Thursday, December 22, 2016

Italian Cherry Almond Cookies

ACK!  The holidays are almost here!  Are you ready?  Shopping done?  House cleaned? Tree up?  Christmas cards sent?  Guest bedrooms cleaned? BAKING done?


I have done a couple days worth of baking.  My daughter in law and I did a major baking session yesterday.  This year, seeing as it has been a hard year, I just remade some of my favorites, all of which can be found here on the website.

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies
Vanilla Snicker Doodles
Elf Hats

We also made some Rolo's melted in pretzels, peanut butter blossoms, for that I use the ol' Betty Crocker standby recipe, and tweak it just a bit!  We also made these Italian Cherry Almond Cookies my husband requested this year!

I am not going to spend to much time with chitter chatter, time is growing short, and you must make these.  Like...MUST.  Let me assure you (or warn you) this recipe makes a TON!

Here we go!

1 cup shortening
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tsp almond extract
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
5 tsp baking soda
red food coloring
16 oz maraschino cherries (drained and roughly chopped)
1 cup chopped almonds
2 lbs all purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer add in shortening, eggs and sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Add in extracts, half of your milk, baking powder and your desired amount of red food coloring  I chose for mine to be just a nice pink color.   Mix again until combined.  Now mix in your cherries, and your nuts.  Start adding your flour just until combined for each addition.  Mine took all 2 lbs, yours may not.  You want a nice soft dough.

Roll your cookies into balls, and place on a parchment lines cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a cooking rack after 5 minutes of cooling on the cookie sheet.

IDEA!  You can use some of the maraschino cherry juice, add some powdered sugar, and a little butter and make a drizzle for these cookies as well.  I did not do that but last night, while laying in bed, I thought it would have been cool!  Let me know if you do it and post your photos on FB or Instagram and tag @ftchefwannabe.

Wishing you a blessed, happy, peace filled holiday season my dear friends!









Monday, December 12, 2016

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Tis the season for sniffles, allergies and colds!  WOOHOOO!

Actually I am not excited for sickness, for me or anyone of you, but IF it happens, I have the soup for you! 


This happy accident (long ago) soup is delicious.  I am a soup fanatic, and personally can NOT have to many soup recipes on hand.  Soup is always my first choice, year round actually.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!  Shouldn't be to hard to remember the recipe, eh?!

1 T. olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small bell pepper chopped
1 cup fresh green beans chopped (use canned if needed)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 T. minced garlic
1  14.5  oz. diced tomatoes (add juice, more flavor!)
1 T. dehydrated onion (feel free to grate 1T fresh into the pot)
1 T. dried parsley
1 T. Italian Seasoning
5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot, add in olive oil and ground chicken.  Cook chicken until it is halfway done and then add in carrots, celery, bell pepper, green beans, frozen peas and corn.


Stir until completely combined, then add in garlic and let cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Now add in the tomatoes, onion, parsley, Italian seasoning, and chicken stock.  I use low sodium chicken stock so I add in 1 tsp salt to start, you may need more, I did.  Also add in pepper.  Cover and simmer on medium for 20 minutes.

I think this soup is perfect for those sniffly days!  Add in some red pepper flakes, or a little hot sauce and feel the nose run, and run, and run!  It is perfect for healthy eaters and full of vitamin goodness!  I make this soup and keep it in the fridge, and eat on it for lunches or a snack.  Why not?!

ENJOY!




Monday, December 5, 2016

Cavatini

Good evening friends!  I know it is a busy time of year for everyone!  I hope you are taking time to enjoy it, taking in the laughter, the conversation and the good food!


This is an old family favorite.  We always called in cavatini, not sure why, we just did.  Give me enough time and it will come back to me but as of now, it is what it is.....cavatini!  We make this with mushrooms, without them, it is not cavatini!  We also must have the radiatore pasta  You just use any short cut pasta and you will be fine!

Don't slaughter me over the canned mushrooms, they are actually my husbands favorite and some people have VERY strong opinions about them for sure! Feel free to use fresh, no biggie, your cavatini, your decision!  The red pepper flakes are a must, this is spicy, and sweet, and has beefy mushrooms and ground beef, it is so hearty and ABOVE ALL...........do NOT skimp on the massive amount of cheese, I won't be able to forgive myself for failing you, if you do!

