Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spinach Cornbread Stuffed Pork Loin

Sometimes you just get tired of the normal roasting methods you always use and find yourself wanting to step it up a little. While walking through the meat section of the grocery store this week, my husband and I saw a pork loin and decided to try a stuffed loin recipe. We used a stuffing similar to that use for Cornbread Stuffed Chicken, but with a few changes. This recipe turned out great! What I really like is that all of the prep can be done ahead and then you can leave it wrapped in the refrigerator for a few days until you are ready to cook. I served this with a medley of roasted vegetables.

For the Filling:
4 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Finely Diced Sweet Yellow Onion
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 1/4 Cup Prepared Cornbread (1/2 Recipe Yellow Country Cornbread)
1 Cup Thawed and Drained Frozen Spinach
1 Egg
For the Loin:
3 Pound Pork Loin, Filleted
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Prepared Filling
6 Ounces Center Cut Bacon Strips
1 Large Onion, Sliced
Plastic Wrap
Aluminum Foil

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently cook until tender; approximately 5 minutes.
2. Crumble the cornbread into a large mixing bowl. Add the onion/butter mixture, drained spinach and egg. Stir to combine.
3. To prepare the loin, run a long knife down the length of the meat without going through the back 1/2 inch of the loin about a third of the height down. Fold the flap open and then repeat going the other direction and folding open. You will have filleted the meat into a pamphlet style. If you have judged the thicknesses correctly, you will have a consistent thickness throughout.
4. Sprinkle the interior of the loin with salt and pepper. Cover the interior with the prepared stuffing, using your hands to press it down.
5. Fold the loin back together, pressing down as you go to get a tight roll.
6. On a large piece of plastic wrap, lay the bacon strips out. Place the rolled loin on the strips. Fold the bacon over the loin and then tightly wrap with plastic.
7. Place the loin in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 20 minutes on the counter.
Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
8. In a large roasting pan, place sliced onion in a bed, mounded to be under the cooking loin. Place the loin on top of the onions, seam side down.
9. Tightly cover the roasting pan with foil.
10. Cook the loin for 1 hour, covered. After 1 hour, remove the foil and allow the bacon to crisp; approximately 20 minutes.
11. Check the internal temperature of the loin. When it has reached 165 degrees, remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan while covered by foil for 20 minutes.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Caramel Apple Pie

The only introduction this recipe needs is one word.....Delicious! I hope you enjoy.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 450 degrees

1 Stick (8 Tablespoons) Butter
7 Large Granny Smith Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Prepared Pastry Crusts (recipe below)
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Water

1. In a large pan, simmer the butter, apples, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg over medium low heat for 20 minutes or until cooked through and tender.
2. Add flour; stir. Cook for 2 minutes, to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Prepare a glass bottom pie pan (8 or 9 inch) by layering one of the crusts on the bottom.
4. Pour the cooled apple mixture into the bottom crust, mounding more in the middle.
5. Place the top crust over the pie and crimp the edges to close. Cut vent holes into the crust to allow steam to escape.
6. Create an egg wash by beating the egg and water together. Lightly brush onto the top crust.
7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, watching closely. You only have to bake until the crusts are brown and cooked as the filling is already completely done. If your edges begin to cook too fast, cover them with aluminum foil and allow the top to brown to the desired golden color.
8. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing.

Note: I love to make homemade pastry, but I will be honest, there are times when I just don't have the time. I have found that the rolled crusts found in the refrigerated section are perfectly fine. Just make sure to allow them to come to room temperature for 25 minutes on the counter before using. Do not use the microwave technique found on many packages; this technique makes the dough gummy!

