Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Sweet and salty chocolate chip cookies? YES, please! WOW! These were just...WOW! So yummy! Love the salt and the subtle crunch from the pretzels! Next time you make chocolate chip cookies, spice them up a bit with some crushed pretzels - you will not be disappointed! Going forward, I will ALWAYS add pretzels to my was truly that good! I'm thinking it will be my "secret" ingredient! Not so much a secret anymore....but, hey, when I uncover something this good, I really do have to share! You're welcome!!

Use any chocolate chip cookie base you like....I always use the recipe on the bag of the Nestle Toll House bag (decreasing the amount of salt to 1/2 tsp because of all the salt on the pretzels). If you do not want to use the peanut butter chips, sub in an extra 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chips. Enjoy!

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels (the amount of crushing you do is entirely up to you- however, I do not recommend pulverizing them to oblivion. It was nice to see a little pretzel. The texture of the pretzels chunks was really nice, too)
Preheat oven to 375F
In a large mixing bowl, cream room-temp butter with sugars. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla; mix. Add flour, baking soda & salt; mix till combined. Add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and crushed pretzels; mix. At this point, I always put my dough in the refrigerator for an hour to firm up.  I feel this steps makes a big difference in how the cookies bake. If you have time, please do this! Drop by rounded tablespoons (I use a cookie scoop for uniformity) onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Do not overbake!!! Cool completely before transferring cookies to plate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

PW's Sunday Night Stew

Now you all know how much I love the Pioneer Woman's blog. She is hysterical and her recipes are always yum, yum, yum! I love all her step by step pictures, too (I SO wish I had the time and patience to chronicle my blog like that!! Maybe in my next life....). Anyhoo, my friend, Melissa, told me I had to make the Pioneer Woman's Sunday Night Stew- she said the mashed potatoes were "the best she's ever eaten in her life!" Well, when those words came out of Melissa's mouth (she's QUITE the foodie/cook herself), I wasted no time gathering the ingredients for this meal. And yes, Mel, these mashed potatoes were TO DIE for! The stew was super tasty, as well. I don't use turnips very often....but, I have to say, they gave a unique, but pleasant, flavor to this hearty, comfort dish. Despite this meal's name, I made this on a regular ol' Tuesday night. Enjoy!

Here is the recipe straight from the Pioneer Woman herself:

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 pounds Beef Stew Meat (chuck Roast Cut Into Chunks)
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 ounces, weight Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Low Sodium Beef Stock Or Broth, More If Needed For Thinning
  • Several Dashes Worcestershire
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 4 whole Carrots, Peeled And Diced
  • 2 whole Turnips, Peeled And Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley
Mashed Potatoes:
  • 5 pounds Russet Potatoes (peeled)
  • 1 package (8 Ounce) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 stick Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper stew meat. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add butter, and as soon as it melts, brown half the stew meat until the outside gets nice and brown, about 2 minutes. (Turn it as it browns.) Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and put it on a plate. Add the rest of the meat to the pot and brown it, too. Remove it to the same plate. Set the meat aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pot, stirring it to coat it in all the brown bits in the bottom of the pot. Cook for two minutes, then add the tomato paste to the pot. Stir it into the onions and let it cook for two more minutes.

Pour in the beef stock, stirring constantly. Add the Worcestershire and sugar. Add the beef back to the pot, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.

After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, add the diced turnips and carrots to the pot. Stir to combine, put the lid back on the pot, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be very thick, but if it seems overly so, splash in some beef broth until it thins it up enough. Feel free to add beef broth as needed!

When the carrots and turnips are tender, stir in minced parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve piping hot in a bowl with mashed potatoes, letting the juice run all over everything. Sprinkle with extra minced parsley at the end.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and cover with water in a large pot. Boil until potatoes are fork tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then put them back into the same pot. With the heat on low, mash the potatoes for 2 to 3 minutes to release as much steam as possible.

Turn off heat, then add cream cheese, butter, cream, seasoned salt, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve potatoes immediately or spread them into a buttered baking dish to be reheated later. To reheat, put them in a 375 degree oven, covered in foil, until hot.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Italian Fries

Leave it to Martha Stewart to come up with the most delicious baked french fries! I made this recipe off her website last week and the fries were super yummy and very crispy. We loved the grated cheese! This recipe calls for 6 potatoes, but, I only used 2. I tried my best to cut the recipe to work with only 2 potatoes (because honestly, there are only so many french fries a family can eat on a weeknight!)......but, just remember cooking isn't an exact, if you want to 1/3 or 1/2 the recipe, go for it!
  • 6 Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/3-inch-thick French fry-style strips, soaked in cold water
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or some combo of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, and basil
  • 2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, cut into 6 cubes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Soak cut potatoes in water for 30 min to 1 hour. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Spread 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on each of 2 rimmed baking sheets and spread out the potatoes. Overlapping is fine.