16 oz pasta, cooked and drained (we MUST use radiatore)
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2, 7 oz cans of mushrooms or (16 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms)
1 lb hamburger (lean)
1  10.75 oz can tomato soup
1 16 oz jar pasta sauce
2 T sugar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


Get your pasta cooked according to package directions and drained.  Preheat your oven to 375 while it is groovin'.

Drain your pasta and add in your butter and olive oil.  Let it begin to sizzle and add in your drained mushrooms.  Saute for a couple of minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.  Set aside.

Add in your hamburger and cook until browned.  Toss in your tomato soup and pasta sauce, and RINSE that pasta sauce jar, you need that bit of extra liquid anyway!  Dump it into the pot and stir.  Now for the red pepper flakes, I use usually 1.5 tsp, but start with one, or even half.  Toss them in and stir to combine and heat those babies up!  Add in your sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Add your mushrooms and pasta in and stir until completely combined.

Pour into a buttered 9x13 casserole and smooth out the top.   Let it rain cheese and in the oven you go!  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve bubbling hot! (with crusty bread)

ENJOY!



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pumpkin Cream Pie

Ahh, the week before Thanksgiving, some of us are scrambling to finish our menus and some of us had our menus done a month ago.  Darn you organized people!


This will be our first major holiday without my mom, so we are going to enjoy it, most of my family will be here and I plan to make a couple of dishes that my mom always made.  It is going to be fun, maybe a bit sad, definitely food filled and undoubtedly a day of memory making!

I had asked you the other day what kind of pies you would like to see in "MILE HIGH" form.  The usual suspects appeared, chocolate, coconut, etc.  I asked because I was dreaming about this mile high pumpkin cream pie.  While I admit, pumpkin pie is NOT my favorite thing about Thanksgiving, I do eat a piece.  It is practically unAmerican not to.  I put on twice as much whipped cream as their is pie and enjoy every bite.  I thought to myself, "self.....why can't you put the cream with the pumpkin, almost like the lime and the coconut and cut out the middle man"?  What makes MY mile high pies, mile high?  The filling, AND the slightly sweetened, hint of vanilla fresh whipped cream.  I don't care much for meringue on a pie, in fact, to be honest, I don't care for pie in general.  If a pie goes in the oven, I almost never would eat it.  If it has to be chilled, or contains the words, "French" and "Silk", I will wrestle small children to get a piece.  Pie has just never been my "thing".  I suppose I can blame it on the fact that I dislike fruit tremendously and almost all pies are fruit filled.  BINGO!

So while this may not technically be MILE HIGH, if you double the filling, it can be.  And I would be thrilled if you did that, or double the whipped cream, mount that stuff up so high you can like the top while standing!  Go ahead, DO IT!!

With that said, get this made, put it in your freezer, and take it out Thanksgiving morning.  Done.  Ahead.  YES!

Crust:
40 Nilla Wafers
10 graham cracker squares
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted
4 T white granulated sugar

Get our your food processor, toss in everything except your butter.  and pulverize!  You want almost a sand consistency.  Add in the butter and let it go until the mixture is that of wet sand and will stick together if you squeeze some in your hand.


Press into a deep(ish) 9 inch pie plate.  Using a measuring cup or a flat bottom drinking glass, press it into the bottom and side.  Refrigerate for 39 min to 1 hr.

FILLING:
1, 16oz (approx) can of PURE PUMPKIN (not Pumpkin Pie Filling)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. softened cream cheese
2. 3.4 oz boxes of instant vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In your standing mixer add in pumpkin, cinnamon, powdered sugar, vanilla and softened cream cheese.  Mix until combined.  Add in instant vanilla pudding and heavy whipping cream and whip on high until it becomes thickened and creamy.  (It will set up more in the fridge, but whip it long enough please, probably a good 3-4 minutes at least)  Pour into your crust and refrigerate 2 hours before topping with fresh whipped cream!\



Sweetened Whipping Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3-4 T powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip all ingredients until stiff peaks form.  Spread or pipe on to the pie.  Refrigerate until time to serve or freeze for 1 hour, and wrap well to stay frozen until the morning before serving!

