Monday, September 29, 2014

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken

It is no secret, I am NOT a huge fan of BBQ sauce.  I have had this discussion before and so I find it redundant to do it again.  The good news is, when you make your own sauces, you can make them taste good to you!  More of this, less of that, and NONE of that other stuff!   I have 2, 10lb bags of chicken hindquarters, (.59 per pound), great deal or what?  My husband asked for some baked chicken, so this is what he got.  I threw in some potatoes, and called it dinner!  Boy did I eat my words about how I didn't want BBQ!!!


This would be so easy to make for a crowd.  And the leftovers, I am told were twice as good the next day.  Maybe you want to marinate your chicken overnight, or maybe you will just brush it on like I did.  Either way, this is sure to be a hit for chicken and BBQ lovers alike!  The recipe is easy and great for anyone, especially beginners.  Feel free to use any bone IN chicken you want!

You will need:
4 full hindquarters or 4 bone in chicken breasts
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 T. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
potatoes cut just in half or very large chunks (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  In a 9x13 pan, arrange your chicken.  I added a few cut up potatoes as well.  In a small bowl combine all remaining ingredients  Brush or pour over the chicken liberally.  Bake Uncovered for 45-55 minutes.  The internal temperature should read 180 degrees when done. 

Didn't I say it was easy?

ENJOY!








Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Baked Ricotta Pasta

Are you a fan of the ricotta?  I find it much like cilantro, you either are, or you are not, few are in between.  I am, however, the exception.  Sometimes I love it, something I don't, just depends on the dish I suppose.

I needed a quick side dish the other night.  I had a few leftovers from manicotti in my fridge and went to work in my science lab.  Actually, let's be honest, it is more like a sofa and a notebook but, none the less I came up with this pasta dish that my husband thought rocked, and I thought was pretty darn tasty too.  It is easy and quick, definitely a recipe to have in your arsenal of "OMG, they will be here for dinner WHEN?" recipes. 


Like that old retro casserole?  Rocks my world.

Anyway, you will need:

8 oz. short cut pasta
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 egg yolks

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  While that is happening, cook your pasta in well salted water according to package directions.  Cook it on the low end of the recommended time.  When it is done, drain, and put back in the pot.  Add in all of your other ingredients.  Let butter melt, and mix gently until smooth.  Pour into a casserole dish and top with some breadcrumbs if you like!  Bake for 20 minutes.  This should serve 4 adults, easily.  I LOVE having a new side dish!  I hope you do as well!

ENJOY!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Gooey S'more Dessert

The name alone gets me all jittery inside.  Who doesn't love a good s'more?  Now you can make it as a dessert, anytime, no need for an open fire, or bugs at your campsite.  This is easy, clean, and best of all you won't smell like a fire when you are done!


This dessert is the marriage of 3 recipes I wanted to try.  Wait, I take that back it was one recipe, but instead of using that recipe, an old newspaper clipping, I tried to reinvent it with old recipes my mom gave me.  It turned out well.  The brownie will seem, or may seem "not done" in the middle, just let it cool.  All will be well.  That gooeyness you think might be hiding in the center, IS and it is SUPPOSED to be! 

Get your oven preheated to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x13 cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

For the "crust" you will need graham crackers.  You can just lay them out on the bottom.  If you use the whole graham, it will take 6 full ones and few more.  However you do it just lay them so the bottom is covered.  Set aside and let's get to the brownies.

For the BROWNIES you will need:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 lb. butter (aka 1/2 cup)
4 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup  milk
6 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder

First, make sure your butter is at room temperature.  Cream the butter and sugar together well.  Add eggs and continue to beat well.  When well combined, add the rest of the ingredients.  Beat with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until smooth.  Now carefully dollop or sort of pour this over the graham crackers.  Don't move the crackers, pour it out all over so you have to spread it very little. Bake for 25-35 minutes,  The judgment is yours, the less you keep it in, the more the goo factor goes up, but doe what makes you happy!  The eggs will be plenty cooked so in case that worries you don't let it.  You can let this go 40 minutes and have a more cake like dessert.  When it is done, sit on a cooling rack and let cook while you make the icing.

