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Monday, August 4, 2014

Bacon, Jalapeno and Pepper Jack Cheese Grilled Burger

So it's been awhile! I pretty much gave up on this blog because my life got so busy and I could no longer see spending time sitting at the computer and typing away recipes, which I'm pretty sure nobody looked at anyway. But then yesterday happened! I really don't like red meat, but I got a craving for a hamburger (which is weird to start with because I eat like one hamburger every couple of years) and it wasn't going to be satisfied until I actually ate a burger. Then I decided that just having any old burger wasn't going to do it either. So off to the store we went to purchase everything I needed to make this bad boy! I wasn't even going to put this on the blog, but this blog is a way for me to keep  my recipes organized and refer back to them in an easy manner. So if you are craving a grilled bacon, jalapeno and pepper jack cheese burger, this ones for you!

 *Makes 2 very large and filling burgers

Sesame Kaiser rolls
2 Angus beef patties (pre shaped and seasoned at the grocery store)
4 Pepper Jack cheese slices
1/2 lb bacon
3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and deveined ( I left some seeds in for some extra heat)

I can't tell you that there is actually a recipe for this burger. Just grill your favorite hamburger meat with the seasonings you like.While it is grilling, slice your jalapenos into strips. Saute in a pan with a little bit of butter until the jalapenos are tender, but not mushy. Fry up all the bacon until it's crisp. Place a few strips of bacon and 2 slices of cheese onto each patty toward the end of the cooking time, so the cheese will melt. (Place the bacon under the cheese so it stays put) Meanwhile, grill the buns with a little bit of butter on each side. Place the cooked hamburger onto a grilled bun. Top with the sauteed jalapenos and the rest of the bacon. Top with the other bun and enjoy!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chocolate Filled Cookies and Cream Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting

There is just not much to say about these beyond YUMMY!! It's my favorite way to make cupcakes because I love the added texture that the Oreo's give to it, plus...anything with Oreo's is just downright delicious! I took these to our Martial arts class that the hubby and I are taking. There is nothing like grown men that have been working out to devour cupcakes! It was actually kind of funny. Thankfully I was able to send the rest home with our instructor, so  he and his wife and daughter could consume the calories instead of me. Everyone loved them and I didn't have to eat any of the calories. That's definitely a win-win situation.


Makes 24 regular sized cupcakes

CUPCAKES
1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 large bag Oreos
2 Tbsp flour

FILLING: 
Chocolate Frosting in the spray can (sold on the baking aisle at most grocery stores)
*It's like the spray cheeses that are sold by the crackers. It's tall, skinny and has a long "shooter" type nozzle

FROSTING
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cube butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°
Place paper liners into your muffin tins. Twist 24 Oreos apart. Place the Oreo half with the filling, filling side up into the bottom of the muffin tins. Cut the other unfilled Oreo halves in half with a sharp knife. Save half of the cut up halves for crushing for the garnish and the other half to stick in the top of finished cupcakes. Follow the instructions on the cake mix and prepare the batter. Cut or break the whole Oreos  that are left in the package into quarters or eighths. It really does not matter. They will be placed into the batter and won't really show. I just liked smaller chunks in my cupcakes).

Mix the cut up sections of cookies (from the last step above) in a small bowl with 2 Tbsp flour. (this  keeps them from sinking in the cupcake, while it's baking) Stir the floured Oreos into the cupcake batter. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for about 16-20 min. When toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, they are done. Remove from oven and let cool until they are completely cool.

When the cupcakes are completely cooled, fill each cupcake with the filling by placing the nozzle of the frosting spray container, deep down into the middle of each cupcake. Spray and lift the frosting nozzle at the same time, so the frosting fills up and begins to come out  the top of the hole in the middle of the cupcake.

Now it's time to frost the cupcakes. Mix together the cream cheese and butter until blended well. Mix in the vanilla. Add sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time and blend well after each cup. You can use 3-4 cups depending on the frosting texture that you want. I tend to use closer to 4 cups because I like the piping consistency of thicker frostings, but it does make it much sweeter.

Grind up half of the Oreos that you halved earlier. Dust the top of frosted cupcakes with the Oreo powdered crumbs. Place the other half of the saved Oreo halves into the cupcake for decoration.
**Tip: The halved cookie that you place into the frosting tends to soften and fall over very easily. I suggest only placing this into the cupcake right as they are being served. Or you can just leave this step out. 

Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

It's not too often that I post a recipe that includes red meat. It's just not my favorite thing at all. I usually avoid it like the plague! So when my fitness trainer suggested this recipe to me, I kind of thought I would just make it for my hubby and I would make something else for myself. But as I was making it, it smelled so good and I actually got anxious to taste it. When it came out of the oven and I saw that hot bubbly cheese all over the top, I decided to give it a try. Oh boy am I glad I did! This meal was wonderful and it will definitely be made over and over again at this house. This summer, when my red bell peppers are ripe in my garden, I will try making it with those also. So thank you Randi, for the recipe suggestion. This one is a keeper!!
Right before I stuffed the peppers
Right after they came out of the oven. Gotta love all that cheesy goodness!
 Recipe Source: http://www.workoutbox.net/?p=497


Makes 3 servings

1 lb top sirloin steak, very thinly sliced
6 slices provolone cheese (you can use extra slices on top if you want yours extra cheesy)
3 large green bell peppers
1 red onion, sliced
8 oz white mushrooms sliced
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt/ pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°
Slice the top off each pepper and remove the ribbing and the seeds. Slice up the onions and the mushrooms.
In a large skillet, heat butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. When it's hot, add the sliced onions and sliced mushrooms. Continue to cook on low-med until the onions are caramelized, about 25-30 min.

Salt and pepper your steak slices. In a separate skillet, cook the steak in just a small amount of olive oil, for about 5 minutes, just until it's no longer pink. Add the steak to the onion, mushroom mixture and stir together.

Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of Provolone cheese. (see first picture above if needed). Fill each cheese lined pepper with steak, mushroom mixture until they are very full and overflowing. Top each filled pepper with a slice of Provolone cheese. Bake in 400° for approx 15 minutes or until the cheese on the top is a golden brown.
Serve warm.

Samoas Cookie Bars

Have you ever craved Girl Scout Cookies when it's NOT that time of year? Nope...neither have I! haha...but seriously, sometimes you just have a craving for one of those good old Samoa cookies that they sell. I knew when I found this recipe, that I would have to try them. It took me a long time to actually accomplish trying them, but I finally did it. Now it's taken me almost a month to get them onto this blog. Between working at my job, working out, and taking a Martial art a few nights a week, I am one busy gal! When I made these, I promised myself to only try one little bite and I actually succeeded. I took them to work and the students and staff gobbled them up fast enough that I didn't have to fight my temptations.
Woo Hoo!! Thank goodness, because if they hadn't, I am positive I could have consumed the entire pan all by myself. Yes...they are THAT good!

Recipe Source: http://bakingbites.com/2009/02/homemade-girl-scout-cookies-samoas-bars/

Makes 30 bars

For the cookie base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla 
 2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

Start by  making the cookie base. Preheat your oven to 350°
Spray a 9 x 13 pan with Pam or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter, until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg and vanilla. Put your mixer on low speed and gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. It will probably look somewhat like wet sand.
Pour the crumbly dough mixture into your greased pan and press it all out into an even layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until it is set and the edges are lightly browned. Cool completely before before putting the topping on.

For the topping:
3 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
1 (12 oz) pkg of Kraft caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk
10 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
 
Preheat the oven to 300°
Spread out the coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast the coconut for  20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the coconut is a light golden color. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Unwrap the caramels and place them in a large microwave safe bowl. Add the salt and the milk. Cook on high for 1 minute and stir. Cook 1 more minute and stir. Continue this process for 3-4 minutes until the caramel is all melted.
When the caramel is smooth, fold in the toasted coconut with a spatula.
Using a spoon, plop dollops of the topping all over the cookie base. Using a spatula, or the back of a spoon, spread the topping into an even layer. Let topping set until it is completely cooled.
When it's all cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter.
Once the bars are cut, melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl by heating on high for about 30 seconds and stirring. Then heat them 15 more seconds and stir. Continue until they are completely melted, but be sure to stir in between or they will scorch and burn.
Dip the bottom only, of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Place the remaining chocolate  into a Ziploc baggie. Snip a small corner off with scissors and you can now drizzle the chocolate over the bars to finish them. .
Let chocolate completely set.
Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Baked Oatmeal Cups

Today on this beautiful, sunny Southern California day, I decided to take some time in the kitchen to prepare some healthier snacks and some quick, easy and healthy breakfasts to grab on the go for those mornings when we just can't seem to get it together in time to eat or pack healthy snacks before we leave for work. Honestly, that doesn't happen to me very often, because I am always sure to make time to eat. I mean, seriously....I have my priorities straight ;)
Anyway, I bagged up individual snack size bags of nuts and dried fruits for work. I made enough to last a month. Woo Hoo! Then I made these yummy baked oatmeal cups. These are going to be my new favorite "go to" in a hurry breakfast. They are so easy to throw together and I love that you can put different toppings on each one, so they can be individualized for everyone in your family. Next time I make them, I would spray the cupcake liners with Pam, because they stuck just a little bit, but other than that, I would say they turned out perfect.
This is what they looked like just before going into the oven


This is right after they came out of the oven. Look at all that wonderful fruit and delicious chocolate chip goodness!

