Saturday, December 22, 2012

Deanne's Sausage Apple Stuffing

My sister-in-law Deanne makes this amazing stuffing for Thanksgiving every year. It is relatively easy, absolutely delicious, and will change the way that you feel about stuffing forever. It would also be a great accompaniment to your Christmas turkey!

2 boxes Mrs. Cubbison's Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix (in the green box!)
1 cup butter
2 cups onion-chopped
2 cups celery-chopped
2 tart apples (Granny Smith)- peeled and diced
1 lb. mild italian sausage- browned and drained
about 2 cups chicken broth
about 2 cups apple juice
1-2 cups chopped pecans

Brown sausage and set aside to drain. In the same pan, saute onion and celery in butter. Add apples toward the end of your saute and cook just until slightly tender. Combine with stuffing mix in a large crock pot that has been lightly sprayed with Pam and moisten with chicken broth and apple juice. You want it to be moist, but not too wet.  Gently stir in pecans and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas & holiday recipe roundup!

Christmas season is in full swing and we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite holiday recipes. Christmas for me is about Christ, family and friends, giving and generosity and... food! Food always seems to play a part in creating memories, traditions and comfort. So, enjoy baking and giving away yummy treats, making memories over delicious meals, celebrating with friends at a party or giving your children something to get nostalgic about when they think back about Christmases of their childhood.
Happy holidays from all of us at Boy Cheese Sandwich!!!
  • For Christmas morning:
Sausage Breakfast Casserole
German Pancakes
Apple Puff Pancakes
Amish Breakfast Casserole
Chile Casserole
Kathy's Coffee Cake
French Toast Casserole
  • Christmas cookies and home-baked gifts:
Nana's Caramels
Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods
Hot Fudge Sauce
Mom's Sugar Cookies
Waffle Brownies
Earthquake Cookies
Mint Brownies
Sand Art Brownies
Peanut Butter Bars
Easy Pretzel Turtles
Thin Mint Crackers
  • Non-food gift:
  • Christmas appetizers:
Cranberry Salsa
Artichoke Dip
  • Christmas salads:
Christmas Salad
Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing
Pear Salad
  • Christmas desserts:
Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies
Mom's French Pear Pie
Eggnog Cupcakes
Cranberry Bundt Cake with Warm Butter Sauce
Apple Torte with Lemon Sauce
  • Meals for Christmas day, after presents -or- for Christmas Eve:)  Most are make-ahead, so you can just warm it up or bake it when family is around and hungry!
Three-Bean Christmas Chili
Classic Cheese Fondue
Chocolate Fondue (pictured below)
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Ski Country Pasta
Mom's Minestrone Soup
Cranberry Chicken
Mimi's Cafe Corn Chowder with Ham
Mom's Lasagna

Christmas Potpourri

Some sweet ladies at church today handed me a beautiful cellophane bag, tied with a festive ribbon. Inside was this fragrant concoction. When I returned home, I immediately added it to water and simmered it on my stove and within minutes, my whole house smelled like Christmas. Delicious!!! I really wish I would've taken a photo of the potpourri before I simmered it, but I was too impatient, I guess!

My Mom would often simmer some cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice in a little water on the stove at Christmas and the spicy scent just makes me think of home. Usually, she was preparing her yummy Wassail for a party, but this potpourri would make a unique, (calorie and fat-free!) gift for friends, neighbors or kids' teachers for the holidays.

It does require 3-4 days preparation for the orange peel to dry, so plan accordingly:)

Fresh orange peel (a hand full)
3 cinnamon sticks
12 allspice berries
3 whole star anise
8 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
  1. Tear orange peel into small pieces. Cover with a paper towel and dry completely for 3-4 days. 
  2. Add all other ingredients to dried orange peel in a cellophane bag and it's ready to use yourself or to give as a gift!
TO USE: Add potpourri to 2 cups water and simmer in a saucepan. May be refrigerated and re-used.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marshmallow Krispie Brownies

This is the other fun recipe given to me by my neighbor, Sharon. These brownies are rich and chocolatey, with the unique crunch of Rice Krispies. What's not to like?