For the ICING you will need:
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 T water

Combine all of the ingredients in the top of a double boiler, or in a bowl that you can use as the top of a double boiler.  Make sure it is well mixed.  Add an inch of water to a pot and let it come to a boil.  Make sure the water doesn't actually touch the bottom of the bowl.  Put bowl on top and begin using ah and mixer to beat it for 3-4 minutes.  Beat constantly!!  When it is done, pour over your brownies and then top with chocolate jimmies or some graham cracker dust or both.   After about 15 minutes you can use a brulee torch to toast it up on top!

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving!

ENJOY!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meat Manicotti

I can't get enough Italian food.  I mean seriously, I can't.  Since living in New Jersey, close to my Italian relatives, friends, and coworkers, it has gotten worse.  Now that I live back in Nebraska, and have had long discussions with my dad about holidays, I finally found out that his family in fact, used to have Italian food for Thanksgiving and Christmas and a turkey, just because it was required, I guess!  My mother in law extraordinaire hosted the same kind of holidays.  All the fixins and an almost entirely different Italian meal as well!  My GOD, it was my dream come true.  The point is, when I returned to Nebraska, I made it a tradition for my family to always serve an Italian dish along with the traditional holiday spread.  This is one I serve often because I love it.  I usually do 2 separate kinds, one with meat and one with just cheese.  I am sharing my favorite with you today. 


I am a cheater with mine, I do not cook the noodles first.  Ain't NOBODY got time for all that shell ripping, slip sliding, filling of a wet noodle stuff.  Oh no.  Mine works out perfectly.  This is a large batch, it will fill 28 shells.  Feel free to halve the recipe.  Otherwise just divide everything between the two pans it will take!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Get out 2, 9x13 pans and let's get ready to rumble!

For the meat mixture you will need:
2lbs ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
3 T dried Italian seasoning
1 T onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese

In addition you will need:
28 Manicotti Shells
2, 23.9 oz. (approx.) of your favorite pasta sauce or homemade
1 14.5 (ish) can of petite diced tomatoes
1-2 cups water
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
extra parmesan for the top

Combine all ingredients for your meat mixture.   You can do it in a stand mixer or by hand, the choice is yours.  Set aside and add about 1 cup of pasta sauce to the bottom of each pan.  Spread it around so the shells don't stick.  In a large bowl combine the rest of the pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and rinse those pasta sauce jars out with about 1 cup of water each and swish and add to the bowl.  Mix to combine and set aside. 

You can fill the shells with a small spoon but I prefer a pastry bag, so that is what I did.  You should have exactly enough to fill all the shells.  Don't over fill but make sure they are full end to end.  Fill a shell, place in pan, flip it to cover with some sauce and continue until all shells are filled.  Now take the sauce in the bowl and pour half over each pan. Sprinkle on cup of mozz over each pan, and grate or sprinkle a bit more parmesan on top for good measure. 

Now cover TIGHTLY with foil.  Place in the oven for 45-50 minutes and they will be done perfectly!  Remove foil and let cool for a minutes before serving!

ENJOY!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Vanilla Snickerdoodles

As a woman, there are few things in life, that cure what ails us better than chocolate.  Right?  Isn't that how it is supposed to be?  I agree, somewhat.  But for me, it is vanilla, or cinnamon.  I swear, something about cinnamon toast, absolutely takes me to the happiest place ever, when I need some comfort.  Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate, but, it isn't my cure all, as it is for many. 


When I decided to make snicker doodles, which I obviously, LOVE, I wanted to make a twist on them.  Well it was no question, it had to be add vanilla.  Easy, right?  Add vanilla to my regular plain old recipe which I got from www.cooks.com a hundred years ago and call it good.  No, no, no.  That wasn't just going do the trick, I needed to bite vanilla.  Cinnamon and vanilla, I die.  I DIE.  So with the addition of some of my fantastic homemade vanilla extract and some vanilla chips, these are addictive, healing, love, fluffy bunny slippers and pink clouds all rolled into one bite. 