Recipe Source: http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/personal-sized-baked-oatmeal-with-individual-toppings-gluten-free-diabetic-friendly/

Yield: 22 muffins

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups applesauce, unsweetened
½ cup banana, mashed
½ cup honey or blue agave syrup
5 cups, rolled oats
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2¼ cups lowfat milk (you can use your preference of milk)

Optional toppings:cranberries, frozen fruit, chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°
Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and honey together in a bowl.
Add in oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and mix well with wet ingredients.
Pour in milk and stir until well combined.
Pour mixture evenly into muffin tin cups lined with cupcake liners. (I suggest spraying the liners with Pam)
If using toppings add them onto the tops of muffins now.
Bake 30 minutes until a toothpick in center comes out clean.
Cool and enjoy or freeze them in gallon freezer bags.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Pulled Pork with Honey Jalapeno Lime Slaw on a Grilled Onion Bun

I've always been told that it's best to leave the crock pot lid on at all times when cooking, so as not to let all the heat escape. Well....it's confession time! I think I l lifted the lid at least 5 times to taste this for quality control because I couldn't resist the smell of it! Of course I waited until after the pork was cooked through, pulled and back in the sauce before the temptation overwhelmed me. I put this in my crock pot when I left for work this morning and oh the joy of coming home to a BBQ pulled pork smell in my house after work, was heavenly. I was so excited to try these tonight for dinner that I actually overloaded my sandwich and was forced to use a fork to eat it, because it was too hard to pick up. But trust me, even with a fork...this sandwich was incredible. There are so  many wonderful tastes and textures that come together to create a perfect blend. Sweet, spicy, crunchy, smooth...just to name a few. So if you are looking for a quick and tasty crock pot meal to throw together, this just might be the right one for you!

For the Pulled Pork:
 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries ( I used blueberries and raspberries) *Original recipe calls for cherries
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
1 bottle BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
3 lb pork shoulder
2 tsps paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
 
For the Slaw:
 
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 (10 oz) bag cole slaw mix
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
 
Directions

Combine first 4 Pulled Pork ingredients in the bottom of the crock pot. Mix in 1/2 of the BBQ sauce.
Season the pork shoulder with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper and place on top of the BBQ sauce mixture. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce on top.
Cook on low for about 6-7 hours, or until the pork is tender and can be pulled apart with forks.
Remove the pork, pull it (use two forks to shred it up), and return it to the crock pot.
Mix everything together in the crock pot and cook on low for an additional hour.
As the pork cooks, prepare the slaw by mixing together all of the ingredients. Cover until ready to serve.
Grill the onion buns by placing a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Heat on high. Place the buns (inside down) into the olive oil and grill until golden on the inside. 
When the pork is done, serve warm with slaw on fresh grilled onion buns.




Recipe adapted from: http://blog.hostthetoast.com/sweet-and-spicy-pulled-pork-with-honey-jalapeno-lime-slaw/

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thai Chicken Coconut Quinoa Salad

This afternoon I happened to take some chicken out of my freezer with absolutely no idea what to make for dinner. I contemplated just putting the chicken on the good old grill and making something very simple. Then I sat down at my computer, supposedly to look up some hotels to make reservations for our upcoming vacation and I got seriously side tracked with Pinterest. (Don't judge.... admit it...it's happened to you too!" When I found this recipe, I was so happy because I had almost everything to make it. I knew the things I didn't have could so easily be substituted with food I had around the house. So instead of making hotel reservations, I made this wonderful dinner! Now our bellies are full, but honestly we still have no idea where we are going to lay out little heads down when we take our road trip. Maybe tomorrow night we can figure it out. Anyway, this is a really good salad. It's not only good for you, but tastes great too!
Makes 3 large salads:
    For the Marinade:
     
    1/2 cup coconut milk
    1 Tbsp + 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
    1/4 cup chili/garlic sauce
    1/8 cup all natural peanut butter
    3 Tbsp agave nectar
    1 Tbsp sesame oil
    1/4 tsp fresh, chopped ginger
    1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, sliced 
     1 tsp coconut oil
     
    For the Quinoa 
     
    1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
    1 cup coconut milk
    1 Tbsp lime juice
     
    For the Salad:
     
    2 cups fresh spinach leaves
    2 cups spring salad mix
    1 mango, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade, except for the chicken and the coconut oil. Mix well.
  2. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, you can cook the quinoa. Rinse it in a mesh strainer well and add it to a medium-sized saucepan, followed by the coconut milk, cook over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, remove from burner and allow it to sit for 5 more minutes.
  5. Remove the lid. Fluff up the quinoa with a fork. Squeeze in the lime juice. Toss to coat and set aside.
  6. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt 1 tsp of coconut oil. Add the chicken, but reserve the leftover marinade.
  7. Cook the chicken pieces 3-4 minutes on each side, until fully cooked.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  8. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add the reserved marinade. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!! You MUST cook the leftover marinade to cook the raw chicken juices that are left in it from marinading the chicken.  Bring the marinade to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the marinade is reduced down to about 1/4 cup and is thick and shiny.
  9. To assemble the salad, toss the spinach and  spring salad leaves together in a large bowl. Add the mango, cooked chicken, and the coconut quinoa. Sprinkle on some fresh chopped cilantro, and drizzle the desired amount of cooked marinade glaze over the top. Enjoy
Recipe Adapted From: http://fabtasticeats.com/2014/02/08/thai-chicken-coconut-quinoa-bowls-2/

