Monday, June 26, 2017

Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sausage, and Spinach


We loved the flavors of the Creamy Tuscan Chicken so much that I adapted that recipe to use shrimp, and went searching for more recipes! Then last week, when one kiddo requested "some kind of spaghetti" for that evening's meal, I knew this would be perfect.

Chicken sausage, spinach and sun dried tomatoes swim in a creamy sauce with plenty of spaghetti mixed in. It is amazingly delicious. You could substitute regular Italian sausage for the chicken sausage but I am a huge chicken sausage fan... feel free to use more spinach than it calls for too - that's a great way to get more greens into your (and your family's) diet.


I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did, and will again soon!

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Spaghetti with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sausage, and Spinach

12 oz. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. cooked Italian Chicken sausage links, sliced lengthwise then crosswise into half moons
3 cups (or more) baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook garlic until fragrant, 1 minute. Add sausage, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until sausage is browned and spinach is cooked, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Let thicken until sauce is creamy, then add spaghetti to skillet and toss until fully coated. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the Parmesan and serve. Makes 4-5 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Delish

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

S'mores Ice Cream Cake


In my opinion, you can never have too many s'more desserts in your repertoire. This is only my third s'mores dessert, but like the other two (cookie bars and brownies), it is amazing, and it only inspires me on to make s'mores cake, cheesecake, ice cream, etc!

This is the perfect summer dessert - refreshing, delicious and impressive!

It is easy to layer up in a loaf pan,


and I loved all the textures at play - crunchy cereal, soft ice cream, squishy marshmallows, velvety chocolate pieces, and then a new discovery - marshmallow bits! They are so fun! (And they're easy to find - right by the marshmallows at my grocery.)


You'll be everyone's biggest fan when you make this ice cream cake this summer!


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S'mores Ice Cream Cake

4 cups Honey Graham cereal, crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 - 48 oz. container chocolate ice cream, softened
1 - 6 ounce milk chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks
1 - 8 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup marshmallow bits

Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap so that there is overhang for lifting out the cake later. Spray the plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the crushed cereal and melted butter until well combined. Press 1-1/2 cups of the cereal mixture into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan.

Spread half the softened chocolate ice cream over the cereal layer. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chopped chocolate chunks.

In a large bowl, stir together the mini marshmallows and thawed whipped topping. Spread half over the top of the chocolate chunks layer. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup marshmallow bits.

Repeat the layers with 1-1/2 cups cereal, remaining chocolate ice cream, half of the remaining chocolate chunks and remaining marshmallow whipped topping mixture. Reserve the remaining marshmallow bits for the very top of the cake.

Sprinkle the remaining cereal over the marshmallow whipped topping layer. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks over the cereal and then the remaining marshmallow bits over the chocolate chunks.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place cake in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, lift cake from the pan using the sides of the plastic wrap. Cut into slices with a large sharp knife and serve. Store leftover cake in the freezer. Serves 12.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Baker Mama

Monday, May 22, 2017

Creamy Tuscan Chicken


Short on time but want a restaurant-quality meal on the table tonight? Then I've got you covered. This Creamy Tuscan Chicken is SO easy and SO delicious, and it's ready in a flash! You better put the pasta water on to boil before you start the chicken, otherwise you'll be waiting for the pasta!

Chicken breasts are sauteed and then covered in a creamy sauce dotted with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. The flavor is out of this world. I promise it will win rave reviews from your family, or whomever is lucky enough to eat it. I served it over egg noodles with sauteed green beans, and everyone scarfed it up. Plus, it's a beautiful presentation so would be perfect for guests.

I used some larger chicken breasts for this and then cut them in half lengthwise to get thinner portions that cook more evenly. I have also substituted a pound of large shrimp for the chicken, adding them just at the end (no earlier saute like with chicken) and it is wonderful.

So, chicken or shrimp - noodles or rice (or quinoa!)- whatever your choice, you will love this dish. In fact, I'm making it again tomorrow night. That's the sign of a winner - a weekly repeat.


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Creamy Tuscan Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

In a large skillet add I Tbsp. olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet and saute and onions and garlic over medium high heat until onions are soft. Add the half and half, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Oarmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan and heat through for 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta, if you like.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Recipe Critic

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gluten Free Mini Cheesecakes


Don't scroll past this post too quickly - even if you don't eat gluten free, you'll want to know about this wonderful dessert! I don't eat gluten free regularly, but I do regularly have dinner guests, and sometimes those guests are gluten free. It's great to have a few things in your "dessert arsenal" as options when you have guests with special dietary requirements, and it's even better if, like with this recipe, everyone will love it because it's so delicious - gluten free and gluten full both!

Of course, cream cheese is naturally gluten free, so it was just the crust here that needed addressing. Almond flour makes a great crust, and provides some nice texture too. Next time, I may even add a few sliced almonds on top of the crust for additional crunch. (I keep my almond flour in the freezer since I use it infrequently and it stays fresh for a long time.)


I served these cheesecakes two different ways on two occasions; once with a berry sauce and once with fresh berries. And both with whipped cream, of course! (Another great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be halved if you only need 6 desserts...)

So, whether you're gluten free or not, you will enjoy these cheesecakes. I promise!

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Gluten Free Mini Cheesecakes

Crust:
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Cheesecake:
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 eggs

For the crust, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest, then stir in the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture between 12 paper- or silicone-lined muffin cups and lightly press down with the back of a spoon or your clean fingers.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes while preparing the filling.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the eggs on low, one at a time, and just until well incorporated.

Fill each liner about 2/3 full with the batter and bake for 10 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes don't jiggle when the pan is tapped. Open the oven door (at least 1 foot wide) and let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the paper liners now, then chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with fresh berries or a berry sauce and whipped cream.

Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Makes 12 servings.

Recipe Source: Texaserin Baking

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}


I really like cooking chicken thighs, especially in the crock pot or Instant Pot. They don't dry out as easily as chicken breasts, and they pair really well with Asian flavors. I developed this recipe after seeing something similar in a cookbook. This chicken was a huge hit with my family, and it's SO FAST if you have a pressure cooker. If you don't, just use your crock pot, and while it takes longer, dinner will be ready when you are.


If you want to be extra fancy, you can brown the chicken before placing in the crock pot. In the Instant Pot, you would do this right in the pot on the saute setting, before adding the sauce. This will help the pot come to pressure more quickly. Personally, I can't be bothered! But some people prefer browned meat, so that's totally up to you.

We loved this alongside rice and steamed snow peas. Go easy on yourself with this simple and delicious week night dinner!

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Sweet Chili-Orange Chicken Thighs {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Place chicken in the crock pot or Instant Pot.

In a 1-or 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine the Thai sweet chili sauce, marmalade, orange juice, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken.

For Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is tender.

For Instant Pot, set to manual pressure for 7 minutes. When time is up, do a quick pressure release. (Note: time may vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces. Always check to be sure the meat is done before serving! For this recipe, I've done as little as 6 minutes and as many as 10.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Recipe Source: Inspired by a similar recipe in a Taste of Home Cookbook

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins


I make a lot of muffins at our house, and these have recently been a huge hit. There's no cream cheese center here, but cream cheese is incorporated into the batter to make these the fluffiest muffins you'll eat. I've made these with fresh blueberries and I've also used the frozen 3-berry blend from Costco with great results, and with much acclaim.


Don't be shocked by the relative "lack" of flour here - 2 cups is all you need for two dozen muffins. Make any day of the week special with these delicious muffins! And you can freeze them for easy breakfasts later, too!


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Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries

Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, and mix again until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the muffin batter and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula once or twice. There will be a lot of dry steaks remaining. Add the blueberries. Mix until just combined; the batter will be lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly among 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 14-17 minutes until the tops spring back lightly to the touch.

Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temp or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze these muffins in a large zip top freezer bag, and then thaw in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Makes 24 muffins.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads


Leftover ingredients can be quite a challenge, but sometimes also yield the best new dinners! That was the case here. I had uncooked steak and vegetables from a stir fry earlier in the week, and so I combined them to make this very delicious flatbread. Even the kids (who dislike asparagus usually) gobbled it up! I guess garlicky bread and cheese makes most things edible! Ha!


