Monday, March 31, 2014

Slow Cooker Honey Blackberry Chicken

Good morning and happy Spring!  Isn't it just glorious outside?  Does this weather make you want to spend less or more time in the kitchen?  If I were to guess, I would say less time in the kitchen, more time outside.  Allow me to help you with that. 
You probably already know that I am a HUGE fan of the slow cooker.  I use it year round and especially love it when I would rather be doing other things than sweating in the kitchen.  (Side note:  I get so hot when I cook. I've been known to turn the air down to about 60 degrees when putting a meal together.  While I'm pretty sure that's not one bit energy efficient, it sure does make this girl a whole lot more fun to be around).
Anyway, all this week we are going to be using our slow cookers even for two fabulous (and could I mention that one has Heavenly Chocolate in the title) dessert recipes.  You are going to thank me. 
I've made this chicken recipe a few times and every single time, I love it a little more.  I'm not sure if you're familiar with hoisin sauce but it is an Asian barbeque-type sauce and can be found with other Asian products.  The combination of the honey, soy sauce, blackberry jam and hoisin sauce is simply divine. 

Ingredients:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup honey
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup blackberry jam
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions:
1. Arrange chicken breasts in the slow cooker so that they aren’t overlapping.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, jam, hoisin, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours until chicken is fully cooked.
3. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker.
4. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Transfer the liquids from the slow cooker to the saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a boil and cooked until it reduces and has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken when serving.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

Ingredients for Cookies:
· ½ cup butter, room temperature
· 1/3 cup granulated sugar
· 1 egg
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
· 1 teaspoon baking powder
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
· ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips melted

Ingredients for Icing:
· ½ cup butter
· 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
· 3 tablespoon milk
· 2 ½ cups powdered sugar

Directions for Cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
2. In a large bowl mix together butter and sugar until it’s smooth. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in baking powder and salt.
3. Slowly add flour and melted chocolate chips. Batter will be thick.
4. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Makes approx. 24 cookies. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until cookies are just set. Do not over bake!
5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Directions for Icing:
1. In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder and milk over medium heat, whisking until melted together. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar.
2. Pour icing over cookies and allow to set before serving.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 pound ground chicken
2 green onions, finely diced
1 egg
½ cup panko crumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
½ cup hot sauce, divided
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, onions, eggs, panko crumbs, garlic powder, salt, blue cheese and ¼ cup hot sauce. Gently fold together to combine but don’t over mix.
3. Form the mixture into small meatballs, about 28. Place meatballs on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
4. While meatballs are baking, mix together remaining ¼ cup hot sauce and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds or until butter melts. Stir well.
5. Remove the meatballs from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place the meatballs on a serving dish and drizzle with hot sauce/butter mixture.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Madness of March

It's Wednesday so another great article from Crevolyn. Click on over to the Gainesville Times site here or pick up a copy of the paper today. It's all about March Madness!

Beef Enchilada Dip

Ingredients:
· 1 ½ pounds ground beef
· ½ medium onion
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 2 cups enchilada sauce
· 1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese
· 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
· Sour cream, optional
· Tortilla chips

Directions:

1. Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain the beef. Add in onion and garlic and cook until tender.
2. Stir in enchilada sauce and top with grated cheese. Cover to allow cheese to melt, about 3 minutes
3. Top with sour cream and serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stuffed Fritos

Ingredients:
· 48 Frito Scoops (must be Scoops)
· 1 pound ground beef
· 1 packet taco seasoning
· 1 cup grated Colby jack cheese
· ¼ cup salsa
· 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely diced
· Sour cream

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place scoops on a large baking sheet.
3. In a large skillet brown and drain the ground beef. Add the taco seasoning, cheese, salsa and cilantro.
4. Fill the scoops, each with about 1 tablespoon of ground beef mixture. Place in oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Top with a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chicken and Pineapple Sliders

Welcome to March Madness! All this week we'll be talking about recipes that are perfect for watching The Big Dance!

We had these for supper last night and YUM!