Monday, February 17, 2014

Salmon with Mango Habenero Salsa

For some reason, I love fruit with my meat dishes. Whether it be chicken or fish, I can always find a way to incorporate fruit into it. This meal was no different. I have made this many times, but for some reason, I have never taken time to blog about it. It just seems too simple, but maybe that's what someone might be looking for, so here it is!

Serves 2

2 salmon steaks
1 mango, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 small onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

To prepare the salsa: In a small bowl, combine the mango, lime juice, habanero pepper, onion, cilantro and salt. Stir to combine. If you want the salsa to be a little less "chunky" you can put half the salsa in a food processor or blender and combine it well, then add it back to the other "chunky" half. I like my salsa chunky, so I did not blend mine at all. 

Grill the salmon on an indoor or outdoor grill until it is cooked through. The time will vary depending on the cooking apparatus and the thickness of the salmon steak. So just keep testing the fish to see if it is done all the way through. Serve with salsa on the top of each salmon steak.

Mom's Good Ole Grilled Chicken with Salted Butter Sauce

Do you remember that one "go to" meal as a child that your mom or dad would make and you just could hardly wait until dinner time? Well this chicken and my mom's famous chicken and dumplings are the two "go to" meals that I remember! I can just picture my dad out by the grill, in his wheelchair, basting the chicken with this butter sauce. I wish he was still around today to see how well his "baby girl" can make this chicken now. Every time I eat this chicken, I am reminded of just how much I miss him! So tonight was one of those nights when I got to remember my amazing dad, while I ate this chicken. Living in Southern California, means you can grill all year round. Since today was nice and warm, I stoked up the old grill and put it to work, even in the middle of winter what feels like summer! There is only 5 ingredients in the basting sauce and it's pretty much a great "I have no time and  need to throw something together quickly", kind of meal. So get out the old grill and get crackin on this one!

Serves approx 4-5

9 Chicken legs or any other of your favorite parts of chicken
 1 cube butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a small bowl, melt butter. Add in all the seasonings and stir well. Grill the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill, only brushing the butter mixture onto the chicken close to the end of the cooking time, so as to prevent burning the outside of the chicken , due to the butter.  Serve warm.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Buttermilk Peanut Butter Fudge

I've always been a fan of Southern fudge, which has a completely different texture than the fudge we all know and love today. Southern fudge is a much harder, more "sugary" type consistency. So when offered most fudges, I turn them down, as I'm not a fan of the softer fudges. But I had some leftover buttermilk and decided to try this fudge recipe. It's a cross between Southern fudge and regular fudge. I would venture to say it's a "caramely" texture. I took it to work and the students swarmed over it like it was money! Before I could even hardly lift the lid off the container, I was hearing "can I have a piece Mrs. D.? Can I take one for my friend?" (haha)! They proceeded to eat it all and then I was left with a room full of students in a sugar coma lol. Needless to say it was a nice quiet day ;)
Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter

Directions:
Butter a large plate and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, buttermilk, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook to the soft ball stage, removing from the heat immediately when the candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees. Add the vanilla and peanut butter, and stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Then beat energetically with the spoon until the fudge begins to lose its gloss and starts to thicken. Pour quickly onto the plate. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.

Baja Fish Taco Salad with Creamy Red Chili Dressing

Often people say to  me, "You like fish tacos?...eewwww!" I will never understand that question/statement. I love, I repeat, LOVE fish tacos. What's not to like? You get the health benefit of eating fish, you get the whole taco experience and on top of that, the cabbage and other ingredients give it so much texture! I love to make beer batter fish tacos, but since I am not 21 yet and can't buy beer....cough cough....since I didn't happen to have a beer lying around my house, I decided to try the Baja fish taco salad recipe I had found earlier in the week in one of my old forgotten recipe magazines. I figured it couldn't hurt to leave off the old shell and have a few less carbs for dinner. I'm so glad I tried it. I tweaked the recipe just a bit and my hubby, who is not  "foodie" like me ( I know....how is it possible not to be) kept commenting how much he loved it! So today, I may not have any fish leftover, but I do have salad and dressing leftover, so that will be my nice healthy lunch!  So I say "FISH TACO LOVERS UNITE" and give this one a try. You will thank me later :)
Recipe Adapted From: Cuisine at Home Magazine February 2012

Calories: 309 per serving
Makes 6 servings
Total time: 45 min

Baja Fish Taco Salad:

