Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nutella Banana Muffins

So one day I had an epiphany.  Take my beloved banana bread/banana muffin recipe...and swirl in some Nutella.  Bam!! It's like taking a chocolate covered banana and making it into some warm delicious bread.  And who doesn't love a little Nutella.
Make the delicious batter.  Attempt not to eat it all raw.  Raw eggs be damned!

Mix a little nutella with a little bit of the batter.  This will help the swirly part not be so thick when you're trying make your swirls.  Scientific, I know.

Nutella Swirl Banana Muffins
Printable Recipe
makes approx. 18-24 muffins

1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
salt (leave out if you used salted butter)
2 cups flour 3-4 very ripe bananas, enough to make a generous cup
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together. Add vanilla. Add flour, sift if possible with baking soda and salt. Add mashed bananas and nuts.
2. In a small bowl, mix approximately 2-3 tablespoons of Nutella with 2-3 tablespoons of batter.  Set aside.
3. Pour remaining batter into greased muffin tin.  Drop a small spoonful of Nutella mix on the top of each muffin and swirl in slowly with a toothpick. 
4.  Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost clean in the center.  Let cool slightly and remove from pan.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

There really is nothing like having a really hard day at work, and coming home to a dinner that is ready and a house that smells so good you almost can’t wait to eat.  That happens to be my problem when I come home from work to a crock pot meal.  I get home from teaching and picking up the baby at about 4:30, so that gives me about a two-hour window before dinner.  That’s a lot of time to restrain myself from digging in.  I sometimes even try and convince myself that there won’t be enough natural light left by the time dinner rolls around to be able to take pictures.  Thank goodness the baby kept me occupied last night because this roast almost didn’t even see 6:00.  It had the most incredible flavor and literally melted in my mouth.  And you wouldn’t believe how easy it was…almost criminal.  But that’s what I think a good crockpot meal should be, quick and easy to put together but tastes incredible.  And an added bonus…this gave us plenty of leftovers for a few other dinners over the next few days.  Win-Win!

Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Beef Roast Printable Recipe
makes about 8 sandwiches

1 (4-5 lb) beef roast, any variety
1 jar of pepperoncini rings
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions: 1.  Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until roast falls apart with a fork.  Serve on toasted hoagie rolls with provolone or swiss cheese and a side of au jus. 

*I did not add any liquid to my slow cooker, except the liquid that was in the jar of peppers.  I found that I had plenty of liquid that came from the beef itself as it was cooking.  If you are worried about not having enough liquid,
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Monday, December 3, 2012

Apple-Pear Crisp

I. Love. Fall. Period. Double Period. It is my absolute favorite season.  Second being spring, third summer, and winter...well aside from one good snow and Christmas, winter is for the birds in my opinion.  I hate the cold.  I hate feeling cold, and I hate cold that has "no purpose." You know, that bitter nasty cold that goes straight to your bones.  But right now it is fall, the most glorious time of the year. Full of casseroles and slow cookers, apple cinnamon candles and old college sweatshirts.  I like to make foods that are in season, because obviously they are cheaper to buy.  And you can't get much cheaper than pears you gathered from a relative and apples that have been in your fridge for about a week.  Speaking of apples...soooooo good for you, and once I get on a kick, I eat them every day.  Not on a kick of any kind right now.  Right now I'm still in pregnancy mode, where I eat whatever I want whenever I want.  Mental note: I gotta quit that.  So I mixed up a good old batch of my favorite apple crisp, but subsituted in some pears.  Yummy and very fall-esque. 

Apple-Pear Crisp
makes 8 servings

For the Fruit Base:
3 cups Granny Smith apples (about 3 large), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 cups pears (about 3 large), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Topping:
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter a 8x8 baking dish, or use an ungreased stoneware baking dish.

2.  Prepare the fruit base:  In a mixing bowl, combine apples, pears and lemon juice; toss to coat.  In a separate bowl, mix sugar, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples and pears, tossing to coat.  Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading into an even layer.

3.  Prepare the topping: combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Mix butter and vanilla together and pour over oat mixture.  Stir to combine.  Crumble mixture evenly over the apples and pears.

