Friday, May 29, 2009

Burger and Fries Friday: BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers

This week's burger is the result of a fierce barbecue craving I've had recently. It was inspired by Bobby Flay's Dallas burger, but it's definitely simpler than his. I've always topped barbecued shredded meat sandwiches with cole slaw (a quirk of my mom's that she passed along to me), and I knew it would be wonderful on this burger -- and it was. Joe and I both absolutely loved these burgers, and just writing about them is making me salivate. They were delicious.

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers
Source: Cassie

1 pound ground chuck
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak or hamburger seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
8 strips of bacon
4 slices of American cheese
Your favorite BBQ sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray's)
Prepared cole slaw
4 sesame hamburger buns, split

1. In a large skillet, fry bacon to desired crispness; set aside to drain on a paper towel.

2. Meanwhile, combine ground chuck, Worchestershire sauce, steak or hamburger seasoning, and salt and pepper; separate into four burgers.

3. Fry burgers in bacon drippings to desired doneness. Brush each burger with BBQ sauce and top with a piece of cheese.

4. Serve burgers on buns, topping them with the bacon and the cole slaw.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken

Am I the only one who thinks that this is one of the best food-related ideas ever? All the deliciousness of a jalapeno popper wrapped up inside a breaded chicken breast? Genius!

This dinner definitely did not disappoint; Joe and I both thought this chicken was a winner. I ended up only using one jalapeno for the filling; I bought two, but as I was chopping the first one some of the juice splashed right up into my eye, and if you've ever had that happen to you you know how NOT FUN it is. I was pretty much done with chopping the jalapenos after that. So this was actually pretty mild, and I missed the extra spice that the second jalapeno would have added. The original recipe doesn't call for it, but I added some bacon to the filling as well, because I prefer my jalapeno poppers with a little bit of bacon. It was a delicious addition to this dish. Plus, I made Joe's potatoes on the side and fried them in the leftover bacon grease, which made them even more delicious. (Did I say this meal was healthy? No, no I did not.)

Regardless of how unhealthy it is, you should definitely try this chicken. It's incredibly, unbelievably good.

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken
Source: adapted from Allrecipes

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
4 strips of bacon, diced
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I used regular bread crumbs and seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

2. Stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, and jalapenos in a small bowl.

3. Cut a pocket horizontally through the thickest side of each chicken breast, and fill with 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Secure with toothpicks.

4. Roll the chicken breasts in bread crumbs to coat. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook chicken breasts until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 8 minutes per side. If your chicken breasts are thick, like mine were, they can be finished in a 350-degree oven.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Announcing Burger and Fries Friday: Surf and Turf Burgers with Spicy Caramelized Onion Mayonnaise

I'm beyond thrilled to announce a new weekly feature here at Cassie Craves: Burger and Fries Friday!

Food-wise, there are few things I enjoy more than a really good burger, and I'm always bookmarking burger recipes that I'd like to try. What better way to ensure that I try some of them than to commit to making a different burger every Friday for...well, for as long as I can? And that's the goal of this whole little idea of mine: to cook a new burger recipe every Friday. Maybe sometimes I'll get creative with the "fries" portion, too, but I'm not promising anything. I think it goes without saying that Joe is definitely on-board with this idea.

For my inaugural Burger and Fries Friday post, here's a burger that looks and sounds fancy but is oh-so-simple to throw together: a surf and turf burger with spicy caramelized onion mayonnaise. This recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens, and it was chosen by my dear husband. A burger with chopped shrimp mixed right in -- what a brilliant idea, huh? Brilliant, and ultimately delicious. We both really liked these burgers and loved the flavor of the caramelized onions in the mayo. The recipe, slightly adapted, is listed below.

Feel free to join in the fun and cook some burgers with me, if you're so inclined! You can even grab that nifty little badge if you want. (I just had to mention it because I made it myself and I'm so proud of it.) (Okay, that's not entirely true; the clip art was free, I just added the text.) (But still, I'm pretty proud of that darn thing.)

