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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake & Muffins

This is something I came up with years ago out of necessity. I was working on a cake to bring to work and realized I didn't have any oil. It was right around eleven at night and I was not about to head to the store... after all, everything else was ready to go. So I went on a hunt and found a can of cherry pie filling. The cogs in my head slowly started to turn and the little light finally came on. Why not use the filling as the oil? It came out marvelous!

I can't tell you how many people have begged for the recipe over the years, but I always held onto it like my life depended on it. Not even to family would I hand it over. So feel lucky my loyal readers, I am finally going to hand it over to you... if I can ever hit the "Post" button that is! ;-)

(So good it doesn't need frosting! But you can frost away if you want!)

1 box Chocolate Cake Mix
2-3 Eggs (depending on the amount the box calls for)
Water (depending on how much we improvise)
2 can Cherry Pie Filling, drained (reserve liquid)
Chocolate Chips
Frosting, optional

For Cake:

1) Grease and flour your cake pans. Spread drained cherries in a single layer in each pan. Set oven to 350 (or which ever temp your cake mix calls for).

2) In large bowl mix eggs. Look at the amount of oil on the box and use the appropriate amount of reserved cherry liquid instead and pour it into the bowl. Same thing with the water. If you do not have enough liquid to make the water, add water from the tap to fill it up. Mix your ingredients with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes unitl the batter is nice and smooth. Pour over top of the cherries in the prepared pans. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips to cover it. Bake according to package length or until the center is set and a toothpick comes out without cake on it (although you might have cherry or chocolate on it).

3) Let cool a couple of hours on a wire rack before removing from pans. This is sweet enough for most tastes but go ahead and ice it if you want.

For Muffins:

Same ingredients as above.

1) Line your miffin tin with muffin paper cups. Set oven to cake mix temp.

2) Mix ingredients as stated above. Using spoon add batter to muffin cups to fill halfway. Place 2-3 cherries in each muffin and press down slightly. Fill muffins with remaining batter. Spinkle 6-8 chocolate chips on top and lightly press into batter. Bake for reccomended time on package.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Potatoes Au Gratin ala Meal

Once again I have come up with another way to use up some of those Holiday leftovers. If your like me, the same old things just doesn't cut it anymore. We want new and exciting flavors for our taste buds to enjoy.

To accomplish this feat, I was able to whip out my brand new Black and Decker 10 Cup Food Processor... Santa was sooo good to me this year! I was caught doing the happy dance while the sharp blades made short work of my potato slicing. I'm currently working on more ideas that would involve me using it! Like the perfect Pizza Dough tomorrow!

OK... on to the meal itself. This recipe serves about 6. Adding and subtracting ingredients is a snap so if you do not have something on hand, just improvise!

mmmm Just LOOK at all the cheesy goodness!

1 cup Half & Half
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp Cayanne Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
4-6 Potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Colby Jack Cheese, grated
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1 cup Turkey & Ham, cooked and chopped
1 cup Spinach, ribboned

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line a casserole dish in foil and spray with butter flavored oil.

2) In medium saucepan mix together cream, milk, cayanne and salt. Bring to boil and add half the potatoes. Let simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a heat resistant spatula and remove to prepared dish with slotted spoon. Add remaining potatoes into cream sauce and simmer another 5 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, Spread first batch of potatoes in an even layer in prepared dish. Layer on gruyere cheese, mushrooms, turkey, ham and finally spinach. Then cover with second batch of potatoes by pouring them straight on top and spreading out.
Inside this yummy goodness!

4) Bake, uncovered for 45-50 minutes until potatoes are tender all the way through. Sprinkle the colby on top and return to oven for another 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and turned a light brown.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Turkey and Bowties

Left over turkey this year? Tired of serving it the same old ways? Well, do I have a dish for you! This is a great twist on Turkey and noodles that will "wow" your family with its flavor! Serve this up for 4 or you can always expand it for more!

2 cups Bowtie Pasta, uncooked
1 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Olive oIl
2 Carrots, peeled, diced
1/2 cup sliced Mushrooms
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 cup Turkey, cooked and chopped
1 tsp Garlic, minced (or 1 clove)
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Basil, dried
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups Spinach, ribboned
1/2 cup Gryuer Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Mozzerella Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line casserole dish in foil and spray with olive oil.

2) Cook pasta according to package. Drain.

3) Meanwhile, in large skillet heat oil and melt butter. Add carrots and saute until tender crisp, about 5-10 minutes. Add bell pepper, mushrooms and cook until mushrooms brown up, about another 5 minutes. Add in garlic, red pepper, basil and salt and pepper; remove from heat. Stir in spinach and add cooked pasta, gryuer and mozzerella. Pour all into foil lined pan. Top with Parmesan.

