Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Cookies

Easter M&M Cookies
Happy Easter weekend!  I have spending the last couple of days getting some treats together to take to our friend's house tomorrow.  First up are some M&M cookies that I first saw at This Gal Cooks.  They looked so festive and since there will be some wee ones at the dinner, I know I can't go wrong with these cookies.

Hop over to see Julie to get the recipe!  I admit I have had a couple just to taste test.  These are delicious - not too sweet and a nice texture.

I'm working on a coconut cake now and some push pops... posts later!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce
I dined alone tonight - the DIY Guy went fishing on the Mississippi today - apparently the walleye are biting and even though it was 35 degrees when they left this morning, that did not stop them. He left at 9 this morning - it is now 8 and he is still not home.... not sure what that means.  Could the fish be biting and he is having the time of his life or is he not leaving until he catches one!  Only time will tell...

So, I had this meal planned for us and at 6 I gave up waiting for him and decided to go full steam ahead.  The chicken was defrosted and I was super excited to try it.  I had seen various variations of this on the web and tweaked up a version that I think is quite tasty.

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Food and Wine


There are some leftovers for John whenever he decides to come back!  Hopefully he was able to provide for the family!



I didn't serve myself a side.... but I think it would go well with a nice, crisp green salad.  What do you think??  or maybe a side of walleye :-)

Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken Serves: 4 Calories: na Prep Time to Table: 35 minutes
Recipe : adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients:
 -1 cup panko crumbs
-1 cup pretzel crumbs
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup honey mustard
-1/3 cup honey
-2 T water
 -1 ½ T red wine vinegar
-S&P
-1 lb boneless chicken breast cut into about 5-6 pieces, pounded to ½” or less -flour

Preparation:
1. Preheat the oven to 400
2. Toast panko crumbs until light brown in a skillet heated over medium heat – be sure to keep an eye on and stir frequently. Place in a bowl
3. In a food processor, pulse the pretzels until you have about ¼” pieces and place in bowl
4. Clean out the food processor and then add oil, mustard, honey, water and vinegar. Combine then add S&P to taste. Place ½ of the sauce in a large shallow bowl.
5. Take chicken pieces and dredge in flour then dip both sides in sauce then place in crumbs.
6. When chicken pieces are coated, add a non-stick cookie sheet in oven for 5 minutes, remove and add chicken pieces and bake for about 20 minutes until chicken is done. About half way through flip pieces over.
7. Chicken is served with the extra sauce. Serve warm or at room temp – not hot.

Notes:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chicken with Lemons, Broccoli and Alfredo Sauce

Chicken with Lemons, Broccoli and Alfredo Sauce
Well, after about 2 weeks of not cooking much due to lots going on, I finally was able to plan some meals this week.  I'm also trying too to stick to a healthier diet and this recipe fit the bill.  Without the rice, each serving is about 295 calories- the rice adds another 200 more.  So for under 500 you can have a complete and pretty filling meal.

Recipe Source:  BH&G 30 Minute Meals


I just love lemons too as it gives it a nice fresh flavor and the broccoli was some of the best we have had lately. The DIY guy also liked it and he went back for seconds...so his calorie count is a little higher :-)  But I don't think is watching as closely as I am!


Chicken and Lemon Broccoli Alfredo Serves: 4 Calories: 295 (w/o rice) Prep Time to Table: 25 minutes
Recipe : BH&G 30 Minute Dinners

 Ingredients:
-4 small boneless chicken breasts
-2 T olive oil
-8 ozs fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced
-1 lemon -a head broccoli cut into florets
-10 oz light alfredo pasta sauce

Preparation:
1. Sprinkle chicken lightly with S&P. In a large skillet add olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the chicken and mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes (2 minutes per side for chicken)
2. Use a zester and peel lemon (2 tsp) then cut lemon in slices. Add broccoli and lemon to skillet then cover and cook about 8 minutes until chicken is done. Stir occasionally.
3. Remove everything from skillet by serving chicken over rice (I used Uncle Bens 90 second rice pilaf) and adding other ingredients on side.
4. Heat the sauce in the skillet and spoon over the chicken

Notes:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dinner Party - Night Out

A couple weeks ago our friends asked us over for a special dinner they were having this past Friday... I wasn't sure what we were having though, I heard some sort of fish.  I was really looking forward to it.... both of them are good cooks!  So in addition to bringing dessert, I made up a fun springy hostess gift.  With Easter around the corner, it seemed appropriate and around these parts, we really need some reminder that it really is spring... may not look it though!