Surf and Turf Burgers with Spicy Caramelized Onion Mayonnaise
Source: adapted from
Better Homes and Gardens

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
4 ounces peeled and cooked baby shrimp, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 large rolls, split

Lettuce and sliced tomatoes for serving (optional)

1. To make mayonnaise, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion in hot oil for 7 minutes or until caramelized, stirring occasionally. Season with cayenne pepper. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl; cover and chill. Stir mayonnaise into chilled onion mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve. (This can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Keep covered in refrigerator until ready to serve.)

2. Combine ground beef, shrimp, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; mix well. Shape mixture into 4 patties about 1 inch thick.

3. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Place burger patties in skillet and cook until desired doneness, turning burgers once halfway through grilling.

4. Toast rolls, if desired; serve burgers on rolls. Top with the mayonnaise, and, if desired, lettuce and sliced tomatoes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake with Cream Cheese and Butterfinger Frosting

Do you ever just see the title of a certain recipe and immediately start salivating? That's what happened to me when I saw this cake on Epicurious' list of their Top 30 cakes. This is the first cake I've ever made simply because I HAD TO HAVE IT -- not for someone's birthday or a potluck of some sort. And does this cake ever live up to its name! It is so unbelievably rich and delicious. I made it on Sunday, and Joe and I have single-handedly nearly finished it off. Ah, now I remember: that's why I never make cakes just for us. They're too tempting. Especially this one. There are just no words for it. It is truly a thing of beauty.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake with Cream Cheese and Butterfinger Frosting
Source: Epicurious

For the filling:

2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 pound golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

12 ounces cream cheese (1 1/2 8-ounce packages), room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Butterfinger candy bars, coarsely chopped

1. For filling, bring cream and sugar to simmer in saucepan, whisking to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in peanut butter. Chill uncovered overnight.

2. For cake, preheat oven to 350°. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions.

Divide batter among pans and spread evenly. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes 5 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

3. For frosting, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Whisk whipping cream and 3/4 cup powdered sugar in bowl until mixture holds medium-firm peaks. Fold into cream cheese mixture in 3 additions; chill until firm but spreadable, about 1 hour.

4. For assembly, place 1 cake layer, bottom side up, on 9-inch tart pan bottom. Spread with half of filling. Place another layer, bottom side up, on work surface. Spread with remaining filling; place atop first layer. Top with remaining cake layer, bottom side up.

Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.) Press candy onto top of cake.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

I would like to begin this post by showing you one of my son's most favorite activities ever in the world:

Don't let those innocent eyes fool you. He loves being destructive. He systematically goes through all of the recipe pamphlets and cards I've collected over the years, turning them over and over in his hands as he inspects them, and then he tosses them over his shoulder and moves on to the next one. I can't even tell you how many times I have to clean up this mess every week. I really need to find a new home for that basket of pamphlets.

Over the weekend, after Andrew had moved on to something else, I was picking up the mess when I came across a Betty Crocker magazine I don't even remember buying. It was all about casseroles, and when I started flipping through it I couldn't believe all of the delicious-sounding recipes it contained. As soon as I saw this buffalo chicken potato casserole, I knew I had to make it right away. So Sunday night, that's exactly what I did. And let me assure you that it tasted just as good as it sounds.

So thank you, my messy little boy, for helping me to rediscover this wonderful recipe booklet. I'm definitely going to be making a lot more recipes from it!

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole
Source: Betty Crocker Recipe Card Casseroles Magazine

1 1/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
6 cups frozen southern-style hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (I used ranch)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 10-ounce can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs (I used crumbled Ritz crackers)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 3 medium)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In medium bowl, stir together chicken strips and wing sauce.

3. In large bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup. Spoon into baking dish. Place chicken strips over potato mixture.

4. In small bowl, stir together crumbs and butter. Sprinkle on top of chicken strips.

5. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when center of thickest pieces are cut. Sprinkle with green onions.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sesame Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps

More and more I find myself turning to Better Homes and Gardens for dinner ideas. I get a weekly e-mail from them with loads of delicious-sounding recipes that are simple to prepare and use few ingredients. That's where I found these sesame ginger chicken lettuce wraps. Joe and I both thought the filling was flavorful, and with some fried rice on the side, this was a delicious and simple meal. I made a few additions to the recipe, which are reflected below, but you can click the link to get to the original.

Sesame Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Source: Better Homes and Gardens

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size strips
1/2 cup bottled light Asian-style dressing with sesame and ginger
2 cups shredded carrots
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves separated

1. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir for 3 minutes or until browned.

