Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fruit Salsa

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and have wanted to try it out for a while. Last weekend I decided to give it a go... So YUMMY! If you are going to make a brunch this is a perfect treat/ appetizer / beginner......while you are cooking eggs or frittata or whatever you want for brunch. Loved it. You can put any fruit you want in it or add to what I put in it. I might try adding kiwi or melon next time. Yum!

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Crisps
3 10-inch Tortilla Chips (or use about 1 tortilla per person)
Cinnamon Sugar
Cooking spray

1 apple ( I like Pink Lady apples)
1 lime (you can use lemon if you like, I just had a lime)
1 cup strawberries, rinsed and the stems cut off
1 cup raspberries, rinsed and drained
2-3 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam

First, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next spray your tortillas with cooking spray. Using a pizza cutter slice tortillas  into strips then diagonal wedges about 2 inches long. Place on your prepared baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Turn tortilla strips over and sprinkle this side with cinnamon sugar as well. 
Bake for about 8 to 11 minutes until lightly browned and crisp.

While your Crisps are baking: Zest your lime into a large bowl. 
Next slice your apple into large chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse about 10 times or until apple is finely diced. Add to your zest in bowl and squeeze the juice from the lime into the bowl, toss with apple. Next add your strawberries and raspberries to the processor and pulse again about 10 times or until berries are about the same size as the apple. Add to the bowl with the apple along with 2 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam. Stir to combine. Taste, if you need more jam or a pinch of sugar add at this point. 
Serve with warm cinnamon crisps and enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Roasted Chickpeas

I have been trying to eat better and healthier since I have lost weight. I saw this recipe on Pinterest the other day and had to give it a try. These are delicious... remind me of those almost popped kernels of pop corn that I love. You can season these anyway you like. Would make a nice little snack while watching a movie. YUM!

Roasted Chickpeas
1 or 2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
olive oil
spices of your choice (I used smokey paprika, cayenne pepper and salt)

After rinsing the chick peas, pour them onto a paper towel lined pan, and pat them off with another paper towel. Get them as dry as you can. I put mine in a large mixing bowl after they were dry.
Drizzle with about a Tablespoon or two of olive oil and toss to coat. Then sprinkle with your choice of seasonings, I put about 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne and a few dashes of salt. I only did one can of chick peas, adjust seasonings to your desired taste. Toss to coat with seasoning then pour your chickpeas onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
PLACE YOUR PAN OF CHICK PEAS INTO A COLD OVEN. Then turn the heat to 425 and let roast for about 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown--Stirring them every 10 minutes. Turn off oven and let the chick peas sit in there for another half an hour. Remove from oven and let cool comepletely. Store in zip loc baggie or storage container.... if you don't eat them first.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Bean and Bacon Soup

I Love bean and bacon soup... reminds me of when I was little and would eat the canned bean and bacon soup with soda crackers.... LOTS of soda crackers. But since I am grown my tastes of grown too. I watched the pioneer woman (my usual Saturday morning 'I need to stay in bed longer' ritual) the other day and she made this and yes, I just had to try it. Click here for the original recipe.  I didn't soak my beans like she did, just bought the canned great northern beans. (saves time) I also like to cook my bacon on a foil lined cookie sheet in the oven. Stays flat and you can cook a lot more too. I made the soup according to her recipe but something was missing. You know the canned soup from my child hood kind of had a smoky flavor???.... So I added a little smoky paprika, and liquid smoke to it and a little thyme. Loved it.
I served this with Grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches (love to use Monterey jack cheese when making grilled cheese sandwiches and this time I added a couple of slices of cooked bacon) OH MY goodness!! IF you haven't made a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon in it you MUST try! I like to cut my grilled cheese into strips... that way you can dunk into the soup. Enjoy!!

