Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese...so Southern, so good.  I was buying it from the grocery store until I discovered how easy it is to make on my own.  Cream cheese, mayonnaise, and definitely sharp cheddar cheese.  There are differences in recipes where some use only mayo, no cream cheese, but on the sharp cheddar cheese, there is no substitute.  


 Incredible with butter crackers, veggies or in a grilled cheese (my favorite!).


Makes 3 cups 

Pimento Cheese

3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons diced pimentos
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, beat until well blended and the shredded cheese has been broken up some.  Serve with crackers or as a dip for veggies.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

If you love loaded baked potatoes, then this is a must try.  It's rich and creamy and reheats really well for the next day's lunch.  I used red potatoes (no peeling!) and diced frozen onion (a huge time saver for meals like this), but you can use large baking potatoes and peel them if you like (you'll only need about 6).  Depending on the size of your red potatoes, you'll need about 8-10.  I think I used 9 because in my bag, some were much larger than others.    


Start cooking your bacon just before your soup is done.  We love this soup topped with bacon, more cheese and sour cream.  Green onions or chives would be great, too! 

Serves 6-8

Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

8 -10 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup frozen diced onion
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup half & half
1 cup cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
sour cream, optional

 Combine the potatoes through the pepper in the Crock Pot and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 7).  Potatoes should be tender.  Using a potato masher or fork, mash the potatoes until they are coarsely chopped and the soup has thickened.  Stir in half & half and cheese.

Serve topped with crumbled bacon, more cheese and sour cream.

(Source:  Adapted from Food.com)

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Just in time to start baking for the Holidays!  I know these will definitely be on my cookie list - they are my husband's favorite.  


In the past, I've bought the prepared tube of peanut butter dough, but I am so in love with this recipe that I'll never go back.  And believe me, that says a lot because I am the queen of shortcuts!  I think you'll probably need to buy the large bag of kisses - I honestly have no idea how many are in each bag, but just know that this recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.  Plus, you never know how many will end up in your kid's mouths and not in the cookies!

Makes 4 dozen

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
48 Hershey kisses 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking sodand salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter.  Add the eggs and vanilland mix.  Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix until everything is combined.  

Place cookie batter into the fridge until firm, about 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll into balls.  Roll in the extrgranulated sugar and place on greased or non-stick cooking sheets about 3 inches apart. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie (don't worry if the cookie cracks).  Let cool completely.  

(Source:  Dough recipe adapted from About.com)

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Salted Caramel Sauce

Oh my gosh - how in love with this sauce am I???  I could not stop licking the spoon, bowl, saucepan, you name it.  I could have poured it into a glass and drank it!  


It's creamy and glossy and sweet and perfect for swirling in brownies or Salted Caramel Blondies (which I can't wait to make).  Both recipes come from the blog Add a Pinch.  So glad I found it!  I made enough for about 1 1/2 cups - just store in the fridge in an airtight container and use some whenever you are in the mood!

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon sea salt 

In a medium saucepan, add brown sugar and melt over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt and clump together.  Lower the heat to low, add butter, stir constantly until melted and sugar and butter are smooth.  

Remove from heat and gently stir in cream and salt.  Stir until caramel is smooth and glossy.  Let cool slightly and store in an airtight container.  Will keep in the pantry for a week or the fridge for up to a month. 

(Source:  Adapted from Add a Pinch)

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Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

This soup is my cure-all when my family is feeling icky.  It's the easiest noodle soup you can make - I've even made it for myself when I've been sick.  That's how easy it is!  I have two little ones with coughs and colds, plus it's freezing out, so I decided to whip this up for lunch.  It was done in about 20 minutes.  It's incredibly warm and comforting - add a chicken breast when you add your veggies if you want actual chicken noodle soup.  It will take around twenty minutes to cook (after it starts boiling), then remove, shred and put back in when you stir in the pasta.  Serve with butter crackers or good bread for dipping! 

Serves 4-6

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

2 quarts reduced sodium chicken broth 
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
2 cups dried pasta (I used rotini)

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, bouillon cube, celery, carrots and bay leaf.  Salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper).  Turn heat on medium-high, let it come to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Add the dried pastand cook according to the time on pasta box.  Check for seasoning and serve.  

Tip: If you have leftovers, you may need to add more chicken broth the next time you heat it up - as it sits in the fridge, the pasta really soaks up the broth!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ina Garten's Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I've become a big fan of Brussel sprouts lately.  And let's face it, always a big fan of Ina!  My husband took one look at them and said "they look so good!".  As incredibly surprised as I was at that reaction, when we started eating, he blew me away, exclaiming "these taste like candy!".   But, the fact is, he sure was right.  This recipe for Brussel sprouts is incredible. 


I adapted it to feed just the two of us and used bacon instead of pancetta.  Although I'm certain that if I had made the entire pound of Brussel sprouts, we would have eaten them.  They are that good!

 Serves 2

Ina Garten's Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1/2 pound Brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut through the core
2 strips of bacon, 1/4 inch diced
2 tablespoons olive oil 
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the cut Brussel sprouts on a sheet pan, including the loose leaves which get crispy when they are roasted.  Add the bacon, olive oil, about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, toss with your hands and spread out in a single layer.  Roast for about 20 minutes, until they are tender and the bacon is crisp.  Toss once during cooking.  Remove from oven and immediately toss with balsamic, serve hot.  

(Source:  Adapted from Ina Garten) 

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chocolate, Caramel and Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

So. Unbelievably. GOOD!  Rice Krispie Treats are awesome as is, but these are just over the top.  A couple of things - the original recipe calls for wrapped caramels.  Since I didn't have them, but had a tub of caramel sauce in the fridge for the kiddos to dip their apples, that's what I used.  I think the caramel probably would've hardened in the fridge if I used the wrapped ones, but these remained a bit gooey for that layer.  Didn't bother me!! 


The treats with the caramel peanut butter layer smothered on top.  Looking good already...


Store these in the fridge to keep the chocolate layer from getting too melty.  You can wait until they get room temperature or slightly chilled to eat, but I don't have that kind of patience!  For us, these were fantastic cold.

Makes 24 treats

Chocolate, Caramel and Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

3 tablespoons butter
1 (10 oz ) bag of marshmallows
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1 (16.5 oz) tub of Caramel Sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, divided
1 (12 oz) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  It's also helpful to grease the pot and utensils you are using to melt the marshmallows.

Combine the butter and marshmallows in a large saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until melted.  Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, then the cereal.  Stir until cereal is completely coated and pour into greased pan.  Wet hands to press the mixture into the pan.  Place in refrigerator to chill.

In a small saucepan, heat caramel sauce and water over medium-low heat, until warmed.  Stir in 1 cup of the peanut butter until completely smooth.  Pour over chilled cereal mixture and spread to the edges.  Place pan back into fridge.

Over medium-low heat, melt chocolate in a small saucepan, stirring frequently so as not to scorch the chocolate.  When melted, add the remaining 1/2 cup peanut butter, stirring until smooth.  Pour chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and spread to the edges.  Place pan in the fridge to chill for about an hour or until chocolate is firm.  Cut into squares.  Keep in fridge.

(Source:  Adapted from piarecipes.com)

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Crock Pot Garlic Chicken

I was looking at a pretty busy day ahead us...school drop-offs, pick-ups, doctor appointments, ballet, you name it!  So I knew it was going to be a Crock Pot day.  This recipe is from Martha Stewart and I did adapt it slightly - I used chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken (easier on me), less onion (because I know my family) and substituted minced garlic instead of just halving whole cloves.  


I served my chicken over mashed potatoes and my husband was even blown away - what resulted was a meal that tasted like I spent hours roasting a chicken, complete with gravy!  Which by the way, is also super simple - made right in the Crock Pot at the very end.  

 Serves 2-3

Crock Pot Garlic Chicken

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped or minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup flour, plus more for gravy
1/2 - 1 cup chicken broth

Spray Crock Pot with non-stick cooking spray.  In the bottom of the Crock Pot, place the onions, garlic and thyme; season with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken breasts on top of bottom layer.  In a small bowl, whisk to combine the wine and flour.  Pour over top of chicken.  Cook on high about 3 1/2 hours (7 hours on low).  Remove chicken and slice (or shred) on a platter.

To make more gravy:  In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth and 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour.  Pour into the bottom of the Crock Pot, whisking to combine the leftover juices with the chicken broth.  Scrape up any brown bits that are stuck the bottom or sides.  Season with more salt and pepper to taste.  Pour some over the plated chicken.  Serve chicken over mashed potatoes with more gravy.

(Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart)

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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