December 15, 2011

Cinnamon Spirals

These cookies are really fun to make and super easy. It's like making mini cinnamon rolls. They have a nice buttery taste and are nice and light. The recipe came from a Good Housekeeping holiday cookie book I bought at Kohl's last year. They make for a perfect party cookie.

Cinnamon Spirals
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and cream cheese until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in flour and salt until well mixed, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
2. On sheet of plastic wrap, pat dough into small rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm enough to roll. (Or freeze dough for 30 minutes.)
3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
4. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough into 15" by 12" rectangle. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over dough.
5. Starting from a long side, tightly roll rectangle jelly-roll fashion. Brush last 1/2-inch of dough with water to help seal edge. Cut log crosswise in half. Slide logs onto cookie sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice. (Or freeze dough for 45 minutes.)
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove 1 log from freezer; with serrated knife, cut log crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place cookies, 1/2-inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.
7. Bake cookies 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining log. Store cookies in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 3 days, or in freezer up to 3 months.



Rolo Cake Cookies

I saw these cookies on Pinterest and then decided to make them for a family Christmas party last weekend. I bought some Martha Stewart Christmas cookie stencils last year and finally used them. I thought they added a fun touch to these cookies.
Anyway, these cookies are awesome. Not only are they cake cookies, but they have a whole Rolo stuffed inside and after they're baked, the caramel oozes out when you bite into them. So yummy.
Rolo Cake Cookies
3 sleeves of Rolo's (about 21)
1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
2 eggs 
1/3 cup oil

1. Mix cake mix, oil and eggs. Take a small ball of dough and form around the Rolo, covering it entirely. (Only use enough dough to cover the rolo so it can spread through the cookie.)

2. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. 

3. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

November 15, 2011

BLT Sandwich Salad

This salad is as fresh and tasty as it sounds. From the homemade croutons to the homemade dressing, this salad was a hit at our house. Do you know what the best part was though? The caramelized bacon. Yes, caramelized and sooo delicious. It was really the star of the show. I'm pretty sure I would buy a bag of caramelized bacon bits and eat them as a snack if they sold them in stores. Holy cow, total life-changing cooking moment happened when I tasted that bacon. So yummy.

BLT Sandwich Salad 
Adapted from Food Network's Sunny Anderson 
For the salad:
                  1 head romaine or iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
                  2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
                  4 slices white bread
                  1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
                   
For the bacon:
                  1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
                  1 tsp. black pepper
                  6 strips uncooked bacon
                   
For the dressing:
                  1/2 cup mayonnaise
                  1 to 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
                  4 tsp. mustard (I used Dijon mustard)
                  1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
                   
1.    Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Combine the lettuce and tomatoes in a large bowl; set aside.
2.    Meanwhile, cut the bread into crouton-size cubes. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and toast, tossing, until golden, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3.    Make the bacon: Mix the brown sugar and pepper in a small bowl. Add the bacon and press to coat on both sides. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then lay down the strips of bacon. Bake until the bacon is caramelized and crisp, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet. Cut the bacon into bite-size bits using scissors; add to the bowl with the lettuce.
4.    Make the dressing: Whisk the mayonnaise, syrup, mustard and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. (This is enough dressing for the whole salad, but you can use less if you want a less wet salad.) Sprinkle the croutons on top and eat.

November 6, 2011

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

I think making your own salad dressings is the best! You can make them taste exactly how you want and they're so easy to make. I had never really pictured myself making my own vinaigrette, but this was one I couldn't pass up. It's another recipe from ourbestbites.com and it tastes great, especially with fruit on your salad. It's very light and doesn't attack you with a vinegar taste. Oh and I got this bottle at Wal-Mart. So fun for dressings and sauces.

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)

1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

4-5 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed

In the jar of your blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but still maintains some of its texture. Serve with greens, on any type of Mexican salad, or use as a marinade.

August 31, 2011

Double Chocolate Waffles w/Berry Sauce

Let me just start by saying that I bought the cookbook "Our Best Bites" and absolutely love it. They have some unique and classic recipes that are so fun to try. This lovely "breakfast" item is fantastic. It has just the right amount of chocolate and the strawberries/berry sauce totally complete it. Try this now! We had it for dinner but go ahead and eat chocolate for breakfast. It's good for you. 
Double Chocolate Waffles w/Berry Sauce
Recipe from Our Best Bites
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or ¼ cup regular chocolate chips

Berry Sauce & Topping
3 cups strawberries or any berry you prefer
1/4 cup strawberry or raspberry jam
2 Tbsp. hot tap water
Optional: powdered sugar to taste

Start by making the berry sauce since it can sit while you make the waffle batter. Combine jam and warm water and whisk until combined. Add in the berries and gently stir until combined. Depending on the sweetness of the berries, you can add a little powdered sugar if you'd like. Set berry sauce aside and make waffle batter.