4) Bake 15 minutes until cheese has melted.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Here is the "To Die For" biscotti recipe. For those of you on facebook who read that I was making it for my trip down to Bastrop, sorry it took so long to get it posted. I'm going to try and get another post or two up while Im here but if not, everyone deserves a Christmas Holiday!

3/4 cup Walnuts, whole
2/3 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon 
1 3/4 cup Flour 
1 cup Chocolate Chips

1) Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

2) Pour walnuts onto baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes, just until you begin to smell the nut oils. Take out and chop.

3) In medium bowl beat eggs and sugar together until they become pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well to incorporate.

4) In a large bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon  salt and baking powder. Pour in egg mixture and beat until combined. Fold in nuts and chocolate. At this point you might want to flour your hands and use them to blend in the last ingredients.

5) While still in the bowl, begin to form a log about 12x3" and finish it on the parchemnt paper. Place in oven and bake 25 minutes until it is firm to the touch. Reduce oven to 325. Let cool 10 minutes!

6) Using a bread knife, cut diagnal slices about 3/4" thick. Lay them out on the parchment, cut side down and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip each slice and bake another 10-12 minutes until its baked through but not brown. Let cool before eating!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Black Berry Bread Roll

Some of you may remember going to your Grandma's house (if you do not know what it is, don't tell me! I'm old enough as it is) around the holidays and having her "famous" Prune Roll... a taste you never grew to like. I am one who never grew accustomed to prunes... but I did like the concept of fruit being rolled in a sweet bread and baked to a golden brown and drizzled in a sugar glaze... I'm already drooling.

Below is something I came up with to settle that particular craving. I'm somewhat surprised I was able to get it to rise since I live so high up and have been fighting the humidity this past week. But it popped out of the oven just right... and in time for an impromptu visit from my mom and step dad. I swear they have a sixth sense about things baking.

This recipe makes 2 loaves so you can either make two different kinds or for those of us looking to save our waist line, give one to a friend.

So good we couldn't wait for it to get onto a serving platter!

1 pk Instant Active Yeast
1 cup Milk, warm
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Shortning
3 Eggs, seperated from the whites
3 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
3-4 cups Flour
24oz Black Berry Preserves (any preserve will due)
1/4 cup butter
1 cup Powder Sugar
1/4 ts Vanilla
2-3 tbsp Water

1) In large bowl mix together yeast and milk until yeast dissolves. Add butter, shortning, 3 egg yolks (save the whites), sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. You want to add the flour slowly so you do not have a kitchen white out (trust me on this). Add enough of the flour to form a soft dough. Cover the dough (in the bowl) with plastic wrap and let sit about 12 hours in the refrigerator.

The Next Day

2) While in the bowl, divide the dough in half and recover reaminder in bowl. Take the other half and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out until its about 12x5". Sprinkle with cinnamon and then dot with half the butter.

Using large spoon, drop spoonfulls of the preserves onto the dough and smear it in to make an even layer.

3) GENTLY take the bottom length of dough and pull it up and over to half way.

Take the top and pull it down to make the trifold roll and tuck in the ends. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, seam side down, cover and let rise 2 hours in a warm, dry place. Now repeat this with second half of dough.

4) Preheat oven to 350. Using leftover egg whites, make an egg wash using 2 tsp of water and beat well. Uncover dough and brush egg wash over breadand place in oven. Bake for about 25 minutes. Let rest about 10 minutes on wire rack before glazing.

5) Mix the glaze ingredients together using a fork. You might need to use more powdered sugar to get the proper consistancy for the glaze. Fill the fork with the glaze and drizzle it over the top of the bread.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shrimp Scampi ala Texas

1 lb Spaghetti, cooked al dente, drained
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Butter
1 lb Shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tbsp Parsley, dried
1/4 cup White Wine
1/8 cup Lemon Juice

1) Heat oil in large skillet and melt the butter. Add shrimp and saute 1 minute. Add garlic and red pepper. Let saute 2 minutes or until shrimp turns a nice pink color.  Sprinkle in the parsley.

2) Stir in the wine and lemon juice and let simmer 3 minutes then drop in the pasta. Let cook until the pasta absorbs the liquid and serve while hot!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

No, your not going to find a bunch of Italian folks stuffed into these shrooms. But you will find Italian sausage, ricotta and a few other things that will remind you being in an Italian Bistro.

1 lb Mushrooms
1/2 lb Mild Italian Bulk Sausage (hot if you like it)
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 tsp Thyme, dried
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Panko
1 tbsp Parmesan
Dash Crushed Red Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) In large skiller, brown sausage with garlic and drain any excess oils/grease; return to pan. Over med-low heat stir in ricotta and thyme until cheese is creamy. Remove from heat.