Like a stir fry, you can vary flatbread (or pizza) ingredients with whatever your leftovers are. Another great way to use up leftovers is in an egg bake or quiche. Get creative!


Even though this dinner was born from leftovers, it is so good that I might plan to buy this combo of ingredients for next time.


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Steak, Mushroom and Asparagus Flatbreads

3 large Na'an breads or flatbreads
2 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. garlic seasoning blend
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
8 oz. top sirloin steak
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Season the steak generously with salt and pepper, or your favorite steak seasoning. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat, and when hot, add the steak. Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until it is not quite as done as you prefer (it will cook more in the oven!). Let rest for 5 minutes and then slice.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat and then add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add asparagus and mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms have softened and asparagus is crisp-tender.

Place flatbreads on a baking stone and brush about 1/2 tsp. oil over each. Top with 1/2 cup cheese on each flatbread. Distribute the vegetables evenly among the three. Divide the steak among the flatbreads.

Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Shrimp


Shrimp and pasta is a great combo in my book, as you can tell from the recipes already posted here: Creamy Dilled Shrimp Fettucine, Creamy Shrimp Linguine, Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta, Pasta with Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli, Seafood Lasagna, Shrimp Pad Thai, Shrimp with Orzo.

This is another take on that great combination, this time adding in Cajun spices and flavors. I also added spinach to ramp up the veggie quotient. This was a big hit at my house; feel free to adjust the spices to your family's tastes and tolerance. And it was even better for lunch the next day, so the lucky winner of the leftovers tells me. (Do you "fight" over the leftovers at your house? I love it when the kids would prefer to take leftovers for lunch over sandwiches.)


So, whether you eat this for dinner or lunch, you're sure to enjoy it. Shrimp and veggies in a creamy tomato sauce. It doesn't get much better than that!


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Cajun Shrimp Pasta

10 ounces small pasta shape
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
12 ounces large cooked shrimp, thawed and tails removed
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red/orange/yellow bell pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained and pureed
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving up to a cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine Cajun seasoning and shrimp in a medium bowl; toss to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, pepper and thyme; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, salt, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove pan from heat; stir in shrimp and pasta. Add more pasta water if needed.

Stir in half-and-half and spinach. Cook 1 minute over medium heat or until thoroughly heated and spinach is mostly wilted.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Monday, March 27, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs


It's March Madness! With the final four coming up, I thought it would be good to present a fun appetizer/game watching snack. These Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are lighter fare than wings, but taste just as good! When you serve them with a drizzle of blue cheese and some celery sticks, they're sure to be gobbled up quickly.

These take a little prep work before you heat them through in the crock pot, but it takes only minutes to form the meatballs and give them a quick baking. Then you can let them bathe in the wing sauce while you prepare additional snacks, shoot some hoops yourself, or take a nap.


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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
3/4 cup Panko
1 egg
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, egg, garlic and onion powder and green onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste; stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs onto a parchment or baking mat-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for 5 minutes, or until all sides are browned.

Place meatballs in a crock pot. Add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Serve immediately, drizzled with blue cheese dressing, if desired.

Recipe Source: Damn Delicious

Monday, March 20, 2017

Swedish Pancakes {with Blackberry Sauce}


I have loved Swedish pancakes ever since I was a kid. And luckily, they are so easy to make that even kids could do it! I'm not very talented at making "regular" pancakes; mine are always mis-shapen and inconsistently cooked! But it's easy to be good at Swedish pancakes since you make one at a time in a small skillet, similar to crepes.

They have roughly the same consistency as crepes, too. And they are wonderful topped with a simple fruit sauce. Of course, lingonberries would be the traditional fruit to use but they aren't readily available. So blackberries are a great substitute. You could use raspberries or strawberries or blueberries or any other fruit topping too.

However you choose to top these (regular syrup is also good!), I'm sure you will enjoy them. They're great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


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Swedish Pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup floud
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. almond extract
dash salt

Blackberry Sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

For the blackberry sauce, in a small sauce pan, combine the berries and sugar. (Add about 1 Tbsp. water if using fresh berries.) Cook and stir over medium low heat until the berries start to release their juices, about 3-4 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, lemon juice and 1 tsp. water. Whisk well, the slowly add to the berries, stirring until thickened.

