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Recipe: Broccoli Cheese Mashtini


Mashtinis are all the rage lately.  Seems it is THE thing to have a Mashtini Bar at weddings.   Mashed potatoes layered with all sorts of toppings in a martini glass…  what a cool idea!

I wanted to do something different.. so I decided to have some side dish fun with it… mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli topped with a cheddar cheese sauce and then sprinkled with some French’s French Fried Onions… delish!

TIPS

Use any mashed potatoes you want.. homemade (whatever your favorite recipe is or mine) or store bought…

Here is a link to my cheddar cheese sauce… or you can use your own.

I used frozen broccoli florets.. fresh or frozen both work… make sure you pick them out of any water that develops while cooking them.

It’s as easy as that….

I hope you try this fun way to serve a side dish.







Recipe:  Broccoli Cheese Mashtini

All you need:

Martini Glasses
Steamed broccoli
French’s French Fried Onions

All you need to do:

Layer about 2/3 of a cup of mashed potatoes into the martini glass.

Place steamed broccoli florets over the potatoes.

Spoon some cheddar cheese sauce on top.

Sprinkle with the French fried onions.

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Recipe: BBQ Chicken Quesadillas


This delicious spin on a Quesadilla is easy to make .. and one everyone will love.   BBQ sauce, chicken, bacon smothered in cheddar cheese… what’s not to love?

This quick and easy recipe makes for great weeknight dinner or even a weekend lunch.  Serve it with some fries and coleslaw…  lip smackin’ good!

TIPS

I made this with my Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce.. you can use that recipe or your favorite BBQ sauce.
Any cooked chicken will work.. or.. you can simply bake boneless skinless chicken breasts smothered in BBQ Sauce.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through… it’s as easy as that.

Don’t make the chicken too soupy .. otherwise you’ll have a mess.. add just enough to make the chicken wet with BBQ sauce.  Serve additional BBQ sauce with the quesadillas.

Don’t over do the chicken either.. otherwise if it’s too heavy they will fall apart when making them in the Quesadilla maker or trying to flip them in a skillet.

Make the bacon in the oven.. it’s easy and clean up is a snap.  Click here for the instructions.

Use 8 inch tortillas.. the smaller ones are easier to handle.

Cheddar works wonderfully.. but if you prefer a Colby Jack mixture better.. that will work also.

Try it.. you’ll like it!







Recipe:  BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

All you need:

Cooked chicken, finely diced or shredded
Bacon, cooked and chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese
8 inch Tortillas
Olive oil cooking spray

All you have to do:

In a medium bowl mix the shredded or diced chicken with BBQ sauce… just enough to moisten the chicken.  Set aside.

Spray your quesadilla maker or skillet with olive oil cooking spray.

Heat the maker or skillet.

Lay a tortilla in the pan… sprinkle with a thin coat of cheddar cheese, then sprinkle with the prepared chicken.

Sprinkle with chopped cooked bacon.  Then sprinkle another thin coat of cheddar cheese.  Place another tortilla on top and cook until both sides are lightly brown and cheese has melted.

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Recipe: Crockpot Breakfast Casserole


Crockpot Breakfast Casseroles are a terrific idea for camping or holiday breakfasts for a crowd when ovens are not available for baking or are being used for other foods for later in the day…. or for when you just don’t want to be cooking breakfast while everyone else is enjoying the morning.

I must admit I was skeptical when I first saw these… I am a baked casserole kinda gal… I’d rather prepare the casserole in advance and bake it… but always open-minded when comes to trying new things in the kitchen.. I tried it and … I liked it!

It was quick and easy.. and I must say waking up to the smell of breakfast already made was very nice.

I read lots of recipes.. I mean LOTS.. and read probably a hundred reviews and comments… and most were very much on the mark as far as up sides and down sides to making this.  Here is a recap .. take note carefully… this recipe may or may not be for you… depending on your reasons for trying it or your preferences.

TIPS

First … let’s start with the Pros…. This was an excellent breakfast for casual activities like camping..  can’t say anything negative about it.. it is perfect… easy to do up ahead and let cook on its own.  Also great for keeping hot.

