15 December 2010

This is a recipe I got from my favorite slow cooker food blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. These are hands-down the best meatballs I have ever made, possibly ever had. I never would have thought making meatballs in the slow cooker would work, but it does!

Slow Cooker Apple Cheddar Turkey Meatballs

1 lb. extra-lean ground turkey
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
½ shallot or ¼ onion, finely minced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Make slightly smaller than golf ball sized meatballs and place into the slow cooker. They will fit in one layer in a large 6 quart cooker, but if your cooker is smaller, you can stagger-stack them and they won’t stick together.

Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. While they cook, juice will collect on the bottom of the crock and the meatlballs will get covered with white slimy stuff. Don’t be alarmed—they will continue to cook and will brown.

Makes 24 meatballs.

It may sound like a weird mix of flavors, but you don't actually taste the apple. It just kind of disintegrates and provides moisture to the meatballs. And even though you can't see the cheese (it doesn't ooze out or anything), they have a distinctive cheddar flavor running through them. So good.

The recipe calls for extra-lean ground turkey. I'm not exactly sure what that means. My turkey was 93% lean. Between the middle and end of cooking, I noticed the meatballs were sitting in a lot of liquid. I got out the turkey baster and removed it. It didn't look like grease; I think most of it was liquid that came out of the apple and the shallot. They weren't the slightest bit greasy when I took them out. You will need to remove any liquid like that if you want the meatballs to brown properly.

Here's what I changed from the original recipe. It called for 1½ lbs. of ground turkey, but I have all of mine split up into 1 lb. packages. And I usually figure that 1 lb. of ground meat is sufficient for 4 servings. It called for 1 tsp of black pepper, but that seemed like way too much and I don't really like it anyway so I just left it out. It called for 1 tsp of onion powder, but I had some shallots that needed to be used up, so I threw one of those in there. I really liked it that way. It also called for dried cranberries, but I thought that would be a little too much going on. And I didn't think that Lena would like them (she picks them out of my cranberry muffins).

I put in the recipe to cook on high. You can cook them on low, but I would guess that they wouldn't brown as nicely on low. I really liked how they got brown around the edges.

I served these with stuffing and green beans.

The raw meatballs getting all nestled in and cozy!

06 December 2010

This is a variation of a Betty Crocker recipe that I saw in a magazine. They were creme de menthe flavored with green food coloring, but I thought it would be fun to do peppermint flavor with red food coloring for our holiday open house this year.

Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pouch sugar cookie mix
6 tbsp butter
½ tsp peppermint extract
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips
6 to 8 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix cookie mix, butter, extract, egg, and chocolate chips in a bowl until soft dough forms. Drizzle the food coloring over the dough and lightly stir to swirl it in; don’t mix it in completely.

Using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

I am going to use less butter next time. It called for ½ cup and that's what I used this time, but reviewers on the Betty Crocker website suggested using less will reduce the amount that they spread out. They did spread out a lot. And I have a tendency to make them too big, so the less they spread, the better! So I will try using less butter next time.

But other than that, they turned out great. Be careful not to mix the food coloring in too much. Light stirring will give you a red swirl while too much mixing will give you a general pink. The swirl is what I was going for.

This is a dish I made for a Thanksgiving appetizer and for our St. Nicholas Day Open House this year. It's from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip

8 bacon slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup milk
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tbsp drippings in skillet. Chop bacon and set aside. Add garlic to skillet and saute for about a minute.

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add milk, garlic, bleu cheese, chives, and bacon. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 1 quart dish.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with crackers.

Makes 4 cups.

If you like blue cheese and bacon, you can't go wrong with this dish. Everybody seemed to like it. The picture above is a double recipe; that's a 2 quart dish. (I forgot to take the picture before everybody dug into it. Whoops!)

The original recipe called for walnuts, but I don't really like them so I left them out. It also called for putting only half of the bacon in the dip and topping it with the rest. But it seemed easier to just put all of it in.

On Thanksgiving I served it with Toasteds crackers and at our open house I served it with Club crackers. I just use whatever is on sale that week!

I think it's quite festive looking with the red bacon and green chives!

02 December 2010

This is a recipe I got from the magazine, Cuisine at Home. Pieces of bacon threaded around chunks of smoky links on a skewer and basted with a flavorful glaze. Roasted in the oven until brown and delicious.

Breakfast Kebabs

½ cup barbecue sauce
½ cup apple jelly
¼ tsp cinnamon
12 pork smoky links (10 oz. pkg)
8 strips thick-sliced bacon

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a cooling rack. Coat rack with nonstick spray.

