Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hashbrown Potato and Egg Bake



I used to not be much of a breakfast person, but for the past month or so, I've been wanting good, hearty breakfasts each morning. Some mornings I don't get so lucky, but others, when I'm up early enough, I can whip together something like this yummy casserole. I love it because it fed me breakfast for a few days. It actually holds up pretty well in the fridge...the crunchy top...not so much. I was pleasantly surprised by the cornflake topping. I almost didn't put it on because I wasn't too sure how it would taste. It was actually pretty good! But, I do recommend doubling it. The half cup was not enough to go around the whole casserole. 


On to the recipe...



INGREDIENTS
½ lb bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (½ cup) - I used a yellow onion.
1 bag (30 oz) frozen country-style shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed, patted dry
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese - I used shredded.
9 large eggs
1¼ cups milk - I used whole.
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup cornflake crumbs or panko bread crumbs - I used cornflakes.
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted - I used unsalted butter.

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3 qt) glass baking dish with cooking spray.


2. In 10-inch skillet, cook bacon and onion over medium-high heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp and onion is tender; drain on paper towels.


3. In large bowl, toss bacon mixture, potatoes, and cheeses. Spoon into baking dish. In same bowl, beat eggs, milk, sour cream, salt, mustard, and pepper with fork or wire whisk until well blended. Pour over potato mixture.


4. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. In small bowl, toss cornflake crumbs and butter. (I did this right before the casserole came out.) Sprinkle over casserole. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.


Source: Betty Crocker


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies





This was one of those recipes that I save for our Family & Friends Game Night. Mainly because I want to try out the recipe, but I don't want to have it sitting in my house just for me to eat. I'm not a huge mint chocolate fan. The only thing I really love that's minty and chocolaty are those cute little mints you get after you eat your big meal at some famous Italian restaurant .:wink wink:. or when you go to a fancy hotel and they leave them on your pillow. But, when I saw this recipe had THOSE famous mints, I knew I had to try these. A couple things I learned from making this recipe: Try as I may, I could not get one single batch to come out without the brown edge on every single cookie. I tried different times and different temperatures. So, I'll just have to live with it. Also, these are best served warm...not room temp, with a cold glass of milk. I'm telling you. Mmmm... I will now go and eat another one of these yummy, minty, chocolaty cookies while y'all read the recipe. Enjoy! 


INGREDIENTS
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
½ cup butter or margarine, softened - I used margarine...could this have been my mistake?? 
¼ to ½ tsp mint extract
6 to 8 drops green food color - I used 8, and that still didn't look like enough. 
1 egg
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips - I used these.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks - I used chocolate chips because I had them on hand.


DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color, and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.
2. Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.


Source: Betty Crocker


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Decorated Sugar Cookies



I have been wanting to make royal icing decorated sugar cookies for about a year now. About a week before Valentine's day last year, I tried, and FAILED...badly. The cookies were horrible, and I only decorated one cookie before I gave up. I don't know what happened. So, about a couple months ago I decided to try again. I made some round cookies, and just tried the border and flooding. Did ok, so I thought, hey, I maybe can do this. Then, I took the crazy task of telling a friend that I would LOVE to make some cookies for her daughter's 1st birthday. After I said that, I thought, I can't believe I just offered to do something I don't even know I can...haha! But, I knew I could do it if I just put my mind to it and didn't rush it.

I took my first official attempt at making them about 3 weeks ago. The party was Sunday, so I made the cookie dough Monday night, rolled them out and baked them Tuesday afternoon, did the border Wednesday, flooded them Thursday, and started doing the Z's on Friday. This gave them enough time to harden by Sunday. Believe me, they are far from perfect, but I think they are pretty good for my first try.

The theme was Minnie Mouse, but the pink and white polka dots with black theme. 

This is the dress she got, so that's what I went off of. 

The pink is a little lighter than the picture, but it's adorable. 

I decided on a round cookie, with a pink and white background and a black "Z" because, well, her name starts with a "Z." I also wanted it to be a little sparkly, so I wanted to add black sugar.

My original plan included adding a black border around the outside of the cookie to add a little interest. This is what that looked like:

My hubby said it looked to be too much, and it is maybe. Then I thought, well, this could be perfect as the lil one's special cookie. So, I set it aside just for her, and continued piping Z's. 

Now, don't get me wrong, the decoration has to be cute, but the cookie has to taste good, too, right? I think so, too. I searched everywhere for a good sugar cookie recipe. I tried the Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix in a bag....fail. I did not like them AT ALL. Then, I found this recipe on All Recipes. I loved it! It was the perfect amount of sweet...not too much, because you don't want it to be TOO sweet after all that sugar is loaded on top. This recipe made about 60 3" round cookies.

To get back to the royal icing....
Once again, Annie's Eats comes to the rescue. Her tutorial on how to decorate with royal icing is the best I have seen yet. It helped me tremendously. I also used her royal icing recipe

I did not take pictures of each step I took because, honestly, I didn't know if they were going to turn out. I plan on trying something like these for Valentine's day, and I'll do a step by step with those. 