1 package Fudge Brownie mix (13 x 9" pan size)
1 (10.5 ounce) pkg. mini marshmallows
1 (12 ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make brownie according to package directions. Pour into greased 9 x 13" pan. Bake in preheated oven for 28 minutes. Remove pan from oven and spread marshmallows over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 3 minutes more- Marshmallows will NOT be completely melted. Cool brownies completely. 

Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave for 60-90 seconds, or until chocolate is melted. Stir in the cereal and spread over cooled brownies. Cool completely before cutting. Serves about 16-20.

Hearty Spaghetti Sauce

We moved this summer and the second night in our new home, our neighbor brought this Turkey Spaghetti sauce for dinner and a fabulous dessert (Marshmallow Krispie Brownies) to introduce herself. Now THAT's the way to make friends, people! We still had boxes to the ceiling and I hadn't made a home-cooked meal in days. Needless to say, I called her to ask for the recipes because we all loved them. This can be made with ground turkey or beef. 

Also, she brought me Dreamfields Pasta, which is my new favorite pasta. It has a low glycemic index, which for those non-diabetics, it means that it doesn't cause such a speedy rise in your blood sugar when you eat it. In fact, out of the 41 grams of carbohydrate in each serving, only 5 grams "count." As a Diabetic, I am always looking for ways to cut carbs, so I am a big fan! I can find it at 2 of my local grocery stores and I seriously can't taste any difference between Dreamfields and regular pasta.  The Turkey Spaghetti Sauce itself is low-carb, but with this new pasta, it's a legitimate "low-carb pasta meal." Hooray for that!

Anyway, I digress... Here's the recipe, from my neighbor Sharon:)  Serves about 8.

1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced

1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon (or less) cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

Brown meat with onion and green pepper and set aside.

Mix tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and spices in a large pot. Add browned meat and vegetables and stir well. Cover and let simmer over low heat for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce over cooked pasta. 

Pumpkin Dip

I made this yummy Pumpkin Dip on Halloween night, but I think it would be perfect all Fall and Winter... or any time for that matter! I cut the recipe in half, since I was only serving 10 and the original recipe serves 32! Recipe adapted from Carolina Charm and allrecipes.
This adaption serves about 12-16.

1 small pumpkin (I used a pie pumpkin and it was perfect!)

1/2 of a (15 ounce) can of pumpkin
1/2 of a 5 ounce box of instant vanilla pudding mix {just the powder, don't make the pudding}
1 (8 ounce) container of low-fat whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, thawed

1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
Cinnamon to sprinkle on top, if desired

Make sure your Cool Whip is thawed in the refrigerator a few hours before you begin.

Mix pumpkin, pudding mix, Cool Whip, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Chill for at least an hour before serving. 

Meanwhile, carve your pumpkin! Hollow out the inside and the lid and spoon the pumpkin mix inside. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and serve with fresh apples slices, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps or graham crackers. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Enchilada Pasta Bake

This recipe has been on my "Dinner Ideas" board on Pinterest for a few weeks and, in a pinch last night, I threw it together without shopping for it first. I substituted chile beans for the black beans and I didn't have green onions on hand, but my family LOVED this meal! My older 2 kids both requested it in their lunches the next day for school too, so it's one I'll make again. Recipe adapted from
Serves 8.

4-1/2 cups medium pasta shells, uncooked
2 tsp. oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix
1 can (14.5 oz.) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups cooked & shredded chicken
1 can (15 oz.) no-salt-added black beans, rinsed
3 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Mexican-style shredded cheese (or sub cheddar or Colby-Jack)

Heat oven to 375°F.

