Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sweet Corn Lasagna Roll-ups with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce




Now that the holidays are almost a memory, I've been dreaming about warm summer days and all that comes with it.  Mostly I've been dreaming of gardens full of plump, juicy tomatoes, fresh, vibrant herbs and sweet, summer corn.

One of my favorite things about Lexington is the farmers markets.  The bounty that the farmers haul into Lexington three to four times a week is indescribable.  Local meats, eggs and cheeses to homemade bread and pasta and of course, some vegetables are mixed in there too.  I'm making myself sad.  And hungry.  Summer's right around the corner, right?  No?  I didn't think I could fool myself into thinking that.

As much as I love the farmers market, I've decided to try my hand at gardening this year since I finally have a decent back yard to grow some veggies and herbs.  I'm so excited and I'll be sharing my journey with you.  I have these grandiose visions of canning and freezing my harvest to become more self-sustainable.  In reality I know my first year will be full of challenges--especially with all the rabbits that hang out here with the sole purpose to torture my poor Dolce.  I'll give it the good old college try though!

Since I've been craving sweet corn, I decided to whip up a cold weather appropriate recipe that I just couldn't get out of my mind.  Hence, Sweet Corn Lasagna Roll-ups were created.  They are creamy and sweet with a hint of spiciness.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

I know the list of ingredients makes this look like a daunting task but I promise, it really isn't.

Sweet Corn Lasagna Roll-ups with Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce         Printer Friendly

Ingredients

11 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 (16 ounce) bag of frozen corn, thawed
1 jalapeño, finely diced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (7 ounce) can of chopped green chiles
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped green onion plus more for garnish
Zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Cilantro for garnish
Creen Chile Sour Cream Sauce (recipe below)

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the jalapeño and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add corn and sugar and cook for 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, half of the can of green chiles, beaten egg, green onion and lime zest and a pinch of salt.  Mix well.  Add in the corn and jalapeño mixture.

Lay the cooked lasagna noodles flat and spread about 1/4 cup of the corn mixture on each one.  Slowly roll the noodles and place them seam side down in a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover every roll completely with the Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce* and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) container of sour cream
3.5 ounces of green chile

In a sauce pan cook the flour for 2 minutes.  Add the butter to form a roux.  Let cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Add the green chiles, reduce heat and let the mixture cook for about 10 minutes.  It should have the consistency of a thin gravy at this point.  Remove from heat and fold in the sour cream.   Serve over enchiladas, eggs or of course, Sweet Corn Lasagna Roll-ups.




Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wendy's Yeast Rolls


I'm going to let you in on a little secret:  I never had any desire to make yeast rolls until my sister told me she made them and had created her own recipe by combining recipes from our great Aunt Elvaney and a couple of recipes she had found on the internet.  Why had I never planned to do this before?  Easy.  My mother and aunts always make the rolls.  Also, I have bad luck with anything that needs to raise or any recipes that include yeast.  Yeast hates me and rarely develops correctly.  Yes, I realize that it's user error but no matter what temperature my water was my yeast never bloomed!  Thanks Wendy for making me realize that I can do this!

As I explained in the biscuit post, our family is a yeast roll family.  We've had them at every family dinner for as long as I can remember--except our Christmas gathering this year.  We had lasagna and garlic bread.  There were a few years where we actually had store bought rolls.  I highly recommend the Sister Schubert yeast rolls that come in a pan.  Now that I feel like I've mastered this roll thing we will never purchase these again--ever.  

This recipe that my sister has come up with is so easy that even I can do it (as long as the yeast behaves properly).  She throws all of her ingredients into a bread machine and let's it do all the work.  I don't have that luxury so I mix mine in a kitchen aid mixer.  I don't have a dough hook but I've found that the paddle worked just fine.  

I'm telling you that these rolls need to be an addition to your meals as well.  At least try it so you can say that you make rolls.  To me it sounds super impressive.  Also, I'm a little competitive which was my reasoning for making them.  

While the dough is resting you'll have some time to head on over to Wendy's blog to read about her journey in decorating.

Wendy's Yeast Rolls                                                              Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast or 1 package
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a mixer, add the yeast, water and sugar.  Stir to combine.  Let the yeast bloom for about 15 minutes.  

After the yeast has bloomed, add the egg and butter.  Mix on a medium speed until combined.  

Next,  add the salt and the flour.  Mix until well combined.  The dough will be sticky and may require a little more flour.

Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.

Spray 3 pie pans with with non stick cooking spray.  Spray your hands also.  Pull off some dough and form into a ball.  Remember these will rise again.  I recommend using about a tablespoon of dough for each roll.  

Place the balls of dough into the pie pans, NOT touching.  You should be able to fit about 12-14 rolls into each pan.

Cover the pans with a light dish towel and sit them in a warm area to rise.  Let the dough rise for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.  

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until the top of the rolls have started to brown.  

If you prefer to make these ahead, bake at 375 for 10 minutes and after they have cooled (they will not brown), freeze them for freshness.  Remove from freezer and allow them to thaw for a day in the refrigerator.  Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the rolls are warm and starting to brown. 

This recipe yields about 36 rolls.  




Thursday, December 26, 2013

Zucchini Crescent Pie


The presents have all been unwrapped and the excitement of Christmas morning has now passed.  I can't believe it's over.  Well, technically I have one more gathering tomorrow night with my entire family--cousins, aunts, uncles and lots of children.  I can't wait!  I hope all of you have had a spectacular holiday season.  I know I have.  I'm actually sad that it's over.  Frankly it seemed quite abrupt when I started my car this morning to head out to work and my Christmas music channel was playing Ace of Base.  Like they say, all good things must come to an end.  I'm not sure who "they" is, but I don't think I like that type of negativity. 

Even though I love the hustle and the bustle of the season, I'll be glad to get back to my "normal" and I certainly will not miss the traffic!  

I spent Christmas at my parents with my sister (Wendy, of Designed to Dwell), her three beautiful children and her husband, who I am slowly assigning projects to.  I'm not really sure that he actually listens to me though.  Why do I always stray from the subject?  Anyway, Christmas is my family's favorite holiday and you can head on over to Designed to Dwell or Kentucky Living to check out my parents Christmas digs.  Their house was featured in the December issue!  

After a short time off work and very little sleep the night before, I was exhausted after work today.  I wanted something simple that didn't require much effort.  Enter: Zucchini Crescent Pie.

I love zucchini.  It's such a versatile vegetable.  Well, I call it a vegetable.  My brother-in-law says that anything with seeds is a fruit.  He may be right.  I'm too tired to argue on this subject.  

This "pie" is a savory, cheese-filled treat with pre made crescent roll dough as the crust.  Crescent roll dough isn't something I use much but in this recipe it's perfect!

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.  It makes a great quick main course when you serve it with a salad for supper or it works for breakfast as well.  I told you it was versatile!

Zucchini Crescent Pie                                                          Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1 roll crescent dough
3 small zucchini, about 2 1/2 or 3 cups, washed and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
5 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups grated swiss cheese
1 tablespoon thyme, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add zucchini, onion and thyme, sautéing until soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat. 

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Stir in milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Spray a deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.  Spread the crescent roll dough to form the pie crust.  Add zucchini and onion.  Sprinkle with one cup of the cheese.  Pour in the egg mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.  Bake on a sheet tray in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until eggs are set.  Remove from oven and let rest for about 10-15 minutes.  Slice and serve!




Sunday, December 22, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pizza


In Cincinnati there is a pizza joint called Trotta's Pizza, home of the Lotta Trotta.  The Lotta Trotta will feed about a million people.  Ok, maybe not a million but a lot.  All of their pizza is delicious.  The crust is so thick and full of garlic.  It's the stuff that dreams are made of.  

To get the full of effect of Trotta's, you have to understand that it is located in a drive-thru.  Most of you will probably now need to know what a drive-thru is.  Well, basically, it's the inside of a gas station that you drive right down the middle of.  In my opinion, the west side of Cincinnati should be famous for it's drive-thru's.  You can get anything there.  Milk, break, pop, candy, chips, beer, wine and at Trotta's--pizza!  You can buy it by the slice or call and have it delivered. 

I became familiar with Trotta's while I was bartending at a little joint called Miss Kitty's Cafe, may it rest in peace.  Once a week they would bring free pizza to the bar for all of the patrons to gobble up in record time.  Normally on a Friday night and it would last about 3.5 seconds.   We would have them deliver a couple "Lotta's" for Monday night football as well.  Sometimes, one of the drivers would just drop off a mess up.  That's how I discovered their Chicken Wing Pizza.  It was 2005 and to my knowledge there was no such thing as a Chicken Wing Pizza.  One bite and my life was changed forever.  Someone was saying that chicken wings and pizza could be combined?  What???

Eventually I left Cincinnati and Miss Kitty's sadly closed but as long as I live I will never forget the Chicken Wing Pizza.  This Buffalo Chicken Pizza is my ode to Trotta's.

My version is a combination of buffalo chicken dip meets pizza.  I think it's delicious and I hope you will too.  It's a great addition to any game day party.  And today it brought my Bengals another win!  I might have to continue to eat this for the next 6 weeks.  What are some of your favorite game day foods?  Please comment and let me know.  I'm always looking for new things to try!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Ingredients

1 (12 inch pizza crust)
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened.
1 cup of shredded chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup blue cheese
Buffalo sauce (recipe below)

In a mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup buffalo sauce with the softened cream cheese.  Mix well.  Spread over a 12 inch pizza crust (I use a pre-made thin crust purchased at my local grocer).  

Combine the shredded chicken with enough buffalo sauce to coat, about 4 tablespoons or so.  Sprinkle the chicken over the cream cheese sauce.  Sprinkle Cheddar cheese on top and follow with blue cheese.  Bake according to your crusts directions.  In my case, place the pizza in a preheated 450 degree oven and reduce the heat to 425 degrees.  Bake for 7-10 minutes or until crust has started to brown and cheese is melted.

Garlic Buffalo Wing Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of hot sauce*

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Add the chopped garlic and let cook over low for about 5 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the hot sauce and continue to cook over low for 20-25 minutes.

*I only use Frank's hot sauce.  In my humble opinion, there is no other sauce to make wing sauce with.

Busy, busy, busy



Where have I been?  It looks like I've been completely slacking but I promise, I haven't.  I've been cooking every day.  I'm testing some of my own original recipes and I don't want to publish those until I'm happy with them.  I also tried some other recipes this week that have been published and simply did not work.  That's disappointing to me.  I don't want anyone to feel that way about my recipes.  This simply could have been an error on my part but I have come to the realization that my recipe writing could use some improving and I've started working on that as well.  News years resolutions have started a little early around here.

It's been quite hectic with Christmas right around the corner.  Where has this year gone? Why do I always wait until the last minute to do my shopping?  I can't help it.  I guess I like the drama.

Anyway, just a preview of things to come in the next few days-- Buffalo Chicken Pizza which is a great game day food and much less messy than chicken wings.  Zucchini Crescent Pie--zucchini, thyme and onions sautéd and placed in a crescent "pie" crust.  This is one of my original recipes and I can't wait to share it with you!  My biggest achievement will hopefully be attained later today.  Homemade Yeast Rolls.  This is actually a recipe that my sister at Designed to Dwell came up with.  Normally she leaves the food stuff to me and calling her with questions about this recipe makes me feel like I've moved into the twilight zone.  I don't think she'll be calling me for design questions any time soon.  Needless to say I'm extremely proud of my baby sister--even though she is way more grown up than me.