I stress casual dining…  because for holidays, I’m picky about what I serve… and I personally like the look of a casserole… BUT… and I stress the but here… the taste and texture of a baked casserole with the same ingredients and this is virtually the same… so here’s where preference matters… 

There really are only two Cons here…. in a casserole dish… say a 9 x 13 pan.. it’s easier to cut squares of the casserole than trying to cut it out from a crockpot… but.. here again… not everyone serves a casserole cut.. a lot of people just scoop the casserole out.. so this Con may or may not apply to you.

The biggest Con… and it is a big one… a lot of recipes say to cook it for anywhere from 8-12 hours on low (depending on the recipe you read)… and almost ALL the complaints in their comments and reviews said the same thing.. the casserole either burned or was way too dry.   The chorus of reviews all sang the same tune.. cooking time was way too long.  Based on my experience.. I agree whole heartedly.

Why is this a Con you might ask…. well… an 8 to 12 hour cooking time works well when putting it together before bed and going to bed and waking up to breakfast done in the crockpot.  

However…  the cooking time really should be about 6 hours MAX.  I cooked mine for 6 hours on low.. my crockpot’s low setting is slow to get started… I have another crockpot that heats up quickly and 5 hours with that pot would be the Max.  You must know thy crockpot to decide how long to cook your casserole.  AND you would either have to have a timer that shuts the pot off for you or plan to go to bed late and get up mighty early to turn it off.  Again you have to decide if this works for you.

About the complaints that the casserole was dry (aside from over cooking issues) .. almost all agreed the other recipes had too many potatoes… from looking at the recipes.. I agreed and cut back on the amount…  the amount listed in my recipe worked well.  If you use a brand that has a larger bag.. don’t use all of it.. just eyeball the cut-back.  My casserole was not dry.

And finally, a lot of comments for some of the recipes complained the casserole was bland.   This is completely a personal preference… it’s no different than a baked casserole.  Make it like you prefer it..

If you’re not into onions and peppers in your breakfast foods .. leave them out… if you like a kick with your breakfast… use a bit of cayenne in your egg mixture…  or use a spicier sausage… or maybe chop a jalpena pepper into the potato mixture.

When you cook the breakfast sausage, remove it from your skillet with a slotted spoon, don’t drain on paper towels, you want some grease to cook into the potatoes in the crockpot.

You can use chorizo for a Mexican take on this recipe… but chorizo is far greasier than the regular breakfast sausage.. so be sure to drain the cooked chorizo on paper towels after cooking it and before placing it in your crockpot.

That brings me to two things I did with my casserole… I tossed some shredded cheese in with my potato mixture to make sure the cheese flavor got down to the bottom… and I also tossed extra peppers and onions into the potatoes… commercial blends of O’Brien Potatoes don’t, in my opinion, have enough peppers and onions… but using them gives cooking this a quick start to your prep.

Use whatever cheese you prefer… Monterey Jack, Colby Jack and cheddar all work well.

If you plan this for a holiday breakfast.. do a trial run on a weekend to try it out… I think this worked well and tasted great.  I had leftovers for during the week.. a quick nuke and breakfast was made.

This will serve about 8, depending on portion size.

I hope you find this is for you!







All you need:

1 bag (28 oz.) Oreida O’Brien Potatoes
¼ cup diced red pepper
¼ cup diced green pepper
¼ cup diced onion
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 eggs
¼ cup Fat Free Half and Half
Cooking oil spray

All you have to do:

Spray the crockpot with cooking oil spray.

Toss the potatoes, diced peppers, diced onions and ½ cup shredded cheese in a bowl.

Place the potato mixture into the crockpot.

Layer a cup of shredded cheese on top of the potatoes.

Layer the cooked and crumbled sausage on top of the cheese.

Layer the remaining cheese on top.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and Fat Free Half and Half.

Pour the egg mixture over the layers in the crockpot.

Put the lid on the pot and set it on low.  Cook for 5-6 hours until cheese begins to brown and the casserole is bubbly.

