Monday, August 29, 2016

#SecretRecipeClub ~ Buttery Grilled Cheese


Welcome to the August 2016 reveal day for our "Back to School" themed Secret Recipe Club day! I hope you will take a moment to visit the Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it is a wonderful group of food bloggers who are given a secret assignment of another member's blog each month and our goal is to pick ANYTHING from their blog to make and post about on our designated reveal day. For this special themed reveal day I was lucky enough to receive Sarah's blog Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. Sarah is our fearless SRC leader and her blog has EVERY base covered. You will have no problem finding many, many amazing things to share with your family at her site! I always have such a hard time narrowing down my selection. 


Thinking about back to school, our options could be everything from an easy dinner to serve after a busy work / school day, a snack, something tasty to pack in a lunchbox, a quick breakfast idea, etc. The options were pretty endless so I browsed primarily through Sarah's family favorites, snacks, and sandwiches. A few of the snack ideas that jumped out at me that I am going to have to revisit soon included these Hot Dog Stuffed Pretzels, Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, Salted Peanut Nutella Puppy Chow, and Thin Mint Muddy Buddies. As you can see - I opted for Grilled Cheese! When I came across this one I had lots of school flashbacks. Grilled cheese for a snack, a quick dinner, and I've even packed them for lunches sometimes. As always, grilled cheese are perfect for mixing and matching your perfect cheeses. I often make them with a couple slices of American cheese, but opted for cheddar and provolone this time. Sarah's recipe calls for cheddar, colby jack, and monterey jack.

You really can't go wrong with a classic grilled cheese. This is pure comfort food and would make for a tasty quick dinner any night of the week (especially when served with tomato soup - a child hood favorite)!


Buttery Grilled Cheese from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients
2 slices bread
2-4 tsp margarine or butter
2-3 slices favorite cheese (I used cheddar and provolone)

Directions


  1. Heat nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Butter both sides of each piece of bread. 
  3. Place cheese between slices.
  4. Cook in heated skillet about 1-2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cheese has melted. Slice and serve.



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring


Oh how I love recipes like this - they are incredibly versatile and easy to adapt to what you have on hand. I love adding in lots of sauteed vegetables into egg recipes, and happened to have a few odds and ends in the refrigerator, like half an onion, 1 lonely roma tomato and a handful of baby bellas - so that was how I decided on my add ins. You can use what you like best and have on hand.


If you're using thinner cut bacon, you may wish to use a full strip per crescent, but the bacon I buy is thick cut and extra long, so cutting in half worked well for me. I really like using the oven to cook bacon in bulk while prepping the remaining ingredients for this recipe.


The flavor was really nice - a little cheesy, a little rich and buttery from the crescents, and packed full of tasty fresh veggies. This was a great way to start the day, and the presentation is definitely nice enough for a brunch or special Holiday breakfast!


Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring adapted from Jo Cooks

Ingredients
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 - 2 small roma tomatoes, diced
4-5 baby portabellos, thinly sliced
1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 TBS olive oil
4 thick cut slices bacon, cut in half

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and lay out bacon on sheet. Bake bacon for about 10 - 15 minutes or until cooked through and slightly crisped. Place bacon on paper towels and blot excess grease. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes or until they start to become tender. Add the tomato and mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5 - 10 minutes or until cooked through and tender.
  3. Put 5 eggs into a bowl, separate the 5th egg keeping the whites off to the side for an egg wash, and adding that yolk to the bowl with the other eggs. Whip eggs with a splash of water until combined, and pour mixture into the skillet with the vegetables along with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar. Stir gently, season with salt and pepper to taste. When cooked through turn off heat and set aside.
  4. On a round baking sheet, lay out crescents. The wide portion should be in the inner circle and they should overlap a little. Lay out a piece of bacon on each crescent. Distribute the eggs around the inner circle, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Carefully wrap the thin portion of the crescent over the top and tuck under to attach. Whip the egg white that was set off to the side with a fork and use a pastry brush to generously brush the tops of the crescent rolls with it.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crescent dough is all the way cooked through. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.



Friday, August 19, 2016

#FishFridayFoodies ~ Chunky Shrimp Burgers



Welcome to our "Seafood Burgers" reveal day! This month our hostess is Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. Would you like to join Fish Friday Foodies?  We post and share new seafood/fish recipes on the third Friday of the month.  To join our group please email Wendy at wendyklik1517@gmail.com. 

This month I found a delicious looking shrimp burger recipe and adapted it for what I had on hand and what I had the energy for. The original recipe was linked to an AMAZING looking onion brioche bun. Yes, I will be going back to make that one soon!