Combine barbecue sauce, jelly, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat until jelly melts and sauce is warm.

Thread sausage pieces and bacon onto 8 10” long skewers. Brush kebabs with sauce and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Roast kebabs until both meats are browned and cooked through, 40-45 minutes. Baste and turn the skewers every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings, 2 skewers each.

Mmmm, so tasty! The barbecue sauce I used was really vinegary, so I thought that it wouldn't taste quite right on these, but it didn't end up tasting vinegary at all. In fact, they really don't taste like they have barbecue sauce on them at all. They just have a nice sweet, slightly tangy flavor.

You can use any kind of meat you like. The original recipe called for sausage and ham, but I used the ham for something else and I had more sausage than what the recipe called for, so I just simplified things and used all sausage. I think ham would be good too.

This is a nice spin on the usual bacon or sausage to go along with eggs for breakfast. I served them with scrambled eggs and waffles. My mom had a good idea: she suggested using smaller skewers and putting just a bite or two on each one for a party appetizer. I might have to try that at my holiday open house next year (I already have the menu set for this year's).

19 November 2010

This is a recipe I got from Eating Well Magazine.

Maple Mustard Baked Chicken

1½ tbsp brown or Dijon mustard
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp canola oil, divided
1½ tsp finely chopped fresh thyme, or ½ tsp dried
¼ tsp salt
4 chicken breasts
¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs

Whisk mustard, maple syrup, ½ tbsp oil, thyme, and salt in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°. Set a wire rack on a large baking sheet.

Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining ½ tbsp oil on a plate. Dredge each chicken piece in the breadcrumbs and arrange on the wire rack leaving at least 1” between pieces.

Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

This was good, but nothing special. It's a nice twist on the usual honey mustard marinade. The chicken was very moist and tender (I marinated it for 4 hours), and the coating gets nice and crunchy. It was an easy dish to throw together; good for a busy weeknight.

18 November 2010

This is another recipe I tried from The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook. (Check out the author's blog here.)

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

3 cloves garlic, grated
1” fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp onion powder
½ cup water
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sesame oil
3 lbs. beef chuck or bottom roast, extra fat removed

Combine all ingredients except for beef. Place into slow cooker. Add beef and turn to coat in the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until the meat is thoroughly cooked through and tender.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Slice thinly and return to the slow cooker. Cook for an additional 20 minutes on high. Stir the meat and the sauce before serving. Serve over cooked white rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving
Calories: 490
Fat: 27g
Sodium: 930mg
Carbohydrates: 10g
Fiber: 0g
Protein: 49g

While the fat and sodium look high, it's much better compared to take-out Mongolian Beef. And it makes your house smell really good as it cooks!

The original recipe called for bottom roast, but I couldn't find anything in my freezer called that. I had lots of things called chuck roast, so I used that. I have no idea what the difference is. I am pretty clueless when it comes to the different cuts of beef. I would say, just use whatever you can find!

It calls for 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, and I think it was a tad spicy for us. If you like things spicy, it will be just fine for you. But I think next time I make it, I will only use ½ tsp.

I steamed some broccoli in the microwave, tossed it in the sauce, and sprinkled some sesame seeds over it to go along with the beef. It was a super easy meal.

Again, I highly recommend this cookbook. It's full of great recipes like this one.

13 November 2010

This is a recipe I have been making for years now. It's a copycat recipe from a Mexican restaurant chain called Chevy's. We don't live anywhere near a Chevy's anymore, but there was one just down the road when we lived in St. Louis and it was our favorite Mexican place. They serve this on the side of all of their entrées. It's kind of like a sweet corn bread, but the texture is different. It's not bready at all. It's just kind of sweet and corny and it complements spicy Mexican food very well. We loved it so much that I looked around online and found the recipe on one of those copycat recipe websites.

Sweet Corn Tomalito

5 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
¼ cup Masa Harina
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup warm water
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen, thawed, divided
½ cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp milk

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the butter, masa, and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

In a blender or small food processor, blend half the corn kernels with the water until smooth. Combine this mixture with the butter mixture, stirring well. Add the remaining corn kernels, corn meal, baking powder, salt, and milk and mix well. Pour the corn mixture into 2 qt. baking dish. Tightly cover with plastic wrap.

Microwave on 30% power for 7 minutes, then at 100% power for 4 minutes. Tomalito should have a smooth, moist texture.

Makes 6 servings.

