Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Salted pumpkin seeds
We carved our pumpkins (and a turnip!) and now it's time to roast the pumpkin seeds. I always make a batch salted pumpkin seeds, but I also like to set some seeds aside and experiment with different flavors. I tried out chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika in the past (the garlic are really the only ones I liked, though the cayenne pepper weren't bad). I've also discovered popcorn seasoning such as ranch or white cheddar works well on pumpkin seeds. This year I used Cajun spices and these are by far my favorite. Eric typically doesn't like my pumpkin seed experimentation--he just like lots of salt on his seeds--but he fell in love with the Cajun seeds too.

Cajun flavored pumpkin seeds

Ingredients:
pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
olive oil
salt
other seasonings

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil and the seasoning of your choice. Spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!



Enjoy!

~Krissy

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ultimate Comfort Food Casserole

Can't decide what to make for dinner? Chicken casserole? Green bean casserole? Mashed potatoes? Or maybe something cheesy? This casserole has it all--chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cheddar cheese. In other words, it combines some of the best comfort foods into one dish. It's also great for using up left over chicken or mashed potatoes. I even overheard Eric bragging to his mom on the phone about how amazing this casserole turned out.

This is a variation on a Betty Crocker recipe.

Ingredients:
2 cups canned chicken  (you can also used leftover chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken)
1 (14.5 ounce) can green beans, drained
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom (Don't like mushrooms? Use cream of celery instead)
1 cup milk, divided
1 3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups potato flakes (you could also use leftover mashed potatoes or real mashed potatoes)
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups french fried onions

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine chicken, beans, cream of mushroom soup, and 1/3 cup milk. Cook over medium heat until hot--approximately 10 minutes--stirring occasionally.

While the chicken mixture warms, prepare the boxed potatoes by adding water, butter, and salt to another saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Add the remaining 2/3 cup milk. Add potato flakes and pepper. Fluff using a fork.

Once the chicken mixture is hot, remove from heat and stir in cheese until it is melted. Pour the mixture in a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Spoon potatoes on top of the chicken mixture.

Bake for 10 minutes then sprinkle the top of the potatoes with the french fried onions. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the onion topping is warm. Serve.


Enjoy!

~Krissy

Check Out More Comfort Food Recipes:
How to Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Taste Homemade 
Baked Potato Soup 
Potless Chicken Pot Pies 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Acorn Donuts

Fun, autumn-y, and delicious, this is a variation on a recipe from  Disney Family Fun. Disney uses store-bought donut holes, chocolate frosting, pretzels, and crumbled toffee. Me being me, I made this into a semi-homemade recipe.

Donut Holes

Ingredients:
1 tube of biscuits
vegetable oil
honey roasted peanuts, finely chopped
Frosting, recipe below
Pretzels, broken into stems

Directions:
Separate your biscuits and lay them out on your work space. Rinse out an empty soda pop bottle. The size of the bottle doesn't matter. Remove the cap and press the opening of bottle into the biscuit. To get the dough out of the bottle opening, just squeeze the sides of the bottle. Repeat. Each biscuit yields 6-8 holes.

Fill a saucepan half way with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, submerge the donut holes in the oil. Cook until they are a golden brown, about 20-30 seconds. Place the donuts on a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool.

Once cooled, frost the top third of the donut hole, roll in finely chopped peanuts, and insert a small piece of pretzel in the top of the donut hole to make an acorn.

Butter Cream Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3-1 tablespoon whole milk, optional

Directions:
Beat sugar and butter together on low speed until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat on medium until whipped. I like my frosting thick, but to get your desired consistency, add 1/3 tablespoon of milk until the frosting has the thickness you'd like. If you want to make chocolate butter cream frosting, add about 1 or 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. You can also use peanut butter instead of frosting.  

Since Eric loves donuts so much, I also made these goodies:
Cinnamon-sugar donut holes
Enjoy!

~Krissy 


Check Out Other Autumn Recipes:
Pumpkin Penne Casserole 
Cheese Tortellini in a Pumpkin Sauce 
Cinnamon-Sugar Pastry with Pumpkin Dip 
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies 
Pumpkin Bread 
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 

Pumpkin Penne Casserole

If it's not apparent by now, I've been on a major pumpkin kick lately. I've made cheese tortellini in a pumpkin sauce (my personal favorite), pumpkin lasagna rolls, pumpkin bread, pumpkin swirl brownies, pumpkin dip (Eric's favorite), and even a mini pumpkin pie (Eric's second favorite). To say the least, I've pumpkin'ed poor Eric out--except for the pumpkin dip, he's already asked me to make more. So when I made this casserole, I didn't tell him there was pumpkin in it (Bad, girlfriend, bad). He came home from work and I told him dinner was on the stove if he was hungry. He mentioned that it smelled good and asked what was in it. I started off with the magical word: sausage, then listed off some other ingredients. Eric took a few bites and loved it. After he cleared half his plate, he asked again what was in it, there was something he couldn't identify. That's when I let the bomb drop: pumpkin. The pumpkin in this dish is mild and takes a backseat to the spiciness of the dish. Even though it was pumpkin, Eric continued to finish what was on his plate.