For the fish, whisk together:
1 cup cornflake crumbs
3/4 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

To Coat the fish and cook it::
3/4 cup canola oil
3 egg whites, beaten
2 Tbsp water
 1 lb Flounder pieces, cut into 2 inch long strips

For the salad, toss together:
6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (you can chop these, but don't chop them too fine)

Whisk the cornmeal, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Combine egg whites and water in a small bowl.
Cut your fish into pieces that are approximately 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
Dredge the cut pieces of fish into the corn flake crumbs, then into the egg white mixture and then back into the cornflake crumbs. (Make sure you let the excess egg whites drip off before you re-dip them into the cornflake crumb mixture to prevent clumping)
Fry the fish in small batches, until golden (fry in small batches to prevent cooling down the oil) and place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil.
For the salad, toss together the cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes and cilantro in a large bowl. Divide the salad among  the plates and top each salad with as much fish as you would like. Serve with Creamy Jalapeno Dressing. (recipe follows)

Creamy Red Chili Dressing

1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise ( I used Veganaise)
1/4 cup almond milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice (orig.recipe used buttermilk and I didn't have any so improvising was necessary)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 small red fresno chilies, seeded and roughly chopped (you can substitute jalapeno)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and process until the green onions and chilies are minced well and the dressing is combined.





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Caramel Topped Frosted Brownies

I have been on kind of a frosted brownie kick lately. I'm not sure if it's because I love giving brownies to people, or if it's because I love eating the brownie batter and the frosting out of the bowl before it goes on top of the brownies. Truth be told, I guess it's the latter. *sigh*
Some of you might even be wondering to yourselves, "why does this crazy girl have chick peas on top of her brownies?" But before you judge, look a little closer. Those are wonderful bites of heaven! Kraft has decided to take their wonderful chewy caramels and package them up in these tiny little balls of joy! Chewy, sweet and oh so creamy! Add that to the wonderful frosting and voila....a sweet slice of heaven. And when I say slice, I mean ...half the pan" lol. These brownies definitely helped motivate high school students to get their work done. By the end of the period, most of them were drooling in anticipation of having one of these. I'm sure their next periods teacher did not appreciate all the requests to leave the room for a drink of water. Yep, you either gotta have some water of some milk, cause these are super rich!
For the brownies: 
1 box Brownie mix,  prepared according to package directions

Make brownie batter according to pkg directions. While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
6 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla


1 bag Kraft caramel bits

Melt butter in saucepan on the stovetop. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. When brownies come out of the oven, let sit for 5 minutes then pour the frosting evenly onto the top of the brownies. Spread till smooth, if needed. Top with the entire bag of Kraft Caramel bits. Let sit until frosting is firm. You can place this in the refrigerator to firm up the frosting faster, but just note that the caramel will not be as soft if you choose to do it this way.



Healthy Southwest Black Bean Soup

I have noticed recently that I hadn't looked through my actual cookbooks in forever. I had become a Pinterest recipe hoarder. So one day this week, when my grand daughter was over, I got out cookbooks to show her. I started going through some of them and found some new recipes to try. This black bean soup was one of  them. Oh boy, we truly loved it. So maybe it's time to give my Pinterest recipe boards a rest and bust out the good ole recipe books.
If you like the taste of beans with a little Southwestern flare, then this recipe is perfect for you. If you don't like the after effect of beans, then I'm not quite sure what to tell you other than to go buy some good old Beano at the nearest Rite Aid haha!
Recipe Adapted From The Cookbook: "Healthy Homestyle Cooking" by Evelyn Tribole

*Makes 4 medium bowls of soup

1 cup dried black beans
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry cooking sherry
1 cup chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large  carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 1/4 tsp coriander
1/2- 3/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp liquid smoke

*For garnish: grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan, combine the beans and the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 min.
While the beans are cooking, combine the sherry, onions and garlic in a skillet. Cook and stir until the onions are tender.
Add the onion mixture, carrots, celery, cumin, coriander, pepper and liquid smoke to the beans. Bring up to a boil again. Cover and reduce the heat to med low and simmer for 30-40 min or until the vegetables and the beans are both tender. Serve topped with cheddar cheese, and cilantro.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Red Velvet Cake Batter Fudge

Would this be considered complete sabotage if I made this today to take to my fitness trainer? I think so, but I think it was my own sabatoge, because I certainly HAD to taste a bite for quality control. ;)
The fact that there are still some pieces sitting in my refrigerator right now is not boding well for me. If you listen closely, you can probably  hear it calling my name. I would have taken my trainer all of it, but I knew if I did, she would create a wicked workout for me to pay me back haha! So here I sit, exerting every bit of will power  I have to NOT go get another piece. Do you think I'll make it? I hope so, but for now, you will have to excuse me while I go to the refrigerator for a piece of fudge  healthy drink of water! :)
Recipe Source: http://chocolatechocolateandmore.com/2013/11/red-velvet-cake-batter-fudge/

