When bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip carefully with a spatula and cook until lightly browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer pancake to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you make the rest of the pancakes.
  • When ready to serve, spoon warmed cream cheese glaze on top of each pancake. Enjoy!
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Skinny Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs chicken - cooked and chopped or shredded
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 can corn
  • 1/2 can black beans - rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4 Lo-Carb Tortillas
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish and spread evenly.
  3. Place two tortillas in bottom of baking dish and then add another thin layer of enchilada sauce. Use a spoon to make sure all of each tortilla is thoroughly coated with enchilada sauce.
  4. Evenly distribute your cooked chicken on top of the sauce and tortillas.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together beans, corn, and onion.
  6. Spread the bean/corn/onion mixture over the chicken layer.
  7. Layer 3/4 cup of cheese on top of chicken and beans.
  8. Top with two more tortillas and another layer of enchilada sauce.
  9. Top with remaining cheese.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes.
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Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

Ingredients
  • 10 ounces dry pasta (I used a combination of rotini, farfalle and penne. Any similar size would work.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces chive and onion cream cheese 
  • 1 cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup whole milk, heavy cream or half-and-half (I used half-and-half)
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (cubed or shredded)
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, cut into large chunks (I used grape tomatoes sliced in half)
  • Fresh basil or parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Coat a medium casserole dish with non-stick spray.  (Mine was a 10" round, but a 9 x 13 would work fine.)
  3. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water to al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  4. While pasta is cooking, heat butter in a medium saute pan set to medium heat.  Add in the onion and garlic.  Cook for 3 - 4 minutes to slightly soften veggies.  Do not brown.
  5. Add in cream cheese and stir to melt.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir in sour cream, milk, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using).  Stir until everything is well-combined and melted.  Turn off heat.
  6. Combine the pasta, chicken, spinach and tomatoes in a large bowl.
  7. Add in the sauce and gently stir to coat.
  8. Pour into the prepared baking dish.  (I drizzled in a little more half-and-half over the mixture once it was in the baking dish because it looked a little dry to me.)
  9. Top with the remaining mozzarella.
  10. Bake uncovered for about 20 -25 minutes ... or until casserole is bubbly and beginning to brown.  Top with basil or parsley for garnish.
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Salami and Cream Cheese Roll-ups

Ingredients
  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 -3/4 pounds salami sliced thin (thinner is better as it rolls easier)
  • 1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
Instructions
  • Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap on the work surface. Place the cream cheese on top of the plastic wrap and cover with another piece of wrap the same size.  With a rolling pin roll the cream cheese out into an even layer, approximately 1/4-inch thick. Watch the edges of the cream cheese as it rolls out because the top wrap can work its way under the cheese. To avoid this, occasionally pull the wrap off and replace it to continue rolling the cheese into a rectangle.
  • Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and add the salami, overlapping the slices until all the cream cheese is covered, lightly press the salami into the cream cheese to make it stick. Replace the plastic wrap and carefully flip the salami and cheese so that the cream cheese is again on top.  Remove the wrap and place the sliced green peppers over the cheese.
  • Roll the salami over the cream cheese being careful not to leave any air space (this make it harder to cut later) and use the plastic wrap to pull it tight as you work. Roll the meat log and press the outer layers tight to hold it all together.  Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight (it can be cut without chilling, but the longer it chills the easier it is to cut.)  Cut the meat slices thin, taste one on a cracker, as large crackers may need a thicker slice, while smaller crackers will need one cut thinner. Enjoy with your favorite beverage.
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Rosemary Garlic Butter Steaks

Ingredients
  • 4 rump steaks (1 to 1.5-inches thick), room tº
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A splash of white or red wine 
Instructions
  1. Mince garlic and rosemary. Add 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) and mince it a little longer. You can also do this with a mortar and pestle. Rub the paste over both sides of each steak.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium/high heat and melt butter. Add oil to prevent it from burning too much. Add steaks, season them with pepper and cook 1 or 2 minutes on each side. Turn it over, cook it 2 or 3 more minutes and add the wine (you can add extra garlic and rosemary now too to the skillet). It will steam furiously. Cook the steak 2 or 3 additional minutes for medium rare, remove steaks and let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the wine until reduced and a kind of sauce if formed. Slice the steaks and serve them with the sauce.
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Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients
  • 2 boneless chicken breast
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 c. Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 1/3 c. jalapeno peppers, diced and deseeded (about 3 small jalapeno peppers)
  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 c. plain bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • butcher twine or toothpicks
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
  2. Make a slit in the middle of each of the chicken breast, about an inch long. You don't want to make the slit too long where it will split the chicken breast. just long enough to make a pocket in the middle of the breast. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, use a wooden spoon and stir the cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Add the Monterrey Jack cheese and diced jalapeno peppers and stir until well combined.
  4. With your hands, take a generous amount of the cheese mixture and stuff it inside of each chicken breast. You don't want to over stuff the chicken to the point where you can't close the chicken breasts but get as much cheese mixture inside as much as you can.
  5. Now that the chicken breasts are stuffed, use two pieces of butchers twine to wrap around the chicken breast to secure the cheese mixture. Double tie the twine, make a knot, and cut off the loose pieces of twine. If you do not have butchers twine, use a couple toothpicks to stick through the open part of the chicken breast to secure the cheese mixture.
  6. In separate plates, lay out the flour and bread crumbs. Place the whisked eggs in a shallow bowl or plate. Take each chicken breast and coat with the flour first, the egg, and then the bread crumbs.Make sure that each chicken breast is evenly coated with each addition.
  7. Once coated, place a large saute pan on the stove with medium high heat, drizzle the pan with the olive oil, and once the oil is ready saute each chicken breast for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  8. Place inside the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes and allow to cool before serving.
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Grilled Stuffed Chicken Italiano

