Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Cranberries

In case you couldn't tell, I love to make meals in the slow cooker. It's a genius invention. I can easily rummage through whatever I have in the fridge,freezer or pantry and come up with a meal. Then, I just throw it all in the pot and leave it. I wanted to make this recipe for sometime, but other projects(ahem,cookies) took priority in using my cranberries. Well today, I decided, was the day. I had to make some changes, as I didn't have every ingredient in the house. The dish came out pretty good, but cooked up quicker than I had expected. Over all, it's a very healthy meal and tasty, but personally, I'd rather make oatmeal raisin-cranberry cookies to use up the fruit!
Chicken-wild Rice Casserole with Dried Cranberries(8 servings)Betty Crocker- More Slow Cooked Recipes

1 1/2 cups of uncooked wild rice
1/3 cup of dried cranberries or cherries
1 TBSP onion powder
1 cup cut up baby carrots
2 medium stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup chunky applesauce
1/2 TSP of salt
8 chicken drumsticks(skin removed)
8 chicken thighs (skin removed)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) beefy mushroom soup
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2 TSP thyme leaves 
Add all ingredients, except chicken,broth,soup and thyme. Arrange chicken on top. Add soup, then broth and sprinkle thyme on chicken. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. Check it at the 4 hour mark to make sure the rice doesn't burn.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Birthday Bash

Lobster stuffed beef tenderloin, roasted red potatoes and yellow buttermilk cupcakes, oh my!!! For my father in law and nephew's birthdays, we had a dinner party in our home. We kept the meal to meat and potatoes, with a little lobster thrown in to spruce things up.  My sister in law, Janet, made the amazing lobster stuffed beef tenderloin. It was extremely tender and flavorful.  She made a garlic butter sauce as a garnish to drizzle over the meat and fish.  I kept things simple as well, making basic oven roasted red skinned potatoes and yellow cupcakes. I spent a long time icing and decorating the cakes to get some practice with my decorating tips. I have a lot to learn, but it was definitely fun! I used Martha's Stewart's Yellow Buttermilk Cupcake Recipe and Wilton's Buttercream Icing Recipe  for the cake and icing.I used M&Ms,colored sprinkles and marshmallows for a decorative touch. The potatoes were awesome, spiced up with some white pepper and dill. Without further ado, here are the recipes used to make our dinner party a success.

Beef Stuffed Tenderloin  from (Similar to Janet's recipe)
3 whole lobster tails
4 pounds beef tenderloin filet
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt

8 Slices of bacon to garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add lobster tails, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from water, rinse and remove shells. Cut tail meat in half lengthwise. Cut tenderloin lengthwise, to within 3/4 inch of the bottom. Fill center of meat with lobster tails. In a saucepan, melt butter with lemon juice, garlic powder and 1 cup of the wine. Drizzle about 1/4 of the butter mixture over the lobster. Tie the tenderloin with kitchen string. Rub tenderloin with olive oil and place in a roasting pan. Pour remaining wine in bottom of pan. Sprinkle with cracked pepper. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Top tenderloin with bacon for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Stir garlic salt into remaining butter mixture, and serve with slices of roast.

Roasted Red Potatoes  from 
4 to 5 red potatoes, medium size
1/2 stick of butter
3 tbsp. Lawry's seasoned salt
2 tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. chives, chopped
2 tsp. dill weed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and scrub 4 to 5 medium-size red potatoes. Chop potatoes into small pieces approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length and width. Place chopped potatoes into ungreased glass baking dish approximately 8 x 12 inches. Cut one stick of butter into 1/4 inch slices and place over potatoes so that potatoes are covered. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Lawry's seasoned salt over butter. Sprinkle 3 teaspoons white pepper, chopped chives and dill weed over salt. Roast in oven 45 to 60 minutes, turning potatoes every 15 minutes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cranberry Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

I needed a treat to cheer up my son, who has a fever. What a better way to spend a Friday night than to watch "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and bake cookies? This is definitely one of my favorite Fall activities and I plan on making it a tradition every year. I wanted to try an old favorite, but with a twist. I decided on oatmeal raisin. For a sweet and tart combination, I added some dried cranberries. Totally easy and totally yummy!

