Friday, December 14, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Temptations

There was never a truer name for a cookie. Temptation is right.

Be prepared to either gain a few pounds or exercise extreme forms of self-control.

Now that I have duly warned you, you are in for a treat. Packaged up in a delightful wrapping of peanut butter cookie dough, you'll find a miniature melty, of-course-always-amazing-no-matter-how-you-dress-it-up Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Yep. Right there in the middle of a cookie.

Genius, you say? So do I.

I was first introduced to these little gems as a young girl by an older lady on our street named Romayne, who took my siblings and I under her wing as her adopted grand kids. She refers to herself simply as "Grandma Ro" and we are blessed to know her- not only because she is as sweet and grandmotherly as they come, but because she is an amazing cook! After learning that these peanut butter cup cookies earned her accolades at the local county fair, it was with great boldness I asked for the recipe. She was gracious enough to share and I'll be forever grateful! I don't think a Christmas has gone by since then where I have not baked these delectable treats.

You won't regret trying these (unless of course you're on a diet- maybe not even then) for your holiday party or family gathering this year- they're sure to be a hit and may even become your family's new tradition!

Reese's Peanut Butter Temptations
by Hershey's (and Grandma Ro)
makes 40-60 cookies

40-60 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures (make sure you have enough!)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375. Remove wrappers from candies. If desired, line mini muffin cups with paper baking cups. Otherwise, grease lightly.
In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, peanut butter, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. 
Shape dough into 1 inch balls; place one in each prepared muffin cup. Do not flatten.
Bake 9-10 min. or until puffed and lightly browned; remove from oven. Immediately press peanut butter cup into each cookie. Cool at least 5 minutes in muffin tin, then remove carefully to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

{Oh-So-Cute} Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

Sometimes you just need cute cookies. And most definitely at Christmas. These adorable reindeer cookies deliver the cuteness factor in full force! From their chocolate brown eyes to their shiny red noses, they'll steal your heart away in no time! They are easy-peasy (being just a simple peanut butter cookie dough) and fun to put together! Kids will love helping poke the M & Ms into the cookies (just make sure you help them so they don't burn their fingers!).

If possible, do try and find mini chocolate covered pretzels for the antlers. As you can see from the picture, I did not. I couldn't find any that I thought suitably small, so I opted to try using regular mini pretzels. Unfortunately  there isn't any chocolate "glue" to hold these antlers on, so I improvised by using brown frosting to stick the "antlers" to the cooled cookies. It worked, but it's definitely more tedious. So scour your supermarket- surely the mini chocolate covered pretzels are out there!

However you assemble your team of reindeer, the effect on your friends will surely be worth it!

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies
adapted slightly from Bakergirl
makes about 40

3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 TB milk
1 TB vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
chocolate covered mini pretzels
mini brown M&Ms
regular sized red M&Ms

Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until just blended.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.
Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log about 8-10 in. long. Shape logs into triangles (3 flat sides), wrap in wax paper and chill about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
Working with one log at a time, unwrap and slice into 1/4 in. slices. Place on cookie sheet about 2 in. apart. Bake 7-8 min. or until set and just beginning to brown.
Remove from oven and immediately (and gently) press two mini pretzels into the tops  of the cookies (one of the flat sides of the triangle is the top of the head) for antlers. Press two mini brown M&Ms in for the eyes and one red M&M for the nose (at the bottom point of the triangle). 
Allow to cool 2 min. on the sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Penne Gorgonzola with Chicken

I have recently discovered another love. Can you guess what it is?

I suppose "cheese" would always be a safe guess. And if that's what you said, you'd be darn right! No, I haven't recently discovered a love for cheese in general. I have loved cheese since...well, probably since I could eat cheese! But for many, many years, my knowledge of cheese was limited to varying shades of cheddar. Which is amazing, by the way. But along the way of my cooking journey, I have discovered SO MANY kinds of cheeses! Amazing cheeses!! Soft cheese, hard cheese, crumbly cheese. Who knew there were so many kinds to love??

Among the many textures, flavors, and colors, there is one in particular that I have recently been over the moon about. Gorgonzola. OH. MY. GOODNESS. This cheese is so incredible. I think it started on our anniversary this summer when we ate an appetizer of Gorgonzola Waffle Fries with a Gorgonzola dipping sauce. I could have eaten that alone for dinner. Every once in a while, I daydream about it. Wish I could find a way to replicate it. *sigh*

Anyways, this cheese, with its contrasting sharpness and sweetness, has captured my heart and my taste buds, which is why I cannot wait to share this fabulous pasta recipe with you! It is creamy and flavorful and laced with the pleasant flavors and aroma of fresh herbs and a quality cheese.