Bean and Bacon Soup
6 to 8 slices thick-cut peppered bacon-cooked ahead of time (see below)
1 whole Onion, Diced
2 whole Large Carrots, Peeled And Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 to 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
4  to 6 cups  Chicken Stock (I used a whole box of chicken stock)
3-(14 oz) Can great northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (I had hickory flavored on hand)
2 whole Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste (I start out with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
Chopped cooked bacon for garnish, if desired

Cook your bacon by preheating the oven to 375. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place strips of bacon across the baking sheet in a single layer. Baker for 20 to 22 minutes until cooked through and crispy. Remove from baking sheet onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. 
SAVE THE BACON FAT. I pick up the corners of the foil and form a funnel and pour into an empty clean jar with a lid. You will use for this recipe and then you can store in the refrigerator for other uses. (It's great to saute veggies in for different soups and I like to drizzle on brussels sprouts before baking in the oven.)
Chop the bacon into small bite size pieces, set aside about 1/2 cup or so for garnishing. The rest goes in the soup. (If you made more than 10 pieces save some in strips for grilled cheese sandwiches)
In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease, then add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften, add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon or so of Flour, and stir. Then add the Thyme, parsley,  paprika, and salt and pepper. Let cook for another minute and the seasonings start to be fragrant.
Next add your Chicken broth, beans, the bay leaves and liquid smoke and chopped bacon. Stir at this point to make sure all the seasoning and flour are scraped off the bottom of the pan and all combined. Bring this up to a boil, then turn the heat down to a medium / low heat and let simmer for at least a 1/2 hour or up to an hour or so. If you need to add more broth you can. I think I added another cup or two. Cook until your veggies are tender. Taste and add more salt and Pepper if necessary. 
Serve and garnish with bacon bits. AND it goes great with grilled cheese. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Samoa" Truffle Bites

Don't you love spring and girl scout cookie time? As you know from some of my other posts, I LOVE samoa cookies. I love making truffles that are a bite size taste of things I love. Like my key lime truffles... I came across some recipes for samoa truffles so I combined what sounded yummy from the recipes I found and came up with this. Yum!

"Samoa" Truffle Bites
2 cups toasted coconut
1 cup crushed vanilla wafers
1-11  oz package caramel candy's, unwrapped
3 Tablespoons heavy cream or half n' half
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

First of all , toast your coconut according to the directions on the package. Ok, I will put the directions here as well. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake in the oven until golden brown. This can take 7 to 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on it,  once it starts to brown it browns quick. When nice and toasty brown remove from the oven and set aside.

Place unwrapped caramels into a medium size saucepan along with the 3 Tablespoons of cream. Melt over a medium / medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the caramel is all melted. Stir in the crushed vanilla wafers and toasted coconut.
Once the mixture is all mixed together you can either scoop out by teaspoon full onto a parchment lined being sheet or buttered baking sheet. OR you can roll into about a 1 inch in diameter log once it's cool enough to handle (this is what I did) you can set this on a baking sheet and let it cool in the refrigerator. DON'T wrap in wax paper ... it sticks to caramel.
Once the logs are cool you can cut into bite size pieces... no need to roll them in a ball. Set aside.
Melt your chocolate in a microwave safe bowl by microwaving for about 30 seconds... then stir. Melt again for 15 seconds then stir. Keep microwaving for 10 to 15 seconds and stirring until all the chips are melted.
Now, dip each piece of the coconut caramel balls/ bites into the chocolate. I just dipped the bottom but you can dip the whole thing if you desire. I dipped the bottom then placed on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once they were all dipped I put the remaining chocolate in a pastry bag and striped the tops.
Let cool to set either in a cool room or in the refrigerator. Then enjoy! YUM!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Almost Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Oh man... this recipe is awesome. I found it while browsing on pinterest. You know what I love most about peanut butter cups? the peanut butter filling and this recipe just about does it for me! I think the secret is the crushed graham crackers.... If I let myself I could probably eat this whole recipe in one sitting...
Almost Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Bars
1 cup finely crushed Honey Maid Graham crackers, (about 1 sleeve)
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup Jif creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Milk chocolate chips

Mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, melted butter, and all but 2 Tablespoons peanut butter in a mixing bowl.
Smooth mixture into a parchment paper lined 8 x 8 baking dish. (make sure the parchment paper hangs over the sides of the pan, that way you can lift your bars out of the  pan for easier cutting.)
Set aside.
Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl with the 2 Tablespoons peanut butter. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Microwave for another 15 seconds and stir... keep melting and stirring until all the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.
Spread melted chocolate mixture over the peanut butter mixture in the baking dish.
Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Then cut into squares.... and go ahead have 1 or 2 or 3....