Cranberry Raisin Oatmeal Cookies(makes 24)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed firmly
1/4 cup of sugar
1 egg 
1 TSP vanilla extract
3/4 cup of flour
1/2 TSP baking soda
1/2 TSP of cinnamon
1/4 TSP of salt
1 1/2 cups of quick or old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup  of raisins
1/4 cup of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350. Cream sugar and butter, then add eggs and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to batter. Add oats,raisins and cranberries. Drop in spoonfuls on an un-greased baking sheet.  Bake 8-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Roasted Pepper Coulis over Broiled Chicken & Fusilli

There was a tough crowd in my house tonight. In an effort to get more veggies in our diets, I took stock of what was in the refrigerator. A fiery red bell pepper and gleaming yellow bell pepper caught my eye. Off to the cookbooks and Google I went.  I decided to make pepper coulis and serve it over broiled chicken and fusilli pasta. This was really a plan within a plan, since I thought I could introduce the plain chicken and pasta to the kids and slowly add some of the coulis to get them to try it.  I went balls out with my husband - spooning a hefty amount of the sauce over the chicken.  I was in love at first bite. I was so proud of my first coulis. Then I looked over at my biggest child - my husband. He was poking the chicken with his fork, a skeptical look on his face. He delicately licked sauce off one fork tine. Then made a face. "What is this?" he asked, pushing the chicken around the plate. I slowly and carefully explained how I made the pepper sauce. Then he decided it was the chicken he didn't like and ate the sauce over the fusilli. The baby tried a tiny, tiny bit over her pasta and seemed to like it. My son went nowhere near it, but at least he ate the pasta. Anyhow, I highly recommend this recipe, which I pieced together from different recipes I researched. Enjoy!

Roasted Pepper Coulis
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
1 TSP Sea Salt
1 TSP  Freshly Ground Pepper
1/4 cup of veggie or chicken stock

Heat oven to 450F.  Clean and rough chop peppers. Combine peppers in a roasting pan or Corningware with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Roast in oven until fork tender, around 20 minutes. Check peppers at the 10 minute mark and mix them around in the pan. Remove when done and allow to cool for five minutes. Remove peppers from pan and add to blender. Add the oil from the roasting pan to blender. Add 1/4 cup of stock to blender. On low, blend on the slowest setting. Once it starts combining, change method on blender to puree. Serve over chicken and pasta.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Cider Donuts...AKA Apple Cider Flip Flops

I love nothing more than to make my family happy. On a recent trip to a pumpkin farm, happiness came in the form of apple cider donuts.  I decided to do some research and found a recipe from Home Made Simple for this scrumptious treat. As I have stated before, I am not much of a baker, and this recipe proved the point even further. From a taste perspective, they were pretty awesome.  They were gone in seconds flat, so taste was not the problem.  It had to be the batter. Your supposed to be able to shape into donuts, but the batter was too watery. Instead, I tried a different tactic - just dropping batter balls the heat oil and flip-flopping it back and forth until fully cooked. This gave the 'donuts' more of a fritter look. My husband and son LOVED them.  My husband said it was a cross between a donut, French Toast and pancakes. In any case, try your luck with the recipe and enjoy the taste of Fall and the sugar high.
The recipe is pretty long and complex, so visit this link for the Apple Cider Donut recipe.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Let's Spice Things Up!

I love spicy food. The spicier it is, the better I like it. I found this recipe on Cooking Light awhile back, but I tweaked it to make the shrimp and sauce the way I like it.  This dish, in my opinion, is a little too hot for the younger kids, so plan on making a separate dish for them. I use pre-cooked shrimp for the recipe and coat it with Italian bread crumbs. I think that gives the dish a little more flavor.  I toss the shrimp in a Ziploc filled with bread crumbs, then refrigerate the shrimp to help the bread crumbs stick better. I then brown the shrimp (around 3-4 minutes) and add the sauce, spices and add to pasta. A very savory and spicy dish indeed. Enjoy!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil 

2 1/2 cups marinara sauce 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1  pound  peeled and deveined medium shrimp(you can use pre-cooked shrimp)

1 /2 cup of Italian bread crumbs
Parsley sprigs (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm. Add bread crumbs to a Ziploc bag, then add cleaned, shrimp. Shake in bag to coat and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to brown, turning once.  Add Marinara sauce, red pepper, salt, and black pepper; bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes. Serve over pasta. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kid Happy Chicken Soup

Here is a recipe for a simple chicken soup that will satisfy your entire family's taste buds. I changed my traditional recipe simply because there was too much fat; I made this one with skinless, boneless chicken breast. Granted, there is still a bit of fat in the soup, but it is easy enough to skim off the top. The best way to make this is in a slow cooker, using kid friendly pasta, such as pastini, ancini de pepe, or orzo. You can make it with frozen chicken; just add your broth first and warm it up. Then slowly add your cutlets. Do not add all at once or to hot broth. Cook on low for 8 hours,adding the pasta at the end.