ENJOY!





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fried Snicker Bites

Evenin' ya'll!

Hoping this finds you all well, and with fully tummies!   I am slowly but surely working my way back into the kitchen.  Isn't it ironic that I chose a time full of sweet treats?  Yea, well, I can't help what my mind wants!


I was inspired to make these after hearing a friend back east eating a dougnut with a Snickers in the middle!  I thought these would be easy, quick and freakin' awesome.

In case you wondered....I was right on all 3 counts.  Serve these warm, or room temp.  Please try one while they are still warm though.  You need to.  It should literally be on your bucket list!

Here we go!

1 can of refrigerator crescent rolls
12-20 Snicker Minis.  (depending on the amount of rolls, you will need 2 per roll)
1/4 cup melted chocolate chips (for garnish, option)
vegetable oil

Get about 2 inches of vegetable (or your oil of choice) in a medium pot.  While it is coming up to temperature (350 degrees F) let's get going on the rest.


Remove your crescent rolls from the container.  Separate them out.  Unwrap double the amount of Snicker bites as you have rolls as you will cut the rolls in half.  Now take your rolls, cut into 2 pieces, a bit more on the pointed end, and put a Snicker bite onto each one.  Pick it up and cover in the dough, roll in your hands until the ball is showing no chocolate and completely sealed, repeat with all of the ingredients.


When your oil is up to temperature, fry about 4 at a time.  It will literally take 30-60 seconds.  I like to keep mine moving around with my spider while they fry.  This helps them brown equally on all sides.



Remove to a paper towel lined dish and get on with the next bath!


This recipe is easily double, tripled or quadrupled.  I drizzled mine with a bit of melted chocolate, and some peanuts, but feel free to hit them with some powdered sugar and call it a day!

ENJOY!




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Copycat Kentucky Fried Chicken Gravy

Who doesn't love KFC mashed potatoes and gravy?  Just WHO?


I can remember my mom driving to a big town about an hour from where we lived and sometimes, if she had enough money should bring us a treat, fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy.  OH YEEESSS!  Those perfect whipped instant potatoes, (maybe they were real back then) formed into a ball, from that perfect ice cream scoop type contraption.  Velvety gravy ladled in all its peppery goodness on top.  YES!

I have been a mashed potatoes and gravy freak since the beginning of my time on this earth.  I was always very particular about my gravy.  It must not have milk, OMGOSH when my mom said she was making "milk gravy" I wanted to hurl.  I went through a phase of only butter on them and then I discovered what KFC actually did for the world, they made gravy for the world.  Yes..  Yes they did.  KFC created a world of gravy unlike any other.  And this is why I had to recreate it!

While this might not be EXXXXACTLY it, if you do it right, it is darn close and darn close my friends, is good enough for this gravy lovin' girl.  Is it for you?  Let me know!

3 T butter
3 T flour
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup beef stock
PINCH of salt
Pepper to taste

In a skillet add your butter.  Let it melt, and continue to stir, adding in the four.  Now, you must take the color a bit further than normal on this part.  Don't just let the raw flour taste cook off, let it get a bit dark, a little nutty, and fragrant.  You will need that flavor and color for your perfect gravy!  When it has cooked maybe 2 or 3 or 4 (yea I don't remember just go with it) minutes, add in your chicken and beef stock and whisk or stir until the lumps are smooth and the gravy is bubbling away.  Let it thicken and taste for salt and add pepper, my GOOOODNESS please add some pepper.

Pour this delightful golden love over your perfect prepared potatoes and WEEP!  Yes, I said WEEP!

ENJOY!



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Spaghetti and Meatball STUFFED Calzones

I feel a carb coma coming on just reading the title.  How about you?  Do you know who had this idea?  I will give you one guess..........wait for it.............wait for it.............GEORGE!  Admittedly though, when he suggested I try this, my mouth salivated like a rabid dog all the way to the grocery store.


I am a bit addicted to spaghetti and meatballs.......  Since my childhood when my made it every single birthday because I would request it, I have loved it.  We would sometimes make spaghetti and meatball sandwiches with the garlic bread the next day.  This reminded me of that!

