Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
crockpot country chicken stew
citrus chicken fajitas, black beans
pan roasted lemon-thyme chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
easiest ever carbonara, green beans
minestrone soup, mozzarella basil bread
pepperoni pizza with perfect pizza dough, salad
out for a holiday party

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chicken and Corn Empanadas with Chipotle Cream

Chicken Empanadas with Chipotle CreamI adore empanadas.  One of my favorite meals in Rio de Janeiro is going to the empanada stand and picking out a variety of the tasty little pastries.  I cannot get enough of the flaky dough and savory fillings.  I really like to serve empanadas with soup for a quick meal.  Any leftover shredded chicken will work fine in these empanadas.  In fact, I used this leftover taco meat from the freezer for this batch.  One of these days I will stop finking out and actually try my hand at empanada dough.  But the flakiness of the puff pastry works just fine and makes for a quick weeknight meal.
Chicken and Corn Empanadas with Chipotle Cream

1 chicken breast
1 can Rotel
¼ cup water
1 cup frozen corn
½ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed

½ cup sour cream
3 chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon salt

In a small sauce pan, combine the chicken, Rotel and water. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate and shred with two forks. Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the corn.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray. In a bowl, stir together the cooled chicken and cheese. Roll out each puff pastry sheet on a floured surface. Cut 10 six inch circles on each sheet of pastry, you will have 20 circles in total. Spoon ¼ cup of the chicken mixture onto 10 of the circles. Top each with the remaining 10 pastry circles, crimping at the sides to form a seal. Place the empanadas on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Add the sour cream, chipotles and salt in the bowl of a small food processor. Puree until smooth. Serve the chipotle cream with the empanadas.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Cheese and Garlic Drop Biscuits

Cheesy Garlic Drop BiscuitsAfter a hiatus for the holidays, it is once again time for the Secret Recipe Club. This month I received the blog, Beautiful Disasters. As always, I loved going through the blog and reading all the amazing recipes. The recipe for Cheese and Garlic Drop Biscuits really spoke to me.  I have enjoyed biscuit making since I was a kid, though then it was drop biscuits from a package of Bisquick.  These biscuits are so easy because you don't have to fuss with rolling them out, flouring them and cutting them.  Way easy! I did omit the parsley from the recipe because I didn't want to deal with whining from C about green stuff in the biscuits. He didn't mind the red pepper flakes though, so that it at least something...
Cheese and Garlic Drop Biscuits
makes about 8 biscuits

1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup (1/2 stick) cold, grated butter (or you can just chop into very small pieces)
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and garlic powder. Add grated butter, cheese, thyme, parsley, red pepper flakes and mix until fine crumb. Gradually add in milk until well combined, and the dough holds together. Drop dough by about the tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.
Lightly brush the biscuits with melted butter and baked for another 5 minutes.



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Friday, January 25, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Peas

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and PeasMiss F's favorite place to eat after swim lessons is Panera. She is obsessed with there macaroni and cheese. I have been planning to make this Panera recipe from Smells Like Home forever.  I saw the fun addition of bacon and peas from Confections of a Foodie Bride.  It seemed like a perfect chance to merge the recipes.  Miss F loves bacon and peas, so I knew she would adore this recipe.  The sauce is deliciously rich and creamy, so I know it would standalone on its own quite well.  I purchased the cheese from my grocer's deli counter, which is cheaper than buying it prepackaged and you can get the exact amount needed.
Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Peas

1 pound small pasta shells
4 slices bacon
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
2 ½ cups whole milk
4 ounces white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
8 ounces extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, chopped or torn into pieces
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
1 ½ cup frozen peas

In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

While the pasta cooks, cook the bacon in a Dutch oven. Drain the bacon on paper towels and crumble. Remove all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease, add the butter and melt over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the peas and pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. Serve with bacon sprinkled on top.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Corn Bread

Corn BreadSo every New Year's Day, C has sausage, black-eyed peas and corn bread. The only part of this meal that I want any part of is the corn bread. Miss F was sold on the whole meal though, her favorites, beans and sausage, plus corn bread. For Miss F the corn bread is more about having a vehicle to get butter to her, but she enjoyed it nonetheless. I like to add corn, jalapenos and cheese to my corn bread, but C prefers the plain original version. Since this meal was all about him, I stuck with plain corn bread. The best part of making a dish of corn bread is being able to use it a few days later in a stuffing.  It goes fantastically with pork, sage and apples. I am unsure where I originally got this recipe, I have been using it for years.
Corn Bread

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x9 glass baking dish and set aside. Blend all dry ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients until dry ingredients are just moist. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Creamy Tortilla SoupI could eat Tortilla Soup every day and be completely happy. In fact, the day I made this soup I had tortilla soup for lunch at Chick-fil-a (Miss F and I have a shared love of it.) When I pinned this recipe on Pinterest, I was intriqued. Cream cheese in a blender? Well, it totally works. C really enjoyed the soup as well, though next time he wants the tortilla strips to be fried. He was not a fan of the baked tortilla strips, they weren't crunchy enough for his liking. My thinking is that the get soft in the soup anyhow, so why not save the mess of frying the tortillas? Miss F loved this soup so much she went back for seconds AND requested it in her lunchbox the next day. Thanks to That's Some Good Cookin for the inspiration!
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
8 corn tortillas, sliced into strips
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1-3 chipotles in adobo, minced (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock, divided
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with chiles (Rotel)
1 can (15-16 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
½ package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, chopped
¼ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken, half of the tortillas, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, chipotle and tomato paste. Sauté until onion is translucent, stirring as needed, about 2 minutes. Add the 3 cups of the chicken stock, tomatoes (with juice), black beans, and corn to pot. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

Pour the remaining cup of chicken stock into a blender. Add the softened cream cheese and puree until smooth. Pour the broth and cream cheese slurry into the soup pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet in a single layer and spray with cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the strips are crispy; tossing once or twice during baking so that the strips will bake evenly.

Serve the soup topped with cilantro, avocado, cheese and tortilla strips.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Cajun Pork and Peppers Fettuccine Alfredo

Cajun Pork and Peppers Fettuccine AlfredoMy mom prepared Christmas dinner this year and used my friend's recipe for Beef Tenderloin. She didn't have any Tony Chacheres, but she did have homemade cajun seasoning. One of her friend's daughters had given the spice blend as her wedding favor and somehow my mom ended up with several jars. She sent me home with a couple and I knew I wanted to create a recipe incorporating it. I love the combination of cajun spice with pasta, so Cajun Pork and Peppers Fettuccine Alfredo was born. Adjust the cajun seasoning to your particular spice enjoyment level. I used over a tablespoon in the final recipe because I like things hot!
Cajun Pork and Peppers Fettuccine Alfredo

½ pound pork loin, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 pound cooked fettuccine

Dredge the pork in one teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Sauté the pork until brown, transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion and bell pepper for 3 minutes; add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the tomato paste and remaining Cajun seasoning. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Whisk together the cornstarch, broth and half & half. Add the half and half mixture; bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken the sauce. When the cream sauce is to desired consistency, stir in Parmesan, pork and pasta. Serve.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chicken and Biscuits

Chicken and Biscuits 2I had a chicken and biscuits recipe that I liked okay, but C thought it was too soupy, so I was out to find something new. When I saw this recipe on Good Thymes and Good Food, I hoped the pre-baking before adding the biscuits would help the sinking biscuit problem that I usually have. I omitted the parsley from the biscuits and I was greeted at the table with "Is there green stuff in those biscuits?" from C, so I am glad I did. He ate two helpings and Miss F devoured the peas and carrots. So this is my new go to recipe for chicken and biscuits!
Chicken and Biscuits

Fo r the filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ medium onion, minced
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup flour
3 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup heavy cream
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

For the biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup cream
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Stir to coat in butter and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook until potatoes are nearly tender, 5-10 minutes more, stirring and checking often. Add in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 90 seconds. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer until mixture begins to thicken, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper. Slowly add in the heavy cream, then the chicken, peas and parsley. Stir to combine and then pour into a medium-sized baking dish and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the cold butter until butter is the size of peas. Add the cream and milk; stir with a fork until moistened. Add in parsley and Parmesan and stir to combine. Remove the dough to a well-floured work surface and roll out to about ¼-inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. Gather scraps and re-roll, if desired.

Remove the filling from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. (Bake extra biscuits on a sheet pan.) Return pan to the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Lemon Yogurt Loaf

Lemon Yogurt LoafAh lemon bread...it is so delicious. I must admit I am a fan of the lemon bread sold in grocery store bakeries. You know the one, it is bright yellow and full of fake lemon flavor, but I love it nonetheless. This takes the idea behind that bread and makes for a lovely homemade bread that doesn't have the chemically taste of the bakery bread. C was curious about lemon bread when I was making it, but he ended up eating several slices. This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten.
Lemon Yogurt Loaf

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup lemon yogurt
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In 4 cup measure, whisk together yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in the vegetable oil and applesauce into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small pan until sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When cake is done, allow it to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While cake is still warm, pour lemon-sugar mixture over cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Braised Chicken and Artichokes

Braised Chicken and ArtichokesAs soon as I read this recipe from Williams-Sonoma, I knew I would love it. It incorporates all the flavors I love from Artichoke Chicken Pasta with chicken thighs cooked on the stovetop.  This recipe is amazingly easy and makes for a perfect weeknight meal.  The sauce gets deliciously rich.  I may have gone back for a third spoonfull of sauce during dinner.  Miss F devoured an entire chicken thigh.  C questioned the need for parsley, but what does he know?  I used canned artichoke since fresh baby artichokes weren't available.
Braised Chicken and Artichokes

3 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1 shallot, slivered
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
Juice of one lemon
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 can artichokes, drained

Spread the flour on a plate and season well with salt and pepper. Lightly toss the chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and season with salt and pepper.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the garlic and shallot to the pan and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tarragon, parsley and mustard. Add the wine, broth and lemon juice; bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the tomatoes and artichokes.

Return the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes, covering after 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with more lemon juice, as needed. Serve.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

Parmesan Baked Potato Halves Miss F hates potatoes. I cannot comprehend this aversion at all. These potatoes were unique enough for her to actually try them.  They make for the perfect side dish potato.  They are easy to prepare and totally delicious.  The bottom of the potato gets a lovely crunchy layer of parmesan cheese while the top remains light and fluffy, like a good baked potato.  Do make sure to cool the potatoes before serving, they are steaming hot out of the oven. 
I may have burned my tongue not being patient.  Thanks to Favorite Family Recipes via Pinterest for the recipe.
Parmesan Baked Potato Halves

6 small potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and pour into a 9x13 inch pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Generously sprinkle parmesan cheese and garlic powder other seasonings all over the butter. Place potato halves face down on the butter and seasonings. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve.
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon and Tomatoes

Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon and TomatoesThis recipe is amazing. So amazing that C proclaimed it "super yummy" and didn't bother picking out the tomatoes. Miss F slurped every last bit of spaghetti right up, she was equally a fan. I also really enjoyed it, especially the mild heat the red pepper flakes provided to counterbalance the creamy sauce. The best part is that this meal can get on the table in under 20 minutes. Just serve with a green salad and you are set. I always have bacon onhand, so this is going to be a new go to last minute dinner. This recipe was loosely inspired by this recipe for Creamy Bacon Carbonara.
Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon and Tomatoes

3 egg yolks
¼ cup heavy creamy
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ pound bacon, cut into lardons
½ small onion, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes
¼ cup white wine
Fresh diced parsley or dried flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 ounces spaghetti

Whisk together the eggs, cream and Parmesan together in a bowl. In a large non stick pan, fry the bacon until crisp and set aside. Drain all but on tablespoon of the bacon grease; sauté the onion and the tomatoes for 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine; stir in the parsley, salt and the red pepper.

Prepare the spaghetti per package instructions. Drain the pasta and while still warm, add to the onions and tomatoes. Pour cream mixture into the spaghetti, and stir over low heat for one to two minutes. Top with bacon and serve with additional Parmesan.
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

Creamy Lemon Chicken PastaC: "Why does this taste lemony? It's too lemony."
Me: "Because it is lemon chicken pasta."
C: "But why did you add lemon?"

Sigh...at least Miss F liked it. And it even got her to eat all her bell peppers. I am loving that she is starting to try more and more vegetables without struggle. I loved this dish and I knew I would since I created the recipe. My mom brought over more lemons from her tree, they are so huge that one lemon provided 1/4 cup of juice. I still have about 8 more to use, but I guess I won't be using them in any more pastas. Or maybe I will...because he likes this and this just fine.
Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

12 ounces pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook per package instructions.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken, broccoli, bell pepper and onion to the pan and sauté until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Remove the chicken, broccoli, bell pepper and onion to a plate. In a 2 cup measure, whisk together the chicken broth and corn starch. Pour the chicken broth into the pan, add the cream and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 3 minutes and stir in the salt and pepper. Return the chicken, broccoli, bell pepper and onion to the pan. Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Serve.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ranch Pork Chops

Ranch Pork ChopsWhen I saw these pork chops on I Was Born to Cook, I knew they would be perfect for C and Miss F. And for me!  A dish doesn't get any simpler, they are much like Pork Things without all the frying fuss.  I love a dish that I can prep and just throw in the oven.  I made these along with Potatoes Romanoff, so I did bake them at 400 degrees to compensate for the potatoes.  I sure miss having two ovens.  In our last house I had this baby with the griddle on top.  I pretty much leave out my Lodge iron griddle on our current stove because I got so used to having one.  And I really miss the baby oven.  Ah well...lesson learned...our next house best have two ovens.
Ranch Pork Chops

6 boneless pork chops, ½” thick
¼ cup ranch dressing
½ cup bread crumbs
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 10x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Trim pork chops, if necessary. Place dressing in one bowl and bread crumbs mixed with parsley, salt, oregano, cayenne and pepper in another. Coat pork with dressing, followed by bread crumbs, and place into the baking dish.

Bake until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.
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