Ingredients:
2 spicy sausages (I used Hillshire Farms jalapeno and cheddar smoked sausage), chopped
2 cups penne pasta
3 tablespoons onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tablespoon cream cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and cook sausage until golden brown. Remove from pan. Saute onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes for about 3 minutes or until soft. Add pumpkin, chicken stock, salt, and sage and stir. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in milk, cream cheese, and sausage. Simmer until the sauce slightly thickens. Add pasta and parsley and toss. Spray a 8x8 inch glass casserole dish with cooking spray and pour in sausage and pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Enjoy!

~Krissy

Mini Pies

Mini Chocolate-Marshmallow Autumn Pies
Since it's autumn, I made my pies using a pumpkin cookie cutter, but you can tailor these mini pies for any occasion--turkey cookie cutters for Thanksgiving, snowman cookie cutter for Christmas, bunny cookie cutters for Easter and so forth. I filled some of my pies with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows (because that's what I had in the pantry) and others with a little cream cheese-pumpkin mix I put aside when making my pumpkin dip. But you could use jam, pie fillings, cream cheese, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or peanut butter for the filling. The greatest thing about the pies--other than you can make them in a variety of shapes--no pie tin is needed!

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
5 to 7 tablespoon cold water
Filling of your choice
cinnamon-sugar mix (recipe to follow), optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening using two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture is moist and can be pressed into a ball. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured board or work surface, roll the dough out so it has an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes using large cookie cutters. Each pie will require two "cookies." Put between 1 teaspoon and 1/2 of tablespoon of filling in the center of one "cookie" then place the second "cookie" on top and seal the edges by pinching them together. Dredge the mini pie in cinnamon-sugar mix, shake off extra spices, and place on a cookie sheet. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Cinnamon-Sugar Recipe
Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Mini Pumpkin Pies
 
If you want to make mini pumpkin pies, I recommend using my pumpkin pie dip for the filling (recipe found here), but leave out the cool whip.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Cinnamon-Sugar Pastry with Pumpkin Dip

Pumpkin dip with cinnamon-sugar pastries
Eric's all-time favorite pie is pumpkin pie. This year he asked if I could make my pumpkin dip instead of pumpkin pie. That's how good this dip is.

I serve the dip on cinnamon-sugar pastry or ro-ro's as my maternal grandmother would say. She died when my mom was still growing up, but whenever my mom baked a pie from scratch, she would turn the dough scraps into what my grandmother coined as ro-ro's. For ro-ro's, cut the dough in strips, roll them into a log then dip them in a mix of cinnamon and sugar, and bake them. Instead of rolling the dough into bit-size logs, I use cookie cutters on the dough.

The pumpkin dip and sugar-cinnamon pastry make a great appetizer for an autumn dinner party or even Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Dip
Pumpkin Dip

Ingredients:
8 ounce brick of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 8-ounce tub cool whip, thawed

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until it's creamy. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice and mix well. Gently fold in cool whip. Serve or cover and store in the refrigerator.


Cinnamon-sugar pastries
Cinnamon-Sugar Pastry

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
5 to 7 tablespoon cold water
cinnamon-sugar mix (recipe to follow)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening using two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture is moist and can be pressed into a ball. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured board or work surface, roll the dough out so it has a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes using small cookie cutters (I used leaf and acorn cookie cutters). Dredge the pastry shapes in cinnamon-sugar mix, shake off extra spices, and place on a cookie sheet. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly golden. Serve warm with pumpkin dip.

Cinnamon-Sugar Recipe

Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

More Autumn Recipes:
Acorn Donuts 
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies 
Pumpkin Bread 
Pumpkin Penne Casserole 
Cinnamon-Sugar Pastry with Pumpkin Dip 

Potless Chicken Pot Pies

I came up with this recipe for a dinner party a couple of years ago. I was on a tight budget and the cool weather called out for comfort food. I had used crescent rolls to make other "packet" dinners before and they seemed perfect for making chicken pot pies. I used the spices and frozen vegetables I had in the house at the time and came up with this incredibly flavorful, satisfying dinner. Everyone loved it.

This recipe makes four pot pies.
Ingredients:
2 packages crescent rolls
2 cups frozen vegetable mix (peas, carrots, celery, potatoes, etc.), cooked
1 tablespoon onion, minced
1 can cream of chicken
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon ground black peppercorn
10 ounces canned chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken
McCormick Crusting Blends: Garlic, Lemon, and Rosemary, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cream of chicken, chicken, rosemary, pepper, and vegetables in a bowl.

Roll out the crescent rolls, combining four rolls to make one sheet of dough. Two cans of crescent rolls will give you four sheets. Divide the chicken mixture between the four sheets. To make round or "bundled" pies, put the mixture in the center and bring the corners in the center, pinching the seams together to seal. Or make rectangular pies by placing the mixture on half the sheet then folding the other half over it, pinching the seams together. Sprinkle the tops with McCormick Crusting Blends. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is golden. 


Healthier version: This recipe is yummy but like most comfort foods, it is high in calories. I usually use reduced fat crescent rolls and reduced fat cream of chicken to cut out some of those pesky calories.

1/6/14 UPDATE! 
Number 1: These things work great with leftover turkey--say from Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Number 2: You can make these things smaller. Combining four rolls makes one big potless chicken pot pie, which happens to be the perfect size for Eric. It's way too much food for me though. So I now make a smaller version using just two rolls. Much better for me. 