I used prepackaged items simply because this was a last minute request, and so yea.....I cheated.  Majorly cheated.  I will link my meatballs, marinara and pizza dough recipes below if you want to do all homemade. 

12 oz spaghetti, cooked
24 oz marinara sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
frozen meatballs that you have thawed (about 5 per calzone)
2 cans of store bought pizza dough
olive oil
oregano

Boil your pasta, drain and let cool.  In a large bowl combine the pasta, with the marinara sauce.  Mix until combined and set aside. 

Here is where you decide if you are making 4 LARGE calzones or 8 smaller.  The choice is  yours, the only thing it affects is how many meatballs you use or how you portion out the spaghetti mixture.  Either do it in 8 or 4.

Unroll and cut your dough to the size you have decided on.  Place your spaghetti on first, in equal portions.  Next, add on your cheese.  Let it RAAAIIINNNN cheese friends! (as you can see we made 4 huge ones)


Then go the meatballs!  I cut them in half!


Now, fold it over and press the edges down to seal.  You can use a fork to press down the edges to seal better!

Place onto a baking sheet you have sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and brush on evenly.  You can sprinkle on some oregano if you like!


Bake according to the pizza dough package directions.  Right after you take them out, sprinkle the top with a little Parmesan if you like!  Let sit about 5 minutes before serving!

ENJOY!

RECIPES for homemade ingredients!
Pizza Dough
Meatballs and Sauce

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fresh Pico de Gallo

Farmer's market means, fresh veggies and herbs!  My husband and I took advantage of the fall like weather and loaded up our dog and off we went!  It was the perfect day at the market.  I even tried goat cheese (again) still don't like it.  Found some fabulous local vendors and some great treats!


I was feeling pico in my soul, so we picked up everything I needed.  Oh the joy of fresh veggies as opposed to the icky stuff in the store.  Take advantage while you still can!!!

This recipe seems to easy to even share, but I am sharing it anyway!  I never miss the chance to make some fresh pico and just wanted to share how I do it!

While I enjoy the combination of white onion and green onions, please, use just one or the other if you like.  Cilantro is another "to taste" ingredient.  We have discussed this on social media before, it seems people love it or hate it, there isn't much of an in between.  I VERY finely minced mine so a tablespoon is perfect, if you like more, get on with it!

2 cups finely diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno FINELY minced (remove veins and seeds unless you want to shoot fire out of your....whatever)
1/4 cup finely minced white onion
1 green onion chopped
1 T cilantro (not my fav, so add more if you like)
1/2 of a lime
1 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined.  I used 1 tsp of salt and then ended up adding a WEE bit more.

This pico is so refreshing, so flavorful and should definitely make all of my healthy eaters happy! Very easy to double or triple for a party, and it will keep in the fridge a few days, so make tons, it is a delicious snack!  I think I will use the rest on some well seasoned grilled chicken breasts!  I am down for healthy AND this delicious and I hope you love it too!

This will get stronger onion and jalapeno flavor the longer it sets.  You could let the tomatoes drain before mixing in other ingredients, I simply use a slotted spoon to scoop it out into a bowl for eating!  

ENJOY!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Oven Baked Cinnamon Toast

......cinnamon toast.  Not many other smells remind me of my moms kitchen like it does.  Saturday mornings, breakfast before the infamous "to do" list.  My mom had a bowl of cinnamon sugar on the counter.  If I remember it was white, with a lid and it had baby blue and yellow flowers on it.  Sibs, am I right?


Well, my husband has the same memories.  The difference?   His mom made his toast, AND she did it in the oven to boot!  Not to long ago he said to me, "I should totally make you my mom's cinnamon toast in the oven".  Well, as a cinnamon anything crazy lady, my eyes perked up like the ears of dog eyeballing a burger.  Well, YES you should my darlin'!  Uh huh........screeeeeeeeech.  What he meant to say was this, "I am so hungry for my mom's cinnamon toast.  If I tell you how to make it, can you make it for me and serve it to me upon my royal platter"?  Well sure, I would do about anything for my king!  I was so glad I did, not only was this delicious and SOOO crazy easy, the look on his face when he ate it was priceless!

