Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've taken my favorite chocolate chip cookie and jazzed it up with some toffee bits! I love toffee and chocolate together, especially when it's in a cookie.  I love a yummy cookie that you can just grab off the plate when you walk through the kitchen to do something, or even one that you just walk into the kitchen to get!  You know it's a good cookie when that happens.  These cookies last exactly 1.5 days at our house, if we are lucky! We just can't resist helping ourselves to one or maybe even ten when we walk by.  This is a very simple chocolate chip cookie recipe that I use ALL the time.  I used it here, when I made my M&M Christmas cookies, and you could do the same for any holiday.  Just choose whatever colors you like and make it your own.  Or add in toffee, or mint chips, or white chocolate chips, the combinations are endless!
Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (please use the real thing, it makes such a difference)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (6 ounce package) chocolate chips (I usually throw in a few extra for good measure, and 99% of the time I use milk chocolate ones.  You can't really have too chocolatety chocolate chip cookies can you?)
1/2 cup toffee bits

Cream butter, add sugar and beat on low until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda.  Add to creamed mixture and beat well.  Stir in chocolate chips and toffee bits. Drop teaspoonfuls of the dough on a well greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Yields: 2-3 dozen depending on the size of your "teaspoonful"  I tend to make bigger cookies, so I always end up with less that the "yield" amount!

As always, enjoy your delicious cookies with a big glass of milk!  And make sure that you leave a plate of them out in the kitchen, you will be back for more!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Southwestern Egg Rolls

I'm in love with Mexican food.  Not as much as C, no one can love Mexican food as much as him!  Luckily for the both of us, I whipped up these tasty treats recently.  The method is so easy and you end up with restaurant quality southwestern egg rolls in a jiffy!  I've seen a lot of recipes for southwestern egg rolls recently, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and make some myself.  You should too, you will be so happy you did!
Southwestern Egg Rolls
Olive Oil
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
2/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup corn
1 cup cooked chicken
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon ranch seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 package egg roll wrappers (I usually use 10-12 per batch)
Vegetable Oil for frying

Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add diced pepper and onion and cook until soft, a few minutes.  Add beans, corn, and chicken and heat through. Remove from heat and stir in ranch seasoning, cumin and cheddar.  Heat 1" vegetable oil over medium heat for frying.  Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each egg roll wrapper.  Roll into an egg roll (directions are on the inside of the egg roll wrapper if you aren't sure exactly what to do...I had to refer to them a few times).  Make sure that you seal the edges with a little brush of water! Once the oil is hot, place the egg rolls into the oil, cooking in small batches.  Fry until golden brown - a couple of minutes - and then flip and finish frying.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
Yields: 10-12 egg rolls depending on how fat you stuff them.  Serves 3 hungry people or 4 as an appetizer with sides.  We are always the hungry people...

Alternate method:
If you are short on time and have cooked chicken on hand, you can do this instead.  Omit the peppers and onions, and just stir together the beans, corn, chicken, cheese and seasonings.  Fill the egg rolls and fry them up!  This will cut your dinner making time down to nothing, but you can still serve a delicious meal. It might not be the healthiest meal I make, but it's good every once in a while! :)

We love these!  I've made them a few times in the past month, and they are a hit either way I make them.  Honestly, I completely forgot the peppers and onions the second time I made them and that's how the Alternate Method was born.  The flavors are great, and I love the crispy outside of the egg roll! Really, you can throw together just about any combo of veggies and seasonings and stuff it in an egg roll.  You can't go wrong with fried goodness!  Serve them up with some sour cream, guacamole and a bean dip and you are good to go.  For my bean dip, I took the extra black beans, heated them up and mashed them up.  I added a spoonful of sour cream, some ranch seasoning and cumin and stirred it together.  Yum, Yum!  You'll want to make these very soon!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's Cooking?