It used to be that I didn't make this very often because it was a pain in the butt. The original recipe called for steaming it on the stovetop instead of microwaving. I could never get that to work very well and would always end up throwing it in the oven to finish, but that messed up the texture. Then I found it on Food.com (formerly Recipezaar) and there the microwaving technique was suggested. It comes out perfectly every time now! And it's not so much of a hassle.

The first time I made this recipe, I had to go to a Mexican grocery store to find Masa Harina, but now it can easily be found in the regular grocery store.

I make this every time I make enchiladas because it compliments any kind of enchilada so well.  The slightly sweet corn-iness goes really well with the spicy/salty filling and topping on the enchiladas.

This is a recipe I saw on Mexican Made Easy on the Food Network. I've never made anything like it before. It's kind of like cheese quesadillas that are dipped in a homemade bean sauce and then baked in the oven. It's all kinds of good!


1 tbsp olive oil
¾ cup chopped onion
1 medium chipotle chile, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
8 flour tortillas (taco size)
2 cups shredded Manchego or Monterrey Jack cheese
Sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile, and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Rub the oregano, between palms of your hands and sprinkle over the beans. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Add the beans and broth to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool the beans for about 5 minutes before putting them in the blender. Carefully, pour the mixture into a blender and puree. Return the pureed mixture to the pan and gently reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

Using tongs, pass the tortillas one by one through the refried bean sauce until they are somewhat softened and coated on both sides with the sauce. Place in a 9x13” baking dish. Fill each tortilla with ¼ cup of shredded cheese. Fold in half and arrange them, overlapping, in the dish. Top with the rest of the bean sauce, just to cover the beans but allow the edges of the folded tortillas to show. Bake 10 minutes, top with additional cheese, and bake another 5 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

This was a nice change from the usual Mexican dishes I have done before. The bean sauce is really easy to put together and is way more flavorful than using canned refried beans. Just make sure that the beans have cooled a bit before blending or you will have a mess on your hands.

The original recipe called for placing the tortillas on a plate after dipping in the bean sauce, then filling with cheese, and then placing in the baking dish. That seemed like an unnecessary step and my tortillas were kind of fragile after dipping in the beans, so I just filled them in the baking dish, then folded them over. It was really easy that way.

The lettuce and tomatoes weren't part of the original recipe, but Jim thought they needed some additional texture, something crunchy. He actually crunched up some tortilla chips to put on top of his. I actually liked it the way it was. I served it with Sweet Corn Tomalito. The combination of spicy and slightly sweet is always good.

The way it's written above, it is just a tiny bit spicy. If you like things really spicy, increase the number of chipotles you put in the bean sauce.

I will definitely be making this again. We love Mexican and I will be adding this to my ever-growing list of favorite Mexican dishes.

Kate at Kitchen Trial and Error chose this recipe when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in November 2013.  Click on the button below to check out her post.

Secret Recipe Club

12 November 2010

This is a recipe I got from my friend, Cindy. She has a son with multiple food allergies and this recipe came from a book called Sophie-Safe Cooking: A Collection of Family Friendly Recipes that are Free of Milk, Eggs, Wheat, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, and Shellfish. While we just found out last week that our youngest is allergic to dairy and peanuts, I didn't make this because of that. She's a baby and isn't eating real food yet. But I love zucchini and couldn't wait to try this recipe. I changed it just a little bit and renamed it.

Beefy Zucchini Sauté

½ onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
3 zucchini, sliced or diced
1 tsp salt
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
4 cups rice, cooked

Sauté onion and ground beef until beef is browned. Add zucchini and salt. Cover and cook until zucchini are soft.

Mix in tomato sauce and heat through. Serve over rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Pretty tasty. Makes a simple, one-bowl supper for a busy weeknight.

The original recipe called for 5 zucchini, but I thought that sounded like a lot, so I only used 3. And, probably because of that, I changed the servings from 6 to 4. It also called for allspice, but I didn't have any, so I just left that out. I also decreased the amount of tomato sauce from 15 oz. to 8.

This was really good served over rice, but I think it would also be good served over mashed potatoes.

So I tried making this Taste of Home recipe last night and it was kind of a disaster! The picture looks nice, but it was pretty much inedible. You were supposed to melt caramel, marshmallows, and chocolate and drizzle them over apple slices. Pretty simple, right? Leave it to me to screw up even the simplest desserts! I overcooked the caramel (the recipe said to melt it in the microwave, but didn't say for how long), and the marshmallows too. So after drizzling the caramel onto the apples, it immediately hardened and when we tried to pick up an apple slice, the entire topping came off in one big clump! It was actually quite comical.