4.  Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

How To: Perfectly Shred Chicken w/ a Stand Mixer

I saw this little "how-to" on Pinterest a few months ago, and needless to say I was skeptical.  Throw the cooked chicken breasts into the Kitchen-aid, lock and load, turn it on, and in minutes you have perfectly shredded chicken? Say whaaaa?? No way.

Well call me crazy, but this actually works! So long to shredding chicken with two forks until you get so tired of it you give up and just chop the rest. Been there, done that. This is the wave of the future...and the answer to significantly cutting my freezer casserole making time. 

The "Steps":
1.  Cook multiple chicken breasts until fully cooked.  I tend to buy a ton of chicken breasts when they go on sale, and cook them in the crock pot.  That way they are ready to shred when I get home from work, and I have homemade chicken broth that I can use as well!
2.  While the chicken is still very warm, place the breasts in your Kitchen-aid mixer and put on the paddle attachment.  Lock the mixer in place (otherwise it can get a little rocky) and turn on low.  It won't look like it is doing much at first, but give it a minute.  It will shred your chicken perfectly.  This shredded chicken can be frozen in cup-increments for easy additions to casseroles, soups, quesadillas, chicken salad, etc.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Insta-Catch-Up...Fall Edition

To say that life has been busy lately would be an understatement.  Ever since I've gone back to work it has been a non-stop ride on the crazy train, and I can't get off.  I'm trying to compile new recipes for you guys, but until then, here is a little instagram collage of the last few months!

To say I'm uhhbb-sessed with him is an understatement. Can you blame me??
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hearty Ham & Potato Soup + Crispy Bread Bowls

I was feeling a little under the weather a few weeks ago.  As in, standing outside wearing next to nothing, and getting pounded by cold wind, rain, and hail.  Seriously where does a phrase like "under the weather" even come from?? It started out as a runny nose, you know the typical fall Missouri allergy greeting, and then slowly turned into stuffy nose, constant sneezing, coughing, and no voice.  By the middle of the week I'd had it! Not to mention the fact that I can't take any meds, and I'm sleep deprived as it is.  I wanted soup for dinner, but I really wasn't feeling chicken noodle soup.  I wanted something hearty...annnndddd we had some spare potatoes lying around. 

I've been wanting to make homemade bread bowls for a long time, and my friend Ang told me she had a recipe at home for easy refrigerated dough bread bowls (she's my source anytime I need a new recipe!)  I'm not really sure where she got this one so I can't credit it, but it was super easy, and the perfect addition to any soup! It really took it over the top...

So I put on my sweatpants, laid the baby down to play on his mat, and enjoyed this warm intro to fall.

Start by bringing the potatoes, ham, and water to a boil, then cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  I like to cook them on the lesser side of that time because they will continue to cook in the soup.

Pop open your can of store bought pizza crust.  Scare the bejeezus out of yourself.  I do it everytime..never fails.

Cut the dough in half, leaving it in tact.  Stand the dough up cut-side-down on a baking sheet.  Then smush it down (yeah we get technical around here)...

Drizzle olive oil over the dough rounds and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Go for the cheap grated stuff...we've already gone the easy route with the store-bought pizza crust, so we may as well keep it classy.  Now pop those babies into the oven and let the magic happen.  Just be careful not to let them burn.  Mine look a little brown because of the whole grain variety, but just be careful!

Now start sauteing your onions in the butter.  Cook them until they are translucent (fancy for almost see-through) and sprinkle the flour in.  Stir in the flour and cook it for a few minutes to get rid of the chalky taste.  The mixture should resemble wet sand.  Stir in the milk and cook slowly so you can get all the lumps out.  Then add the potatoes, ham, water/chicken boullion mixture to the pot.  Stir and make sure it is heated through and you're good to go!

Now watch closely...because this next part goes fast...Get your bread bowl.

Cut the top off. Scoop out the guts (being careful not to poke a hole in the sides!)

Add soup. Curl up. Stuff yourself. Thank me tomorrow.

