Saturday, March 26, 2011

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini's

I made these Panini's to go with my Tomato Soup last night. Oh my goodness these were good! I love Panini's! I found this recipe on but I tweaked mine a bit. I used Tyson grilled Chicken strips and already roasted red peppers to make them faster and easier. But you can always grill your own! I made her sundried tomatoe/pesto like she said to, but I think next time I will just buy a jar of sundried tomato pesto and mix that into the mayo, just for ease. But these were good!! They went really well with the Tomato soup!! YUMMO! Also, I made more of these for lunch today, and I added 2 slices of precooked bacon on each sandwich, it was awesome!! Either way these are yummo sandwiches!!

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini's

1/2 of a bag of Tyson's grilled chicken strips (or you could grill your own, use 2 whole chicken breasts)
8 whole sundried tomatoes in oil
3 Tablespoons prepared basil pesto
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup real Mayonaise
1/2 of a jar of roasted red bell pepper strips, drained
Provolone or Mozzarella Cheese slices
Softened Butter
Sourdough bread (the good hearty kind, or you can use a multi grain bread if you prefer)

If you are grilling chicken breasts get those going by pounding with a mallet so they are all about 1/2 inch thick.
Next, make sundried tomato pesto by combining the sundried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a blender or food processor and puree. (I highly reccommend the food processor, easier to get the tomato pesto out of than a blender, it's thick and not pourable)
If you are grilling your own chicken place in a baggie with a spoonful of the tomato pesto and mush around a bit to coat the chicken. Let marinate for a few hours in the fridge. Then grill about 7 minutes per side until done. Cool and Slice into strips.
If you are using the Tyson chicken strips, let thaw out a bit. Then place a Tablespoon of the tomato pesto in a large skillet, heat over medium heat, then add your chicken strips and cook 3 or 4 minutes to crisp the chicken and coat with the pesto. Set aside.

Next, make your spread by putting 1/4 cup mayonaise in a small bowl along with about 3 Tablespoons of the tomato pesto. (Freeze the rext in an small tupperware if you have leftover). Mix well to combine and set aside.

To make a panini, take 2 slices of bread, and spread your tomato/pesto mayonaise generously on one side of both pieces of bread. Next layer chicken slices across one piece of the bread, then layer on a few red bell pepper slices, then top with 2 slices of the cheese.

Then place the other piece of bread, mayonaise side down on top of the cheese. Butter the top of the bread. (If you have a panini grill, butter both the top and bottom piece of bread and grill until done.) I don't have a panini pan, so I used 2 heavy cast iron skillets. I heated the larger pan until hot, placed my sandwich butter side down, then placed my other heavey skillet on the top of the sandwich, this presses it down so it becomes a panini. Cook over medium-low heat until brown, remove top skillet,  butter the top piece of bread, and flip the sandwich over, and place the skillet back on the top and cook until this side is brown. Remove from pan to a plate and cut in half. Continue making sandwiches until your chicken is gone. I made about 4 sandwiches with about 1/2 bag of Tyson chicken.  Eat by itself or serve with soup! Way yummy dipped in the tomato soup I made with it!

Tomato Basil Soup

Today was just a soup and sandwich kind of day. It was rainy/snowy and gloomy. Then after my usual grocery shopping on a Friday night, I didn't feel like making anything too complicated. I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks but tweaked it a bit to my liking. It was delicio-so good!!! I made my own croutons to put on the top too. I save older bread/sandwich buns and dice them up and toast in the oven. These are a little softer than store bought croutons, I LOVE them on salad. They were pretty good in the soup too, they soaked up quite a bit. MMMMM.... I love a good Tomato Soup!

Tomato Basil Soup
Olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup minced fresh basil ( I used about 3 Tablespoons of chopped Basil that comes in a Tube)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon dried parsely (you could use fresh if you have it)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Seasoned croutons (see my how to below)
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, heat about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Then add the minced garlic and onion, saute for about 1 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and the chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the basil, sugar, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and let this simmer for about 20-25 minutes more.
Then stir in the heavy cream, and heat through. Serve in individual bowls topped with croutons and Parmesan cheese if desired!! Yummo!!

