Monday, February 28, 2011

WARM CHICKEN CURRY DIP


I've mentioned before that my family loves to come home from church and just snack away. We don't really do a meal until dinner time, so I've been having fun trying different appetizer and snack recipes that I normally wouldn't try very often. We've come to LOVE the Baked Triple Veggie Dip so much that we compare everything else to it now. When I try a new recipe, I cross my fingers and hope I don't hear, "Oh, you should have made the Triple Veggie Dip instead!".  I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about the flavor combination of this dip. I knew I would be ok with it, and probably my husband would tolerate it, but really wasn't sure about the kids. Everyone loved it! Unique; yes, but in a good way, so go outside of your "box" and try this. And, if you don't like curry, leave it out, it will still be good with all those other flavors! Let me know what you think!

WARM CHICKEN CURRY DIP
Recipe from H.P. 2nd Ward Cookbook - G. Cook


1 C. finely chopped cooked chicken (or 1 can of chicken)
1/4 C. sliced green onion
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2)
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Optional (but I highly recommend):
1/4 C. sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 C. sliced almonds (I used chopped cashews)
1/4 C. apricot jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Chop chicken and green onions. Combine chicken, green onions, cream cheese, mozzarella, garlic, curry powder and salt. Mix well and spread into the bottom of an 8" round pan. Bake 18-20 minutes. Combine coconut and almonds. Spread apricot jam over warm dip and then sprinkle with coconut mixture. Serve with apple wedges, crackers, celery sticks or on a baguette.



Thursday, February 24, 2011

ROMA MEATLOAF


I think sometimes meatloaf gets a bad wrap. It's typically what my hubby would call a "grandma" meal. No, he's not being derogatory in any way; believe me, grandma's can cook!  He just means old fashioned, same old, same old. But, this recipe, which came out of my ward (church) cookbook from my neighbor and blog follower, Cherie (thanks!) is not quite what you picture when you hear the word "meatloaf".  It's fancy enough to feed guests and tastes great.  I even chopped up the leftovers, added it to marinara and served over pasta. Two meals in one! Cherie's recipe didn't include spinach, but I thought it would be a nice addition and boost the nutrition value.

Roma Meatloaf


1 1/2 lb. ground beef (I used part ground turkey, part ground beef)
1 egg
3/4 C. oats
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 small can Italian tomato sauce (I just used a can of Italian style diced tomatoes, slightly drained and pureed. I used the entire 14.5 oz)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 C. Mozzarella, shredded
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (optional)

Combine beef, egg, oats, onion, 1/3 C. tomato sauce, salt, oregano, and pepper. Mix well and shape into flat rectangle (as you would the dough for cinnamon rolls) about 10-12" on waxed paper. Sprinkle mozzarella (and spinach if using) evenly over meat mixture. Roll up jelly-roll style and press end of roll to seal. Place in a shallow baking dish or on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 F. for 45-60 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Pour on remaining tomato sauce and bake for 10-15 more minutes. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

BLUE CHEESY PROSCIUTTO APPETIZER PIZZA


How could I have forgotten to post these? I don't buy this type of convenience food, but I bought a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls a while back, thinking I would enter a recipe contest using them. Well, I never followed through, so there they sat in my fridge. What better time to use them up than Superbowl Sunday? I found this recipe last minute and threw it together with what I had on hand. I was a little nervous about the combination of flavors being too unique for the crowd, but I was wrong. They were a hit! Even those who typically don't enjoy blue cheese liked these.

BLUE CHEESY PROSCIUTTO APPETIZER PIZZA     makes 12-16
recipe adapted from Pillsbury Bake-off 2008


1 can Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust (I used crescent rolls, keeping perforations attached and rolled flat)
1/3 C. cream cheese (I used reduced-fat)
1/4 C. crumbled blue cheese
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices prosciutto cut into thin strips (I just used bacon, but prosciutto would have been great!)
1/3 C. apricot preserves (I used my homemade pear preserves)

