Monday, November 13, 2017

Sweet Chili Chicken {Instant Pot}


When I served this last week, a teenager at my house said "this is my favorite experience eating chicken." That's a pretty ringing endorsement. And it was deserved - this is a great way to cook chicken - swimming in sauce in the instant pot, then finished off under the broiler to brown and crisp it up. I can imagine all kinds of other sauce options that would work well with this same method. Chicken thighs cook beautifully in the Instant Pot, and the few minutes under the broiler really makes all the difference, texture-wise.


If you want to make this more mild, leave out the crushed red pepper flakes. But even with them in, this was about the right amount of spice for my family - some of whom think ketchup is spicy. Ha!

There are many more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Whisk It, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Sweet Chili Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup of chicken broth
3/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Lightly rub each piece of chicken with the Cajun seasoning. In a measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Add the oil to the Instant Pot and set it for Saute. When it's hot, add the chicken a few pieces at a time and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side to lightly sear. Remove chicken to a plate.

Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pot so the excess brown Cajun seasoning blends in with the broth. Stir in the sweet chili mixture. Stir and bring to a boil. Cancel the saute setting.

Add the chicken back to the pot. Secure the lid and set the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Preheat the broiler on your oven, and then quick release the pressure when it is completed.

Transfer the chicken onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce and the honey. Generously glaze each piece with the sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds over each piece of chicken.

Broil the chicken for about 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and baste with any additional sauce. Serves 4-6.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Pressure Luck Cooking

Monday, November 6, 2017

Miso Meatball and Noodle Soup


It's definitely soup weather. More often than not in this transitional season, I want to eat soup. It's just so comforting, not to mention, it's warm. So I love finding new ways to prepare soup. This summer, I introduced my family to pho on a family vacation and it was a big hit. So I knew I had some room to add soup that was a little more ethnically diverse into the dinner rotation.

This is not truly pho, but it's pretty similar. You start with a great garlic and ginger base, add miso, and wonderful meatballs that are both spicy and sweet. Throw in some soba noodles and you've got a super delicious meal that's just a little different, but not "too" different, if you know what I mean.

You can make this more spicy by throwing in the jalapeno pepper earlier in the process. My family prefers things a little more tame, so those that wanted to used the pepper as a garnish.

You should be able to easily find both miso and sambal oelek in the Asian section of your grocery. I find that sometimes Target doesn't carry miso, but two other large grocery chains in my region do. It comes in a rather large package, but it lasts a while and can be frozen, too. (Need another recipe that calls for miso paste? Try these awesome Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps!)

With soups like this in my arsenal, I'm not scared of the cold weather. Bring it on! (Ok, well, don't bring it on too strong.)


Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Miso Meatball and Noodle Soup

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 cup diagonally sliced green onions, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 (1-in.) pieces ginger, thinly sliced
9 cups chicken stock
6 ounces uncooked soba noodles
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 pound lean ground pork
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 red jalapeno chile, sliced

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup green onions, garlic, and ginger; sauté 6 minutes. Add stock; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook noodles separately according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine honey, sambal oelek, soy sauce and ground pork in a small bowl. Shape pork mixture into small meatballs.

Remove ginger slices from stock mixture; discard. Stir miso into stock mixture and whisk well. Add meatballs to stock; cook 6 minutes or until done. Add noodles. Ladle soup into bowls (I needed to use a fork to get the noodles!) and sprinkle with remaining green onions, mung bean sprouts, and jalapeno chile.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, October 30, 2017

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tart


Well, it has already snowed here in Minnesota. But that won't stop me from posting another fall dessert. I'm back with another creation using pears, the unsung hero of fall fruit. I loved this tart SO MUCH. Frankly, the crust was my favorite part, but the whole thing together was just irresistible.

A sugar cookie crust, topped with cream cheese, pears and crunchy almonds - what is not to love? I even ate this for breakfast one morning as I admitted on Instagram. I didn't even bother to peel the pears for the recipe, although the original did call for peeling. But pear peels are so thin, that it doesn't really make a difference; just adds a lot more work. I'd rather save my energy for other pursuits - like making more pear desserts.


