Monday, November 24, 2008

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-Up

I was really looking forward to making this, because how could it not be fantastic? A bacon cheeseburger, all rolled up in a pizza crust? Um, YUM. Unfortunately, this recipe had a major problem. Way, WAY too much Velveeta. WAY. TOO. MUCH. I have nothing against Velveeta cheese, but apparently I do when it comes in large quantities. This would have been much better with less Velveeta, or with another type of cheese.

I made a few changes to the recipe -- added some seasonings, cooked things in a different order, etc. -- so below is my adapted version of this. You could totally roll up any hamburger ingredients you like in the pizza crust -- I think using swiss cheese and adding mushrooms would have been delicious. You could even put pickles or (seeded, patted dry) tomatoes in this. I'll probably make this again, but I'll use a different kind of cheese and play with the ingredients a little bit more.

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-Up
Source: adapted from Kraft Foods

1 pound lean ground beef
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped

Hamburger seasoning blend
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound (8 ounces) Velveeta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
(seriously, if using Velveeta, USE LESS CHEESE)
1 package refrigerated pizza crust

1. Heat oven to 400°. Add bacon to cold skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently. When bacon is about halfway to desired crispness, and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 3 minutes, until onions are tender and bacon is crisp.

2. Add ground beef to skillet. Season with salt, pepper and hamburger seasoning. Cook until no longer pink; drain. Return meat mixture to skillet. Add Velveeta; cook until melted, stirring frequently. Cool 10 minutes.

3. Unroll pizza dough onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Press into a rectangle; top with meat mixture. Roll up, starting at one of the long sides. Rearrange if necessary so roll is seam-side down.

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Apple Chicken Chili

Every year, my company hosts a chili cook-off to benefit the individuals and organizations that we're sponsoring for the holidays. It's always a very big deal, building-wide, and it's so much fun to sample everyone's chili -- and to feel good about stuffing your face, since 100% of the proceeds raised go to support our holiday causes.

This year, I decided to enter a chili in the cook-off, but I didn't just want to make my regular old chili (which is very good!) -- I wanted to do something different. I found a Rachael Ray recipe for apple chicken chili in a recent issue of her magazine, and it sounded good, so I decided to go with that. I made it last night, and saved a small bowl for myself before putting the rest of the batch in the Crock pot.

The chili was good, but tasted like it was missing something. I've had this problem with Rachael Ray recipes before -- they're always pretty decent, but need some...something. So, I added some cinnamon (which works with apples, of course, and also with most Mexican flavors), and that was it. That took this chili from "pretty good" to "wow -- really good." The cook-off starts at 11:00, so I'll update later to let you know how Rachael and I do!

Apple Chicken Chili
Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray, September/October 2008

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
2 apples, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
Two 15-ounce cans pinto or white beans, rinsed
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (about 8 ounces)

1. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

2. In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the apples and onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 6 minutes; add to the chicken.

3. In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour for 1 minute; whisk in the chicken broth and milk until thickened, 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken-apple mixture and beans, bring to a simmer, then stir in the cheese.


Well, I didn't win, but I would have come in fourth -- if prizes were awarded for fourth place, that is. Out of 15 chilies, that's not too bad. One co-worker asked me for the recipe, and the consensus was that this chili was "intriguing." Everyone seemed to like it. And it's the day before the OSU-Michigan game, so OF COURSE the winner was the person who made Jim Tressel's famous chili. So I don't feel so bad about losing out this time!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

Warning: If you are a food "purist," someone who only uses the freshest ingredients and makes everything from scratch, you should probably stop reading this post right now. And if you are one of those people -- I seriously envy you. I wish I could be like you. And sometimes, I am -- but sometimes, I'm not. And I'm not ashamed to admit that.

This recipe was born a few years ago, when I came home to a hungry husband asking me what was for dinner. When I told him we were having chicken fettucine alfredo, he let out a huge sigh and said, "I was really in the mood for something...Mexican." (Mind you, we had only been married a short time at this point, and I was still all about pleasing my man. Rest assured, if he said this to me now, my response would be, "Tough. If that's what you want, you make it." Ahhh, marriage.)