Sprinkle the dried herbs evenly over the potatoes. Liberally spread the cheese and parsley on top. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the cheese. Scatter the cubed butter around the pans.

Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, rotating the pans after 30 minutes, for 45 to 50 minutes total. Use a spatula to lift off the potatoes with all the crusty cheese adhered to them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Graham Cracker Toffee Bars

This quick and simple "candy" recipe hails from the blog Celebrations at Home.  My attention was captured when I saw the word "toffee" - I knew right then and there I had to make them! I found these super easy to put together and even easier to eat! HA! Give them a shot if you are in the mood for something sweet but don't have a lot of time to bake.
  • 24 cinnamon graham crackers broken into squares (I used regular graham crackers and I'm glad I did because these are super sweet)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F

Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and place the graham squared inside to fill the pan, in a single layer.

In a sauce pan, melt butter and sugar together over medium heat. Once melted, increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil; Cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. The consistency will be like caramel. Pour the sauce mixture over the graham crackers and spread with a knife to cover them.

             Sprinkle with pecans and bake on 350F for 12 minutes.
                Let cool and separate the squares to serve.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Crock Pot Korean Beef Tacos

Much to my surprise, my crock pot has been getting so much use lately!  I never really took myself as one who uses a crock pot because I actually like to cook! Who wants to just throw a bunch of food into a pot, turn it on and then walk away? Surely, the meal will be sub-par! But, what I have recently discovered (thanks to Pinterest) is there are so many sophisticated crock pot recipes out there!! Crock pot cooking doesn't have to just produce bland, one note dishes!! Take these Korean Beef Tacos, for example. The flavors have depth; not to mention the beef just gets so incredibly tender from cooking slowly for eight hours. And of course, the unexpected addition of the pickled onions and cucumbers makes these tacos taste refreshing and light!

I am highly recommending all your crock pot aficionados, as well as all you crock pot snobs, give this recipe a try!! I swiped it off the blog Confections of a Foodie Bride and here it is verbatim:

For the Korean beef:
  • ~5 lbs beef short ribs (can also use chuck roast or back ribs) *I only used 3 lbs
  • 1 bottle (10 oz) low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 6 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 cup water (optional) *I only used about 1/3 cup

For the Cucumber Slaw:
  • 1 cucumber (seedless recommended)
  • Thinly sliced red onion rounds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
For the tacos:
  • 16 small wheat tortillas
  • cilantro (optional)
  • bean sprouts (optional)
  • Greek yogurt OR sour cream (optional)
  • Sriracha (optional)


  1. To make the cucumber slaw, slice the cucumber very thinly and sprinkle with salt. Place in a colander and let sit for up to an hour over a bowl or in the sink.
  2. Shake additional water from the colander or pat with paper towels.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and toss with red onions, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Refrigerate until ready to use (leftovers get less and less crunchy as they sit but it can be made ahead, just pour off any accumulated liquid and toss with an additional 1-2 tsp vinegar to taste, if necessary).
  4. To make the Korean beef for the tacos, spray your slow cooker crock with non-stick cooking spray and add the ribs.
  5. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar with the garlic, ginger, Sriracha, and oils.
  6. Pour over the ribs in the crock pot (if you deem the cooking liquid low, add 1/3 to 1 cup water)
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  8. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and skim the fat from the top. Pour the liquid into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while separating the meat from the bones. Reduce the liquid by about half and pour over the shredded meat.
      9. To assemble, serve the shredded meat on a warm tortilla topped with a spoonful of cucumber slaw and if using, cilantro, Sriracha, bean sprouts and yogurt.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

This is just about the best salad dressing I have ever had and I seriously can't get enough! The recipe makes so much that I have been making it on Sundays and then using it throughout the week. It honestly makes me want to eat a salad for dinner every's JUST THAT GOOD! Of course, the recipe comes from the culinary wizard over at Cafe Sucre Farine. The things that woman does with salads and dressings is genius!