I'm sure pears are still readily available no matter where you live, so keep celebrating fall and make this dessert!

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us.

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Tart

Crust:
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 cups sliced pears (about 4 medium pears)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

For the crust, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour, and mix well. Spread onto the bottom and about an inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch round springform pan.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar until blended. (You can use the same bowl from the crust, no problem!) Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well. Spread evenly over the crust.

For the topping, toss pears with the sugar and cinnamon then arrange the pears on top of the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Loosen the sides from the pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Bake or Break

Monday, October 23, 2017

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta


If you're trying to eat less meat, this is a great dish to help you accomplish that. And even if you're not, this is a great dish. It's hearty and filling and packed full of vegetables. And it's tasty. The marinade from the artichoke hearts gives this pasta a great depth of flavor. Salty Parmesan and the traditional garlic and onions add to the mix for a delicious combination.


We really enjoyed this, kids and adults alike. I hope you will, too!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us.

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

12 ounces small pasta shapes
2 tsp. olive oil
1 - 8 oz. package sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
4 cups baby spinach
1 jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. parsley

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the broth and cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low.

Drain the pasta, then add it to the pot along with the artichokes and half and half. Add in the spinach and sauté until it wilts, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese and the parsley until the cheese is melted. Serves 4.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Caramel Pear Streusel Bars


I really like pears. I think they play second fiddle to apples far too often. I love eating them, but I also like baking with them. They bake up deliciously and other textures and flavors really complement them well.


In these bars, we have a shortbread crust, topped with pears, caramel sauce and then a crunchy streusel. It's the perfect fall dessert!


Find more fall ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2.


Caramel Pear Streusel Bars

Crust:

6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Pear Filling:

4 medium pears, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping

Streusel:

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp. butter, cold and cubed

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving enough overhang on all sides. Lightly coat the foil with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

For the crust: Stir the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake at 300 for 15 minutes.

For the filling: Combine the sliced pears, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the slices are evenly coated.

For the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two forks (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350°F. Evenly layer the pears on top of the warm crust and press them down to fit. Pour the caramel sauce evenly over the pears. Sprinkle with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or overnight). Lift the foil or parchment out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.

Recipe Source: Inspired by Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, October 9, 2017

Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy {Instant Pot!}


My favorite thing about the Instant Pot? It can deliver delicious meals of things that you haven't had a lot of success with otherwise. Case in point, pork chops. (Second case in point - POACHED EGGS! Coming soon...)


Pork chops are really hard to cook well, in my opinion. They dry out easily and no amount of barbecue sauce can make you want to chew forever on them. (Ahem.) But in the Instant Pot? Pork chops come out beautifully tender - you don't even need a knife! - and maintain good moisture. No dry meat here! I particularly love this mushroom gravy - but if you aren't a fan of mushrooms, just leave them out. Mashed potatoes are a must here, too. They soak up all the delicious gravy. This is the perfect autumn comfort food. And this is the way I'll be making pork chops from now on!


I've heard that if you have a "tall trivet" you can even make potatoes in the IP WHILE YOU COOK THE MEAT. Get out! That sounds fantastic. I do love my IP for mashed potatoes (no more potato water all over the stove!), but at the same time? I will have to investigate one of these tall trivets and I will report back. Even if you have to make the potatoes on the stove like I did, still make this. These pork chops will knock your socks off. I can't wait to try different pork chop variations now...


Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

4 boneless Pork Chops, thin/medium cut
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. seasoned salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Season both sides of pork chops well with seasoned salt. Turn InstantPot to Sauté and allow to heat. Add the oil to the cooking pot and when hot, sear both sides of pork chops, one at a time, for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. Add onions and sauté for one minute. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute.

Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth to the pot and scrape up any brown bits that were stuck to the bottom. Add the rest of the broth to the cooking pot. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch, salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine.

Pour in the gravy mixture, add the butter, and stir until butter is melted. Add in the mushrooms and pork chops, along with any juice that accumulated on the plate. Lock the lid and close the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. When finished, allow a 10 minute natural release.
Remove the chops to a serving plate.

Reset the pot and press the Sauté button. Remove 1/2 cup of liquid from the cooking pot and add 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch and whisk really well. Pour into cooking pot and stir to thicken gravy.