Kid Happy Chicken Soup
36-40 oz of chicken broth or stock
3 (6-8 oz) skinless, boneless chicken cutlets
Whole baby carrots (10-20, depending on how much you want; I cut them up as they get tender)
1/4 of a white onion, roughly chopped
Pinch of Thyme (optional)

Add broth and chicken to crock pot on low for 7-8 hours. Add chopped onion, carrots and thyme. Occasionally skim fat collection off the top of soup. In the last hour, boil the desired amount of pasta on stove. Drain, then add to crock pot. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thinking Ahead: Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

I am notorious for not wanting to wait for anything. As soon as September 1st hit, I broke out my pumpkin oil burner and fall decorations. The minute the Thanksgiving turkey is cleared from the table, I am dragging out my Christmas tree. Wrapped presents never stay that way for long. I wasn't sure whether I should wait or not on the almighty T-day sweet potato casserole smothered with mini marshmallows. Of course, I gave in and here it is, over a month early - sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. Now, I must start on my Christmas shopping....

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows(meant to feed an army; you can cut the measurements to suit your needs) From

8 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. hot milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 lb. marshmallows

Cook sweet potatoes until tender. Remove skins and mash. When smooth, beat in butter, milk, salt, spices. Beat well. Fold in walnuts and turn into buttered baking dish. Top with marshmallows and bake at 350 degrees until marshmallows puff and become golden brown.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Garlic Chicken with Cannellini Beans Soup

Here's another one to add to your crock pot files. A tad bit more involved than the usual 'throw it in the pot and see what happens', but well worth it. The additional step includes browning the chicken prior to adding it to your slow cooker.  You also should de-bone the chicken and clean out the fat just prior to the end. This is a hearty soup and a great fall food - enjoy!

Garlic Chicken with Cannellini Beans Soup
4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks
2 TBSP olive oil (for browning)
1/2 TSP of salt
1/2 TSP of pepper
1 medium garlic clove, separated and peeled
1 can 32 oz. diced tomatoes
1 cup of chicken broth
2 cans of Cannellini beans(15 oz  each), drained and rinsed
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
Basil and grated Parmesan cheese for garnish 

Heat olive oil in a medium pan. Salt and pepper the chicken, then brown.Add all ingredients and browned chicken to crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Prior to completion, check chicken to endure the insides are fully cooked. Remove and skin; discard. Serve with crescent rolls or crusty Italian bread. Garnish with a pinch of basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Crispy Honey Chicken Cutlets

Boring chicken cutlets. What to do,what to do? I happened to come across this old recipe from that I had saved on my computer and decided to give it a try. The result was a delicious, sweet and savory chicken that was great, even as leftovers. Both the baby and my toddler son loved the taste!

2 1/2 to 3 lb. chicken
1 c. cracker and bread crumbs
2 beaten eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. honey


Skin the chicken and dip into eggs and crumbs; coat well and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. The last 15 minutes coat with butter and honey whisked until smooth. Instead of the egg, the chicken can be dipped into Italian dressing or brushed with Miracle Whip. Serves 4.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Love NY.....Cheesecake!

Let me start off by saying this: I am not a cheese person. I like pizza and Doritos, but that is usually as far as it goes.  So you can imaging my surprise when I craved cheesecake during my pregnancy, and that craving never went away. Aside from anything chocolate, it is my 'go to' dessert when out to dinner. I had never made a cheesecake before and I decided that the more simple the recipe, the better. So, I researched and found a grass-roots NY style cheesecake recipe that only has a few simple ingredients. The taste - pretty great for a first attempt. There were some little cracks in the sides, but I found out that if I grease the sides of the pan, that probably won't happen in the future. My tip? Make extra crushed graham crackers to sprinkle on the top - the graham crust is our favorite part of the cheesecake.
NY Style Cheesecake 
1/3 cup butter, melted (I ended up using a little more)
1 1/2 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (I used original)
3 1/4 packages (8 oz. packages) cream cheese, softened
1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 300F. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; press evenly on bottom of 9 inch pie pan. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, beating until smooth.Add vanilla and eggs, mix well. Pour into prepared pie pan.
4Bake for 1 hour, turn off oven but leave cheesecake in oven with door propped slightly open for an additional hour. Refrigerate at least 6 hours until firm.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Garlic Bread Steak Sandwich

Here's a quick bite for you on this happy Tuesday. When I buy London Broil, I usually buy it in bulk, cut it up and freeze it. I needed an idea on what to do with the steak, and since I made a fresh loaf of French bread today, I decided to go with sandwiches. To give it an extra bit of flavor, I turned the French bread into French garlic bread. I seasoned the steak with some McCormick Montreal seasoning and broiled it. Ding,ding,ding....dinner's done - come and get it!