How to make your own croutons:
I use 3 or 4 leftover sandwich buns (or you could use left over bread)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Dice the bread into 1 inch cubes (approximately).
Place youre bread cubes on a large cookie sheet. I spray mine with non stick cooking spray. Next I sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and about 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning. Toss and I spray again with the spray and spinkle with another round of garlic powder, salt and about 1/2 teaspoon more italian seasoning.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then stir around and bake another 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Use in salads and soups! Yum!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake

Jim LOVES cheesecake, when his birthday rolls around every year, and I ask him what kind of cake he would like, he ALWAYS picks cheesecake. This was fine by me since I love cheesecake too, and I had this recipe that I had been wanting to try. I love eating at the Cheesecake factory, and every cheesecake I have sampled from them has been oh so delicioso!!!! So I figured this recipe wouldn't disappoint me. And I was right, it didn't!! You know how some cheesecakes turn out heavy, and cakey, and you can't finish your piece because you've just had enough?? Well this one wasn't like that, it was creamy, and even tho' it was a baked cheesecake it was light, and you could finish the whole piece and have another!! I got this recipe out of Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes Book 2. And I baked my cheesecake in a water bath like he suggests. I think it helps the cheesecake stay moist, and prevents cracking. I also recommend a good spring form pan for baking cheesecakes. I found one at a garage sale a long time ago, but have since bought a new one, and have loved them both. You can top this cheesecake with any fruit topping or the recipe said to mix 1/2 cup sour cream and two teaspoons granualted sugar and use that as your topping. Jim chose to use canned blueberry pie filling, and I also tried a blackberry sauce that I had leftover in my freezer, and it was yummo too!! No matter how you top it,  this is now my new favorite Cheesecake recipe!

The Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake
For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs ( I used 1 cellophane package of graham crackers, and smashed with a rolling pin, ended up being slightly more than what was called for but that's okay, I used them all)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

For the Cheesecake filling:
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1-1/4 cups granulated  sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 eggs

Your choice of fruit topping
or you can top with 1/2 cup sour cream combined with 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Canned whipped cream

Preheat heat oven to 475 degrees.
Fill a large baking pan or oven safe skillet with about an inch of water. I used an aluminum roasting pan.

It has to be big enough for your cheesecake pan to fit inside of. Place this with the water in it, inside the oven while it preheats. This is your water bath.
Wrap a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil around the bottom of your spring form cheesecake pan to prevent water from seeping into your cheesecake while baking in the water bath. I fold up so it comes up all the way on every side of the pan.
First of all make the crust by melting the 1/3 cup butter in a medium size microwave safe bowl, in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Then add the cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Stir to combine with a fork. Then dump the crumbs into your spring form pan, you can spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Press crumbs onto the bottom and about 2/3's of the way up the sides of the pan. I like to use a glass or measuring cup to press mine into the pan.
Then place crust into the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Blend on medium speed for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy. You will need to stop mixing and scrape the sides, and any cream cheese off the paddle after the first minute, and then continue. That way you won't have lumps. In another small bowl, whisk the eggs together. Then add them to the creamed mixture, and blend the mixture just enough to mix in the eggs completely. You don't want to over mix.
Remove your crust from the freezer and pour the filling into it, scraping the bowl as you go.
Carefully place the cheesecake into your preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes at the 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color and it's mostly set. Carefully remove from oven and water bath and cool.
When cheesecake has cooled for about an hour, remove the sides of your spring form pan and continue cooling in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Slice and top each slice with your choice of fruit topping and whipped cream ! Enjoy!!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been sick lately with a terrible head cold and cough. Soup has been the only thing that has sounded good, and when I'm sick like I have been, chicken soup does the trick at making me feel better. But I like spicy, I think garlic and spicy does the trick in kicking a cold a little faster. I found this recipe on a while back, so I printed it out and thought I would give it a shot, I know I have similar recipes on here, but this was easy and Yummo! And she puts the tortilla's in her soup soft, and I loved it that way! I had leftover turkey that I used instead of cooking chicken breasts like the recipes says, and I just used all the spices in the soup. You could definitely use cooked chicken too, I used about 2 to 3 cups cooked chopped smoked turkey, and then followed the rest of the recipes exactly as written. I will post the original here, but remember if you have leftover chicken it works great! Enjoy!!!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour30 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8


2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1-½ teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
½ teaspoons Salt

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Diced Onion
¼ cups Diced Green Bell Pepper
¼ cups Red Bell Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, Minced (or 1 tablespoon of the already minced garlic in the jar)
1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 cups Hot Water
2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained (or I used 1 can black and 1 can kidney beans)
3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa

5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches
Sour Cream
Diced Avocado (or I used guacamole)
Diced Red Onion
Salsa Or Pico De Gallo
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to under salt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
Ladle into bowls, then top with  your choice of sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it! (The garnishes really make the soup delicious.)

