Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

I love this recipe. It is so good and rather easy to make.

I first made this recipe because I found it on the back of a tub of Philadelphia Santa Fe Cooking Creme. The recipe can also be found here, Easy Chicken Enchiladas. I usually boil the chicken earlier in the day and shred it, then store it in the fridge until I'm ready to cook the rest of dinner. I also chop the onion and peppers earlier in the day. That way all I have to do is cook when it is close to dinner time.

I've decided to try some variations on this recipe. The second time I made this recipe I added mushrooms to it. I liked the mushrooms, the husband did not...he didn't like the texture. This time when I made the enchiladas, I added green peppers. Very tasty...don't over-cook them in the skillet, leave them crunchy. The peppers add good texture to the enchiladas. And color. The tomatoes and peppers reminded me of it was a festive pre-Christmas meal!

When I add the remaining cooking creme to the top of the enchiladas, I always add extra shredded cheese. I bake them longer than the recipe says so that the outside gets crispier and not soggy.

Did I enjoy it? Yes.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Will I make it again? Absolutely. And I was thinking while making this batch, I wonder what they would taste like with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Hmmmmmmmm...I'll have to try that some time!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


At least once every two weeks, we have this easy bruschetta as our dinner. It is an adaption of a recipe that we tried a few years ago. is the bruschetta recipe:

- diced tomatoes (I use vine rip or roma tomatoes.)
- chopped basil (I used fresh regular basil and lemon basil. The lemon basil adds a brightness to the mix. I've tried it with dried basil and it works but not as well.)
- balsamic vinegar
- salt

Use as much or as little of the above ingredients. Mix it all together. We serve it over sliced sourdough or roasted garlic bread. (Thicker baguette-style bread works best.) Usually we put some spray butter and shredded Mexican or Parmesan cheese on the bread and broil it first. Then serve it with the bruschetta. YUM. 

Total time to make this...less than 15 minutes (if you are a pretty quick chopper and you buy the bread presliced.)

You can make the mix in advance. I like to make it earlier in the day. It gives the ingredients a chance to mix and get all tasty.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Will I make it again? I said, we make this often. You could also use it as an appetizer if you don't want it as a meal. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

I made dessert for my husband's family Christmas this year. I wanted something different than the usual apple pie or other pie. As I perused my Cooking Light magazines, I found this recipe - Cranberry Upside-Down Cake. It looked interesting. And, as I have liked almost every recipe I have ever tried from Cooking Light, I thought "why not?!"

It was fairly easy to make. But I couldn't get the brown sugar and butter to coat the bottom of my cake pan. I did the best I could and it turned out alright in the end.

The cake was on the light side and the cranberry-brown sugar topping was very tasty. The cake looked pretty, too. I put it on one of my Christmas platters. The cake was yellow with the red/brown top.

Did I enjoy it? I did.

Would I recommend it? I would. Especially as a cake to take somewhere. It's different and good.

Will I make it again?  I will. Definitely a few more times for the holidays.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Stars

For Christmas this year, I decided to try some new cookie recipes. I found this recipe, Chocolate Peppermint Stars, while looking through my back issues of Bon Appetit magazine.

The dough was very easy to mix up. However, waiting for the dough to chill...especially between cuttings...was rather time consuming. The baking time is quite long, about 25 minutes per tray of cookies.

Because I started these cookies around 8:00 p.m., I did not decorate them the same night. I stored them in a Ziplock bag until the next day.

For the chocolate drizzle, I used semi-sweet morsels. I microwaved them. But they did not get the thinner consistency that I had hoped for. So I went on the trusty internet and found that if you add vegetable shortening (Crisco) to the chocolate when you microwave it, it will get thinner and easier to drizzle. That's a tip to keep! 

I drizzled, I sprinkled, I drizzled. Then I let them set up. The husband thought the cookies were quite tasty. He said that they weren't an overly sweet cookie and he enjoyed that.