Ingredients:

1 box Red Velvet cake mix 
2 cups powdered sugar
10 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces or cubes
5 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Edible pearls or sprinkles for decorating


Sift together cake mix and powdered sugar in a large microwaveable bowl. Add cubed butter and milk. There is no need to stir. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Immediately remove from the microwave and stir until it is all blended and creamy. Stir in white chocolate chips making sure they completely melted into the fudge and there are no white streaks. Press fudge into a parchment lined or lightly greased 8x8 pan. Add the edible pearls or sprinkles on top, if using, and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or place into the freezer for 20-30 minutes to set it up quickly. When firm, cut into squares and serve.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vegetable Tray with Fiesta Dip

Sometimes when things look pretty, it tricks you into thinking you want to eat  more of it. That was the case with this vegetable tray I made yesterday for my father in laws birthday party. Now if I could only figure out how to NOT make this theory work when it comes to sweets. I mean, sweets don't even have to look pretty and my brain is still tricked into thinking I want more. But thankfully the veggie tray looked and tasted great and so I got to enjoy quite a bit of it. This is such an easy and yet decorative way to serve veggies and dip.
For the vegetables:

1 head Savoy cabbage
Any vegetables you want cut up for dipping

Wash the cabbage head and cut a fairly large circle into the top with a knife. Gently remove the circle and use a melon baller to take out the insides of the cabbage head, leaving enough of a lining to support the dip you will pace inside.
Gently pull back the outer layers of the savoy cabbage.  (If they break off that's ok because you can tuck them under the head of cabbage on the tray to fill with the vegetables) Place the head of cabbage in the center of the tray and fill each "leaf" with your favorite vegetables. Make the fiesta dip and place it into the cabbage head when you are ready to serve.


For the Fiesta Dip:
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt  
1/8 cup light mayonnaise  
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped 
3/4 tsp lime juice 
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
2-3 Tbsp chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers 
1 Tbsp finely chopped green onion


Place the first 7 ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth. Add the roasted peppers and the green onion and pulse the processor just a few times until blended they are blended in.
Place in a bowl and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Frosted Toffee Crunch Brownies

If I'm going to be honest here, I would probably tell you that if I am ever left alone with the ingredients for this frosting, I will probably just make a huge bowl of it and sit with a spoon and work my way through it. Seriously....I want to wallow in this stuff. It's so chocolatey, gooey and rich. The Heath toffee bits, gives it a bit of a crunch, which just makes it that much better. There is really nothing else to say except: Get off your butt and bake these lol. Then ship me some, because I'm seriously afraid to have these frosting ingredients laying around my house. It could be a real danger to my pant size!
For the brownies: 
1 box Brownie mix
1 pkg Heath Toffee baking bits (sold on the baking aisle by the chocolate chips in most stores)

Make brownie batter according to pkg directions. Stir in half of the bag (6 oz) of Heath baking chips.
Bake as directed on the package. While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
6 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz Heath baking chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in saucepan on stovetop. Stir in Heath baking chips, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. When brownies come out of the oven, let sit for 5 minutes then pour the frosting evenly onto the top of the brownies. Spread till smooth, if needed. Place in the refrigerator until the topping is firm enough to cut through. Enjoy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sweet and Sour Thai Chicken

Once again, I apologize for the cruddy picture. I seriously lack in the picture taking skill department. I can cook till the cows come home, but don't ask me to be able to take a good picture of my food ;)
I found this recipe on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it. Lately I seem to be on a serious Asian cooking kick. I think that's 3 nights out of 4 now that I have made Asian food. Maybe that's because I LOVE it! I think I could vary between Asian and Mexican cooking and be completely satisfied . So maybe next week I will find a new "kick" to get started on. Who knows? Anyway, I will definitely be making this one again. We loved it at our house and it was fairly simple to make.
Recipe Source: http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/sweet-sour-sticky-thai-boneless-oven-baked-chicken-wings/

For  the chicken:


3- 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunky bite size pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 Tbsp conrmeal
For the sauce:
1 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp all natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp fish sauce
2 coves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
Chopped cashews, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 475°F. 
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with Pam.
Add the chicken to a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over it. Mix well and set aside.
In a shallow pie dish or large bowl add the panko, cornmeal and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well.
Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and dredge through the crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken has been coated. Spray the top of the chicken pieces with non stick cooking spray.
Bake for 12 minutes, then gently flip the chicken pieces over and spray the other side. Bake for 10-12 minutes more, then remove the chicken from the oven. Reduce the oven to 400°.
While the chicken is baking make the sauce. 
Combine the sweet Thai chili sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter, tomato paste, apple juice, rice vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper and pepper in a medium sauce pot. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. If the sauce does not thicken enough, then add in the cornstarch/water mixture and boil 1-2 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
Gently toss each piece of chicken in the sauce, draining the excess sauce back in to the pot. Place the chicken back on the pan and repeat until all the chicken is coated in the sauce. Place the pan of chicken back in the oven for 5 minutes.
Serve with fresh cilantro, chopped cashews and any extra sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Frosted Creme De Menthe Brownies