2) Heat oven to 400. Line pan in foil and spray with non-stick spray.

3) Using a damp paper towel, gently rub off any dirt on mushrooms. Remove stems and place on foil lined pan, hole side up.  Using small spoon, fill cavities with meat mixture.

4) Bake for 10 minutes then remove.

5) In small bowl, melt butter then add Panko, parmesan, salt and peppers to taste. Stir to distribute butter evenly, then sprinkle on top of meat mixture and bake another 10 minutes until Panko turns brown.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Panko Texasfied Fried Shrimp

Unfortunately I cannot give an honest opinion of the taste of this dish. Since I am highly allergic to shrimp, we will go with my hunny's words of ,"mmmmmmmmmm... garble garble... mmmmmm". I took that as a good thing since he very quickly put away 16 shrimp without breathing. So, if you like shrimp, can find it at a decent price, and love spicy foods... this one is for you!

I used Panko Breading for this since it is made from only the bread, not the crusts. It doesn't soak up as much oil and keeps a nice light golden color when fried. May I suggest you give it a whirl the next time you try frying something?

3 Eggs
2 tsp+ Cholulu Sauce (how spicy do you want it?)
1/3 cup Flour
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Ground Pepper
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 lb Shrimp, raw, peeled, deviened with tails on
1 1/2 cup + Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Oil for frying

1) Beat eggs and Cholulu in medium bowl until frothy.

2) In another medium bowl, mix flour, salt, and peppers.

3) In yet another medium bowl, place Panko and second tsp of red pepper.

4) Holding tails, dredge shrimp in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Dip in egg mixture then quickly cover in Panko mixture.

5) Make sure oil is at least 2" deep and has reached a temp of 350. If it's too hot you will burn the shrimp on the outside and it will be raw on the inside. The oil should gently boil when you drop the first shrimp. Make sure you turn the shrimp as soon as it begins to float (takes about a minute) then let the other side gain a bit of color before removing with a slotted metal spoon. Place on paper towels to drain off oil.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Citrus Cranberry Biscotti

I can definitely see why this recipe was a winner in Better Recipes contest. But of course, I had to change just a couple of things to work with allergies as well as what we are able to buy here in the middle of no where. It was remarkably easy and the flavors jump all over your tongue. Try it with your breakfast coffee or a late snack with some hot cocoa.

3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp Lemon Zest
2 tsp Orange Zest
2 Eggs
2 tbs Butter, melted (at room temp)
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Bking powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
Dash Salt
2/3 cup Cranberries, dried and chopped

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In large bowl, mix sugar, lemon and orange zests together. Reserve 1 tbsp and set it aside for later.

3) In same bowl, add egg, butter and juice and beat until thick and pale, about 5 minutes (up here it took 8).

4) In med bowl, *sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add half the mixture to the egg and beat until smooth. Add remaining flour and stir until smooth. Last, add in the cranberries and stir to combine. *If you do not have a mixer, use a deep strainer.

5) Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and mold into a 9" log. Place on baking sheet. Flatten the top just slightly and sprinkle the reserved tbsp of sugar and press it in lightly.

6) Place in oven and bake 22-28 minutes (about 32 up here in the clouds) until golden and crusty. Check with a toothpick in the center to make sure its not doughy in the center before moving to the next step.

7) Let cool about 10 minutes (important if you do not want to burn yourself). Reduce oven to 300. Cut log into diagnal slices about 3/4" thick. Place slices, cut side down on baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes, remove and flip slices over. Return to oven another 10-12 minutes until top surface is crisp but not browned.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cauliflower Casserole

Once again, the lovely Giada De Laurentiis has given me a great recipe. Of course I was unable to find some of the ingredients... so what can a girl do but improvise? Even if your not very fond of this vegetable, you should give it a try. Completely changes the taste with the sauce, and my hunny found that adding some shredded Colby to it really brings out the flavors. This recipe serves about 6-8 folks.

1 Cauliflower Head, cut up (about 6 cups)
1-2 Smoked Cheddar Sausage links (depending on how meaty you want this), diced small
*** Or try to add some ground Italian Sausage for a nice twist, just brown it up before hand***
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Flour
2 cup Milk (1 1/2 cup if living in the low lands)
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated
Bread Crumbs
Parsley, dried

1) Heat oven to 350. Using butter flavored "Pam" spray casserole dish (I used an over sized loaf pan, but any will do as long as the cooked cauliflower is 1" from the top).

2) Heat large pot of salted boiling water and blanch cauliflower for about 2 minutes (way up here your gonna have to go about 4-5 minutes), drain and pour into prepared dish. Let cool while you make the rest.