Ingredients:
· 4 chicken breasts, cut in half
· ¾ cup Italian dressing
· Salt and Pepper, to taste
· 8 slices provolone cheese.
· 8 pineapple slices
· 4 tablespoons butter
· Mayonnaise or barbeque sauce, to taste
· 8 dinner rolls, cut in half horizontally

Directions:
1. Place chicken and Italian dressing in a gallon size resealable bag. Refrigerate for about 2 hours. Remove from bag and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium heat. Grill chicken breasts until juices run clear and internal temperature is 165 degrees, about 10 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and immediately place cheese on chicken.
3. In the same pan, grill pineapple slices about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and keep warm.
4. Spread about ¼ tablespoon butter on each half of rolls and grill butter side down just until browned. Remove and spread with mayonnaise or barbeque sauce.
5. Assemble slider by adding chicken and pineapple on each roll.










Friday, March 21, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

My friend, Molly had been telling me about this cake for months.  She could not say enough good things about it.  So I thought I would try it for Emily's family birthday dinner.  Oh my word, it was just as delicious as Molly said it would be.    Maybe better.  We didn't even miss the flour.   We all enjoyed a big slice with a cold glass of milk.  The pictures of the cake with candles below are Emily's dad's attempt at humor.  Just for the record, she is only 28. 

Ingredients for Cake:
· 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
· ½ cup butter
· ¾ cup white sugar
· ¼ teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
· 3 large eggs
· ½ cup cocoa powder

Ingredients for Glaze:

· 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
· ½ cup heavy cream

Directions for the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Grease it and lay in the bottom.
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if needed.
3. Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and mix just to combine.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 25 minutes. The top will form a thin crust. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.
6. Loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and turn out to onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom. Allow cake to cool completely before glazing.

Directions for the Glaze:
1. Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until the cream is very hot but not simmering. Remove from the microwave and stir until the chocolate melts and mixture is completely smooth.
2. Spoon the glaze over the cake; spreading it to drip over the sides. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving.








Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meatless Tostadas

Ingredients:
1 can refried beans
3 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 (8.5 ounce) pouch ready to serve Santa Fe rice, prepared according to package directions
1 can black beans
2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese
12 tostada shells
Toppings: pico de gallo; avocado, black olives

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together refried beans and taco seasoning.
Layer refried beans, rice and black beans on tostada shells. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with toppings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Three Bean Vegetable Chili

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can ( 14 1/2-ounce) vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 cans (15 ounce) white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
1 can (15-ounce) pink beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen shelled edamame
1/4 cup, plus additional leaves for garnish, fresh cilantro, chopped
Sour cream (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:
In 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil on medium-high until hot. Add carrots, celery, garlic, and onion, and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until all vegetables are browned and tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add tomatoes, broth, and water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir white kidney beans and pink beans into Dutch oven; cover and cook 10 minutes longer. Stir in frozen edamame and cook, uncovered, 5 to 7 minutes or until edamame are just tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir 1/4 cup cilantro into chili. Garnish with sour cream and cheese.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Asparagus and Tomato Frittata

Ingredients:
· 6 large eggs
· 2 tablespoons whipping cream
· ½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
· ¼ teaspoon pepper
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 1 tablespoon butter
· 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
· 1 tomato, seeded and diced
· ½ cup provolone cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat the broiler. Whisk together the eggs, cream, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a 9-inch diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and sauté until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt. Sauté 2 more minutes.
3. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
4. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and slide onto plate.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:
· 3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced (about ¼-inch slices)
· Sea salt
· 2 eggs, beaten
· 4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
· 6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
· 1 (16 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
· ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
· ½ teaspoon dried basil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. To remove bitterness, sprinkle eggplant with sea salt and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Dip eggplant in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes on each side.
3. In a 9x13-inch baking dish spread half of spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce and cheese. Sprinkle basil on top.
4. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chocolate Mint Bars

How about we celebrate St. Patty's Day with a yummy bar full of a brownie base, green minty center and chocolate glaze over the top?  Okay, I think we shall.  These are amazing and kinda like potato chips, you can't eat just one.  So proceed with caution. 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) plus 6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon mint extract
4 drops green food color
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9-inch baking pan. Place 1 cup (2 sticks) butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium heat for 2 minutes or until melted. Stir in granulated sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; beat well. Add cocoa, flour and baking powder; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
To prepare the mint cream center, combine powdered sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, water, mint extract and food color. Beat until smooth. Spread evenly on brownies. Cover; refrigerate until cold.
Prepare Chocolate Glaze by placing remaining 6 tablespoons butter and chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium heat for 1 minute or until mixture is smooth when stirred. Cool slightly; pour over chilled dessert. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Best Ever Scones