So tell me if I was raised under a rock or if you, like me, had never heard of cinnamon toast made like this before!  When you take the like, oh I don't know, 5 minutes it takes to make this and you eat it, you are going to understand the goodness.  The key is LOTS of butter says my husband.  Of course his key to ANY goodness is LOTS of butter.

I did 8 slices, these measurements are loose but, you aren't going to mess it up, trust me!

8 slices of bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  On a baking sheet, arrange your bread.  Butter each piece LIBERALLY.  Divide the brown sugar up between the slices of bread.  It may not take all of it or it may, depends on heavy you go!  When they are all buttered and sprinkled with brown sugar, take your cinnamon and just sprinkle the tops.  I give no measurement because, well, I don't like to put limits on cinnamon like that!  Slide into the oven for  8-10 minutes or until the brown sugar is melted and bubbly!

I dare you to try to just eat one piece.  Yea, uh huh, I dare you.

ENJOY!  Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!!




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hot Cordon Bleu Sandwiches

Chicken Cordon Bleu......

I love this stuff.  My husband makes the best, which is a recipe here on the website. (I will link at the end).  I was at the grocery store a couple of days ago and found a huge mega section of fresh bakery items on clearance.  You know what I did, right?  You guessed it, swooped up a bunch of rolls and buns and tossed them in the freezer.


I have been on a bit of a sandwich kick lately.  I just would be happy with a sandwich for every meal.  Perhaps it is the fresh tomatoes I can top each one with, or maybe it is the unfortunate carb addiction I have.  Either way, if my husband has to eat another sandwich he will probably fall over!  In order to disguise said sandwiches, and being hungry for the cordon and the bleu, I decided to make one of my favorite dishes into a a hot sandwich.  Ask me how soon you should make these.  Go ahead, ask me.

You can't get to the kitchen fast enough!  These are SO very good.  In fact, they turned out 100 times better than my best expectations  I can't wait for you to try them, all cheesy, and toasty and resting right next to a bowl of soup!

Fall, it's the most wonderful timmmeeeeee of the yeeeaaaarrrr!

3 large chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces (or strips)
1 T. Italian seasoning
3 T. butter
2 heaping T. flour
2 cups milk
6 oz. Swiss cheese
pinch of salt
1 lb thin sliced deli ham
6 rolls of your choice

In a large skillet, add in chicken and Italian seasoning, stir and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through.  Set aside.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan melt the butter, add flour and let it cook for about 1 minute, stirring often.  Add in milk, salt and whisk.  Let the mixture begin to simmer and thicken, then add in your cheese.  Mix until completely melted and remove from heat.

Line a baking sheet with foil.  Lay the rolls out and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Place in the preheated oven for 3-5 minutes until toasted.  Remove.


Place a spoonful of chicken on the roll, top with 2-3 pieces of ham, cover the top with a ladle of swiss cheese sauce.  Do this with all of the sandwiches.  Place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with a delicious Garden Caprese Salad!

ENJOY!
If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy:
Chicken Cordon Bleu

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lime Cheesecake Dip

As I sit here writing..........  the same 3 neighborhood dogs have been "talking" to each other going on about 5 hours.  I love dogs, I love dogs more than most people, but for the love of the dog pound, can we get these things to SHUT UP?!?!

I had to get it out to someone, and you guys were here.  And so it goes!


I don't know about you, but when I get asked to bring "something", "somewhere" last minute, I panic.  I seriously have 50 things in my arsenal that are for situations just like these, so why do I panic?  "Have I taken this before"?  :Will anybody like it"?  "Do I have all the ingredients".  Those kind of thoughts run through my head.  Because let me tell you something, I dislike going to the store.  I want to make the list, and have an expert pick my items up and deliver, then I need someone else to put them away.  Again, distracted.  UGH these dogs!


Here is a simple, 4 ingredient dip, that you can whip up in ohhh....let's say 3 minutes, if you have to plug in your hand mixer.  Please, serve it with some honey graham sticks, they are the perfect balance.   OR, you could do nilla wafers, or, whatever tickles your fancy.

2, 8oz bricks of cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 tsp vanilla extract

Add all ingredients to a bowl and get at it with your hand mixer.  Mix until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving, longer is better.

