Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cuban Quesadillas

I love everything about a Cuban sandwich, and I order them whenever I get a chance at a restaurant. So when I saw this recipe for Cuban Quesadillas, I knew I had to try them.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I thought I would like them, but I didn't realize I would L.O.V.E. them. Seriously, folks. I made the quesadillas FOUR TIMES in 10 days. That's 2/5. And nobody complained - in fact, every time, there were comments about how delicious these were, how they were the best quesadillas ever, etc., etc.

This has everything that is great about a Cuban sandwich and puts it between tortillas - so there's even more meat and cheesy goodness. And don't forget the pickles - they are what "makes" the sandwich.

The amounts below are really just guidelines - if you don't want to use pulled pork, you could sub sliced pork tenderloin or use leftover roast pork, whatever. Use as much ham as you want - I think I used up to 4 slices because it was really thinly sliced. Just pile on that meat and cheese goodness, top with pickles and honey mustard (regular mustard is standard, but I really like the zing that the honey mustard gives these quesadillas!) and griddle 'em up. That's all there is to it.

And we all lived happily ever after.

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday, Favorite Things.

Cuban Quesadillas

8 flour tortillas (or use 4 large burrito tortillas and just fold in half)
1 heaping cup fully cooked shredded pork (or pulled pork)
4-8 slices cooked ham (depending on thickness)
8 "sandwich slices" dill pickles (or just slice regular dills)
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 Tbsp. honey mustard

Heat a grill pan, sandwich press or large skillet. Place 4 tortillas on a flat surface, top each tortilla with 1/4 cup swiss cheese. Divide the pork, pickles and ham evenly between the 4 tortillas, squeeze the mustard on top of the ham. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of mozzarella on each tortilla, then place the 4 remaining tortillas on top.

Cook each quesadilla for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese has melted. Serves 4.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Roasted Vegetable and Bacon Breakfast Bake

I love roasted vegetables and recently decided to try them in a breakfast casserole. It was a great idea! This hearty casserole has potatoes, bacon, vegetables, eggs and cheese - it is super satisfying and delicious. And leftovers are equally good for lunch as for breakfast! This would also make a hearty dinner.

I especially like to have breakfast casseroles when entertaining overnight guests as they can be made ahead of time and just baked in the morning. Do be aware that you'll likely need to bake this one slightly longer if it comes from the fridge - but that's just more time to drink coffee and/or make muffins!

Start the New Year out right with a good, hearty breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

Find more inspiration at Inspiration Monday, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Fabulous, Show and Share, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Hearth and Soul, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Roasted Vegetable and Bacon Breakfast Bake

1/2 lb bacon, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup red pepper, diced
2 cups broccoli, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, divided
12 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
3 cups frozen hash browns

Combine the broccoli, onions and peppers in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over and stir well so that all the vegetables are coated. Transfer to a large baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

In a large skillet cook the bacon on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly and whisk in the half and half and milk. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, and black pepper.

In a greased 9x13 baking dish, layer the potatoes, vegetables, bacon and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through and set.

You may refrigerate the casserole overnight before baking. Adjust the baking time to add 5-10 minutes more. Serves 12.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Chocolate, Caramel and Toffee 7-Layer Bars

You may be thinking about roasted vegetables, winter salads, waking up early to exercise and what not now that it's the New Year. But I'm still thinking about desserts. Specifically, I needed to find a way to use a partial can of sweetened condensed milk that was languishing in the fridge, leftover from some holiday baking.

And it came to me in a lightbulb moment - why not make 7-layer bars using up stuff I have in the cupboard? It was a genius idea if I do say so myself, so I went in search of what I had on-hand that would also taste good together. I think I came up with a winning combination! The 7-layer bar starts with a graham cracker crust and is eventually topped with coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Those are 3 layers. So now you have 4 middle layers that could use some creativity. I chose chocolate chips, caramel bits, toffee bits and peanuts. Peanuts may seem like an odd addition, but personally, I'm not a huge fan of pecans, which is usually what is in 7-layer bars. And I really love how the saltiness of the peanuts offsets the incredible sweetness of all the other ingredients.

So there's my New Year's take on 7-layer bars! I hope it inspires you to come up with a new "treatment" for a great recipe sometime this year!

Find more great ideas at Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday.

Chocolate, Caramel and Toffee 7-Layer Bars

4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup caramel bits
1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup toffee bits
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until evenly coated. Press onto the bottom of a greased 8x8 pan.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the crust in an even layer. Then top with caramel bits, peanuts, toffee bits and coconut. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 for 25-28 minutes or until coconut is golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Place in refrigerator for about 2 hours to help the bars set. Makes 12 bars.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year! What I'm making in 2018!

Each year, as part of the Countdown series, I do a post on what I'll cook this year. And I don't know what happens, but I never seem to make everything from my list. I guess the old adage is true, "so many recipes, so little time."