So off we went and walked into their house - and OMGoodness the aroma was amazing.  I still wasn't sure what was on the menu but I knew it was going to be fantastic.  We started out with some apps... MJ makes her own jelly pepper and we had that served over cream cheese... hers is quite good due to the addition of lemon drop peppers - just the right balance of spice and sweetness.

Next we went to the table for our first course.  MJ has some really pretty china, stemware and silverware - she was also going for a spring look!



Another couple brought the first course of salad.  It was wonderful - so fresh with fennel, cucumbers, pears and craisins.  A dressing with poppy seeds was served on the side.


Now to the main event!  A little background on the selection...our friends recently were in San Francisco and had a dish called Cioppino which is considered a San Fran Original dating back to the 1850's (here's the link to the story and recipe).

This is a meal you need to prepare right before eating.  Though the tomato sauce can be made ahead (which was the wonderful aroma I first noticed when we got there).  Below are the ingredients and how some of the fish was prepared.






As each fish is cooked, it is then added to the sauce... and the final result is... drum roll....
{we need a scratch and sniff here!}  And a couple toasted sour dough slices completed the meal.


What a yummy dish... but we did manage to save some room for dessert.  I made my Tiramisu Cream Puffs.


Fun night, great food and company - thanks Dave and MJ!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Club Night

Tuesday night was the book club meeting at my house and with Easter around the corner, it seemed appropriate to set a springy type table (though our first day of spring still had over a foot of snow on the ground and it didn't get above 16!). 

This month's book was Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  It was a good read and based on 2 factual stories that the author weaved together.  The building of the World's Fair in Chicago and a serial killer who lived in Chicago during the time.  Did I like it?  Yes.  Very interesting.






This past week was quite busy for me so I did not make a dessert - gasp - I stopped at our local pizza place called Mr. Pizza for some slices of their cheesecake.  But, ask anyone, they do make the best in town and my friends did not complain!

I did have fun though with the table setting.



I bought 5 different kinds - this one was German Chocolate...


And some festive candy



Book club will be meeting again on May 1st and our new book is:


And yep, I already read it!  Stayed tuned for my review in May

Lastly, so much for the prediction of an early spring!


Calgon take me away!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beer and Bacon Glazed Pecans

Beer and Bacon Glazed Pecans

Well, here I go again... in addition to signing up for the Spiked Challenge using Irish Cream a couple days ago, I also signed up for a challenge where the ingredient was beer.  This challenge is sponsored by Julie @ WhiteLightsOnWednesday and Jenn @ FourMarrsandOneVenus.  Another good ingredient choice!

Get Your Chef On!



I knew from the get-go what recipe I wanted to make.  The DIY Guy went to a work party about 2 months ago and he raved about this recipe...  I mean who wouldn't - it has beer, brown sugar, pecans AND bacon.  I made this batch last week so he could serve them at his pool night.  It was a huge hit and I was asked to pass along the recipe.

Recipe Source:  Co-worker

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 4 slices of bacon diced
  • 1/3 cup Blue Moon beer
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp) 
Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with foil that has been sprayed with PAM.  In a saucepan combine all ingredients except for pecans - let it come to boil and boil for 10 minutes stirring often.  Add in pecans and then spread on cookie sheet.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread onto another piece of foil, let cool and break up pieces if necessary.  Serve at room temperature.

Can I just say by the end of the night, there was not a pecan left!  This is a great snack and hope you will give it a try!


Hop around to see what others have made!

