Sunday, April 29, 2012

Coconut Cream Fruit Dip

This weekend we got together with friends to relive our cruise experience with our friends.  We had a yummy menu prepared, each item was something we ate on the trip and LOVED.  These were things like yummy tender meat, pickled onions, phenomenal beans and rice, tres leches cake, bread pudding, and my contribution....lots of fruit!

To go along with my yummy fruit, I thought I'd make a new fruit dip containing creme of coconut, which I've never bought before.  It is awesome!  I've seen some drink recipes with this in it, and I'll be trying those soon :)

Coconut Cream Fruit Dip

4 oz cream cheese
1/2 (15oz) can Cream of Coconut (Not coconut milk! Find this in the aisle with the margarita mix & other mixers.)
1/2 (8oz) tub Cool Whip

Whip the cream cheese with the cream of coconut in a stand mixer until all lumps are gone.  Remove paddle, & fold in cool whip.
Serve with fruit or graham crackers.

Recipe Source:  Dessert Now, Dinner Later

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dominican Republic (DR) Beans and Rice

We recently returned from a trip to the Southern Caribbean.  In Puerto Rico I was able to sample some authentic beans and rice from 2 yummy local restaurants (Mi Casita and Bebos).  They were AMAZING to say the least.  I decided I needed to try some for myself.  Although these are not quite as good as what we had, they were really good with some smoked sausage and fulfilled my craving.  

DR Beans and Rice

2 cans light kidney beans
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 cube chicken stock
1/2 t. chopped parsley
1/2 t. thyme leaves
1 T. chopped cilantro
1 T. tomato sauce 
1 T. oil
1/2 t. minced garlic
1 pinch of oregano
Salt and water

Heat oil in pot and add oregano, onion, garlic, celery, parsley, cilantro and thyme.

Stir and add 2 T. water. When the water has almost evaporated add the chicken stock and 2 more T. water, stir.

Add the beans and then add enough water to cover them. Let them reach a boil and then mash the beans over heat.

Continue to let boil at medium heat until it reaches a creamy consistency. Adjust salt to taste. Serve over rice.

Recipe Source: On My Menu

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tortellini Summer Salad

I am so ready for some summertime BBQs.  I love having potlucks with friends and family this time of year...they are the best!  This salad is yummy AND it helped me use up some ingredients that were about to go bad.  I love it!  I used some lite Ceasar dressing, and it was great.

Tortellini Summer Salad

4-6 chicken breasts (cubed & soaked in Zesty Italian Dressing)
48 oz. Cheese Tortellini
1 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped
1 cup Sliced Olives
1 cup Artichoke Hearts, chopped
2 cups Baby Spinach

Mix all together in a large bowl & toss with your favorite Caesar Dressing.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*Just a suggestion...I waited to put in the spinach until just before serving.  Also, I added half the dressing immediately and refrigerated.  I added more right before serving as the noodles soak up a lot of the dressing.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Our Recipe Club

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Crock Pot Taco Chicken

Yep.  More chicken tacos!  I love them, and they are so great for a busy night's dinner.  I love the crock pot headed into the summer heating up the house, and the results are always amazing!  This version was as equally good as the Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos we had a few weeks ago.  Try them with your favorite toppings, they are great!

Crockpot Taco Chicken

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I just throw mine in frozen)
1 packet taco seasoning
16 oz jar of your favorite salsa
1 can cheddar cheese soup

Place frozen chicken breasts in crock pot.  Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken, then pour salsa and soup over top.  Cook on high for 4 hours (or on low for 8 hours).  Shred chicken and place back in sauce to soak up all the juices.  Serve in taco shells with your favorite fixings!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

 The hubsters has been away on a dental rotation these past few weeks, and on his last day in the office he wanted to take a treat for the staff as a thank you.  Keeping with my Spring Cleaning theme I've been trying to keep up with lately, I scoured the pantry.  I quickly realized I had about 5 boxes of popcorn that needed to be used up.  Just by chance I had all the other ingredients as well.

This is seriously delicious and addictive.  It would be awesome as a gift in a cute little baggie or tin.  Your friends will love you for making this for them!  It really does taste like a cinnamon roll in popcorn form.  Try it.  Love it.  I know you will be making it again and again. Enjoy :)

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)*
1 C roughly chopped pecans
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C Karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares almond bark

*You can use air popped or microwave popcorn. If using microwave, anything works, but I prefer a “natural” flavor that’s low in butter and salt.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside. And by large bowl, I mean like, twice as big as you think you really need. If you don’t believe me, then maybe you will believe the scorching hot caramel goo that’s splattered all over your hands while you’re stirring in your not-so-big bowl. Just a thought.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Like a 2-quart bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl. Again, use a bowl larger than you think you need to avoid scorching hot caramel goo accidents. It’s really important to incorporate the cinnamon into the brown sugar at this point. For some reason, if you don’t it does crazy things. I don’t know why. Try it and then email Alton Brown and ask him if you really want to know.

Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup (or honey) over the top of everything.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds (just to soften the butter a bit) and then stir to combine.

Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

By this point it should be nice and bubbly .

Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.

Pour it right over the popcorn and pecans. Stir right away, and stir lots. Take too long and the caramel will harden on you. Keep stirring until everything is well coated.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take a piece out and let it cool. “Sample.” If it’s not crunchy enough, bake for another 5 minutes. 

When it’s done, give it a final stir and let it cool off for a bit while you melt your almond bark (just nuke it in the microwave according to the package directions) If you want, you can spread out your caramel corn on a clean piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil. 