Heat oven to 400 F. Lightly spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll pizza dough and roll into rectangle. Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave blue cheese and cream cheese uncovered on high about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir until well mixed. Spread mixture over crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; top with prosciutto. 
In small microwavable bowl, microwave preserves uncovered on high about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth; drizzle over pizza.
Bake 8 to 12 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and preserves in center of pizza start to bubble.
Cut into desired size.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CHICKPEA AND WALNUT BURGER


* Warning* Do not tease your carnivore husband by telling him you are having "burgers" for dinner tonight! I knew better than to tell my husband we were having a meatless dinner tonight; that scares him to death! He sat down to this tempting burger, waiting for greasy goodness, but was met with...beans??
Don't get me wrong, these were good, but they're no burger "fake-out". Once my hubby got it through his head that these are not made of beef, he was able to say they were good. The fact that my 2 year old son, who doesn't typically eat dinner, ate his and half of his sister's, makes this a keeper in my book.

CHICKPEA AND WALNUT BURGER
recipe from Taste of Home Aug/Sept 2009                       Makes 4-5 burgers


2 eggs
1/2 C. dry bread crumbs
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/3 C. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 C. coarsely chopped onion
1/4 C. Greek olives (I used black olives)
4 sprigs fresh parsley, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
Buns
Lettuce
Tomato
Sauce of choice (recommended tzatziki sauce, but I used "fry" sauce)

In a food processor, combine first 11 ingredients; cover and pulse until blended, but slightly chunky. Add chickpeas; pulse until chopped. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes.

Shape chickpea mixture by 2/3 cupfuls into patties. Coat fry pan or grill rack with cooking spray. Set heat to medium, cook burgers covered for 4-5 minutes per side. Serve on buns with toppings.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

BEEF, SQUASH AND SPINACH SAUTE



The other morning while jogging on the treadmill and watching The Food Network, I saw this recipe featured and was so excited because I had pretty much everything I needed to make it without going to the store! Yes, even the butternut squash was in my pantry, one of a few remaining from the garden last year. The recipe called for ground sausage, which I rarely use, but I had ground beef ready to go in the fridge.
The combination of flavors was unexpected, which piqued my interest. So, if you are looking for a ground beef recipe that's  not so "run of the mill", try this! It makes a lot, so we had it for dinner and lunch a few days later and it was still mighty tasty!

BEEF, SQUASH & SPINACH SAUTE
recipe from Big Daddy's House


  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 pound bulk sage sausage (or ground beef seasoned with sage, fennel, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 red onion, sliced in half moons
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves (I would reduce this slightly next time)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


In a large deep saute pan over medium-high heat, add the almonds. Toast, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the almonds from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add the sausage. Cook, while breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and let the butter brown for 1 minute. Add the garlic and onion and cook until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes, then add the squash. Cook until the squash begins to color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and continue cooking until the squash is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the spinach, cranberries, parsley, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Return the sausage and the almonds to the pan. Toss well and heat through. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and serve.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HELLO KITTY CAKE WITH FONDANT


It's my daughter's 8th birthday today, but we celebrated with family on Sunday. She requested a Hello Kitty cake for the 3rd year in a row, so...I finally gave in.  Not that there's anything wrong with Hello Kitty, I just thought it was kinda boring for some reason. After surfing the net for ideas, I ended up enlarging a page from her Hello Kitty coloring book to use as a template.  The next component to the cake was fondant...fondant? I've never made or worked with fondant.  After viewing a few clips on You Tube, I was convinced I could do it! I was thrilled when it turned out perfect on my first attempt. I was banking on the fact that I'd have to do a few trial batches first, but not so!
I used my tried and true favorite cake recipe for making large birthday cakes; Wacky Cake. All in all, I was pretty happy with how it turned out AND how easy it ended up being. I should have done it 3 years ago!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA STUFFED FRENCH TOAST STICKS



In case you are unaware by now; MY KIDS LOVE peanut butter! They could eat it 3 times a day and not complain. Some time ago while watching Paula Deen on The Food Network, she made a French Toast similar to this, but she doused it in butter, then rolled it in cinnamon sugar (that's Paula for ya!) I did try her version and it was sure good, but I modified it so my kids weren't on a sugar high by 8:30 am! The kids love the strips that they dip in their own little cup of syrup.