3) In large skillet, heat sausage until browned, remove from skillet and set aside.

4) In same skillet, melt butter. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook about 2 minutes until the mixture begins to turn golden, continuously stirring. Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, stirring until its smooth as silk. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Keep stirring a couple minutes until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sausage, stir to combine. At this point, if the sauce is really thick, add a little more milk. You should be able to pour it out on top of the cauliflower to cover it. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and parsley.

5) Bake until crumbs turn golden brown and cauliflower is tender, about 25 minutes.

Egg Nog Cookies

I found this delightful recipe over at the Hungry Girl blog. Super yummy! These came out moist and kind of cakey with a not too sweet icing. I had to add a few things for my own taste buds as well as to make up for the altitude (I live about a mile high). They still came out wonderful. I am making a trip into town today to bring some to my mom. After all, its the least I could do for that EVIL recipe she sent me... 5 Minute Orange Kissed Chocolate Cake. I mean, how cruel can one's own mother be? ;-)

I made around 20 cookies with this, but I also used a bigger spoon.

1 1/2 cups Flour (add 2 tbs if living in higher altitudes)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp All Spice
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
6 tbs Butter, soft (leave out for a couple hours before you begin)
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/3 cup Egg Nog

1) Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2) In medium bowl, mix flour, nutmeg, all spice, cinnamon, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3) In large bowl beat together (hand mixer or if your lucky use your Kitchen Aid mixer) the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Alternately add in the flour and egg nog, starting and ending with the flour (add too much flour at once will cause a white out in your kitchen... take it form someone with lots of experience with this!).

4) Using a spoon, drop spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets about 1 1/2" apart. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies become puffy and edges are a light brown, about 9-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before moving cookies to wire rack and icing them (Glaze Recipe follows).

For the Glaze:
1 cup Powdered Sugar (plus more if needed)
Dash of Salt
1/8 tsp Nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
2 tbsp Egg Nog
1 tbsp Butter, melted

1) In small bowl, mix all together with a spoon until smooth. Add more or less powdered sugar until you get a good consistancy. Using back of spoon, smooth and drizzle tops of cookies 5 minutes after coming out of oven.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Honey Ginger Chicken

While making this dish, my dear love kept looking over my shoulder, saying "There's CEREAL on it!" In his mind ALL meats really should be made on the grill with a ton of BBQ sauce. He has no idea that the breading used on his Grandma's Fried Catfish is Corn Flakes. I have soooo much work ahead of me to fix his taste buds! At least I was able to get him to eat some veggies!

Boneless, skinless CHicken Breasts (4) or Thighs 1 1/2-2 per person)
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Orange Juice
1/4 ts Ginger, freshly grated
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Dash Cinnamon
3/4 cup Corn Flakes, slightly crushed
1/2 tsp Parsley, dried

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray a shallow foil lined pan and place chicken on it. Set aside.

2) In small bowl, combine the honey, orange juice, ginger, red pepper and cinnamon until well incorporated.

3) Brush honey mixture over chicken (making sure to get all the good little ginger bits on each piece of chicken) then top with corn flakes and a sprinkle of parsley.

4) Bake for about 20 minutes, until no longer pink in thickest part of the chicken.

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Bars (No Baking!)

So, the other day I was hungering for something sweet. My first thought was to try making Divinity... after all, I had just bought everything to make it. Or so I thought. Apparently my hunny had a hankering for eggs one night and used them all up. At least he didn't find the cherries!

Well, off I went in search of a recipe that was quick, easy and most importantly, something I had all the ingredients for here at the house since town is 17 miles away. I finally settled on Oatmeal Bars. Although, I was unable to come up with all the "proper" ingredients, I WAS able to get this one together. It wasn't quick, but the results were great! I had to hide them in the fridge until they were ready to take pictures of since my hunny kept trying to get into them before they were ready.

This recipe was made for a small amount but can easily be doubled.

1 1/4 cup Oatmeal (quick oats)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/3 cup Butter
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 cup Cranberries, dried (Craisins)
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Peanut Butter

1) In large bowl mix oats, sugar, butter, cinnamon and syrup. Place in microwave and heat 2-4 minutes until mixture becomes bubbly.

3) Spread mixture evenly in bottom of foil lined loaf pan. Top with cranberries and pat down. Chill in refrigerator 2 hours.

4) In bowl mix together chips and peanut butter. Heat in microwave 1-1/2 minutes, just until chocolate becomes soft. Remove and immediately begin to stir. Continue until all is smooth and blended well. Spread over top of oat bars and place in refigerator another 2 hours for chocolate to set.