2. Add 3 tablespoons of the dressing, the carrots, the bell pepper, and the green onions to the skillet; cook and stir for 3 minutes more or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is no longer pink. Stir in red pepper. On a large platter arrange 4 stacks of lettuce leaves. Serve by filling leaves with chicken mixture.

Corned Beef Hash

Last week I was browsing recipe websites, looking for inspiration, when I saw this recipe for corned beef hash on The Food Network's main page. I love corned beef hash in restaurants, but I'd never taken the opportunity to make it at home. This sounded so simple and delicious that I just knew I had to make it for us for breakfast on Saturday morning.

This was such a tasty, filling, comfort-food type of breakfast. I forgot to pick up a bell pepper at the store, so I had to omit that from the recipe, but this was still so good. One of my favorite things in the world is eating an over-easy egg on top of potatoes, breaking the yolk and watching it ooze down through the hashbrowns. Y-U-M!

Corned Beef Hash
Source: adapted from Food Network

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces cooked corned beef, diced
1 white onion, finely chopped
5 golden potatoes, unpeeled, diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the corned beef and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it releases some fat and browns slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the onion and potatoes and cook, undisturbed, until brown and crisp on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Continue cooking, turning the hash as it browns evenly, about 15 more minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the eggs sunny-side up or over easy; season with salt and pepper.

3. Sprinkle the cheese over the hash, reduce the heat and let sit until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. To serve, top each portion of hash with a fried egg.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Buffalo Joes

I saw this version of sloppy joes on Deborah's blog earlier this week, and even though I'd just made another version, I knew I had to try these. I absolutely adore all things buffalo, so I just couldn't resist the idea of a sloppy joe that tasted like buffalo wings.

I'm actually in the "I Like Rachael Ray" camp. Sometimes she irritates me, sure, but I don't think anyone can deny that the girl's creative in the kitchen. I watch her shows and I subscribe to her magazine, but I don't think I'd ever actually made one of her recipes. I can't believe that's true, but I'm pretty sure it is.

We really loved this quick and easy dinner. I only used one pound of ground chicken, but I kept the rest of the measurements the same to make a saucier sloppy joe. Neither of us cares much for blue cheese, so we topped these the same way we do our favorite buffalo chicken sandwich: with tomato, lettuce, and ranch dressing. This one is definitely a keeper. Yum-o! (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

Buffalo Joes
Source: seen on Taste and Tell and adapted from Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
4 good quality burger rolls, split and toasted

1. Heat a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and break it up with wooden spoon. Cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add in carrots, celery, onions and garlic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook 7 to 8 minutes more.

2. In a bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer a few minutes more. Pile filling onto buns and serve with desired toppings.

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies

Believe it or not, I found this recipe on the back of the cardboard insert of a Wilton cookie sheet I was using for the first time. I was in the mood for some cookies, and I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I thought I'd give them a try. I'm a huge fan of anything lemon-flavored, and I was intrigued by the lemon-white chocolate combination, which I don't think I'd ever had before.

I couldn't believe how good these little cookies were! They tasted exactly like lemon cake, so they were right up my alley. Joe even liked these, and he's not a huge fan of lemon (he had a bad experience with a something called "lemonade pie" a few years ago) (and no, it wasn't made by me!). These cookies are light and flavorful and just all-around delicious. They taste like summertime. I'm so glad I noticed the recipe before I threw that cardboard insert away!

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cookies
Source: Wilton

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well.

3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture; mix well. Stir in white chocolate chips and lemon zest.

4. Drop by tablespoonfuls or cookie scoop onto ungreased (Wilton!) cookie pan. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown. Cool 3 minutes in pan; remove and cool completely on cooling rack.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wonderful Pickles

My son turned one year old on Mother's Day, and on the Saturday before we had a party for him. It was largely a potluck-style type of thing, with our friends and family bringing most of the dishes besides the hamburgers and hot dogs, which turned out to be a good thing because I was suffering from a terrible cold and didn't feel like cooking a whole lot. I did make a couple of things myself, though, like my mom's potato salad, which is always requested, and these wonderful pickles.