lemon zest, from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice*
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Combine everything in a Tupperware container with a tight fitting lid. Shake till thoroughly combined. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Spinach Pesto

I was really intrigued by the use of wonton wrappers in this recipe. They worked great as a substitute for pasta! The butternut squash filling was so incredibly delicious that I could have eaten it straight up as a side, mashed potato style! In fact, I just might try that! Mmmmmm!!!! And the spinach pesto? Delectable! There was something super fancy about this Cooking Light recipe......perhaps you might make it for a Valentine or Anniversary dinner?! But then again, my husband and I enjoyed on a regular ol' Wednesday night (oh, my kids liked it, too!). Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, pre-cut
1 Tbl freshly chopped oregano OR 1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbl butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/8 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
36 wonton wrappers (I didn't end up using all of them)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped & divided
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbl vegetable broth
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400F

To make pesto:
Place garlic, 2 Tbl cheese, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, spinach, basil, and 2 Tbl walnuts in a food processor. With food processor on, slowly pour oil, broth and lemon juice through the food chute. Process until well blended. Set aside.

To make ravioli:
Place butternut squash cubes on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender. In a food processor, combine roasted butternut squash, oregano and butter. Pulse until the squash is smooth. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pulse just a few times until all is combined.

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep them from drying), spoon about 1 1/2 tsp squash mixture into center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of wrapper with beaten egg (I just used my finger) and bring 2 opposite corners together. Pinch edges together to seal, forming a triangle.

Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers, squash mixture and egg. If you aren't going to cook ravioli immediately,  cover loosely with a towel to prevent drying.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add half of the ravioli and cook 3 minutes. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon. Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli. Add ravioli to pesto; toss gently to coat. Arrange ravioli on plates; sprinkle each serving with remaining toasted walnuts. YUM!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"The Works" 7-Layer Chocolate Bars

"Dang!!!" That's what I said to myself when I took a bite of these heavenly bars. And the "dang" was a wow-these-are-so-good-I-can't-believe-I'm-in-such-pure-chocolate-peanut-butter-crunchy-chewy-goodness-bliss kind of a dang! So um, did I like these? YES! Am I encouraging you to make them? You bet! And I am thankful for the Domestic Rebel blog from whence this recipe was swiped? Sure am!

Read this if there are nut allergies in your family:
Oh, and if you have nut allergies in your family I wanted to throw a few ideas out there for you to ponder. I have many friends who have children with nut allergies. I know they love a good 7 layer chocolate bar as much as the next person, but, of course, their 7 layers are limited.....or are they!? Not necessarily! I've been thinking very hard about how my friends (I've got your back, Dana & Shannon) can make these treats allergen friendly for their kiddos (all whom I love). So, here are a few ideas...I think you could use ANY of these substitutions in place of the honey roasted peanuts, pb chips and Reece's Pieces. Of course, always check the labels!!!!!

Rice Krispies
Cut up Rolos
Crushed Oreos
Crushed Chips A'hoy
Chopped Whoppers
Air-popped popcorn
Pretzels (Rold Gold are safe)
Mini marshmallows
I'm also told Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker & Pilsbury brands Devil's Food boxed cakes are all nut-free and safe to use
*I'm sure you nut-free savvy moms can think of even more substitutions!!!

Okay, so now, on to the regular, nut-loaded recipe!!!

1 box Devil’s food cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup coarsely crushed pretzels
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Reese’s Pieces
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 can (7 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 F

Liberally grease a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg and melted butter (this was a little "thick" for, I added about 2 Tbl water).  Stir in the crushed pretzels. Spread the mixture evenly along the bottom of the greased pan (I used my fingers to flatten the batter bc it was so "thick") and bake for about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the par-baked bars with the peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces and peanuts. Drizzle the top of the bars with the sweetened condensed milk. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly, and center is set.

Cool completely before cutting into bars. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best served within 1-2 days.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Bell Peppers

Wow, these peppers were good! They were so incredibly tasty!  I wasn't sure if I should use red bell peppers (we are a red bell pepper household) or green (the original recipe uses green) I used one of each! My husband and I liked both colors equally - so, use what you prefer! The caramelized onions and mushrooms really put these stuffed peppers over the edge - WOW! Delish! I totally didn't miss the roll at all! Here's to a truly scrumptious low-carb dinner! Enjoy!

This recipe comes straight from the blog Quick n' Easy Recipes.

