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!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY and Hasselback Potatoes

Sorry I don't blog so much any more... it was running my life before and I would panic if I couldn't fine a recipe to post every week... plus I gained weight trying so many different recipes... then I took a step back and had to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place. I did it because I wanted my daughter to have access to my recipes while in college and I hate writing things down. Much faster to type. Also I would take desserts to work and parties and people would ask for my recipe and it's much easier to tell them where my blog is or just print it out for them. I took a step back and decided I was doing this for the wrong reason, recognition and praise and that's not why I started it. Sometimes it's easy to get a big head along with wide hips :). I decided to get healthy , exercise and breathe... Life is too short to stress out. So that is why I have backed off a bit. If you like my recipes, I am happy to share them. Hope you enjoy them and love cooking for your family as much as I do.
Today tho, it is Valentines day... I love cooking for my hubby. We bought some chuck eyed steak which I sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce and Grill mates Montreal steak seasoning. Then I grill out side on the grill on high heat for 4 or 5 minutes per side, depending on how pink you like them in the middle. I made Hasselback Potatoes and roasted green beans with bacon. I also sauteed mushrooms and chopped onions in butter and balsamic glaze to go on top of the steaks.  Yumalicious!! Me and my hubby would much rather cook and eat at home than go out to eat. Too often we end up disappointed in the meal, and shocked at the cost for what you get. Here is the recipe for hasselback potatoes.. They are easy and look fancy on a plate along side a steak and roasted veggie....

Hasselback Potatoes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Stir together the butter, olive oil, chives, onion powder, garlic powder and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Place a potato between the handles of 2 wooden spoons or 2 chopsticks. Slice the potato into thin slices, leaving 1/4 inch at the bottom unsliced; the spoon handles will prevent you from slicing the potato all the way through. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.
Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and brush on the butter mixture, making sure to get in between all the slices. Bake until tender and crisp, 45 to 60 minutes.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Taco Chicken and Quinoa Salad bowl

I have been doing the 21 Day Fix since last August... I have lost 20 pounds and last time I measured 16 inches over all. I FEEL better and have more energy and eating healthy has become a happy habit and exercising is my way to unwind after a day a work instead of vegging on the couch and eating.... My challenge is to come up with healthy recipes that are ok for the 21 day eating plan. I love making meals that aren't just meat and salad but a little more exciting. I came up with this recipe the other night and it's delicious! Feel free to substitute things that you have on hand... I just added things I thought would be delicious. Enjoy!

Taco Chicken and Quinoa Salad bowl
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 taco seasoning packet (your choice of brand)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Lime juice , optional
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I only used about 1/2 a can)
1 can corn, drained and rinsed (I only used about 1/2 a can)
Salt and pepper
Cumin, if desired

1 cup Quinoa, cooked according to package directions
   Salt and Pepper, Garlic powder, and onion powder for seasoning, unless you use an already       seasoned package of Quinoa

Salad mix
Grated cheese
Ranch dressing

First- Mix the taco seasoning with 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a couple of splashes of lime juice in a large bowl. Slice your chicken into thin bite size strips and place in bowl with marinade. Toss to coat. Set aside.
In Large skillet heat a Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced bell pepper and onion and saute about 5-10 minutes until tender. Add the Black beans and corn and saute another minute or two, season to taste with a little salt and pepper and cumin if desired.
When veggies are tender remove to plate and heat another Tablespoon of Olive oil in your skillet and add the chicken-marinade and all to the pan. Cook over medium high heat until chicken is cooked thru and no longer pink. Your marinade should evaporate or become thick as well.
When chicken is done , add your veggie mixture and toss until combined and warmed thru.
While the veggies are cooking start your Quinoa. I followed the directions on the package and since mine wasn't already seasoned I added a dash or two of salt and Pepper and a little onion powder and garlic powder.  Could also add a little cumin to this if desired.
 When everything is cooked Assemble your salad.
I did this by placing 2 cups of my salad mix to a bowl. Then I added a 1/2 cup of Quinoa, then 1 cup of my chicken mixture. Next came about a Tablespoon of grated cheese, A Tablespoon of Salsa sprinkled around and A light drizzle of ranch dressing...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini
The classic approach to these cheese-filled eggplant rolls—breading and frying—is tedious, and it obscures the signature ingredient. We ditched both steps for a lighter, less fussy dish.

Serves 4 to 6
Select shorter, wider eggplants for this recipe. Part-skim ricotta may be used, but do not use fat-free ricotta. Serve the eggplant with crusty bread and a salad.
  2 large eggplants (1 1/2 pounds each), peeled 
  6 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  Kosher salt and pepper 
  2 garlic cloves, minced 
  1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 
  Pinch red pepper flakes 
  1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse 
  1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces 
  8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese 
  1 1/2 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese (3/4 cup) 
  1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 
  1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese for topping

1. Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12 planks). Trim rounded surface from each end piece so it lies flat.
2. Adjust 1 oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 8 inches from broiler element. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with vegetable oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets. Brush 1 side of eggplant slices with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip eggplant slices and brush with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake until tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using thin spatula, flip each slice over.
Heat broiler.
3. While eggplant cooks, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium-low heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.
4. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Combine bread crumbs, ricotta, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/4 cup basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
5. With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in tomato sauce.
6. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino  and 1/2 cup grated Mozzarella and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve.