Thursday, March 31, 2011

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

Sometimes I see a recipe and every single word of the title makes my mouth water. That’s what happened when I spotted these honey lime chicken enchiladas. By the time I made it to the end of the title of the recipe, I was already adding them to our meal plan.

The flavors in these enchiladas are reminiscent of these pulled chicken suiza sandwiches, one of our favorite weeknight meals, so I knew we’d love them. Cooked chicken is marinated with spices in a combination of lime juice and honey, which gives it this great balance of spicy, sweet, and sour. Add in tons of cheese and a creamy, tangy green enchilada sauce, and you’re in for a real treat. These will be repeated in my house quite often!

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from What’s For Dinner Tonight?

6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
8-10 flour tortillas
1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded
16 ounces green enchilada sauce
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix first four ingredients and toss with shredded chicken. Let the mixture marinate for at least 1/2 hour.

3. Pour about 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Fill flour tortillas with chicken and shredded cheese, roll them up and place in bottom of pan, saving about 1 cup of cheese to sprinkle on top of enchiladas.

4. Mix the remaining enchilada sauce with the sour cream and leftover marinade. Pour sauce on top of rolled enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until brown and crispy on top.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crescent Sausage Egg and Cheese Bake

Well, since it seems I’ve been sharing breakfast-y things a lot lately, let’s continue in that vein, shall we? Today’s recipe is another one I think you’ll absolutely love -- we sure did. This recipe only contains five ingredients and it’s ready in well under 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight when you’re craving breakfast for dinner (which is usually once a week in my house).

There’s just something magical about the combination of sausage and cream cheese. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B.) In this recipe, those two ingredients are layered with scrambled eggs and cheese between sheets of crescent rolls. It’s like a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich that you eat with a fork. What’s not to love?

Crescent Sausage Egg and Cheese Bake
slightly adapted from Hurricane Kitchen

2 packages of crescent rolls
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 pound sausage
6 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lay 1 package of the crescent rolls in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish, pinching edges together as needed.

2. Cook sausage in a skillet until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. Drain fat and add cream cheese to sausage, stirring until completely melted.

3. Meanwhile, scramble the eggs in a medium skillet (don’t cook them through completely, since they’ll be finishing in the oven). (Use your favorite method for scrambled eggs; mine is mixing them with salt and pepper, a little bit of milk, and a touch of hot sauce and scrambling them in butter rather than oil.)

4. Layer sausage-cream cheese mixture on top of the crescent rolls in the casserole dish. Top that mixture with scrambled eggs, then sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

5. Roll out the second package of crescent rolls and place on top of the cheese. Cook for 11 to 13 minutes according to directions on the crescent roll package, until crescent rolls are lightly browned.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Maple Sausage and Waffle Breakfast Casserole

I generally tend to shy away from breakfast casseroles that contain eggs in combination with any type of bread product. I’ve tried quite a few of them, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like the resulting texture; it always inevitably tastes soggy to me.

But when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t resist giving this a shot. Waffles, maple sausage, eggs, and cheese, all in one delicious dish? I mean, how could I possibly not try it? And I’m really glad I did, because the waffles in this casserole don’t taste soggy at all. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that they’re toasted before the eggs are added.

I love dishes that manage to be both sweet and savory at once, and this casserole is a perfect example of that. I will admit to using plain old store-brand frozen buttermilk waffles instead of the Eggo waffles called for in the original recipe, and I had absolutely no issues whatsoever. I even took some for lunch the next day, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this tasted even better as leftovers than it did straight out of the oven.

We all loved this so much, I think this has an excellent shot at replacing the breakfast casserole I make every year for Christmas.

Maple Sausage and Waffle Breakfast Casserole

adapted from What’s Cookin’, Chicago?, originally from Cook’s Country

8 frozen waffles
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pound maple sausage
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
6 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Toast waffles in a toaster until browned. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a skillet until no longer pink and drain on paper towels. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

2. In the same skillet, sauté onions and peppers until softened. Transfer to bowl with sausage.

3. Coat an 8 x 8 inch square baking dish with non-stick spray or butter. Arrange 4 waffles in the bottom and sprinkle with half the sausage/vegetable mixture and half the cheese. Repeat layer, with remaining waffles, sausage/vegetable mixture and cheese.

4. Whisk eggs and milk in a bowl with the syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over the waffles layers. Cover with plastic wrap and set a weight on top (like a baking dish holding a couple cans of food). Refrigerate overnight or for at least 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, uncover casserole and bake 45 to 50 minutes until edges are puffy. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 3.28.11

Monday: Ginger pear chicken, steamed broccoli, rice. After I posted about this, I remembered just how good it was, and I had to put it on our menu this week.