 Enjoy!

~Krissy

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Chocolaty, pumpkin-y, spicy, moist . . . this brownies recipe is not exactly simple, and it dirties an awful lot of dishes, but the end result makes the time and mess it makes is so worth it. The cayenne pepper adds an unexpected heat to the dessert, making it perfect for a chilly autumn day.


Ingredients:
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch glass pan with butter or cooking spray.

Melt chocolate chips and butter together in the microwave. To ensure you don't burn the chocolate, only microwave the chocolate for 20-30 seconds at a time, stir, then microwave again. Set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl. In another large bowl, combine eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on medium until well mixed and fluffy, about three minutes. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well combined.  Pour half of the batter into another bowl.

Stir in chocolate-butter mixture into one of the bowls. Add the pumpkin, vegetable oil, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice into the second bowl of batter and stir.

Pour the chocolate batter into the greased pan and then pour the pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate layer. With a small spatula swirl the two batters together to create a marble effect, but don't swirl too much; you don't want to blend the chocolate and pumpkin batter together.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center of the brownies. When it comes out clean, the dessert is done. Allow to cool and serve.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

More Autumn Recipes:
Acorn Donuts 
Mini Pies 
Pumpkin Bread 
Cinnamon-Sugar Pastry with Pumpkin Dip 
Cheese Tortellini in a Pumpkin Sauce 

Pumpkin Lasagna Rolls

Add a hint of autumn to lasagna by adding a little pumpkin puree into the filling. These pumpkin lasagna rolls have a mild pumpkin flavor, unlike my cheese tortellini with pumpkin sauce recipe, which make them perfect for those who like pumpkin but are a little afraid of its unconventional uses.
Pumpkin Lasagna Rolls garnish with Parmesan
Ingredients: 
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
salt, to taste
8 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 cup of a robust tomato sauce (recommendation: Prego--Roasted Red Pepper)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Thinly coat the bottom of a shallow casserole dish with tomato sauce. Set aside.

Mix ricotta, pumpkin, Parmesan, mozzarella, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Divide the ricotta-pumpkin mixture between the 8 lasagna noodles and roll the noodles. Place the rolls in the casserole dish seam-side down. Spoon sauce of the top of the rolls. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Note: Since the pumpkin flavor is rather mild, the key to making this dish really pop with flavor is using a good tomato sauce full of seasonings and herbs. I prefer anything by Prego, particularly the Roasted Red Pepper tomato sauce.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Cheesy Twisty Straws

In the middle of writing an article for work today (I work from home) I got a craving for cheesy twisty straws so I stopped half way through my article and went into the kitchen to make pastry dough. The pastry recipe is very simple and versatile. It works for pies, cheesy straws, and some other recipes I'm going to share with you in the coming weeks. The cheesy twisty straws themselves are great for party appetizers or just a yummy snack.
Cheesy Twisty Straws
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
5 to 7 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup grated cheddar
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus extra
McCormick Crusting Blends--Garlic, Lemon and Rosemary, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening using two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture is moist and can be pressed into a ball. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured board or work surface, knead the cheddar and Parmesan into the dough. Roll the dough out so its about a quarter inch in thickness. Cut into strips that are about six inches long and a quarter inch wide. Twist two strips of dough together and place on a baking sheet. Or roll out ropes of dough and twist them together to make the straws. Sprinkle generously with extra Parmesan cheese and herbs. You can also replace the crusting blend with thyme, rosemary, or garlic powder. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly golden brown. Serve warm.


Acorn Cheesy Pastries
If you are feeling fall inspired as I always am this time of year, instead of making cheesy twisty straws, roll out the dough and cut out acorns and leaves using cookie cutters.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Pumpkin Bread!

Continuing on my pumpkin kick, tonight I baked some yummy pumpkin bread. However, I either lost my loaf pan in my last move or gave it to my mom because I rarely used it, so I baked my bread in a bundt pan.
Pumpkin bread in bundt form
Ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8.5x4.5x2.5-inch loaf pan (or bundt pan) with cooking spray.

In a large bowl add pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, and sugar. In another bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Blend the wet ingredients together while gradually adding the dry ingredients. Mix until well blended. Pour into pan. Bake for 50 minutes.

The pumpkin bread is delicious with butter or cream cheese. But since we like everything sweet in this house, I whipped up some cream cheese frosting that's sweet but not too sweet. This recipe only makes a small amount of frosting, just enough for a loaf of bread.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all the ingredients in a bowl with a mixer. Spread on sliced bread.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Cheese Tortellini in a Pumpkin Sauce

Once those temperatures begin to drop, the leaves begin to turn, and fall produce ripens, I get inspired to cook. Every time we walk into the produce section, I turn into kid in a candy store. I gasp (literally, I'm surprised I haven't hyperventilated or fainted yet) over the pumpkins, apples, cranberries and all the winter squash--butternut, acorn, blue hubbard, carnival, turban . . . I just love their colors and shapes, tastes and textures. Oh and we can't forget the gourds, Indian corn, and baby boo pumpkins.