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Recipe: 30 Minute Chili


I love making Chili in the fall and winter…. It just seems to go with the change in weather and colder temps.   I like to make it in my crockpot..  a big ole pot full… but sometimes..  I forget to set it up in the morning… so the 30 Minute Chili recipe is the one.

The recipe isn’t all that different from the crock pot version…  it is a smaller version… and I do add a small can of tomato sauce or tomato paste to help thicken it up quicker.

TIPS

As I mentioned…. I add tomato sauce… plain tomato sauce… I usually use Hunts… the small 8 oz. can.  I use tomato sauce if I’m serving the Chili in bowls and want it still a little runny.

I add tomato paste instead of tomato sauce.. if I want it thicker… if I plan on using it for Chili Dogs or if I’m serving it in bread bowls…  the bread bowls will get less soggy with a thicker Chili.

I use extra lean ground beef… 93/7%.. it’s a little more expensive but healthier.

If you use ground turkey instead of beef.. you will need to tinker with the spices,  ground turkey makes for a blander Chili.

For the canned tomatoes, I use one can (14.5 oz.) Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Mild Green Chilies or one can (14.5 oz.) Del Monte Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapenos… you can substitute any other canned tomatoes you prefer.

The downside of making Chili in a pot on the stove is you will need to watch it a bit more… and stir it occasionally … keep the heat on the low side.. you want a low simmer not a raging boil.

The recipe calls for one bell pepper… green, red, yellow or a combination… your choice.   I love to use a combination of the three…

 As with most recipes.. use this as a guide… adjust the seasoning to your taste.  We like a little zip to our Chili… this recipe is not too spicy… it should be okay for kids and adults that prefer it lightly spicy.   Sour cream as a condiment helps tone down the spice as well.

If you like your beans a bit softer… like it comes out from cooking in a crockpot…. after rinsing your beans, place them in a microwaveable dish and microwave them on high for about 6-8 minutes before adding them into the pot.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy Chili!







Recipe:  30 Minute Chili

All you need:

1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 can kidney beans
1 can (14.5 oz) canned tomatoes with chilies*See TIPS
2 tablespoons plain tomato paste OR 1 can (8 oz.) plain tomato sauce *See TIPS
1 medium onion diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced *See TIPS
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne or to taste
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cornstarch
Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
Chopped green onions for garnish
Sour cream for garnish

All you need to do:

Brown the ground beef in a medium to large pot until no longer pink.

Drain off any excess fat.

Add the remaining ingredients (except for garnishes).  Bring chili to a low boil.  Lower heat and cook at a steady simmer for 25 minutes.  Stir often.

Serve with garnishes.

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Witch’s Hat Cookies


How cute are these???

These adorable Witch’s Hat Cookies are easy to make and no baking required.   Who says cute things have to be a lot of work?  I certainly don’t.


These are made from Fudge Stripe Cookies, Hershey Kisses, and a bit of orange frosting you can get in a can.


TIPS

I was all set to buy one of those little tubes… the tip would have been perfect for making a little bow.. but alas.. it was gel…. and that wouldn’t have shown up as well… so I settles on the big can of frosting.. I will find more uses for it .. for sure.

I popped the cookies and the kisses in the fridge before putting the cookie hat’s together.. so they chocolate wouldn’t get all over the place.

That’s about it… 

It’s quick and easy.. a great little treat for a party tray or just the kids after school… of course… adults like them too.. who can resist chocolate?... well I suppose some people can.. I’ve always been suspicious of those people!







Recipe:  Witch’s Hat Cookies

All you need:

Fudge Stripe cookies
Hershey Milk Chocolate Kisses, unwrapped
Orange frosting in a can

All you have to do:

Squeeze a small amount of frosting around the hole in the center of the cookie.  Gently press a chocolate kiss onto the cookie, over the orange frosting… so it seeps out around the kiss.



That’s it!

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Banana Snack Cake


Recently we were talking about foods that seem to have disappeared… and Snack Cake was among them.   Growing up, my Mother made Bundt cakes.. all kinds… it was her thing.  Well, Snack Cakes were my thing when my son was growing up.   I admit I used the mix.. but they were good… perfect for a small snack.. perfect for in a lunch box…  Banana Snack Cake was a favorite…

Somewhere between the years of raising my son and now.. they disappeared.   Apparently there is a mix or two out there still.. but not the variety they once had.  For the life of me.. I can’t imagine why they stopped making all of them.  They were quick and easy…  albeit not gourmet… but really how many family favorites are actually “gourmet”?