Pastry Crust: Yields 2
2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Chilled Butter, cubed
1/2 Cup Ice Water

1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine flour and salt. Add the butter to the flour and pulse until the mixture looks like course sand or peas. Slowly steam in the water to the running processor. You may not need all the ice water; you just want to add enough until the flour mixture comes together as a ball.
2. Remove from the processor onto a lightly floured board. Roll into a ball and cut in half. Wrap the individual dough balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. When ready to use, remove from the fridge and roll on a lightly floured surface.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

White Christmas Truffles

All too often we all get wrapped up in the commercialization of Christmas and forget about the wonderful gifts that come straight out of our kitchens. I know for my family  and me, homemade gifts extend an even warmer thoughtfulness and a deeper level of appreciation than most gifts that can be purchased from a store. Part of my Christmas tradition is making candy. Traditional candies coming from our kitchen include walnut fudge, chocolate dipped pretzels and peppermint bark. I also throw in other baked goods including cookies and breads. This recipe was actually born out of a mistake in which some cheesecake fudge did not set up firm enough and I suddenly was left wondering what to I grabbed some powdered sugar and rolled them into cheesecake truffles. Everyone I gave them to loved them! So I took the newly morphed recipe and created the White Christmas Truffles. This recipe is very versatile. Be warned though....they are rich and addictive!

1 1/2 Tablespoons Butter
14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/8 teaspoon Salt
3 ounces Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
10 1/2 ounces Marshmallow Fluff
1 Cup White Chocolate Chips

1. In a large pot over medium low heat, combine butter, milk, semi-sweet chocolate, and salt. Stir continuously until melted and smooth.
2. Add pudding mix and continue to stir constantly for 3 minutes to allow the pudding to dissolve into the chocolate.
3. Add the marshmallow fluff and stir until the ribbons of white disappear and the entire mixture is consistently smooth and brown.
4. Carefully pour the mixture into a 9x9 dish lined with wax paper. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. They have to become completely cooled and set in order to roll. The timing will differ based on your refrigerator setting. I have actually allowed them to cool overnight and had great success.
5. In a food processor, grind the white chocolate chips until flaky. Pour into a shallow dish.
6. Once the chocolate mixture has finished cooling in the fridge, remove and scoop teaspoon sized pieces and roll between your hands into a ball. You will want to work fast as to not melt the truffle with the heat from your hand. Roll the truffles in the flaked white chocolate.
7. Arrange the rolled truffles on at cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 3 minutes to firm up.
8. Arrange the truffles on a serving dish or gift container. Enjoy!

Note: These candies need to be stored in the refrigerator and will be good for at least a week.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Warm and Gooey Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Do you ever crave something sweet but there is nothing in the cabinets and no mix to be found? This brownie recipe is much easier to throw together than my normal because there is no melting of chocolate to make the batch. These can be customized with nuts, flavored candy chips, chocolate covered mint chips, or anything else. They would also be great with some caramel drizzled throughout them......yum! I always like mine hot with a nice scoop of ice cream. Keep this recipe handy in case you suddenly need to make a dessert for unexpected guests during this holiday season! These are warm, crusty on the outside and gooey in the middle.....perfection!

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

1/2 Cup Oil
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Ounce Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped

1. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
2. Combine the salt, baking powder, cocoa, and flour. Gradually whisk into the wet ingredients.
3. Add the chopped baking chunks to the batter. Stir to combine.
4. Place in a 9x9 baking dish coated with butter or non-stick spray.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set and pulling away from the sides.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Breakfast Lasagna

This casserole is very similar to one of the quiches I make for parties and special breakfasts. Tonight I wanted to make something different but really did not want to deal with making dough. Instead of a pastry crust, the egg layer is placed above cooked grits. The ingredients inside the egg layer can be customized to suite your taste. If you want it spicier, use hot sausage. You can also make this recipe vegetarian, as I do with my spinach quiche, and add sautéed vegetables. This is merely a technique; once you know what you are doing, this can be morphed into endless possibilities.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
Makes 4 Servings

1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Quick Cook Grits
8 ounces All Natural Breakfast Sausage
2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Yellow Onion
6 Eggs
1/4 Cup Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

1. Use 1 Tablespoon of butter to grease the inside of a 5x9 baking dish. Make sure to get the bottom, sides, and corners well.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a rapid boil. Slowly add the quick cooking grits to the water while whisking. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until creamy. Pour into the prepared baking dish and allow to cool while getting the rest of the recipe together.
3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage. Using a spatula, break the sausage apart as it cooks until you have small crumbles. Cook for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and place into a bowl to cool.
4. Place the finely chopped onion into the pan to cook in the remaining sausage drippings. Cook for 3 minutes while stirring. Pour the softened onion into the sausage and stir to combine. Sprinkle the sausage and onion mixture evenly over the grits.
5. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and desired amount of salt and pepper. Pour over the sausage layer.
6. Top with grated cheddar.
7. Bake until cooked through and the egg layer is set, approximately 35-40 minutes. You do not want it to become brown, just cooked through and thoroughly set in the middle.
8. Allow to sit for 2 minutes and then slice and serve!