SEE!  Now, get your things together and get off to where you are taking this to, and throw kisses to your public as they swoon over your dip!

ENJOY!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Anna's Special Request: Hot Brown Copycat from Chik-Fil-A (Dwarf House)

This is a VERY special request.  I have been educated in so many ways with this recipe and the person who requested it!

There are so many of you that I have had the pleasure of "meeting" through messages, and a couple of you in person at Trader Joes!  You are all special, you all rock my socks off and without you, Chefwannabe would be pretty stinkin' boring.


So, last week-ish, I get a request.  "Can you make the Chik-Fil-A (Dwarf House) version of the Hot Brown"?  She continues to explain why she can't get one, "I am unable to leave my home due to cancer treatment and it is the one recipe I can NOT find online".  We discuss the dish, what is in it, how it tastes, how it looks, etc.  I ask her to describe every detail of it that she can remember.  Then we go on to discuss life, and her treatment, what kind of cancer she has, family, meeting our husbands, etc.  We became fast friends and learned we had a few things in common!  She said I could share her photo and so I want you to meet my new friend, Anna!  Gorgeous, inside and out! 

Here we are chatting it up and I am thinking, she is the one going through these trials, treatments and icky stuff, and she is making ME laugh!  In the short time we have known each other, it is clear she is a fireball, and her such a good heart, and sense of humor!

So, off I went to attempt to make this lady the dish she desperately misses!  Boy was I livin' on a prayer, I had NO idea other than what she said, and the photo of the dish what I was doing!  The good news is, I think I got it, she hasn't had it yet,  but my husband loved it as well!  Obviously unless you go grab nuggets from Chik-Fil-A, you aren't going to have the EXACT same taste but one thing I HIGHLY recommend is that you deep fry your nuggets or make homemade batter dipped ones.  I just used frozen, I wanted to get this knocked out as soon as possible for her.  But if you don't deep fry they will get a bit soggy and, in my opinion, not good.

Here we go!  This is not a traditional hot brown like the Kentucky Hot Brown, it is just a version from the Dwarf House she loves!  This recipe will serve 4 regular servings or 2 of the restaurant size servings! HA!

4 T butter
3 T flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
PINCH of salt
16-20 chicken nuggets
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 slices of bacon
buttered toast for the garnish

Prepare your nuggets and set aside.  The rest won't take long so they will be fine and the sauce will heat them back up!

For the sauce, melt the butter in a small pot.  When it is melted add the flour, and let it cook while you stir it for 30-45 seconds.  Add in your chicken stock and whisk until smooth and it begins to thicken.  When it is thickened add in Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth and creamy.

The plating is where this all comes together.
1.  Place chicken nuggets on your plate.
2.  Ladle over the top some of your sauce.
3.  Sprinkle cheese down the center.
4.  You can microwave for about 20 seconds if you want the cheese to be completely melted on top.
5. Place bacon strips in the center.
6.  Add butter toast points all around.

This was awesome!  I made one large plate that my husband and I shared.  I hope it is exactly what you are wanting Anna, but if nothing else, it is an awesome treat of a dinner!

I hope you give this a try.  Let me know what you think and if you have had it from the Dwarf House, if it is even close to the real thing!

ENJOY and please keep Anna in your thoughts, your prayers!  Please send her love, light and healing vibes!

I think taking time to make my Batter Dipped Chicken Nuggets would take this OVER the moon!



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Egg Roll Stuffed Chicken

Sounds delicious doesn't it?  It is!  There is a hot topic for me involved in this recipe.  It is the whole dark meat vs. white meat, thing.


Let's just talk chicken for a minute.  By the way, I wish I had chickens, although I am scared of them if one bit me, I could just eat it.  How bad can that turn out?  Not really, the reality is I would name them try to dress them, and hug them VERY much against their will.  They would be in family photos and it would be way over the top.  That is how I am with animals.  I would never be able to live with myself knowing that my chicken son "Chuck" was on the dinner table.  I just couldn't.  Wait, this isn't the chicken conversation I wanted to have.