Serve pork chops and gravy over potatoes or rice.


Recipe Source: This Old Gal

Monday, October 2, 2017

French Silk Brownie Dessert


I love watching the Great British Baking Show. It is amazing what those home bakers can do and the creations they present to the judges. I always end up feeling a little inadequate. I'm not particularly clever with my "bakes" and I certainly don't do any 3-D sculptures of baked goods. However, then I quickly remember that it doesn't have to be fancy to be delicious. And shortcuts are sometimes just as good as doing it the long way. That is particularly true for this recipe.

You start with a boxed brownie mix, which is fine on its own, but is truly decadent when topped with a french silk layer and additional cream. And there's garnish! Maybe there's hope for me on the Great British Baking Show after all.


Find more inspiration at Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck.

French Silk Brownie Dessert

1 box brownie mix, plus ingredients to make the brownies (usually 2 eggs, vegetable oil and water)
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, plus more for garnish
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
16 ounces (2 – 8 ounce tubs) Cool Whip
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Prepare brownies as box directs, but transfer them to a 11x7 pan for baking. Make sure not to overbake so that the brownies stay fudgy.

For the french silk, melt chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds, then stir, heat for 30 seconds again, then stir well, then heat on 10 second increments, stirring between each, until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes.

Beat cream cheese in a large bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. Add chocolate and mix until combined, then mix in vanilla. Fold in half of the Cool Whip (one 8 ounce container). Spread the chocolate mixture on top of the brownies, then top with second container of Cool Whip. Use a potato peeler or a microplane grater to shave some additional baking chocolate all over the top.

Chill for at least one hour before serving to allow it to set. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Crazy for Crust

Monday, September 25, 2017

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad


This is one of my favorite salads from the grocery deli counter. I don't buy it very often, but enjoy it at potlucks and other events when other people buy it and bring it! So I couldn't have been more thrilled when Lund's and Byerly's released the RECIPE for this salad. I knew from eating it that it wasn't complicated, but I couldn't really place the dressing. Now that I see the recipe, I feel kind of silly. It's so exceedingly simple, that dressing - just prepared poppyseed dressing and mayo!

Although late September is an odd time to be making pasta salad, the 87 degree weather makes it possible - it's just not beef stew time yet, is it? So if you need a simple lunch or dinner, or want to be the envy of everyone at the next potluck - make this salad! It's really delicious.


Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Full Plate, Wonderful Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Friday.

Cherry Chicken Pasta Salad

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
12 ounces small pasta shapes (like gemelli or small shells)
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1 cup dried cherries, cut in half
3/4 cups mayonnaise
3/4 cups Poppy Seed Dressing
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Spring mix or spinach, for serving

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Rinse with cold water; drain.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, pasta, celery, onion and cherries.

In a large measuring cup, combine mayonnaise, poppy seed dressing, salt and pepper.

Fold 1 cup of dressing into salad, reserving the rest. Refrigerate the salad, covered, several hours or overnight.

To serve, add remaining dressing as needed. Serve on a bed of your favorite greens.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Lunds and Byerlys

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

White Chocolate Brownies


After a tumultuous August, I am glad to be back in the kitchen again, trying new recipes. These brownies seemed like the perfect thing to make after several weeks of non-stop work after a crisis. A white chocolate brownie base, drizzled with chocolate - what's not to love?


I especially appreciate recipes that can be made in one bowl; no mixer required. I really liked these after being refrigerated too, maybe just because it was summer, but I liked the texture after they were chilled. Basically, I like these on a train, in the rain, in a car both near and far. I like my white chocolate brownies, Sam I Am.


Find more inspiration at Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us.

White Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup butter
6 oz white chocolate (not candy melts or white chocolate chips)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with aluminium foil leaving an overhang on each side. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl, melt together the butter and white chocolate in short 20 second bursts. Stir the mixture after each 20 second burst.

After both the butter and white chocolate are melted, allow to cool slightly. Then whisk in sugar, vanilla, eggs and salt. Whisk together the mixture until smooth and evenly combined, then carefully fold in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan and bake at 350 for 20-24 minutes, or until the top is set and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan.

