Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

My oh my was this ever good...good for you?  Probably NOT!  You may be asking why is it called a cheesecake pie.  I figure it's because there really isn't a large cheesecake layer, a lot of it is the caramelized apples, like a pie.  So that's why I figure they called it what they call it!  Today was the hubby's birthday and he requested cheesecake.  After looking over my cheesecakes I had on my to try list, I decided on this one.  I scored big time :)  It's not the quickest thing to put together, but so dang yummy!  It comes from Annie's Eats.  Enjoy this...just not too often or you may not be able to button up your pants anymore :)

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

For the crust:
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (I used cinnamon ones)
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon (left this out because I used cinnamon grahams)
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½-¾ cup caramel
1 cup chopped pecans
For the apple filling:
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the cheesecake:
8 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the topping:
¾ cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
¼-½ cup caramel
Chopped pecans
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.  Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans.  Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.
To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling.  Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell.  Set aside.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F.  To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.   Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust.  Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.)  Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer.  Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.  Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired.  Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes

I saw these last year on so many blogs...never got around to making them.  This year, I decided to crank out a few before we go on vacation here in a few days. They are so fun, and they are dang tasty, too :)  They would be really cute for a little kid's birthday party...I may be making them again for little man's b-day next month!  I found this recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything.

1 white cake mix
2 eggs
1 C sour cream
1/2 C milk
1/3 C vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on med-high speed for 3 minutes.

Divide batter according to how many colors you are using. I used 5 colors and it worked out to a little over 1 cup for each color.

Use food coloring to color batter to desired intensity. Wilton brand gel colors have the brightest colors and wont thin your batter. They can be found at Walmart or Michaels.

To get a layered stripe like I used, you'll want to put a spoonful of each color in the cupcake one at a time. The batter is thick, so it won't spread on it's own. A great tip is to set out a little bowl of water where you're working. Dip your finger in the water and then gently spread the batter out. The water will make it so the batter doesn't stick to your fingers.

Another tip is to use a measuring spoon and some water to measure out how many teaspoons/tablespoons are going to fit in your cupcake. Then divide that by how many colors you have so you know how much of each color to use for each cupcake. For my 5 colors, it worked out perfectly with 2 t of each color in each cupcake. So I put in 2 t of blue in the bottom of each cupcake and spread it out with my finger. Then I put in 2 t of green on top of that, then yellow, etc.

Bake them according to the package directions, until a toothpick comes out dry. Makes around 15 cupcakes.

Frost with your favorite frosting. If you had to use store bought like me, fancy it up by putting the frosting in a ziplock bag. Cut of the corner of the side of the bag and you have an instant frosting decorating bag.


3 sticks butter (1 ½ cups), room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
5 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (or just use all vanilla extract)
Dash of salt

Add butter and powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.   

Add the coconut extract, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix until combined. 

Gradually add milk (you may not need all of it) and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Add rainbow colored sprinkles if desired.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Smothered Southwest Stuffed Chicken

If you ask me what my favorite food is, hands-down it will be mexican/TexMex type foods.  I love my food with a little heat!  This one has been on my  "to try" list for quite a while now, and it is!  It kind of reminds me of an enchilada, only no tortilla.  These were quite yummy, next time I may try some pepperjack cheese to kick things up a notch.  

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened
1 (4 oz.) can green chilies, drained

2 Tbsp minced garlic
4 oz. reduced fat Monterrey Jack cheese, cut into slices

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs or seasoned breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fat-free sour cream
2 cups canned enchilada sauce
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
chopped green onions

Spread each piece of chicken with the green chilies and garlic. Top each breast with a slice of cheese and roll up. Secure with a toothpick if needed. Combine breadcrumbs, chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Dip each chicken roll in sour cream and roll in crumb mixture. Chill before baking, time permitted.

To Prepare and Eat Now: Place breasts, seam side down, in a baking dish. Preheat oven to 400. Mix enchilada sauce with corn and pour over the chicken. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is done. Sprinkle with green onions before serving.

To Freeze: Wrap individually or together in a baking dish, label, and freeze. Recommended freezing time: up to 3 months.

To Prepare After Freezing: Remove from freezer to defrost. Prepare as above. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cheddar Jalapeno Corn Bread

I was trying to find a mexican side dish that was not rice, and this is what I came across.  It is moist, and has a "kick" to it, which I am a big fan of :)  The recipe comes from Miss Ina Garten.  I will be making this again, like I said, it's a good alternative to your typical side dish of rice, and would be excellent with things like

Mexican Chicken with Jalapeno Popper Sauce

Chicken Crockpot Taco Soup

Southwest Shepherd's Pie

Bear's White Bean Chicken Chili

Pepperjack Potato Soup

Cheddar Jalapeno Corn Bread

3 cups flour 
1 cup yellow cornmeal 
1/4 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons baking powder 
2 teaspoons salt 
2 cups milk 
3 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup sliced scallions, divided
3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until most of the lumps are dissolved. Do not overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated cheddar cheese, about 1/3 cup scallions and the jalapenos.  Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. 