Sweet Cinnamon Scones

Lately I have been on a cupcake and scone kick. I found this recipe on and followed it pretty close, only I halved the recipe. I will post the halved recipe here, it still made quite a few. If you need a bigger recipe, go to the original at the pioneer woman's blog. These scones were Yummo! and would be really good with hot chocolate. I love cinnamon anything, and they smelled sooooo good while baking, and then I ate one right out of the oven. MMMMMM so good!

Sweet Cinnamon Scones
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, (1 stick)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 whole egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, or food processor, combine the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or pulse in a food processor until mixture resemples coarse crumbs. Stir in the cinnamon chips.
In another medium size bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup cream, egg, and vanilla. Pour into the flour/butter mixture, stir gently with a fork to just combine.
Turn on to lightly floured surface, mixture might be slightly dry, or sticky, depending on the day and the weather. Mine was quite sticky, so I added a little more flour to it and had lots of flour underneath to prevent sticking. I formed mine into a long rectangle, but you can form a circle if you like. If your batter is slightly dry, just press together to form either a rectangle or square.
Mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a fork. Then sprinkle over the top of your dough, lightly pressing the topping into the dough.
Cut your rectangle in half, then each half in half again, so you end up with four squares. Then cut each square in half diagonally so you have 8 triangles. (or if you formed in a circle cut with pizza cutter like you do a pizza till you have 8 triangles)
Place on your prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
I suggest eating them right out of the oven with hot chocolate or a tall glass of milk!! YUMMO!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

 I had forgotten about this recipe... how did I do that? I LOVE sweet and sour Chicken! I got this original recipe from our Church Cookbook, it was submitted by Chris Kmetz, but I tweaked it a bit. The original recipe says to cut the chicken into pieces. I like to use really thin chicken breasts (usually the individually frozen chicken breasts are a little thinner than fresh) but you can butterfly them through the thickest part of the breast if it's not thin enough. I leave them whole, and cut into strips after breading and frying. Have you ever had the Mandarin chicken from the Hong Kong?? It's done that way, and I tried to copy that. I LOVE the stuff, and I think this was pretty close! I love Kris's Sweet and Sour sauce tho' I make it a lot and use it as a dip for egg rolls or pot stickers. YUM!  Also, I put pineapple chunks and diced green pepper over my chicken but that is optional, just the chicken and sauce is good on rice. I serve this with some stir fried vegetables on the side. Double YUMMO!!
Sweet and Sour Chicken
4 to 6  thin chicken breasts, (you want them about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick, I used 5)
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs

1 green bell pepper, diced into about 1-inch pieces
1 small can pineapple tidbits, drained (drink the juice over ice! Yum)
Hot cooked rice (cooked according to package or see my note below)
Soy Sauce for garnish if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Butterfly the chicken breasts through the thickest part if they are thick. In a shallow pie plate, whisk the flour, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper together with a fork. In another bowl or dish (big enough to dip your chicken in) whisk the eggs until lemon colored and slightly frothy.
In a large skillet, heat enought oil so it'a about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. When oil is hot, dip each chicken breasts into the corn starch, then dip into the beaten eggs,

 then carefully place in hot oil, and brown on each side. Takes about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. When brown, place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with paper towels.

While cooking chicken, make the sauce:
Whisk the following together in a medium size sauce pan:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
6 Tablespoons catsup
2 chicken boullion cubes
3/4 cup white vinegar
6 Tablespoons water
4 teaspoons soy sauce
After whisking together, bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

When chicken breasts are browned, place on a cutting board and slice into just over 1/2 inch thick slices.

Place in a 13x9 casserole dish. (I just sliced then slid my knife under each breast and placed in my casserole dish, they almost looked like I didn't cut them) When all of the chicken breasts have been sliced and placed in casserole dish, sprinkle the diced bell pepper and pineapple over the top.