Hearty Ham & Potato Soup
makes 8 servings

4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3-1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp chicken bouillon powder
salt to taste
1 tsp ground pepper
5 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

1.  Combine the potatoes, ham, and water in a stockpot.  Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper.

2.  In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onions until translucent.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk until consistency resembles wet sand.  Let the flour/butter/onion mixture cook for a few minutes.  Slowly whisk in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added.  Continue stirring over medium low heat until thick, about 5 minutes.

3.  Slowly stir the potatos, ham and water into the white sauce and cook soup until heated through.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from All Recipes

Crispy Bread Bowls
makes 4 bread bowls

2 packages (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese (optional), divided

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Remove dough from packages.  Cut each in half to form four equal portions.  Place dough cut-side down on stoneware pan.  Press lightly to form 4-1/2 inch rounds.

2.  Brush each round with 1 teaspoon of olive oil; sprinkle with cheese if you like.  Bake 21-23 minutes or until deep golden brown.

3.  To serve, slice off the top of each bread round; carefully remove the center to form a bowl.  Place on plates; ladle soup into bowls.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

I was watching the news last week and they were reporting that the price of chicken wings has increased 25%.  Say whaaaa? And why just the wings? Why not the breast, or the thighs? Then it dawned on season.  This is my theory on whey they also reported that the price of tortilla chips has gone up 20%.  The die hard men and women that love football LOVE their football! And most totally dig buffalo wings.  I tend to be more of a fan of the breaded and baked spicy wings myself, but every once in awhile I'll get down with some messy, greasy, finger lickin' good wings.  And don't forget the beer on the side...and the ranch, can't forget the ranch.  Although some people like blue cheese dressing (I'm not a hater, I just don't enjoy something that smells like stinky feet...but I totally love me some feta, go figure.) 

So when I told my husband I was going to transform our typical party potato casserole recipe into a buffalo chicken casserole, he was skeptical to say the least.  I believe his exact words were, "well I mean it sounds ok, but I guess I'm just not as excited about it as you are..." Can you tell we support each other 100%? But I soldered on. I knew that if he gave it a chance he would like least that was the vision I had in mind.  At that point the recipe could still be a total bust.  But I wasn't going down without a fight.  So with Thursday night football playing, and a beer in hand, he uttered those magical words I'd been waiting to hear..."Wow this is a lot better than I thought it was going to be...It's good!"  He always knows exactly what to say I tell ya!  So I hope when you try this recipe it exceeds your expectations, no matter how low they are. 

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole
makes 12-16 servings

Potato Casserole
1 (2 lb) pkg frozen hashbrowns, shredded or cubed
16 oz (2 cups) sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg ranch dip mix
1/2 cup onion (half a medium onion) finely chopped
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup Franks Red Hot
1-1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup melted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. 

2.  In a large bowl, mix together sour cream, soup, ranch mix, onion, and pepper.  Stir in frozen hashbrowns, and cheese until mixed together.  Spread into the baking dish.

3.  Melt 1/2 cup butter and stir in the hot sauce.  Toss the chicken pieces in the hot sauce mixture until well coated.  Spread out over the potato layer.  Cover with foil and bake @ 375° for 45-50 min or until hot and bubbly.

4.  Melt 1/4 cup butter and stir with crushed cornflakes.  Sprinkle topping over chicken layer and return casserole to oven.  Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes. 

{Freeze It!} - Put together the casserole except for the topping, cover and freeze.  Make sure to defrost before cooking, or expect to add at least 30 minutes cooking time before putting the topping on. 

**Make sure your chicken isn't straight out of the fridge before you slice it.  It helps if it is closer to room temp.  I made this mistake when I mixed the warm butter/hot sauce mixture with my chicken and it kind of glopped up, resembling canned pumpkin.  Not cute.  Hence why there aren't any pictures of that step! It will all end up find because the butter melts again after it has congealed, but it ain't pretty, I'm just telling you!

**There is no need to add any salt to this recipe like a traditional potato casserole.  The ranch dressing mix has plenty of salt to go around. Don't do it...your arteries will thank you.

**This casserole is a one pot dish, so while my husband and I could normally demolish 1/2 a pan of normal potato casserole, we barely got past 1/4 of this.  It is really you may want to cut it in half if you are cooking for a smaller audience, or freeze half of it!
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