My little Hungarian grandma has been making this cucumber salad for years. When I called to ask for the recipe, describing the dish to her so she'd know exactly which one I was talking about (she uses cucumbers in another dish with dill and sour cream), she said, "Oh, you mean wonderful pickles." I had no idea that's what she called this salad, but apparently it's what her mother and her mother's mother always called it, so I feel obliged to call it the same thing. This dish has been in our family for generations, and the recipe may be old, but it's still amazingly good. It's perfect for summer, and it was one of the first things to be finished at Andrew's party!

Wonderful Pickles
Source: my grandma

2 cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar

7 cups thinly-sliced cucumber (peels on)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced (red or white onion works)
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

Combine sugar and vinegar in a large bowl, stirring occasionally until sugar has almost completely dissovled. Add salad ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to set.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Taco Joes

When Jessie first shared this recipe with me, I thought these taco joes sounded like a quick and delicious dinner that I knew I had to try. But I was still blown away by how good these actually were when I finally got around to making them. This recipe calls for so few ingredients, but those ingredients come together to make a truly fantastic twist on sloppy joes. I halved the recipe, but I wish I wouldn't have. I could have eaten this all week long and been very happy about it.

We topped ours with shredded Monterey Jack and avocado, and I combined sour cream with some chopped cilantro and used that as a spread for the sandwiches (although a little bit of this dressing would have been delicious on them too). This became an instant family favorite, and Joe's already asked me twice to make them again. I highly recommend these for a quick, easy, and delicious weeknight supper. Yum!


A couple of people have asked whether we ate these as sandwiches or in tortillas. I think they'd be good either way, but we ate them as sandwiches, true sloppy joe style. I may try the tortilla thing next time, though; that's a great idea!

Taco Joes
Source: adapted from Foodie with Family

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 of a medium-sized red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
3 ounces tomato paste (half of a small can)
1 packet dry enchilada sauce seasoning mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional taco toppings for serving: avocado, shredded cheese, diced tomato and onion, lettuce, sour cream, etc.

1. Brown the ground beef in a large pot over medium high heat. When almost all of the pink is gone, add the onion.

2. When onion is softenend and the beef is entirely cooked through, stir in water, tomato paste, and enchilada sauce mix. Bring to a boil and lower heat.

3. Simmer until thick, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I have been so excited to cook out of Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. Not only are the photos absolutely stunning, but every single recipe in the entire cookbook sounds amazingly good. I was looking for something to go with these turkey burgers, and sweet potato fries sounded like the perfect accompaniment. Turkey and sweet potatoes, in May! It's a party on a plate.

Flavor-wise, these were absolutely amazing, with a nice balance of sweet and savory. Both of the men in my life (Joe and Andrew) are sweet potato guys, and neither of them could get enough of these. I liked them, too, but the problem I had is that they just weren't crispy enough. I even cooked them about 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for, and they still weren't crispy. They were definitely flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but I wish they would have had more crunch.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Source: Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes.

3. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve hot.

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

I saw Ellie Krieger make these burgers on her Food Network show a couple of years ago, and they sounded like something I'd really enjoy. I completely forgot about them, but I was pleased to find them in her cookbook when I was looking through it recently. I've had it for a while and never cooked from it, but once I rediscovered these turkey burgers I knew I had to make them ASAP.

I made a compound mayonnaise to spread on the burgers, using the leftover roasted red pepper, some chopped flat-leaf parsley, and salt and pepper. Since the burgers themselves were already so healthy, I didn't feel too bad about butter-grilling the buns and spreading them with the mayonnaise. I'm glad I made those concessions, too, because without them I think the burgers might have been a little bland. Mozzarella is such a mild cheese that its flavor doesn't really come through. I'll surely make these again, but next time I may add some parmesan to the meat itself in addition to the mozzarella to give the burgers a little more flavor. I liked these burgers, though, and Joe did too -- and that's saying something, because he's always said that a burger made with turkey is not really a burger.

Stuffed Turkey Burgers
Source: The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger; recipe also found on Food Network's website

1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey breast
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers, divided
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Divide turkey into 4 equal sized rounds. Make 2 equal sized patties out of each round so you have 8 patties total.

2. Sprinkle 4 of the patties with 2 tablespoons each of roasted red peppers and cheese, and top with remaining patties, working the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed. Season with salt and a few grinds of pepper.

3. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos

I have a confession to make: I love, love, love frozen taquitos. I love them. We always have a box in the freezer, and whenever I'm feeling lazy and unmotivated they're one of my go-to meals. I've never made them from scratch, though, because I try to avoid deep-frying as much as possible (it's so messy, and more importantly so unhealthy). When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try these. All the deliciousness of a homemade taquito, without the mess of deep-frying? Sign me up!

These were delicious and turned out nice and crispy, just as they would have had they been fried. They were super easy to make, especially since I made the filling ahead of time. We dipped 'em in this dressing and were both very, very happy.

Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos
Source: Our Best Bites

1/3 cup (3 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (I used garlic powder)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced green onions (I used finely-chopped red onion)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup grated pepperjack cheese
Small corn tortillas
Kosher salt
Cooking spray

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 to 30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

3. Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking.

4. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges, and roll as tightly as you can.

5. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp with golden brown ends.

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that my love of cilantro runs deep. I use it as a garnish for pretty much every South of the Border-ish recipe I make. So when this dressing popped up in my Google Reader, I knew I had to make it as soon as possible.

This is seriously one delicious dressing. We used it as a dip for taquitos, and used the remainder to dress a simple salad of romaine hearts, corn, black beans and avocado. It would also be a great dip for chicken fingers or thick steak fries. The ranch flavor is definitely there, but it doesn't overpower the cilantro and the lime. The original recipe calls for hot sauce, but I bought a green salsa with a medium heat level, which gave it just the right amount of spice. This is my new favorite dressing, without a doubt.

Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing
Source: Our Best Bites

1 1-ounce envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup green salsa

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine. Make several hours ahead of time to allow for thickening.

Monday, May 11, 2009

French Bread Pizzas

The inspiration for this dinner came from Katie. A few weeks ago she posted about the French bread pizzas she made for dinner, and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Joe loves Stouffers French bread pizzas. How could I have never thought about making them at home before? I felt so silly, and I knew I had to make some right away.

I used our favorite pizza toppings -- pepperoni, green pepper, red onion, and mushrooms -- but obviously this dinner has about a million variations. I probably could have gone a little heavier on the toppings, but I'll remember that for next time. This was such a simple, delicious dinner -- one I can see myself turning to frequently in the future. Yum!

French Bread Pizzas
Source: inspired by Katie

1 loaf store-bought French bread
1 cup store-bought marinara sauce
2 cups shredded pizza-blend cheese
1/2 of a green pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
3 button mushrooms, chopped
Italian seasoning to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice French bread in half, then cut each half into three slices (for six pizzas total).

2. Top each slice with marinara sauce, cheese, and toppings. Season each slice with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

3. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

I know it's been a while since I posted, but I have an excellent excuse: I was on vacation last week, and my son turned one year old! I still can't believe it's been a whole year since Andrew was born. He is by far the best thing I've ever cooked up in my entire life!

We ate lots of excellent meals last week, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I thought I'd start with these muffins, which I actually made a few weeks ago and just didn't thrill me enough to post about right away. In theory, these should have been delicious -- chocolate muffins studded with peanut butter chips, does it even get any better than that? Unfortunately, these failed to live up to my expectations. They didn't puff up the way a good muffin should, and they were way too oaty for my tastes. I wasn't crazy about the texture, and I didn't think the chocolate flavor was strong enough. But I thought I'd post about them anyway, since the lack of proper muffin tops issue was probably my fault, and someone out there could probably do some tweaking and make these delicious. I'll tweak from here until forever when it comes to cooking, but I'm too scared to improvise when it comes to baking.

Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip Muffins
Old-Fashioned Bake Sale

1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup peanut butter chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper bake cups.

2. Blend applesauce and oats in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add applesauce mixture; blend well. Stir together flour, cocoa and baking soda. Add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.

3. Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly in pan on wire rack. Serve warm.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Award Time!

The lovely Katie of Katie's Korner has gifted me with a Passionate Blogger Award, and I'm so honored! I love Katie's blog; the recipes she shares are so homey and down-to-earth, not to mention they all sound delicious! So thank you, Katie, my fellow Buckeye, for liking me back!