Penne Gorgonzola with Chicken
slightly adapted from Taste of Home
serves 8

1 package (16 oz) whole wheat penne pasta
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1 TB olive oil
1 lg. garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups (8 oz.) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
extra Gorgonzola and fresh parsley for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over med. heat, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Add garlic, cook 1 min. longer. Add wine, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.
Add cream and broth; cook until sauce is slightly thickened and chicken is no longer pink. Stir in the Gorgonzola cheese, sage, salt and pepper. Cook just until cheese is melted.
Drain pasta; toss with sauce. Sprinkle with additional cheese and parsley.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

I don't know about you, but I loooove chicken caesar salads.

I don't care if there are anchovies in the dressing!

Who brought that up anyway??! Back to the salad.

A Caesar salad is such a simple thing. Romaine lettuce, Parm, croutons. Occasionally chicken. And the dressing. Mmm, the dressing. My current favorite is Ken's Lite Creamy Caesar. It really doesn't taste light. It is yummmy.

So you know what is just a crazy genius idea? Putting all that Caesar salad goodness into a sandwich! And even more awesome? Let's use the crock pot! Or this would also be amazingly simple with leftover shredded chicken.

It is really amazing just how much these sandwiches taste like a classic Caesar salad. There's chicken, totally soaked in your favorite Caesar dressing. Then there's Parm- mixed in to the chicken and sprinkled on top. There's a good helping of crispy green romaine. And even the buns, golden toasted, pose pretty convincingly as croutons.

Wow, seriously. If you're having a Caesar salad craving, try one of these sandwiches. So good and incredibly simple!!

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches
slightly adapted from Chef in Training
makes about 6 large sandwiches

2 lbs. chicken breast (or leftover shredded cooked chicken)
1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite Caesar dressing
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded or chopped romaine lettuce
6 hamburger buns (you could also do sliders!)

Place chicken in slow cooker. Cover with 1-2 cups water, cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. 
Remove chicken and shred. Pour water from the slow cooker. 
Return chicken to slow cooker and add dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley and pepper. Stir until combined. Cover and cook on high 30 min. or until hot.
Toast hamburger buns until broiler until just browned.
To assemble, put some chicken mixture on each bun, top with extra Parmesan cheese and lettuce and serve!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chicken Paprikash

Isn't it funny how many comfort foods contain pasta? Spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, fettuccine alfredo...somehow a delicious sauce, poured over steaming noodles (no matter the shape!) does wonders for our souls.

This chicken paprikash is a new one for me- it definitely stirred up some homey feelings and I was sure it reminded me of something.

Maybe it was the tender chicken simmering in a flavorful red sauce that reminded me of my mom's chicken spaghetti.

Or maybe it was stirring sour cream into a tomato based sauce that put me in mind of stroganoff.

Either way, this sauce has a flavor of its own- and if you haven't guessed it yet, refer back to the title. Paprika! Two whole tablespoons of the sweet and smoky substance make up about the only spice in this dish (besides salt and pepper of course!). And it is amazing. Down home comfort with a flavor twist.

Do you have a favorite "comfort food" recipe?  I'd love to try it! Please email me at and maybe I'll feature your recipe on my blog!!

Note on the recipe- Annie recommends using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or legs...I chose to use skinless, boneless chicken breast and it was wonderful- so go by your preference!

Chicken Paprikash
serves 8

3 lbs. chicken thighs, legs or breast
salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 lg. yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB sweet paprika
3 TB flour
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
cooked egg noodles for serving

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In large pot, heat oil over med-high heat. Place the chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down (if using thighs or legs) and cook until browned, about 6 min (time will be shorter if using breast). Flip and cook other side until browned. Transfer to a plate.
Discard all but 1 TB of fat from pot and lower heat to med. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, about 2 min. Add garlic and continue to cook, about 3 min. more. 
Stir in paprika and flour, season with salt and pepper, and stir constantly until the mixture is fragrant and begins to stick, about 1 min.
Stir in broth a bit at a time, whisking until smooth. Add tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Return chicken to the pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 20 min. Prepare noodles while chicken is cooking.
Remove chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred, removing skin and bones if necessary. Stir shredded chicken back into the pot. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream or yogurt. Serve warm over egg noodles.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meals for a Month {November/December}

Since we've had several inches of snow drop this past weekend, November is feeling a lot more like winter than fall! However, I refuse to give in to Christmas urges just yet. The icicles and snowflakes may beckon, but until after Thanksgiving I'm devoted to fall!