8 oz. thinly sliced roast beef (good quality from the deli)

8 slices provolone cheese

2 large green bell peppers (I used one green and one red)

1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced

6 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbl butter

2 Tbl olive oil

1 Tbl garlic, minced

Salt and Pepper – to taste

Preheat oven to 400F

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds. Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese. 

Saute sliced onions and mushrooms over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic and a little salt and pepper.  Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized.  About 20-25 minutes. Remove onions/mushrooms from heat.

Slice roast beef into thin, bite-sized strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture.

Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.

Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown.  YUMMERS!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

This recipe has been floating around Pinterest for quite some time. I finally made it and it is super delicious!! This dinner was as easy as you can get, tasted amazing AND my WHOLE family ate it! Yup, it was one of those rare moments, folks! All three kids LOVED this chicken!! I'm so excited! Now I want to make it again and again!! I must say I did NOT put the kids' chicken back into the crock pot after I shredded it - saturating it in the wing sauce would have been way too spicy for them! Remember that if you plan on serving this to your kids!!!

This spicy, shredded chicken would be great for so many things- in tacos, on nachos, on a baked potato, or served on a split bun (ooh, I'm envisioning coleslaw on top of that!!).  We ate ours in soft tacos. We topped it with shredded carrots, lettuce, sour cream, shredded cheddar and crumbled blue cheese (only the hubby and I ate the blue cheese)....the blue cheese really made it, I must say! I plan on using the leftovers to top some potato skins (recipe to follow later this week!).  Remember, you can easily double or triple the recipe and bring it to a pot luck or serve it at a party.

**Please note that I only made half of the recipe below (I used three chicken breasts, half a bottle of wing sauce and approx. 1/2 package of Ranch) and it served my family of five (but my three children are little).

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle of buffalo wing sauce (like Frank's or I used a brand I found at Whole Foods and it was great)
1 package of Ranch seasoning mix

Place chicken in a crock pot. Top with wing sauce and Ranch seasoning mix.  Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove chicken from the pot and shred. If you plan to serve the chicken to your children, you may want to leave theirs out at this point (so it isn't too spicy). Return shredded chicken to the crock pot and let it soak in the sauce for another 30 minutes.
This is the freshly shredded chicken before I put it back into the crock pot to soak in the wing sauce
Serve with tacos, nachos, on a baked potato, on a bun or any other way you think sounds delicious!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Raw" Cookie Dough Bites

I love these! I just LOVE these! I didn't make them for my kids or for my husband; I made them JUST for myself and I am in heaven! Almonds, walnuts, oats & honey ground fine to taste like cookie dough?! Yes, please! Okay, let me make this clear....they do not taste exactly like cookie dough- I mean, there is no substitute for the butter and sugar and eggs- oh my! But, they do have a similar texture and they are sweet and satisfying and for goodness sakes people, these bites are health food!!! So, with that in mind (that these are actually full of fiber and nutrient-dense goodness) they are pretty pretty good! They definitely satisfy my sweet tooth! Enjoy!

This recipe comes straight from the blog A Dash of Compassion.

2/3 cup raw almonds
2/3 cup raw walnuts
2/3 cup raw oat flakes or old fashioned oats (I used the oats)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup raw agave nectar or honey (I used honey)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbl cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips (you know I used chocolate chips!)

In a food processor, process the almonds, walnuts, oats, cinnamon and salt to a fine meal. Add the agave nectar (or honey) and vanilla and process to combine. Next, add the cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips) and pulse just to combine.

Roll the cookie dough into balls about 1 tbsp each (wet your hands if the dough is too sticky) and place them on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper. Place the pan in the freezer for about an hour to firm up. Store balls in a tightly covered container in the freezer.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Less Loaded Potato Soup

Who doesn't love a giant baked potato loaded with sour cream, butter and bacon? I can't think of a soul! And then there is loaded potato soup - it has all the fixings just pureed smooth with lots of heavy cream! This comfort food is full of flavor as well as fat and calories!  What is a health conscious, yet potato-loving person to do?!

Enter Cooking Light's recipe for Creamy, Light Potato Soup! This soup has all the flavor of Loaded Potato Soup with much fewer calories and extra nutrition to boot thanks to the roasted cauliflower! There is no butter and no cream, as well! You can add the cheese and bacon crumbles at the end if you so choose....if you want to save on the calories, then leave them off. The soup alone is delicious! Serve with a crusty bread - multi-grain, of course! Enjoy!

