Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Bake

I feel like I've been slacking, but I haven't been baking much lately.  Well, strike that...of course I've been baking, just not anything new that I've wanted to share with y'all.  Over the past couple of weeks we've had Chocolate Cherry Cake (it was my birthday after all!) and my Chocolate Chip Blondies.  So PLENTY of baking being done, but you've seen all those!  

I did make something amazing for breakfast over the weekend that I absolutely had to share.  It's a french toast bake with, wait for it...canned cinnamon rolls!  How good are those on their own?!  Well, if those are good, then this is extreme.  Extremely tasty and extremely sweet that is.  My family flipped out for this (we may have eaten the whole thing that morning - there are 4 of us - this serves 12...yikes.  But you can't really go by those serving suggestions, right?). 

You'll start with 2 cans of the cinnamon rolls, cutting each roll into 8 pieces and placing in a greased baking dish.  Then a mixture of eggs, half and half, vanilla and cinnamon are poured all over the top.  Then if you can even stand it, maple syrup goes on top of THAT! 

Bake for about 25 minutes and the cinnamon rolls get all puffed up and golden.  Let cool for 15 minutes. 

 In the meantime, you'll take the icing that comes with the cinnamon rolls, melt it in the microwave and pour all over the top (seriously, drooling yet?).  If you want to get your kiddos ready for day by way of a sugar high, then this is your breakfast!  You can serve it with a little extra drizzle of maple syrup, too.  

 Serves 12

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Bake 

2 cans (12 oz) cinnamon rolls
5 eggs
1/2 cup half & half
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1/2 cup maple syrup, plus more for serving
Icing from the cinnamon rolls 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13x9 or large oval baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Open the cans of cinnamon rolls and separate the rolls.  Cut each into 8 pieces and place in baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, half & half, cinnamon and vanilla.  Pour over top of the cinnamon rolls and then drizzle the 1/2 cup of maple syrup on top of that.  

Bake for 25-28 minutes until golden brown.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Remove the covers from the icing and microwave at 50% for 10-15 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle over the french toast bake.  Serve with maple syrup if desired.

(Source:  Adapted from Pillsbury.com)

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Japanese Ginger Dressing

Once when I had this random craving for Japanese restaurant-style ginger dressing, I just knew that I could find a copycat recipe somewhere.  And, yes, there certainly are a TON of recipes out there!  I tried a couple, found one that I liked, adapted it to suit my tastes and came up with an AMAZING dressing.  I make this often and love that you can really just eyeball your ingredients and it will turn out great every time.

This dressing is tangy and full of so much flavor.  I did a very simple salad of Romaine lettuce (you can use iceberg or whatever you prefer) and some carrot pieces and tomatoes and it was fresh and delicious.  Fantastic paired with my Ten Minute Stir Fry.  

Garlic, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and lemon juice are just a few of the players in this dressing.  You literally throw everything into the food processor or blender and mix it all up.  This will take you minutes!!  Feel free to use fresh ginger root, but I used the minced ginger in the jar, just to save time.  I've used fresh ginger root before and I can't really tell a difference in taste.

Makes about 2 cups

Japanese Ginger Dressing

1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons minced ginger root
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine all of the ingredients.  Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds or until all of the ingredients are well-pureed.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

(Source:  Adapted from allrecipes.com)

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Corn Soup

Or, as I like to call it, my Semi-Homemade Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Corn Soup, but that title might be a tad long, don't ya think?  I love this soup.  I have adapted it over the years to become my very own recipe, complete with rivels (those dumpling things) and hard-boiled eggs.  It's easy and will not take you all day, although it tastes like the real deal.  And it only gets better as it sits.

We end up eating this for lunch and maybe dinner again for the next 2 or 3 days.  And it gets thicker, and even more flavorful as it sits.  You could also freeze half of it if you don't feel like eating it over and over again.  We just love it that much!  My 1-year old gobbles it up.  I just use a slotted spoon to drain the broth and he eats the chicken, corn, eggs and rivels with his hands!