So I've been spending way too much time lately looking up autumn recipes and have been coming across a lot of pumpkin sauce recipes for cheese ravioli. My mind doesn't automatically put pumpkin and cheese together (unless it's pumpkin cheesecake), but like Eric told me, everything goes with cheese. So I concocted my own sauce and was absolutely blown away by how magnificently it paired with the cheese tortellini. Pumpkin and cheese definitely go together! What makes this sauce even better, it only takes about 10 minutes to make.
Spinach and cheese tortellini with pumpkin sauce, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.
Ingredients: 
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 cup low fat cream cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese, garnish

9-10 ounce package of cheese ravioli or tortellini. We used Buitoni spinach and cheese tortellini because a.) it was on sale and b.) it was green and would look cool with the sauce. Yes, I'm that much of a dork.

Directions:
Cook the pasta according to package directions.

In a saucepan add pumpkin, broth, brown sugar, butter, garlic powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix together and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese and mix until the cheese is melted and dispersed. Pour over pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Trust me, you want to add the Parmesan, it really completes the dish.

Variations:
Sour Cream:
While coming up with this sauce, I played with some variations. All the recipes for pumpkin sauce I found called for sour cream instead of cream cheese. I'm not a huge fan of sour cream. I do cook with it, but only when it's final taste is subtle. I tried a batched with the sour cream, however, and it wasn't bad at all. It gave the sauce a tangy-ness I liked but was a little too sour creamy for me. Eric liked the sour cream version (he was my test dummy and a sour cream lover.) The cream cheese gives the sauce a milder, creamier taste, which I personally prefer. But if you like sour cream, you'll probably like the sauce made with sour cream.

Brown Sugar:
I also played with the sugar content. To be honest, this sauce is a little on the sweet side. You can reduce the sugar in the sauce down to 1 tablespoon. It cuts the overall sweetness and still leaves the sauce with a pleasant taste. However, I felt it was missing something. To find that missing element, I experimented by adding more cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. I tried tossing in sage and all spice. In the end what it needed was that little bit more sugar. For some reason the sweetness adds to the complexity of the taste and contrasts just so perfectly with creaminess of the cheese in the pasta and especially the Parmesan.

Look forward to a lot more pumpkin and autumn recipes in the coming months!

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

So the jar of peanut butter was sitting oh so innocently next to the container of oatmeal in the pantry. It was a sign from the gods; I should make my no-bake peanut butter oatmeal cookies. Be warned, they are highly addictive.
Ingredients:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups quick oats

Directions:
In a saucepan, mix sugar, butter, and milk and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 or 2 minutes then remove from heat. Add peanut butter and oats. Mix well. To form cookies, drop 1 tablespoon of the mixture on a waxed-covered cookie sheet or plate. Refrigerator for at least a half an hour. Store cookies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato and Artichoke Chicken

Tonight's scrumptious, hearty dinner:
Tomato and Artichoke Chicken
Ingredients: 
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons Italian dressing
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (14 oz) artichokes hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

Directions: 
Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Coat the chicken breasts with the Italian dressing and place them in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the chicken with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add the shallots and garlic. Pour in artichoke hearts then the diced tomatoes.

Cover the crock pot and set on Low. Cook for between 5 and 6 hours.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Homemade Donuts and Elephant Ears

Being the sweet and loving girlfriend that I am, I surprised Eric with breakfast in bed. A nutritious meal of homemade donuts.
Mini Elephant Ears
Okay, that's a little bit of a lie. I am a sweet and loving girlfriend. But not sweet and loving enough to actually get up super early and make the pastry dough from scratch. I suppose the title should read Semi-Homemade Donuts and Elephant Ears. I used tubes of crescent rolls and biscuits to make my donuts.

Elephant Ears
Elephants ears are the easier of the two to make. Whenever we make crescents for dinner, we usually save two to three of the triangles in a Tupperware container so we can make them into donuts later.

Ingredients:
1 tube of crescent rolls
vegetable oil
granulated sugar
cinnamon

Directions:
Unroll your crescent roll dough and separate all the triangles. Generously coat the bottom of a skillet with the vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot use tongs to add the crescent roll triangles.
Frying the crescent rolls
Cook for approximately one or two minutes or until you notice the dough beginning to puff up. When the dough begins to puff, flip the triangles over and cook for about 30 seconds or until the dough turns a golden brown.

Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Dredge the elephant ears in the mixture cinnamon sugar or sprinkle the mixture on the donuts. Serve while still warm.

Donuts and Donut Holes
Donuts and donut holes take a little more oil and a little more work to make than the Elephant Ears, but they are just as yummy.

Ingredients:
1 tube of biscuits
vegetable oil
cinnamon sugar, optional
powdered sugar, optional
frosting, optional
glaze, optional

Directions:
Separate your biscuits and lay them out on your work space. Rinse out an empty soda pop bottle. The size of the bottle doesn't matter. Remove the cap and press the opening of bottle into the center the biscuit to make the hole in the center. To get the dough out of the bottle opening, just squeeze the sides of the bottle; it'll pop right out and you'll have donut holes. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits.


Fill a saucepan half way with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, submerge one or two donuts in the oil at a time. Cook until they are a golden brown, about a minute or two. Place the donuts on a paper towel-lined plate.
Eat your donuts plain or decorate with cinnamon-sugar (our favorite), powdered sugar, frosting, or glaze. I don't have a recipe for glaze yet, much to Eric's disappointment. Serve warm.
Enjoy!