Hello....is anyone still out there?  I'm becoming a very lazy blogger these days!  I've still been cooking up a storm and experimenting with new recipes, I just haven't taken the time to sit down at the computer and create a post!  Life keeps me busy sometimes all the time!  Even though I'm not bringing you a beautiful post with lots of pictures and new ideas, I thought I would share a few of the recipes I've been cooking up over the past few weeks.  I try to plan our weekly meal plan on Mondays.  That usually means I'm scouring the internet trying to find that one post I saw with the crispy stuffed eggrolls from a few months ago.  I should really start bookmarking these things! :)  Anyway, here's a few classics that we have tried.  I know you will love them!
Sour Cream Noodle Bake from Pioneer Woman
{Um...delicious!  It sounds quite weird and when you see the ingredients list, you may be a little skeptical.  Don't be, take my word for it...it's great!  (I sound a little like Tony the Tiger there)  It's even better the second and third day!}
Chicken and Black Bean Grean Enchilada Bake from Picky Palate
{Yum!  This has everything you need for a great southwestern dish.  I was a little hesitant to make an "enchilada bake" that did not include tortillas, but you won't even notice. The flavors have just enough kick and the rice adds a nice, appetite pleasing touch.  You will definitley have plenty for leftovers when you make this!}
Salsa Chicken and Ranch Florentine Tostadas from Picky Palate
{Another great winner from the Picky Palate (can you tell I love her style of cooking).  I should just pick 5 or 6 of her recipes every week and make them, but then that wouldn't be fair to the other wonderful blogs out there!  Gotta mix it up a little!  Thanks Jenny for creating such awesome recipes - she's coming out with a cookbook soon.  I can't wait to get my hands on that!  These are so simple, yet pack a lot of punch!  I love the spinach and chicken combo mixed with a little salsa.  I also love crisping up my corn tortillas until they have a nice crunch to them!  Declared a keeper in our house!  I've probably made this 4 or 5 times since I stumbled on the recipe a couple of months ago!}
Chicken Tostada Upside Down Bake from Picky Palate (Who Else?)
{Are you sensing a southwestern theme in my baking lately?  I am.  C liked this, I wasn't as much a fan of the cresent rolls on top.  Maybe I didn't cook it quite long enough to make it not soggy, but it wasn't my favorite.  Don't get my wrong, I loved the filling underneath, just not the top layer.  And that's probably my fault for being impatient and taking it out of the oven too soon.  Sometimes that happens when you are trying to get dinner on the table by 6:30 to feed the masses!}
Cheeseburger Macaroni from Kevin and Amanda
{This little number is amazing!  Don't be worried that it looks suspiciously like Hamburger Helper - it most definitely is not!  I would never serve Hamburger Helper to my family (no offense to it or anyone who like it, it's just not my style) and I told C when he took the leftovers to work that he had to inform people that it was not Hamburger Helper!  I think my favorite part of this dish is the cheesy sauce that you drizzle over the top of the meat and tomatoes.  It's so creamy and thick, I kind of wanted to just dip my finger in it and eat it (I didn't though, I was good).  And the addition of Rotel to the ground beef is fantastic.  I {heart} Rotel, it has to be one of the best inventions out there.  Mix it into anything and it livens it up!}
I have also been making Meatloaf Muffins and Mushroom Chicken a lot!  Those are my go to meals when I can't seem to fill a week up with delicious, nutricious, new recipes.  Mainly because I don't take the time to search through my cookbooks and bookmarked recipes! :)
So that's what's been cooking in my kitchen!  Up on the docket for this week, we have:
~Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole from PW
~Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole from Picky Palate
~Southwestern Eggrolls inspired by Kevin and Amanda's Crispy Southwestern Wontons (I couldn't find the smaller wonton wrappers at the grocery, so I'm resorting to egg roll size, I know they are still going to be fantastic)  I'm also thinking of whipping up some creamy guacamole to go with it, and maybe this creamy salsa too!
~Taco Soup that I have in the freezer
~Mushroom Chicken - I told you it's a staple here!
And just for fun, I might even make some of these treats {Salt River Bars}! Layers of crackers, caramel, and chocolate...yes please!

I'll let you know how the new recipes turn out!  We have loved everything we have every tried from all three of these bloggers, so I know we will not be disappointed.  Now that you know what we've been eating, what's on your menu planner this week?  I'm always looking for new recipes, if you have one you just love, let me know!  Happy Cooking!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fresh Picked Strawberries!