This is a terrible picture of these brownies, that does not do them any justice at all. They were so much better than they look here. I made these quickly before work this morning and basically ran out of time to let the frosting cool before I had to cut them. This  is why the top looks cracked and "bumpy." But since these are so wonderful tasting, there was none left to take a picture of when I got home. So, unfortunately this is the only picture I have to post on here. It's actually a really good thing that these are no longer in my house, because I'm not sure I could have denied myself the pleasure of enjoying ANY that were left!
For the brownies: 
1 box Brownie mix
1 pkg Andes Creme De Menthe baking  chihps

Make brownie batter according to pkg directions. Stir in half of the bag (6 oz) of Andes Creme De Menthe chips.
Bake as directed on the package. While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
6 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz Andes Creme De Menthe baking chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in saucepan on stovetop. Stir in Andes baking chips, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. When brownies come out of the oven, let sit for 5 minutes then pour the frosting evenly onto the top of the brownies. Spread till smooth, if needed. Place in the refrigerator until the topping is firm enough to cut through. Enjoy!



Monday, January 13, 2014

Sweet Fire Chicken

I really don't like to eat out much. Since I love to cook, I find myself at restaurants thinking, "I could make this at home and it would probably taste just as good." So we don't eat out that much. I guess that's what happens when you love to cook! I would prefer to spend a couple hours in the kitchen creating a fabulous meal, rather than get dressed and head out to order something that I'm not even sure if I'm going to like. I had found a recipe on Pinterest for sweet fire chicken. I LOVE the sweet fire chicken at Panda Express, so I just knew I had to try this recipe. I looked forward to it all day. I could tell by the smell of the sauce cooking, that I was going to love this. I sure did. That's 2 Asian dinners this week that we have loved. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Recipe Source: http://lecremedelacrumb.com/2014/01/sweet-fire-chicken.html

For the chicken:
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
salt/ pepper to taste
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
⅔ cup corn starch
1 Tbsp oil

 Place eggs in a bowl and whisk. Place flour in another bowl, and corn starch in yet another bowl. Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Toss about a half a cup of  the chicken pieces at a time, in the whisked egg bowl, then remove and toss in the flour bowl, then remove and toss in the corn starch bowl. Repeat with all chicken pieces until all are coated well. Set aside  on a plate. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pan or non stick skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook, stirring occasionally.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until all chicken pieces are cooked through, browned, and slightly crispy. Place in a bowl or on a a  plate and set aside.

 For the sauce:

2 tsp garlic, chopped
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (use less if you don’t want it really spicy)
⅔ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold water + 3 tablespoons corn starch

1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ white onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) ounce cans pineapple chunks, packed in pineapple  juice, drained

In a large sauce pan, combine first 6 sauce ingredients and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. In a small bowl whisk together cold water and corn starch. When sauce comes to a boil, add corn starch mixture and continue to stir until sauce thickens. Reduce the heat. Add peppers, onions, and pineapple chunks to pan  and cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes until onions start to turn translucent. Add the chicken to the sauce and stir. Cook until chicken is reheated all the way through. Serve hot with coconut rice.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Salted Dark Chocolate Cashew Clusters

My hubby loves dark chocolate. And when I say dark chocolate, I mean the kind that is so dark and so bitter that it in no way resembles chocolate. So when I stumbled upon some of the dark chocolate chips that I like, that are definitely not so bitter, I decided that I would make these for him and see if he liked them. I should have known he would as he likes anything with dark chocolate. Thankfully he liked them, because if he hadn't I would, or rather my hips would, have been in trouble. I only made 5 and between the hubby, daughter and grand daughter I am thankful I do not have to worry about this temptation any longer. I didn't even taste one, but word on the street has it, they were very good!
Dark chocolate, melted
Cashews
Coarse Sea Salt

There really is no "recipe" for these. Just take any amount of your favorite dark chocolate and melt it down. Stir in any amount of cashews you would like and then scoop it up by the spoonful and place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sea salt and place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator until the chocolate has firmed up.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Oranges with Sea Salt

For those of you that know me, you know I do NOT like oranges! BUT I do love dark chocolate. I was trying to make a dessert with my 3 year old grand daughter, that would be somewhat healthy for her to eat after dinner. I mean seriously....Santa brought her a cotton candy maker, so I'm sure she has consumed enough sugar for the year already and it's only Jan. 9th! She loves oranges, I mean LOVES them. So why not try to combine her love of oranges with my love of chocolate? I was sure hesitant on this one because I figured I automatically would not like it, but I knew that everyone else would eat them. Well, with trepidation, I bit into one, but ONLY on the side with the chocolate haha and guess what? I loved it! But I do have a confession to make here (insert dramatic music here) I threw away the other half that was not covered in chocolate. I know, I know, that's a sin. But I already asked for forgiveness and I'm quite sure I'm ok now!
1 orange (or 3 cuties or mandarin oranges)
6 oz dark chocolate, melted
coarse sea salt