Anyway, I threw together these enchiladas using only what I had on hand in our apartment -- and to tell you the truth, I didn't expect a lot out of them. But much to my surprise, they were absolutely delicious. Joe requests them frequently, but I do not make them frequently since they're not very healthy. But once in a while, when I am feeling particularly frazzled and have cook's block to boot, it's okay to indulge. Like last night. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, this is a good recipe to try.

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas (Or: "The Store Does Most of the Work and I am Not Ashamed of That Fact Because These are Quick and Easy and Most Importantly Delicious So Don't Judge Me" Enchiladas)
Source: Cassie

2 cups diced chicken
Emeril's Southwest Seasoning
Salt and Pepper
1 jar medium-heat salsa con queso
1 can green chiles
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mild salsa
6 8-inch flour tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese blend

1. Season chicken with Emeril's Southwest Seasoning and salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, cook chicken in olive or vegetable oil until no longer pink; set aside in a small bowl.

2. Combine salsa con queso, chiles, milk, and salsa in a separate bowl.

3. Add a small amount of the cheese mixture to the chicken and combine.

4. Place one-sixth of the chicken mixture in each flour tortilla and roll the tortillas. Place tortillas in a greased baking dish, seam side down. Pour the remaining cheese mixture over the filled tortillas, and top with shredded cheese.

5. Cover. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Top with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Buffalo Wing Soup

Earlier this year, a fellow blogger introduced me to Crockpot Lady and her mission to cook something out of her Crock pot every day in 2008. I can't even tell you how many of her recipes I've starred in my Reader to make in the future. She even made cheesecake in her Crock pot. She amazes me.

Anyway, one of the recipes I starred and subsequently printed was her recipe for buffalo wing soup. My husband loves anything and everything buffalo wing-related (especially this dip) so I thought I'd try this soup for him. He's been working awfully hard lately and deserves a meal I knew he'd enjoy.

We both loved this soup. Like, we loved it so much that we inhaled the whole batch, pausing only to wipe our runny noses (because, you know, it's spicy). It was absolutely delicious. I think ranch dressing or cream cheese would have been a nice finish for this soup -- just to cut through the heat with something cool and creamy -- but I didn't have either of those things in the house, so I used sour cream...and that worked just fine. On her blog, Stephanie mentioned that this is quite a bit salty, so I replaced the garlic salt and celery salt with garlic powder and celery seed, and then added only a quarter of a teaspoon of salt -- and that was plenty. I didn't need to adjust the seasonings at all.

I will definitely, without a doubt, be making this soup again. My husband insists!

Buffalo Wing Soup

2 cups cooked and cubed chicken
1/2 yellow onion, chopped (I used red onion)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups fat free or 2% milk (no higher fat content than 2% or it will curdle)
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 ounces Velveeta, cubed
1/2 cup hot wing sauce
1/2 tsp celery salt (I used celery seed)
1/2 tsp garlic salt (I used garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Make a roux with the flour and butter: In the microwave, melt the butter on high for 45 seconds, then whisk in the flour. Set aside.

2. Chop up the onion and celery and add to Crock pot. Add the chicken, chicken broth, milk, Velveeta, and garlic powder, celery seed and salt. Stir in the flour and butter mixture. Add hot sauce.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4. The soup is done when the celery and onion reach desired tenderness and the flavors have blended. (I cooked ours on low for about 6 hours, and it was perfect.)

Apple Butter Cheesecake

Aside from baklava, cheesecake is my absolute, number one favorite dessert of all time (see previous posts, re: my love of all things cream cheese-related), and when I found this recipe in my massive binder it sounded too delicious not to try. A co-worker sent this recipe to me through e-mail two years ago (literally! the date on the e-mail is April 2006!), and I must have just printed it off and stuffed it in my notebook, where it got lost among the zillions of other recipes I've printed out.

This was my first time making a cheesecake in a water bath. For some reason, water baths always intimidated me, and I avoided making cheesecakes that called for using them -- but in reality they're very simple to construct. You just line your springform pan with foil, put the pan in a roaster, and surround it with hot water halfway up the sides. I was so pleased with the results. The cheesecake stayed so creamy and soft; the texture was absolutely perfect, and I credit the water bath for that.