So we took the topping off, grabbed the caramel ice cream topping from the fridge, and drizzled that over instead. Perfect! Here's how we are going to make them in the future. Not much of a recipe, really, but darn tasty.

Apple Nachos

4 medium-sized apples
Caramel ice cream topping
Chocolate ice cream topping

Core apples and cut into ¼" slices (I use my mandoline). Arrange on a large platter or baking sheet. Drizzle with caramel ice cream toppings. Make sure you have lots of napkins handy!

Makes 4 servings.

This is a really simple dessert. And while it's obviously not the healthiest thing you can eat, it's a heck of a lot healthier than putting the ice cream toppings on ice cream! It makes a fun fall dessert.

Shared at: This Week's Cravings at Mom's Crazy Cooking

08 November 2010

This recipe comes from Allrecipes.

Curried Chicken and Rice Soup

½ cup matchstick carrots
½ small onion, chopped
4 tbsp butter 
4 tbsp flour
¼ tsp salt
1¼ tsp sweet curry powder
¼ tsp hot curry powder
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth (regular; use more salt if using red.sod.)
1-2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups long-grain rice, cooked

In a large saucepan, saute carrots and onion in butter for 2 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, and curry powders until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Gradually add broth. Stir in chicken and rice. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Makes 5 servings.

I made a few changes from the original. I increased the curry powder quite a bit. It called for ½ tsp for 10 servings. That didn't seem like very much, especially considering that "curry" is in the title of the recipe. Reviewers on Allrecipes agreed that it needed more, so I took their advice and increased that. You can use all sweet curry if you like; I add just a tiny bit of hot just for fun.  If you like things spicy, then use even more.  It also called for 1 stalk of celery, but we don't like celery that much and I didn't want to buy a whole package just for one stalk. The only other thing I changed was that I increased the rice. It called for one cup, and after I put one cup in, it didn't seem like very much and I had another cup cooked, so I added that too. I think it was good that way.

The original recipe called for using condensed milk instead of regular, but it turned out really super thick.  I tried it with 2% milk and it was better, but still thick, so I decreased the butter and flour to make the roux less thick.

We really like this soup.  The yellow color is pretty.

The greatest thing about this soup is that it is a cinch to throw together. It's a great use for leftovers (chicken and rice). I think it would be good with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving too. Even without leftovers it is pretty simple. I keep canned chicken in my pantry for recipes like this.

It's only early November and I'm already feeling like I want to eat soup every day! I'm sure I'll be making this one again in the coming months.

*Updated 04.18.12 to reflect changes I have made to the recipe since first posting it.

07 November 2010

This is a recipe I got from the magazine Cuisine at Home. It was in the April issue, but it felt like a fall/winter dish to me so I saved it until now.

Spicy Cranberry Glazed Chicken

⅓ cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
3 tbsp brown mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar
1½ tsp hot sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Preheat broiler with oven rack 5-6” from the heating element. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.

Combine juice concentrate, mustard, brown sugar, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until mixture becomes syrupy, about 8 minutes.

Season chicken breasts with salt and place on prepared baking sheet. Broil for 6 minutes. Flip chicken and baste with the cranberry glaze. Broil for 4 minutes, flip again and baste. Broil until chicken begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 160°.

Makes 4 servings.

This is so yummy! I make a cranberry glaze for my Easter ham and we love that, so I figured this would be good too.

The original recipe called for 2-3 tsp of hot sauce, but we are not big hot sauce people, so I started with 1 tsp. After the glaze reduced, I tasted it and thought it could use a little bit more, so I added the extra ½ tsp. So if you like things really spicy, you will need to add more.

I served this with stuffing for a Thanksgiving-type feel. StoveTop makes a good lower sodium version now.

06 November 2010

This summer we bought a quarter of beef and it included short ribs. I have never cooked with short ribs and had no idea what to do with them until I saw a recipe in a Penzey's catalog for Short Rib Tacos. It uses their newest salt-free seasoning blend called Arizona Dreaming. I changed it up to work in the slow cooker. If you're not a Penzey's enthusiast like me, you can use your favorite taco seasoning and omit the salt.

Slow Cooker Short Rib Tacos

2 lbs. beef short ribs
3 tbsp Arizona Dreaming or taco seasoning
1 tsp salt
½ large onion, diced
8 taco-sized flour tortillas
Shredded lettuce
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

Place short ribs in slow cooker and season with 2 tbsp Arizona Dreaming or taco seasoning of your choice and salt. Put onions in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat is falling off the bone.