Last Wednesday, I had the great pleasure of speaking to a fabulous group of women known as the Commerce Club.  I am a member of this group but let me just tell you, I feel like a boy among men, or more appropriately a girl among women.  This group of professional women are smart, educated, articulate, creative, and each one accomplished in their respective fields.  So why they asked me to speak, I'm not sure but I was honored to have the opportunity.  We had the best time together.    I talked about Spring Entertaining and shared several recipes.  I mentioned this recipe and then didn't have a printed copy to give.  So Commerce Club ladies (and all blog readers) below is the best recipe I've ever come across for scones.   These would be perfect for a Mother's Day Tea or a baby or bridal shower.   For some reason, scones seem to intimidate some but please don't let it get the best of you.  This recipe is easy and the results are amazing.  I've listed several options for additions but feel free to make it your own.  You'll be glad you did!

Ingredients:
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup of raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, blackberries or chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened. Mix in the raisins (or whatever you prefer).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Roll or pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Four Layer Pecan Pie

Ingredients:
· 1 refrigerated pie crust
· 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
· 1/2 cup sugar, divided
· 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
· 4 eggs, divided
· 1 cup corn syrup
· 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Unroll pie crust and place in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, pressing crust firmly into plate.
3. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 egg. Beat at low speed until smooth; set aside.
4. In another medium bowl, beat 3 eggs. Add remaining sugar, the corn syrup, and remaining vanilla; mix well.
5. Spread cream cheese mixture in pie crust. Sprinkle with pecans and slowly pour corn syrup mixture over pecans.
6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until center is set. Let cool, then refrigerate 4 hours or until ready to serve.

To Freeze: Once cooled, wrap pie in plastic wrap and then heavy duty foil. Can be refrigerated up to 1 month.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chicken Gumbo Pot Pie

Ingredients:
2 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
4 medium ribs celery, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 bag (16-ounce) frozen sliced okra
1 can (14 ½ ounce) diced tomatoes
1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large skillet, cook bacon until browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
3. Sprinkle chicken with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook chicken in bacon fat in 2 batches, 5 or 6 minutes per batch or until beginning to brown. Transfer chicken to a medium bowl.
4. Using the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium for 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for about 7 minutes or until a deep golden brown color, stirring constantly. Gradually add in chicken broth, stirring with whisk to prevent lumps. Heat to boiling and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove skillet from heat.
5. In a large Dutch oven, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add celery, onion and pepper; cook about 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in Cajun seasoning, cooking about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth mixture, okra, tomatoes and remaining salt, heat to boiling on high. Stir in chicken chunks and bacon; reduce heat to medium and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside, stirring occasionally.
6. Divide gumbo between 2 ungreased 9 ½-inch deep-dish pie plates. Top each with 1 sheet puff pastry, tucking pastry corners under to form a round top. Cut six 1-inch slits in pastry to allow steam to escape during baking.
7. Bake one pot pie for 35 minutes or until pastry to golden brown and puffed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Meanwhile, prepare second pot pie for freezing.

To Freeze: Cover tightly with plastic wrap and heavy-duty aluminum foil. Freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes and then bake as directed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birthdays are kind of a big deal in my family

Birthdays are kinda a big deal is what this week's Cooking with Crevolyn column in the Gainesville Times is all about!  Check it out here!

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:
· 3 cup chopped cooked chicken
· 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
· 1 ¼ cups sour cream
· ½ teaspoon chili powder
· 1 tablespoon butter
· 1 onion, chopped
· 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
· 1 (1.25 ounce) mild taco seasoning mix
· 1 (16-ounce) jar fire-roasted salsa
· ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
· 1 teaspoon lime juice
· ½ teaspoon onion powder
· ½ teaspoon garlic powder
· 6 (12-inch) flour tortillas
· 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
· 1 (10-ounce) jar enchilada sauce
· Toppings: Tomatoes, avocado, green onions, black olives, fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using two forks, shred cooked chicken and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream and chili powder. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, green chilies, taco seasoning, salsa, and cilantro. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice, onion powder and garlic powder, simmer for about 5 minutes.
5. Stir 1 cup of the soup mixture into the skillet with the chicken and spread the remaining soup mixture in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish.
6. Fill each tortilla with the chicken mixture. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese divided equally among the tortillas over the chicken filling before folding the tortillas, reserving the other 1 ½ cups cheese for topping.
7. Fold tortillas over the filling and place seam-side down in the prepared pan.
8. Pour enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Cover with the remaining cheese.
9. Bake in preheated oven until filling is heated through and cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25 minutes.
10. Sprinkle with desired toppings.