~Krissy

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Last summer when on vacation with Eric and his family, his mom bought some spinach and artichoke dip for us to try. I'd never had artichoke in any way, shape or form before. Man, was I missing out. This dip was AMAZING. So I had to find a way to make it on my own. Here it is. It's easy and made in the slow cooker.



Ingredients:
10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and chopped
1 (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cup Alfredo sauce
1/2 mayo
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions: 
Mix all the ingredients together in the slow cooker. Turn the cooker on low and cook for 2 to 4 hours. Serve with baguette slices or crackers.

Enjoy! 

~Krissy

Baked Potato Soup

This is one of my all time, absolutely favorite soups, especially come autumn and winter. It has everything tasty in it--potatoes, cheese, bacon, garlic . . . The original recipe came from the Food Network, but I've made a few changes to make the soup my own.


Ingredients:
6 strips of turkey bacon
2 large shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium russet potatoes, diced into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6 cups chicken stock
5 slices of white bread, cut into 6-8 pieces
margarine
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Sour cream, garnish
Green onions, garnish
Directions:
Cook turkey bacon in a large pot until crisp. Remove and coarsely chop the bacon. Set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté in the fat from the turkey bacon (if you use real bacon, remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan before sautéing) until golden brown. Add potatoes and stir to coat. Next, pour in the red wine vinegar and scrape any bits from the pan. Pour the stock into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

While your soup simmers, turn your oven to broil. Butter both sides of your bread pieces with margarine and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Flip bread over and bake for another five minutes or until the bread is gold brown. Set aside.

When the soup is ready, divide it between four bowls. Add ½ to 1 tablespoon sour cream to each bowl, if desired. Pile the bread, cheese and bacon into each bowl. Top with thinly sliced green onions and serve.

Makes four good-sized servings.
Variations
If you want melted cheese for your soup, butter one side of your white bread pieces with the margarine and place them butter side down on a baking sheet. Top with cheese and bacon pieces. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Divide evenly among the bowls. These also make yummy appetizers on white bread or baguettes.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Yummy Butterscotch Cookies

Eric loves butterscotch . . . butterscotch candy, butterscotch pudding, butterscotch ice cream topping, butterscotch milkshakes. So I pulled out my ever versatile cake mix cookie recipe and made him butterscotch cookies. Four ingredients and approximately 25 minutes of time = delicious butterscotch goodness.



Ingredients:
1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup butterscotch chips
 
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, and oil together--either by hand or using a mixer--until the batter becomes thick. Add the butterscotch chips and stir. Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough and roll it into 1-inch balls. Place it on a cookie sheet, spacing the cookies 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes or until the cookie bottoms turn a golden brown.


Check out more cake mix cookie recipes here.


Enjoy!

~Krissy

Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi Soup Knock-off

Whenever Eric and I go to Olive Garden, we get the soup, salad, and bread stick lunch. It's yummy, filling, and inexpensive (which usually allows us to splurge on dessert!) All their soups are delicious, but the chicken and gnocchi soup is by far my favorite. I think I've come up with a pretty good knockoff version that we can make at home.

Ingredients:
¼ cup canned chicken
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
2 garlic gloves, minced
¼ cup frozen carrots and peas
½ cup spinach, thawed, drained and chopped
10 potato gnocchi
¼ cup Parmesan-romano blend cheese, grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions:
Dissolve cornstarch into the cup of milk. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic, frozen peas and frozen carrots. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add chicken, gnocchi, thyme, salt, and pepper. Wait until the gnocchi is cooked—about five minutes—before adding the milk/cornstarch solution and cheese. Bring back to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach. Cook for another minute or two. Serve with additional Parmesan as a garnish.

Gnocchi
You can buy potato gnocchi from the frozen section of your grocery store or make it yourself. I made my own. While they turned out delicious, they required so much work that I’ll probably never prepare them again. Given the effort that goes into them, I’d rather pay the price at the checkout lane.

Thoughts
A lot of the time when I cook, I work with the things in my pantry which means I don’t always have the exact ingredient for a recipe. Eric loves making fried rice so we always have frozen peas and carrots in the freezer, which is why they go into this soup. I also usually substitute whole milk with cornstarch for half and half just because cream always goes bad before I can use the carton and Eric only drinks whole milk so it’s always in the fridge. Using half and half makes the soup a little bit richer and creamier but if you don’t have any in the house, whole milk and cornstarch works wonders.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Soft Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

When Eric begins eying my oatmeal in the pantry, I know it's time to make him a batch of my oatmeal cookies. The two dozen cookies the recipe makes barely lasts a week in our house. Eric says they are the best oatmeal cookies he's ever had. 

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ salt
2 teaspoon, ground cinnamon
1 1.5-ounce box of raisins
1½ cups quick oats
Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar using an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually pour the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture while stirring. Mix well. Stir in the oats and raisins.

Scoop up a little less than 1 tablespoon of dough and drop onto cookie sheet, placing cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Pasta and Sun-dried Tomatoes in a Pesto Sauce

Nothing goes better with pesto sauce than sun-dried tomatoes. Toss with whatever pasta you have on hand and add a little bit of cream cheese for extra richness and creaminess and you have a delicious, simple meal for lunch or dinner. As of right now, I use Knorr powdered pesto mix. One day when my basil plant produces enough leaves, I will prepare my own homemade pesto sauce.
Shell pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and cream cheese in a pesto sauce.
Ingredients:
1 package Knorr pesto mix
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup water
2 servings of the pasta of your choice
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon low fat cream cheese, cut in small pieces

Directions:
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside.

Whisk the pesto mix, olive oil and water in a sauce pan. Bring to boil while constantly stirring.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss pasta with the sauce. Add sun-dried tomatoes and cream cheese.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

The Best Friggin Meatballs Ever!

So the other day I decided to make spaghetti and turkey meatballs. The meatballs turned out okay, but there was nothing spectacular about them. I knew I'd have to fiddle with the recipe to give them that wow factor. We had a bunch of leftovers, and Eric--being the sweetheart that he is--made dinner last night because I was in a cranky mood (apartment was too hot, the water heater wasn't working, work had been frustrating, etc.) He turned the so-so meatballs into the best friggin meatballs I've ever tasted! They needed a zing to them and he knew just what to do.

Here is the meatball recipes I used. The flavor by itself is nothing special, but the Italian spices combined with the barbecue sauce were amazing.
Plain Meatballs
Ingredients:
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 egg
2 ts dried basil
1 ts dried oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 cup instant oatmeal flakes
Your favorite barbecue sauce. We like Sweet Baby Ray's.

Directions*:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Mix everything together except the barbecue sauce. Roll the meat into 1 1/2-inch balls and place in a casserole pan. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink. Transfer the meatball to a sauce pan and cover generously with barbecue sauce. (Eric doesn't generally measure things out, so sadly I have no measurements for you) Make sure to completely coat each meatball. Heat on high until sauce is warm and serve!
Barbecue meatballs (I forgot to take a picture before we ate dinner; there were more)
*These directions are just based on how we ended up making this dish. You could probably save yourself a step and add the barbecue sauce to the baking pan or cook the meatball on the stove top in the sauce.

Eric also made my homemade mac and cheese from a box. The flavors of the two dishes complimented each other perfectly. I ate well last night.


 Enjoy!
~Krissy

How to Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Taste Homemade

I have several different recipes for homemade mac and cheese, all delicious, some more intricate than others, but all of them are time consuming (and expensive). Boxed mac and cheese is quick and easy but not nearly as satisfying as the real thing. So after playing around a bit, I’ve figured out a way to combine the best of two worlds.
Mac and Cheese with Sun-dried Tomatoes
Ingredients:
1 boxed mac and cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon margarine, melted
3 slice of white bread, torn
Fresh thyme, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Directions:
Heat oven on broil.

Pour the melted margarine over the torn bread pieces and toss with pepper, salt, and thyme. Set aside.

Make your box of mac and cheese according to the directions on the box. Leave the mac and cheese in the pan and add cheddar cheese. Stir on low heat until cheese is completely melted. Add ¼ cup milk and stir. Your sauce is going to be a bit thin, but it will thicken in the oven. Pour the mac and cheese into an 8x8 inch casserole dish. Arrange the bread on top of the pasta. Sprinkle extra cheese over the top of the bread. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the bread topping turns a golden brown.

Variations:
Instead of thyme—which just happens to be my favorite herb—use rosemary, oregano, basil or garlic. Also, whenever I have sun-dried tomatoes on hand, I toss them in with the pasta before baking. They compliment the dish and add a little burst of flavor.

With just a couple more steps, the taste of boxed mac and cheese improves exponentially. You'll never make just plain old mac and cheese from the box again.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Southwestern Chicken Panini Recipe

Don't know what to make for lunch? I'm here with your answer: Southwest Chicken Panini. I don't own a panini press so I usually just grill them on the skillet like I would a grilled cheese sandwich. Sometimes I use my George Foreman grill. But no matter how you make it, the sandwich comes out tasty. Pair it with a salad, fries, potato chips or kale chips. It also makes a great simple dinner when you just don't feel like cooking.

Ingredients:
10 ounce can of chicken (or shredded leftover chicken)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
8 pieces of bread
Butter
Roma tomato, sliced (you can also use sun-dried tomatoes)
Cheddar cheese--I highly recommend Kraft's Triple Cheddar Cheese



Directions:
In a medium-size bowl, mix together chicken, mayo, ranch dressing, and chili powder. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Divide the chicken among four pieces of bread, spreading it on the unbutter side of the bread. Add the cheese, tomato slices, and top slice of bread, butter side up. Grill in a skillet, grill or panini press until each piece of bread is golden brown. Makes four sandwiches.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

How to Caramelize Onions

Eric hates onions (unless they're onion rings). When he moved out of his parents house, his mom told me they all rejoiced because they could add onions to dishes now. I like onions. They add depth and complexity to dishes. Sadly, now I’m the one who isn't allowed to cook with them (though I sneak minced onions into dishes without telling him all the time). Ironically, it was Eric's mom who introduced me to caramelized onions. Immediately I fell in love with them. I'll put them on just about anything--salads, pizza, quesadillas, sandwiches.
  
