Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Broccoli, Cheddar & Potato Soup


Another ugly photo, but a fantastic easy, healthy soup to make quickly for lunch or dinner. This soup is nice and creamy and satisfying, but does not include cream or milk.  


I was inspired to make this soup when we recently went out to dinner with four young adults and three of the four ordered the 'soup of the day' which was Broccoli, Cheddar and Potato.  I was shocked... I had no idea that the soup would be such a draw.  It was pretty good at the restaurant but was a bit thick and gooey with too much flour and cream.  This one is much better and better for you.


(I did not use the flour in this recipe, I decided it would be thick enough without it)

Serves 4-5
Ingredients:
3 large stalks of broccoli, chopped, including stems. Retain 1 cup of broccoli flowerets
1 medium onion, chopped (I used 2 small to make about 1 cup)
1/4 cup butter
4 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
4-5 yellow potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper


In a small saucepan, add the potato chunks.  Add cold water and slowly bring to a boil.
NOTE: If you bring the water and the potatoes to a boil at the same time, the potatoes cook evenly throughout without getting mushy on the outside.

Add the retained broccoli flowerets at the very last couple minutes of cooking. Drain and cool while the rest of the soup cooks.


In a large saucepan, saute the chopped onions in the butter, then add the chopped broccoli and the chicken (or vegetable) broth.  Bring to a boil, then simmer the mixture until the broccoli is tender.  Add the mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth.  Be sure to pulse the mixture to be sure that all the bits are smooth.  Add it back to the large sauce pan, add the grated cheese and stir to melt and mix in.  Add in the cooked potatoes and broccoli flowerets.  Adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste.   Top with more cheese for serving if you like. 

Here's some more yummy vegetable soups:
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Mediterranean Tomato Soup
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Split Pea Soup






Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes

I limit myself to one Eggnog Latte every year, but dang it, I've had already had two eggnog latte cupcakes.  Yummm. The cupcake is moist and tastes like a latte with coffee and cream.  The frosting is super light and creamy and has all the egg nog elements; cream, rum, nutmeg and buttery sweetness

I'd been thinking of doing some type of cupcakes with egg nog frosting, but never thought of a coffee flavored cupcakes until the other day when I overheard people talking about how much they like this time of year because of the special seasonal espresso drinks.

This recipe is adapted from my Basic Vegan Cupcake Batter- Collection of Recipes... this one isn't vegan because I added the cream to it.  Please NOTE this recipe doesn't include any eggs... it is supposed to be that way.  It makes a very moist and tender cupcake, and I think it is terrific, which is why I always use variations of this recipe.


Ingredients:
Makes about 12 big cupcakes, or 18 'less tall' cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup strong cold coffee
1/2 cup cream, or whole milk
1 Tbsp Spiced rum, or 1 tsp rum extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider

Baking Instructions for all cupcake recipes
Preheat oven at 350.
Mix together all dry ingredients, then the liquid (coffee, oil, milk or cream) and extract, then add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until uniformly moistened.  This batter is a bit more liquid than most batters, but it cooks up nice and moist! Line your muffin tin with papers and fill each one about 2/3 full.  I filled mine almost 3/4 full and got 12 cupcakes, and they didn't over flow when they baked.


Bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Frosting

1/4 cup butter, salted
4 oz cream cheese
2/3 cup brown sugar 
1 1/2 cups cold whipping cream
3 Tbsp Spiced Rum, or 1 Tbsp rum extract
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
a Pinch of salt

With a mixer, combine the butter, cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated.  Add the cream, rum and spices.  Beat well on a slow speed and then turn up the mixer to medium high until the whip cream is whipped and the frosting holds it's shape.  Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting thickly on each cup cake.  If you had left over frosting, you could use it for pumpkin pie topping or add it to your coffee.  Oh yeah...

Here's some other seasonal for cupcakes and other baked goods:

Boston Cream Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache
Coconut Cream Filled Cupcakes
Basic Vegan Cupcake Batter- Collection of Recipes
Junior Mint Cupcakes
Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes with Molasses Buttercream 

Friday, November 25, 2011

What should I do with leftover TURKEY?