The original recipe called for a full teaspoon of salt and I added about 3/4 a tsp and found the recipe to be overly salted, so I suggested 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt to start with. You can pan fry up a little piece of the mixture to taste test.

This was otherwise a very tasty burger, though I did find the mixture didn't hold together very well during frying. A couple of my burgers did, and a couple did not - so refrigerating the mixture and / or adding an extra egg might help. The original recipe calls for using a food processor to pulverize half the shrimp, but I wanted to keep more of the texture so opted for fine dicing.


Chunky Shrimp Burgers adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer

Ingredients
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 egg
2 TBS Gourmet Garden lightly dried cilantro
1 TBS minced garlic
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
3/4 tsp black pepper
3 TBS vegetable oil (more / less as needed for frying)
4 buns for serving
Suggested toppings: sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes, mayonnaise, mozzarella cheese, leafy lettuce, etc.

Directions
  1. Divide the shrimp in half. Roughly chop one half and add it to a bowl for mixing the remaining ingredients. Finely dice the remaining half of the shrimp and add to the bowl with the rest of the shrimp.
  2. Add the egg, cilantro, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, onion, salt, and pepper. Combine gently. Check the texture, if needed you could add an additional egg for binding if needed. You can refrigerate the mixture for an hour at this point if desired, to help the mixture hold together during frying (I did not).
  3. Heat about 1 TBS of oil at a time in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  4. Shape shrimp mixture into 4 burger patties. Fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until patties are well browned and shrimp mixture is cooked all the way through. Fry in batches if needed 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

#BundtBakers ~ Chocolate Chip Apple Cake


BundtBakers


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

Thanks to our lovely hostess Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm for our theme of "Apples" this month! I love that she picked something as versatile apple - as you can see from the wide variety of cakes baked this month you can use this delicious fall fruit in many different ways, in a huge variety of flavor profiles. 

I am so looking forward to apple picking in the next couple months. We've gone a couple times now, up to Blue Ridge Georgia to B.J. Reece Apple Orchards and picked apples in the orchards with the kids. It's beautiful there and the apples are simply amazing. There's nothing that beats picked fresh from the trees. They're so incredibly juicy!

Now, onto this unique cake. The ingredients seem a little... odd... but oh my goodness. The cake. It's wonderful. It's so, so soft. The texture is wonderful. Moist and tender. And the chocolate chips add terrific texture. The apples disappear to completely into this when grated, so if you want to have noticeable pieces of apple you can stick to finely diced instead of grated apple. The flavor of the cake has a subtle hint of chocolate, and a warm touch of cinnamon. The ratios are just right - we all absolutely loved the way this cake came out - it will definitely be featured in my kitchen again. 



Chocolate Chip Apple Cake adapted from Carol on AllRecipes  

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-3 cups apples grated (peeling is optional)
3/4 - 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9 or 10 inch bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl cream the butter or margarine with the sugar. Beat in the eggs then add the water and the vanilla.
  3. Stir the flour, cocoa, baking soda, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg together. Beat this mixture into the creamed mixture just until blended. Stir in the grated apples. Pour half the batter into the prepped pan and sprinkle on half desired amount of chocolate chips. Pour in remaining batter and top with remaining chocolate chips.
  4. Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center. Transfer to a rack to cool. When cool, invert onto a platter. Makes about 16 servings. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Zesty Grilled Chicken


We loved this recipe - it made for very juicy, flavorful chicken that grilled up very nicely. This chicken works wonderfully atop (or next to) a large salad (which is how we enjoyed it), but is very versatile and could be served a number of ways. It has a distinctly "zesty Italian" flavor to it. I think it would be great with pasta as well.

It's hard for me to accept that summer is quickly drawing to an end... September 22nd is the first day of fall... that is just over ONE MONTH away! On September 24th I'm flying out to Chicago with my sister and boyfriend to attend a good friend's wedding and we'll be spending a couple days there which I'm very excited about and looking forward to - but it is alarming to me how fast the days are flying. September is already completely booked up with parties and events - DragonCon is coming the first weekend in September and this will be my first year going. My son has very much been looking forward to it. Then Lindsey's 3rd birthday party the following weekend at her godmother's, another friend's birthday party the weekend after that, then Chicago. The weekend after that is Petit Le Mans in Atlanta, and the weekend after that (for good measure) we're driving to North Carolina to take the kids to Great Wolf Lodge as part of Lindsey's birthday celebration. THEN a break... for one week... then another event October 23rd. Then seriously a break... because once Halloween arrives the year is over. It just is. We snowball from decorating for Halloween, to sugared out kiddos, to decorating for fall, Thanksgiving Day, shopping and wrapping then Christmas Day! So, with that said... trying to remember to take it all in, breath, enjoy the days as they come, even when they're difficult, or painful, or sad... be blessed, be grateful, be filled with joy. There is always something good in each and every day.