Tuesday: Bacon pierogi bake, adapted from this recipe. I’ve made this four or five times now, and it’s always a huge hit. I’m going to post about it soon, promise!

Wednesday: Smothered chicken and rice pilaf

Thursday: Cuban sandwiches and sweet potato fries. I still have pernil in the freezer from the last time I made these sandwiches, so this should be a quick and easy (and incredibly delicious!) dinner for us.

Friday: Chicken bacon ranch pizza

Saturday: Creamy vegetable enchiladas

Sunday: Spring chicken roll-ups and roasted potatoes

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I love all types of breakfast food, but the problem is that I’m not really much of a morning person. The last thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning is make a huge breakfast. So breakfasts around our house usually consist of yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, or frozen waffles. (I’m surely going to food blogger hell for that last thing, right?)

But on one recent weekend I woke up feeling motivated, and I wanted to make something different for breakfast. I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand for these pancakes, so I decided to make us a special breakfast treat.

And what a treat these were! How do I even begin to describe the deliciousness? I could start with the pancakes themselves, which have the perfect amount of cinnamon-y spice and aren’t overly sweet. Or I could start with the toasted pecans, which are pulsed with sweet maple syrup. Or maybe I should start with the yummy vanilla glaze?

Tell you what: Why don’t you just make these this weekend? That would save me a lot of trouble trying to describe how good they are. Seriously, the only thing I would do differently next time is double the recipe.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
from Elly Says Opa!

1 egg
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2/3 cup pecans
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Drop of vanilla

1. Preheat a griddle or pan and grease if necessary. Beat the egg and mix it with the milk, vanilla and brown sugar in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add the butter and mix lightly together with a spatula.

2. Spoon out the batter in equal amounts onto the hot griddle. Cook until you start to see bubbles forming around the edges and a little on the top. Flip the pancakes and finish cooking on the other side.

3. Meanwhile, toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant. Put them in a mini food processor with the maple syrup and pulse until well combined and paste-like (adding more syrup, if you wish).

4. To make the glaze, sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add the vanilla and a little milk until you get the proper consistency.

5. To plate, place a little bit of the pecan-maple paste in between each stacked pancake and drizzle with the glaze. Add more pecans and some powdered sugar on top, if desired.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Ginger Pear Chicken

I have to laugh at this photo, because it is so unbelievably bad. The lighting is horrible, and the picture totally looks like it belongs in one of those cookbooks from the ‘70s or ‘80s. Oh, the perils of winter are numerous for a food blogger. (Yes, I made this back in…December, I think?)

Anyway, regardless of the photo quality: This chicken is good stuff. Unlike a lot of people, I am definitely a fan of fruit in savory dishes, and I loved the combination of pears and chicken in this recipe. The ginger ale adds a wonderful spiciness to the dish, and the brown sugar highlights the sweetness of the pears perfectly. It’s really a great flavor profile.

In addition to being delicious, it’s ready in about 30 minutes and it’s budget-friendly. Both of my boys and my husband really liked this, and I did too, so I’ll definitely make it again. I served this with steamed broccoli and rice pilaf, although next time I’ll definitely serve it over plain white or brown rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

Ginger Pear Chicken
adapted from Taste of Home Cooking School 50th Anniversary Cookbook

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 16-ounce can pear halves in syrup, drained and syrup reserved
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups ginger ale
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste; add to skillet and brown on all sides.

2. Meanwhile, chop pears into bite-size pieces. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups pear syrup, pear pieces, soy sauce, ginger ale, ginger, and brown sugar. Pour into skillet and simmer 20 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, combine corn starch and water and add to skillet; cook over medium heat until sauce is thickened. Serve over cooked rice.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 3.21.11

Monday: Shredded buffalo chicken tacos

Tuesday: I was going to make roasted broccoli alfredo, but after my shopping trip yesterday I picked up a few other things based on what was on sale. So instead of that, we'll be having tri-color pasta with Philadelphia roasted garlic cooking creme, broccoli, and garlic bread

Wednesday: Sweet potato and black bean foil packet tacos (we didn't get to these last week), Mexican sour cream rice

Thursday: Monte Cristo sandwiches and fruit

Friday: Chicken and pineapple quesadillas

Saturday: Chicken cordon bleu soup (I still haven't made this!!)