Another snack recipe with nuts you might like - Rosemary Mixed Nuts



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish Cream Flavored Popcorn



Happy St. Patty's day!  A couple weeks ago I signed up to enter a challenge using the ingredient of Irish Cream.  The ingredient could be used in anything but a drink (that would be too easy, right!)  So I decided to experiment with one of my favorite snacks - popcorn - it is no secret if you know me, that I love popcorn... all I have to do is catch a whiff of it and need to have some, even as a meal!   Normally I go for the plain or cheesy kind but occasionally like to mix it up a bit with some sweet.

The challenge is being sponsored by Julie @ ThisGalCooks and Carrie @ FrugalFoodieMama and they run challenges every other month with a different ingredient.   I look forward to seeing what they will choose and this one seemed appropriate for March!


This is an original recipe.  Pop a third cup of kernels and place in a large bowl then add 3/4 cup of lightly salted almonds.  In a separate saucepan add 3 T of butter with 1 T of light corn syrup.  After it melts whisk in 1/3 cup of confectionery sugar until well blended then add 3 T of Bailey's Irish Cream. The mixture was poured over the popcorn/almonds and stirred until well combined.  Place mixture on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and place in a 325 degree oven for about 6 minutes stirring twice.  Remove mixture onto a new sheet of wax paper and let cool.  If needed, break up the pieces after it cools.

I really liked how it turned out - it had a sweet taste with a touch of Irish Cream flavoring.  The DIY Guy also enjoyed it as well.





Would you like to see what other bloggers chose to make? I know I do... be sure to check out the following links.  It will go live starting at midnight 3/18 and run for 3 days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew


 
Slow cooker beef stew
The DIY Guy is in a pool league with 5 other guys - they call themselves Da Guys.  It started quite a few years ago with some guys who lived in the neighborhood and even though everyone moved (some even an hour away), they still get together.  Houses are rotated about once a month and the host prepares a meal, snacks and some tasty beverages.  Last night was John's turn and he (yep him not me) made this beef stew recipe that we have had for over 30 years from our friend Jim.  It is always a hit with the Da Guys and since it is s-t-i-l-l winter in these parts, I'm sure it hit the spot!

Recipe Source:  Jim F


I was out getting a pedicure but when I came back, I was even offered a bowl!  I do like this, and who doesn't like a crockpot meal to come home too!



Whenever The DIY Guy goes to play, I say "bring home the Da Guy"... well, this is it - traveling trophy and bragging rights!


Recipe:

Ingredients:
- 2 lbs beef chuck
-1” cubes
-1/2 c flour
 -1 ½ t salt
-1/2 t pepper
-1 ½ c beef broth
-1 clove minced garlic
-1 bay leaf
-1 t paprika
-4 carrots sliced
 -3 potatoes cubed
-1 onion chopped
-2 stalks celery sliced

 Preparation: Put meat in crockpot. Mix flour, salt and pepper and pour over meat stirring to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours. Stir thoroughly before serving.

Notes: you can mix all but beef broth the night before and just plug in morning and add broth

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Chicken in Peanut Sauce
When we have chicken dishes, I try to rotate in chicken thighs instead of always using boneless chicken.  I know the DIY Guy really appreciates it!  He will eat and enjoy the other but likes the flavor of the dark.  I came across this recipe and was intrigued by the use of cinnamon along with peanuts.  Did I like it?  well, it grew on me...I think next time I would cut the cinnamon in half and maybe spice it up a bit with some asian chili sauce.  

Recipe source:  adapted from BH&G Chicken Dinners 2013


It went well over Uncle Ben's 90 second rice.  If you give it a try, let me know what you think...