Allow the brownies to cool fully in the pan. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the aluminium foil edges. Carefully peel back the sides of the foil, then cut into 12 squares.

In a small bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in short 20 second bursts, stirring between each burst. Drizzle the chocolate over each square.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Just So Tasty

Monday, July 17, 2017

Double Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars


I've had this recipe pinned for a LONG time. I finally had the perfect reason to make these - raspberries that needed to get used up, and a family gathering that called for dessert. These bars are wonderful! A simple shortbread crust is the foundation for two layers of chocolate, with a sprinkling of raspberries. The raspberries add wonderful color and break up the chocolate flavor. These are rich, so you can cut them into small pieces. They also freeze well if you want to save them for another time.

I used espresso chips for the melted chocolate layer - they added a fabulous dimension of flavor. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate chips - I think any variety would work well, so use what you have!


Take advantage of summer's great raspberries and make this delicious dessert!

Double Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips (espresso or dark if you like)
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh raspberries, semi crushed

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Mix in brown sugar, flour and salt. Continue mixing until crumbly.

Press 1 3/4 cups of crumb mixture into a well greased 9x13" baking pan. Set remaining crumbs aside. Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk one cup of chocolate chips. Cook at 50% power at 1-minute intervals, stirring between each session. Cook just until melted; do not overcook or the chocolate will seize.

Remove crust from oven and pour chocolate mixture over warm crust.

Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over chocolate layer. Spoon raspberries over crumb mixture and top with mini chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Deliciously Sprinkled

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sausage, and Spinach


We loved the flavors of the Creamy Tuscan Chicken so much that I adapted that recipe to use shrimp, and went searching for more recipes! Then last week, when one kiddo requested "some kind of spaghetti" for that evening's meal, I knew this would be perfect.

Chicken sausage, spinach and sun dried tomatoes swim in a creamy sauce with plenty of spaghetti mixed in. It is amazingly delicious. You could substitute regular Italian sausage for the chicken sausage but I am a huge chicken sausage fan... feel free to use more spinach than it calls for too - that's a great way to get more greens into your (and your family's) diet.


I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did, and will again soon!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Show and Share.


Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sausage, and Spinach

12 oz. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. cooked Italian Chicken sausage links, sliced lengthwise then crosswise into half moons
3 cups (or more) baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook garlic until fragrant, 1 minute. Add sausage, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until sausage is browned and spinach is cooked, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Let thicken until sauce is creamy, then add spaghetti to skillet and toss until fully coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the Parmesan and serve. Makes 4-5 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Delish

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

S'mores Ice Cream Cake


In my opinion, you can never have too many s'more desserts in your repertoire. This is only my third s'mores dessert, but like the other two (cookie bars and brownies), it is amazing, and it only inspires me on to make s'mores cake, cheesecake, ice cream, etc!

This is the perfect summer dessert - refreshing, delicious and impressive!

It is easy to layer up in a loaf pan,


and I loved all the textures at play - crunchy cereal, soft ice cream, squishy marshmallows, velvety chocolate pieces, and then a new discovery - marshmallow bits! They are so fun! (And they're easy to find - right by the marshmallows at my grocery.)


You'll be everyone's biggest fan when you make this ice cream cake this summer!


Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Create Link Inspire, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing.

S'mores Ice Cream Cake

4 cups Honey Graham cereal, crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 - 48 oz. container chocolate ice cream, softened
1 - 6 ounce milk chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks
1 - 8 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup marshmallow bits

Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap so that there is overhang for lifting out the cake later. Spray the plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the crushed cereal and melted butter until well combined. Press 1-1/2 cups of the cereal mixture into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan.

Spread half the softened chocolate ice cream over the cereal layer. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chopped chocolate chunks.

In a large bowl, stir together the mini marshmallows and thawed whipped topping. Spread half over the top of the chocolate chunks layer. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup marshmallow bits.

Repeat the layers with 1-1/2 cups cereal, remaining chocolate ice cream, half of the remaining chocolate chunks and remaining marshmallow whipped topping mixture. Reserve the remaining marshmallow bits for the very top of the cake.