Sunday: Biscuits with sausage gravy, eggs and hash browns

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Queso Verde Dip

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope you’re wearing green today so you don’t get pinched! In addition to the “wear something green” requirement for St. Patrick’s Day, I wonder if it’s also necessary to post about something green if you’re a food blogger. Just because I don’t want to get a virtual pinch, I’m going to play it safe and share something green with you today. :)

Enter this queso verde dip. That’s right: green cheese dip. It sounds much less appetizing in English, so let’s stick with the Spanish name, shall we? It doesn’t really look all that green, but it does have an entire jar of green salsa in it, so I think it counts.

I made this dip for the Super Bowl (that’s how behind on posting I am!), and it got eaten up in a flash. It’s so delicious and addictive. The salsa verde and poblano pepper add the perfect amount of spice, which is balanced nicely by the cream cheese and tangy sour cream. I didn’t have cilantro on hand, but I wish I had; I think it would have added the perfect finishing touch to the dip. I’ll definitely be making this one for all kinds of festive occasions in the future!

Queso Verde Dip
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-ounce jar green salsa (salsa verde)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut up
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon snipped cilantro
Tortilla chips for serving

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and poblano pepper and cook until tender. Add garlic cloves; cook and stir for 30 seconds.

2. Stir in salsa, cream cheese, sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese, and cumin. Heat to bubbling, then reduce heat.

3. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cauliflower Puree

I may have mentioned once or twice or 1200 times that my oldest son hates cauliflower. He’s a great vegetable eater (even if he doesn’t eat much else these days…) but cauliflower is the one thing I can very rarely get him to touch. However, I am happy to report that when I presented him with this cauliflower puree, he dug right in and ate every single bite. He even asked for (and got) seconds! I think he tried it without hesitation because it looks like mashed potatoes, but even when he asked what it was and I told him, he didn’t stop eating. Success! (Will loved it too, but that’s not saying much because Will loves everything.)

This is definitely my favorite way to prepare cauliflower. This recipe is perfected and simplified from one I posted in the early days of my blog. I love the rich flavor and creamy, velvety texture of this puree. I usually serve it underneath our favorite pork chops, which I think is a wonderful pairing. This is a great alternative to mashed potatoes, and it’s cauliflower-hater approved!

Cauliflower Puree

1 head cauliflower, core removed and cut into florets
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 generous tablespoon sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat chicken broth to boiling. Add cauliflower and simmer until cauliflower is softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

2. Transfer cauliflower to a blender; add butter, sour cream, and 1/4 cup reserved chicken broth. Pulse to combine, adding more liquid as needed to achieve desired texture. Taste for seasoning, and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taco Meatloaf Muffins

I love making meatloaf into muffins. I prefer this method to a traditional meatloaf for a few reasons: 1. It’s faster; 2. Muffins are way cuter than a loaf of meat; 3. It helps with portion control; 4. My boys love the novelty of getting their dinner in muffin form. The last one is a huge deal for us, since I have a toddler who’s becoming ever-so-slightly picky. Anything I can do to make dinner fun for him definitely helps.

He definitely enjoyed these taco meatloaf muffins; we all did. They’re incredibly flavorful, and I loved the idea of using salsa con queso on the top -- genius! If you’re making these for kids, just be sure you use mild versions of everything. I can’t think of a single way these could be improved upon. They work great as leftovers, too -- either between a couple of slices of bread, wrapped up in a tortilla, or chopped up and pressed in a quesadilla. This is definitely yet another yummy meatloaf recipe to add to my arsenal!

P.S. This Mexican sour cream rice is a family favorite and is the perfect side dish.

Taco Meatloaf Muffins
adapted from Lauren’s Kitchen, who got it from Running Mama Cooks

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg
1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
1 cup tortilla chips, crushed
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 tablespoons taco sauce
1/4 cup salsa con queso

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions until tender. Meanwhile, place tortilla chips in a plastic bag and crush until pieces are very small.

3. Mix all ingredients except for the taco and queso sauce until well combined. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Shape meatloaf into 12 balls and place in muffin tin. Brush top of each muffin with taco sauce.

4. Bake for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, place salsa con queso in a microwave bowl and heat until hot. Once meatloaves are finished, drizzle hot queso over the top.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Chocolate Dr. Pepper Cake

Do you know what today is? Yes, it’s Monday. Yes, it’s the first work day after the time change (always a bummer). Yes, it’s Pi Day. But, most importantly, today is my birthday!

I normally always make my own birthday cake. Generally when I tell people that, they look at me sort of sadly, like, “Oh, the poor thing. No one wants to make/buy her a cake!” But that’s not the case at all. I just happen to enjoy making my own cake -- and I never have a shortage of cakes on my list to try.

Very fortuitously, this cake popped up in my Google Reader on Friday -- and the instant I saw it, I knew it was going to be this year’s birthday cake. I am ever so slightly obsessed with Dr. Pepper, and the idea of Dr. Pepper in a chocolate cake just blew me away. Chocolate and Dr. Pepper, my two great loves together in harmony. I couldn’t think of a more perfect cake to make for myself.