Chicken and Chiles

There are a few recipes similar to this I have on my list to try, and I decided to give this one a whirl first.  It comes from On My Menu.  It was good, not wonderful as is.  I am posting it because I think it would make a wonderful burrito filling down the road.  For some reason, just putting it over rice wasn't enough for me!  It had good flavor, and like I said in a burrito with some guac, cheese, sour cream, and would be delish!

-2-3 chicken breasts cubed 
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles
- 1 tsp. chili pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- hot cooked rice
Toppings: sour cream, cheese, sliced avocado

- Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Coat a large non-stick frying pan with no-stick spray. Add the chicken and cook over medium heat for five minutes or until the pieces begin to brown. Set aside until the chicken is cool enough to handle.
- In the same pan, combine the oil, onions, garlic, and 2 T. of the broth. Cook stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes until the onions are soft.
- Add the tomato sauce, beans and remaining broth to the pan. Stir to mix well. Add the chiles, chili powder, cumin and reserved chicken. Bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. or until the chicken is tender and the liquid has thickened.
- Serve over rice and top as desired!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cranberry Orzo

Another one from the Canyon Ranch.  Orzo is basically a rice shaped pasta, and cooks up quick.  I loved the addition of cranberries, it was perfect with the Chicken with Orange Marmalade and some steamed broccoli.  So if you are looking for a new side dish, this one comes highly recommended!

(This recipe doesn't make very much, so I doubled it.)

3/4 tsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. diced yellow onions
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2/3 c. dried orzo pasta
3/4 c. chicken stock (I needed to add more because the orzo was not fully cooked)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
pinch of pepper
3 Tbsp. dried cranberries

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onions and garlic until onions are transluscent.  Add the orzo and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.

Add the chicken stock and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid is almost absorbed.  Romove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and cranberries.

Chicken with Orange Marmalade

A few months back I went to Baltimore to watch my Aunt's kids while whe went to the Canyon Ranch with her hubby down in Florida.  It is basically a healthy based resort, offering lots of healthy food, and lots of exercise based activities from what I can gather.  It sounds awesome!  In any case, she brought me home a cookbook from there, which is filled with lots of yummy recipes, this one included.  It is so simple, but so good, and good for you :)  The description of the dish says it is a favorite of their guests, so it had to be good!  We did as it suggested and served it with Cranberry Orzo.

1/4 c. orange marmalade
2 tsp. lemon juice
four 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Stir together orange marmalade and lemon juice in small bowl. Set aside.

Season chicken breasts with the salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Sear chicken for 1 mintue on each side.

Transfer chicken to a baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes or until internal temp reads 165 degrees.

Serve with 1 Tbsp. of orange marmalade mixture.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Banana Smoothie

I have been without a blender for 6 months...I'm not sure how  managed that!  I was so excited when we finally got one and I could start making my fruit smoothies again...they are always my favorite for breakfast.  This one was pretty good, although I love this smoothie recipe the best!  This one comes from Real Mom Kitchen.  It is a great (and healthy) way to get rid of some of those bananas browning on your counter :)

1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup ice (I used less because my banana was frozen and I didn't need this much)
1 banana (I used frozen)
1/2 tsp almond extract (I thought this was too strong...I'll use half this amount next time)
1 tsp. sugar (you may need a little more if the banana isn’t sweet enough)

Combine ingredient in blender and blend until smooth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Skinny No Bake Cheesecake

Love cheesecake, hate the calories?  Well my friends, I have found the perfect solution for you!  I have been loving this site called Skinny Taste, which has many traditional recipes, only the "skinny" version.  This cheesecake doesn't taste "skinny", but only has 239 calories per slice (another one of the nice features, the calories are calculated for you).  It is lighter than a traditional cheesecake and is simply awesome!  Give this a try with some fresh fruit, you won't be sorry :)

8 oz Cool Whip Free
8 oz 1/3 less fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese
9 inch reduced fat Graham Cracker Crust
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

In a large bowl, whip cream cheese, lemon and sugar for a few minutes until fluffy. Add Cool Whip and whip until smooth. Spoon mixture into pie crust and chill for a few hours, until firm.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spinach, Bacon, and Ham Quiche

So this was my first experience making quiche.  It turned out quite tasty :)  This recipe came from Dish Delish, and it is awesome.  Being my first time, I didn't let it set long enough before cutting it and thought it wasn't done because it looked a little liquidy.  After letting it sit for about 15-20 minutes it was perfect.  I definitely halved this one and only made one quiche for me and the hubsters tongiht.  He liked it as well, probably because it is packed full of meat!