Note: If you want an extra layer of flavor, add butter and/or cheese to the grits before adding them to the baking dish.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dark Cherry Pastry Pockets

As Christmas nears, there are tons of social gatherings to take homemade baked goods. My husband requested bite size cherry pies for a party tomorrow night. After making cupcake sized pies, I still had some leftover filling and dough. Instead of wasting it, I made individual pastry pockets for a nice dessert after Sunday dinner. The filling for the pies is made using dark cherries and orange zest; this combination is very different and much more complex than the typical cherry pie filling that comes from a can. Be warned....this is decadent! There is no room for the timid here. 

Preheat Oven Temperature: 425 degrees

For the Filling:
48 ounces Frozen Dark Sweet Cherries
Zest of 1 Orange
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
2 Tablespoons Butter

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except corn starch and butter. Simmer on medium-low for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add in the corn starch, stirring rapidly to avoid lumping. Melt in the butter and then allow the sauce to cool.

For the Pies:
2 Refrigerated Pie Crusts
Cherry Filling

On a lightly floured pastry mat, unroll the room temperature crusts. Cut each crust into quarters. Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill each pastry with 3-4 Tablespoons of filling, distributing evenly among the 8 pies. Make sure to place the filling in the middle of each pastry to allow for folding. Fold in opposite sides of the crust, tucking in the corners as you go; repeat folding the other way to create a little box around the filling. Gently slice 2 vent holes in the top of each pie to allow for the steam to escape. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool for 5 minutes and then serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Apple Cinnamon French Toast

I love French toast....Can I say it again? I mean, I LOVE FRENCH TOAST! The thick bread covered in a rich custard, over-flowing with cinnamon flavor and cooked until crisp in butter. I mean, what is not to love? This time of year, I also LOVE apples. So what better to top delicious French toast with than syrupy cooked apples? Nothing! This recipe is perfect for Christmas morning and is great for crowds as you can make the apples ahead of time and simple reheat and then be making the French toast on a large electric griddle. This is a keeper for any recipe box!

Serves 4

For the Cinnamon Apple Topping:
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Large Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cored

1. Cut the apple into slices approximately 1/4 inch thick.
2. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the French Toast:
4 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
3 Tablespoons Milk
4 Slices Thick Sourdough Bread
1 Tablespoon Butter

1. Combine Eggs, Sugar, Cinnamon, and Milk in a shallow dish.
2. Place the sliced bread into the custard mixture allowing to soak for 1-2 minutes per side. While the bread is soaking, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
3. Place 2 pieces of bread in the skillet at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Allow to cook 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden. If the bread is cooking too fast, reduce the heat. You want to make sure the bread cooks throughout because of the absorbed custard mixture. You might want to add additional butter to the pan to cook the remaining pieces.
4. Serve hot covered in the cooked apples. Make sure to drizzle the extra cinnamon-apple syrup over the point in wasting something so delicious!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ritzy Thighs with Mushroom Dressing

This recipe was born out of necessity. Necessity to use up chicken thighs and extra crackers. Necessity to have a no-fuss meal. Necessity to make something different yet special. This meal was really created for my husband who loves fried chicken and stuffing with gravy. Most of this meal is prep and then forget it, which is great for a busy household.  Although it looks like a lot of steps, the timing works out so that everything is finished at the same time, which in my household is a wonderful thing!

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
Chicken Cooking Time: 50 Minutes
Dressing Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Ritzy Thighs Ingredients:
4 Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs
2 Eggs, Lightly Beaten
1 Sleeve Buttery Round Crackers
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1. Create an assembly line with one container holding the two beaten eggs seasoned with pepper and garlic powder, another with crushed crackers  and then the final resting place for the baking chicken, a wire rack over a cookie sheet both sprayed with non-stick spray.
2. Dredge the chicken through the egg mixture and then toss in the cracker crumbs. You might need to press the crackers into the chicken a little to get a nice coating.
3. Place the cracker-coated chicken thighs onto the baking rack.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until cooked throughout and golden brown.