To Freeze: Prepare recipe as directed through Step 7. Cover with aluminum foil and freeze up to 1 month. To thaw, put in refrigerator overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Proceed with recipe as directed in Steps 8 through 10.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chewy Fruit and Nut Bars

Ingredients:
 1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
½ cup honey
¾ cup dates, pitted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups regular rolled oats
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped dried apples

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until light golden brown about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Warm honey in a microwave until the consistency of thin syrup. In a food processor, pulse honey, dates, cinnamon and oats until oats are coarsely chopped.
3. Scrape oat mixture into a medium bowl. Break up any clumps of dates and if needed, chop any large date chunks. Stir in nuts, cranberries and apples. Then add honey. Squeeze the mixture into a ball.
4. Line the baking sheet with foil and spraying with cooking spray. Using damp hands, firmly pat mixture onto foil into a compact 6x12-inch rectangle.
5. Freeze until rectangle is firm enough to cut, about 20 minutes. Lift rectangle from foil to a work surface and cut into 16 bars. Wrap bars individually.

To Make Ahead: Will keep frozen for 1 month or refrigerated 1 week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sausage and Grits Quiche

All this week, friends, we are talking about recipes that work great for freezing and serving later.  Because did you know that March is National Fix and Freeze Month?  Who knew, right?  I love to make double of something and put it in the freezer for when I have a busy day and get home late.

This quiche is delish and so versatile.  You can fix and freeze as a single recipe in a 10-inch pie plate; you can make it into a casserole to fix and freeze in a 9x13-inch casserole; or you can just plain fix ... and eat.  Either way, it's awesome!  

Ingredients:
· 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
· 1 (16-ounce) package pork sausage
· 2 cups chicken broth
· 1 cup whipping cream
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1 cup uncooked regular grits (not quick-cooking)
· 1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
· ¼ cup teaspoon pepper
· 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
· 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 ½ tablespoons plain white cornmeal

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Thaw spinach and drain well, pressing it between paper towels.
3. Cook sausage in a large skillet or medium-high heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes or until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink. Remove from skillet and drain.
4. Bring broth, cream and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in Asiago, pepper and ¾ cup cheddar cheese until melted. Mixture will be very thick.
5. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grits into eggs and then stir egg mixture into remaining hot grits. Stir in spinach and sausage until blended.
6. Sprinkle bottom and sides of a lightly greased 10-inch deep-dish pie plate with cornmeal. Spoon grits mixture into pie plate and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese.
7. Bake for 55 minutes or until set. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool 30 minutes.

To Freeze: Prepare recipe as directed through Step 6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place in a 2-gallon resealable plastic freezer bag. Freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes and then bake as directed.

Recipe may be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch baking dish for 1 hour.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

Hi Y'all! I just wanted to jump on the blog today to give you a sneak peak of just a few of my favorite things in the kitchen. I seem to use the same ole items all the time so it was pretty easy for me to pick some to share.

This fabulous little gadget is a meat crumbler. I got it from Pampered Chef several years ago and I use it all the time when cooking ground beef, turkey, chicken or sausage. I would tell you that the only down size to this beauty is that it can be difficult to clean. I've found the best way to solve this problem is to put it in some soapy water as soon as you're finished using it. Then just use a kitchen brush between the sections. Works like a charm!
 

This mini spatula is also a hard working member of the kitchen staff. It's perfect for getting brownies, bars, or sheet cake pieces out of the pan. I use it instead of a knife to cut the slices of these goodies. It's also great for retrieving small cookies off of a cookie sheet. Again, Pampered Chef is the source.

Now, that other little gadget you can hardly see is my newest favorite thing. I ordered it from Amazon right before Christmas and have used it all the time since. There are probably lots of different uses for it but I whisk my eggs with it, whether I'm scrambling eggs for breakfast or breaking them up to put in a recipe. It's the perfect little size for doing just that!

Okay now for the big and gorgeous.  I love this Kitchen Aid Mixer.  These are a little on the pricey side but I believe it is totally worth if you use it a lot.  Which I do. 


My slow cooker is the hardest working appliance in my kitchen.  Granted using one requires some planning but if you get in that habit, it will change your life.  For the better. 