New and Improved Jambalaya

I love to use leftover smoked turkey in Jambalaya.... the recipe I have on here from an earlier post is good, but the last couple of times I have made it the rice gets mushy.... I saw this on Rachel Ray one day and she made the Jambalaya and rice separately. I had to give it a try. I didn't follow Rachel Ray's to the T... I tweaked it a bit for our tastes, and what I had on hand. If you would like the original recipe click here. I also cooked 1 cup Jasmine rice and 1 cup  Quinoa according to the package directions, then I combined the two. I think it makes the rice just a little bit more on the healthy side.
Hope you enjoy!

New and Improved Jambalaya 
adapted from Rachel Rays 'Everything Jambalaya"
1 cup enriched white rice (I use Jasmine)
1 cup Quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-14 oz. package smoked sausage, sliced in about 1/4 inch thick slices, on the diagonal
2 cups leftover cooked chicken or turkey, chopped into bite-size pieces (I use leftover turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped 
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Several drops hot sauce
2 pinches cayenne pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 (14-ounce) can or paper container chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 rounded teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt and black pepper
Chopped scallions or green onions, for garnish if desired
Fresh thyme, chopped for garnish if desired

Cook rice and quinoa according to package directions. (I mix them together after they are cooked)

Place a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to the pan. Add sausage, and cook 2 or 3 minutes until slightly browned around the edges. Add cooked chicken or turkey, onion, celery, pepper, bay, hot sauce and cayenne.
Saute vegetables 5 minutes, sprinkle flour over the pan and cook 1 or 2 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes and broth and season with cumin, chili, poultry seasoning, and Worcestershire. Bring liquids to a boil  and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Remove the pot from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.  Ladle jambalaya into shallow bowls. Using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of the rice quinoa mixture on to the center of the bowlfuls of jambalaya. Sprinkle dishes with chopped scallions or green onions, and thyme leaves if desired.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

I saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman one Saturday and had to try for a Valentine's Day Dessert... I adapted to what I had on hand. I had also watched America's Test Kitchen make a Raspberry Charlotte so I did just a bit of what they did to the raspberry filling. This was delicious....Instead of putting mine all in one pie, I divided into 4 ramekins....that way we could romantically share one... or we could each have our own. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman
One 10-ounce package shortbread cookies, such as Lorna Doone
4 tablespoons butter, softened1 pint raspberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Approx. 8 oz-White chocolate (like what you would use for dipping candy) coarsely chopped
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Raspberry jam for garnishing if desired.

In a food processor, add the cookies, butter, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and pulse until finely chopped. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or divide into 4 ramekins  Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Set aside 4 raspberries or a few more for garnishing. 
Place the rest of the raspberries in a saucepan with the lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes. Strain into another bowl... this is to strain out the seeds
While the raspberries are simmering, Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin over 1 tablespoon lemon juice , let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. 
Once the raspberries are strained add your softened gelatin to the raspberry puree and whisk for about a minute to dissolve. Set aside.
In a double boiler or a microwave, melt the white chocolate. Set aside to cool a bit.
Next, in a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Slowly add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate. Pour in the raspberry puree and beat to incorporate.

Spread the raspberry mixture into the crust (if using ramekins divide into the 4). If you would like to do what I did,  I put a spoonful of raspberry jam on the top of each ramekin and swirled in with a knife just to make look swirly. Then you can decorate with the reserved raspberries. And if you would like -chop up a bit more white chocolate and sprinkle on top.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. 
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!