   This recipe calls for 3 quarts of liquid.  I have done it many times with 3 quarts of chicken stock, but also with 1/2 stock and 1/2 water.  I don't think it makes a difference...you may just have to season it a bit more at the end if you use water and stock. 

Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Corn Soup

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 quarts of reduced sodium chicken broth (or 1/2 water, 1/2 stock)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 cans whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can cream corn
3 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk

In a large pot, place chicken breast, broth, salt, pepper and celery seed.  Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the rivels by combining the egg, flour and milk in a small bowl and stirring until combined.  Set bowl aside.  

When chicken is cooked through, remove, shred and return to pot.  Add the kernel corn, creamed corn and chopped egg.  Bring everything back up to a low simmer and start dropping the rivel batter into the soup.  Using 2 spoons, scoop about a teaspoon of the batter onto one spoon, then use the other spoon to scrape it off into the soup.  DO NOT do any bigger than a teaspoon because they grow!  They will start to float when they are done.  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes to combine all the flavors.  

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Graham Cracker Eclair Cake

Don't ya just love a good no-bake dessert?  This graham cracker cake is so super simple and so
incredibly tasty.  Use your favorite vanilla pudding mix - I used the 5-minute kind because I'm all about instant gratification.  I was able to assemble this cake in under 15 minutes!  

The graham cracker layers, as the cake sits in the fridge, become soft and the whole consistency changes.  It evolves into this utterly moist and decadent cake!   Not exactly the prettiest of desserts, but I don't mind if you don't...

You will need 4 packages of graham crackers, although I made do with just 3.  What happened was I didn't have enough to cover my layers completely with the crackers and the icing sort of slid down the sides.  But, even though the icing appears thin, it was still great.  Just 4 packages would be better in my opinion.    

Graham Cracker Eclair Cake

3-4 sleeves of graham crackers (the more the better)
1 (5 oz) package of vanilla instant pudding (6 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the vanilla pudding according to package directions (mine called for 3 cups of cold milk).  Set aside until it's set (instant is 5 minutes).

Line a 9x13 baking dish with a layer of graham crackers, breaking them as needed to fill in so it completely covers the bottom.  Top with 1/2 of the pudding.  Repeat with another layer of graham crackers, then the rest of the pudding and ending with a top layer of graham crackers.  Set aside.

Make the icing:  Combine butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Allow to cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the milk and cook another few minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar.  Once smooth, whisk in the vanilla.

Immediately pour the hot icing over the top layer of graham crackers and smooth out.  Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Serve chilled.

(Source:  Adapted from The Apron Archives)

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Potato and Bacon Frittata

I have been dreaming of a combination of potatoes, eggs, peppers, onions and cheese lately.  I had a bag of Ore Ida's Potatoes O'Brien in the freezer - peppers and onion already combined with the diced potatoes - perfect and easy!!  You'll need an oven safe pan because after cooking the bacon and potatoes on the stove top, the eggs get added and it goes straight in the oven. 

Start by cooking the bacon slightly (for a minute or two), then adding the frozen potatoes.  By the time the potatoes are browned, the bacon will be nice and crisp, so make sure you don't over cook it to begin with.    

Combine the eggs, milk and cheese and pour right over the bacon/potato mixture.  Into the oven it goes at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the eggs are set.  

Such an amazing combination of so many great flavors!  And super simple too with the already diced frozen potato shortcut.  By the way, also fantastic heated up the next day for breakfast (or lunch or dinner again!).

Serves 8
Potato and Bacon Frittata

10 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or your preference)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 bacon strips, diced
1/2 of a (28 oz) bag of Ore Ida's Potatoes O'Brien

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper and set aside.  In a 10" oven safe skillet, cook bacon over medium heat for just 1-2 minutes.  Add the frozen potatoes and continue cooking until bacon and potatoes are crispy, about 15 minutes.

Pour egg mixture over the bacon/potato mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes or until eggs are set.  Let stand for 10 minutes and cut into wedges.