Sprinkle the remaining cereal over the marshmallow whipped topping layer. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks over the cereal and then the remaining marshmallow bits over the chocolate chunks.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place cake in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, lift cake from the pan using the sides of the plastic wrap. Cut into slices with a large sharp knife and serve. Store leftover cake in the freezer. Serves 12.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Baker Mama

Monday, May 22, 2017

Creamy Tuscan Chicken


Short on time but want a restaurant-quality meal on the table tonight? Then I've got you covered. This Creamy Tuscan Chicken is SO easy and SO delicious, and it's ready in a flash! You better put the pasta water on to boil before you start the chicken, otherwise you'll be waiting for the pasta!

Chicken breasts are sauteed and then covered in a creamy sauce dotted with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. The flavor is out of this world. I promise it will win rave reviews from your family, or whomever is lucky enough to eat it. I served it over egg noodles with sauteed green beans, and everyone scarfed it up. Plus, it's a beautiful presentation so would be perfect for guests.

I used some larger chicken breasts for this and then cut them in half lengthwise to get thinner portions that cook more evenly. I have also substituted a pound of large shrimp for the chicken, adding them just at the end (no earlier saute like with chicken) and it is wonderful.

So, chicken or shrimp - noodles or rice (or quinoa!)- whatever your choice, you will love this dish. In fact, I'm making it again tomorrow night. That's the sign of a winner - a weekly repeat.


Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Awesome Life.

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

In a large skillet add I Tbsp. olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet and saute and onions and garlic over medium high heat until onions are soft. Add the half and half, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Oarmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan and heat through for 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta, if you like.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Recipe Critic

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gluten Free Mini Cheesecakes


Don't scroll past this post too quickly - even if you don't eat gluten free, you'll want to know about this wonderful dessert! I don't eat gluten free regularly, but I do regularly have dinner guests, and sometimes those guests are gluten free. It's great to have a few things in your "dessert arsenal" as options when you have guests with special dietary requirements, and it's even better if, like with this recipe, everyone will love it because it's so delicious - gluten free and gluten full both!

Of course, cream cheese is naturally gluten free, so it was just the crust here that needed addressing. Almond flour makes a great crust, and provides some nice texture too. Next time, I may even add a few sliced almonds on top of the crust for additional crunch. (I keep my almond flour in the freezer since I use it infrequently and it stays fresh for a long time.)


I served these cheesecakes two different ways on two occasions; once with a berry sauce and once with fresh berries. And both with whipped cream, of course! (Another great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be halved if you only need 6 desserts...)

So, whether you're gluten free or not, you will enjoy these cheesecakes. I promise!

Find more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, Wow Me, Wow Us.

Gluten Free Mini Cheesecakes

Crust:
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Cheesecake:
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs

For the crust, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest, then stir in the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture between 12 paper- or silicone-lined muffin cups and lightly press down with the back of a spoon or your clean fingers.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes while preparing the filling.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs on low, one at a time, and just until well incorporated.

Fill each liner about 2/3 full with the batter and bake for 10 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes don't jiggle when the pan is tapped. Open the oven door (at least 1 foot wide) and let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the paper liners now, then chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with fresh berries or a berry sauce and whipped cream.

Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Texaserin Baking

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}


I really like cooking chicken thighs, especially in the crock pot or Instant Pot. They don't dry out as easily as chicken breasts, and they pair really well with Asian flavors. I developed this recipe after seeing something similar in a cookbook. This chicken was a huge hit with my family, and it's SO FAST if you have a pressure cooker. If you don't, just use your crock pot, and while it takes longer, dinner will be ready when you are.


If you want to be extra fancy, you can brown the chicken before placing in the crock pot. In the Instant Pot, you would do this right in the pot on the saute setting, before adding the sauce. This will help the pot come to pressure more quickly. Personally, I can't be bothered! But some people prefer browned meat, so that's totally up to you.

We loved this alongside rice and steamed snow peas. Go easy on yourself with this simple and delicious week night dinner!

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Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Place chicken in the crock pot or Instant Pot.

In a 1-or 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine the Thai sweet chili sauce, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken.

For Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

For Instant Pot, set to manual pressure for 7 minutes. When time is up, do a quick pressure release. (Note: time may vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Always check to be sure the meat is done before serving! For this recipe, I've done as little as 6 minutes and as many as 10.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Recipe Source: Inspired by a similar recipe in a Taste of Home Cookbook

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins


I make a lot of muffins at our house, and these have recently been a huge hit. There's no cream cheese center here, but cream cheese is incorporated into the batter to make these the fluffiest muffins you'll eat. I've made these with fresh blueberries and I've also used the frozen 3-berry blend from Costco with great results, and with much acclaim.


Don't be shocked by the relative "lack" of flour here - 2 cups is all you need for two dozen muffins. Make any day of the week special with these delicious muffins! And you can freeze them for easy breakfasts later, too!


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Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries

Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, and mix again until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the muffin batter and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula once or twice. There will be a lot of dry steaks remaining. Add the blueberries. Mix until just combined; the batter will be lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly among 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 14-17 minutes until the tops spring back lightly to the touch.

Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temp or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze these muffins in a large zip top freezer bag, and then thaw in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Makes 24 muffins.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads


Leftover ingredients can be quite a challenge, but sometimes also yield the best new dinners! That was the case here. I had uncooked steak and vegetables from a stir fry earlier in the week, and so I combined them to make this very delicious flatbread. Even the kids (who dislike asparagus usually) gobbled it up! I guess garlicky bread and cheese makes most things edible! Ha!


Like a stir fry, you can vary flatbread (or pizza) ingredients with whatever your leftovers are. Another great way to use up leftovers is in an egg bake or quiche. Get creative!


Even though this dinner was born from leftovers, it is so good that I might plan to buy this combo of ingredients for next time.


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Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads

3 large Na'an breads or flatbreads
2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. garlic seasoning blend
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
8 oz. top sirloin steak
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Season the steak generously with salt and pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat, and when hot, add the steak. Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until it is not quite as done as you prefer (it will cook more in the oven!). Let rest for 5 minutes and then slice.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat and then add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add asparagus and mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms have softened and asparagus is crisp-tender.

Place flatbreads on a baking stone and brush about 1/2 tsp. oil over each. Top with 1/2 cup cheese on each flatbread. Distribute the vegetables evenly among the three. Divide the steak among the flatbreads.

Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Shrimp


Shrimp and pasta is a great combo in my book, as you can tell from the recipes already posted here: Creamy Dilled Shrimp Fettucine, Creamy Shrimp Linguine, Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta, Pasta with Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli, Seafood Lasagna, Shrimp Pad Thai, Shrimp with Orzo.

This is another take on that great combination, this time adding in Cajun spices and flavors. I also added spinach to ramp up the veggie quotient. This was a big hit at my house; feel free to adjust the spices to your family's tastes and tolerance. And it was even better for lunch the next day, so the lucky winner of the leftovers tells me. (Do you "fight" over the leftovers at your house? I love it when the kids would prefer to take leftovers for lunch over sandwiches.)


So, whether you eat this for dinner or lunch, you're sure to enjoy it. Shrimp and veggies in a creamy tomato sauce. It doesn't get much better than that!


Find other great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing, Foodie Friday, Weekend Potluck, Sugar and Spice, Awesome Life.

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

10 ounces small pasta shape
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
12 ounces large cooked shrimp, thawed and tails removed
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red/orange/yellow bell pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained and pureed
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving up to a cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine Cajun seasoning and shrimp in a medium bowl; toss to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, pepper and thyme; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, salt, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove pan from heat; stir in shrimp and pasta. Add more pasta water if needed.

Stir in half-and-half and spinach. Cook 1 minute over medium heat or until thoroughly heated and spinach is mostly wilted.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, March 27, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs


It's March Madness! With the final four coming up, I thought it would be good to present a fun appetizer/game watching snack. These Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are lighter fare than wings, but taste just as good! When you serve them with a drizzle of blue cheese and some celery sticks, they're sure to be gobbled up quickly.

These take a little prep work before you heat them through in the crock pot, but it takes only minutes to form the meatballs and give them a quick baking. Then you can let them bathe in the wing sauce while you prepare additional snacks, shoot some hoops yourself, or take a nap.