Let me just say, if I can do these cookies, anyone can! Ok, enough with my corny commentary, on to the recipes! =)

THE BEST ROLLED SUGAR COOKIES (yes, that is the name)
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt


DIRECTIONS 
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). 
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.



ROYAL ICING
INGREDIENTS
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick.  Add a little more liquid and try again.)  Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie.  Let stand so the icing will set.  Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container.  Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl.  If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.  Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.  Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired.  Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid.  Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.

Source: Annie's Eats

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Tamale Casserole



A few months ago, I shared this recipe on Miss Crafty Pants. Realizing I never shared it on my blog, I decided it was time. 


Every once in a while, a recipe exceeds my expectations. This was one of them. I am all about simple and easy, but when simple and easy is SO delicious...makes it even better! Usually, I don't tell Hubby what I'm cooking for dinner, because he's kinda a picky eater. So, when he asked what I was making, I just said "dinner." =) When I put this on the table he said it smelled delicious, and as soon as he took the first bite, he requested that this be put in "the recipe book." Now, if I can get that kind of reaction out of the Hubby, I know it's a good dish. The leftovers are just as good. We have made this numerous times, and will continue to make it. I have made one change in the recipe, though you don't have to. The recipe says to sprinkle the chicken on top. The first time I made it, I found that as it bakes, some of the chicken on top dries out. The next time I made it, I decided to mix the chicken with the cornbread mixture, and it was perfect. That's how I make it now. This dish is so easy to put together, and can be made in about 30 minutes. It's great for those long days when you don't want to cook a big meal. It's even got the veggies in it! A whole meal in this dish. =) It's also a great way to use leftover, cooked chicken. And you wanna know another good thing about this dish...it's from Cooking Light magazine, so it's even healthy for you! How can something that tastes this good be healthy you ask? Just try, I promise you won't be disappointed. 


INGREDIENTS
1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 1/3  cup  fat-free milk
  • ¼  cup  egg substitute
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1  (14 ¾-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1  (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
  • 1  (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
  • 2  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast
  • ½  cup  fat-free sour cream

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine ¼ cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining ¾ cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chunky Cornbread


Cornbread to me is essential for some meals...like....red beans and rice or chili. I decided one time, I wanted to switch it up, and try a different kind of cornbread. Honestly, it was okay. Hubby and I like sweet cornbread, but this just didn't do that for us. I should've known by the list of ingredients. Hehe! Anyways, it was pretty good, just not our thing. If you try it, let me know if you liked it. Enjoy!! 


INGREDIENTS
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal – I used yellow.
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ cup milk
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 can (11 ounces) Mexicorn, drained


DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter and egg.
3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Fold in the Mexicorn. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan and spread evenly.
4. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes or until top of cornbread is golden. Allow to cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes.
5. To serve, gently remove from pan; cut into 12 squares.

Source: Family Circle

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pumpkin Pie



Mmmmm...pumpkin pie. I made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I will NEVER go back to store bought pumpkin pies again. It is too easy and inexpensive not to make it. I can't believe I had not tried this sooner. The smell of it cooking is amazing. I cannot wait for next fall to come around so I can make some more. And of course, that dollop of whipped cream just puts it over the top! Enjoy!!


INGREDIENTS
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can 100% pure pumpkin
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)


DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

2. Pour into pie shell.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving. 





Source: Very Best Baking/Libby's

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

I know I'm posting late...sorry about that. Kiddo comes first! =) Remember the brown rice and black beans I posted Friday? They were the side dish to these awesome Chicken Enchiladas...again from Annie's Eats


I have been wanting to make enchiladas for a very long time. I love Mexican food, but I have never ordered a chicken enchilada. I always get the beef. But, my husband LOVES chicken...I mean L.O.V.E.S. He could eat grilled chicken every day for the rest of his life, and be okay with it. But me, I can't eat it the same way every day. So this was a great way to change it up a bit. Enchiladas are a lot easier that I thought they would be. Though they do take some time, but the homemade enchilada sauce is totally worth the time and all the dishes it dirties. I promise. No use for that canned or bottled stuff anymore. Way too easy not to make. Everything was fine except for one thing...which honestly, if you're not OCD like me, wouldn't matter. I don't know if I didn't warm up the tortillas enough or not but, they were cracking on me. Not when I rolled them up and put them in the pan, but when they came out of the oven the first time, a couple of them had come open on top. Nothing a little enchilada sauce and cheese can't fix. Right? I really hope y'all try this dish out. It is REALLY good. Even lil man loved it. (I cut the spicy stuff in half so he could have some, and it was perfect.) Hubby said to add it to the recipe book. Sounds like a winner in my book. Enjoy!!
(I know the pictures are kinda craptastic, but they were done at night...sorry!)