Did I enjoy it? I did as did my husband. (My son did not have any because he does not like chocolate. Weird...I know.)

Would I recommend it? I would. They are time-consuming but worth the effort.

Will I make it again?  I will. Probably next Christmas.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hot Sausage and Pasta in Vodka Sauce

This is a concoction, recipe, that I threw together based on what I had on hand at the time.

I took some hot sausage and baked them at 350 for about 30 minutes. Then slice it. I sauteed sliced mushrooms (buttons or portobellos) in some extra virgin olive oil. I then added the sausage and a jar of vodka sauce. Throw in some cooked penne or ziti and fresh basil. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, we both did. I really like vodka sauce. It is kind of sweet and creamy. 
Not as bite-y as marinara or tomato sauce. The hot sausage adds a zing and the basil adds that bit of freshness. 

Would I recommend it? I would. It's easy to make, too.

Will I make it again?  Yes, I will.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider and Breaded Pork Chops

I made Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider tonight with breaded pork chops. I found the kale recipe in my Cooking Through the Seasons cookbook by -- you guessed it -- Cooking Light. This recipe was very easy and came out wonderful. I added more bacon than the two slices that the recipe called for. (You can never have too much bacon in my opinion.) The apples added a nice sweetness to the dish along with the cider.

When I had picked the kale recipe, I thought long and hard about what to serve with it. We had already had chicken and steak recently. And fish didn't seem like something that would go well with the kale dish. So, I decided on pork chops. (We use boneless chops.) Usually we grill the pork chops that have been seasoned with either cumin and salt or with this one rub mix that we have. I wanted something different. I decided to bread them.

First, I dredged the chops in flour that was seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, I put them in egg. And I finished them off in a mixture of plain bread crumbs with a cheese seasoning mix that I had on hand. This cheese seasoning mix, according to the ingredient list, contained romano cheese, parsley, garlic salt, basil.    

I cooked the pork chops in a skillet on the stove top in some extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat until they were done. I flipped them a few times. The crust was a nice golden brown and the chops were juicy. I was pleased with them.

Did I enjoy it? Very much so as did my husband and my 3 year old son. My son really liked the apples in the kale. He liked the pork chops too so long as I took off the "brown stuff," the breading. 

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. It was pretty easy and the kale came out quite tasty. The pork chops were tasty, too. However, I thought they needed a bit more husband thought they were great as is. So, I'll have to make it again and see how it goes. 

Will I make it again?  Yes, I will make both of these again. I think I will try to make my own cheese seasoning blend instead of using one from a jar. (The jar was very good but after reading the ingredients, I think a fresh mixture along with Panko would be yummy.)

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grandma's Sugar Cookies

I love making these cookies at Christmas and sometimes at Easter, too. They are so much fun to cut and decorate with my 3 year old son. (I've always enjoyed making these...even before I had kids.) My son liked using the cookie cutters and shaking the sprinkles on. And, of course, he loved eating the cookies!

Here are the ingredients for the cookies:

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup Oleo
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Here are the directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients together until well blended. You can use a stand mixer or a hand mixer or, if you really want to, a spoon. Separate the batter into three balls and lightly flour them. Place them in the bowl and refrigerate over night for the best results. This helps when you roll them out the next day to make cut-outs.

The next day, roll out the dough...not too thin...and use cookie cutters or whatever you want. Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

Here are two options for decorating:

(1) Using a pastry brush, put some milk on the cookies and sprinkle with sugar prior to baking. When they come out of the oven, you are done. No more decorating needed. This is nice if you do not have the time to decorate with icing and sprinkles.

(2) Make a simple icing - powdered sugar and water, mix until it is a nice thick but spreadable consistency. Spread on cookies after they have cooled from the oven. Sprinkle with your favorite toppings before the icing dries. I like jimmies, colored sugar, the little multicolored balls. Whatever you find!

Did I enjoy it? Yes. They are traditional sugar cookies and a recipe that has stood the test of time. This was my great-grandmother's recipe.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Especially if you have kids who like to help you bake.