I had ripe bananas on the counter staring me down… so I decided to make a Banana Snack Cake… I hunted down recipes…. I wanted a quick, easy and simple recipe… one that would truly replace or at the very least try to replace those mixes.

I settled on one from Cooking Light… I made very few changes…

TIPS

Yogurt or sour cream…..I didn’t have plain yogurt (or even vanilla yogurt).. okay I did have Greek yogurt in the fridge but it is really really tangy… not for this recipe anyway….. so I subbed sour cream.. a great choice… more on that later.  Feel free to revert back to yogurt.. although I highly recommend you use vanilla yogurt if you use yogurt.

The recipe called for ¾ cup mashed banana (1 medium)…. I had several really large bananas.. so I mashed one of them… it made about ½ cup.. so not sure where they got 1 medium to mash into ¾ cup… and since I didn’t want to cut back on the banana… after all this is a Banana Snack Cake.. I used 2 bananas and had 1 cup of banana… so I cut back the sour cream to ¾ cup… again.. good choice.. the cake came out perfect.. the texture was perfect..  moist and just a tad dense.

The recipe called for only 1/3 cup sugar.. I was suspicious… and with good reason.. I like cutting back as much as the next person… but I’m not about to consume calories that are tasteless just for the sake of eating cake… I followed the recipe nonetheless… the result … was poor… great texture… barely tasted the banana and just not sweet enough…  so I iced it thinly with Fluffy White Frosting (about 4-5 tablespoons of frosting)… perfect!

If you don’t want to ice the cake with some frosting.. you will need to up the sugar in the recipe to ¾ cup.. otherwise.. it will be just too bland.

This cake should be refrigerated.  For some reason it brings out the banana flavor… I also would recommend … if you want a stronger banana flavor… upping the banana amount to 1 ½ cups (for me .. that would be three very ripe bananas… I would only slightly cut back the sour cream… just when you bake it be sure your toothpick comes out clean when testing it.

This was made in a 9 inch round pan… you can also make it in a 9 inch square pan.

Try this wonderful snack cake…. and…






Recipe:  Banana Snack Cake

All you need:

1 ½ cups flour
1/3 -3/4 cup sugar (see TIPS)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cups sour cream (see TIPS)
1 to 1 ½  cups mashed bananas (see TIPS)
¼ cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten

Cooking oil spray

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a 9 inch round or square cake pan with cooking oil spray.

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt).  
TIP:   I use a wire whisk to mix the ingredients evenly.

In a medium bowl combine the remaining ingredients, mixing well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Mine took only 20 minutes.. don’t over-bake.. you want this cake moist.

Remove from oven and cool completely.  *You can leave this in the pan or remove it… it’s up to you.  I left mine in the pan.

Put a thin layer of icing on the cake and refrigerate.   This cake is best served cold.

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It's Oktoberfest Time Again!

Picture from the Official Oktoberfest website© Fotostudio Kubinska & Hofmann - to see more pictures from the festivities go to the official website.

So What Exactly is Oktoberfest?

In case you were wondering what Oktoberfest is.... it's a 16 day festival held each year in Munich, Germany. This Bavarian festival runs from late September to early October. The festival traditionally ends on the first Sunday in October. It officially starts with the tapping of the first barrel of Oktoberfest beer. The popular festival attracts more than six million people. 2012 is the 179th Oktoberfest. Cities around the world hold Okoberfests modeled after the Munich fest.

The festival features fabulous German foods, music and, of course, beer. Some of the foods traditionally served at Oktoberfests are roast pork, potato pancakes, sausages (Bratwurst and Weisswurst, to name two), Sauerbraten (a German style pot roast), spaetzle, red cabbage, pretzels, strudel and many more wonderful German dishes. There is even a tent that serves only veal.