Then pour your sweet and sour sauce over the top of all this and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

While your chicken is in the oven is a good time to cook your rice, most long grain white rice (that isn't minute rice) takes about double the water to how ever much rice you are using

 ( I used Jasmine rice and cooked 2 cups uncooked rice in 4 1/2 cups water...Jasmine rice takes a bit more water) Bring the water to a boil, salt it slightly, then add rice, stir and cover and cook over medium/low heat for 20 minutes, remove from heat and let sit another 5 mintues. Should be perfect! Always check the package though, sometimes the directions are a little different.
When Sweet and Sour chicken is done, serve yourself some rice, then spoon on the chicken and garnish with soy sauce!! I like to serve with stir fried veggies on the side! Enjoy!!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Turkey Jambalaya

I love this recipe for Turkey Jambalaya. I had posted this recipe when I first started my blog, but I made it the other night and revamped it a little by adding the beans, green chili's , and red bell peppers. This is a great way to use up left over turkey, I had some leftover smoked turkey from Sunday and used it instead of the chicken in this recipe. It turned out Yummo!
Turkey Jambalaya
1 package smoked turkey sausage (or polska Kelbasa)(Those horseshoe shaped links)
2 cups diced cooked chicken (or left over turkey)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small can diced green chili's
3 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1 Tablespoon already minced)
1 (14.5) can italian-style diced tomatoes, UNdrained
1 (15 oz.) can red beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's)
Pepper and salt to taste.

Saute Turkey sausage and vegis in large fry pan for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add tomatoes, beans,  broth, rice, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce,seasoning and chicken. Mix well, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.
Serve with crispy french bread and a salad! YUMMO!!!

I've added sliced carrots too, with the vegis. And sometimes for more heat.. I add a little cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika.
This goes great with salad and crusty french bread!! And it's a good way to use Turkey leftovers!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Samoas Cupcakes

I ran across this recipe one day when browsing through my favorite recipe blogs, and oh my goodness!! Who doesn't love Samoas Girl Scout Cookies!! I think I could eat a whole box myself! I had to give them a try, and though they aren't the Girl Scout Cookies they were definitely worth making. This cake recipe is a good homemade chocolate cake recipe. I found this recipe here . I followed the recipe exactly as printed below for the cake, but tweaked the frosting just a bit with more powdered sugar. Then,  I bought some carmel icecream topping, and when my cupcakes were cooled, I scooped out a spoonful of cake from the top and added a squirt of caramel sauce, and then put my cake back in and iced like the recipe said. These are really rich, but oh so Yummo!!

Samoas Cupcakes
Makes approximately 20-24 cupcakes
Preparation: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill cupcake wells with paper liner.

Chocolate Cupcake:
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups + 4 Tablespoons cake flour ( 2 cups all purpose flour)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a bowl, mix sour cream and baking soda together; set aside. Sift flour and cocoa powder; set aside. Using a mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in salt and beat until combined. Add in eggs and beat until combined. Add in egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined.
Turn off mixer and, using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, add in sour cream mixture and flour mixture, alternating in thirds. Fold in each rotation, beginning with the sour cream and ending with the flour mixture, mixing each rotation until just combined. Fill cupcake liner two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons of heavy cream
½ teaspoons of kosher salt

1 cup of  butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to medium/high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly or it will crystalize. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. After the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes,  add butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine. Set aside, (I put mine in the fridge to cool while I started the buttercream.)
Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Beat until combined. . Add in caramel sauce and beat until combined. May need to add another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if necessary, You want your buttercream on the thicker side of frosting so it holds up well.

Toasted Coconut:
½ cup of sweetened coconut
Spread coconut onto a small cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until shreds start to turn light brown.

Chocolate Drizzle:
¼ cup milk chocolate chips
Heat milk chocolate in microwave for about 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency. Stir, if not quite melted microwave for 15 seconds more. Stir. Should be drizzly, place in a decorator bag with small round tip or in a sandwich baggy with one corner cut to make a small hole.