 There's nothing like fresh picked strawberries!  Look at those beautiful berries!  We came home from the local farm with almost five pounds of strawberries...fresh picked by Little Man, C and I.  Strawberry picking is so much fun.  It's all about picking out the perfect berry...and we picked out a ton of them.  With all these strawberries laying around, I had to get a little creative in how to use them before they spoiled.  Besides just eating them straight from the bucket (which we have done our fair share of), I've also whipped up a few new strawberry creations for us to try.  I'm a HUGE fan of the strawberry, it might be my favorite fruit!  Any time I can scoop up fresh strawberries, I do...then I start the experiments!  So far this week, I have made Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream, Balsamic Strawberries and Strawberry Cupcakes!  And I'm here to share all of the recipes with you today!  It is most definitely your Lucky Day! :)

 Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
2 cups fresh strawberries
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 drop red food coloring

Place strawberries in food processor and blend until smooth.  In your ice cream canister, mix strawberries with remaining ingredients.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Freeze according to your ice cream mixer directions.  **Obviously all ice cream makers are a little different.  We have a Sunbeam Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Maker that works just fine for us.  Nothing fancy, makes just enough for a few days!  It usually takes it about 18-25 minutes to mix and then you store it in the freezer for a few hours to harden.  Oh, and this recipe came from the "users guide" for the machine!**

Fresh strawberry ice cream is my signal that summer is on the way.  I can honestly say that I've had the ice cream mixer since before C and I got married (5 1/2 years ago) and didn't use it once until last summer.  I found it stashed away in our kitchen cabinets and it has since become my new summer friend!  This recipe is so fluffy and creamy, and just the right sweetness!  Yum, whip some up the next time you see some really great strawberries!

Experiment #2:  I will have to say that I was a little leery of this next recipe.  I only sliced up about a cup of the strawberries just in case we didn't like the recipe.  Well guess what, we did like them and wished I had made a few more.  This recipe is so unconventional and not something I would ever think to make, but I'm in a creative mood and couldn't resist.  Trust me, the ingredient list sounds very weird but you need to try these!
 Balsamic Strawberries
Adapted from: Ina Garten
1 cup strawberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients and let set at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour!  That's it, so simple.  So irresistibly delicious!

And for my GRAND FINALE!
Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
 Sprinkles Recipe from Martha Stewart
For the Cupcakes:
2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.  With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.  Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix until just blended. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.
Yields: 12 delightful cupcakes
Oh me, oh my!  I've made some really good cupcakes lately, but these take the cake!  Seriously, pardon my terrible pun, but it's true!  The fresh strawberries in this recipe are so light and fresh!  They really make these cupcakes outstanding!  I've never been a huge fan of fruit flavored cupcakes, but these little babies convinced me that fruit and cake can coexist peacefully.  Can you see the strawberry flecks in the frosting?  Pureeing these before mixing them in is the right thing to do.  You get all the great flavor and the pretty color, but you don't have massive chunky frosting!  These are quite possibly my new favorite cupcakes...at least until I find my next experiment!  I have a feeling I'll be making a lot more of these.  Especially if we keep picking strawberries five pounds at a time! :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saucy Drumsticks and Thighs

I'm back with a new recipe!  I won't go into the details of why I haven't posted lately, let's just say that life can get a little hectic!  I think I'm trying to balance quite a few things in my life right now and something had to give!  I will have to say though, that during this time I have made a lot of progress on our 2010 family digital scrapbook...it's one of my goals to finish it before the summer!  Between that, chasing Little Man every where, being sick, doing two Beth Moore Bible Studies at one time, my Thirty-One business, and basically keeping up with the house...I've been one busy momma!  I have still taken the time to make nutritious, delicious food for my family so I thought I would spend a little time today sharing one with all of you!  This one is from one of my favorite slow cooker cookbooks, it's called "Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook."  I highly recommend it if you love your crock pot.  I received it as a Christmas present while I was in college and use it so much that the pages are falling out of it! :)  So let's get right to it!

Saucy Drumsticks and Thighs
6 chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 lbs.), skinned
6 chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs.), skinned
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons chicken-flavored bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper *add this at the very end, if at all!  Red Pepper Flakes have a tendency to get extra "flavorful" when stewing in a crockpot all day.  Trust me on this one!