Oh and for the record, I don't know how many this makes.  My kids were over, they started eating them warm, before I realized it, and suddenly, there were so many gone, I couldn't tell how many there WERE!  I will say it made about

You will need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
10-12 oz. package vanilla chips

In a separate small bowl:
2 T sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together to combine.  You will roll your dough balls in this!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  In a bowl combine, butter, shortening, eggs, vanilla and sugar until creamed together smoothly.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cream of tarter, baking soda and salt.  Sift together into the wet mixture and mix just until combined.  Fold in vanilla chips.  Roll dough into balls, dip in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet.  (can also use nonstick cooking spray)  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  I bake for 8 since I like very soft cookies.  Cook on a rack and consume, as many as possible as soon as possible. 

Enjoy!









Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dill and Olive Oil Roasted Cauliflower


Do not be fooled by the fact that we discuss "cauliflower" on my Facebook page.  We do.  And when you think of that, or when I think of that it reminds me of a skit, I think from SNL, "The Delicious Dish" where they would discuss, rice and various other boring foods!  If you haven't seen it, this will mean nothing, if you have, you know what I me an.


Anyway, a reader of Chefwannabe mentioned that one night out of desperation she made this recipe.  I believe she used butter instead of olive oil, which I WILL do soon and a packet of Hidden Valley Harvest Dill seasoning mix.  Oh, and I almost forgot, I used a fresh head of cauliflower as well, instead of frozen. 

Ayyyyee carumba!!!  Delicious!  I don't know if I can ever eat cauliflower any other way!  This is easy and so packed with flavor.  I used a small-medium head of cauliflower but I would guess you could easily still get the same flavor punch from 2 heads, or one very large head.

Here is what you will need:

Fresh cauliflower (2 sm-med heads)
2 T. olive oil
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Harvest Dill Seasoning

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Divide your cauliflower into bite size pieces.  In a bowl add in cauliflower, olive oil and seasoning packet.  Toss until all cauliflower is coated with seasoning.  Dump until a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes depending on if you like your cauliflower to still have crunch, or like it soft!

I won't be upset if you sprinkle a little fresh grated parm on this before serving. 

ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Frog Eye Salad

Just as I was relaxing over the end of salad season, my mom strikes again.  We were chatting on the phone and she said, "I am so hungry for frog eye salad".   Oh man, it had been years since I thought about the infamous frog eye salad.  This salad has been a favorite of my siblings for many years.  I was never a huge fruit eater, but pineapple, I do love.  I pick out the oranges and the cherries and dig in.  Every holiday, EVERY holiday, my mom makes this. 

 
I think frog eye salad, originally is made with a cooked custard, but, my mom always did it this way.  I think it is the cheater way to be honest but, who messes with perfection?  Nobody with any sense!  Anyway, back to my phone conversation, she asked if I had ever posted it here and when I responded I had not she said, "OH you can come home and make it, and I can taste test it, and it will all be for the good of your website".  Yea, right ma.  When I ran this recipe by my husband he almost erped.  "Pasta in a sweet salad"?!?!  He agreed to give it a try but he was skeptical.  Now, he didn't actually SAY much, but the degree of devouring that went on over this sort of spoke for itself.  You know? 

Really he loved it and couldn't believe he had never heard of it.  So if you love it, have never had it, think it might be ridiculous, OR are brave.... give it a try!

1 1/2 cups acini de pepe (pasta, Uncooked)
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 - 4 serving size boxes of instant vanilla pudding
8 ounces cool whip
10 ounces maraschino cherries, halved and DRAINED
11 oz. can of mandarin oranges
20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
20 oz. can of chunk pineapple

Boil your pasta as per the package direction.  Drain well, and run some cold water of them.  In a very LARGE bowl, combine pudding and cool whip until well combined.  Add in oranges and both kinds of pineapple.  Make sure to DRAIN the cherries and add those as well.  Fold in the pasta and marshmallows and refrigerate for 1 hour.   This is a hit with our family as I said, and I am sure it will be a hit with yours too!

Enjoy!


PS.  If you don't prefer to use cool whip, please feel free to sweeten up some fresh heavy cream and substitute.