According to Wikipedia,“the original Oktoberfest occurred in Munich, on October 18, 1810, for the commemoration of the marriage between the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.”

For more information about Oktoberfest, go to Wikipedia and the official Oktoberfest site.

I would recommend you go to the official Oktoberfest site… it's a guide to all that there is to experience... the foods, the beer, the rides, the beer, the crowds of people, the beer(I think you get the idea), and information about attending, in case I’ve inspired you to hop a plane and go there. If you do, you can get some nifty official 2012 Oktoberfest souvenirs .... and send me some pictures!

Growing up in New York, we attended a yearly Oktoberfest and I loved the foods, the music and the festive atmosphere, I do miss going to it.

So to celebrate Oktoberfest... here are some classic German recipes ...







For Breakfast...


Bauernfrühstück is a hearty German Farmer’s Breakfast…









German Apple Cake is a delicious apple-rich coffee cake with a hint of cinnamon.












Main Dishes...




Chicken Cutlets with Hunter's Sauce Schnitzel smothered in a brown savory sauce with vegetables









Schnitzel - What Oktoberfest would be without a Schnitzel?












Jagerschnitzel has a wonderful mushroom sauce over the schnitzel. It’s often served with spaetzle (German dumpling noodles) or noodles.







Side Dishes...



Spaetzle are little dough "balls" or dumplings that are boiled.. delicious with sauces, a German tradition.









Roesti Potatoes - a German and Swiss tradition made with shredded potatoes, sauteed onion and grated cheese, all fried in a little butter...







German Potato Salad - served warm in a vinegar based dressing with bacon and onion











Green Beans with Onion and Bacon - the name says it all












German Potato Pancakes - these are pancakes made from mashed potatoes and onion..seasoned and fried in a bit of butter










Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage










And now for the Desserts...



German Apple Strudel - layers of flaky buttery pastry around an apple filling, topped with some powdered sugar







Black Forest Cherry Cake - dense chocolate cake, sprinkled with Kirsch, layered with fresh whipped cream and cherry filling








Schweinohren - a delicate flaky pastry, lightly sweet, made with honey and butter

Read more...

French Toast Sticks





I was introduced to French Toast Sticks by a friend at work.. a couple of times a week she would stop on her way to work and get some.  So finally I HAD to try them too.   Ohhh my.. they were very tasty indeed.
 
But unlike my friend, who was skinny no matter what she ate.. I was not.  I had to watch it.. so it became a once in a while treat.

Fast forward a few years… and I’m sitting at my desk planning out my blog posts.. and for some unknown reason I remembered French Toast Sticks.  A quick Google search yielded a number of recipes, none did anything to “float my boat”.  Too soft… not enough crunch.. odd additions… too plain…  So I set out to experiment.

I had been experimenting and trying all kinds of recipes… without much success lately… even the recipes I followed to the letter… just were not.. in my opinion… blog worthy.  I’m pretty picky about what I post here… recipes have to work… and work well.   I haven’t posted much this month for a variety of reasons.. and lack of success is among them.  So with a not-so-good track record this month.. I set out to try and come up with a good French Toast Sticks recipe. 

I’m happy to say .. this one worked… worked well… in fact extremely well…  it was easy… no fancy ingredients or pans needed… and not fat laden either.  So this is something you can make and not feel guilty about fat and calories.

TIPS

I used Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal… yes folks.. that IS the secret ingredient here.  Don’t skimp and buy store brand cereal.. buy the real thing.. it will be well worth it.

I put a couple of handfuls of cereal in my mini processor to make the crumbs.  You want it to be the consistency of regular bread crumbs you buy in the store… large pieces don’t stick well to the bread.. so make sure they are all chopped up… not too fine..

You can use real eggs (which is what I have listed here).. but egg beaters (egg substitute) works just as well…. don’t use the egg white version..  for some reason those don’t beat up very well.

I use Fat Free Half and Half… can’t say enough good things about the stuff… great in coffee.. great to cook with… has a long shelf life in the fridge… that’s what I used in my egg mixture… you can use regular half and half or whole milk.. but the half and half gives a good creamy texture .. it seems the crumbs stick to it well.
 