Here's some ideas for all that leftover turkey. 
You know the obvious stuff, like turkey sandwiches and turkey noodle soup... Right?
But what if you want something more exciting?  What if you have a bunch of leftover turkey?  Most, if not all of these recipes contain chicken, but would work great for cooked turkey too! Most are pretty quick and easy too.

My favorite way to use the leftover turkey and turkey broth by a landslide
Chicken Tortilla Soup



A family favorite, and it's fantastic with turkey!
Malayasian Curry with 10 Boy Condiments



A zippy version of regular enchiladas
 Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas



Feeling kind of stuffed, maybe a salad would be in order
California Chicken Salad with Avocado & Grapefruit



Get out of the crockpot, and try this one!
Chicken White Bean Chili




Kind of a basic thing to do, but a great way to get rid of the leftovers bits and pieces. Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kahlua Pecan Pie


Okay, so maybe you can tell this is a tart from the picture... right?  
Well, I like tarts a bit better for Pecan Pie because they are not so deep and rich.  
I make this every year for Thanksgiving for those family members who hate pumpkin pie!  
One thing I have noticed that everyone has a piece of this too.  

If you don't have a tart/quiche pan, or prefer your pie deeper, by all means, you can make it as a regular pie too... just increase the recipe by 1/3 ( 1cup syrup, 1 cup sugar, 3 eggs...etc).

This is the basic Karo syrup recipe that I have tweaked a bit. This takes about 5 minutes to make... really. 




Makes one 9" tart
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp Kahlua, or other liqueur. 
OR 2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (about 1/8 to 1.4 tsp)
1 pie crust

Spray your tart pan with non-stick spray and press the pie crust into the dish.  This allows you to more easily remove from the pan once baked. Use a paring knife to trim the excess away.

Mix together the sugar and syrup, add eggs, beating well after each one.  Add the melted butter and the kahlua.  Add a pinch of salt.  Add the pecans to the empty pie crust and pour the filling over the top.  



You can arrange the pecans, but I like the more random look of the pecans after the rise to the surface of the filling.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the filling is set.  Allow to cool.  
Easy to make a day before the big day that you need it!


Here's some more nutty desserts that you might also like!
Apricot Oat Walnut Bars
Kauai Banana Bread

Bourbon Pecan Tarts
Butterscotch, Almond, Oatmeal Cookies
Butterscotch Peach Pecan Upside Down

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Honey Badger Martini


I don't know if you've seen the Honey Badger YouTube, but you really ought to.
It makes me laugh.
"Honey Badger don't care". 
I can't help but laugh (out loud) every time I hear that. 

About a week ago, it was our daughter's 21st birthday, and we drove a very long way to have dinner and drink a Guinness with our little girl.  That same darling little girl also had some yummy things she had bought at the liquor store (21 year old novelty) for us to try.  One was Barenjager, or Honey Jagemeister.  That girl has been crazy about bees, and honey, since she was stung at the age of 9 months. 
Go figure...

Back to the drink...
Of course, I said 'no'. 
Jagermeister? 
No, thank you.
I remember a certain wedding celebration many years back. 
Just say NO (shake head here...).

My daughter pressed with pleading eyes.
It was her birthday you know?
I took a very, very small sip.
Pretty dang awesome....
My mind reeling from the possibilities said, "this would be awesome with tea and lemon when you are sick!".  Her boyfriend smiled, and said "that's what she said".

So tonight, just surfing on Pinterest and I see "The Honey Badger" drink, but it didn't include Barenjager, just some fancy pants French honey liqueur and champagne. So I started thinking....
I bet I could make a pretty awesome honey martini with Barenjager!!!

Here it is....
Hey, just watch the YouTube, and limit yourself to one martini. 
Take my advice, I mean it.
Don't quote "Honey Badger don't care..." and decide to make another round, it will not serve you well.


Makes 2 martinis
Ingredients:
2 jiggers Barenjager, honey liqueur
2 jiggers lemon vodka
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 jiggers lemon seltzer

2 shakes bitters


Add the Barenjager honey liqueur, lemon vodka, lemon juice and bitters to a martini shaker filled with ice.  Shake.  Cut the lemon peel into two strips and twist to release the oils, rub the zest around the rim of each glass, which gives it great flavor.  After rubbing the rim, throw the twist into the bottom of the glass.  Divide the the drink between two martini glasses, top with with a jigger of seltzer to the top of each martini.