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add yellow onions and peppers; cook 3 to 5 min. or until crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Stir in seasoning mix and tomatoes; cook and stir 3 min. Add chicken, beans and half each of the green onions and cilantro; mix well. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta. Add to chicken mixture; mix lightly. Pour into 13x9-inch baking dish; top with cheese.

Bake 20 to 25 min. or until pasta mixture is heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and cilantro.

Other topping possibilities: Sour cream, fresh tomatoes, sliced olives, salsa.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I LOVE Halloween! I love the chill in the air, pumpkins, spooky decorations and the idea of Fall (I say that because we don't really have Fall here in California!) I also everything pumpkin, including the seeds. My 5 year old came home from Kindergarten last week to tell me that she tried pumpkin seeds at school and that she loves them. It was the perfect excuse to pull out a recipe my sister gave me over 10 years ago. If you carve some pumpkins this Halloween, give these yummy seeds a try. Recipe from Andrea Fredrick...
HaPpY HalLoWeEn!!!

2 cups fresh, raw pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Clean seeds of all pumpkin pulp. (I put mine in a large colander and rinse until all the pulp is gone) Boil  seeds in salty water (water + 1 teaspoon salt) for 10 minutes, then drain. In a bowl, mix melted butter, 1 teaspoon salt and Worcestershire. Spread seeds on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours, or until slightly browned, stirring occasionally during baking. Cool completely. Store seeds in an airtight container. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

These are my husband's absolutely favorite cookie and he calls them "Peanut Butter Things." His Mom made them for him when he was little and making them for him now wins me major brownie points! The recipe makes a lot and I just place them in the refrigerator and pull them out for kids' lunches or a snack. Recipe from my cute Mother-in-law:)

3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

Line 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper and set aside. Combine sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and peanut butter. Mix in the oats, stirring until the mixture begins to cool. (Transfer to a large bowl first if it doesn't fit into the saucepan.) Drop batter with a cookie scoop onto prepared cookie sheets. Let cool or refrigerate until set. Store in refrigerator until serving. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

It's been HOT here lately and I'm looking forward to cooler Fall weather to show up. I dread turing on my oven lately, so my crockpot has been busy! This recipe is so easy and only has 5 ingredients. 

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
Juice from 1 lime (about 2 Tablespoons lime juice)
4 Tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. Serve over quinoa, rice, noodles or potatoes. Optional toppings: additional cilantro, sour cream, cheese, crushed Fritos or tortilla chips. Could also roll up in a tortilla. Serves 5-6.

Apple Puff Pancakes

German pancakes were always an anticipated breakfast treat when we were growing up. This is a new spin on the original, with the addition of apples, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. I make this occasionally for dinner or for a weekend breakfast. These taste and smell amazing right out of the oven!

3 Tablespoons butter
2 apples, peeled & thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, eggs, salt & cinnamon in a blender until smooth and set aside. Place butter in a 9 x 13" pan and bake for 3-5 minutes, or until butter melts. Remove pan from oven and arrange apple slices in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle brown sugar on the apples and pour batter over the top. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until puffed and lightly browned. Top with syrup, if desired.

Serves 6. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Petite White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

I made these tonight for a church youth activity and couldn't wait to share them with all of you! We had a "tea" party and what's better to serve at a tea party than scones? The original recipe calls for cranberries, but when I got home from the grocery store, I realized that we had eaten the cranberries at Disneyland the week before, so I used Trader Joe's dried blueberries instead (I think they were an upgrade!) I may always make them with blueberries now. These scones are like a shortbread, but are not dry like some scones. Recipe adapted from

Begin by mixing the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until fine. 
Add the cream and mix just until dough holds together. Stir in fruit and white chips with a spoon.
Divide the dough into 4 sections and shape into a rectangle on a floured surface. Begin by cutting into half, then into fourths. Dip your knife into flour each time to keep it from sticking to the dough.
Cut each fourth into 2 rectangles. You will end up with 8 scones for each section of dough, for a total of 32 scones.
These spread quite a bit during baking, so space them out at least an inch (Mine ended up touching after baking!)
After the scones are baked and cooled, finish with a drizzle of white chocolate and you're good to go! 
So pretty!