Week 1 (Nov. 13-17)



Dinner at a friend's house

Week 2 (Nov. 20-24)

This week is up in the air since we will be gone part of the week for the holiday

Week 3 (Nov. 27-Dec. 1)

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder (from freezer)

Breakfast Burritos

Week 4 (Dec. 4-8)

Roast Turkey
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (from freezer)


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

When I made this dish, I realized I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had french toast. Isn't that sad? I certainly realized just how sad when I tasted this delectable treat!

Where have you been all my life, baked pumpkin french toast??!!

Seriously. This is so amazing. I'm not sure how to describe it without using cliche words and phrases like "melts in your mouth," "creamy," "to die for," "I want to eat the whole pan right now" and so on. So I guess I will. The eggs, pumpkin, milk and spices transform a loaf of bread (although no ordinary loaf of bread, mind you- I employed my homemade Italian bread...and really, please don't get on my case about using Italian bread for French bite and you wont' care what nationalities are mixed up in your mouth, I promise) into this amazing soft, creamy sweet treat that (literally, cliches aside, this one's for real) melts in your mouth. Sheesh, it could practically be dessert. For us it was dinner. Then breakfast. But it could really be served as dessert and I would be crazy happy to welcome it as such.

It's also great because you can make it ahead of time (even the day before!) and just pop it in the oven when you're ready to eat!

Oh, and it doesn't really need a drizzle of maple syrup, but go ahead. You know you want to.

Baked Pumpkin French Toast
serves 8-12

1 loaf French bread, cut into cubes
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
2 TB vanilla (yes, tablespoons!)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place bread chunks evenly in the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla and spices. Pour evenly over bread. Cover pan and store in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar and spices. Add butter and cut into dry ingredients using a fork, your hands, or a pastry blender. Combine until mixture resembles sand with a few pea sized chunks. Cover and store in refrigerator.
When you're ready to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350. Remove French toast from the refrigerator and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake 45-55 min. or until set and golden brown. Serve warm with syrup if desired.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Easy Butternut Squash Shells and Cheese

Do you remember last year when that one amazing soup totally sent me on butternut squash kick for awhile?

Welllll...I think it's started again. There is just something so irresistible to me about that creamy orange, mildly flavored squash. And when you pair it with ooey gooey cheese? Don't even get me started.

This recipe is no exception. It is very similar in flavor and texture to the awesomely delicious pumpkin macaroni and cheese and fairly easy to prepare. Tackling the squash is, as always, the most difficult part. You'll need a good sharp knife and some elbow grease to slice your way through the tough skin and firm flesh- but it's definitely worth it!

Easy Butternut Squash Shells and Cheese
serves about 6

3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
4 cups cubed uncooked butternut squash (about 1 medium)- peeled and seeds removed
2 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups milk
6 oz. shredded cheese (I used Gruyere- fontina was recommended)
4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 TB brown butter (for "how-to" click here)
2 TB fine bread crumbs
chopped fresh herbs for garnish (I used sage)

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare water for pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain.
While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over med-low heat. Add oil, then toss in squash with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add stock and cover skillet, cooking for 15-20 min., stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and can be easily mashed. Remove cover and reduce heat to low. Mash squash with a potato masher or fork, smoothing it out with a spoon to remove all the chunks.
Add in milk, 4 oz. of the Gruyere or fontina and all of the Parmesan, stirring until melted and smooth, about 5 min. If needed, add more milk a little at a time, stirring until smooth. Stir in brown butter, again mixing for a minute or so until incorporated. Taste and add more seasoning, if desired.
Fold shells into the sauce, coating completely. If not using an oven safe skillet, transfer shells to a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and bake for 15 min. If a bubbly, golden topping is desired, broil 1-2 min. after cooking. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Pancakes {with Cinnamon Syrup}

It's Saturday, y'all! You know what that means in our house...breakfast for dinner!

Last weekend I made a batch of these whole wheat apple cinnamon pancakes from Two Peas and Their Pod and man, were they yummy! But let me tell you straight up: the syrup is the best part.

Oh wow. Really. It's like, so amazing. You'll want to put it on everything (after you send your pancakes drifting out to sea on it, that is). Like more apples. Or maybe some peaches. Toast or oatmeal, anyone? Leftover apple cider waffles? Grab anything you can find (including your own fingers of course) and dunk it in this syrup, because yeah, it's that good.

But back to the pancakes. Hearty wheat taste, bursts of fresh apple chunks, hints of spice...I'm pretty much convinced that the "whole wheat" and "apple" parts of the title are just to trick us into thinking we're being all healthy while simultaneously pouring on copious amounts of spicy, sugary syrup that is basically like liquid gold .

The edible kind.

But there I go about the syrup again. Gee. Anyways. Do yourself a favor this weekend and make a batch of syrup. Er. Pancakes.Whatever.

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Pancakes with Cinnamon Syrup
serves 3-4

For pancakes:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 TB brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup buttermilk, plus 2 TB
1 TB canola oil
1 lg. egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup diced, peeled apple

For syrup:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TB flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup water

In a med. bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in apples.
Heat griddle or non-stick skillet over med. heat. Spray with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle pan, spacing out pancakes a few inches from each other. When the pancakes start to bubble up, flip and cook until lightly browned.
While the pancakes are cooking, make the syrup. Stir together dry ingredients in a small saucepan. Then add water and vanilla. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Continue boiling and stir until mixture thickens to syrup consistency, about 5-8 min. Remove from heat and let stand a few minutes before serving.
Serve the pancakes with warm syrup. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Upside-Down Mexican Pot Pie

You know how a pot pie is just this delectable thing with veggies and tender meat in a creamy, rich sauce topped with a flaky pastry crust?

Well, what if pot pie went Mexican?

What if you had some cheese joining the party...tomatoes and veggies hanging out with some tender ground beef spiced with seasonings and peppers topped off with moist cornbread? That would be all right, wouldn't it?

Oh wait.

Turn that upside down.

Yep, the whole thing.

Now you've got it. If you're gonna turn the whole pot pie idea upside down, you might as well go ahead and turn the whole pot pie upside down.


At least that's how I explain to myself why this pie is upside down. Besides the fact that it's fun. To say. And to eat.

Upside-Down Mexican Pot Pie
adapted from the Gooseberry Pot Pie Cookbook
serves 6

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn, drained
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 (8.5 oz.) pkg. cornbread mix (will need egg and milk)
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 2 qt. casserole dish.
In a skillet over medium heat, brown beef with onion, garlic, green pepper, and zucchini. Drain. Add tomatoes with juice, corn and seasonings (adjust to taste). Simmer about 5 min.
Meanwhile, prepare cornbread mix according to package directions.
Pour batter into prepared dish. Spoon beef/vegetable mixture over batter. 
Cover with foil and bake 25 min. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake 5-10 min. more or until cheese is melted and bubbly and pie is heated through.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peaches & Cream Oatmeal

I don't know about you, but I have fantastic childhood memories revolving around those itty bitty packets of Quaker Oats instant oatmeal. We LOVED those as kids. In fact, I still love them.

For our family, those were usually a special treat reserved for our annual camping trip (other special treats included Spam, Svenhard's Danish pastries, sugary cold cereal from those fun little boxes, Dinty Moore stew, etc.). They were also a staple breakfast item at my great-grandma's house. She kept strictly to the Apples & Cinnamon flavor. I've loved just about every flavor I've tried, especially the "& Cream" varieties (with perhaps the exception of "Bananas & Cream").

Recently when Hubby and I took our own camping trip, I couldn't help but snag a box of the "& Cream" instant oatmeal packets. They were of course fantastic (I avoided the banana). One day when I was enjoying the "Peaches & Cream" variety, I stirred in a few chopped ripe peaches (a great idea, by the way) and that got my wheels turning.

So back at home, I created my own homemade version of "Peaches & Cream" oatmeal. It isn't instant, mind you, but it is delicious. No powdered "cream" or dehydrated peaches here- this is the real stuff. And boy, is it good. I used peaches that I had previously peeled, sliced and frozen (no thawing necessary), but I think it will work equally as well with fresh or canned peaches. Another bonus to making your own is that you can adjust the portion size! This recipe makes a pretty hearty 2 person meal and is perfect for these chilly fall mornings!