Waffles:
1.   Preheat a waffle iron.
2.   Combine flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Use a whisk to combine.
3.   In a separate bowl whisk together sugar, milk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Whisk for a minute so it gets a little frothy.
4.   Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry a little at a time, whisking to combine. Just stir until they're combined and don't over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips. This is a pretty thin batter, so don't be expecting something that looks like a pancake batter. It's supposed to be thin.
5.   Make sure to grease your waffle iron. Place batter in and cook according to your iron. Be careful not to overfill. This batter has plenty of leavening so it will expand.
6.   Top with berry sauce and powdered sugar. Enjoy!

July 25, 2011

Cocoa Berry Cream French Toast

This French toast is as fantastic as it sounds...and looks if I might add. I saw this recipe for Tiriamsiu French Toast on How Sweet It Is, but since coffee isn't my thing I decided to change it up a bit. My favorite part about this is the Neufchatel/cream cheese on top. It just can't get any better than that. This French toast will rock your world so you better try it now while strawberries are still in season!


Cocoa Berry Cream French Toast
8 1-inch slices of French bread
4 whole eggs
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, split

Topping
1/2 cup Neufchatel (less fat) or cream cheese
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 Tbsp. honey (I used huckleberry honey)
maple syrup for serving
sliced strawberries for serving

1.    Slice one loaf of French bread into 1-inch thick slices. In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder and whisk together. Lay bread in dish and let soak in the egg mixture for about 30 seconds each side.
2.    Heat a skillet on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add French toast and fry until golden brown. Flip (adding more butter if needed, use your judgment) and fry on other side. Repeat with remaining slices of bread and tablespoon of butter.
3.    Mix Neufchatel or cream cheese with honey and remaining ½ tsp. cocoa powder and spread on French toast slices while warm. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve with syrup and sliced strawberries.

July 22, 2011

Grilled Stuffed Zucchini and Rhodes Grilled Bread


Oh my word. This stuffed zucchini is out of this world! And this is coming from a girl that has never tried zucchini prior to this summer and has always had a hard time with sausage. Anyway, try this now, like right now. It's honestly amazing! I found this recipe in Our Best Bites cookbook but changed a few things to make it more "Rachelle" friendly.

Grilled Stuffed Zucchini
Adapted from Our Best Bites
4 medium zucchini (about 8”)

5 sausage links

1/4 cup diced red onion or 1 tsp. onion flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, diced or ½-full can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon of dried

2/3 cup pepper jack cheese plus 2 Tbsp. for topping
1 Tbsp. Italian style bread crumbs plus 1 tsp. for topping
¼ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

1.    Slice zucchini in half length wise. Cut off the top and bottom of each slice.
2.    Scoop out the centers, saving them in a bowl. Leave at least 1/4 inch around the edges and bottoms. Take the good parts of the zucchini you scooped out and dice up 1/2 cup. This will go in your filling.
3.    Drizzle the zucchini shells with a little olive oil and use your hands to rub it on all sides. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and black pepper and set aside.
4.    Preheat your grill outside and then start your filling in a skillet on the stovetop. Start by browning the sausage. Dice the sausage and then add the onions, garlic, and diced zucchini. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is tender. Add tomato, basil, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
5.    Take your zucchini to the grill and put them hollow-side down. Grill for about 5 minutes on medium heat. They should have nice charred marks and look tender on the inside.
6.    Add cheese and bread crumbs to filling mixture. Stir to combine and then divide the filling between the zucchini. Top each zucchini with about 1Tbsp. cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Lastly, give them a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
7.    Place them back on the grill filling side up. Close grill lid, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Larger/thicker zucchini will obviously take longer to cook.

*If you’re doing this inside, it will take a little longer seeing as you can’t close the lid to keep in the heat. You also might want to broil them in the oven when they’re finished to help the cheese on top get nice and bubbly.
Rhode's Grill Bread
Now for the Rhode's grill bread. This is no joke made out of just Rhode's dinner rolls, olive oil and some seasoning. All you have to do is thaw four Rhode's dinner rolls (in the fridge for a day), flatten them out to fit the palm of your hand, spritz them with olive oil, shake some seasoning of your choice on both sides and then set them on the grill for about 30-60 seconds per side until they bubble and become crisp. This is the best thing ever. 

Oh and did I mention we grilled some pineapple tonight as well? So yummy.
Try this tomorrow. It will not disappoint!

June 28, 2011

Spinach Mushroom Quiche


So this is an AMAZING quiche. The addition of the soup mix is genius! I got this recipe from my 
All Recipes cookbook and just made a slight change. I also didn't use the crescent rolls because I had 
some leftover frozen pie crust, but I'm sure the rolls make it that much better. This quiche is savory and 
flavorful. We love it. 