I'm off to the kitchen for some more testing!!  Enjoy your Sunday and check back soon for more creations from my Kentucky kitchen!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Roast Pork Loin with Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly


In my post, Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly, I told you that I knew exactly what recipe I would use it in.  Well, here it is!  This Roast Pork Loin is so juicy and so tender with delicious hints of rosemary and thyme.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Here's a little background on this dish and how it ended up in my families "go to" list.  A couple of years ago my mom was looking for something different to make on Christmas Eve.  We just have a small gathering of my parents, my sister, her husband their three adorable children and myself (and Dolce and my parents dog, Christmas--yes, their dog is named Christmas).  She called me a few weeks before telling me about a recipe from Williams Sonoma for a pork loin with orange marmalade.  I was instantly intrigued because of my love for sweet and savory.  So, I set out on a search and found this fabulous recipe which just happened to be the exact one she was looking for.  Oh. My. Goodness.  There are very few words that will describe this recipe justly.  I'm still looking for the right ones.

We just had to make one minor adjustment because I could not find a bone-in pork loin, so boneless it was. As far as the rest of the recipe.  Easy peasy.  Seriously.   Not only is it completely impressive, it's very cost effective!  Pork loin is often on sale for $1.99 a pound so you can feed an army for a relatively budget friendly price which is important to me.

The sides that could be served with this meal are endless.  We serve it with mashed potatoes and country style green beans with bacon and brown sugar.  Yum-o!  Seriously, I'm hungry now.

Roast Pork Loin with Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly

Ingredients

1 (3-4 pound) pound boneless pork loin
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 (8 ounce) jar pomegranate rosemary jelly, recipe here
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Generously season the pork loin with salt and pepper.  Let the meat rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In a large dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat.  Place the pork loin, fat side down, in pan and sear on all sides to a golden brown.   Remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees.  Remove from oven and baste the pork loin with the jelly every 5 minutes for the last 15 minutes of cooking.   Turn the broiler on and broil the pork loin for 3 or 4 minutes or until the temperature has reached 145 degrees.  Remove the pork from the oven and let rest on a cutting board covered in foil for 20 minutes.  Slice.  Serves 6-8,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly



Every December one of our vendors at work makes us a delicious lunch.   She does an amazing job and makes so much food that we eat for days!  In addition to that, she always gives each of us a special homemade gift.  This years gift was, you guessed it, pomegranate rosemary jelly.

So that we could sample it, she made a quick appetizer and poured the jelly over cream cheese.  Oh my goodness.  My tastebuds were not ready for what it was about to experience.  Right now you're thinking one of two things.  Either, hmm... pomegranate and rosemary--interesting.  Or you're thinking gross.  Trust me, this is interesting.  And delicious.  It will blow your socks off.  Believe it.

This jelly is delicious on top of cream cheese with crackers but everyone in the department was conspiring what else they could do with it.  I knew exactly what I was going to do with it!  You'll have to wait until tomorrow for that.

I've never made jelly before and I didn't have the recipe but luckily, Betty Crocker did.  I would have never imagined finding the recipe there.  It's an easy recipe and comes together quite quickly.  It uses pomegranate juice which is a relief considering actual pomegranates and I don't get along very well.  I love them but they're the crab legs of the fruit world.  Delicious but such a hassle!

Don't tell me that you can't make jelly because you can.  You should make this one and give it for gifts during the holidays.  That's what I'll be doing!

Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly                                                 Printer Friendly

Ingredients

4 cups pomegranate juice
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 package (1 3/4 ounces) fruit pectin
5 cups sugar

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cook pomegranate juice, rosemary, lemon juice and pectin until the pectin has dissolved.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add sugar and bring to a rolling boil while stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and remove rosemary sprigs.