Cover a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Peel the orange and break apart the slices or segments, peeling away as much pithe (the bitter white stuff) as you can. In a bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave (be careful it burns easily) and dip the orange slices into the dark chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt and set on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator to firm up. Serve. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Honey Sesame Chicken

This recipe really is a "winner winner chicken dinner." It tastes like you are eating Chinese take out food, but you actually made it yourself. It's really super easy and doesn't require a lot of time. Today this was a good thing, as I was gone the entire day, between work, running errands and going on a booty kicking 4 mile, almost all uphill walk! I felt so good afterward, but trust me when I say, I came home so hungry that I could have consumed this entire pan of chicken. You think I'm kidding? I seriously had to stop myself from going back for more and more and more. I didn't want my walk to have been for nothing! So my plan is to make this again soon and find a way to sneak some extra in without gaining 10 lbs!
Recipe Source:
http://therecipecritic.com/2013/09/baked-honey-sesame-chicken/

4 chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
3 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

Sauce:
¾ cup honey
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 T cornstarch
Chopped green onions for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Heat oven to 325°. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In two separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a
9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and cornstarch. Pour over the chicken and bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir the chicken every 10 minutes or so, to coat the chicken in the sauce. *If you need to thicken up the sauce, just stir in a tsp of cornstarch at a time and cook for a couple minutes and then check to see if it's thick enough for your liking, if not then do the same process again.
Remove chicken from the oven and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top and chopped green onions. Serve plain or over rice.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thai Lime Coconut Rice

I have a recipe book that is about cooking  your way around the world. I absolutely LOVE the section on Thailand. I have been making this coconut rice for years, just plain. The other day I was thinking how much I love coconut and lime together and decided to try it out on this rice. I'm so thankful I did, as it was a great combination. I also added a touch more sugar than I usually do and that was a good change also. Then I saw on Pinterest about adding all these goodies to coconut rice. So guess what I did? Yep...I added goodies. Oh my goodness, I want to eat this every day of my life! I even ate a bite cold out of the refrigerator today for leftovers. That's how good this was!!
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
1/2 lime, juiced
1 cup water
1 cup Jasmine Rice
2 1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup honey roasted, or cocktail peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup toasted, shredded coconut

1. Turn the oven on to 350. Pour the coconut out onto a cookie sheet and make sure it's in a single layer. When oven is hot, place the cookie sheet in the oven. Set the timer for4 minutes and check to see if the coconut is golden and toasted. If it isn't, then set the timer for 1-2 minutes and check it again. Repeat this process until your coconut is toasted and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, lime juice and water. Bring to a boil. Add the rice, sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. This can take from 20-40 minutes.

3. Serve rice with the garnishes: Toasted coconut, cilantro, peanuts and extra lime if you wish!

Grilled Skirt Steak with Jalapeno Chimichurri

Since I'm not a red meat fan, I wasn't sure of what my reaction to this recipe would be. Well, I guess as long as there is a sauce on red meat to cover the flavor of the meat, then I must be ok with it. I loved this chimichurri sauce! I literally drowned my meat in this sauce haha. I have made chimichurri sauce many times before, but I haven't ever made it with jalapenos. This will definitely be my new "go to" chimichurri" sauce reipe. So even if you are not a huge fan or red meat, give this a try. I'm sure this sauce would be good on anything.
Recipe Adapted From:
http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/05/ted-allens-grilled-steak-with-roasted-jalepeno.html

2 jalapenos 
2 cups cilantro 
2 cups Italian parsley 
2 cloves garlic (2 tsp minced garlic) 
Juice of 3 limes 
3Tbsp cooking sherry 
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing the steak
salt/pepper to taste 
2 lbs skirt steak

Preheat the grill.
Char the jalapenos on the stovetop with a gas burner or on a grill until the outsides are charred. Place them in a paper bag or a small bowl covered with a plate or towel and allow the skins to steam and loosen. Peel, stem, and seed the chilies.

In a food processor or blender, combine the jalapeƱos, cilantro, parsley, garlic, lime juice, sherry, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse (or blend) until the mixture is a coarse puree. Taste and adjust for salt and blend again if needed.

Rub the steaks with olive oil and season very generously with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked to your eatin preference (medium well for our family)
Remove to a plate and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Slice the steak across the grain with the knife at a 45 degree angle. Arrange on a serving plate and spoon some chimichurri over the steak. Serve with the extra sauce.