5) Slice into bars and keep in air tight container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Roasted Red Potatoes

Here is an easy way to add some color to your plate. Instead of the plain old potatoes, add some bright red ones! This recipe goes great with just about anything and can be made in the oven or toaster oven! If you have a picky "meat and potatoes" kind of person in your life, they will love this along with my Grilled Monterey Chicken! Now this particular recipe serves 2 but, its pretty easy to add more. About 1 1/2 potatoes per person usually works (2 if their small).

4 Red Potatoes, washed, cut to bite sized pieces
Peanut Oil ( Olive Oil works too)
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Garlic, dried, minced
1 tsp Basil, dried
Parmesan to taste

1) Line tray in foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 450.

2) Place potatoes on foil and sprinkle with salt, peppers and garlic. Then drizzle with oil and toss to coat well. (This step can be completed in a plastic zip lock bag for easy coating.)

3) Broil potatoes 15 minutes. Using a spatuala, give them a good stir and return to heat for about another 15 minutes, until the potatoes are browned on the outside and soft on the inside.

4) Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil and cheese. Let rest about 5 minutes and enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monterey Grilled Chicken

Here is a super easy recipe for a grilled chicken. Yes, even with snow falling we get out on the grill around here... its a Texas thing. But for this one, I would brave sleet, blizzards or hurricanes to have this melting in my mouth!

Chicken Thighs, boneless & skinless (2 per person)
Stubbs Spicy BBQ Sauce
Bacon, 1 strip per thigh, crisp and cut up
Tomato, 1 tbsp chopped per thigh
Cheddar Cheese, 2 tbsp shredded per thigh
Parsley or chopped Green Onion

1) Grill thighs 6-8 minutes per side until no longer pink on the inside.

2) Line a casserole dish with foil and place thighs. Top with bacon pieces, BBQ and cheese. Broil just until cheese is melted and put on plate.

3) Top with chopped tomato and either the onion or dried parsley.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pork Chops with a White Chocolate Sauce

Oh my! Decadent, rich and oh so yummy! This is perhaps one of my newest favorite pork dinners! Granted, its probably not a meal for the men folk in our lives. My hunny for example is not one for any type of chocolate on any type of meat... he just wasn't raised right! But that's ok, just leaves so much more for me to enjoy! To my waistline... so so so sorry! This serves 2-4 people, depending on how many women are at the table! I have to thank My Delicious Recipe for this one!

3 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
8oz Chicken Broth
2oz White Chocolate, chopped fine
1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Peanut Oil
4 Pork Chops, boneless thick cuts
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Cinnamon

1) In saucepan, melt butter over med-low heat. Add flour and mix well, making sure not to let it stick or burn to the bottom. Slowly add the stock, a little at a time, while stirring until sauce is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2) Meanwhile, in large skillet over med-low heat, melt butter in oil. Season chops with salt, pepper and just a sprinkling of cinnamon, add to skillet.

3) Cook chops 8-10 minutes on each side until cooked through.

4) Remove sauce from heat and add the chocolate, stirring until melted. Pour over the chops just before serving.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The West Texas Rolltini

Once again one of my favorite TV cooks showed me a mouth watering recipe that I was unable to duplicate out here. So, on my one day off work, I decided to give it a go with the foods I was able to improvise with.

Thank you Giada De Laurentiis for giving me a great new idea and a twist on the ravioli!

1 1/2 cup Flour
2 Egg Yolks
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup + Water

1 1/2 cup Spinach, fresh and chopped
4-6 Bacon slices, par-cooked (see below for tips) and chopped fine
3/4 cup Mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Egg Whites
1/2 - 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
Garlic Powder

1) In large bowl mix flour, yolks, olive oil and salt. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir. Slowly add more water a tsp at a time until the mixture begins to hold together.

2) Turn out onto floured surface and knead until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and set in refridgerator for 30 minutes to cool.

3) Meanwhile, in large bowl mix the filling ingredients. Set a really big (wide) pot of water on the stove to boil.

4) When the dough has cooled, place it on a floured surface and roll out to about 1/16th of an inch.  The trick to this is to make sure the roll will not be longer than your pot is wide.  Once the dough is rolled out, spread the filling over it, leaving about a 1/2 inch edge all around. 

Gently roll, jelly roll style, folding in the ends. 

Very carefully place the entire roll on a linen napkin (do not use cheese cloth. This needs something a bit sturdier) and roll, tieing the ends off with bread ties.

5) Preheat broiler.

6) Place in pot of boiling water 10-15 minutes. It really depends on how hard you want your dough to be. Remove from water, unwrap from napkin, and let rest about 5 minutes to cool.