Petite White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour*
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (I used blueberries)
1 1/4 cups white baking chips
2 teaspoons shortening

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt in large bowl; cut in butter with a stand mixer and a paddle attachment or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in whipping cream; mix until dough holds together. Stir in cranberries and 3/4 cup white baking chips with spoon. *I added another 2 Tbs. of flour because my dough was too sticky.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead 5 to 10 times or until dough is smooth. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; shape each piece into 8-inch log. Cut each log into 4 (2-inch) pieces; cut each piece in half diagonally to form small triangles. Dipping your knife in flour between cuts will help stop it from sticking to the dough.

Place scones, at least 1 inch apart, onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely.

Combine remaining 1/2 cup baking chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving and stirring every 30 seconds until chips are melted and smooth. Drizzle scones with melted chocolate.

Each scone has: Calories: 130, Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 95mg, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 1g

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rose Cake and Buttercream Frosting

I needed to make a cake for my cute little one's birthday and my sister Natalie had made a rose cake that was darling, so I decided to give it a try. The original idea came from the "I Am Baker" blog, but I adapted it a little to my taste. You need a good thick frosting so that the roses will hold their shape. This is what I used and I thought that it worked great and tasted amazing!

1/2 cup butter- softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
1 scant tsp. lemon extract
8 cups (2 lbs.) powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup milk

Soften butter and shortening at room temperature for a couple hours and then mix together well with vanilla and lemon extract. Slowly add powdered sugar and blend until well combined. Add milk just until you reach the right consistency. Remember that this frosting should be a little stiffer than normal. Add coloring if desired.

You can use any cake mix or recipe that you like and bake it in 2- 9 inch round pans. Allow the cakes to cool and then flatten off the top of one of the cakes. Place the flattened cake on your serving stand, spread with an even layer of frosting, and then place the other cake on top. Spread on a good crumb coat before putting on the roses.

You will need a Wilton 1M tip and a good frosting bag. Start with the sides and create roses by starting in the middle and swirling the frosting outward in a circle. Continue all the way around the edge and then do the roses on top. You can fill in the dead spaces with a little extra swipe from the frosting bag. Super easy for a beautiful result!

Turkey Ragu with Fontina and Parmesan

Yum! This hearty meal was a hit with my whole family. I used whole grain penne pasta in place of the elbow macaroni. Recipe adapted from

1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can canned diced tomatoes with their juice
1 (14.5 ounce) can canned crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions until pasta is al dente (still a little firm). Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the ground turkey. Cook and stir until the turkey is no longer pink. Mix in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Combine pasta with the tomato sauce in the skillet. Toss pasta with the fontina cheese and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese until the cheese is melted. Serve pasta in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Serves 8.

Crowd-Pleasing Taco Salad

This is an easy and delicious salad that's great for feeding a crowd. I made it again recently for my family of 5 and cut this recipe in half. There was no need to simmer the beef, ketchup and spices with the smaller recipe. Recipe from Taste of Home.

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 medium head iceberg lettuce, torn
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup taco sauce
1 package (10-1/2 ounces) corn chips (I used Fritos)

Cook beef in a large saucepan over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the ketchup, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, olives and beef mixture. Combine mayonnaise and taco sauce; pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with corn chips. Serve immediately. Yield: 14-16 servings.

Tutorial: Easy Shredded Chicken

My sister Natalie told me of this easy way to shred chicken and it's one of my favorite cooking secrets now! It's so much easier than shredding with 2 forks and it creates perfect chicken for Mexican recipes, salads or casseroles. I almost always use frozen chicken breasts, but the magic number is 165 degrees F for an internal temperature.