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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
3/4 cup Panko
1 egg
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic and onion powder and green onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste; stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs onto a parchment or baking mat-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for 5 minutes, or until all sides are browned.

Place meatballs in a crock pot. Add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Serve immediately, drizzled with blue cheese dressing, if desired.

Recipe Source: Damn Delicious

Monday, March 20, 2017

Swedish Pancakes {with Blackberry Sauce}


I have loved Swedish pancakes ever since I was a kid. And luckily, they are so easy to make that even kids could do it! I'm not very talented at making "regular" pancakes; mine are always mis-shapen and inconsistently cooked! But it's easy to be good at Swedish pancakes since you make one at a time in a small skillet, similar to crepes.

They have roughly the same consistency as crepes, too. And they are wonderful topped with a simple fruit sauce. Of course, lingonberries would be the traditional fruit to use but they aren't readily available. So blackberries are a great substitute. You could use raspberries or strawberries or blueberries or any other fruit topping too.

However you choose to top these (regular syrup is also good!), I'm sure you will enjoy them. They're great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


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Swedish Pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup floud
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. almond extract
dash salt

Blackberry Sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

For the blackberry sauce, in a small sauce pan, combine the berries and sugar. (Add about 1 Tbsp. water if using fresh berries.) Cook and stir over medium low heat until the berries start to release their juices, about 3-4 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, lemon juice and 1 tsp. water. Whisk well, the slowly add to the berries, stirring until thickened.

For the pancakes, in a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk and whisk well. Stir in the melted butter, flour, almond extract and salt, just until combined.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, pour in a ladle-full of pancake batter and tip the pan so that the batter covers the bottom of the pan. (Similar to making crepes.) Let cook for about 1 minute or until the pancake starts to release from the pan. Then carefully flip the pancake over and cook on opposite side for another minute. Remove from pan, and repeat until batter is gone.

Serve pancakes by rolling them up and plating them and then spooning blackberry sauce over the top.

Makes 7-8 pancakes.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Creamy White Chicken Chili {Crock pot or Stove top}


Until now, I have never made white chili. And I am not exaggerating when I say that while eating this for the first time, I looked across the table at my family and said "WHY HAVE I NOT MADE THIS BEFORE? THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I'VE EVER EATEN!" I made the same exclamation while eating the leftovers at work the next day, and made the chili again for my work team the next week. And I'm making it again tonight since THE SNOW IS BACK.

This is really, really delicious stuff. White beans, corn, chiles, chicken, the perfect amount of spices. Not only is it SO good, but you can let it cook in your crock pot all day or you can easily whip it up quickly on the stove top after a long day of shoveling. I've made it both ways and it's wonderful either way.


You can garnish this any way you like - I love it with some diced avocados. Other members of my family like a little tomato and cilantro. We don't always use cheese, but that's an option too.

I like to serve this with corn muffins. And be ready, cause everyone will ask for seconds. And then they'll ask how soon they can eat it again...

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Creamy White Chicken Chili

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 - 15 oz cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 - 4 oz cans green chiles
2 - 15 oz can corn, drained
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
small handful fresh cilantro chopped
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup half and half

TOPPINGS:
diced roma tomatoes
diced avocados
dollop of sour cream
minced fresh cilantro
tortilla strips
shredded Monterey jack or Mexican cheese

For the crock pot:

Add chicken breasts to bottom of slow cooker, top with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Top with diced onion, minced garlic, great Northern beans, green chiles, corn, chicken broth and cilantro. Stir.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Remove chicken to a cutting board, shred, then return to slow cooker. Add cream cheese and half and half, stir, then cover and cook on high for 15 minutes, or until chili is creamy and slightly thickened. Stir well and serve with desired toppings.

For the stove top:

Used cooked and chopped chicken, or cook chicken separately, cool and then chop or shred.

In a large Dutch oven, saute onion in a small amount of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder and cayenne and stir to combine.

Add chicken broth, corn, beans, diced chiles and cilantro. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low. Add chicken, cream cheese and half and half and cook over low until slightly thickened. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Recipe Source: The Chunky Chef
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