Place chicken in slow cooker.  Combine tomatoes and remaining ingredients; stir well.  Pour over chicken.  Cover; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour.  Reduce to low-heat and cook 4-5 hours until chicken is tender.   Serve over cooked egg noodles or rice!
So, I didn't realize until I started to post this how much I deviate from the recommended cooking times.  Typically when I am using my crock pot, it's because I have a lot going on that day and don't have time to babysit dinner!  So I rarely put something in for one hour and then change the temperature after that!  For this recipe, I typically throw it all together and leave it on low for about 6-7 hours until it just falls apart!  Also, I prefer to use all boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  It seems a little healthier to me and I don't have to sift through dinner trying to make sure I remove all of the bones.  Oh, and sometimes you can't find just the right can of tomatoes (the ones with just garlic), so if I can't I usually get anything that sounds Italian...basil, oregano, garlic..you get the idea!
This is a family favorite and depending on how many pounds of chicken you use, you can usually get a good couple of days worth of meals out of it.  We usually pile it on top of some egg noodles and eat it with a big salad!  Voila...dinner is done.  Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Hallelujah, I'm feeling well enough to start experimenting in the kitchen again!  The first one out of the gate is a winner, winner!  We found some really great poblano peppers at a local farm and I couldn't wait to get them cooking.  I knew I wanted stuffed peppers, but I wasn't sure what to do.  And then, as if someone was reading my mind, I was walking through the meat department at HEB and stumbled upon "Poblano, Cheddar, Chicken Sausage."  What?  That's exactly what I needed!  How fitting.  I have to be honest and say that I've never stuffed a pepper (except my bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed jalapenos, but that's a little different).  I always saw photos in cookbooks with the bell pepper stuffed with rice and tomatoes and other various foods.  To me they just weren't appetizing, but these bad boys changed my mind!  So let's get started.  You'll need the following:
Poblano Peppers, Your Favorite Rice, Chicken Sausage (I used the Poblano, Cheddar that I gushed about above, but you could do just about anything here), some cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash Chipotle Southwest Seasoning.  And that's it, nothing fancy here...just good, simple ingredients.
Start by cooking your rice according to the package directions.  C and I bought a rice cooker over the holidays to speed up his sushi making process.  I must say I always thought they were a useless, waste of counter/cabinet space appliance, but this little guy has changed my mind.  I love being able to throw the rice in there and let it work it's magic.  The one we have knows when the rice is done.  Can you believe that, I can't!  We've made many different types and they all come out perfect, how does it do that?  Anyway, I made two servings of rice and I added a sprinkle (maybe a teaspoon full) of the Mrs. Dash Chipotle Seasoning to the rice as it was cooking.  While that was cooking, I removed the chicken sausage from it's casing and started cooking it in a skillet over medium-high heat.  I find it easiest to break the sausage apart by using a potato masher, unconventional yes, but it works like a charm.  Thanks for the tip Rachael Ray!  Anyway, brown the sausage and then toss in the rice and about a cup full of cheddar!  That's it, really it sounds so simple and it is.  When you have a really great flavored sausage, you don't have to add much else to the mix.  Here's the stuffing in all it's cheesy, gooey glory!  Oh my...perfection!
While your stuffing is melting together, wash the peppers and slice a great big "T" in them.   Scoop out the innards *why does that word make me laugh?*, leave a few seeds if you like it spicy!  Oh, and don't touch your eyes after you touch the pepper insides, these little dudes are worse than jalapenos!  Next, take a giant spoon and start stuffing the peppers.  Don't worry if you make a mess, it adds to the dish!  Here's what you'll have:
Make sure you stuff them to the top, you wouldn't want any of that stuffing to go to waste!  If you have some rice and sausage mixture that won't stuff into the peppers, then by all means go at it with a spoon.  I wish I had taken a picture of C and I with our faces over the pan, shoveling the leftover stuffing into our mouths as if we hadn't eaten all day!  Yes, it was that good!
I tossed them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Long enough for the peppers to soften up, the stuffing to get a little crunchy on top and the skin of the pepper to char a little.  After a little time in the oven, you're going to end up with this:
Look at it, it's so...what's the work I'm looking for?  It's so amazing, fantastic, wonderful, superb, splendid...yes that's it!  Can you see the charred skin and the crunchy stuffing top?  Just looking at these pictures again makes me want to get in the kitchen and cook them up right now!  I know I'm going on and on about these peppers, but I have to say it was a pretty brilliant creation!  It's a Rachael Raves original, I can't say that about too many of my posts, YET!  Serve it up with some corn on the side, if you must!  We did that so that Little Man would eat more (we mixed the stuffing and the corn together for him, tricky, tricky)! 

I'm already scheming other pepper/stuffing combos.  After all, this is just a method and you can do just about whatever floats your boat, within reason of course.  Be sure to check out the pre-flavored sausages at your local store, they really are great.  You could even do a beef mixture, or a pork, or...anyway you get the idea.  Or you could make it just like I did and stick with perfection!  I kid...I'm not perfect, nor or my experiments, but I am very proud of this one if you couldn't tell!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Where have I been?  I wish I knew...I feel like the first part of this year has just flown by.  Between the strep throat/restricted airways incident in January and the flu outbreak a few weeks ago, I just can't seem to stay healthy!  Things are changing soon, I can feel it!  C and I have made a plan to ease back into working out and eating healthier.  I know that not all of my flu and strep throat is related to these things, but it can't hurt right?  Anyway, before we get into the full swing of "healthier eating," I thought I would share a family "not so healthy" favorite!  It's chicken coated in pretzels then smothered in a cheesy mustard sauce, what's not to love?