1 1/2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 Yukon gold potatoes, chopped (do not peel)
5 cups chicken broth
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 bay leaf
1 pound cauliflower, cut into florets
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup green onion, chopped, divided
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
4 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, stock, 1/2 tsp salt and bay leaf; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.

While potatoes simmer, combine remaining 1 Tbl oil, cauliflower, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray or lined with foil; toss to coat. Roast at 450F for 30 minutes or until browned, turning ocne.

Place cauliflower mixture and milk in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening (to avoid slpatters). Blend until smooth. Pour cauliflower mixture into a large bowl. Add half of potato mixture to blender; pulse 5 to 6 times or until coarsely chopped (when potatoes get over blended, they become sticky and gummy- not a very nice texture for soup! So, please just pulse and leave soup slightly chunky). Pour into bowl with cauliflower mixture. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Place cauliflower-potato mixture in Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in remaining 1/4 tsp salt, remaining 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup green onions and light sour cream; stir until sour cream melts. Ladle soup into bowls. Top evenly with remaining green onions and cheese and bacon, if using. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

My friends, Sarah & Keli, have been raving about the blog Skinny Taste. They specifically told me I had to try the Chicken Taco Chili. Well, I made it today and it was super yummy!! It was crazy easy to make and healthy to boot!!! The whole family loved it! I can't wait to try more of her recipes!! Enjoy!

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels (I used canned corn)
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies (I used a 28oz can of fire roasted tomatoes)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used only two breasts and there was a ton of meat)
chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream (optional)
shredded cheese (optional)
cooked rice (optional)

Combine beans, onion, chili peppers (if using), corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker.  Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred with two forks. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.  Serve chili over cooked rice, if desired. Top with fresh cilantro and sour cream and cheese, if using.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower

My father made this yummy side dish when he and my mom were out visiting over the holidays. I just loved it! Mashed cauliflower is a healthy and delicious substitute for mashed potatoes when you are trying to eat less carbs or eat more veggies or both! Use light cream cheese, light sour cream and skim milk if you want to further the healthy benefits (that's taking it too far for me, however....I don't let anything labeled "light" enter my fridge - just sayin'......)! Enjoy!

1 large head of cauliflower, bottom cut off and chopped (this yields approx 8 cups)
2 Tbl cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbl sour cream
2 Tbl milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
Pepper to taste
1/2 c. shredded cheese - optional (I used cheddar; you can use a shredded mix or pepper jack for a little spice)

Preheat oven to broil.

Steam chopped cauliflower for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender.  The way you prepare the mashed cauliflower depends on your texture preference. For a chunkier texture you can mash everything together with a potato masher. You can also put all the ingredients into the food processor (I used my Vitamix) to get a really creamy texture. This is your call. However you decide, combine the steamed cauliflower, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  If you are not using the cheese, your cauliflower is ready to eat!

If you are using cheese, spoon the cauliflower mash into a baking dish and evenly sprinkle cheese on top. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Crunchers Club Cracker Bars

This recipe for "Crunchers" is said to be one of the most pinned recipes on Pinterest. I have to admit, I was intrigued!  These bars are no bake - which is always nice! They were simple to make and they cut like a dream (the knife just glides right through the crackers yielding perfectly straight bars). Very tasty and I love the crunch! I also think the layers are really pretty! Definitely make these if you are looking for something different and yummy. 
Thank you to the blog Twirl & Taste for giving us Crunchers! 

80 Keebler Club Crackers (or a similar buttery cracker that has a rectangular shape.)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (very fine)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Line an ungreased 9 X 13-inch baking pan with foil, allowing foil to extend about an inch on either end. Line the foil with 1 layer of club crackers, cutting to fit if necessary.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly (begin timing 5 minutes from when you see the first bubbles).

Remove from heat and spread half of graham mixture evenly over crackers. Place another single layer of crackers evenly over graham mixture, cutting to fit if necessary.

Spread remaining graham mixture evenly over crackers. Top evenly with remaining crackers (so in total, you will have crackers, graham mixture, crackers, graham mixture and then finally crackers).

In a small microwave safe bowl combine peanut butter, chocolate morsels, and butterscotch morsels. Heat one minute and then stir. Return to microwave for another 30 seconds and stir; then again for 30 seconds and stir. At this point, everything should be melted. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top of crackers.

Cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Use the foil over-hang to remove the bars from the pan. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the bars into squares. Enjoy!