Take meat out of the slow cooker and remove all of the fat. Place in a bowl and shred with two forks. Add remaining seasoning, to taste.

Warm up tortillas and fill with meat, lettuce, cheese, and any other toppings you like.

Makes 4 servings, two tacos each.

These were super easy and super tasty. They reminded me a lot of another recipe I created, Slow Cooker Shredded Beef for Tacos. That one calls for a chuck roast.

These tacos are a nice alternative to ground beef tacos and are even easier with the use of the slow cooker.

04 November 2010

Another Taste of Home recipe that we like.

Ginger Maple Pork Chops

½ onion, chopped
4 tsp canola oil, divided
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 bone-in pork loin chops (6 oz. each)
½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup maple syrup

In a small skillet over medium-low heat, cook onion in 2 tsp oil until golden brown and very tender, about 10 minutes. Add ginger; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon; rub over both sides of pork chops. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chops in remaining oil for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Add the broth, syrup and onion mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until meat is tender. Uncover and cook a few more minutes until liquid is thickened and reduced to ½ cup. Serve chops with sauce.

Yield: 4 servings.

These pork chops are very tasty. The only thing I changed was to increase the spice rub. I only make 3 chops and it was barely enough to cover them. But other than that, it's pretty good as it is. These are a nice twist on the usual pork chop dinner.

01 November 2010

This is a dessert I made for our Reformation Day potluck at church yesterday. Super simple. It's from Ellie Krieger.

Cranberry Almond Chocolate Clusters

1 (6 oz.) pkg sliced almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 (11.5 oz.) pkg Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cocoa)

In a medium bowl, toss together the almonds and the cranberries. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over slightly simmering water, over the lowest possible heat, stirring frequently.

Stir the fruit-nut mixture into the chocolate. Spoon out heaping tablespoon-sized clusters of the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet about 1” apart. Put them in the refrigerator to set for 15 minutes. Store and serve at room temperature.

Makes 24 clusters.

When I first told Jim that I was going to make this recipe, he wasn't that excited about it saying that he wasn't a big fan of fruit and chocolate combos. But after one bite, he was hooked.

This is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made. The original recipe called for whole almonds that needed to be chopped, but I thought slices would be easier. It also called for regular chocolate instead of chips, but Ghirardelli makes their 60% chocolate in chips, so why not?

It also called for dried cherries instead of cranberries. I'm sure it's good with the cherries, but with Thanksgiving coming up, I was in the mood for cranberries and they were really good in there.

These have all of the convenience of cookies (easy to transport, easy to eat w/o a plate, etc), but way easier than making cookies and way healthier than eating cookies!

29 October 2010

This is part of a Better Homes and Gardens recipe I tried the other night.

Cinnamon Roasted Chicken

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange chicken breast halves in a baking pan. Drizzle chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and cinnamon. Rub the spices over all sides of the chicken.

Roast in preheated oven 18 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Makes 4 servings.

You would think that putting that much cinnamon on a chicken breast would make the flavor overwhelming, but it doesn't. It just gives it a nice subtle flavor. It's not spicy or sweet in any way. I cut the salt back a little bit from the original because we found it a bit salty, but other than that I didn't change anything.

I served this with the other part of the recipe, Pumpkin Sage Polenta. It made an awesome autumn dish.

28 October 2010

This is part of a Better Homes and Gardens recipe that I tried last night.

Pumpkin Sage Polenta

1½ cups water
⅔ cup instant polenta
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp poultry seasoning
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Sage leaves for garnish
Milk, for thinning, if necessary

In medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Stir in polenta until combined. It will thicken immediately. Stir in pumpkin, poultry seasoning, and salt. Remove from heat; stir in cheese.

Top with sage leaves if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: Polenta will thicken upon standing. If it gets thick before you are ready to serve it, stir in a little bit of milk to thin it out.

This is so good and takes all of 5 minutes to make. The original recipe called for using fresh sage instead of the poultry seasoning, but the store I went to was out of fresh sage (it's that time of year again!), and I don't really care for using it anyway. I can never seem to chop it small enough that it doesn't taste like I am eating chunks of a leaf. So the dried poultry seasoning was a good substitution.