Steak Recipe (serves 1)

London Broil, cut into 6-8 oz
1/4 cup of McCormick's Montreal Seasoning

Rub seasoning into steak. Place in broiler for 10 minutes. Remove and make thin sliced grooves and continue to watch meat for another 5-10 minutes, depending on the desired cooking temperature. Remove when complete and slice through. Make sure the slices are thin.

French Garlic Bread
2 slice of French bread(ends work best)
2 TBSP butter
2 TSP garlic powder 
Slice the ends of a loaf of crusty French bread. Spread with 2 TBSP of butter and top each piece with 1 TSP of garlic powder. Bake in toaster oven on toast mode at 350 for 10 minutes, being cautious not to burn on the edges. When done, top with sliced steak and enjoy!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Italian Three Cheese Chicken Cutlets Over Pasta

 Today was a lazy day that consisted of sitting home, drinking beer and watching football. Not the kids, mind you- just us drinking the beer. It turned into the type of day where I wanted to make something quick and easy, using what I already had in the house.  Chicken cutlets and bread crumbs - CHECK! Three different types of cheeses, homemade sauce and pasta - CHECK! It was quick, yummy, and easy - plus, I cleaned out some of the refrigerator. I served the dish over pasta, but if you have some Italian bread in the house - serve it up as sandwiches!

Italian Three Cheese Chicken Cutlets Over Pasta (Serves 2)

 2 5-6 oz chicken cutlets
1/2 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 box of Penne pasta (8 oz)
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup of shredded Romano cheese 
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (season with 1 Tsp garlic & 1 Tsp oregano)
3 TBSP olive oil

Heat olive oil in pan on medium heat. Combine chicken cutlets and breading in a Ziploc baggy; shake to coat. You can refrigerate for 5 minutes to help the bread crumbs stick to the cutlet. Add breaded cutlets to heated pan, turning ever 4 minutes until cooked. Cook approximately 20  minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Heat and season sauce in separate pan. Boil pasta and drain when finished. When chicken is almost complete, spoon tomato sauce over cutlet to cover; then evenly distribute three cheeses to the cutlets. Serve when melted - approximately 7-8 minutes. You can add more cheese if necessary. Add remaining sauce to pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a pinch of oregano. Serve cutlets over pasta.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

BBQ Pork Chops in the Crock Pot with Baked Pumpkin Pie Spice Apples

In case you haven't noticed, I have busted out the crock pot and started cooking away. I started with the tacos and finished with tonight's meal, BBQ Pork Chops. I needed a yummy side to go with my lovely, spicy sauced babies, and what would be a better way to finish off my apple picking conquests? The whole dinner was simple really; the crock meal took about 5-6 hours on low. The baked apples took about 16 minutes.  This is a great side dish for babies, since it is soft and easy for them to chew. My daughter went to town on them! I rounded the meal off with some good old fashioned Fried Rice A Roni and a glass of Ten Lakes Chardonnay. For your eating pleasure, here is a recipe for a great fall dish.

Slow Cooked BBQ Pork Chops (From Betty Crocker's More Slow Cooked Meals)

4 Boneless loin chops, about 1 inch thick (3/4 pound)
4 Slices of onion
1 clove of garlic
3/4 cup of apple sauce
1 TBSP of water
2 TSP cornstarch

Place chops in 3 1/2 - 4 quart slow cooker. Top each with 1 slice of onion and a sprinkle of garlic. Pour BBQ sauce over chops.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  5 minutes prior to serving, remove the pork from cooker and place on serving platter, covered for warmth. Mix water and cornstarch  in a microwaveable bowl and add juices from cooker to mixture. Heat uncovered on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until mixtures boils and thickens slightly. Serve sauce over pork.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Apples
2 Macintosh apples, medium, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup of water
1/4 stick of unsalted butter(small sliced pats)

1 TBSP of pumpkin spice

Preheat oven to 350. Place sliced apples in baking dish. Add water. Sprinkle pumpkin spice evenly over apples, then add butter pats over apple slices. Cook for around 16-20 minutes, checking in between to make sure they are softening. Remove and cover until ready to serve.