Homemade Peaches & Cream Oatmeal
by Jenn
makes 2 hearty servings

3 cups water
dash salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped peaches
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 TB brown sugar
2 TB heavy cream or half and half

Bring water and salt to boiling in a small saucepan. Stir in oats and peaches and reduce to medium heat. 
Cook 5-8 min., stirring occasionally, or until most of the liquid is absorbed (or until it reaches desired consistency- remember the oatmeal will thicken somewhat as it cools). 
Remove from heat and stir in spices and brown sugar. Stir in cream.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Funfetti Cookies {Happy Birthday to Me!}

Just thought I'd make sure you know that today is my birthday! Hooray!

And just in case you're wondering, no, I really don't care that I'm going to be 26 this year- I still love birthdays! As long as they include forms of chocolate, coffee, cake and presents, I will always LOVE birthdays. I don't really care whose birthday it is. But mine is always nice, cause then the presents are for ME.

I think I might possibly get this crazy love of birthdays from my family, where a birthday is looked upon as practically a national holiday. So mark your calendar, peeps. This one's mine.

I usually don't make myself anything special for my birthday...the last couple of years Hubby and I have gone out to dinner and he has made me a cake, sweet, thoughtful husband that he is.

But when I found out that I was going to need to bring the cookies for our church's "Cookie Fellowship" I decided it was time for some "Happy Birthday to Me" cookies. Not that I broadcasted that to everyone at church. But for my part, I gave myself some besprinkled cookie love. For a dreary, rainy fall day, these color-popping, irresistibly happy looking funfetti cookies were just perfect.

So whether or not it's your birthday (or anyone else's for that matter), have some sprinkles!

Funfetti Cookies
slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
makes about 3 dozen

1 cup butter, room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup mulit-colored sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 375.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer for about 2 min., or until fluffy. Add vanilla, almond, and egg. Beat until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and whisk together.
Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until all is incorporated. Gently stir in sprinkles (do not overmix or they will begin to bleed into dough).
Form dough into 1-1/2 in. balls and place on cookie sheet. Slightly flatten each ball using the palm of your hand.
Bake 8-10 min. or until just set. Do not overbake or cookies will be crispy. Cool completely on wire rack.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sweet Potato Breakfast Biscuits

Every once in awhile, it's fun to have breakfast for dinner. We don't do big breakfasts a lot- usually only on Mondays when it's Hubby's day off and we have a leisurely morning. Otherwise, it's a bran muffin and greek yogurt for me and cold cereal for him. Aren't we exciting?

So anyway, that's why I've decided Saturdays are now "breakfast for dinner night". There are just too many great breakfast foods to pass up, so they're moving to the night shift!

Our first in the Saturday breakfast series this month is a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, How Sweet It Is- she always cracks me up and leaves me drooling with her quirky humor and drop-dead-gorgeous photos. This recipe was no exception! Stuff a little bit of sweet potato in a fluffy, tender biscuit, top with pristine poached eggs, bacon (of course), cheese and whatever else your little heart desires, and you've got yourself a mighty tasty breakfast sandwich.

Putting the amazing flavor and texture of a sweet potato in a biscuit is pure genius, and of course, I am a little bit obsessed with poached eggs these days so we know that was a major attraction. There is just something so totally irresistible about those pretty little white packages that spill forth golden goodness at the slightest invitation. Sigh.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Biscuits
adapted slightly from How Sweet It Is
makes 10 biscuits

1 medium sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 TB sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 TB butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
To make breakfast biscuits add poached eggs, bacon, cheese and spread of choice

Preheat oven to 425.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine. Add butter and use a pastry blender to cut in till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk and sweet potato, using your hands if necessary, to blend dough together. 
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 in. thickness. Cut using a floured glass or biscuit cutter and place onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-12 min. or until biscuits are puffy and golden. While biscuits are baking, prepare your breakfast sandwich ingredients. Assemble and enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Pumpkin Day!

Today is pumpkin day!! Hooray! I couldn't be happier than to devote a whole day to celebrating the creamy sweet goodness of that delightfully round orange squash. You can't turn around this time of year without bumping into something (edible or no) that is either bedecked, bedazzled or bestuffed with pumpkin and this post is no exception. I present for your inspection and culinary enjoyment, 6 scrumptious pumpkin recipes. Do you have a favorite to share? Please leave me a link (or the recipe!) in the comments! Have fun!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

I was so excited a couple of weeks ago when Hubby came home from helping out at the Food Bank with two beautiful bags of Hershey's chocolate mint chips! These are not always easy to find in stores, so it of course got me thinking about all the scrumptious things I could make.