P.B. AND BANANA STUFFED FRENCH TOAST STICKS


Figure two slices of bread per person
Lay each slice out side by side
On one slice, spread softened reduced fat cream cheese
On it's opposite slice, spread with peanut butter
Slice banana into rounds and place 6 or 7 on top of peanut butter
Sandwich the two slices together
Dredge sandwich in your french toast egg mixture (egg, milk, cinnamon)
Cook on griddle over medium heat until golden brown 
Remove from griddle and slice each sandwich into 4 strips
Serve with individual cups of syrup for dipping

Friday, February 4, 2011

5 THINGS I'M LOVING RIGHT NOW.....

I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit and share with you some of the things that I'm really loving right now!  They are definitely worth trying out! (No, I'm not being paid for the "plug", but I wish I was!)

1.  LAUGHING COW LIGHT SPREADABLE CHEESE
 My family and I absolutely LOVE this stuff! It's unbelievably low in calories (35 per wedge) and is so soft and creamy.  We use it to top crackers, apples (YUM), pears, and spread it on a tortilla instead of mayo for a sandwich wrap. There are a few different flavors, but original swiss is the tastiest and most versatile overall in my opinion.

2.  MISSION BRAND CARB BALANCE WHOLE WHEAT TORTILLAS
  I buy the fajita size whole wheat version of these tortillas.  I think they have the best flavor and texture of any low carb wraps or tortillas out there.  They only have 80 calories and 4 net carbs each! I'm so excited that Sam's Club has started carrying them because we go through a ton of these, yay!

3. TROPICANA TROP50 JUICES
  I would rarely buy juice until I found this. The great thing about this juice is that there's 50% less sugar and calories than comparable juice, and there's no artificial sweetener.  It's sweetened with stevia. I've tried all the flavors, orange, pineapple mago, pomegranite blueberry and apple.  We still don't drink juice a ton, but I don't feel so bad giving it to my kids now with so much less sugar!

4.  SILK PURE ALMOND MILK - LIGHT VANILLA
  I've been seeing this publicized a lot more lately, and I'm so glad because people need to know how good it really is!  I tried it for the first time about a year ago and now my kids BEG for it.  The dark chocolate flavor is really good, but the light vanilla is my favorite. It really does have a silky texture and adds a nice depth of flavor to my "Green Monster" Drinks (spinach smoothies).

5.  BESTLIFE BUTTERY SPRAY
  This is something I waffle back and forth on, but lately I've been back "on". I usually don't spread butter or margarine on my toast, muffins, potatoes, etc. But, when I want just a little buttery flavor I will spray a little of this on and it does the trick. Sure, it's pretty "fake", but when used sparingly, which is easy because of the spray top, it's a good way to cut out a lot of calories! And, the spray top is nice because you don't end up tearing your bread apart like often happens with butter.



WHAT THINGS ARE YOU LOVING RIGHT NOW??

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

MEXICAN BEEF PILEUPS




I had burritos in mind for tonight's dinner until I realized I had cooked rice in the fridge that needed to be used. I remembered seeing this concept somewhere a long while back. If you are familiar with Hawaiian Haystacks, this is pretty much the Mexican style version of that. It's a great way to use up stuff that's hanging out in your fridge and pantry. 
The meat was browned on the stove, then added to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients for a few hours on low. I then turned the setting to "warm" until dinner time rolled around. When my husband was finished he said, "Wow, that was filling!"

MEXICAN BEEF PILEUPS

1 pound ground beef or turkey, cooked & drained
2 cans (16 oz) each refried beans -- (I only used one)
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce -- (may want to use a second can if using 2 cans refried beans)
1/2 C. water
Cooked rice -- about 1 C. per person
Toppings of choice such as: chopped tomato, corn, green onion, chopped peppers, cheese, tortilla strips, caramelized onions, olives, guacamole, sour cream, etc.

Combine first 5 ingredients in greased slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 2 hours, then set to "warm" until ready to serve. 

To assemble, layer on a plate starting with rice, then meat/bean mixture and toppings of choice.