The conversation I wanted to have involved, white, dark, bone in, boneless, skin on, skinless, etc.....  Everyone has a very distinct preference it seems.  I used to prefer just white boneless meat until boneless thighs came along, and since I grew up and started cooking, I realize you can't beat the flavor of a piece of bone in chicken.  Regardless of what you prefer, please trust me when I tell you that just because it is white mean does NOT mean it has to be dry!  I hear so often, "Oh I don't like white meat, it is to dry".  That would mean it was overcooked.  Why is it that some people will overcook the CRAP out of anything they can get in an oven or on a grill?  Thermometers are our friends!  The point is, this recipe does call for boneless chicken.  I used thighs as we love them but you choose what you would like.  Either way it will be healthy, and tasty, and served on a bed of rice (fried rice) you will have people thinking you are a culinary legend!

Here is what you will need
7-9 boneless skinless thighs or breasts.  (Pounded thin or butterfly the breasts to easier rolling)
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1, 1lb bag of shredded coleslaw mix with carrots
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried ginger
3 T soy sauce
1/4 tsp. white pepper (regular pepper will also do)
 2 T. additional vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  If you are using chicken breasts, either butterfly them open or pound them thinner for easier rolling.  I used thighs and this made 8-9 but using breasts, go with 7 or so.  Set aside.

In a large high sided skillet or wok, heat up your 1 tsp of vegetable oil.  Add in the cabbage mix, and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Add in the rest of the ingredients, ginger and soy sauce.


Stir to combine and continue stirring until the cabbage is soft and reduced by half.  Turn off heat and let it cool completely.


Place a large spoonful of mixture into the center of each piece of chicken and roll it up.  Use toothpicks if you need them to stay together better.


Place seam side down on a baking sheet.  Do with with all of the chicken.  Now, use a paper towel and wipe out your pan, place your 2 tablespoons of oil and let it get hot again.  Place 2 or 3 pieces of chicken at a time, seam side down in the oil and let them brown for approximately 3 minutes on each side.


Just get some good color on them and then place back onto the baking sheet.  When you are done, bake them for 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Serve on some rice for a tasty dinner!!!  Check out the recipe suggestions below for other options to go with this meal!

ENJOY!


If you like this recipe, you might like....
Egg Drop Soup
Chicken Spring Rolls
Wonton Soup

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Peanut Butter Bites

I will admit, I am a typical foodie, food blogger, etc.  If I see something on T.V. or in the store that looks delicious, I get right to the kitchen and try to recreate it myself.  This has happened a good handful of times......at least.  I saw these peanut butter bites advertised on T.V.  This was actually quite some time ago.  I was hungry for peanut butter the other day and suddenly I remembered that I never tried to make them, or rather make MY version of them.  I got to work, and although I am not sure if they are exactly the same, in my world, they are the clouds of peanut butter heaven!


These are so easy, and you should totally get your kids or grand kids in the kitchen with you.  Nieces, nephews, cousins, just get them involved.   Who cares of they don't end up the same size, I am a grown woman and mine didn't! Who cares if they get dirty, there are these new fangled things called washing machines!  Who cares if they lick the peanut butter off before making a new one, germs are healthy!


Find a little person who can help you and have a blast!

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup rice crispy cereal
3/4 powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips
vegetable oil

In a bowl combine peanut butter, cereal, and powdered sugar.  Mix until completely combined.  Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes.  Use a tablespoon measure and roll mixture into balls.  Place on foil or parchment lined baking sheet.  When all of the dough has been rolled into balls, place into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Place peanut butter chips into a bowl and melt in microwave.  Use 30 second increments until all melted.  If your mixture is slightly thick, add a few drops of vegetable oil to loosen it up and make it perfect for dipping.

Using a fork to help you, dip the peanut butter balls one at a time, use a fork to lift out of the melted peanut butter and tap on the edge or let it drain.  Place back on to the baking sheet.  When all of the peanut butter balls have been dipped, place back in the fridge until set.

ENJOY!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Easy Country Sausage Gravy

Hello!!  Long time no see!  You wouldn't believe it if I told you I feel like I am just now REALLY getting my mojo back after the loss of my mom and brother.  It has taken time, and it will probably take more but, it is what is best for me, and makes me happy.  Thank you for your undying patience, kindness and compassion during this time for me.