 
Ingredients:
1 large red onion
1 large yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Sea salt
Sugar

Directions:
Cut off the root and top ends of both your onions then peel the onion. To slice your onion, cut the onions in half and lay them flat-side down. Slice onions lengthwise and make them as thick or thin as you’d like. Add the olive oil and butter in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer or ripple, add the onions to the pan. Stir to coat the onions then spread them out evenly in the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the onions cook.

After about 10 minutes, sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar over the onions. Continue to cook, stirring every 10 to 15 to keep the onions from burning. You will notice the onions browning and shrinking the longer they cook. Once your onion reach the color, texture, and flavor that you want, remove them from the heat. I usually cook mine about an hour and a half. Put them on steak, venison, hamburgers, omelets, or pizza.

Variations:
I like to caramelize my onions in a mixture of olive oil and butter, but if you want, you can just use 3 tablespoons of olive oil. The pinch of sugar helps speed up caramelizing process, but you don’t have to add it. To add more flavor to your onions, add a splash of balsamic vinegar or wine when the onions are just about done. It also de-glazes the pan.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage

I'm not a big drinker, but I've learned to love to cook and bake with alcohol. I've added chocolate raspberry rum (from the Caribbean) to all kinds of bake goods. I made rum balls for the first time last Christmas. And I'm in love with vodka sauce. It's got such a kick and unique taste. If you like spicy, you'll like this recipe.
Shell pasta with vodka sauce, garnished with Parmesan cheese
Ingredients:
4 servings of pasta, usually about 2 cups depending on the type of pasta. (I prefer penne)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 spicy sausages (Eric loves the Hillshire Farms Jalapeno and Cheese Sausages) chopped into bite-size pieces
1 medium shallot, minced
2 pinches of red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14.9 ounce) of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 basil leaves, torn
Parmesan cheese, garnish

Directions:
Cook pasta according to the package directions, drain, rinse and set aside.

In a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until shallots and garlic turn a golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour in vodka and cook until the sauces reduces by half. In a glass, mix the milk and cornstarch together* then stir it into the sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Add basil and pasta. Toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

*You can replace the milk and cornstarch mixture with heavy cream. I rarely have heavy cream on hand and found that whole milk and cornstarch work just as well as heavy cream.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

I'll be up front with you, you're going to see a lot of chicken recipes on this blog. Why? Because I don't eat red meat. It's not a political statement or even a health choice; I just don't like the taste or texture. And yes, that includes steak too. (However, according to Eric, I make a mean ground beef chili.) I also rarely eat pork. That means there is a lot of poultry served in our house, which can get boring. So I'm always finding new things to do with it.

I think the original version of this recipe came from Kraft Recipes, but I've changed it up a bit to suit my tastes. 
This recipe only makes two servings.
Stuffed chicken with a mountain of mashed potatoes
Ingredients:
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons frozen spinach, thawed, drained and coarsely chopped
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
3-4 basil leaves, torn
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg white
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I usually make my own by crushing saltine crackers)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 of a 14.9 oz can of tomatoes seasoned with basil, oregano and garlic
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch pain with cooking spray.

With a mallet, thin the chicken breasts to a 1/4-inch thickness. Mix the spinach, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil, pepper,1/4 cup mozzarella, and garlic together in a bowl. Spread half the mixture on each chicken breast and roll the breasts up tight.

Place the egg whites and breadcrumbs each in a different shallow bowl. Dip the chicken rolls in the egg then in the breadcrumbs, coating it. Set the chicken breasts seam side down in the baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Pour the tomatoes over the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

A Simple Parmesan and Garlic Sauce

It's almost time to go grocery shopping and we're down to a box of pasta and a few staples in the pantry. That means it's time to make Parmesan and garlic sauce with pasta. No matter how low on food we're running, we almost always have the ingredients to make this dish. It's a simple, filling, and full of flavor.

Can you guess where we shop?
Ingredients:
2 serving of the pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup milk
¼ cup Parmesan
Pepper, to taste
Parsley, optional

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions; set aside.

Melt margarine in a sauce pan and add garlic. Sauté for about one minute or until garlic turns a golden brown color. Add flour and cook for about minute while continually stirring. Pour in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, continually stirring so the sauce thickens. Reduce heat. Add Parmesan and stir until cheese is melted. Add parsley and pepper. Pour over pasta and serve. 

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Provincial Chicken

This is all I have to say about this recipe: one pan, eight ingredients, tasty, filling, and easy.
All in one deep skillet
Ingredients:
4 slices of bacon (or turkey bacon)
1 tablespoon of minced onion
1 garlic glove, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can (15.8 ounce) of Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes with garlic and basil seasoning, undrained
1/4 cup water
a dash of pepper

Directions:
Cook bacon in a deep skillet for about 5 minutes or until it is brown and crisp. Remove from the pan, cut into 1-inch pieces, and set aside.

Saute the garlic and onions in the bacon grease until they turn a golden brown, roughly 3 to 5 minutes.* Add the pieces of chicken. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until the chicken is lightly brown on both sides.
Stir in the beans, tomatoes, water, and pepper and then bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Take the lid off the pan, add the bacon pieces and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce thickens.

*If you use turkey bacon en lieu of regular bacon, you will need to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the pan in order to cook the chicken. Turkey bacon just doesn't give off enough grease. I prefer the recipe with turkey bacon. Eric likes it best with regular bacon.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cheese Puffs for Cheese Lovers!