7) Slice roll into 1/2" - 1" pieces. Lay out on a foil lined, oil sprayed baking sheet. Sprinkle Parmesan and garlic powder lightly over tops. Place in broiler about 2 minutes to get browned.

8) Serve with your favorite red sauce.

***Par-cooked Bacon: Lay slices flat on skillet or grill and cook until top side of bacon turns a foamy white, flip and cook 1 minute more and remove from heat to drain on a paper towel. ***

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cumin Chicken with Apples & Mushrooms

Trying to change up meal plans can be hard when living way out here in the West Texas frontier. Not being able to purchase many things I would have back home makes this a big challenge... but one I happily except. This dish is something I came up with after researching many different recipes on line and not being able to come up with all the right ingredients. I've never been a big fan of Cumin, but found it really works well with the different ingredients I was able to throw together. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

3 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut in small pieces
2 tbs Butter
1 tbs Olive Oil
2 Apples, peeled and diced
2 Green Onion, chopped or 1 tb Garlic, minced
2 Carrots, grated
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1 tbs Baking Mix (Jiffy or Bisquick)
1 10.5oz can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup Water
1 tbs Ground Cumin
1 tsp Worechestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tbs Bread Crumbs, plain
3 tbs Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
*Hot Brown Rice 

1) Preheat oven to 350.

2) In large skillet, drop butter in oil to melt. Brown chicken and place in 13x9x2" baking dish. Sprinkle grated carrot on top of chicken. 

3) Using the drippings in the skillet, saute up the onion/garlic, apples and mushrooms until apples are crisp-tender. Add baking mix and stir to combine. Add soup, water, worechestershire sauce, salt and pepper. mix well to incorporate soup. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs. Cover baking dish and bake for about an hour, until the chicken juices run clear. 

4) After 45 minutes, sprinkle top with grated Parmesan and return to oven without cover.

5) When finished, ladle chicken dish over hot rice, sprinkle with chili powder and serve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pesto Dip

1 Pkt Dry Pesto Sauce (made according to package)
Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

In a small serving bowl for dipping, drop 2 tbsp Pesto Sauce and sprinkle red pepper. Fill with oil and a few drops of vinegar. Serve with Pesto Bread or your choice of breads.

Pesto Bread

I love bread. All kinds of breads. Back in the big city I was able to hit the bakery whenever I had a hankering for some that was fresh out of the oven. Living here, all the bread I can get my hands on has been shipped across the state to arrive wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. Not very appetizing and only your basic varieties. So, I have learned how to make various types of bread right here in my mountain home. Below is a recipe that is a wonderfully flavorful bread that goes great with any Italian meal you plan to make... or by itself with a Pesto Dip.

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tbs (or 2 packets) Dry Active Yeast
2 tbs Course Salt (I prefer Sea Salt but Kosher works too)
6 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 Pkt Dry Pesto Sauce

1) In large bowl ( I used my crock pot for this), mix water, yeast and salt until yeast dissolves. Mix in flour. Batter will be wet and loose. Transfer to a bowl that has a lid or cover tightly with plastic wrap and poke a small hole in it. You want the gasses to escape.

2) Now set it on top of your refrigerator for about 2 hours to let it rise.

3) Place bowl in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Dough works best after it's been chilled.

4) Prepare Pesto Sauce to package directions.

5) Place about a 1/4 of the dough on a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle about 12x9 inches and about 1/8 inch thick. Spread with pesto sauce entire surface. Gently roll up as you would a jelly roll and transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet.

6) Let rise, uncovered, about 30-40 minutes (this is where you put it back on top of your refrigerator again). Its OK if it doesn't rise too much, it will rise in the oven.

7) Preheat oven to 450. If using a toaster oven drop the temp to 400 and do not use the fan. This will burn it. Place a separate pan filled with water on the bottom rack of oven.

8) Pour water in heated pan (the steam will help to brown the loaf) to fill it and place bread on rack over it. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, turning loaf pan half way through.

9) Now, let this cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before you tear into it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hearty Italian Chicken & Veggie Soup

Here's another soup recipe made just for snowy weather. I was so surprised to find such pretty veggies here in West Texas that I had to through them all together in one pot! As it is, this recipe makes a thin broth. But if you like it to be a bit thicker all you have to do is mix 2 tsp corn starch in about 1/4 cup of water and pour it into the soup about 10 minutes before you serve it.

2 tbsp Olive OIl
1 lb Chicken breast, cut up
1 cup Fresh Green Beans, cut into 1" pieces
2 Carrots, peeled and sliced
2 Celery Stalks, sliced
1 cup Broccoli Florretts
1 Zucchini, halved then sliced into half moons
4-6 Mushrooms, sliced
1 can Itallian DIced Tomatoes (with garlic and olive oil)
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Parsley, dried
1 tbsp Oregano, dried
1 tsp Basil, dried
2 tbsp Chalula Sauce (or Tabasco)
1 box (32oz) Chicken Broth
2 Chicken Boullion Cubes

1) Heat oil in large pot. Add chicken and brown pieces on all sides.

2) Add in remaining ingredients except water. Stir well.

3) Fill empty broth box with water, shake to get all flavor out and pour in pot to cover veggies.

4) Cook for 30 - 40 minutes until veggies are crisp-tender.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beer Bratts

So I woke up hungry this morning, and not for the typical breakfast foods. Instead, I wanted Bratts! Beer Bratts to be exact. Who ever said I was a traditional kind of girl?

1 12oz cans beer
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Black Pepper
10 Bratwurst
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
10 Rolls, toasted

1) Preheat oven to 375 or 350 for toaster oven. Line casserole in foil for easy clean up.

2) In a saucepan, heat beer, sugar, pepper, oil and garlic until sugar dissolves. Do not boil!

3) Place bratts in casserole and pour beer over top.

4) Bake 30 minutes, turning once half way through.

5) Serve on toasted rolls with spicy mustard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carrot Sticks

Crunchy and delicious, you won't believe these are healthy for you! Not fried, no added chemicals or sugars, your kids will gobble them on up! Super easy to make, your kids will love to help out in the kitchen with these. Use about a carrot per person for regular appetites. Me, I can eat most of this to myself its so good!

I have it pictured with my Split Pea Soup.

4 Carrots, peeled
1 tsp Olive or Peanut Oil
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Or to taste

1) Heat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets in foil and spray with Pam.

2) Using knife, slice into sticks and place in bowl. Pour in oil, salt and red pepper, mix well to coat carrots. Place on baking sheets in one layer. Place both sheets in oven on different levels/racks.

3) Bake for 6 minutes then rotate pans. Bake another 6-8 minutes until carrot edges begin to turn brown. Let cool 5 minutes.

Serve with Ranch Dip.

Split Pea Soup

Yeah, not a soup a lot of folks like just from the word Pea. Personally, I love it. Nice and creamy, warm and soothing on a cold winter's day. This makes a good size concentration of soup. Enough for either a party of 8 or just scoop it into freezer bags, lay flat and freeze. This is what I do so I can have pea soup whenever the urge occurs! The best part is this can be a dairy free soup!

I have it paired with my Carrot Sticks.

16oz Dried Peas
2 Carrots, diced
2 cup Ham, chopped
3 tbsp Garlic, minced
2 Bay Leaves
2 tsp Parsley, dried
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Spinach, fresh
1 tsp Worestershire Sauce
6 cup Chicken Broth
1 cup Milk or Water
Sour Cream (Optional)
Carrot Sticks

1) In crock pot, layer each ingredient as listed except for the milk/water. Set on low and let cook 8-10 hours. 

2) Remove about half and whip in blender. Return to pot and add the milk/water. Use as much as you like depending on how thick you want your soup. Bring back to heat and serve warm with a dollup of Sour Cream on top and Carrot Sticks on the side.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chicken Parcels

Here we go again... found a great sounding recipe at My Delicious Recipe and couldn't get all the ingredients at our local grocery store. So we had to improvise. If you check out theirs along with mine below you will see how far away I went to get something to come out tasting great with what we could get our hands on.

This recipe will make 6 parcels. If serving this with cheesy rice and sauteed vegetables, you will probably only need one per plate.

3 tbs Butter
1 tbsp Peanut Oil (or Olive)
2 tbsp Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Chicken Season Salt
6 large Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Muenster, grated
1 Egg, slightly beaten
1 tbsp Parsley, dried
1 tsp Oregano, dried
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
6 slices Jalapeno (in a jar is fine)
6 Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless
2 pks Ham, thin slice lunch meat (Budding)

1) In small skillet melt butter in oil and saute garlic with chicken seasoning. Strain into bowl, reserving liquid for basting later. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

2) Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet in foil and spray a roasting pan with oil, set on top of foil.

3) In large bowl, mix together cheese, egg, parsley, oregano and pepper. Set aside.

4) Place individual breasts in plastic bag layed out flat. Using hammer, skillet bottom or rolling pin flatten thigh by half thickness.

5) Lay out chicken on flat surface. Place a basil leaf, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a jalapeno slice near the edge. Roll up chicken, then wrap it in a couple of ham slices and use toothpicks to hold it together. Repeat to finish off all thighs.

6) Roll parcels in reserved butter and place on roasting pan. Bake for 20 minutes and baste one more time. Finish baking another 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting into them.

Steak & Potato Soup

It's definitely soup weather around here. Yesterday we had an early shower of snow and this morning we work to find the bird bath frozen over. You know what that means... SOUPER WEATHER! hehe Yes, I went there.

This recipe is a hearty, stick to your ribs soup that uses left over steak. If your man (or woman) is a steak and potato kind of person, this is the perfect recipe for them. We had some steak we grilled and it was pretty tough so I turned it into a tender soup that melts in your mouth. This recipe makes about 2 servings (depending on your appetite of course).

4 T butter, cubed
1 T Olive Oil
1 T minced Garlic
1 T minced Onion
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 C Carrots, diced
1 Celery Stalk, diced
1 1/2 - 2 cups Pre-Cooked Steak, chopped (or you can always use cube steak)
2 T Flour
3 C Water (or Chicken Stock)
2 Cup Milk
2-4 Potatoes, diced, skin is optional
1/4 C Green Beans, diced (frozen or can prefered)
1 T Cream Cheese
1-4 Bacon strips (Precooked), diced
Dollop Sour Cream (Optional)
Cheddar Cheese, grated (about 1 tbsp per serving) (Optional)

1) Melt butter and oil in large saucepan.  Add first 5 ingredents and let simmer until veggies are getting tender, about 10 minutes. After the first 5, add in the steak.  Stir in flour and let cook about 2 minutes while stirring.

2) Slowly add in water and milk while stirring, Then drop in potatoes. Bring to slow simmer and reduce heat to med low. Slow cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours until potatoes and tender. Using large ladle, put about half soup mix in a blender and puree about 10 seconds. Pour back in pot. Add diced green beans, cream cheese and bacon and stir. Cook another 10 minutes until cream cheese is melted into soup.
3) Add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with grated cheddar on top just before serving.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Queso Burritos

Just because I live out in the middle of nowhere, where the town seems to be stuck in the 1800s, doesn't mean I don't get into a rush from time to time. I drive about 80 miles round trip to get my grocery shopping done each week. By the time I drag all the bags up the side of our mountain, I'm pretty wore out and don't want to think about dinner. It was one of those days I came up with this recipe. Its quick, easy, small clean up and delicious! The following recipe serves 2 but its really easy to expand for bigger families.

Frozen Burritos (any variety)
Lettuce, chopped (any variety but Romaine has the best color for this)
Tomatoes, chopped (enough to sprinkle over the top)
Onions, chopped (optional)
Jar of Queso Cheese Dip (any variety)

1) Preheat oven to burrito package directions. Line casserole dish in foil (for easy clean up) and spray with Pam.

2) Place burritos in pan, side by side, cover with queso. Bake according to package directions. Make a small slit in center of center burrito and check for doneness. Their just not so good when you bite into something frozen.

3) Gently pull them out using a spatula and lay on top of chopped lettuce. Sprinkle tomatoes and onion over top and serve.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spanakopita or Spinach Pie

Yep, the day after Thanksgiving you won't be finding any old Turkey dishes here! This here gal isn't too traditional. I prefer my turkey at someone elses house! No huge clean up for me! My hunny and I had our Turkey Dinner down at the Big Bend Lodge. All you can eat buffet with all the trimmings an no dishes! What more could a gal want? How about this view we had while scarfing down dinner?!

OK, so you didn't click into the blog for pictures of our trip. But you have to admit, it WAS a great view!

So, here is a classic Greek dish by way of FAR West Texas. Spinach Pie in a flaky phyllo crust to wash down all that turkey you all ate yesterday!

9oz package Fresh Spinach
1lb Ground Beef
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Butter
2-3 tbsp Garlic, chopped
8oz White Mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp dried Dill
1 tsp Chili Powder
Phyllo Roll
1 Egg, beaten with 1 tsp water
Parmesan (or 4oz Feta crumbles)
1-2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)

1) Cook spinach in salted water until wilted, about 10 minutes. Strain and leave in colander to cool.

2) In large skillet, brown meat and strain off excess grease. In same pan, add oil and melt butter. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes then add mushrooms, dill, chili powder and return beef to pan. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Pour meat over spinach mixture and let cool.

3) Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking sheet with Olive Oil Spray.

4) Gently lay out one sheet of phyllo on pan, making it drape over edge about 1 1/2-2 inches. Repeat with 3 more sheets to cover pan bottom. Brush all with egg mixture and place two more sheets down the middle.

5) Spread spinach mixture evenly over dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and red pepper.

6) Layer remaining phyllo sheets across top, brushing each with egg wash until finished. Wrap overhanging dough over top.

7) Cut pie into diamond shapes. Place in oven for about 30-45 minutes. You will need to recut the pieces before serving.