To assemble:
1. Pipe salted buttercream frosting on cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle coconut on top of frosting and finish with chocolate drizzling.
Just a note: I might try going for this same flavor of cupcake but use a cake mix instead, and then smuckers Carmel Ice Cream topping in the Buttercream frosting intead of making my own caramel sauce. Just a note in case you are in a hurry. But this original recipe was delicious.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Scones

I know I have said this a lot before, but after chocolate my next favorite flavor is lemon. I love scones too, not the fried bread kind (of course I love those too), but the real kind of scones that are a little more like biscuts. I found this recipe here: but I tweaked it a bit. I found it needed just a bit more sugar which I have posted the amount I used  in my recipe here. I love to glaze mine right out of the oven, and then drizzle a colored glaze on later after they cool, it looks prettier that way. These were way good and way lemony! Great for breakfast with a glass of milk! Yum!
Lemon White-Chocolate Chip Scones
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup skim milk
3 Tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup to 1 cup white chocolate chips
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk, lemon juice, zest and extract along with one egg and one egg yolk. Mix until blended. Stir in the White chocolate chips. Lightly knead on a heavily floured surface  a couple of times (This dough is rather sticky and you don't want to work it too much or the scones will be tough. Place dough on a wax paper or plasitc wrap-lined  small cookie sheet (mine is 9 x12), form  dough into a rectangle, cover with more plasitc wrap or waxed paper, then chill dough for about an hour.

Remove from cookie sheet and remove the top layer of plastic wrap and cut in half length wise, then cut each have into 3 squares, then cut each square in half cross-wise to form triangles. Place  onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (you can use a non -stick cooking spray, I just love parchment paper though)  a few inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 -25 minutes until golden brown.
While scones are baking make lemon glaze:
Lemon Glaze
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 3 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Whisk together until smooth. Brush this glaze on warm scones. Then add another 1/2 cup powdered sugar to the glaze and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. Whisk until smooth, then place in a decorator's bag with a small circle tip. (can use sandwich bag and cut the very tip of one corner off to make a small hole) Then drizzle on top of scones when they are cool.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tortellini Minestrone Casserole

I saw this recipe on the Betty Crocker recipe site and it looked way yummo so I had to give it a try!! I love easy casseroles on a cold day after working all day. This was way easy to throw together, but it does bake for about an hour, so be sure to plan for that.  When it was done it was on the runnyside, and I almost didn't post it, but the flavor was delicious and my family ate the entire casserole!! I think if you let it set for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving maybe some of the juice will soak up into the tortellini's a bit. It reminded me of the Italian sausage Tortellini soup that I have on my blog, but a little different, more veggies and no, it wasn't THAT soupy. I even had to sneak some to put in Jim's lunch for the next day before it was all gone! I did change it up from the original recipe, I didn't add any extra water like the recipe calls for, and I added the hot sausauge. I would serve this with a garden salad and crusty french bread to soak up the juice! Enjoy!! (also we had eaten the whole casserole before I remembered to take a picture of mine, so the picture above is borrowed from the Betty Crocker site) :o)

Tortellini Minestrone Casserole
1 (1lb) package Jimmy Dean HOT sausage
1 package (9 oz) Buitoni refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
1 bag (12 oz)frozen Birdseye Italian Blend Steam fresh vegetables
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
1 can (15 oz) great northern beans, rinsed, drained **see note below
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce with basil, garlic and oregano
Dash or two of salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Mozzerella cheese
1/4 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375°F.
Remove sausage from package and brown in a medium skillet. Drain off the fat.
In ungreased 13 x 9 glass baking dish, mix all ingredients except cheese. Yes, just throw everything into your casserole dish, veggies still frozen, and your tortellini right out of the package, see how easy?? (your Tortellini will cook while baking) Stir around a little bit, and cover with foil.
Bake 45 minutes. Uncover and stir well. Sprinkle with both cheeses. Bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes longer or until center is hot and cheese is golden brown.
Makes  about 4 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)

**for more color, you can substitute  red kidney beans or Cannellini beans are a good substitute for great northern beans too.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I have been on a mission to find a good Key Lime Cupcake... and I think I finally did it!! I made two batches last week from different recipes and ended up throwing them away. This week I ran across this recipe on the Food Network, and tweaked it a bit and it turned out DELICIOSO!!! MMMMMM!!  I LOVE key lime. To make them a little more Key Limey which is a more tart flavor, (I couldn't find key limes in Blackfoot) I put 1 Tablespoon lemon juice with the 2 tablespoons lime juice.  These remind me of the Key Lime Truffles you get at See's Candy stores! I always spoil myself with one whenever I am in a mall that has See's Candys. These cupcakes were my little splurge this weekend! Yummo!! I especially love the frosting!!!