Pour into 8 ounce jelly jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.  This will make 8 jars. Wipe the rims of the jar and seal.  Place into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Chips


Oh my goodness you guys!  Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was hunting for the perfect homemade (baked) sweet potato chip?  Well, I found it!  I can't believe it.  It feels like the holy grail.  First it was the perfect biscuit and now this!  I honestly wasn't sure that this moment would ever come!

Every time my friend Lor comes to visit we go to Atomic.  Atomic is a local, caribbean restaurant.  The food will blow your mind but the best thing about it?  The Patio!  Lexington is a town full of patios but Atomic is my favorite.  It's a tradition that we order sweet potato chips immediately after walking in the door.  They are so crispy and sweet and salty and served with a side of salsa.  Don't knock it till you try it.  Atomic's sweet potato chips are the reason I've been searching so long for a recipe that would hold up to salsa and these do!  I never knew I could get so excited about sweet potatoes.  I may have hit a new all-time low.  Or maybe high.  I guess it's all in how you look at it.

After all of the experimenting I finally learned I was doing it totally wrong.  I (and apparently a lot of others on the internet) thought the oven temperature would need to be cranked up in order to create a crispy, sturdy chip.  After many crispy and black attempts I had almost given up.  Enter Daphne Oz.  I don't normally watch "The Chew" as I have a full time day job but let me tell you...  I am now a fan.

I saw these posted on everyone's best friend/website, Pinterest.  The description didn't say anything about these being the most perfect baked chip ever and frankly I think that is a travesty.  I almost didn't even click on the pin but luckily I did.  Who would have thought that setting your oven on 250 degrees would do the trick, but you know what?  It does.  It feels like they take forever to bake, mostly because they do but it's so worth it!  Here's Daphne's recipe.  I have changed a couple of things so I like to include the original recipe as well.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients

1 sweet potato, washed and sliced thin
Olive oil spray
Salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Wash the sweet potato and slice thin.  A mandolin works best.  Spay a cookie sheet with olive oil spray.  Places the slices of sweet potato on the cookie sheet, making sure they don't touch.  Spray the top of the slices with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 250 for an hour to an hour and a half or until crispy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Honey Orange Dressing


If you would have asked me two years ago what my most disliked foods were, brussel sprouts would have been at the top of the list.  In all honesty I don't know that I had ever tasted them.  Then, at one of our legendary Reserve cookouts, Kim made brussel sprouts.  I was feeling brave that day so I decided to taste one.  It was very much an "ah ha" moment in my life.  I had to admit that I was blown away.  She had simply roasted them in the oven with butter and they were delicious.  They had become caramelized and a little bit crispy.  That day changed my life and I unapologetically began a love affair with those delicious little veggie nuggets.

If you know me, you know that you must love everything that I love.  It's one of my many flaws.  I will just not take "I don't like it" for an answer.  You should try everything at least once.  I don't care if your mother forced you to eat it when you were a child or tried to disguise it in order to trick you into eating your vegetables.  For the record, my mother never forced my sister and I to eat brussel sprouts.  She would however, grate sweet potatoes and tell us they were carrots.  They were NOT carrots and neither one of us were dumb enough to think that.  I've already explained my dislike of mushy sweet potatoes. Ick.

So, with my love of these little mini cabbages, I figured my family should love them too.  I made them for a family meal and the only person who liked them was my 9 year old nephew.  A little background on this kid: He loves broccoli.  Plain.  Please don't put cheese anywhere near his broccoli.  He might not eat it.  After that brussel bust I set out to find a delicious way to get my family to eat brussel sprouts.  I figured Thanksgiving was the perfect time to test out a new recipe.  If no one ate them I would gladly finish them off in the days following.  Much to my surprise, they were a hit.  Of course they were.  They have bacon and orange juice and honey.  It's a fantastic combination.

This recipe could not be much simpler.  It's literally four ingredients.  The hardest part of this recipe is slicing the brussel sprouts.  I do it by hand with my favorite kitchen tool, my knife.  If you have a shredder attachment on your food processor it would work perfectly and save time!  I think this dish is a perfect addition to any meal!  Especially if you need a last minute side.  It comes together in under 30 minutes.