While the chicken cooks, make the dressing. Note: You can also do this with any cut of chicken you desire. I just happened to have thighs on hand.

Mushroom Dressing Ingredients:
2 Cups Herb Seasoned Stuffing Crumbs
1 Egg, Beaten
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
1 Large Garlic Clove, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Cups White Button Mushrooms, Sliced
1 1/4 Cups Unsalted Chicken Broth

1. In a fry pan, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter. Add the chopped onion and garlic cooking until tender, about 5 minutes over medium heat. Allow to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine stuffing crumbs, 1 beaten egg, sliced mushrooms, broth, pepper, and sautéed onion and garlic. Stir until everything is moistened.
3. Evenly spread the stuffing mixture into a 9x9 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with foil.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Quick Pan Gravy:
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
1 1/4 Cup Unsalted Chicken Broth

5 minutes before the chicken and dressing are ready, stir up the quick gravy.
1. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the flour, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, stirring with a whisk. Allow to brown for 2 minutes.
3. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth.
4. Allow to simmer on low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pineapple Chicken Salad

When I am traveling, I like to eat quick meals at unique places. One day while driving down the interstate, I decided to stop at a well-known deli for lunch. I ordered what I thought was going to be a typical chicken salad sandwich, only to be pleasantly surprised to receive a wonderful salad filled with pineapple. I immediately loved the sweetness of the pineapple with the creaminess of the mayonaise based salad all contrasting with the vine rippend tomato, buttery leaf lettuce, and crunchy wheat toast. While low on ingredients, this salad is over-the-top on taste. I think what I like the most is the simplicity. No ingredient overpowers another yet they all work together to create a perfect balance in your mouth. This recipe is a great one to have in your pocket for using up leftover roasted chicken breast, serving at holiday gatherings, or just as a lunchbox staple. You can also add chopped celery or toasted slivered almonds, if you like, but I really enjoy the simplicity these few ingredients offer.

1 Large Chicken Breast
1 teaspoon Canola Oil
3 Tablespoons Mayonaise
10 Ounces Pineapple Chunks, drained (I prefer the pineapple in natural juice.)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Roast a large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast that has been rubbed with canola oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the juices are clear. Allow to sit at room temperature until cooled.
2. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken breast. Using your fingers, shred the chicken into a large bowl.
3. Add the mayonaise, drained pineapple, and salt/pepper. Stir to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper as you desire.
4. Refrigerate covered until ready to use.
5. Serve with crackers as a appetizer or as a sandwich/wrap. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Like Us on Facebook

I have finally gotten my Facebook page up and running. It is still in its very primitive stages, but I hope to have it fully complete soon. Make sure to like the page, MSC on Facebook, as well as subscribe to the blog to be the first to know about new recipes.
I also want to hear from you guys. If you try a recipe, please make sure to come back and comment on the post. Additionally, if there is something that you would like to see, comment on the Facebook page and I will try to do a MSC twist on your request.
Finally, I want to thank all of you for your support of MSC and the kind words of encouragement. I love to bake and cook so this is HEAVEN for me. The greatest thrill for a MSC is entertaining and sharing delicious food with others; this site is an extension of that passion for me.

Beer Battered Fried Asparagus with Spicy Garlic Aioli

At our favorite brewery, they have an appetizer of pale ale battered asparagus. After trying it, I was hooked! I love the tempora-like batter over the tender stalks. The key to the batter is to use a light colored ale; I happened to use an IPA. The dipping sauce is creamy, garlicy, and surprisingly light (thanks to the lemon). These are great for parties! Make sure to use tender, young stalks for best results. I served these as a side for an alternative to the typical french fry.

Spicy Garlic Aioli:
2 Rounded Tablespoons Mayonaise
1 Clove Garlic, Very Finely Minced
Pinch Salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon

Combine all ingredients for the "aioli" and allow to sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator, covered.