Make sure you are using instant polenta, not regular. I had the hardest time trying to find instant polenta. I eventually found it at a specialty grocery store, then a few hours later found it at Meijer, just not where I thought it would be. I always looked for it in the baking section with the cornmeal. Regular polenta is in that section. But then I stumbled across it in the pasta section. I think it's kind of weird that it's in the pasta section, but I guess it's because it's considered Italian ethnic food. I had even asked store employees where to find it and they had no clue. So if you are having trouble finding it, look in the pasta section! Now that I have found it, I make it a lot. It's a nice alternative to the usual side dishes of potatoes, rice, and pasta. It makes really good comfort food and Jim likes it in the morning with a fried egg on top.

Like I said in the recipe, it thickens up immediately. And as it sits, it gets thicker. So don't start this until right before you are ready to serve. I was serving it with chicken, and my chicken took about 5 minutes longer than the recipe stated, so I stirred in a little bit of milk to the polenta to loosen it up a bit before serving.

I served this with the other part of the recipe, Cinnamon Roasted Chicken. It made an awesome autumn meal.

26 October 2010

This is a dish that my husband found online and tried last night. It's from Real Simple.

Glazed Salmon With Broccoli Rice

¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 head broccoli, florets only, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 pieces skinless salmon fillet
1 large shallot, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Heat broiler. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and soy sauce. Set aside.

Cook the rice according to the package directions, stirring in the broccoli during the last 5 minutes.
Let the rice and broccoli stand off the heat until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, place the salmon and shallot on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with ½ tsp salt. Broil until the salmon is opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes, spooning half the soy sauce glaze over the fish during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Serve the salmon and shallot with the rice and the remaining glaze.

Makes 4 servings.

It was pretty good. I thought the glaze was just a tad on the sweet side, but not bad. Jim said he had trouble getting the brown sugar to completely incorporate to the soy sauce, so he thought next time it might be good to heat it up a little bit so that the sugar melts.

The other thing he mentioned was that the broccoli was a bit undercooked. It was supposed to be added 3 minutes before the rice was done, so next time he suggested adding it 5 minutes before.

The original recipe called for red onion instead of the shallot, but we didn't have red onion and Jim likes shallots better anyway. It was really good with the shallot.

25 October 2010

This is adapted from a recipe I saw in a magazine I get, Cuisine at Home. It's like a baked macaroni and cheese dish, but uses gnocchi instead of the macaroni. Comfort food at its best!

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

16-17 oz. gnocchi
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1¼ cup milk
2 cups Fontina or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
⅔ cup soft bread crumbs
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 1½ quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles, then slowly whisk in milk. Increase heat to high and continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Turn heat down to low and add cheeses, ½ cup at a time, stirring until melted before adding the next ½ cup. When cheese is completely melted, remove from heat and add gnocchi.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan and put on top of gnocchi.

Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

This is so good. Not something I would make every week, but like I said, comfort food.

I did make a few changes from the original recipe. It called for a total of ½ cup of cheese. ½ cup? For 4 servings? That would mean that each serving would have only 2 tbsp of cheese. I would expect a dish that has "cheese" in the TITLE to have a bit more than that! I was really surprised the first time I made it and it only had that much cheese. I also increased the sauce because it didn't even make enough to cover the gnocchi.

The other thing I changed was adding the soft breadcrumbs to the topping. The original recipe called for just Parmesan cheese. But I always like a breadcrumb topping on traditional mac and cheese, so I thought it would be good on this. And it is.

The last time I made this I used whole grain gnocchi and that was just fine. Gnocchi comes in many different varieties, and any of them would be good in here.

The gnocchi are dark colored because they are whole grain.

23 October 2010

I can't take credit for this one; my husband made it. I have a cold and wasn't feeling like making dinner last night, so Jim stepped in and did it. Usually when he does that, he will make something easy, or something he made up, but last night he decided to go with the recipe that was on my meal plan. It's from Sunny Anderson.

Apple Cider Chicken

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ Vidalia onion, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into ¼" wedges
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp flour
1½ cups apple cider

Heat oil and 1 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, add to pan and sear until golden, about 4 minutes each side. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside. Add remaining butter and onion, apple, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Sauté until apple begins to get color and onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Nestle chicken back into pan, add cider, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

This was really good. The perfect fall dish. I asked Jim if there was anything about the recipe he would change, and he said there wasn't. The only thing I would change is to remove the apples before serving. They got really soft and mushy and they looked kind of unappetizing in the finished dish. With the green skin, they looked a lot like green peppers in there! So I would suggest taking them out of the sauce before serving. Other than that, it was perfect. It was slightly sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.

We served this with stuffing (Stove Top now has a reduced-sodium variety that is really good). It went really well with the chicken. This would also be good with pork chops or turkey cutlets.

