Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Skillet S'mores

This recipe has been all over the internet & has been on my Pinterest board for months. My 15 year-old daughter requested this for her birthday party, in lieu of a cake. I ended up using a bag and a half of chocolate chips because my cast iron skillet is huge. We prefer these with mini marshmallows, so you don't have to cut the large ones in half. Serves about 8.

3 Tbs. butter
1 to 1 1/2 (12 oz.) bags milk chocolate chips
3 cups marshmallows (large marshmallows, cut in half or mini marshmallows)
Graham crackers, broken into squares, for dipping

Place oven rack in the center position of oven and place 8" cast iron skillet on the rack. Preheat oven to 450°F with skillet inside. Once oven is preheated, use a pot holder to remove hot skillet from the oven. Place pat of butter in the skillet and use a pot holder to hold the handle and swirl the skillet so that the melted butter coats the bottom and sides. Pour chocolate chips in an even layer into the bottom of the skillet. Taking care not to burn fingers on the sides of the skillet, arrange marshmallow halves over the surface of the chocolate chips, covering the chocolate completely. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until marshmallows are toasted to your preference (watch closely!). Use an oven mitt to remove the skillet from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with graham crackers for dipping. Be careful because the dip (and skillet) will be very hot!

Grilled Marinated Chicken & Pineapple

This marinade is my Mom's for her Flank Steak, but she also uses it for this delicious meal. 
We've also added chunks of red or green peppers and it's delicious!

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbs. minced onion (I use 2 Tbs. dried)
3 shakes Lawry's seasoned salt

Chicken breasts or tenders
1-2 fresh pineapples, skinned and cut into spears

Mix marinade in a mixing bowl. Marinate chicken and pineapple (and peppers, if desired) in separate Ziplock bags and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Discard marinade and grill.

Chicken Rice Salad

This salad works well for a large group. We've served it at baby showers, book clubs and countless gatherings. It needs to be started the night before you serve it, so please keep that in mind:) Recipe from family friend Valerie Terry. Serves about 12-14.

Mix in a large bowl: Cover and refrigerate overnight:
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. white vinegar
3 c. cooked rice, with no salt added
4 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed
1 (20 oz.) can well-drained crushed pineapple

Next day, add and combine well. Refrigerate until serving:
1 cup chopped celery 
1/2 cup each red & green peppers
1/2 cup seedless green grapes
1/2 cup seedless red or black grapes
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
3/4 cup cashews (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta

We loved this flavorful, creamy pasta! It was so quick to make 
and my whole family gave this a thumbs up!
Recipe slightly adapted from Food.comServes 8.

1 lb. penne pasta
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 (15 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 pinch pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. tomato paste
3/4 cup water
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
18 oz. fresh spinach, stems trimmed

Boil pasta until tender (7 to 10 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.

Meanwhile, cook onion & garlic in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until softened and transparent, about 5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes with juices, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.

Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Whisk until creamy. Add Parmesan cheese, then fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3 to 5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated with the creamy tomato sauce. 

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