Enjoy!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Greek Pork and Garbanzo Stew


I sort of made this recipe up.
Yes, I bought this great Greek cookbook recently, which is kind of rare for me.  I don't like cookbooks too much... there is so much to find online these days that I find myself looking there first anyways. But Greek food is some of my favorites and good recipes for Greek food is very hard to find, so I snatched this one up last time I was in Portland at Powell's which is one darn big, cool old bookstore.

There was a recipe for Pork and Garbanzo stew with oranges in it. 
Hmm.... nope, I mean 'no thank you'.
I'm good with orange flavors, but think it goes best in desserts and drinks.  The recipe inspired me not by it's list of ingredients, but by it's lack of ingredients.  Besides the pork, garbanzos, and orange, it had onions and chicken stock.  I love feta and think it tastes great on everything, hence the addition here.  Plus, you could omit the parsley, but I like the extra flavor and color that a little green provides.

I had planned on making this in my crock pot, but when I finally decided I DID want to make it for dinner, I really only had about 2 hours before dinner. If you decide to do the crock pot method, I would still brown the pork (and even that could be optional), but otherwise just dump the rest of the stuff in there and simmer for 6-8 hours.

Serves about 6
Ingredients
2 1/2 - 3 lb pork roast
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, juiced
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp oregano, dried
2 bay leaves
2 cans garbanzo beans, undrained
2 cups water, or
1 1/2 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Cut your pork roast into 1-2" chunks.  Over medium high heat, work in small batches, cook for 3-4 minutes in the olive oil, turning every minute to get it brown on most sides.  Remove pork to a plate when complete.



In the same pan that you cooked the pork, saute the chopped onions and bell pepper and saute for about 5 more minutes, until the onions soften and start to turn pale brown.  Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.


Add the lemon juice and zest, spices, garbanzo beans and water or chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for about 2 hours, until the meat is nice and tender.  Or, you could put your covered pan in the oven and bake for 2 hours at 300 degrees. Here's a picture of the stew before it had simmered and cooked for a couple hours.



When the meat is cooked and tender to your liking remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley. If the stew is not thick enough to your liking, simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes to reduce it a bit.  Keep the stirring to a minimum or you will shred your pork into small bits.... but then again, that's nice too.

 Ladle stew into bowls and top with crumbled feta.  You can serve this stew over rice, orzo or quinoa, but it's also very nice on its own.


Greek food might be my favorite... here's some more that I love:
Grilled Greek Potato Salad
Greek Panzanella Bread Salad
Greek Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce
Baked Prawns with Feta and Orzo Pasta
Lemon Rosemary Salmon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Bread


You know I love pumpkin, right?
I struggled finding a recipe I loved for years for Pumpkin bread, but this is the one that I have come up with that has everything I want in a recipe; moist, not too high fat, dense and delicious. 

This is a big batch of pumpkin bread, I made 2 large loaves and 2 mini loaves, but you can easily make 3 loaves.  I know, I know, you don't need three loaves, but in case you haven't noticed it's the time of year where it's super-duper nice to share with others; neighbors, friends, co-workers and family.  I took a bunch to work, gave away a mini one and put the rest into the freezer.  This will make my kids very, very happy when they come home for Thanksgiving. Freezing it also makes it hard for me to eat it all up before then, which is a very real danger and no laughing matter.

If you don't have applesauce, your could  use oil to substitute, bringing the whole amount of oil in the recipe to 1 cup of oil.  Originally, this recipe had all oil and no applesauce.  I also used 1 cup of whole wheat flour in the recipe swapping out for the same amount of regular flour.  I just want to get some more healthy benefits but don't want to reduce the taste or texture on a holiday treat like this.

I figure I have a couple more days of pumpkin recipes, and then you will be on to Gingerbread and Peppermint recipes. So I'm ready to make the change and I already have some great recipes in my creative 'hopper' for the coming weeks.
Yield: 3 big loaves, or 2 big plus 2 small
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 cups Flour, all-purpose (ok to substitute 1 cup whole wheat for one of the regular flour)
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
4 lg Eggs
1/2 cup Vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 c. canned Pumpkin (cooked)
2/3 cup Water
1 1/2 cup. Walnuts, chopped (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter your containers well.
Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the eggs, oil, pumpkin and water. Beat thoroughly. It's easier to get all the lumps out if you use an electric mixer. Stir in the walnuts with a wooden spoon.
Pour the batter into the containers, filling each only half to two-thirds full.

Bake for about 60 minutes, depending on the sizes of your containers. If you're using a very small container, start checking much sooner. The bread is done when a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
Cool about ten minutes, then loosen the edges of the bread with a knife, and turn out of the pans to cool the rest of the way on a rack.


Quick breads are SO easy, here's some more that I like:
Kauai Banana Bread
Maple Yogurt Pound Cake
Moist Lemon Bread
Zucchini Bread

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lasagna Soup with Spinach Ricotta


It all started with the cutest  little noodles I ever saw.
I mean, just look at them!  Like teeny, tiny lasagna noodles.  The package said "Casserole Lasagna Noodles", but I wanted to make soup. I LOVE soup!
I like lasagna too, but frankly, it can be tedious to make, and then it's kind of stodgy and too filling.  It's also kind of hard to reheat.  Putting all the ingredients in soup is faster, easier and probably better for you too!

I've seen a bunch of recipes for Lasagna Soup out there, but they were missing something for me.  My recipe includes a Spinach and Ricotta topping that really makes the dish!  It gives it the creaminess that a good lasagna has, to the soup and gives it a bit of color too. 

A couple of things to remember for this soup; Be sure to drain your ground meat after you cook it.  I didn't and there was a bit more fat floating on the soup that I was happy with! Noodles, you can cook them directly in the soup if you like, but only do that if you are planning on serving the entire pot of soup that night, otherwise the noodles have an objectionable habit of absorbing the liquid and become HUGE and then break to bits when you reheat it.  If that doesn't bother you, then go for it.  I boiled my noodles separately and added a handful to each bowl before ladling in the soup.

This soup came together in about 30 minutes, and while I was chopping onions, I also prepared another dinner to put in my crockpot for the next day.  How clever was I?  Since you are already chopping onions, might as well throw half in the soup and the other part in the crockpot.  I made Hot Links, Red Beans and Rice that night.  Both fantastic, quick & easy dinners!


Serves about 6
Ingredients
1 lb. lean ground beef, drained
1/2 lb sausage (optional), drained
1 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp Pesto, or 1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 28oz. canned tomatoes, chopped or crushed
4 cups water, or beef broth.
   (If using water, add 1 Tbsp Beef base concentrate)
1 15 oz container Lowfat Ricotta
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup mozzarella
Salt and Pepper

More cheese for serving, either more mozzarella or grated Parmesan.

Brown the ground beef and sausage (if using) for about 5 minutes, add the chopped onions and garlic and saute until the onions soften.  Drain any fat from the mixture. 

Add the tomatoes, the broth, the Italian seasoning and the pesto.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add noodles to the soup at this point, or cook them separately in another pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a food processor, add the spinach and pulse to chop it a bit.  Add the ricotta cheese, the mozzarella and salt & pepper.  Pulse to combine and mix completely. 

Ladle soup into bowls, add noodles and top with spinach ricotta mixture and a sprinkle more cheese.

Here's some other great main course soups.
Albondigas, Mexican Meatball Soup
Bacon Corn Chowder
Bean with Bacon Soup
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Hearty Sausage & Lentil Soup
Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs
Mexican Chicken Posole Stew
Pork and Chorizo Soup
Portuguese Linguica Sausage, Bean and Kale Stew 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crispy Parmesan Tilapia


When you are trying to eat healthily... crispy, fried fish is kind of out of the question.  But, this recipe gives you the taste and crunch you want with lots of extra flavor too.  And it's easy...  I like that.

I'm going to admit something.
I used the Kraft "green canister" parmesan cheese.... oh yes, I DID!
I'm admiting it, but you can see below that I photographed the fresh stuff... yeah, I was going to try to pull something over on you.
It's a long story, but even though I had fresh Parm in the fridge, I also had two HUGE canisters of the 'shelf' cheese in my pantry that someone gave me that I wanted to use. 
WHAT? 
No one gives you cheese? 
Well, now I DO feel special. 
Thanks to my friend Corina for the cheese and also the fantastic Kombucha tea that she makes and regularly gives to me.

I did not add any extra salt in the recipe below.  My reason is, that when I made it, I added salt and I thought it was entirely too salty when combined with the salty Dijon mustard and the Parmesan cheese.  Just wait and taste it at the table before you add salt... I think it will be better for you and be 'just right' for your own taste buds that way.


This was so easy and so yummy, I want it again right now. 
In case you are wondering, I served this with my Spaghetti Squash, Arugula & Tomato Salad, which is incredible either hot, warm or cold!


Serves 4
Ingredients
4 tilapia fillets, thawed
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated
1/2 cup panko
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 springs fresh thyme leaves, or 1 Tbsp chopped parsley

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Fresh Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees
Get a baking sheet and a wire rack ready to go, before you prep the fish.

Mix the parmesan, bread crumbs, pepper, olive oil and thyme leaves together.  Set aside in a shallow dish.




Coat each fish fillet with Dijon mustard and then press the coated fish into the cheese and breadcrumb mixture.  Pat it in to make sure it's firmly attached.  Lay the fish on the rack over a baking pan and bake for about 10-12 minutes.



I love tilapia!
Here are some other favorite recipes:

Easy Catalan Fish Stew with Roasted Pepper Paprika Aioli
Crispy Lemon Tilapia
Lime Tilapia
Simple Fish Tacos with Spicy Coleslaw
Tilapia Provencal

Monday, November 7, 2011

Piper's Sourdough & Sausage Stuffing


This is tangy, spicy, crunchy and oh so yummy!  This is hands down my favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving with a little turkey and gravy.  Pretty much you can keep all the other things, this is what really matters to me.

I'm pretty sure that almost everyone has their most favorite family recipe for Thanksgiving, but in case you don't, I am sharing mine.

We've been deep frying our turkey for quite a few years, so I've had to make some changes to how we do stuffing.  But, most experts really do frown upon actually stuffing your turkey and then trying to roast it.  It takes too long to get the whole thing to the proper temperature, and by the time your stuffing is a safe temperature, your turkey is now overcooked.  This recipe is one that I bake in casserole dishes, and it works out moist, flavorful and crispy in all the right places, with just enough flavor, and kick, to make it a side dish that is important to the big day. 


Makes 2 large dishes
Serves about 10-12 with leftovers
Ingredients:

2 lb loaf of sourdough bread, cubed
1 lb.Italian sausage, hot or mild (of course, I use HOT)
2-3 onions
3 cups celery, chopped (the small inner stalks with leaves are great!)
1-2 tsp sage
1-2 tsp thyme
3-4 cups chicken stock
Salt & Pepper

Chop veggies and saute


Add meat and cook until pink no longer remains.


Add bread cubes and mix thoroughly,


Add broth until thoroughly moistened. Don't worry about it being too soggy, it will dry up a little bit in the oven when you bake it.


Add to a greased baking dish and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes.  You might want to cover it with foil if it looks like its getting to crispy, but my family loves that part the best.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mom's Molasses Cookies


What says Fall more than Molasses cookies?  Pretty much nothing... that's what! It's 8am on a Sunday and I'm baking cookies!  Our son is home this weekend, and was totally pumped to eat cookies for breakfast.  I mean, why not?

This is one of most favorite cookies of all time.
Don't ever look to see how many times that I say this.
I love,love, love cookies.  They are better than cake or pie in my book.

This is a childhood favorite. we made these cookies all the time as kids. Inexplicably, we mixed this dough in a saucepan... yeah, weird, huh?  But in thinking about it now, it just might be the perfect way for a kid to keep hold of the bowl while mixing without making a mess. 

 I'm calling this Mom's Molasses Cookies because it's my mom's recipe... I think.  (She's sure to call me to give me the download on exactly the history when she reads it)
This is one recipe that I don't mess around with.  This is the way we always made it, therefore I always try to do it the old way.  But, I have been thinking of reducing the oil in this recipe to about 2/3 and even increasing the molasses to a 1/3.  Not sure how it will work out... maybe I won't mess with a classic.