INGREDIENTS 
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine - I used 1. 
1 tsp. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp.  granulated sugar
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped - I used just a regular, medium sized tomato.
Salt and pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
½ cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

Combine the onion, jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, and cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds.  Mix in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Nestle the chicken into the sauce.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through (160˚ F on an instant-read thermometer), about 12-20 minutes. (Make sure you check for doneness, because my chicken took almost 25 minutes.) Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool.
Strain the sauce through a large mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing down on the onions and tomatoes to extract as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the reserved solids to a large bowl and set aside.  Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion mixture.  Add in ¼ cup of the enchilada sauce, ½ cup of each of the shredded cheeses, and the cilantro.  Stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Oil a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Stack the tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40-60 seconds, until warm and pliable.  Spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla.  Roll up the tortilla around the filling tightly, and place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down.  Repeat with the remaining filling and tortillas.
Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with cooking spray.  Place in the oven, uncovered, for 7 minutes or until the tortillas start to brown slightly.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ F.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven and pour the sauce oven the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is browned.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Source: Annie's Eats


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Friday, January 14, 2011

Brown Rice with Black Beans


My favorite restaurant is Chili's. They have a Margarita Grilled Chicken there. Ever have it? It is just about the only thing I ever get when I go. My favorite part is the black beans and rice under the chicken. YUM YUM! Of course, you know by now that Annie's Eats is one of my favorite blogs. I check it every day. When she posted this recipe, it reminded me so much of that rice and black bean yumminess at Chili's that I HAD to try it. So, the other night...when we made chicken enchiladas, this was our side dish, and we were NOT disappointed. I love the brightness that the cilantro brings to the dish, and the subtle crunch of the corn, and the meatiness of the black beans. It makes SO much, so next time, I will cut it in half because there is only 3 of us. Definitely could feed a bunch. And honestly, this could be a light lunch on its own, or you could throw in some shredded chicken, and call it a dinner. Hope you like it as much as I did! Enjoy!



INGREDIENTS
4 tsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2¼ cups water
1½ cups long-grain brown rice
1 tsp. salt
1-2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed - I used 1.
¾ cup corn kernels (fresh from cob, or frozen and thawed) - I used drained canned corn.
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or big oven-safe pot over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and tender, about 12-14 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken broth and water to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the rice and salt, and cover.  Bake until the rice is tender, 65-70 minutes. (Only took 65 for mine.)

Remove the pot from the oven and uncover.  Fluff the rice with a fork, stir in the beans and corn, and replace the lid.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Mix in the cilantro and black pepper.  Serve.


Source: Annie's Eats

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Broccoli Rice Casserole

Don't you just love a good ole' fashioned recipe. You know...the kind that has been passed down generations. Well, this one was passed down from my grandmother. I just came across it last year, but since then, we've made it numerous times. This dish has made my husband love broccoli again. It's not one of those super-complex-takes-all-day-to-cook kinda dishes. It's one of those so-simple-but-tastes-so-good kinda dishes. I love it. Then, my husband decided to make it even better. One night, I was making it, and he said "Hey, why don't you grill up some chicken, and throw that in there?" And I said, "Why didn't I think of that?" So, I did, and that's how we make it now. YUM YUM!!! Enjoy!!


INGREDIENTS
½ cup chopped onion - I use yellow onion.
4 Tbsp margarine
1 cup uncooked rice - I always use the Boil-in-a-bag rice...never used the regular long grain.
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 (10 ½ oz) can cream of chicken soup
2 pkgs. (10 oz) frozen chopped broccoli, barely cooked & drained
2-3 good sized chicken breasts (about 1 to 1 1/2 lbs), if desired


DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Start cooking chicken however you like, if desired. (I just cook them in a skillet.) Meanwhile, saute onions in margarine. Cook rice according to package directions. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Put in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake at for 25 minutes or until bubbly. 


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oreo Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies


Brownie? Yes. Cream cheese? Yes. Oreos? Yes. All 3 in one deliciousl dessert??? YES YES YES!!! Do these brownies really need an explanation. They taste like a cross between fudge, brownies, and cheesecake to me. They are definitely rich and indulgent, and a small piece goes a LONG way. I promise. If you are a chocolate lover, you will NOT be disappointed by these. And, on the upside, I have been focusing and trying to make my pictures more appetizing when I have the chance and good natural light. What do y'all think of these? ;) Enjoy!!


INGREDIENTS:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk
1½ cups coarsely chopped Oreo cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8×8″ baking pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and sugar.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; whisk together to combine.  Add the eggs to the pan with the butter-sugar mixture and whisk until well blended.  Whisk in the milk.  Transfer the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the Oreo cookie pieces.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
To make the cream cheese mixture, combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well-blended and smooth.   Drop the cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter in dollops.  Use the blade of a knife to gently swirl the cream cheese mixture together with the brownie batter, creating a marble effect.
Bake for about 22-24 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving.
Source: adapted from Annie's Eats and Sugar Plum