Oh, and did I mention how easy quiches are? It's fantastic.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
2 cups torn spinach leaves
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (1 ounce) package herb and lemon soup mix
½ cup half-and-half
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt margarine in a skillet over medium heat and cook mushrooms, spinach and onions for 5 minutes 
or until tender, stir continuously. Remove the skillet from heat.
In a 9 inch round pan or pie plate coated with non-stick cooking spray arrange crescent roll triangles 
in a circle, with narrow tips hung over the rim of the pie plate about 2 inches. Press dough onto the 
 bottom and side of the pie plate to fill in any gaps.
In a medium bowl stir together the soup mix, half and half cream and eggs. Stir the cheese and cooked 
vegetables into the egg mixture until blended. Pour into the prepared crust. Fold the points of dough 
that are hanging over the edge back in over the filling.
Bake the quiche for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the center comes 
out clean.


June 27, 2011

Tips/Tricks: OXO Hand-held Mandoline Slicer

OXO Hand-held Mandoline Slicer
Use: Slice vegetables, etc. Adjustable for 3 different thicknesses. 
Purchase here
I've really only used this mandoline to slice vegetables (onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.), but I absolutely love it. It has a good handle, sturdy grip on the vegetable and three thicknesses, which makes slicing a breeze. I also love OXO. It's a quality brand, which is necessary for the kitchen.
It makes cooking that much easier!

BBQ Chicken Burgers

I have seen a few recipes for chicken burgers lately and thought they sounded like a yummy alternative to hamburgers. I saw one recipe for BBQ Chicken burgers on How Sweet It Is and then decided to change it up a little bit. Most people caramelize their onions in oil and salt, but I really try to make them "caramelized" by adding some brown sugar and honey. I hope you like the texture and flavor of the onions as much as I do!
My mom happened to have a meat grinder attachment for a Kitchen Aid mixer lying around so I tried it out for the first time ever, and it worked great! I was kind of grossed out by the sliminess of the ground-up chicken, but it is what it is.
And this is how I caramelize onions. Literally "caramelize."
I forgot to add the BBQ sauce into the chicken so your patties should look darker than mine did.
Chewy, sugary, caramely, onions. Yum.
And a toasted bun. What could be better?
BBQ Chicken Burgers
Makes 4 burgers
1 pound ground chicken breast
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup BBQ sauce {I really like Hunt's Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce}
4 hamburger buns
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon honey
BBQ sauce for topping
Slice of cheese for topping {Provolone, swiss, mozzarella, etc.}

1.    In a large bowl, combine chicken, BBQ sauce, onion and garlic powder, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Mix until just combined, then form 4 patties. Preheat the grill or grill pan and cook the burgers until fully cooked through. I used a grill pan and cooked mine about 8 minutes per side.
2.    While burgers are cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add sliced onions with brown sugar and honey and sauté until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
3.    When burgers are ready, top with slice of cheese, onions, and BBQ sauce. Toast and butter the buns for an added crunch.


Tools Used:
Kitchen Aid Mixer w/Meat Grinder Attachment
OXO Hand-held Mandoline Slicer
Caphalon Grill Pan



May 28, 2011

Artichoke Chicken Pizza

 Pizzas are one of my absolute favorite things to make for dinner. Once you master the dough, they are fairly quick and easy. You can mix and match different ingredients to make something awesome. Now tell me what is better than cheese, bread and alfredo all in one bite? Nothing. This pizza is one I came up with during my artichoke and feta craze. Did I mention I get addicted to certain ingredients and maybe overuse them? Anyway, this is an excellent combination of toppings and you can season the chicken however you'd like. 
Artichoke Chicken Pizza
pizza dough
1 chicken breast, seasoned and sliced
Alfredo sauce (half the recipe)
1 (7.5 oz) jar of marinated artichoke hearts, cut in thirds
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Heat a large greased skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
2. Prepare alfredo sauce and pizza dough. Shape dough to fill a greased pizza pan and spread alfredo sauce evenly over dough. Sprinkle mozzarella, chicken, feta and artichoke over top. 
3. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese bubbles.   

May 24, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce

I found this recipe on a blog called Let's Dish last month, and I've already used it twice. The second time we ate these enchiladas was even better than the first. 

The enchiladas are creamy, cheesy and have just the right amount of spice. Did I mention I have a slight obsession with green chiles lately? I don't know what's wrong with me. Anyway, I absolutely love them and love that they are different than traditional enchiladas. I've never been a huge fan of enchilada sauce, but I do love me some good sour cream. Muy bien!
Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce
8-10 soft taco size flour tortillas  {La Flor Tortillas are the best}
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
Chopped, fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

1.   Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together 1 cup of the cheese and the chicken. Place an equal amount of the chicken mixture into each tortilla.  Roll up and place seam side down in a lightly greased, 9 x 13-inch pan.
2.   In a skillet or saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, whisking until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in the sour cream and green chiles. Pour sauce over the top of the enchiladas; sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.