Will I make it again?  Yes, I will. Definitely next Christmas when I should have two helpers in the kitchen. Possibly at Easter, too. We'll have to see. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pepperoni Rolls

These are my favorite breads to make at the holidays, and any time really. So easy and you can freeze the finished rolls for future enjoyment.

Take Rhodes frozen bread dough (thawed), roll it out on some flour. Roll it out so it is a bit flatter and rectangular. (I usually lay the loaf in front of me horizontally, then roll it out from me.) I do not go long-ways. Only roll the width of the roll. It will stretch when you roll it up at the end. If you do not want one big loaf of pepperoni bread, you can divide a loaf of dough into thirds or fourths and make mini rolls. These are nice for lunches.

Brush the dough with melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle with a light layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Then put on as many pepperoni slices as you want.

Here is the big tip!!!! Microwave the pepperoni slices on a few paper towels first. Microwave for about 45-55 seconds, depending on your microwave. Experiment with different times. You don't want it to be too dry. You will be surprised by how much grease comes out of the pepperoni.  This is an important step, don't skip it. You don't want your pepperoni roll filled with grease that dribbles down your chin when you eat it. YUCK!

Anyway, layer the pepperoni...don't be shy with it. Use a lot. Then cover generously with more shredded mozzarella cheese. (In the past, I have also added sliced jalapeno peppers. If you like it spicy, it is a nice touch.) Roll the dough and tuck in the sides. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. (They may stick a little bit in a spot or two but when I used cooking spray, the bottom of the roll got soggy. So don't grease the sheet!) If you have a large cookie sheet, you can fit two rolls on it at a time.

To raise the bread, I heat a small pan of water in the oven to about 350. Then, turn the oven off and put the tray of pepperoni rolls in the oven and let them rise. When they are big enough to your liking, bake the rolls - without the pan of water in the oven - for 30 minutes at 350.

When the rolls come out of the oven, rub some butter over the tops. This helps the tops stay softer and not get hard. Place on a rack to cool.

Once they are cool, slice, serve, and enjoy.

OR....wrap them in cling wrap then foil. You can freeze the rolls like this. When you want one, just take it out of the freeze and thaw. Or microwave or heat in the oven.

Did I enjoy it? YES! I always do. 

Would I recommend it? Yes!!! If you have questions, feel free to contact me.

Will I make it again?  Absolutely!!!!

If you make it, let me know what you think!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Wilted Spinach

Last night, we had New York Strip Steak with Wilted Spinach. I found this side in my Cooking Light magazine (shocking, right?). It was so easy and very quick.

All you do is saute a teaspoon of minced garlic (about 2 cloves) in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add a bag of spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with salt and serve. The spinach was rather tasty and worked well with the steak.

Did I enjoy it? I did and so did Husband.

Would I recommend it? I would. It was quick, easy and tasted good. It took maybe 5 minutes at the very most to cook. 

Will I make it again?  Yes.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dijon Chicken Stew with Potatoes and Kale

Tonight for dinner I made Dijon Chicken Stew. This is another Cooking Light recipe. And another recipe with kale. I really like kale.

The prep work wasn't too bad. I got everything ready before I started cooking. However, I should have looked at the cooking time completely before I started. The recipe says it will cook for about and hour and a half. Normally, this wouldn't be so bad except that I started prepping at 9:00 p.m. Needless to say, this was a late dinner. 

While the leeks and garlic were cooking, it smelled pretty good. I love the smell of cooking onions and leeks and garlic were just as good. When I put the chicken and leek mixture into the broth to simmer, the smell was fantastic. I liked the smell of wine and dijon. Who knew?!?

Did I enjoy it? Yes. The finished product was quite tasty. 

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Will I make it again? Yes, I will. It was a good stew for winter. Hearty but not heavy. Tasty, too. 

If you make it, let me know what you think!