Beer Battered Preparation:
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 Cup Beer
1/2 Cup Water

1. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. Using a whisk, slowly add the beer and water while stirring constantly. You might have to add a little more water depending on the dryness of you flour. You want a pancake batter consistency.
3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Making the Asparagus:
1. Preheat you fryer oil to 375 degrees. I use vegetable oil but you can use whatever flavorless oil you prefer.
2. Wash 1 pound of asparagus. Snap the stalks to remove the rigid portion of the stalks.
3. Dredge each stalk through the batter while holding on one end. Place immediately into you fryer and cook until golden brown. This goes really quickly, about 90 seconds to 2 minutes is all it takes. You will have to fry in batches as you do not want to drop the oil temperature too much. About 10 stalks at a time is all that I recommend in a deep fryer.
4. Remove to a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet.

Serve hot with you aioli for dipping.

Spicy Chicken Wrap

There is a spicy chicken wrap that I love to get for lunch from a local fast food chain. After paying quite a bit for these wraps, I thought, "Why am I paying for this when I could just make my own?" Part of being a successful home cook is managing the finances and keeping even the lunch box interesting. This wrap can be customized to include the toppings of your choice. This recipe beckons to a cajun chicken club, which is exactly how my husband decided to eat his. The great things is that this recipe is versatile! You can add guacamole, sliced cucumber, ranch dressing, anything you desire; you can even slice up the tenders and put them atop your favorite salad, maybe even with my Heavenly Dressing. No matter how you serve them, you will not be disappointed!

1 Pound Chicken Breast Tenders
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon each of ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
8 Strips Bacon
Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps
Choice of Vegetable Toppings
Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce (Recipe Below)

1. Place the uncooked bacon on a broiler pan and cook in the oven at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until crisp. (You can also cook the bacon on the stove top and then just drain on paper towels.) Remove from oven and allow to cool while the chicken cooks.
2. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken tenders.
3. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. When hot, place the chicken tenders into the pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes on the first side or until golden and cooking through. Turn and cook for another 5 minutes on the second side.
4. Heat the wraps for 15 seconds in the microwave right before use.
5. To assemble, I layered leaf lettuce, sliced tomato, 2 strips of chicken, 2 strips of bacon and a drizzle of honey mustard. Roll the wrap tightly and enjoy!

Homemade Honey Mustard:
2 Tablespoons Mayonaise
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Honey
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mini Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes

I love to bake. I actually have my own baking business, Sweet Somethings, where I do cakes and other desserts. Recently, a wonderful coworker at my daytime job gave me a fresh pineapple from Hawaii on the one condition that I must make something and post it on my blog. My pineapple upside-down cakes. I like mini-cakes because it allows my husband and I to have a small dessert but they are also easily transported to share with others. This is simply a classic dessert in the South made small.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

1 Cup Fresh Pineapple, Peeled and Cored, Cut into Bite-size Wedges
1 1/2 Sticks Butter (12 Tablespoons), Softened
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla 
1/2 Cup Whole Milk

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside.
2. Melt 1/2 stick (4 Tbs) butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix to combine. Distribute the butter/brown sugar mixture evenly into the 6 oversized muffin rounds.
3. Place the pineapple into the butter/brown sugar mixture. This will allow the cake to be poured on top. When you flip the cakes out, the pineapple will be on top.
4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the 1 stick of softened butter with 1 cup sugar. Do not rush this step. This will take about 3 minutes on medium speed.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to incorporate fully.
6. In another large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. 
7. In a measuring cup, measure the milk and vanilla.
8. Alternate adding the dry and milk mixtures to the butter/sugar/egg bowl, stirring well throughout. Always end with the milk mixture to ensure the creamiest batter.
9. Distribute the cake batter evenly among the 6 tins. I like to pour mine into a very large measuring cup and then into the baking tins.
10. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
11. Allow to cool for 2 minutes and then flip out onto a baking sheet. Do not allow the cakes to cool completely in the baking tins or the topping will stick.
12. Serve hot!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

So on my quest to use up ALL of the Thanksgiving leftovers, I took one of our favorite classics, chicken pie, and swapped in the turkey. This is a delicious recipe. If you want to make it ahead, just make the filling and refrigerate, making the topping the night of dinner and then baking.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

Filling Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Carrots
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups No Salt Added Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Cups Shredded Cooked Turkey
1 Cup Frozen Peas