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Honey Orange Dressing                        Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1 pound brussel sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
5 slices bacon
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
Salt

Directions

In a dutch oven or large sauce pan brown the bacon until it's crisp.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, slowly bring orange juice to a simmer.  Once the juice is warm, about 4 or 5 minutes, add the honey.  Gently whisk together and bring to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt, stir, remove from heat and set aside.

Once the bacon is done, remove from pan and place on paper towel lined plate.  Add brussel sprouts to the dutch oven and stir into the leftover bacon grease.  Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Pour in the honey orange dressing and mix well.   Add a pinch of salt.  Let cook for about 5 minutes or until most of the dressing has been soaked up by the sprouts.  Remove from heat and serve.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Barbecue Chicken Potato Skins


Right now I'm listening to the sound of sleet hitting my windows.  Looks like I won't be going anywhere today.  I'm ok with that.  I have plenty of things to do around here.  In reality I'll watch the Food Network and football.  Either way, I'm not going outside, except to let Dolce out.

I've been trying to make most of my Sunday posts about game day food because, well, it's game day! It seems like there was an explosion of new appetizers for a while and then it just stopped.  I try to come up with new ideas but the old ideas consume me for some reason.  Or maybe my creativity has taken a vacation.  I don't blame it.  I'd do the same thing if I could.

Potato skins.  I've never met a person who didn't like them.  I always thought they would be a hassle so I never attempted to make them at home.  Plus, I did a very long stint at a restaurant and a bar where I could always have them whenever I wanted.  Now I have to fend for myself when I want potato skins. Sure, I'm surrounded by restaurants that carry them but that would involve leaving the house and I really don't like to do that when it's cold out.  So I make them and now you will too when you see how not complicated this is.  Although it takes some prep work, it's really very simple.  If you can turn on an oven, you can make these potato skins.

Barbecue Chicken Potato Skins                                               Printer Friendly

Ingredients

4 baking potatoes, washed and baked
1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
3/4 cups barbecue sauce
1 (16 ounce) bag of shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, sliced
Salt
Oil
Sour cream

Start by scrubbing the outside of the potato.  After the potato is dry, rub olive oil on the potato, making sure to coat the whole thing.  Sprinkle salt over the entire potato.  Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until fork tender.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Slice the baked potatoes in half lengthwise.  Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh of the potato and set aside (I normally find another use like potato soup or breakfast potatoes for these left overs).

In a medium sized bowl combine the chicken and the barbecue sauce.  This recipe is written for a drier chicken.  Just add more sauce if you like.

Place the potato halves on a baking sheet.  Scoop some of the barbecue chicken into each potato.  Next, sprinkle each potato with cheese.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sprinkle potato skins with green onions.  Serve with sour cream.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sweet Mexican Corn Cakes


It is cold.  And icy.  Never a good combination.  It does make for the absolutely perfect day to stay indoors and do nothing.  By nothing I mean cooking, eating and drinking hot tea and coffee and of course, cleaning up all the messes I've made.  I started my day of nothing my making those delicious Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits and sausage gravy.  It was the perfect southern breakfast!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Mexican food?  Real Mexican food is fresh with so many bright flavors.  I grew up eating the Americanized version of it though and it is delicious too.  Does anyone remember how all the Mexican restaurants used to serve their entrees with a side of spoon bread?  Honestly, that was my favorite part of the meal.  Sweet, moist, melt-in-your-mouth spoon bread.  Chi-chi's used to sell a mix at the grocery store which I made a lot.  Then one day it just disappeared off the shelf.  Such a sad day in my life! At that moment I knew I would need to find a way to recreate it.  After much searching, I finally found it!!  I would love to give you the website but I wrote it down on a piece of paper that is now slightly covered with masa and butter.