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cheddar Mustard Sauce
from: Rachael Ray
4 quart-size plastic food storage bags
4 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 5-ounce bag of salted pretzels, any shape
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
3/4 pound, about 2 1/2 cups, sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
2 heaping tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, a generous handful, chopped
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large sour dill pickle, finely chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat a large non-stick skillet with a 1/4-inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle a little water into four medium food storage baggies. Place 1 chicken breast in each bag and seal it up, pushing out excess air. Use the bottom of a heavy pot or pan and pound each breast until flat, just shy of busting out of the bag. Repeat with the other 3 chicken breasts.
Place the pretzels in a food processor or blender and grind until fine. Transfer the ground pretzels to a shallow dish, add the thyme and some salt and pepper. Crack and beat 2 eggs in a second shallow dish with a splash of water. One at a time, coat each chicken breast in the egg and then the ground pretzels.
Add the pretzel-coated chicken breast to the hot oil. Cook in a single layer, in 2 batches if necessary, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear and breading is evenly browned.
While the chicken is frying, in a medium saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook flour and butter for 1 minute and then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper, and remove cheese sauce from the heat.
Transfer the fried pretzel-crusted chicken breast to a serving plate, drizzle with the mustard cheddar sauce, then sprinkle with a little parsley, finely chopped onion and sour dill pickle. Serve lemon wedges alongside.

My notes on the recipe:  I omit the lemon wedges, the onion and the dill pickle.  I'm not a fan of garnishes on top of my dishes, it just doesn't float my boat!  I love having the crunchy pretzel coating surrounding the super moist chicken!  And the cheesy mustard sauce is really good.  It does make way too much though, so I try to halve the recipe when I remember.  I like this dish, it's not one of C's favorites though.  He doesn't care for the mustard in the cheesy sauce, to each his own.

It has been SOOOOOO long since I have blogged, I almost feel like I forgot how!  :)  I promise that this blog is going back on my high priority list.  For the last few weeks the only things on that list have been laying on the couch, drinking Gatorade and trying not to cough up a lung!  I've got so many things to catch up on, but I promise there will be more posts!

Let the cooking experiments commence.  I added Peanut Butter Extract to my pantry today, now I'm just trying to figure out what to do with it! :)  Suggestions?  C already claimed it for buttercream icing...what else?  Stay tuned, I know it's going to be fantastic!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Sliders

So I'm apparently having a slider addiction.  I can't keep myself away from these delicious little burgers!  They are so stinkin' cute and who doesn't love a miniature version of a classic?  Ever since I first made the Beefy Onion Sliders, I've been scheming new slider recipes in my head!  I've come up with one that I think is going to be a hit.  It starts out with a spicy ranch dip, mixes in a little chicken and bacon and finishes up with some ripe sliced avocado on top.  What's not to love?  Time to get started... This recipe requires a little prep time if you want to add in the spicy ranch dip (which you totally will).  I made the dip around lunch time and let it work it's magic in the refrigerator until I was ready for it at dinner.  For the dip you will need the following:
Jalapeno Ranch Dip
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayo
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds, depending on how much heat you want your dip to have)
1/2 cup Salsa Verde (I use Herdez brand)
a dash of cayenne pepper

Slice and dice the jalapeno.  Mix all of the ingredients together and thoroughly mix.  Refrigerator until ready to use...this gets better the longer you let it sit in the refrigerator.

Once you are ready to make your sliders, you will need the following:
Chicken Bacon Ranch Sliders
1 pound ground chicken
4 slices of bacon,
1/4 cup Jalapeno Ranch Dip (see above) plus some for spreading on the slider buns
1/2 cup Monterrey Jack and Cheddar Cheese
1 teaspoon Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
sliced avocado.
Oh, and you need slider buns.  Oops...left those out of the photo!