Okay, so technically this may not be a cooking appliance but I love the Keurig.  The one cup brewing is perfect for our family since not all of us drink coffee and it's just so convenient.   
 
So that's just a quick look around my kitchen.  This was fun!  We'll do it again soon! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Italian Cream Cake

Ingredients for Cake:
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Ingredients for Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream togehter 1/2 cup butter and shortening. Add white sugar and beat till fluffy. Beat in egg yolks. Stir together flour and baking soda, and add alternately with buttermilk into the creamed mixture; mix well after each addition. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, coconut, and 1 cup pecans. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Spoon into prepared pans.
Bake for 25 minutes. Test for doneness by touching the top of the cake with your finger. The cake is done if it bounces back up.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking to cool completely.
For the frosting: Combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in mixer bowl. Beat till smooth. Frost the cooled cake. The remaining 1/2 cup pecans can be stirred into frosting or sprinkled on the cake after it is frosted.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

Ingredients:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
2 cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 tablespoon packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
8 ounces fresh tortellini pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:
In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.
Sauté onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lasagna Rolls

Ingredients:
· 6 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
· 1 pound ground beef, Italian sausage or combination of both
· 1 jar of sliced mushrooms
· 1 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1 teaspoon garlic pepper
· 1 jar (14-ounce) spaghetti sauce
· 1 (15-ounce) package of ricotta cheese
· 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. While lasagna noodles are cooking, brown the beef, crumble and drain. Stir in mushrooms, garlic powder, garlic pepper and spaghetti sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
3. Drain noodles and pat dry. Lay out and spread ricotta cheese on each noodle then cover with meat sauce. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons cheese.
4. Roll noodles up and place seam side down in an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

National Pound Cake Day

Did y'all know that today is National Pound Cake Day?! There is nothing this girl loves more than a pound cake so this is definitely my kind of day. You may remember that back in the fall I had the crazy, I mean wonderful, idea to do a Pound Cake Challenge. Over the course of 16 weeks, I made a different kind of pound cake each week. Someone recently asked me if I had a favorite. Well, no. That would be like picking your favorite child and who can do that. However, the whole experience was crazy fun and I came through it all with some great new recipes for pound cakes. I will say that a few that I particularly enjoyed were the Key Lime Pound Cake with Key Lime Glaze (yum!), The Coconut Cream Pound Cake (delish!) and the grand finale of the challenge, the Red Velvet Peppermint Pound Cake (the best Christmas dessert ever!). Hmmm, this all sounds so good I think I'll go make a pound cake ....

Happy Pound Cake Day!

Bruschetta

Okay, I've got to tell you, this is not my cooking in the kitchen today!  This is my girl, Emily, showing off her fine culinary skills.  She's too shy to tell you, so I will, she's a great cook.  Check out this Bruschetta she made!

Ingredients:
6-8 medium tomatoes
3-4 garlic cloves
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing the bread
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper. to taste
Fresh Italian bread, sliced

Directions:

1. Dice the tomatoes, garlic, onion and basil. Combine and add olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Let sit 30 minutes if possible.
2. Just before serving, turn on the broiler of the stove. Arrange bread slices on a large baking sheet and brush generously with olive oil. Toast under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes being careful not to burn.
3. Remove toasted bread from oven and spoon the tomato mixture on. Serve immediately. 







Monday, March 3, 2014

Creamy Tomato and Sausage Fettuccini

Ciao! That happens to be the only Italian word that I know so I just had to use it.  As you might have guessed, around here all this week we are talking Italian food.  We LOVE Italian food at our house in any shape, form or fashion.  This fettuccini recipe is so easy and packs a punch in the taste department.  I use mild Italian sausage but if you're feeling like you need to spice it up a little more, feel free to use the hot version.  To make this meal complete, we added a salad but I'm thinking Emily's recipe for Bruschetta on the blog tomorrow would be a great addition.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients:
· 1 pound fettuccini pasta, cooked according to package directions 
· 1 pound Italian sausage
· 1 small onion, chopped
· 3 tablespoons minced garlic 
· 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
· 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
· 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
· Salt and Pepper, to taste
· 3 tablespoons whipping cream, heavy cream or milk
· Shredded parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions:
1. While pasta is cooking, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once cooked and crumbled, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. 
2. Reduce heat to low and stir in tomatoes, Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer about 10 minutes and stir in cream.
3. Drain the pasta and stir into sausage mixture. Serve immediately and garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.