Makes about 36 cookies

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Extra white sugar, or Turbinado "raw" Sugar for rolling the cookies in before baking.Turbinado

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Mix the oil, molasses and sugar together.  I like to measure the oil, then add the molasses in the same container.  It's so much easier to get all that sticky molasses out of the measuring cup that way!



Beat the egg and add to the molasses mixture.  Combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture.  As you can see below,  I often skip the part where you are supposed to mix the dry before adding to the wet.  Uh oh, now my secret is out.
Mix well. 

Add Turbinado or 'raw' sugar to a small dish.  Scoop cookies into rounds and roll in the sugar.  Add to a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  I've never had an issue with these cookies sticking to the pan, but I do use a silpat liner these days which makes it so easy!


If you want CHEWY molasses cookies, bake for 8 minutes and let cool for 3-5 minutes before removing to a rack, or plate.

If you want CRISPY & CRUNCHY molasses cookies, bake for 10 minutes and remove right away to a rack.

Both ways are really good, so it's up to you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hot Links, Red Beans & Rice


I got called a Multi-taskin' Maven the other day. I was pretty flattered, but really it's not that hard to do two dinners at once.  Since I'm now part of the working world again, I really struggled with the fact that I didn't have the same amount of time to make dinner, as I am sure many of you can relate too.  On Thursday night, I made a great Lasagna Soup with Spinach Ricotta (it'll post to my blog soon....), and also prepped my crockpot for Red Beans with Hot Links for Friday night's dinner at the same time.  It's so easy to do it this way and I love knowing that dinner is cooking while I am gone. I always thought I was kinda lazy, but maybe that's how Multi-taskin' Mavens are born.  

If my husband goes to Costco by himself, he always comes home with Hot Links.  Now, I like Hot Links as much as anyone, but sometimes I have to think of what to make with them besides Jambalaya.  Red beans and rice is the perfect way to use your Hot Links and make an easy dinner too. I've got more Hot Links left over, so I'm still going to have to come up with some other ideas too...

Hot Links, Red Beans and Rice is a very comforting dinner, and frankly a great way to make a dinner ahead of time for a crowd on a budget.

(Vegetable Broth is shown, but I actually used just water in the recipe!)

Serves about 8
Ingredients
1 cup onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery chopped, inside stalks with leaves
1 lb small red beans, dried
4 hot links, about 1 lb, chopped
8 cups water
3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce
Salt & Pepper

Add all the ingredients to a crock pot, except the Frank's Red Hot sauce and the salt and pepper. 


Cook on low for 8 hours.  


Take half the mixture out and blend it until smooth.  I used an immersion blender, but I almost processed it too much.


Taste and add the Red Hot sauce and salt & pepper to taste.  You may not want all the hot sauce, and then again, you might even want more!

Serve with rice and sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Here's some more Cajun/Creole dishes that I like to make:
Shrimp, Cream & White Beans over Rice- Cajun Comfort Food
Jambalaya- Chicken, Hot Links & Shrimp

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies


It seems everyone likes Red Velvet cake, but you should see them go for Red Velvet Cheesecake brownies!!!  I love moist, fudgy brownies like these. Later on I promise to blog about my great Red Velvet Cake recipe that is super moist with a surprising taste addition that makes it so much better than most cakes.

I made these brownies from another blog for a potluck football party, but the original recipe only made an 8x8 pan... which really, really isn't enough for a crowd.  If you are going to go to the trouble of making some scrumptious dessert to share, you really need more than 16 brownies!  Also,  the cheesecake topping recipe made entirely too much for an 8x8 pan, but it's perfect for a 9x13 pan.  I actually threw away some of the cheesecake topping when I first made this... I was just kind of DONE with little dabs of perfectly "good" cheesecake filling in my fridge.

Of course, you could access the original recipe here and make a small batch for your family. Thank you to Sweet Peas Kitchen for the original recipe, it was enthusiastically recieved with major thumbs up from my football taste testers!

About 24-35 brownies
1- 9x13 pan
Ingredients:
1 cup butter
4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons red food coloring
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping:
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.


In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until combined and very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
To prepare cheesecake mixture, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Distribute the cheesecake mixture in even dollops over batter in the pan. Swirl in with a knife or spatula.


Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.


Here's some more brownie recipes that I have loved...
Brownies topped with Pretzels & Toffee
Merlot Dark Chocolate Brownies