½ lb. bacon
10 oz. package spinach
1 c. sour cream (I used light)
salt and pepper to taste
2 unbaked pie crusts (I just went with store refrigerated store bought ones to save time)
1 onion, minced
½ lb. diced mushrooms (left these out)
2 c. diced ham
16 oz. Colby Jack or sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. Parmesan cheese
8 eggs
1 c. half and half (I used fat-free)
1 Tbsp. parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown bacon, drain, crumble, and set aside. Saute spinach in bacon drippings. Drain. Saute onions. Add mushrooms. Stir in ham and bacon. Combine spinach, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Add meat mixture. Mix in cheese. Divide into each pie crust.

Mix eggs, half and half, and parsley. Pour over pies. Place pies in oven and bake 45-50 minutes or until tops are puffed and golden brown. Let stand 5-10 minutes. Each pie serves 8.

**If reheating, cover pie with foil and bake at 325 for about 20-30 minutes, checking frequently to make sure it's not getting too brown. **

Friday, March 4, 2011

Meatball Stromboli

I have loved making strombolis!  They are so easy, and so versatile as to what you can put in them.  We had the missionaries over again last night, and this is what we ate.  They ate lots of them, so they must have liked them!  Like I said before, my Father-in-Law told me how to make strombolis, and there is a great tutorial on how to make them here.

Rhoades frozen white bread loaves
Frozen pre-cooked meatballs (about 12 per stromboli)
1 c. mozzarella per stromboli (I like to 50/50 mozzarella/provolone mix at Sam's Club)
Italian seasonings you prefer (I used a McCormick Italian grinder)
Pesto (1-2 Tbsp. per stromboli)
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Let bread dough rise until doubled per package directions (usually takes me 4-5 hours). Cook meatballs per package directions (without sauce directions) and slice in half.  Roll each into 12 X 15 inch rectangles. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella down the center of the bread. Season as desired.  Arrange meatballs over cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan and pesto. Fold 2 sides over toppings, tucking ends and sealing seams. Repeat with remaining loaves of bread and ingredients. Place seam side down on greased baking sheets. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with additional Parmesan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with pizza sauce.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chipotle Corn Dip

I know I've mentioned that I am drawn to any recipe that has buffalo in the name.  I am also just as obsessed with those that have chipotle in the name.  This dip is great!  The kick of the peppers combined with the sweet corn...YUM!  My mom got this recipe from one of the lovely ladies she works with and shared it with me :)

Chipotle Corn Dip
From: the ladies at the OAC

2 cans corn (can use 1 white and 1 yellow)
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 onion, chopped fine (I use red, raw yellow onions are yucky!)
chipotle peppers (as many as you want. The more, the spicier...I used 2 plus some extra adobo.  I love spice!)
1 c. shredded cheese
2 Tbsp. cilantro chopped

Mix all ingredients. Allow to chill for several hours and keep refrigerated.

Pesto Parmesan Chicken

I am a sucker for pesto, and chicken is my meat of choice, so this was right up my ally!  I saw this on my friend's menu plan for the week and knew immediately I had to try it, too!  It comes from the Progresso Foods website.  This was my first time checking their site out, and there are a few things that look really tasty :)  This chicken is moist and has AMAZING flavor!  The only downside, it didn't get as crispy as I would have liked, I probably put too much of the pesto mixture on it!

Pesto Parmesan Chicken
From:  Progresso Foods 

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb)
3 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup Progresso® plain panko crispy bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese
Fresh basil leaves, if desired

Heat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Between pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper, place each chicken breast smooth side down; gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/2-inch thick.

In shallow dish, mix together pesto and mayonnaise. In another shallow dish mix together bread crumbs and cheese. Dip chicken into pesto mixture then dip in panko mixture. Place on baking sheet.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (165°F) and coating is golden brown. Garnish with basil.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

I've been branching out lately and trying a lot of new things.  Neither Nate nor I had ever had spaghetti squash, for one reason or another.  I loved it, he was okay with it, and surprisingly my 2 year old ate it (he has a serious aversion to veggies, haven't got him to eat one in probably a year!).  My 2 year old is especially fond of pesto, and I'm sure that's the only reason he did, but whatever works, right?!  This recipe comes from Home Cooking.

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup pesto sauce
4 ounces smoked or plain mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To cook spaghetti squash, I cut in half lengthwise (it takes some serious muscle!), drizzled olive oil over the cut side, and placed it cut-side down on a cookie sheet.  Cook at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until tender.  Use your fork and shred squash down its length.

Place skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil and cooked spaghetti squash. Stir in pesto with a fork. When spaghetti squash is heated through, add mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and stir. When cheese begins to melt, remove from heat and serve hot.