Ingredients:
- 1 anaheim pepper, chopped
 -6 bone in chicken thighs
 -1/4 veg oil
-1/2 c chopped onion
-1 garlic clove minced
-1 14.5 diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
-1 cup chicken broth
 -1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
-1 t cinnamon
- cilantro if desired
-hot rice

Preparation:
1. S&P chicken. In large skillet heat veg oil over medium heat. Cook chicken for 8 minutes turning once to brown chicken then remove.
2. Keep 2 T of oil in skillet and then add pepper, onion and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes until onion is soft.
3. Transfer above to a blender, add tomatoes, broth, peanuts and cinnamon. Blend until smooth.
4. Return mixture to skillet and add chicken back in. Bring to boil and then set to simmer, cook chicken uncovered turning once (use thermometer to test for doneness). Serve over rice with sauce.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Giveaway


Good Morning...I am participating in a gift card giveaway hosted by Pamela. I'm a frequent flier myself when it comes to shopping at Michaels. And with spring around the corner, I'm sure there is something we could use or self-gift with :-)
$50.00 Michael's Gift Card


You can buy a lot of scrapbook paper, yarn, washi tape, baking supplies oh how I LOVE this store!  Since I am a baker, its like Baker's Heaven!

Special THANK YOU to my wonderful lovelies for being apart of this fabulous giveaway


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


  a Rafflecopter giveaway





Terms and Conditions of Giveaway
This giveaway is not sponsored by MICHAEL's Stores. You must live in the USA to win giveaway! Make sure you are honest, I will be checking each entry! Winner will have 48 hours to get back to me to claim there prize if not another winner will be picked! This giveaway was made possible by bloggers and shop owners! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Aunt Katie's Cookies

Aunt Katies Cookies
Sorry, its been awhile since I've had a post but I think this is worth the wait!  On Friday night we had some friends over for some apps, pizza and dessert.  I wanted to make something very simple but also very yummy.  So I pulled out my homemade trusty cookbook because I knew I wanted to make these.  I wish I knew the history of this recipe.... it was given to me from my mom who got it from one of her best friends, Mary, back in the 1950's  - I have no idea who Aunt Katie is!  There is just something about the cake texture of these with the frosting that is very addicting.  And honestly, I have not met one person who didn't like these - they are that good!  And speaking of the frosting - you can just use canned vanilla - no fuss!

Recipe source:  Family favorite


These also freeze very well and I actually like them this way too... I wait about 5 minutes after pulling them out.  Warning - it is hard to stop at one!



Ingredients:
- 3 eggs
-1/2 cup milk
-1 t vanilla
-1/2 cup shortening
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 dash salt
-2 t almond extract
-3 cups flour
-1 T baking powder
-I can vanilla frosting

 Preparation: Mix the first 7 ingredients. Then mix the flour and baking powder together and add to the other mixture. Refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 and place about 2T of dough on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. When cool frost with vanilla frosting and use your favorite sprinkles.

Notes: these freeze very well

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cheesy Penne with Broccoli

Cheesy Penne with Broccoli
Here's a dish that might appeal to the Lenten crowd who don't eat meat on Fridays.  I made this on a non-Friday and the first thing The DIY Guy said is "where's the meat?"  Well, I can be happy without meat, not that I don't enjoy it but I also like dishes without it.  I love fresh broccoli and that is why this dish really appealed to me.  The broccoli is dropped in during the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking... how easy it that?  Then drain and it is ready for the cheese sauce.  Since this is a Cooking Light recipe, the sauce was on the lighter side but not light on flavor.

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light


And as with many of my recipes, this one goes from prep to table in about 25 minutes.  I definitely like the quick, easy ones.  You could please your meat-eater and add some pre-cooked chicken.  Maybe next time!


Ingredients:
 - 8 oz mini penne pasta
-1 medium head of broccoli cut into florets
-1 1/3 cup skim milk
-2 T flour
-2 T parmesan cheese
-2 T 1/3 fat cream cheese
-1/2 t salt
-1/2 t pepper
-1/8 t fresh grated nutmeg
-2.5 oz grated white cheddar cheese

Preparation: Cook the pasta and during last 3 minutes place florets to pan then drain and place in a large bowl. Combine the milk and flour in a saucepan until smooth. Then heat over medium heat stirring with a whisk for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and then add the remaining ingredients until smooth. Toss with pasta/broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired

Notes:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie
March Madness is here!  And I'm talking about the weather...  It's that time of year when the snow is melting, the days are getting longer, the weather is starting to warm up then BAM!  We are supposed to get 6-10" of snow tonight and already got 2" today.  Oh well... I'm sure I have many friends who are happy but I'm just ready for spring.  But since the weather is still more winter like, this meal was a good choice after watching the snow fall.  It is very easy to put together, full of veggies and creamy chicken.