For the pancakes, in a medium bowl, combine the eggs and milk and whisk well. Stir in the melted butter, flour, almond extract and salt, just until combined.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, pour in a ladle-full of pancake batter and tip the pan so that the batter covers the bottom of the pan. (Similar to making crepes.) Let cook for about 1 minute or until the pancake starts to release from the pan. Then carefully flip the pancake over and cook on opposite side for another minute. Remove from pan, and repeat until batter is gone.

Serve pancakes by rolling them up and plating them and then spooning blackberry sauce over the top.

Makes 7-8 pancakes.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Creamy White Chicken Chili {Crock pot or Stove top}


Until now, I have never made white chili. And I am not exaggerating when I say that while eating this for the first time, I looked across the table at my family and said "WHY HAVE I NOT MADE THIS BEFORE? THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I'VE EVER EATEN!" I made the same exclamation while eating the leftovers at work the next day, and made the chili again for my work team the next week. And I'm making it again tonight since THE SNOW IS BACK.

This is really, really delicious stuff. White beans, corn, chiles, chicken, the perfect amount of spices. Not only is it SO good, but you can let it cook in your crock pot all day or you can easily whip it up quickly on the stove top after a long day of shoveling. I've made it both ways and it's wonderful either way.


You can garnish this any way you like - I love it with some diced avocados. Other members of my family like a little tomato and cilantro. We don't always use cheese, but that's an option too.

I like to serve this with corn muffins. And be ready, cause everyone will ask for seconds. And then they'll ask how soon they can eat it again...

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Creamy White Chicken Chili

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 - 15 oz cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 - 4 oz cans green chiles
2 - 15 oz can corn, drained
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
small handful fresh cilantro chopped
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup half and half

TOPPINGS:
diced roma tomatoes
diced avocados
dollop of sour cream
minced fresh cilantro
tortilla strips
shredded Monterey jack or Mexican cheese

For the crock pot:

Add chicken breasts to bottom of slow cooker, top with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Top with diced onion, minced garlic, great Northern beans, green chiles, corn, chicken broth and cilantro. Stir.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Remove chicken to a cutting board, shred, then return to slow cooker. Add cream cheese and half and half, stir, then cover and cook on high for 15 minutes, or until chili is creamy and slightly thickened. Stir well and serve with desired toppings.

For the stove top:

Used cooked and chopped chicken, or cook chicken separately, cool and then chop or shred.

In a large Dutch oven, saute onion in a small amount of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder and cayenne and stir to combine.

Add chicken broth, corn, beans, diced chiles and cilantro. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low. Add chicken, cream cheese and half and half and cook over low until slightly thickened. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Recipe Source: The Chunky Chef

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Shrimp Burgers with Creamy Avocado Sauce


If you're eating more fish during this Lenten season, or just eating more fish in general, then this is the dish for you! Actually, this is the dish for you even if you're not eating more fish. This is a dish for anyone who loves shrimp and avocados.


These shrimp burgers are a fun way to use shrimp (besides in an app, in a dip, risotto, stir fry, in pasta, in soup, on pizza, in a curry, and on flatbreads!)


Be sure to plan this when you have adequate time to let the burgers chill before pan frying them - that is the key to helping them stay together. Even after chilling, they're a bit "tender" and can fall apart easily, so treat them with loving care. It will be worth it.

Topped with a creamy, slightly kicky sauce, these shrimp burgers will liven up any Lenten supper. Or any supper any time of the year.

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Shrimp Burgers with Creamy Avocado Sauce

12 oz. large cooked shrimp
1 egg
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup Panko
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup red pepper, chopped small
3 Tbsp. canola oil

Avocado Sauce:
1 avocado
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or 1/2 tsp cayenne)
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

For the Avocado Sauce:

Scoop the avocado pulp into the bowl of a food processor, and set the pit aside. Add the sour cream, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Transfer to a dish, and place the pit inside to help prevent browning. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

For the Shrimp Burgers:

Remove the tails from the shrimp, and ivide the shrimp in half. Coarsely chop one half and set aside.