Topping Ingredients:
3 Cups Herb Seasoned Stuffing Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 Cup No Salt Added Chicken Broth

Preparation Instructions:
1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until tender. If the onions appear to be cooking too fast, reduce the heat to medium low. Stir periodically.
2. Add the flour to the pan; stir. Allow the flour to "cook" with the onion and carrots for 2 minutes.
3. SLOWLY add the broth to the pan while stirring. You want to do this slowly in order to avoid lumps.
4. Add the milk to the pan. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the turkey and peas to the pan. Stir to combine and allow to heat through.
6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients and stir to combine.
7. Place the filling into a 9x9 baking dish that is at least 3 inches deep. Top with you stuffing mix.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
9. Serve while hot.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pork Fried Rice

Any time you have a large family gathering, the leftovers can seem to never end. One key to getting through all the extra food is to morph them into something totally different. Since we love Asian food, it is our go-to. I created this pork fried rice after watching some very close friends make their traditional fried rice at Hmong gatherings. This recipe is easy and uses ingredients you already have in your cabinets.

3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup White Rice
1 Cup Chicken Broth, no salt added
1 Cup Water
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Canola Oil
3/4 Cup Carrots, finely diced
1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
1 Large Garlic Clove, sliced
5 Button Mushrooms, quartered
2 Cups Cooked Ham, cubed
1 Cup Frozen Peas
5 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Teriyaki Sauce
2 Eggs

1. In a large saucepan, melt 1 Tablespoon butter. Pour 1 cup uncooked white rice into the butter and sautee for 1 minutes. Add the chicken broth and water. Stir. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. When all liquid is gone, turn heat off and leave covered until needed for sautee.
***While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients.***
2. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter with 3 Tablespoons canola oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and onion. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Stir occassionally.
3. Add the sliced garlic and sautee for 2 minutes.
4. Add mushrooms and ham to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
5. Add frozen peas, prepared rice, soy and teriyaki sauces. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
6. While the rice heats and marinates the flavors in the pan, scramble the 2 eggs in another pan in 1 teaspoon canola oil.
7. Add the scrambled egg to the rice mixture. Stir and serve.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lighter-than-Air Waffles

I love good, homemade waffles; however, until yesterday I only had a thin waffle iron and I love the deep nooks in a belgian style. So now that I have a "real" waffle maker, it was time to get into the kitchen and make some fluffy goodness. I have tried several versions of my recipe and this morning it was finally perfect. The batter is very light and the waffle comes out crisp on the outside (if you set your maker to the darker setting) and airy on the inside. Even my husband said "These are really light and moist!" If you are worried about a heavy feeling after breakfast, don't worry about it with these because they are so light that you do not feel the bloated feeling at all. These would be a great recipe to have for a holiday brunch.

1 1/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 teaspoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Melted Butter (4 Tablespoons)
1 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 Eggs, Separated into Yolks and Whites

1. Preheat your waffle iron to the setting you prefer. I like a darker, crisp waffle so I go on the darker setting. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking oil.
Whisking Egg Whites 
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
3. In large measuring cup, combing melter butter, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until fluffy and stiff. This step is crucial for getting a light waffle!

5. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir to remove lumps.
 6. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the flour mixture. Make sure to FOLD into the waffle batter in order to not deflate the air from the egg whites.

7. Fill your waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
8. Serve hot with your choice of toppings---syrup, butter, whipped cream, fruit.

Note: The extra batter can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several days.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Better-than-Pie Cooked Apples

I LOVE COOKED APPLES! The tender fruit with the rich syrup glaze paired with a warm, flaky biscuit is one of my favorite foods of all time. While I normally serve these with biscuits, I can see them as an indulgent topping for pancakes, french toast, or even as a filling for an apple pie cinnamon roll.....hmmmmm, I see all sorts of recipes to come! The best thing about this recipe is that it is very minimal in ingredients but huge on return!

1 Large Granny Smith Apple
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

1. Peel and decore a large granny smith apple. Slice the apple into 1/4 inch slices.
2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat.
3. Add the sliced apples to the pan.
4. Add the sugars, salt, and cinnamon to the pot.
5. Gently stir to coat all the apples.
6. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer. Gently stirring occasionally.
7. Allow to cook for 20 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and serve!