Zesty Grilled Chicken adapted from Happily Unprocessed

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 TBS Dijon mustard (I used a hot and spicy mango mustard)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS lime juice
1/2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 - 3 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut horizontally to have thinner pieces which will cook quicker)


Instructions
  1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the marinade ingredients. Add chicken pieces. Seal the bag and gently press and rotate bag for a minute or two to allow ingredients to be fully combined and chicken to evenly rest in the marinade.
  2. Put the chicken in the fridge and marinate at least 2 hours (I left mine in for about 24 hours - I think overnight is best if you have the time).
  3. When you're ready to cook your chicken, prep your grill by cleaning and spraying with nonstick cooking spray before lighting. Heat to medium / medium-high heat and cook chicken until juices run clear (this will depend on thickness - mine took about 15-20 minutes).
Note: You can also combine marinade ingredients in a separate container and reserve about 1/2 cup of it to pour over the cooked chicken just before serving, if desired.



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pot Roast with Gravy



I love beef roasts in the crock pot - one of my favorite fall meals for sure! I love how this meal comes together in about 20 minutes, simmers away all day (and smells amazing) and then dinner is served. I really liked the flavors in this particular roast recipe. I've cooked a bunch of different variations of pot roast in the crock pot, and this one is definitely a keeper. The sauce made a wonderful gravy that didn't need seasoning adjustment at all and we stuffed the crock pot full of vegetables and potatoes so there was plenty to go around. I even added a package of portobello mushrooms and about 1/4 head of cabbage during the last 3 hours which were very tasty additions to the meal. I served this roast up with some garlicky cheesy pull bread and everyone was very stuffed by the time dinner was done. I look forward to making this dish again soon when the weather cools off and my crock pot is getting put to more frequent use.


Pot Roast adapted from Paula Deen

Ingredients
1 (3 to 4-pound) boneless chuck roast

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper 
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 (10 3/4-oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
3/4 cup water
5 - 6 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half (I used a mix of russets, reds, and sweet potatoes)
1 large onion, quartered
6 - 7 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

Directions
  1. Place prepared vegetables in the bottom of a large slow cooker.
  2. Combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl - rub on all sides of the roast. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the roast, searing it on both sides. Place the meat atop the vegetables in the slow cooker along with any juices accumulated in the pan. Add garlic and bay leaves to the slow cooker.
  3. Combine the mushroom soup, wine, Worcestershire sauce, beef bouillon, and water in a bowl. Pour over the roast.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender.
  5. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
*To make gravy: pour out liquid from the crock pot into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and thicken it by adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water, whisking constantly.




Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Butterfinger Lush


Need another creamy, rich, amazing dessert to enjoy this summer? Tuck this one away - or try it today! No cooking involved, just a few layered ingredients, refrigerate, and voila. This dessert is layer after layer of yumm. Oreo cookie crust, peanut butter, cream cheese, whipped cream, Butterfingers, chocolate pudding, more whipped cream, more Butterfingers... worth every single sinful calorie. And so rich, you only need a few bites to satisfy your sweet tooth.


There are so many variations of "lush" desserts out there (I have my eyes on a strawberry shortcake version next), I will definitely be trying a few more variations out before the warm weather starts fading into fall and it's time to pull out the pumpkin!

This dish would be perfect for your next potluck.


Butterfinger Lush adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

Ingredients
32 Oreo cookies, crushed to small crumbs
5 TBS butter, melted
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
8 fun size Butterfingers
3 cups heavy whipping cream whipped to stiff peaks with 2 TBS powdered sugar container, divided
1 (5.9-ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk

Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together crushed oreo cookies and melted butter. Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish and press firmly all along the bottom. Refrigerate.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Gradually add confectioners' sugar. Beat in peanut butter. Fold in 1 cup of whipped cream. Crush 4 fun sized Butterfingers and fold them into peanut butter mixture.
  3. Spread peanut butter mixture evenly over oreo crust.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the pudding mix and milk together. Let sit to thicken for a minute or two and then pour over peanut butter layer.
  5. Spread remaining whipped cream on top. Crush remaining Butterfingers and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.