First off, I checked the back of the bag since Hershey's always has amazing recipes on their packaging. Sure enough "Double Chocolate Mint Cookies" just leapt off the bag and into my oven! Well, okay so maybe it didn't happen quite like that, but it might as well have. Just under my fanatical love of the chocolate/peanut butter combo is the absolutely genius marriage of chocolate and mint. Mint especially shines on a backdrop of rich, super chocolaty chocolate.

Like these cookies. The dough is dense and fudgy and rich, and there is even more chocolate in the chips themselves!

So what do you think I should make with the second bag?

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies
by Hershey's
makes about 2 1/2 doz.

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups (1 10 oz. pkg.) Hershey's Mint Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 350.
Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well.
Stir in mint chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 min. or just until set- do not overbake. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken Divan

I think the cooler weather makes me more prone to go back to those old, familiar recipes that have been tried and tested and loved for years on end, especially those that remind me of cooking with my mom or celebrating birthdays (always a big deal in our house).

This particular casserole (affectionately renamed "Chicken Curry" by our family) was a favorite of my older brother and I think he requested it for his birthday dinner every year that I can remember. It was also a "company dinner" staple, being all fancy with the slivered almonds on top and easy to make enough for a crowd. The broccoli and chicken in a creamy curry-tinged sauce is perfectly paired with the crunchy cheesy-almond topping.

I still have vivid snapshots of memories stirring the sauce, chopping the chicken, pouring steaming broccoli into the baking dish, grating the cheese and tearing up the bread for the topping. So not only is this a tasty, satisfying meal, it also holds those special memory triggers reserved for the beloved foods of our childhood.

That being said, I did however, lighten it up just a teensy bit. As a kid I thought nothing of dumping a heaping scoop of mayo into this delectable dish, but as I am a little bit more health conscious (and, let's be honest, the main reason was because my mayo jar was almost empty) I decided to sub the mayo for fat free greek yogurt. Zero fat, plus great proteins and other good-for-you stuff and I couldn't taste the difference. Still the same great creamy sauce! Yay!

Chicken Divan
serves 4-6

1 10 oz. package of frozen broccoli
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup mayo or greek yogurt
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 TB melted butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Hot cooked rice

Preheat oven to 350. Cook broccoli according to package directions.
Place broccoli in greased 8x8 pan. Layer chicken over broccoli.
In a medium bowl, combine mayo (or yogurt), soup, lemon juice and curry and mix until well blended. Pour over chicken. In another bowl, combine butter, bread crumbs, cheese and almonds and mix. Sprinkle over the top of other ingredients.
Bake 45 min to an hour or until sauce is bubbly and topping is golden. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

{Crock-Pot} Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

Do remember a couple of days ago when I was going on about yummy, comforting soup recipes?

Well, here you go!

This soup is not only totally healthy- packed with veggies- but it also contains CHEESE and is thereby amazing. It's sort of a take on broccoli cheddar soup, but with way more vegetables (count 'em- 6!- if garlic counts as a vegetable!) AND I converted it for the crock pot. Of course.

So. Go make yourself some.

Oh, and while it's in the crock pot, get all domestic and whip up some of this fantastically easy Italian bread!

Crock-Pot Cheesy Vegetable Chowder
adapted from Lulu the Baker
serves about 6

2 TB butter
1 med. onion
1 cup chopped carrots
2 celery sticks, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium broccoli crowns, chopped into small florets
3 14 oz. cans chicken broth (about 6 cups)
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 TB flour
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
2 heaping cups of cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a blend of extra sharp white cheddar and medium  cheddar)

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 or 2 minutes more. Place onion mixture in crock pot. Add broccoli and potatoes; pour in broth, add bay leaf and salt and pepper. In a small jar, combine flour and water and shake vigorously to combine. Stir into crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Before serving, remove bay leaf, then remove about half of soup from crock pot and puree the other half using an immersion or "stick" blender (this can also be done in batches in a blender) to your desired consistency. Stir in reserved soup, milk and cheese and heat until hot and cheese is melted.
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