(Source:  Adapted from Taste at Home)

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Spicy Balsamic Pork Tenderloins

Recently, I started thumbing through some of the cookbooks I haven't opened in a really long time.  I wasn't looking for anything specific, just wanted to see if there was something different, something that really stood out.  I found the recipe for this pork loin in one of Rachael Ray's cookbooks and I loved that it was SUPER simple but so packed with flavor.  This took no time at all.  And, it's cooked at such a high temperature that it's done within 30 minutes (but I guess that's her thing, right?).  

The pork is first rubbed with balsamic vinegar, which I love (I could eat that on everything), then a mixture of minced garlic, spicy Montreal steak seasoning and thyme rubbed in.  

The outside reminds me of those pepper crusted steaks because it is just coated in seasoning.  You can also use the regular McCormick steak seasoning - not the spicy one - if you don't want the added heat.  You'll still get an very flavorful dish.    

I served ours with mashed potatoes and it was even excellent for lunch the next day on a roll with some mayonnaise.  Such a great sandwich!  And I just kind of threw that together - maybe some arugula and a little cheese and you have yourself one heck of a gourmet dinner the next night, too!   

Spicy Balsamic Pork Tenderloins

2 1/2 - 3 pounds pork tenderloin (1 package with 1 tenderloin)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon spicy Montreal steak seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Trim silver skin or connective tissue with a thin, very sharp knife.  Place tenderloin on a nonstick baking sheet with a rim.  Coat tenderloins in balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat.  Drizzle tenderloins with olive oil.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, steak seasoning and dried thyme so it becomes sort of like a paste.  Cut small slits into the meat and rub garlic mixture into the meat.  Roast in hot oven 25-30 minutes.  Let meat rest, transfer to a carving board, slice and serve.

(Source:  Adapted from Rachael Ray)

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Pizza Margherita

Pizza is a couple-of-times a month staple in our house.  It's a quick and easy meal, and part of the fun of it is making our our pizza dough!  The recipe I use for my pizza dough is so good and takes just minutes to prepare.  And I LOVE this style of pizza - light and garlicky, without a true tomato sauce, instead, it has slices of Roma tomatoes.  An authentic Margherita pizza is actually made by crushing the tomatoes into a sauce, but I love the look of the slices. 

Cool story - Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Italy visited Naples and she was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag - the red is the tomatoes, white is the mozzarella, and green is the basil.  Basil was no where to be found at my local grocery store, so I did leave it off, replacing it with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning right before baking (which contains basil!).

I always leave my pizza just a little longer after the cheese has already melted.  I love it when the mozzarella gets golden brown and a little crispy.  

I used a pizza stone and made a round pizza, but this recipe will stretch out to a 9x13 or even 11x18 pan (depending on how thin you want your crust).  And I chose to cut my round pizza into squares so the little ones could eat it easier.  

 Pizza Magherita

Pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups shredded pizza cheese (or mozzarella)
3-4 slices of fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, let pizza stone get hot.  Roll out dough and place it on warmed stone.  Sprinkle with the olive oil and garlic and rub all over the dough (you can leave a border for the crust or go all the way out).  Top with the tomatoes, spaced evenly apart, then top with the shredded cheese, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic salt if using.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until all the cheese is melted and pizza dough is cooked.  Cut into slices or squares.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Apple and Zucchini Muffins

I said this in my last post, but my kids are becoming increasingly picky.  Luckily, they like fruit and eat bananas like they're going out of style, but other than that, I'm having a hard time getting them to eat more than just bread!  I ask my 3-year old what she wants for breakfast (or lunch or dinner for that matter) and her answer is always an enthusiastic, "Toast!".  Sometimes with jelly (at least she's getting some fruit?) and sometimes with peanut butter (a little protein?), but that girl loves her toast.

I make banana muffins or bread regularly because I always have a stash of bananas in my freezer.  I thought I would try something a little different and help my kids get some veggies at the same time.  I'm not saying that these are healthy, still sugar and oil and all that, but it makes me feel a little good about myself when I see my two little ones gobble these up.

Love these little muffin/cupcake liners I got for Christmas!