Uncooked, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
For flavor: Dried minced onion, chicken broth or lemon slices (optional)

  • POACH ON STOVE: Place chicken in a large skillet and add 1-2 cups of water or chicken broth and add onion or lemon slices for flavor, if desired. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees F. 
  • POACH IN OVEN: Place chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan. Add lemon slices or dried onion for flavor. Bring 4 cups of water or chicken broth a boil and immediately pour over chicken. Cover and bake at 400 degrees F for 20-35 minutes, checking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • BOIL: Place uncooked chicken breasts in a pot and barely cover with water. Season with a few shakes of onion for flavor, if desired. Bring to boil, then turn heat down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 

When chicken breasts are cooked, add them to a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until finely shredded. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or immediately add to recipe.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Salad de Maison

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and torn
2 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 c. grated Swiss cheese
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 c. slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. croutons

1/2 c. canola oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed

*Dressing is best if made the night before and refrigerated.

Serves: 10

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dill Dip

1 pint (2 cups) mayo
1 pint sour cream
1 tsp dill weed
2 tsp. Lawry's Seasoned Salt
2 Tbs. parsley flakes
2 Tbs. minced onion

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate before serving with your favorite fresh veggies.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

I recently made this ice cream for a family dinner up the canyon and it was a hit! When my sister asked me where I got the recipe, I had to answer honestly... off the side of my ice cream maker box! Enjoy!


2 cups milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups half and half
4 cups whipping cream
1 Tbs. vanilla
4 cups pureed strawberries

Pour milk into medium saucepan and scald over medium heat just until it bubbles from around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat and add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in half and half, vanilla, and whipping cream. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Add pureed strawberries to chilled mixture and pour into ice cream canister. Freeze per the directions on your ice cream maker. Makes 4 Quarts.

Asian Spinach Pasta Salad

16 oz. tri-color spiral pasta
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 bunch green onion-thinly sliced
1 red pepper- diced
1 yellow pepper- diced
1/3 cup sunflower seeds- lightly toasted
1 bag baby spinach

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white vinegar
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook chicken and pasta. Combine all dressing ingredients and pour over chicken and pasta. Cover and chill overnight. The next day add onions, peppers, and sunflower seeds. Add spinach and toss  immediately before serving. Hint: I usually make a little extra dressing and add it before serving because the chicken and noodles soak it all up!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Luscious "Cream Puffs"

My Mom makes the most amazing cream puffs and I'm a little shocked that none of us have posted her recipe here yet. I'll put them on my "to make" list and I'll share soon:) This recipe from Kraft makes a delicious dessert that reminds me more of Napoleon pastry than of a true cream puff, but they are flaky, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth good! I had never used puff pastry sheets before and one note: You can NOT roll them out or play with the dough much or they will not turn out! I had cut out the circles and thought I'd roll out the remaining corners of dough to cut more and they turned out like hockey pucks... hard as a rock! So, resist the urge to touch the puff pasty sheet much and you'll end up with light and flaky "puffs." The recipe makes 9 and they are small (think 2 bites), depending on the size of your cookie cutter. It would be simple to double, since boxes of puff pastry usually come with 2 sheets.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 of 17.3-oz. pkg.), thawed
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) instant 
vanilla pudding
1 cup cold milk
1/2 cup thawed whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
1 square (1 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate baking squares, such as Baker's

Note: Take puff pastry out of the freezer about 20-30 minutes before baking and let sit on the counter to thaw. The puff pastry dough works best when cold, so don't let it get too warm before cutting and baking.

Heat oven to 400ºF. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Cut into 9 circles with 3-inch cookie cutter. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheet. Bake 10 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Meanwhile, beat pudding mix and milk in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in whipped topping. Refrigerate 15 min.

Melt chocolate as directed on package. Split pastry rounds; fill with pudding mixture. Replace tops and drizzle with melted chocolate. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

Lightened Up Chicken Tamale Casserole

I've made this delicious recipe several times this summer and it's about time I share it with you! This is a unique and easy meal that gets rave reviews from my family. Recipe from; Originally from Cooking Light, November 2008.