Not surprisingly, I absolutely love this cake. It’s incredibly moist, but the carbonation in the Dr. Pepper also makes it light and airy, so it has a really interesting texture. The Dr. Pepper is mixed with melted chocolate before it’s stirred into the batter, so it lends its deep, molasses flavor to every bite of the cake. I did think that the frosting, when tasted on its own, was way too buttery -- but I really liked it when I tasted it on the cake. But you could definitely get away with using less butter in the frosting.

This cake was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday!

Chocolate Dr. Pepper Cake
adapted from The Sisters Café

For the cake:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Dr. Pepper
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup Dr. Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

2. Sift together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. Heat the Dr. Pepper in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

4. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla for 2 minutes. At lowest speed, slowly add the Dr. Pepper mixture and beat for 1 additional minute. Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

6. To make the frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. At low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar and cocoa. Add the Dr. Pepper and vanilla, and turn mixer to high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about one minute. Frost cake and store in the refrigerator.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 3.14.11

Monday: It's my birthday! Since we celebrated this weekend, we'll be staying home. I can't think of very many things I'd rather eat for dinner than this maple sausage and waffle breakfast bake.

Tuesday: Sweet potato and black bean foil packet tacos (I'm leaving out the meat to make this a meatless meal)

Wednesday: Monte Cristo sandwiches, pita chips and fruit

Thursday: It's St. Patrick's Day! We'll be enjoying pork chops with bacon and cabbage and mashed potatoes (and probably a dessert incorporating Irish creme in some that stuff!).

Friday: Honey lime chicken enchiladas

Saturday: Asian meatball subs with hoisin mayonnaise. Yes, they're on the menu yet again.

Sunday: Hawaiian chicken, rice pilaf, steamed broccoli

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lasagna-Stuffed Garlic Bread

I struggled a lot with what to call this recipe. The original title was “Crescent Roll Lasagna” but it’s not technically lasagna. Not that I’m, like, a lasagna snob or something.

It does have all of the elements of lasagna in it, though, minus the noodles. So I decided to call it Lasagna-Stuffed Garlic Bread, because that’s pretty much exactly what it tastes like. So, yeah: As you can probably imagine, it tastes pretty darn good.

Basically, it’s a layer of seasoned ground beef mixed up with some tomato paste, topped with a layer of jazzed-up cream cheese (you could also use ricotta or cottage cheese), topped with tons of mozzarella cheese, all wrapped up in crescent rolls that are doused with Italian-seasoned butter. Needless to say, this was a huuuge hit with everyone in my family, and Joe’s already clamoring for me to make it again. I think this will become a fixture in our house pretty quickly.

Lasagna-Stuffed Garlic Bread
adapted from The Peppered Pantry

1 package crescent dinner rolls
1 pound ground beef
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Unroll crescent rolls onto a greased cookie sheet. Divide into two squares consisting for four rolls each; press edges together and set aside.

3. Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Reduce heat, add tomato paste, and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together cream cheese, parsley, grated parmesan cheese, and a dash of black pepper. Set aside.

5. Spoon meat mixture down the middle of one square of crescent rolls, leaving one inch at each end. Spoon cream cheese mixture over meat and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining square of rolls and pinch edges to seal.

6. Combine melted butter, garlic powder, and remaining 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Brush over the surface.

7. Bake 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Buttercream

It’s been a long week at our house. My littlest man has been sick (again), so no one has been sleeping and everyone is cranky. This is the first time I’ve even looked at my blog all week.

Since I don’t have a lot of energy left to devote to posting, I’m just going to share a recipe that speaks for itself. These chocolate cupcakes are filled with fresh raspberries, topped with chocolate ganache, and frosted with raspberry buttercream. What’s not to love? They’re rich, decadent, and delicious. I made them for a coworker’s birthday, and everyone raved about them.

They do take a while to prepare, so make sure you have a few hours free if you want to make them all at once. But you could definitely do this process in stages if you needed to. And they’re worth every single second it takes to make them!

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Buttercream
cupcakes and buttercream adapted from Baked Perfection; filling and ganache from me

For the cupcakes:

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water (which I now realize I forgot to add…whoops! They turned out fine though.)

For the filling:

2 cups fresh raspberries
1/3 cup sugar

For the chocolate ganache:

1 cup heavy cream
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:

2 sticks butter, softened
6 cups powder sugar
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup reserved mashed raspberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, and water. Pour batter into lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.