Place remaining half in a food processor and grind to a coarse puree. Add egg, onion, cilantro, jalapeno and garlic to processor. Process until smooth. Sprinkle mixture with breadcrumbs and process again.

Transfer contents of food processor to a large bowl; add coarsely chopped shrimp and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Form into patties and chill for 1 hour (covered).

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. When very hot, fry the shrimp burgers until golden, about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Drain on paper towels. Place burgers on a bun of your choosing and top with avocado sauce. Makes 4-5 burgers.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dinner Party Green Beans


I came up with this recipe when I wanted to take my usual side dish of green beans up a notch - a little more dinner party worthy, if you will. There's nothing wrong with "regular" green beans, but the addition of sweet and spicy almonds and a sprinkling of blue cheese makes these really special. Not too special for a weeknight dinner, but certainly special enough for guests or a fancy party. (If you don't have many fancy parties, don't let that stop you from making these! Make them for a Thursday. Thursdays can be fancy!)


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Dinner Party Green Beans

16 oz. package frozen green beans
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a small skillet over low heat, combine the sugar and cayenne pepper and almonds. Cook and stir constantly until the almonds are coated with melted sugar and are toasted. Remove to a plate and let cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and the green beans (frozen). Stir until all the green beans are coated with the melted butter. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Transfer beans to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese. Break up the almonds if they are stuck together and sprinkle on the beans. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Broccoli Cheese Soup


I like broccoli cheese soup. But I don't like it if it's TOO cheesy. I also don't love it when you can hardly tell there's any broccoli in it, or when the broccoli has been pulverized and it's all just green flakes in yellow soup.

SO, all that to say, that for me, this is the PERFECT broccoli cheese soup. First, it's not YELLOW! The mix of cheddar and Swiss cheeses not only makes for the perfect cheese taste, but it's lovely to look at. And the broccoli is not pureed, it's in big chunks, and is steamed to perfection BEFORE getting added to the soup, not cooked into oblivion in the soup.


All of this adds up to a wonderful, beautiful, delicious soup, chock full of good for you broccoli! Try it today - I hope you love it as much as we do!


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Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 cups chopped broccoli

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft.

Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, place chopped broccoli in a medium glass bowl and cover with cling wrap. Microwave for 3 minutes to steam the broccoli.

Add warmed chicken broth to the soup base and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in steamed broccoli. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, February 13, 2017

Almond Crunch Cookies


Oh, these cookies. Brimming with crunch from cereal and sliced almonds, and deliciously sweet from almond bark topping, I can guarantee they won't last long at your house.


While these aren't Valetines-y to say the least (I suppose you could tint the almond bark pink!), any cookie, made with love, is perfect for the holiday. Or any day.


Let's not limit love through cookies to just one day.


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Almond Crunch Cookies

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Chex or corn flakes, lightly crushed (or Rice Krispies, uncrushed)
4 oz almond bark
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Using an electric mixer, beat shortening until creamy; gradually add white sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs and almond extract; beat well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir until blended. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture mixing until just blended. Slightly crush cereal, only to the point there aren't large pieces. Carefully stir in oats and cereal.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough on a cookie sheet 2" apart. Bake at 325 for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place almond bark in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave using 50% power, in 45 second intervals. Drizzle melted bark on cooled cookies. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Allow cookies to set up on wire racks, or place in the refrigerator for a quicker set up.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Call me PMC

Monday, February 6, 2017

Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp


You know you've hit a recipe home run when someone eating it says, "this could be served in a restaurant!" That's exactly what my husband said the first time I made this delicious soup. I had to agree. We've made it several times since, and we haven't changed our minds. It is SO good. And what better way to get all those good nutrients from butternut squash than to make a wonderful curry with coconut milk and shrimp!?!


The hardest part about this recipe is cutting up the squash - those buggers are TOUGH! But once that's done, this comes together quickly and easily. And you can rest your weary squash-cutting hands for the 20 minutes that the soup simmers... (Butternut squash is also available already diced, usually frozen. Feel free to take advantage of that option and then this dinner is a BREEZE!)