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute (or sub 1 whole egg, beaten)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy or Martha White)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Per serving (with 1 Tbs. sour cream for topping): 354 calories  14.1 g fat, 18.9 g protein, 36.3 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 620 mg sodium

Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta

My oldest daughter has been on a major pasta kick lately and every time I ask for her input on dinner, she says, "pasta!" This recipe has been on my Dinner Ideas board on Pinterest for a few weeks and it was A.MAZ.ING! Recipe from Cooking Light, September 2009. Recipes says it serves 4 (2 cup servings) but it easily fed my family of 5, with leftovers:)

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (I used lean Jennie-O Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup onion, 
vertically sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese*, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.

*NOTES: Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian sheep's milk cheese with a sharp, salty flavor. I used it and really liked the flavor. You could substitute Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) or Romano cheese (made from cow's milk).

Per 2 cup serving: 389 calories, 10.7 g fat, 21.6 g protein, 4.5 g. fiber, 53.5 g carbohydrate, 595 mg sodium.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Spicy Thai Noodles

recipe from a small snippet 

We love Thai food. That being said cooking Thai food kinda freaks me out. Let's just say I had a really bad experience making a curry once. This recipe however is so simple and there are no "strange" ingredients that you see in some Thai recipes. You can vary how spicy it is by the amount of pepper flakes you use. We loved it and I will be making it often.  

1 box linguine pasta
1-2 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1Tbs and it was plenty spicy for me
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. toasted sesame oil
6 Tbs honey (I used Agave
6 Tbs soy sauce
green onions, peanuts, cilantro  shredded carrots, toasted sesame seeds 

*I add some grilled chicken for protein 

Cook noodles. Drain. Chop onion, cilantro, peanuts. 
Combine oils and pepper flakes in small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain out pepper flakes and reserve oil. To the reserved oil add honey and soy sauce. Whisk together then toss mixture with noodles. Add chicken or other protein if you wish. Before serving top each portion with green onions, cilantro, shredded carrots,  peanuts and sesame seeds (optional) Can be served warm or cold but I prefer warm. 

Chocolate Mint Cake

Recipe from JoLynn Larsen via Katherine Perry 

This cake has been made famous by my Mom's neighbor Katherine. It is a hit at any party. When my husband's birthday came around this year, I knew I had to make this for him.  It was a crowd-pleaser as usual. 

 Bake as directed one Betty Crocker triple chocolate cake mix.

Mint filling:
1 8oz. package cream cheese
2 Tbs butter
3-4 c, powdered sugar
a few drops mint extract
green food coloring
Milk to reach desired consistency (I made mine too runny, next time I will make it thicker)

Buttercream icing:
1 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp milk (or cream)
4 c. sifted powdered sugar (approx. 1lb)
3/4 c. cocoa or 3 (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate squares, melted

1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (can use milk chocolate if you don't like the strong flavor of semi-sweet)
1 c. whipping cream

Melt above together. Boil 10 seconds, stirring constantly. Cool in the fridge, outside or on top of a bowl of ice. It will probably take more than an hour. Cool until the consistency resembles a thick pudding such that it will just roll down the sides of the cake and stop. Make sure it isn't too runny or it will roll down the sides and off your platter.

Bake the cake in two 9 inch round cake pans. Cool. With the buttercream icing, pipe an outside rim around the bottom cake layer and fill it with the mint filling. Put the second layer on top and frost with the buttercream icing. Add the ganache as the final touch.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blue Ribbon Overnight Rolls

This recipe is perfect because you make the dough the night before you bake these rolls. It's easy to have rolls hot out of the oven at your convenience and who doesn't love that? I used unbleached white flour, so these look more like wheat.  Recipe from all
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
     1.  Mix together yeast, milk and sugar in a large bowl (I use my stand mixer bowl). Let stand for 30 minutes. 
     2.  Mix eggs, butter and salt into yeast mixture. Mix in flour, 2 cups at a time. Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and place dough inside. Cover with wax paper. Let dough stand at room temperature overnight.