Ingredients
  • 4 - 4 oz. chicken breasts
  • 4 roasted red pepper strips
  • approximately 20 baby spinach leaves
  • 4 Weight Watchers String Cheese
  • light Italian dressing for basting
Instructions
  1. Preheat indoor or outdoor grill to med-high.
  2. Butterfly the chicken breasts*
  3. Place about 5 baby spinach leaves in middle, slightly to one side.
  4. Put roasted red pepper, and Weight Watchers String Cheese on top of spinach.
  5. Roll like a cigar, and put 1-2 toothpicks on ends to hold together well.
  6. Grill for 5 minutes, turn and grill 5 more minutes. Check for doneness and turn again if needed, until cooked through (10-15 minutes depending on you grill and thickness of chicken).
  7. Serve as is or slice to ensure chicken is fully cooked.
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Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • ½ lb. (3-4) carrots
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Cook both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until tender. Meanwhile, slice the celery and peel and slice the carrots. Add the celery and carrots to the pot and continue to sauté for about 5 more minutes.
  2. Drain the can of black beans and add it to the pot along with the dry lentils, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and some freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Finally, add the diced tomatoes (with juices) and vegetable broth, and stir to combine.
  3. Increase the heat to medium high and allow the pot to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, place a lid on top, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, test the lentils to make sure they are tender. If not, continue to simmer until they are tender.**
  4. Taste the soup and add salt as needed (I added ½ tsp). Serve hot.
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German Cucumber Salad

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 medium to large tomato
  • 2 slices onion (slice like you would for onion rings)
  • 2-4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp dill
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Peel and slice your cucumber, slice your tomato, and slice your onion. I like to slice, then quarter the onion because its easier to eat.
  2. In a bowl, combine dill and salt.
  3. Add sour cream or yogurt and lemon juice to taste. Mix well.
  4. Add onion, cucumber, and tomato to the mixture and stir until the veggies are coated with the dressing.
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honey balsamic chicken tenders

Ingredients
  • 2 medium (1.5 lbs) chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • to taste salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
Instruction
  1. Slice the chicken breasts on a diagonal into six strips each. Place the strips in a quart sized zip top bag along with ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, one clove of garlic (minced), 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients in the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When you’re ready to cook, heat the second tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the strips until browned on both sides (about 2-3 minutes each side). You may have to do two batches. Place the cooked chicken on a clean plate.
  3. Turn the heat down on the skillet to medium-low and add the butter and last 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the skillet. Use a spoon to stir the mixture and dissolve the sticky bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Once the mixture has dissolved together, add the honey, increase the heat, and allow the sauce to simmer until thickened (about five minutes).
  4. Once the sauce has thickened, season to taste with salt and pepper (I just used a pinch of each). Add the chicken back to the skillet and toss to coat in the warm balsamic sauce. Serve immediately.
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Cookies & Cream Cookie Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 package Cookies n'Creme pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 10 Oreos, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Instruction
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Stir in pudding mix.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla to cream mixture.
  5. Mix flour, baking soda and salt into mixture.
  6. Chop ten oreos into small pieces. 
  7. Add chopped Oreo's and white chocolate chips to dough.
  8. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  9. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes or until slightly brown on top.
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Easy Three Cheese Pinwheel Appetizers

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 can Pillsbury crescent rounds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoon cooked onion
  • 1 garlic clove
Instruction
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In small bowl, mix all cheeses and mayonnaise until well blended and soft. Add basil, onion, and garlic.
  3. Roll dough into long rectangle. Spread cheese mixture evenly over dough.
  4. Starting at shorter side, roll up into a cylinder. Set in fridge until ready to bake.
  5. When firm, cut into 16 slices. Place, cut side down, on cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
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cheesy bacon potato bites party!

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, I used 3 large potatoes
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked, drained & chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease).
  • 2 cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instruction
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush cookie sheet very lightly with reserved bacon grease. OR you could spray it with cooking spray to save a few calories.
  2. Wash & slice potatoes, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. I like them best on the thick side.
  3. Place potato slices in a large pot, cover with water & cook until water boils. Boil for about 5 minutes or less, depending on the thickness of your potatoes. You DON'T want them cooked through, and you definitely still want them firm or they will fall apart.
  4. Carefully drain potatoes and arrange on prepared cookie sheet, shingle style, slightly overlapping. Lightly brush potatoes with reserved bacon grease. Or if you are anti-bacon grease, brush with vegetable oil or olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste and chopped bacon.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through. I placed it under the broiler for 2 minutes after baking for a little extra crunch.
  7. Top with chopped green onions.
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Seafood Linguine

Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb) Linguine pasta
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1½ cups whipping cream (35% milk fat)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 can frozen lobster pieces, thawed and broken into pieces
  • 12 -15 large scallops, foot removed
  • 2 cups frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, thawed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in large frying pan.
  2. Add shallots and saute until clear, add garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute then transfer to a bowl.
  3. Add more butter if necessary,cook scallops until lightly browned on both sides (approximately 2-3 minutes per side)
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, drain and reserve ⅛ cup pasta water.
  5. Add lobster, shrimp, cream and shallots/garlic mixture to pan with scallops.
  6. Heat over medium/low temperature until cream comes to a low simmer.
  7. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and parsley to seafood mixture, keep warm.
  8. Add cooked linguine and pasta water to seafood mixture, stir and serve immediately.
  9. *TIP* – Heat dinner bowls/plates and serving bowl
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