This can be served over rice noodles or rice, and we loved it either way. There's still plenty of winter left, and this soup is the perfect thing to make when you need a warm up. Or, if you just need to eat. Either way.

Get other great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, TGIM, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy, Pin Me, Weekend Potluck, Sugar and Spice.

Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp

2 tsp. canola or coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tsp. red curry paste
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 4-5 cups
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
12 ounces large cooked shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6-8 ounces rice noodles, or rice

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, sugar and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Add in the squash, broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Once squash is tender, use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup, if you like. You can also leave in chunks - your preference totally!

Stir in the shrimp and cilantro and add additional salt and/or pepper to taste. Serve immediately over cooked rice noodles or rice.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, January 30, 2017

Shrimp and Guacamole Bites


The big game is coming up on Sunday and is a great excuse to make lots of snacks. After making these recently for a dinner party appetizer, I can guarantee that these delicious shrimp and guacamole bites will make the list, probably along with apple keilbasa, Greek layered dip, and creamy brussels sprouts dip.

This fun app could not be easier: make guacamole (or use store bought!), spoon it into some tortilla chips, and top with a shrimp that you've covered in delicious spices and warmed up. These are addictive, and rightly so: such a great combination of creamy, spicy, crunchy, shrimpy. Who are you cheering for on Sunday? I really don't care this year, but you can be sure I'll be rooting for the snacks.


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Shrimp and Guacamole Bites

Guacamole:
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
juice from half a lime
1/3 tsp. salt; possibly more to taste
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic

Tortilla scoop chips
1/2 pound medium cooked shrimp (about 24-30)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt

To make the guacamole: Mash up the avocado in a small bowl. Add in lime juice, onion, garlic and salt. Stir well to combine; taste and add more lime juice or salt to taste.

In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with olive oil. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. Stir well to coat all the shrimp. Transfer the shrimp to a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 2-3 minutes.

While the shrimp cooks, scoop the guacamole into the tortilla chips. Place a warm shrimp on top of each guacamole-filled chip, and serve immediately. Serves 6.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Triple Chocolate Donuts


Homemade donuts are a great way to impress people, especially children. (Or maybe adults? Both at my house were equally impressed.) It's also a fun way to change up breakfast, or breakfast for dinner. I get a lot of cooperation with quiche and egg casserole when donuts are involved. And since these are baked, there's (virtually) no guilt. Go ahead, eat chocolate for breakfast.


We got creative, too - I let the kids decorate these as they wished. I waited to glaze them until everyone was at the table, then handed out freshly glazed donuts and a variety of sprinkles. Sprinkles practically guarantee happiness. Try it!


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Triple Chocolate Donuts

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

For the glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold them together. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into well greased donut rounds, filling each about 2/3 full.

Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes until they spring back to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack.

Make the glaze by placing the glaze ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwaving on 50% power at 45 second intervals until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Dip the donuts into the glaze. Decorate with sprinkles, coconut, or additional chocolate chips, if you like. Makes 12-16 donuts.


Recipe Source: Adapted from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coconut Bundt Cake


It's been awfully cold and blustery here in the North. So when I needed to make a birthday cake recently, I wanted to evoke some sort of tropical paradise. If it's cold here, at least we can pretend to be warm by eating cake that's chock full of coconut!

This cake is so easy - and SO delicious. I got multiple requests for the recipe.

So whether you need to pretend you're in paradise, or not, get the ingredients to make this wonderful cake! I also think this would be wonderful at Easter, decorated with Easter candies in addition to the toasted coconut. Hmmm. I'm looking forward to Easter already!


Find more inspiration at Mix it Up, Inspiration Monday, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, What's Cookin, Wow Me, Wow Us, Hearth and Soul, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.


Coconut Bundt Cake

1 white cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding,
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup toasted coconut

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, sugar, oil, water and coconut extract and beat for three minutes. Stir in the coconut.Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely.

For frosting, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. If necessary, add milk, a teaspoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, add powdered sugar if you need to. Spread the frosting over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Serves 16.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chef in Training
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