From my list last year, I did manage to make three things - and two of them hit the "best of" categories this year. I made Creamy Cajun Pasta with Shrimp, Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp (best main dishes!), and the S'mores Ice Cream Cake (best desserts).

Here is what is tempting my taste buds for 2018. Oh boy, looks like I'll be busy!

Cuban Quesadillas

Japanese Pan Noodles

Sheet Pan Breakfast Bake

Brownie Cake with Cookie Butter Frosting

Bailey's Brownies

Cheesecake Creme Brulee Bites {Instant Pot!}

Instant Pot Lasagna

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Most Popular Recipes of 2017

Hooray! It's reader favorites day! I love looking back at which posts got the most attention in 2017 and there are some winning recipes here! Without further ado, here are the most popular posts of 2017 - a great mix of main dishes AND treats! Everything in moderation, right?

Seafood Lasagna

This was our New Year's special dinner in 2017. And it is worthy of a special occasion! Shrimp, scallops, crab, combined with spinach and a cheesy cream sauce with lasagna noodles - I'm practically drooling just thinking about it.

Scandinavian Almond Bars

These have been one of my favorite cookies for a long time, and I finally got around to posting about them! I love making them at Christmastime, but the truth is, they are not particularly Christmas-y, so you can make them anytime. What they are is downright delicious. And addictive.

Eggnog Donuts

These donuts are a super fun way to use eggnog! Besides drinking it of course. I love baking with eggnog, and I loved the result I got with Eggnog Cake, so I knew these donuts would be a winner. They won wave reviews at a holiday brunch. Start planning for next Christmas now!

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad

This is my favorite deli salad from an "upscale" grocer here in my town. So I was thrilled when they published the recipe so I could make it at home. Since posting it, people have commented about how they make it their own, including adding nuts like cashews or pecans.

French Silk Brownies

Isn't fun to doctor up a mix and come up with something extraordinary? That's how I feel about this dessert. It starts with a boxed brownie mix, but you'd never know it once you top it with french silk amazingness. Take this wonderful dessert to your next party and you will be the talk of the town.

Go on over to Sarah's and see more great "countdown" posts!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Crock Pot and Instant Pot Recipes of 2017

More main dishes are on the docket today as we look back on the best recipes made in a crock pot or Instant Pot. I read that the Instant Pot was one of the best selling Christmas gifts this year, and it's no wonder - I have loved everything that I've cooked in it, even if I did have to "practice" a bit to get the timings exactly right. Here are two recipes for the IP and one for the "old" workhorse, the crock pot. (And you have an IP, you can always use the slow cooker function!)

Creamy White Chicken Chili

We loved this chicken chili so much that I made it several times in the weeks following this post. I love that you can make it in the crock pot or on the stove, whatever fits your schedule best!

Sweet Chili Chicken

I love how chicken thighs turn out when cooked in the pressure cooker. And now I like them even better when they're placed under the broiler for a few minutes to really "seal in" the flavors and texture. Now I can use this "method" with all different sauce adaptations - it's a whole new world!

Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

As I mention in the original post, I've never been a huge fan of pork chops because it is so difficult to cook them well. Not anymore! They turn out beautifully in the Instant Pot - and they are tender enough to cut with a fork! If you don't care for mushrooms, just leave them out - this dish will still elicit tons of praise at your dinner table!

Thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for hosting the Countdown!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Countdown to 2018: Best Desserts of 2017

Ooh, how do you narrow it down? It's so hard to have a label like "best." Aren't all desserts really great? But since I am forced to, for this challenge (ahem), I chose the very best from the past year. Luckily, more desserts are included on Sunday in the "most popular" category. Phew!

Again, thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes for hosting the Countdown! And without further ado, here are the best desserts:

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tart

Oh this tart. I even ate it for breakfast one day it was that good. It DOES have fruit. AND cream cheese. So that's breakfast material, right? I loved, loved, loved the crust on this tart. The whole thing is just amazingly scrumptious.

White Chocolate Brownies

I really like finding recipes that are a little different from things I have made before. Don't get me wrong, I love the tried and true, too, but these brownies are just different enough that they will spice up your life in a new way.

S'mores Ice Cream Cake

This fun ice cream cake gave me an excuse to buy those little marshmallow bits. It was all I could do to not pour them directly in my mouth; they are so good - like miniature Lucky Charms marshmallows but just all the same shape and color! Anyway, add those to some grahams cereal, chocolate ice cream and chocolate and you have this impressive and tasty dessert!

Coconut Bundt Cake

Oftentimes, the simplest desserts can be impressive and delicious. This bundt starts with a cake mix and gets doctored up with sour cream, pudding, and plenty of coconut in the cake and in the frosting. It's enough to make you feel like you're in the tropics, even if it is 5 degrees below zero. (That's how cold it is here today, and I'm not even kidding. I guess I need to make this cake again.)

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