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon grated lime zest (about 2 or 3 limes worth)
2 tablespoons lime juice (bottled or freshly squeezed) **see note at bottom of recipe
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons Cake flour (or 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 drop green food coloring
1 cup loosely packed sweetened coconut

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon  lime juice (bottled or freshly squeezed)
1 drop green food coloring
Toasted coconut for garnish (follow toasting coconut directions on package)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, key lime zest, lime and lemon juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the food coloring to the Buttermilk.  In 5 parts total, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold the coconut into the cupcake batter.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill each liner almost to the top with batter. A spring loaded 1/4 cup ice cream scoop works great for this and ensures the cupcakes are all the same size. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops begin to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to a baking rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the frosting.
In a small microwave safe bowl, place the white chocolate chips, microwave for about 1 minute, then stir. This should be enough time to melt the chips comepletely, but if not, microwave for 15 seconds more. Stir, and if melted set aside.
Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add the salt, vanilla extract, lime juice, and drop of green food coloring and mix until very smooth. Add more powdered sugar if too thin, you want the frosting thick to hold it's shape when icing the cupcakes.  Add the melted white chocolate and mix just until incorporated.
Fill a decorator bag that has your desired decorating tip in it, with the icing and swirl around the tops of the cupcakes starting around the outside and working towards the center. Garnish with toasted coconut.

**for the juice I squeezed the juice out of 1 lemon and 3 limes and mixed together, and then put about 3 to 4 tablespoons in the cake batter and the rest in the frosting, may have been slightly more than 2 Tablespoons. I used these limes for the zest in the batter.

Almond Poppyseed Cupcakes with Buttercream frosting

I've been on a cupcake kick lately. When we were looking at wedding cakes and flavors we went to Sugarbakers and tasted cakes. She had a lemon poppyseed cake and an almond butter cake that were to die for. I thought I'd make an almond cupcake but put poppyseeds in it to be different. These turned out yummo!! I definitely recommend using cake flour when making cupcakes, they turn out lighter and fluffier.

Almond Poppyseed Cupcakes with Buttercream frosting
Makes about 12 cupcakes

1- 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
1- 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs or 3 small, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons cake flour (or just 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1- 1/2 Tablespoons poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place cupcake liners in muffin pan.
In mixer bowl cream butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition on low speed. Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix well.
In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In 5 parts total, add flour mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with the flour. Mixing until just combined.
Fold in the poppyseeds.
Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 's full (close to the top)
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tops begin to turn golden brown around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
Remove from oven and allow to cook in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let finish cooling on a cooling rack.
Prepare the frosting.

Almond Buttercream Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (can add more if a stonger almond flavor is desired)
3 to 3 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
Milk (as needed)
Slivered almonds for garnish

In the bowl of a mixer, place the butter, and flavorings. Whip until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. Add 1 Tablespoon of milk and whip for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add more milk if necessary or a little more powdered sugar if needed, you want a thicker frosting so it won't run off the cupcakes.
Place icing into a decorator bag with desired decorating tip in place.
Swirl around the top of each cupcake, and garnish with a couple of slivered almond slices.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

I loved this cupcake recipe since I love Lemon and Raspberry flavors together! These turned out great, this recipe came from I followed the recipe for the cake pretty close to the original, but I did my own thing with the frosting. You could garnish with a fresh raspberry on top, but I didnt' have any so I put a little lemon zest on top.

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes
makes approximately 24 cupcakes

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two lemons
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins by using liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray
To Make The Cake:
1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Whisk together the milk, lemon juice and egg whites in a medium bowl, set aside.
3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Place the batter into the cupcake tins.
4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Cool on wire rack.

Di's Raspberry Buttercream

1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar approximately, may need a bit more
1 or 2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 can raspberry pie filling (aprox.)