This makes a lot of batter.  In fact the original recipe calls for 3 loaf pans.  I only have 2 12-cup muffin pans so I did 24 muffins and then put the rest into a loaf pan (it didn't fill it up all the way, so it was kind of a short loaf).  

Makes 30 muffins or 3 loaves

Apple Zucchini Muffins

5 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 
2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 cup peeled finely diced apples (or you can shred them)
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill two 12-cup and one 6-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners (or grease three 8x4 loaf pans).  Add eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat.  Add oil, sugars and vanilla.  Mix the dry ingredients together and add; mix well.  Add zucchini, apples and pecans and mix again.  Using an ice cream scoop, spoon batter 2/3 of the way full into the lined muffin tins.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 

(Source:  Adapted from Taste of Home)

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cheesy Alfredo Baked Penne

We eat a ton of pasta in my house, it's really the only thing that the kids will eat these days!  It's like all of a sudden they've become vegetarians.  I mean, not really, but it takes a lot to get them to eat chicken or even scrambled eggs lately.  Just at that picky stage I guess, but now I am constantly on the hunt for new and different pasta recipes (and where else but Pinterest to help me out with that!).  

This recipe was adapted from the blog Plain Chicken and it's amazing.  This was by far the best pasta bake I have ever made!  The added chicken makes it a little more hearty and I was even able to sneak a few bites past my kids.  So score one for me.  :)  I diced my chicken breast, cooked it with a little spicy grill seasoning (my go-to for every dish) and then set it aside to add to the pasta later.  You can use whatever spice you want for your chicken, even just a little salt and pepper.  

It's an incredibly easy dish, almost a one pot meal, except for cooking the chicken.  Cook the pasta, drain and return to the pot.  Then add Alfredo sauce, sour cream, ricotta, garlic, Parmesan cheese, the chicken and top with a ton of mozzarella.  Incredibly creamy and cheesy. 

My 3-year old loves to help me in the kitchen.  There are always little fingers on everything!  She's a great help and learning more and more.  

See?  Incredibly cheesy and creamy.  The mozzarella cheese gets bubbly and brown and I love those crusty bits!  

Cheesy Alfredo Baked Penne

1 16-ounce box of penne
1 15-ounce jar of Alfredo sauce
1 8-ounce container of sour cream
1 15-ounce container of ricotta cheese
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large oval or 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Cook penne according to directions on box, drain and return to the pot.  Add all the ingredients, except for the mozzarella, and stir to combine.  Pour mixture into baking dish and sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

(Source:   Adapted from Plain Chicken)

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Ranch Cheddar Cheese Cracker Mix

Good morning and Happy New Year y'all!  Hope your Holidays were fabulous!

Don't ya love a good snack mix?  I love Chex mix (and make a pretty mean one I have to say!) or any variation of something like that.  That's why I was super excited to find a recipe that uses ranch and cheddar cheese Ritz Bits!  The original recipe is from Paula Deen - she calls it Herbed Cheese-and-Cracker Bits.  I adapted it slightly and added goldfish crackers to mix it up a little (pretzels would be great too!  I'll definitely have to add those next time).  

You have to let the crackers sit overnight once you mix everything together so be sure to give yourself enough time for that and make them a day in advance.  Paula's recipe says to mix everything in a large sealable plastic bag, but I did mine in a large glass storage container that has a lid.  I mixed it all together in that and then was able to just throw it in the fridge.

 Warning - this is totally addicting.  And would make a great snack for a party or football get-together! 

Ranch Cheddar Cheese Cracker Mix 

1 (9.5 oz) box Ritz Cheese Bits 
4 cups Cheddar Cheese flavored Goldfish crackers
1/2 cup canola oil
1 packet Ranch salad dressing mix
1 tablespoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed 

Place all the crackers in a large bowl (that has a lid or use a sealable plastic bag).  In a separate bowl, mix the oil and all the seasonings.  Pour oil mixture over the crackers and place lid on top of bowl (or seal bag).  Shake gently until all the crackers are evenly coated.  Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the bowl occasionally to keep crackers coated.  Serve at room temperature and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

(Source:  Adapted from Paula Deen)

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