22 October 2010

If memory serves me correctly, this was the first Rachael Ray recipe I ever tried. I made it for the dessert for a dinner party we had when we lived in Texas. I hadn't made it in years, but I've been in such a fall-themed mood when it comes to food, that I decided to bust it out and dust it off.

Baked Stuffed Apples

6 medium McIntosh apples
2 wedges lemon
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, finely chopped
½ cup flour
¼ cup oatmeal

Preheat oven to 425°. Trim bottom of apples. Cut tops off. Hollow out inside. Rub tops and cavities with lemon. Combine all other ingredients. Mixture should be crumbly. Pack into apples. Place apples in a shallow baking dish and add ¼ cup water. Bake 17 to 20 minutes until filling bubbles and apples are tender, not soft.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

My recipe is a little bit different from Rachael's. Hers had raisins in it. And the serving size has been adjusted from 4 to 6 because, like I said, I originally made it for a dinner party. Last night I made them for just the two of us, and I halved the filling recipe. The apples I used were tiny (I get little ones for Lena), so I made 4. And I still had some filling left over. If you are serving these for guests, try to get medium or large apples.

These are so good served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. We didn't have any caramel sauce, so Jim made some from a recipe he found online.

20 October 2010

This is a recipe I tried last night and loved. It is adapted from one on Allrecipes.

Curried Honey Baked Chicken

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
4 chicken breasts

Combine olive oil, honey, mustard, salt, and curry powder and stir to combine. Place mixture in a large resealable plastic bag and add chicken. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan lined with foil. Drizzle marinade over the chicken.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.

Makes 4 servings.

This chicken was so good! I never would have thought to pair honey, mustard, and curry, but it is great on chicken. If you are worried about it being hot, it's not. Well, I guess it depends on what kind of curry you use. If you use a spicy curry, then it would be, but I use a sweet curry. It's basically all of the flavor without all of the heat.

The original recipe called for using a whole chicken cut into pieces. I don't like doing that, and several reviewers said that they made it with boneless skinless breasts, so that's what I did. I halved the marinade and doubled the curry. It was perfect.

The original recipe didn't call for marinating, but it was suggested by reviewers. I didn't get to marinate mine for a whole hour (it was probably only 15 mins), but I think that would make it even better. Make sure you put foil on your pan because the honey will burn (on the pan, not on the chicken), and it would be very difficult to clean.

The first time I made this, I used butter like the original recipe called for. But then I was wondering if it would work with olive oil instead (especially since it is supposed to marinate in the fridge), so I tried it that way tonight. Just as good and a little bit healthier.

So glad I found this recipe. I'll definitely be making it again.

18 October 2010

This is a recipe adapted from one I read in a new cookbook, The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook. The author has a food blog, Coconut and Lime, where she posts her original recipes. The book is great, because it's an entire cookbook of slow cooker recipes and not one of them includes cream of mushroom soup as an ingredient! The recipes are all healthy and very creative.

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

½ large onion, diced
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup sour cream
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup green onion, sliced

Place the onions, potatoes, water, and salt into a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours, or high for 4 ½ hours.

With a ladle, remove some of the cooking liquid and set aside. Either mash potatoes using a potato masher (for a chunkier soup), or puree using a stick blender (for a smoother soup). Add more cooking liquid until soup is desired consistency. Stir in the cheese, sour cream, bacon crumbles, and green onion.

Garnish with more cheese, bacon, and green onion, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Okay, so my version isn't quite as healthy as the one in the book. I increased the sour cream (reduced-fat is fine), cheese, and bacon. I know, I know, but it's cold outside and I need comfort food! :) The other thing I changed is the amount of salt. The recipe in the book called for ¼ tsp. ¼ tsp for 4 large potatoes? Who could eat that and not find it bland?

Overall, I loved this soup. Mashing it with a potato masher was my idea; I like a few chunks of potato in my soup and I didn't really feel like digging out the stick blender. Taking the cooking liquid out was my idea too; it just looked so watery before I mashed the potatoes that I was worried it would be too runny. So I took about two cups out and saved it. Then after mashing, I started adding it back, and actually ended up adding all of it back. But it's a good way to customize the consistency. I loved the raw green onions in it; it really made it taste like a loaded baked potato to me. But Jim doesn't like raw onions, so I only put them in my serving. Then I chopped up a few more and put them in a container in the fridge for when I had leftovers.

I'm sure I'll be making this again throughout the fall and winter. I had planned to serve this soup with sandwiches, but when it was done, it looked so good that we had no interest in sandwiches and ate the soup all by itself.