So here are the rules: Post the logo, write five things I'm passionate about, and pass the award on to five deserving ladies. Since I have a separate personal blog where I share in great detail all the things I'm passionate about on an almost daily basis, I thought I'd share five food-related things I'm passionate about.

1. Cream cheese. I think cream cheese is my favorite ingredient in the entire world. It's not just for cheesecake and bagels in our house. I use it for sauces, as a stuffing for chicken, and as an ingredient in many dips, among other things. And my love for cream cheese frosting? It runs very deep.

2. Bread and butter. I don't think it gets any simpler than that, does it? Ever since I was a little girl eating my grandma's homemade bread, this has been one of my favorite things to eat. Which is probably why my waistline looks the way it does.

3. The peanut butter-chocolate combo. That's a match made in heaven right there. I don't know who first thought of it, but I want to give them a big ol' kiss.

4. Green olives, specifically these. Since the only store that carries them in my area is about 40 miles away, I buy them online by the case. They're the best.

5. Oscar Meyer beef bologna. A bologna sandwich on wheat bread, slathered with yellow mustard, has been my favorite quick meal pretty much ever since I was a kid. I'm an Oscar Meyer weiner, indeed.

I'm passing this award on to:

1. Lisa of Recipe Hunter Lisa. Lisa's such a cool girl, and she shares my food philosophy. Plus, we both have the same goal this year: to cook at least one recipe out of each of our cookbooks. Lisa, we're almost halfway through the year -- how's your project going? I don't know if I'm going to make it!

2. Sara of Sara's Kitchen. Her photography is amazing, she's so sweet, and I love the recipes she chooses.

3. Donna of My Tasty Treasures. She is an amazing cook and an amazing lady. If you don't read her blog, you should really check it out; I guarantee you'll be entertained! And you'll never look at Tyler Florence or a kielbasa the same way again...

4. Debbie of mocha me. Debbie has such an awesome collection of recipes on her blog, and her dogs are adorable!

5. Katy of Food for a Hungry Soul. You need to click over to her blog right now and look at the peach raspberry pie recipe she posted. All of her recipes sound so amazing. She loves home cooking, and I love that she shares her cooking with us!

Thanks again, Katie!

Cheesy Pineapple Corn Bread

This corn bread, which I served with the pineapple chili we had recently, is the first corn bread I've ever made. And to be completely honest, before I made this I wasn't a really big fan of corn bread, simply because all the corn bread I'd ever tasted was so dry. But I'm happy to say that after trying this, I'm a convert.

This is seriously the best corn bread I've ever had. The pineapple keeps it so moist, and its flavor isn't overpowering, but instead is the perfect compliment to the cheese in the bread. This went perfectly with our chili, but it's good on its own, too -- warmed up and spread with some butter for breakfast (which is how I ate it this morning). Seriously, so delicious. I can't say enough good things about it. Find an excuse to make it right now.

Cheesy Pineapple Corn Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softenend
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can cream-style corn
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (I used a cheddar-Jack blend)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.

2. In medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture on low speed just until combined. Stir in corn, drained pineapple, and cheese. Sppon batter into prepared dish.

4. Bake about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cut in squares. Serve warm.

Pineapple Chili

Right now, Ohio is in a "transitional phase" in regards to the weather. It's spring, so it's rainy and humid, but winter is still hanging on a little bit and lending a chill to the air. This chili, which Jessie mentioned in her recent meal planning, is the perfect way to bridge the two seasons. Yes, you're eating chili in the springtime, which seems wrong, but it has pineapple in it. And pineapple screams spring. So it's a nice concession.

Joe and I both absolutely loved this chili. It takes no time at all to come together, and I'm consistenly amazed at how so few ingredients and such a simple recipe can produce something so delicious. I decided to use black beans instead of pinto beans because I prefer them, and because I have to be me, I garnished the chili with some cilantro.

I served this with some amazing corn bread I'll post about soon. This is a delicious lighter alternative to my heavy winter chili. So simple, so affordable, and so good. Thanks so much for sharing this one, Jessie!

Pineapple Chili
Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 pound ground turkey
1 16-ounce jar pineapple salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
Cilantro for garnish, if desired

In a 3-quart saucepan, brown turkey; drain, if necessary. Stir in salsa, beans, tomato sauce, and chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Garnish with pineapple and cilantro, if desired.