I used regular white sandwich bread… no need to buy extra thick bread.  Wheat and butter breads work also.

I used real butter … my only concession to fat in this dish.. you just can’t beat the flavor… the good news is … you don’t need much.   I used a little less than 2 tablespoons… for all of the 4 slices of bread (cut into thirds) … just heat your pan and cut a tablespoon with a knife.. stick the point of the knife in and slide it all over your pan.. letting it melt as you go… just enough to coat it.  Add bits of butter as you need it for the rest of the French Toast Sticks.

To further cut calories.. you can use a reduced calorie syrup for dunking them.

Enjoy this special treat.. you will love this.. quick… easy.. and delicious!






Recipe:  French Toast Sticks

All you need:

4 slices of bread, cut into thirds
3 eggs (or egg substitute)
Dash of Fat Free Half and Half
1 teaspoon vanilla
About 2 cups of crumbs of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
2 tablespoons butter
Syrup

All you need to do:

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs, half and half, and vanilla until well mixted.

Place the crumbs in another shallow bowl.

Place a piece of bread (1/3 of a slice) into the egg mixture for about 30 seconds, turning once.
Place the soaked bread in the crumbs… lightly tossing crumbs over it and gently pressing the crumbs on.  repeat until you have coated all the bread pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Swirl a small piece of butter around to just coat the surface.  *See TIPS

Add the coated bread in batches .. careful not to crowd the pan… so you can easily flip them.  When the bottom is golden, flip over and cook until the other side is golden also.

Remove to a plate and serve with syrup for dipping.

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Recipe: Chicken Scampi


Scampi … that wonderfully buttery garlicy dish… I usually make it with scallops or shrimp… but I decided I wanted to make it with chicken… and recently saw it on the menu at Olive Garden.. theirs has more ingredients added… peppers and onions… they use roasted garlic… I really love roasted garlic .. I like to have some in the fridge all the time… decided mushrooms would be a good addition… so the recipe was coming slowly together…

The end result was very flavorful and delicious… not a traditional scampi.. but who says you have to always be traditional anyway?

TIPS

I used bell peppers.. red and green.. you can also use yellow… I was tempted to leave them out.. but I’m glad I added them in.. it gave the sauce a really nice flavor. I used, what would have been one pepper… so half red… half green…

I decided on red onion… glad I made that choice too… it needed a stronger flavored onion.. in fact I ended up adding some onion powder to the sauce as well.

Roasted garlic… what can I say about roasted garlic… it has a wonderfully light buttery flavor… so if you use roasted garlic .. you will need lots.. it isn’t a typo when I list 3 tablespoons. Keep in mind.. I make my own roasted garlic.. so if you buy commercially made roasted garlic… you may have to adjust your quantities… start small and taste… and then adjust.

Making your own roasted garlic is easy and really quick.. I highly recommend it… Click here for instructions.

If you use regular garlic cloves… figure 3-4 medium sized cloves, minced. Again.. you can always add more…

I added white wine to my recipe… I use a Sauvignon Blanc… Yellow Tail is what’s in the cupboard now. It’s not expensive and gives so many dishes a really great flavor… the alcohol cooks off and leaves a wonderful flavor.

If you want to leave out the wine.. I suggest you use chicken broth or stock as a replacement.

Use my quantities of spices as a guide.. keep in mind… depending on the quality and the age of your spices.. yours may be stronger or weaker than mine… that also goes for the garlic and onion powders. Start with the low range and taste it… adjust as you go… that’s what I do. I started with the low amount and ended up with the high amount.. you may like it somewhere in between.

Because I dredged my chicken in seasoned flour first.. my sauce thickened up.. I ended up adding more butter… while it is loaded with fat… that … my friend is Scampi.. you could substitute with margarine.

This recipe makes 2 large servings… with a little extra… or 4 average servings. If you’re serving bread and salad with this.. figure 4 servings.

Serve this on a bed of spaghetti or angel hair pasta… let the excess sauce coat the pasta.. yummmm!