Breakfast for dinner!  Truth be told, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  Mostly because I love eggs.  I mean, I REALLY love eggs.  My husband and I were grocery shopping and I found a good sale on some breakfast sausage and he instantly said, "OHHHHHH please make sausage gravy and biscuits".  Well what kind of wife would I be if I didn't make it for him???  I make it pretty regularly, I don't know, I just kind of thought it was something everyone could make.  Truth is, I think someone will be able to benefit from the recipe.  I always use half and half.  Milk isn't rich enough and heavy cream is just to much, half and half makes a beautiful smooth, creamy, dreamy gravy!  I also add butter, because butter belongs in breakfast food!  Hey!  I didn't make the rules, but whoever did....God BLESS them!


I made a video to go with this post.  I will post here.  Please hit SUBSCRIBE on my YouTube channel, I would love to have you there!!


Side note:
I am so ready for winter.  That's all.

1 lb breakfast sausage
2 T. butter (divided)
5 T.  flour
2 cups half and half (1 qt)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown your breakfast sausage until completely cooked.  Add in 1T. butter and flour.  Stir until the butter is melted and the flour is no longer visible.  Add in your half and half slowly, constantly stirring.  Salt and pepper to taste at this point.  I did add a couple of grinds of salt, while the sausage is a salty, for me, it didn't lend enough salt for the additional ingredients.  I like lots of pepper too!  It will take a couple of minutes to come to a boil, but keep stirring.  When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer until smooth, thick and creamy!  Add in the last of the butter and stir it in until melted 

As you can see, I served this on biscuits, but love it just over toast as well.  With a side of scrambled eggs, it was our "breakfast for dinner"!

ENJOY!


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cheese Stuffed Shells

 Here we are again!  I hope your day has been great, and happy!  I love this time when we get together to share food.  I especially enjoy sharing family favorites with you.  It is hard to not share them all at once, and spread them out.  This is one I have never shared, and it is just your everyday run of the mill stuffed shells.  My family loves them and this is what I would consider a quick weeknight meal. If you are a meal planner/prepper, have your sauce made, shells boiled and all of your grated cheeses put together in one large resealable bag.  When the night comes you want to make it, it is not much more than just assembly.


This makes about 20 shells.  You can only cook that many or cook them all and eat the leftovers with butter and salt and pepper!  That is what my husband lives for when I make extra pasta.

You will notice I use what some of you may consider a lot of salt.  I don't find that the saltiness of Parmesan cheese hits the same notes as actual salt seasoning in a dish.  I find ricotta needs plenty of seasoning and that is just what I do.  When you divide that salt out among a large casserole, I think you will live.  If you want to omit it, please do, or cut it back, please do that as well.  You have to adjust things to what is good for your family.  I won't mind, in fact, I will welcome it !  Lets get started on this basic stuffed shell recipe that your family will love!

Oh wait!  You can also shred some provolone to use in this.  I saw some of those cheese blends at the store include a provolone/mozzarella combination....um, YUM.  OK, now we are ready.


1/2-1 full box of jumbo shells, cooked per package directions
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz.  shredded mozzarella cheese (hold out 1/4 cup)
8 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (hold out 1/4 cup)
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 cups marinara sauce (divided)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 T. sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cook shells according to box direction, drain and run under cold water until they are completely cool.  Let sit and drain while you mix up the cheese filling.  In a bowl combine, ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.


Mix to combine.  Use about 1/2 cup of your marinara (just plain) to dump in the bottom of the pan.  Spread it around as it will keep the shells from sticking.  Fill your shells with a teaspoon.  This mixture will fill about 20 shells.  You can cook the whole package or just the 20.  Fill and place into the baking dish.


Continue until your filling is gone.  In the same bowl as the filling (hey I am not about using as many dishes as possible ya know?) Pour in the rest of the marinara and the diced tomatoes UN drained.  Add in sugar and stir.  Carefully pour over the shells as evenly as possible. 


Spread out the sauce with a spoon, and use the cheese you held back to sprinkle on top!  Now, confession time..........  I used like, a lot more mozz.  The photo below show only Parmesan but I decided I wanted more mozzarella on top!


ENJOY my friends!