Recipe Source:  Adapted from BH&G Chicken Dinners 2013


This is not a dish I grew up with and I don't think I ever made it for the kids but I wish I had - I think they would have liked it.  It's a stick to your rib type meal with great flavor.  I also like that the filling is poured in a baking dish and topped with some flaky puff pastry, seems a little lighter this way.


Keep those boots and car scrapers handy!

 Ingredients:
 - 1 sheet frozen pastry puff, thawed
-1 lb boneless chicken cut into 1” cubes
-1 T Olive oil
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-1/2 cup chopped celery
-1/2 cup chopped carrots
-1/2 clove minced garlic
-1/3 cup flour
-1/4 cup half and half
-1 ½ cups chicken broth
 -1 bay leaf
-1/2 t salt
-1/2 t pepper
-1/4 frozen peas

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry to a 10” square on a floured surface and then cut into 4ths – cover until ready to use. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium and then brown the chicken. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic – cover and cook for about 5-7 until tender, stir occasionally. Stir in the flour and cook/stir for 3 minutes then add the half and half slowly while still stirring. Add the broth, bay leaf, S&P and continue cooking until it becomes thickened and bubbly – then stir for an additional minute. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Spoon mixture in 4 small baking dishes and top with a square of pastry. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until pastry is golden.

Notes:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

United Way Dinner

Fall time at work brings the United Way campaign - and I think most of you would agree the money goes to some good causes.  Besides being able to do a payroll deduction pledge, our work area sponsored a fall bazaar by having a silent auction and other goodies to buy with all the proceeds going to the campaign.

I think it is very cool that I get to work with someone who shares similar interests especially in the areas of food, recipes, dishes, and entertaining; we are like two peas in a pod.   So when Grace came in the morning of the auction, she had a brilliant idea and asked if I would be interested in auctioning off a dinner for four completely prepared and served by us...   Of course I was!   I was glad she asked...

So we quickly put together a menu that we called Autumn Dinner for Four, made a flyer and posted it in the bazaar room.  Later in the day we were thrilled to find out the dinner's highest bid was $200!  Two of our fellow co-workers were the lucky winners.  Finding a time to do the dinner was a little challenging, first it was the holidays, then people on their honeymoon or vacation.  We finally came up with a date - February 28th. 

The dinner was at my house and served in the dining room.  I had fun using all my fancy smanchy dishes and glasses.  I also created a floral arrangement.




Since spring is around the corner (right?), I used packets of seeds as place cards, attached a spring saying on each.




Once our guests arrived, we started with some appetizers... Grace and I divided up the menu - the apps, salad and dessert were mine - Grace did the soup, main entree and wine.


I made stuffed mushrooms


Grace made a very flavorful soup - well actually two in one bowl... Cream of Fennel and Butternut Squash.  I really enjoyed this combination.  The fennel side was topped with toasted anise seeds and the squash with parsley and dabs of sour cream.




Next came the salad course - made with spring greens, red onion, craisins, pears and goat cheese rolled in crushed candied pecans.  Trader Joe's Champagne Pear Vinaigrette dressing was served on the side.



Now the main event - Honey Dijon Roasted Pork Loin with Cider Cream Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Broccoli with Shallots and Bacon.  Doesn't this look divine?




Lastly it was time for dessert and coffee... a trio of mini desserts - Apple Crisp, Brownie Bites and Lemon Tarts.  Just a couple bites of each to hit the spot!




I think our guests were happy (and quite full!).  We plan to make this a yearly tradition... let the bidding begin!