This recipe is super easy.  My process of creating a bite sized way to serve this was not so easy.  The original recipe is baked in an 8x8 pan in a water bath.  Normally it's scooped out with an ice cream scoop but I've been searching for a way to make them into individual servings so they make for a prettier presentation.  One day it finally hit me.  My mini muffin tin.  It worked like a charm!  I have no idea why it took so long to come up with this solution!

This is a great appetizer for any gathering!  I made these for Jen's graduation party and I'm not sure if her husband actually shared them or not.  I think he ate 99% of them.  They're just that good and topping them with fresh pico de gallo or salsa and sour cream makes them out of this world!  It really seems like an odd combination at first.  Sweet, spicy and creamy.  Trust me.  I sometimes dream about this taste combination.

Sweet Mexican Corn Cakes                                       Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup masa harina
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup corn meal
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream (milk will work too)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size mixing bowl, cream butter, masa and water until well combined.  Add corn meal, sugar, salt, baking powder and heavy cream.  Mix well.  Stir in the corn.  The mixture will not be runny.  It should be crumbly and somewhat stiff.

Liberally spray a 24 count mini muffin tin with canola or olive oil spray.   Press the mixture into the mini muffin wells, filling them to the top.  This will make exactly 24 individual corn cakes.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges start to brown slightly.  Turn out onto a tray and top with salsa and sour cream.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Southwest Chili



Ahhh.... Tuesday.  Not normally one of my favorite days of the week.  My friend Lauren says it's not Monday but the weekend feels so far away.  She's totally right.  Of course she also says that each day is "over" as soon as we walk out of the door at work.  That makes it not so depressing!

So, I got one of the most exciting emails that I have ever received today!  BlogHer is featuring my Pimento Cheese post on their website!  Here is the link.  I love BlogHer.  It's so empowering seeing all these women writing because they love it!  In my case I'm writing and cooking because I love it.

This blog has actually been a saving grace for my sanity.  It has given me a creative outlet that I wouldn't ordinarily get from my job that pays the bills.  I realize that I'm new and that certain things need to be improved (like my specifics in my recipes as I recently learned from Tasty Kitchen).  I welcome constructive criticism.  The keyword there being "constructive".  I'm not asking for my blog to be overrun with those little internet trolls who have nothing better to do than criticize others.  That must be a terrible existence to be so unhappy with yourself that you bash others to make you feel better.  Ooops.  Look at that.  A small rant.  Sorry about that.

The weather has been unseasonably warm for the past couple of days so of course, I would have chili on my menu this week.  Seriously, I haven't even had to wear a coat and that is saying a lot!  As I understand, this mild weather will be coming to an end in the next couple of days.  Luckily I'll have a bowl of chili to warm me up!

I love chili.  I can eat it year round.  My weirdness is becoming a theme here, isn't it?  I love it with saltines, tortilla chips but mostly peanut butter sandwiches because I'm a 12 year old.  My school always served chili with peanut butter sandwiches and apparently I'm reminded of my childhood when I dip my sandwich in the chili.  Have you ever tried it?  Just try it.  Don't tell me it sounds gross!

Southwest Chili

Ingredients

1 pound Lean Ground Beef
1 large Onion, chopped
4 cups Tomato Juice
1 (28 ounce) can diced Tomatoes
1 (15.25 ounce) can of Black Beans
1 (15.5 ounce) can of Red Kidney Beans
1 (7 ounce) can of chopped Green Chilis
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Directions

In a large pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef over medium heat.  Cook for 10 minutes and add the chopped onion.  Cook for about 5 more minutes or until onions are starting to turn translucent.  Reduce heat.

Stir in the tomato juice and diced tomatoes, juice and all.  And the undrained can of black beans, red kidney beans, and green chills.  Finally, add garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and cayenne powder.  Mix well.

Bring to a slow boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, green onions or tortilla chips.  Or just dip your peanut butter sandwich in it like me!