Note: This recipe makes 2 servings. To increase the serving size, for every additional apple increase the other ingredients by half (except salt)---2 apples = 4 1/2 Tablespoons butter, 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar, pinch of Salt, 3/8 teaspoon Cinnamon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cornbread Stuffed Chicken

Last Saturday night, my husband and I went out for a date to our favorite brewery. The great thing about this place is that the food is just as outstanding as the tap. I decided to finally try the stuffed chicken breast and man was I hooked! I immediately told my husband that we would be recreating the recipe at home. So tonight was the night. I made my cornbread earlier in the week so that it would be ready to use and then it was complete in under an hour, sides and all. I also made a quick mushroom pan gravy for dipping (not pictured).

Preheat Oven Temperature: 375 degrees

4 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Cornbread, crumbled
1/2 Small Yellow Onion, chopped (2 Tablespoons)
1 Small Garlic Clove, minced
3 Strips Bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1 Cup Baby Spinach, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine cornbread, onion, garlic, bacon, spinach, salt and pepper.
2. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in the bacon drippings.
3. Add butter/bacon oil mixture to the cornbread mixture. Stir to combine.
4. Using a small knife, make a small incision in the chicken breast without going all the way through. In order to do this, turn the breast onto its' side with the fattest part facing up; gently slice through the breast from top to bottom without opening up the pocket too much. I also used my finger to slightly stretch the cavity.
5. Using your hand, place approximately 1/2 cup of stuffing into each breast.
6. Wrap the meat around the stuffing and secure with a toothpick.
7. Place the stuffed chicken on baking sheet lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover with foil.
8. Bake at 375 degrees covered for 30 minutes.
9. Remove the foil and cook for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
10. Serve with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

QuickMushroom Gravy:
Scrape the pan drippings from the baking sheet into a small skillet. Add 3 Tablespoons of butter and sauté on medium low with 1 Tablespoon chopped onion and 3 sliced baby portobello mushrooms. After 3 minutes, add 1/2 Tablespoon flour. Stir and allow to cook for 1 minute. Slowly add 1/4 cup whole milk while stirring in order to incorporate and prevent lumps. Slowly add 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Add salt (1/8 teaspoon) and pepper (dash) to taste.

Note: Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, the cooking time may be less. Begin checking your chicken after 20  minutes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yellow Country Cornbread

Ok. If you are from the South or have ever visited, you know there is good cornbread, bad cornbread, and GREAT cornbread. This cornbread falls into the GREAT category. Although it is simple at it roots, it is the perfect base for your heart's desire. If you want Mexican-style, throw in some chopped peppers, cheddar, and kernel corn. However, I just love this classic. I sometimes make it as muffins for brunch or entertaining and always get rave reviews. Tonight this was simply as a deliciously moist bread and the leftovers will be used for a different recipe later this week --- you will have to come back to see what it morphs into. With this recipe in your pocket, you will NEVER say you don't have enough time to make a quick bread.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 425 degrees

1 1/3 Cup Self-Rising Yellow Corn Meal (Tenda-Bake brand)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1 Egg, beaten

1. Spray a 6x8 glass baking dish with non-stick spray. You need to use a glass baking dish to ensure browning of the bottom.
2. In a large measuring cup (4 cup), combine the corn meal and sugar.
3. Add the oil, milk, and egg to the corn meal mixture and stir well to combine.
4. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to thicken. Do not disturb it during this time.
5. Pour into your prepared dish and place in the preheated oven.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBQ Pork Cheese Fries

This recipe comes from one of our favorite indulgences at a local restaurant, BBQ Cheese Fries. When we were looking for a great alternative for using up some leftover pork, this is what happened. Sometimes the best ideas do come out of sheer necessity. Do not judge until you have tried! Serve them with a side of ketchup, sour cream, or extra barbecue sauce. Your taste buds will thank you! This recipe would also be great for parties and gatherings.