Apple butter and cheesecake -- who knew they'd be such a perfect marriage? But oh, they are. This cheesecake was phenomenal, and the gingersnap crust was delicious. I would recommend using more gingersnaps than the recipe calls for, though, because when I added in the melted butter it made the mixture too wet -- which made the crust stick to the pan when I sliced the cheesecake. But no one who tried this really cared; they were too busy raving over the wonderful flavor and texture of this dessert. I'm making this again for Thanksgiving; it's a very seasonal (and delicious!) alternative to the pumpkin cheesecake I usually make.

Apple Butter Cheesecake
Source: 1001 Recipes to Send

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed ginger snaps (I would use at least 2 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

For the filling:
2 pounds cream cheese
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
5 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups apple butter (recommended: Musselman's)
3/4 cup butter, melted

1. In a small bowl, combine crushed ginger snaps, sugar, and melted butter. Blend well. Press the crust with a spoon into a 10-inch springform pan. Make sure to cover the bottom and the sides evenly. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, and then let it cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and dry ingredients until smooth. Add sour cream to the mixture. Beat in the eggs. Add apple butter and butter, and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared ginger snap crust.

3. Bake at 350 degrees in a water bath for about 2 hours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Biscuits over Creamed Chicken

Continuing my week of cooking strictly from my newly-organized binder of recipes, last night I made biscuits over creamed chicken. This isn't an internet recipe, but rather one of my mom's recipes, which I found handwritten on a sheet of loose paper, just hanging out with all of the computer-printed recipes.

My brother and I used to eat this all the time when we were kids, and to this day it's one of my absolute favorite comfort meals. It's so quick and easy to throw together. It was perfect for a rainy late-fall evening, and Joe and I devoured every single bit of it!

Biscuits over Creamed Chicken
Source: my mom

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can peas and carrots
1 can creamed corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 refrigerated biscuits, cooked according to package directions

1. Combine chicken, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper, peas and carrots, and creamed corn in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese.

2. Nestle the biscuits in the creamed chicken mixture, or pour the creamed chicken over the biscuits.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I am always printing off recipes I find online. I stuff all of them into a massive notebook that's already way too full of them -- so full that it will barely close. Because this system is so unorganized, most of those recipes go unused because it's too much of a hassle to sort through all of them to find what I'm looking for.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself with a little bit of spare time, and I decided to organize all of these recipes. I bought a huge three-ring binder, sheet protectors, and labeled dividers, and I threw myself into the project. And now, I have a very well-organized place for all of my internet recipes to call home.

To celebrate, all of our meals this week are coming from that binder. They're all internet recipes I printed out ages ago and haven't yet tried. Last night, I made the first one -- and WOW, was it a winner!

I love the combination of spinach and artichokes, and I love cream cheese, and I love pasta, so when I found a recipe for creamy spinach artichoke pasta I immediately started salivating. This pasta was so, so good. I made a few changes to the recipe, and they were good ones: I added one chopped roasted red pepper, as well as some additional hot sauce and some black pepper, and I topped it all with bread crumbs mixed with melted butter before I put it in the oven. Without these things, I think the pasta may have been too bland. I loved the creaminess of this dish. I can't think of one way I could improve upon it. This is our new favorite pasta dish, and I can tell it's going to become a regular in our house. When I told Joe -- a self-professed hater of leftovers -- that we were having the rest of it tonight for dinner, he was actually happy -- and that's a real testament to how good this is!

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta
Source: Recipezaar

12 ounces campanelle pasta (I used rigatoni)
1 (12 ounce) package cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (I used an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, which was plenty)
3/4 cup sour cream (increased to 1 cup)
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I eyeballed it, but probably used about a teaspoon)
2 cups shredded swiss cheese
1 (13 3/4 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, halved
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup breadcrumbs, mixed with melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cook pasta according to directions, drain; return to pot; reserve.

3. In large bowl at medium speed beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth; reduce speed to low; add milk, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and hot sauce.

4. Beat until combined, 30 seconds; stir in 1 1/2 cups swiss cheese, artichokes, spinach and roasted red pepper.

5. Pour over pasta; toss to combine.

6. Spoon pasta mixture into a shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining swiss cheese, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

7. Bake until heated through, 30 minutes. If desired, to brown cheese broil 1 minute.