2. Meanwhile, combine filling ingredients (raspberries and sugar) in a medium bowl. Gently mash raspberries, leaving some whole. Reserve 2/3 cup for the frosting, and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Make the chocolate ganache: heat 1 cup heavy cream over medium low heat until simmering. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir in a figure-eight motion until chocolate chips are fully melted. Cool slightly.

4. Make the frosting: Beat the butter and vanilla until creamy. Add a pinch of salt and reserved raspberries. Slowly add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

5. Using a knife, gently cut a hole out of the center of each cupcake. Add about 1 teaspoon of the raspberry filling to each cupcake and top with a dollop of chocolate ganache. When ganache has completely cooled, frost cupcakes. Refrigerate to preserve freshness.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning, Week of 3.7.11

I've been doing a great job of planning my meals this year, but not such a great job of sticking with the plan. This is partly due to factors outside of my control, but it's also partly due to plain old exhaustion. We've reached that point in the winter when I'm just over it, it makes me really unmotivated to do just about everything -- including cook. So here's hoping that spring comes very soon!

: Cheesy stuffed shells with spicy sausage tomato sauce, garlic bread (on the menu for the third week in a row, sheesh)

Tuesday: Steak fajitas with chimichurri and drunken peppers (carry-over from last week)

Wednesday: Pesto parmesan chicken, noodles, steamed broccoli

Thursday: Buffalo chicken tender sandwiches and fries

Friday: Taco salads

Saturday: Chicken cordon bleu soup
(carry-over from a couple of weeks ago)

Sunday: Asian meatball subs with hoisin mayonnaise (carry-over from last week)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and, like most kids his age, he has some very definite ideas about what he wants for dinner. Also like most kids his age, usually what he wants is macaroni and cheese, pizza, or chicken nuggets. But unfortunately for Andrew, I don’t cook these things all the time, and the rule in our house is you eat what’s put in front of you -- or you don’t eat. Some nights this is easier than others, but Mommy is stubborn, too, and Mommy almost always wins. :)

I created this pizza macaroni and cheese specifically with Andrew in mind, because it combines two of his favorite foods in a made-from-scratch, balanced dish. I snuck in lots of veggies -- mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and onions -- so it would taste like a supreme pizza. We all really enjoyed this, and thought that the finished dish really did hit all the same notes as a big slice of pizza. It was definitely easy to get Andrew to eat his dinner the night I made this, and since I’m all about making things easier on myself, I’ll be making this one a lot.

Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound mini penne pasta
1 green pepper, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/4 cups mini pepperoni slices, divided
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded pizza-blend cheese, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons pizza or Italian seasoning

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to directions on box; drain.

3. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add green pepper, mushrooms, and red onion to skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until vegetables are softened. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 secons. Stir in tomatoes and 1 cup pepperoni slices; remove from heat and set aside.

4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly for 3 seconds. Stir in milk; heat to boiling and cook until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pizza seasoning. Reduce heat and stir in 2 cups of cheese until melted.

5. Stir cheese sauce and vegetables into pasta. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and remaining 1/4 cup pepperoni. Sprinkle with additional pizza seasoning, if desired.

6. Cook under broiler until cheese is bubbly and pepperoni is slightly crisp. Serve.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Green Egg Candies

Did you know that tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’s birthday? Unless you have a kid in school, you probably didn’t. My sons’ daycare always celebrates Dr. Seuss for the entire week of his birth, with fun themed days like Silly Hat Day and Pajama Day. Today happens to be Green Eggs and Ham Day, during which they’ll march up and down the halls of the daycare reciting lines from Green Eggs and Ham. What I wouldn’t give to see that. I can’t even imagine how cute it must be!

Anyway, as a former English major who will do just about anything to inspire the love of books in my boys and their friends, I decided to make a little themed treat for them today. Last year I made these fun cupcakes, but this year I went for something even simpler than that: green egg candies.

If you have two ingredients and two minutes to spare, you can make these too. They’re beyond easy, and they’re such a fun little treat. These are a great way to get your kids interested in reading. You could even use yellow M & Ms for the yolks to make more traditional eggs.

I know I saw a yellow-yolk version of these on a blog, but it was a long time ago and for the life of me I can’t remember where. If you know, please let me know in the comments so I can give proper credit for the idea!

Green Egg Candies

6 ounces (half of a 12-ounce bag) white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
20 green M & Ms

1. Mix vegetable oil and white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth.

2. Using a spoon, dollop 20 circles of white chocolate on a baking sheet lined with wax paper (they don’t have to be perfect circles; they look more egg-like if they’re not).

3. Top each “egg” with a green M & M yolk, slightly off-center. Refrigerate until completely cool.