Start by cooking your bacon using your favorite method.  I prefer to do it in the oven, but when I'm in a hurry I try to do it on the stove top.  Oh, and if you do it this way, make sure you pay attention to your bacon.  Don't try to take ingredient photos when you should be cooking your bacon; otherwise, you might end up with this:
a sad, sad sight.  Inedible, overcooked bacon.  I almost cried when I had to throw these pieces away.  I did try to eat them, but they were too cooked!  While your bacon (perhaps your 2nd batch) is cooking, start cooking your ground chicken in a little bit of olive oil over medium-high heat.  While the chicken is cooking, sprinkle it with about a teaspoon of the ranch seasoning.  Once cooked, add in your diced up bacon, 1/4 cup of the Jalapeno Ranch dip, and the cheese.  It will start to look like this:
as C describes it, "A little like scrambled eggs!" Thanks honey!  That doesn't make it seem at all appetizing, but it really is.  While the cheese is melting, slice the slider buns and spread a little Jalapeno Ranch dip on each side.  Evenly distribute the chicken mixture on your sliders and then top with a nice slice of avocado (you could spread some guacamole on top if you prefer, that would be delicious too).  Once all steps are complete, you should have something that looks like this!
Toss them in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, just long enough to heat the bread and get it a little crispy around the edges.  Serve them up with chips and the extra Jalapeno Ranch dip!  Just like this!

Mmm, mmm!  This was quite the delicious experiment!  This is just what you need on a night when you have to throw something together faster than the speed of light.  Even if you don't have time to make the Jalapeno dip, you could always substitute your favorite ranch dressing!  I'm loving the mini burger - I'm dreaming up a few others, stay tuned!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beefy Onion Sliders

Wow, I can't believe it is already the 16th and I've only had one blog post in all of January.  And it wasn't even a fun one...it was about me being sick!  Yuck!  I can now say that I am feeling much better and glad to be back in the swing of things.  It seems like the first half of the month just ran me over this year.  Between being sick and catching up from the awesomeness of December, I don't know where the last few weeks have gone.  I've been busy, I've been cooking and cleaning and doing my normal things, but it seems like there aren't 24 hours in a day anymore.  Maybe I'm doing too much?  Nah...
I'm back with my first recipe post of the new year...and it's a good one.  So good that I've already made it twice this month!  When we were up in Tennessee visiting family for the holidays, C's Aunt made these yummy sliders for lunch.  I didn't get the recipe from her, I just watched her throw things in the pan and committed it to memory.  Luckily, there aren't that many ingredients so I was able to remember everything!  I love the taste of this little burgers.  And isn't there just something about eating a little burger?  You don't feel guilty for having more than you should  because they are so tiny and petite, right?  Let's get to it!
Here's your cast of characters:  one pound ground beef, Lipton Beefy Onion Mix, Mayo, Cheddar and Slider Rolls. (Not pictured because I forgot to buy them: Dill Pickle Slices, oops)
Begin by browning your ground beef.  Once the meat is browned, stir in your beefy onion mix, a generous spoonful (yes that's the accurate measurement), and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese.  Let this all melt together until it looks like this:
Slice the rolls and place them on a cookie sheet.  Divide the beef mixture evenly among the rolls.  The package I buy has 12 rolls, I usually end up with some extra beef mixture.  I usually eat this when no one is watching, it's quite delicious.  Next, place 2-3 pickle slices on each roll.  Imagine they are in the photos that follow.  Toss the rolls in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 3-5 minutes.  That's just long enough to warm the rolls and let them get a little toasty around the edges.  Don't leave them in their too long, you'll regret it!  Mmm....yum!
Serve them up with chips or mashed potatoes for a yummy, super quick lunch or dinner.  Did I say how much I love these little sliders?  I'm scheming up other recipes because I love them so much!  I'm thinking chicken, bacon, ranch.  Anyone with me on that?  I thought so!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Posts?

Let me start by saying - I feel so behind!  I don't know where this week or last week have gone, but they are gone!  Add to that the fact that I feel a little under the weather and it makes for an unmotivated me! :)  I will try to catch back up!  I promise I haven't deserted this blog, and I have lots of good things in store for the new year!  I'm telling you 2011 is starting out a little rough for me.  With sickness comes a lack of motivation (at least for me)...and even though I still have the same amount of time in each day, I'm feeling like my days are a little shorter.  I blame this cough I can't get rid of that is keeping me up at night!  So, I'm slowly working on catching up....bear with me as I work on it! :)
This blog is very important to me, as are you my readers!  I've got so many ideas running around in my head, a few posts I've started on, and lots of delicious pictures to share!  Once I shake this evil cough, I'll be back to my regularly scheduled programming!  Until then, stay healthy!


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