     3.  Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour your work surface, then roll each half into a 9-inch round circle. Cut each round into 12 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Roll up each wedge starting from the wide end to the tip. Place on greased cookie sheets. Let stand until ready to bake.
     4.  Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 12-15 minutes.

Makes about 24 rolls. Each roll: 138 calories, 4.7 g. fat, 20.7 g, carbohydrates, 3.2 g. protein, 29 mg. cholesterol, and 135 mg. sodium.

Coconut Milk Mac & Cheese

Well, I've been MIA for a while because we just moved in June and I'm still unpacking and getting organized. Combine that with the fact that it's summer and I haven't always been as excited to cook as I usually am and suddenly, it's been months since I've posted a new recipe.

My family has even been complaining about my lack of enthusiasm in the kitchen and it's going to change. I'm ready to cook, bake and I'll be ready to feed homemade cookies to any neighborhood kids that walk through my door!

My kids haven't stopped talking about this "amazing mac & cheese" that they had at their new friends' home last week. I called Jen up today to ask for the recipe and was surprised at the secret ingredient... Coconut milk! It's a unique and easy recipe that we all loved and I hope you will too! Recipe from Jen Carroll...
1 (16 oz.) box of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni or shells)
1 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. paprika
Half of a 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk (I used lite)
2 cups shredded cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Boil pasta according to package instructions and drain. Return pasta to pot. Add chicken bouillon and paprika and mix well. Add shredded cheese and stir until cheese melts. Pour coconut milk over the pasta and stir until incorporated. Add more coconut milk if needed to reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 5-6. 
*** Since you'll have leftover coconut milk, may I suggest you use it to make Tropical Breakfast. It's SO good!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

BBQ Shredded Chicken and Caramelized Red Onion Ranch Spaghetti

I know some of you may be skeptical when you first see this, I admit I was a little the first time I made it but I was pleasantly surprised. If you are a lover of BBQ chicken pizza (like me) you are sure to love this. It has all the same flavors but in pasta form. Even my husband who claims he doesn't really like BBQ sauce loved this one. 
recipe from Jen @ the Picky Palate
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti noodles
  • 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons dry Ranch Dressing Mix (I use a little more) 
  • 3/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Shredded BBQ Chicken (I just cover 8 chicken tenders with BBQ sauce and bake for 30 minutes at 350) 

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Place olive oil into a large pot over medium heat.  Saute red onions until softened and golden.  Add cooked spaghetti to onions; mix and add dry Ranch Dressing seasoning and cilantro leaves.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.  Place noodles onto serving plates and top with warm shredded BBQ chicken.  Garnish with cilantro leaf and serve.
6 servings

Monday, June 25, 2012

Artichoke Crusted Chicken

One of our favorite appetizers is artichoke dip. This chicken is pretty much chicken covered with it so needless to say we love it! The best thing about this recipe is that it can be made without making a special trip to the store since it is compiled of mainly pantry items. Another bonus is that it can be made for just 2 people (but can easily be made for more)  If it were up to my husband we would probably eat this at least once a week. 

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin (or 4-5 tenders) 
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 c. grated cheddar cheese (white cheddar may look prettier for entertaining but I use whichever I have on hand) 
Salt (or Garlic salt) 

sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt & pepper  then sauté in olive oil on medium-high heat, for about 8-10 minutes, flipping once, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.  Set aside.
Mix together the mayonnaise, artichoke hearts and cheddar cheese until evenly distributed. I will sometimes add a couple dashes of garlic salt too because I love garlic but it's up to you. Spread the mixture over the sauteed chicken breasts, and then broil at 450 degrees for about 3-5 minutes.  Do not take your eyes off them — broiling can lead to burning faster than you can imagine.  When the cheese is melted and bubbling and the tops are golden, remove and serve.

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