4 cups Frozen French Fries
2 cups Pulled Pork
3 Tablespoons Carolina Style BBQ Sauce
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1. Prepare your fries as directed by the package but make sure to get them extra crispy. I used a deep fryer and cooked until golden brown.
2. While the fries are cooking, place the pork and sauce in a skillet over medium low heat and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Allow the meat to warm for 7-10 minutes. This step is necessary to remove extra moisture from the meat. I have tried making the recipe without doing this and they were soggy. Also, I used the Bullseye brand sauce and found it worked great.
3. Once the fries are finished cooking, remove to a paper towel and allow to drain.
4. In a glass baking dish, place the crisp fries on the bottom layer followed by the pork and then topped with the cheddar cheese, adding extra cheese if you like.
5. Place the baking dish into a 350 degree preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the dish in case your oven cooks hotter than mine, but this allows the cheese to melt and the dish to be warm throughout.
6. Remove from the oven and serve. This is a fork and knife type meal, not a finger food....these are serious fries after all!  I served mine with sour cream and ketchup options for dipping.

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork

This is a variation of my Spicy Shredded Beef recipe with the use of a 8 pound pork shoulder. Normally I would do the Beer Butt BBQ with this cut of meat, but we wanted to mix it up. The great thing about this recipe is that the sauce is thin enough to just serve as a moisture for the meat and additional sauces of choice can be added. I also love the versatility of this recipe; with this one recipe my family was able to eat wraps, sandwiches, and, probably the best way, as pulled pork cheese fries! Another bonus is that this was a slow cooker recipe.

8 Pound Pork Shoulder
12 ounces Chipotle in Adobo
24 ounces Water
1 Large Yellow onion, quartered
2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Salt
4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire

1. Place the pork shoulder into the slow cooker fat side up.
2. Top with the chipotles in adobo sauce.
3. Without pouring over the top of the pork, so as to not disturb the chipotles, add the water, onion, salt, vinegar, and worcestershire to the cooker.
4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set to LOW.
Note: I have a lid that latches onto the cooker and this helped to keep the moisture inside.
5. Cook for a minimum of 12 hours before removing from the pot.
6. To shred the meat, place on a baking sheet and shred with 2 forks.
7. Place the meat in a large, sealable bowl. Add 4-5 large ladles of juice from the slow cooker to the meat. Toss to combine.
8. Serve with your favorite sauce, on a sandwich, in a wrap, etc. The options are endless.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Give-Me-More Meatball Lasagna

I will be honest, lasagna is normally like a "four letter word" in my house. I am not a big fan and my husband definitely is not. However, last weekend we decided to try something new and create a meatball lasagna. The compromise was made by him getting to have meatballs and I got to add the spinach. The result was nothing short of AMAZING! The leftovers were wonderful and it got better even a couple days later. The great thing about this meal is that you can assemble it ahead of time, cover and store in the refrigerator and then bake off on the night of the meal.

Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees

4 Cups Marinara Sauce
4 Cups Entertaining Meatballs , cut in half
15 ounces Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
9 ounces Frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
8 Lasagna Noodles
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1. Heat a large pot of water on the stove over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Drizzle in vegetable oil (optional). Cook the lasagna noodles for 4 minutes and then remove to a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Lay a new sheet of wax paper between each layer to prevent sticking while cooling.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, and egg. Make sure the spinach is completely drained of water; I like to place the spinach into a kitchen towel and then twist to ensure all moisture is removed, in order to avoid a soggy filling.

3. Arrange all of your layering ingredients close to your 9x9 baking dish. I like to cut the noodles in half (horizontal) to make them fit in my dish better.

Image of the layering in progress
4. Place a small amount (1 Tablespoon) of marinara sacuse in the bottom of the baking dish followed by a layer of noodles (2 whole noodles or 4 halves), 1/3 each of the ricotta mixture, meatballs, sauce, noodles...... I like to only sprinkle parmesan on every-other layer, which means layer 2 and on top.

5. After the 3rd layer, top with the remaining 2 noodles, sauce, and a layer of cheese.
Ready to go in the oven (minus foil)

6. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, gently remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top is bubbly.

7. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Image of the Layers
1. Make sure to cover loosely. If you allow the foil to touch, the cheese will pull off when the foil is removed.
2. With using a 9x9 pan, I used 2 whole noodles on each layer, cut them in half across the middle, and then placed to fill the space.