 






Recipe: Chicken Scampi

All you need:

4 thin boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
½ cup seasoned flour (flour, sprinkling of pepper, salt and garlic powder)
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons roasted garlic (See TIPS)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
½ - 1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ - ¾ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (See TIPS)
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (Optional)
½ -1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
½ -1 teaspoon onion powder (or to taste)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Cooked Pasta

 All you need to do:

In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium high heat. Do not let the butter brown.

Add the roasted garlic.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dredge the chicken in seasoned flour. 

Add the chicken to the hot butter and oil. Add the parsley, basil and oregano. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until chicken is white.

Add the peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Stir well and cook for about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat and add the white wine and lemon juice. Simmer about 10 minutes.

Taste the sauce and add garlic powder and onion powder to taste if needed.

Serve over cooked pasta with grated Parmesan cheese.

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Recipe: Cream Cheese Brownie Bites


Who doesn’t love Cream Cheese Brownies? Making them into bite sized is… well… perfect! Perfect for snacks … perfect for a party dessert tray… perfect to bring to a food day at work….

TIPS

You can use my Brownie recipe… or yours.. or even a boxed mix…. whichever way you prefer.

The cream cheese needs to be softened…. I made the mistake of letting it soften too much and the cream cheese mixture got too runny…. If that happens to you… store it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.. give it a good stir … if it’s creamy but not runny .. you are good to go.

If it did get too runny.. don’t be tempted to use it anyway without stiffening it up in the fridge.. I did that and while they tasted good.. you could barely taste the cream cheese swirl… they just tasted like brownies.

If you forget to set the cream cheese out of the fridge to soften.. you can soften it quickly…. click here for instructions.

Make sure to use non-stick mini muffin tins… the newer ones are the better ones to use.. their coating is much better and the bites pop out easily.

I used a melon baller to put the batter in the mini muffin well… it made it much easier to put it neatly in the well…. I didn’t fill the melon baller completely up.. you will need to adjust how much to scoop into the melon baller based on the size of the baller and your tin’s well.

This recipe makes approximately 48 Cream Cheese Brownie Bites.

Although I also listed the instructions to use mini paper cupcake wrappers… I recommend you don’t use them…. they sometimes stick in the wrappers… I, personally, have better luck just using non-stick mini muffin tins that are sprayed with cooking oil spray.

These are quick and easy to make… great for tail gate parties and party trays… a great addition to an assortment.






Recipe: Cream Cheese Brownie Bites

All you need:

Brownie Batter (my Recipe or yours or boxed)

For the Cream Cheese Swirl portion:

4 ounces Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray 4 mini muffin tins (12 mini muffins each) with cooking oil spray (butter flavor preferred)

OR

Fill each mini muffin tin with a mini paper cupcake cup.

Prepare the brownie batter according to the instructions of the brownie recipe you are using. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and cream cheese until smooth.

Add the egg and beat the mixture.

Add the flour and the vanilla extract, mix well.

Fill each 1/3 full with brownie batter.

Using a small spoon or melon baller (see TIPS), drop cream cheese batter on top of the brownie batter… the mini muffin well should be about 2/3 full.

Using a small blunt knife… swirl the chocolate and cream cheese batters. (I usually stuck the knife in toward the bottom and pull up so the brownie batter comes up to swirl in the cream cheese layer).

Bake 18 minutes.

Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Remove them from the pan and allow to cool on a rack.

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Recipe: Mushroom Stroganoff


For Stroganoff lovers… whether it’s beef, chicken or mushroom.. it’s all good… This recipe for Mushroom Stroganoff is a quick and easy meatless meal… and delicious too!

TIPS

I use mostly Portobello mushrooms.. I love the earthy flavor they have… If you’ve ever had a Portobello Burger.. you know what I mean.. they almost have a beefy flavor.

You can use an “exotic” blend of mushrooms for added flavor… substitute some of the mushrooms with them.

I use a dry white wine… Sauvignon Blanc is my wine of choice … it doesn’t have to be expensive… the current one in my cupboard is by Yellow Tail.

The alcohol cooks off and leaves a wonderful flavor behind … I highly recommend it.

I use butter .. it also adds to the flavor… be careful adjusting this recipe’s ingredients… otherwise your meal can end up bland.