Again, I highly recommend this cookbook if you are a slow cooker user. I found about 30 recipes in there that I want to try eventually!

15 October 2010

Everyone needs easy, fast, go-to meals that can be made with pantry ingredients for busy evenings. This is one of mine.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
½ - ¾ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
12” pizza crust (homemade or store-bought)
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Ranch dressing, optional
Cole slaw, optional

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine chicken and barbecue sauce. Spread evenly over pizza crust. Top with cheese.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve with ranch dressing for dipping or cole slaw for topping, if desired.

Makes 4 servings, two slices each.

Note: If you are using a homemade crust, you will need to adjust the baking time. The store-bought one that I use is pre-baked.

Like I said, this is a great go-to meal because everything comes out of the pantry (except the cheese, but I always have cheese in the fridge!). Here is the crust I buy at Meijer:

In the past I have made my own barbecue sauce, but then we found a store-bought one that we really like. It's Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle. It is really good. Sweet, but with quite a kick from the chipotle. In the summer, we went through about two bottles a month!

I like my pizza dipped in ranch dressing. There is something about the combination of the sweet and spicy from the pizza with the creamy and cool of the dressing. Really good. Jim likes cole slaw on his barbecue sandwiches, so this time I made some cole slaw to go with it and he put it on top of his pizza. He liked it.

14 October 2010

I got this recipe from a food blog consisting only of slow cooker recipes.

Slow Cooker Broccoli Beef

½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tsp sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 lbs. beef (I use ribeye)
2 bags frozen broccoli florets, thawed, or two heads fresh broccoli

Combine soy sauce, wine, vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in slow cooker. Slice meat into thin strips and add to slow cooker. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Cook on low for 6 hours. An hour before serving, add broccoli. Cook for another hour or until broccoli is at desired tenderness.

Stir gingerly to coat broccoli. Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Super good! This is doubled from the original recipe, because it was so good that I was kicking myself for not doubling it the first time. We would have loved to have had leftovers for lunch the next day.

It's super easy too. I had the beef sliced up the night before and ready to go in the fridge. It only took me about 5 minutes to throw the rest of the ingredients in there before going to storytime at the library. The beef was almost done when we got back (2 hours later), but it gets really tender if you leave it in there all day. After 6 hours it was so tender it was practically falling apart. I like stir-fry, but everytime I have made it, the beef seems to get really tough on me. I don't know if I am using the wrong cut of beef or cooking it wrong, but this was way better than any stir-fry I have made.

A tip for you working people: if you are unable to add the broccoli an hour before serving, you can just steam it (in the microwave, or however you like), and add it to the beef right before serving. It won't have soaked up as much of the flavor, but it will still be good.

I will definitely be making this again.

09 October 2010

I had never made acorn squash before, but I'm currently on a fall kick when it comes to cooking, so I thought I would give it a try. I stumbled across this Tyler Florence recipe and thought it sounded awesome. This is the first time I have made one of his recipes.

Roasted Amaretto Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, about 2 lb. each
Kosher salt
Olive oil
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp amaretto
½ cup vanilla wafers, crushed

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Split the squash in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Set the squash halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle with olive oil. If squash are very large, cut lengthwise into quarters.

In a bowl, cream the butter with the sugar, and almond liqueur. With a brush or a spoon coat the cut sides of each squash half with the butter mixture. Sprinkle with the crushed cookies.

Bake until tender, about an hour, basting every 20 minutes with any remaining butter.

Makes 4 servings.

This is so good! I don't really like acorn squash that much; I think it's the texture. So the only way I can eat it is to make it sweet. And this recipe gets the job done! When he came up to the table, Jim said, "I see dessert, but where's dinner?" :) He loved it, of course. And I did too.

The original recipe called for 1 lb. acorn squash and it was supposed to cook for only 30-35 minutes. But the smallest ones I could find at the grocery store were 2 lbs. each. So if you can find smaller ones, they won't need to cook as long. The 2 lb. squash make the serving size a bit large (I couldn't finish my half), so if you can find the small ones, get those.

The amaretto is so good with this. I was going to try it with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), but they only had a huge bottle at the store and I didn't feel like spending $26 on it! So I got a small, cheap bottle of amaretto and now I'm glad I did because I loved it.

I highly recommend this recipe. I know I will be making it again!

I served these with Pecan Crusted Pork Chops. Great fall dinner!

Amy from A Little Nosh chose to make this recipe when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in October 2012.  Click on the button below to check out her post!

Secret Recipe Club