 Eric an I are both HUGE cheese lovers. For Eric's 25th birthday we invited friends over to celebrate. Since cheese is one of his favorite foods, I decided to do cheese appetizers, one of which was cheese puffs (the other was cream cheese ragoons). I have made cheese puffs before but never really fell in love with any particular recipe. Then I tried making cheese puffs out of pate a choux, a light pastry dough. I made a test batch before the party. I loved the texture and how easily they puffed up, not to mention how easy they were to make. But when we bit into them, both Eric and I turned to each other and declared that they needed more cheese. So with a little tweaking and experimenting I came up with cheese puffs for cheese lovers.


Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In a saucepan bring the water, salt, and butter to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium heat and immediately add flour. Stir continuously. You will notice the dough shrink away from the edges of the pan and form a ball in the center. Remove the pan from the heat and give the dough a couple of minutes to cool off. You want the dough warm but not hot enough to cook the eggs when you add them. Stir in one egg at a time and mix until mixture becomes creamy. Add cheese, thyme, and pepper. Mix well. Spoon about a tablespoon of dough on a baking sheet. Space the cheese puff about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350 and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Recommendations
I highly recommend using Kraft’s Triple Cheddar shredded cheese. I love cheddar cheese and this mix of sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, and Vermont white cheddar with a touch of Philadelphia cream cheese is to die for.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Chicken Enchiladas with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

We love Mexican food. When we go out to eat, we almost always go to  Cancun's. But eating out gets expensive, so I've learned to make some Mexican dishes on my own. One of our favorites is chicken enchiladas. As I do with a lot of my recipes, I stole an idea or two from this recipes and an idea or two from that recipe until I came up with my own.

If you haven't had fire-roasted tomatoes before, you're missing out! They are the key to my chicken enchilada recipe. You should be able to find them with the other canned tomatoes in the grocery store.
Ingredients:
1 14.5-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
4 8-inch flour tortillas
2 5-ounce cans of canned chicken
(or about 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken)
Handful of green onions, chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
1½ tablespoons sour cream
½ cup shredded Mexican seasoned cheese, plus extra
            (cheddar and mozzarella work too)
Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the can of tomatoes, chili powder, and hot sauce into a sauce pan, simmer, and stir. Add the sugar into sauce to help cut the acidity. Remove from heat.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix chicken, sour cream, green onion, cumin, cheese and ¼ cup of tomato sauce. Set aside.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Dip your tortilla in tomato sauce then fry it in the skillet. When the tortilla begins to bubble up, flip the tortilla over. It’s much easier to use a pair of tongs than a spatula. Repeat with the other 3 tortillas. 

Dip in tomato sauce
Air bubble beneath the tortilla
Spoon a little tomato sauce into a 9x9-inch glass dish so the bottom is coated. Divide the chicken mixture between the 4 tortillas (they will be very full). Place tortillas seam side down in the dish. Pour remaining sauce of them then generously sprinkle with cheese.

Seams down
Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Update!
While making these for my parents over the Fourth of July weekend, I discovered that this recipe also works for steak enchiladas!

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Cake Mix Cookies

I first discovered cake mix cookies when I was in junior high school. I may not have been into cooking or baking, but I did like sweets (still do!).  My mom was always buying cake mixes when they went on sale and they'd sit in the cupboards for months, sometimes years. Somewhere I found a recipe for cake mix cookies. They were super easy to make and incredibly versatile.

These days I mostly make my cookies from scratch. But sometimes I just have a craving for the ease and taste of a cake mix cookie.

These recipes makes roughly three dozens.

Grasshopper Cake Mix Cookies
Grasshopper Cookies
I had a recipe for grasshopper cake I was going to make last St. Patty’s day but decided to be lazy and turned the cake recipe into a cookie recipe instead. The outcome was delicious.

Ingredients:
1 package yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips
12-14 drops green food coloring
2 teaspoons mint extract.
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Beat the cake mix, eggs, oil, extract and food coloring together until the batter becomes stiff. Add chocolate chips. If you want cookies with green swirls instead of solid green cookies, add food coloring with the chips. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cookie bottoms turn a golden brown.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
I’ll admit, these are one of my all time favorite cookies. Everyone I’ve ever made these for absolutely fell in love with them too. They taste just like chocolate covered cherries. Every batch disappears in a blink of an eye.

So far, the only brand I’ve found that makes cherry cake mix is Betty Crocker.

Ingredients:
1 package Betty Crocker Cherry Chip cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the cake mix, eggs and oil together until the batter becomes stiff. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cookie bottoms turn a golden brown.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
These cookies are a close second to the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies.

Ingredients:
1 package chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup peanut butter chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the cake mix, eggs and oil together until the batter becomes stiff. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cookie bottoms turn a golden brown.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
I love coconut. Sadly, I only know two or three people (and Eric isn't one of them) who also love coconut so I don’t get to make these cookies very often.

Ingredients:
1 package white cake mix (you can also use coconut cake mix)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the cake mix, eggs and oil together until the batter becomes stiff. Stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the cookie bottoms turn a golden brown.

You can also add a ¼ cup of chopped almonds if you so desire.

Also check out my butterscotch cake mix cookies.

Enjoy!

~Krissy