I used beef broth with this.. you can also use chicken broth.. but again… I feel chicken broth just doesn’t have the same flavor punch that beef does.

You can use a vegetable broth … however.. it will change the flavor of this recipe.. vegetable broths tend to have a strong carrot flavor.. which really isn’t what this recipe is about.

This recipe only uses a half cup of sour cream.. I recommend the real deal… it is so much creamier than the lower fat ones.

Try this.. it’s delicious!






Recipe: Mushroom Stroganoff

All you need:

3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 large garlic clove, finely diced
1 pound Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
½ pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups beef broth, divided
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot buttered noodles

All you need to do:

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat.

Add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Take care not to allow them to brown. If they begin to brown, lower the heat a little.

Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, stirring occasionally.

Add the 1 cup of white wine.

Add 1 ½ cups of the beef broth (reserve the remaining ½ cup broth). Simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the 2 tablespoons of flour to the remaining ½ cup of beef broth. Stir well until all lumps disappear.

Add the flour mixture to the pan and stir well. Simmer until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and add the sour cream. Stir until the sour cream is well blended into the mixture and the mixture is to desired thickness.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over hot buttered noodles.

For the play by play recap....

Arghh! I'm sucha dip....I forgot to take a picture of the onions and garlic... so close your eyes and pretend you see them cooking... butter melted.. onions cooking... add the garlic... ohhh smell that aroma....that's it.. I knew you could do it..

Okay now we add the mushrooms....



They're getting soft...



In goes the wine...



Now for the beef broth...



Mix the flour and the remaining 1/2 cup beef broth... let it simmer.. let all those flavors mingle.. get to know each other... party a little...



Pour the flour mixture in ...



Give it a good stir and let it simmer...just until it thickens .. it should be a little runny still..



Off the heat it goes.... now for that sour cream.. gotta have sour cream.. yummmm... give it a good stir...



Now for those buttery noodles... and yes... we're ready...scoop some of that mushroom goodness over them... yummmmm

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Recipe: Steak and Mushroom Stew


This English version of Steak and Mushroom Stew is a hearty meal … served with warm fresh bread and side salad… an easy meal to prepare… perfect for a fall night.

TIPS

I use sirloin beef for this stew meat… the meat, when cooked at a low simmer is melt in your mouth tender.

You can start this meal in a pot on the stove and then transfer it to a crock pot to finish cooking or just cook it on top of the stove… either way works fine.

I used about a tablespoon of my Cajun seasoning mix… before you dismiss this.. my seasoning mix contains salt, oregano, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder and onion powder…. nothing too exotic. After cooking for hours you really can’t taste each individual spice.. it blends into the pot… trust me on this one…

I make up a jar of the spice blend and use it in many meals.. this is one of them.

If you chose not use my seasoning mix... season with your own seasoning to your taste.

I used Guinness Draught for the dark beer… you can use another dark beer if you prefer.

Try this …. an outstanding English stew.







Recipe: Steak and Mushroom Stew

All you need:

4 slices thick sliced bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
About 2 pounds sirloin beef stew meat
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning See TIPS
1 cup chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
1 pkg. (8 oz.) mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkling of salt
Sprinkling of black pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1 bottle (11.2 oz) Guinness Draught (dark beer)
2 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Chopped fresh parsley

All you need to do:

In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat until light brown and fat has rendered but bacon is NOT crisp. Remove the bacon to drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Season the beef with the Cajun seasoning. Add the beef in batches to the hot bacon fat in the pot. Brown on all sides and remove to a plate before adding next batch of beef. Repeat until all the beef is browned. Remove the beef to the plate.

Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the chopped garlic. Cook for another couple of minutes until onions are soft.

Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and flour. Stir well.

Add the beer and beef stock and mix well, scrape any bits off the bottom of the pot.

Add the beef back into the pot. Add the bay leaf, thyme and some chopped parsley (about 1 tablespoon).

Bring pot to a low simmer and simmer for 2 hours and add the bacon back into the pot.

Continue to simmer for another ½ - 1 hour until meat is extremely tender.

Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning.

Ladle into soup bowls or plates and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

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