In large mixing bowl, whip the butter, vanilla, and lemon extract together until smooth. Slowly, add the powdered sugar, and add 1 tablespoon milk or more if needed, you want this to be really thick.
Whip on high speed for 2 minutes.
Slowly stir in the raspberry pie filling (Start with a large spoonful, and add as desired). Add more milk if necessary until you have the right consistency. You want a thicker icing if you are using a decorating bag, so it stands up. I used a decorator bag with a tip that had a big hole, and swirled around the outside working into the middle.
Ice cooled cupcakes as desired and garnish with fresh raspberries and lemon zest if desired.
You could also scoop out a little of the cupcake and add a little spoonful of straight raspberry pie filling to the cupcake then put cake you scooped out back and then ice. Viola, filled cupcakes!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

I have been experimenting with cupcake recipes lately. They seem to have become quite popular lately. I have found a few failures, which I won't mention, but I have also found a few good ones. I'll post the ones I liked. This one is one I found on I will post again here, I followed it pretty close I think, and we loved them!!!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
12 whole OREO Cookies, Twisted Apart With Cream Filling attached to one half (if you can)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
½ teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ teaspoons  Salt
4 Tablespoons Butter (room Temp.)
3/4 cup granulated Sugar
1-½ whole Large Eggs Whites, Room Temp
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ cups Milk
10 whole OREO Cookies, Coarsely Chopped (I Quarter Them)
6 Oreo's cut in half, to place on cupcake after frosting

4 ounces, Cream Cheese, Room Temp
3 Tablespoons Butter
1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups Powdered Sugar

Preparation Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the wells of cupcake pans with 12 paper liners. Place an Oreo half in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. (Place the other half without the cream in a ziploc baggie, and crush with a rolling pin, these will garnish the top later)
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract.
With the mixer on low speed, beat half of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 14-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Don’t overbeat because it can become runny. If frosting is a bit runny put it back in the fridge for an hour for it to set-up.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves -- but don’t garnish until just before serving because the cookies will get soggy.

Pulled Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

My life has been way busy lately, and full of changes, but I did find time to make pulled pork tacos, you know how I love tacos!!  I saw the Neely's make them a while back on the Food network. Although, I didn't look up their recipe and did my own thing, these turned out way yummo!!! I made a pineapple salsa to go on the top, and also pico de gallo. We liked them best with a spoonful of both on top with cheese and an avocado slice on top. Yum!!!

Pulled Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

1 Pork Roast (any kind, I used a pork shoulder roast about 2 to 3 lbs)
salt and pepper
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup diced onion
olive oil
12 Corn Tortillas
1 Avocado, sliced into thin strips
Pineapple Salsa (recipe to follow)
Pico de Gallo (see recipe under salsa's)
Grated Cheese

Place Pork roast in a crock pot along with the chicken broth and season with salt, pepper, Chili powder, ground cumin, and a little cayenne pepper. I just sprinkled some of each of the seasonings all over the roast. After this cooks you can season to taste. You could also just pour on some enchilada sauce instead of chicken broth.  I let my roast cook in the crock pot all day while I was at work. This makes it fall apart when you are ready to make the tacos.
When pork is done remove to a plate, strain juice and set aside. Let the pork cool slightly until cool enough to handle. Pull apart and shred with a fork.
In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of oil, then add the diced onion and saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Then add shredded pork, cook 2 or 3 more minutes until hot. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Add a little of the reserved juice if pork is on the dry side.
Fry corn tortillas in skillet with about 1/2  inch of hot oil 1 at a time for about 30 seconds or so on each side, drain on paper towel. ( You want to cook them, but you still want them soft).
To assemble, spoon a spoonful or two of pork on 1 tortilla, add a spoonful of pineapple salsa and pico de gallo if desired. Sprinkle on some grated cheese, and add a slice of avocado. Fold over like a taco and enjoy!!

Pineapple Salsa
1 medium size pineapple, cored and quartered
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper (or two if you like spice)
At this point, I grilled my pineapple and veggies on a grill at medium heat for about 10 minutes or until they had good grill marks, turning after 5 minutes. I think grilling them just makes the flavors of each taste a little sweeter. You don't have to grill them at all if you don't want to.
Cool, then dice everything and place in a medium size bowl.
Then add:
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want your salsa)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Toss to combine.

Portabella Mushroom Tacos

I love tacos. My hubby and I thought it would be awesome to see if we could do a meatless Monday  and Portabella mushrooms have a grea...