Now, just use a fork and drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn mixture.

When it’s hardened (pop it in the fridge to speed that process along) break into chunks and enjoy!

Recipe Source: Our Best Bites

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Avocado Feta Dip

 I just love feta.  I throw it on almost every salad I ever make.  It is yummy in pasta dishes.  Now, I am throwing it in my dips!  Avocados are definitely affordable this time of year, so I thought it was a good opportunity to try this yummy recipe finally.  It turned out very yummy, and were great with these pita chips

So make a batch of this up next time you are headed out the door for a BBQ, your friends and family will love it!  Not to mention you don't have to feel the guilt about eating a mayo or sour cream based sauce.  Enjoy :)

Avocado Feta Salsa

1 chopped tomatoes
2 chopped avocados
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh, chopped oregano
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS white wine vinegar
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

In a bowl, stir together the chopped tomato, avocados, garlic, and oregano (and 1/4 cup red onion, if you like). Gently stir in olive oil and white wine vinegar. Stir in feta. Chill for at least a couple hours.

Recipe Source: One She Two She

Italian Pita Chips

Homemade pita chips are the bomb.  They are extremely easy to make, and are always a crowd pleaser.  Here's an Italian version for you, perfect for all those yummy dips you'll be whipping up for potluck cookouts in the coming months!

Italian Pita Chips

1 Pkg. of pitas (6 in package) I used wheat
1 stick melted butter
shredded Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
Directions: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each pita into 6 triangles. Separate the triangles and lay them on a sheet pan.  Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan and Italian seasoning.  Bake for about 10 minutes.

Recipe Source:  One She Two She

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meatball Ravioli Bake

This recipe I found when searching for something to do with that huge bag of frozen meatballs sitting in the refrigerator. And really, I am not even going to call this a recipe (I hate calling something a recipe when all you do is throw in a few pre-packaged items :) We'll just call this a meal idea!  I am still trying to clean out our pantry/freezer before the big move in a few short weeks!

Meatball Ravioli Bake

1 package (24 oz each) frozen cheese-filled ravioli
1 can (26 oz each) Hunt's Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Sauce
8 ounces frozen cooked meatballs, thawed
PAM Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (1 cup = 4 oz)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat spaghetti sauce and meatballs in medium saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes, or until hot.

Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Drain ravioli; place in even layer in prepared dish. Ladle meatball sauce over top; sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove foil; garnish with basil.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spanish Rice

  • I love that Cinco de Mayo is coming up.  Mexican food is by far my favorite of all time.  I am overly THRILLED that where we are moving has some amazing authentic restaurants, which our current location lacks greatly.  This next month watch for some yummy Mexican dishes to please your belly! 

  • I think this rice tastes better after it sits for a while, after the flavors combines thoroughly.

  • Spanish Rice

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (remove seeds and ribs)

  • Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Saute rice, onion, and bell pepper until rice is browned and onions are tender.
  • Stir in water and tomatoes. Season with chili powder and salt. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

  • Recipe Source: Allrecipes

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

It's hard to get kids to want a healthy snack sometimes. I love it when we can compromise. Instead of eating a chocolate bar or potato chips, this snack gives a little bit of sweet with the nutrition of a banana. And lets be honest...chocolate and peanut butter together is out of this world!  You will find yourself snacking right along with the kiddos, because they are just that good!

Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

3 bananas
peanut butter
chocolate covered candy coating/chocolate bark (I used about 1/2 a package)

Slice bananas about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Put a dollop of peanut butter on each slice of banana. Lay out a sheet of wax paper on small cookie sheet. Place candy coating in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until chocolate is smooth. Holding a fork, place banana slice on top and use a spoon to coat banana. Shake off excess chocolate. Place on wax paper and freeze for 3-5 hours.

Here are some more fun ideas for some sweet treats for your kids, try some! You'll be the coolest mom on the block by making some of these fun recipes :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos

It always makes me happy when I try something new and my hubby replies "this one is a winner!"  This chicken is truly phenomenal.  It turned out tender and juicy, and the flavor is to die for.  

They reminded me of some tacos from one of my favorite Mexican restaurants around here...La Casita.  Try them.  You will be incredibly glad you did!  This one is super easy can throw everything in the crock pot in about 3 minutes.  Awesome :)

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos

5-6 frozen chicken breasts

1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch seasoning
1 can chicken broth

Hard or soft taco shells
Cheese (we used pepperjack)
Hot sauce

Place chicken breasts in crock pot.  Sprinkle taco seasoning and ranch seasonings over chicken and pour broth over top.  Place lid on top and cook on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Shred chicken and place back in broth to cook for 30 minutes more.

Serve in taco shells with all the fixings you love.  We loved ours with some pepperjack cheese, lettuce, avocados, and a dash of hot sauce.

Recipe Source: Pinterest...unknown

The Basic Crepe

I never think to post the basic type recipes on here, but they are definitely just as important as all the new things I make!  I really have never been one for making crepes...not sure why!  We just get in our pancake routine and have been stuck for a while.  

These are phenomenal, and I love all the options you can do with them.  This time we filled ours up with Nutella and strawberries.  With a little whip cream on top, you can't go wrong with this yummy breakfast :)

Basic Crepes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. 

  • Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.

  • Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. 

  • Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

  • Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Visit me on over at Kiki Creates today for a few ideas on how to use up some of your stockpile pantry items!  

It's BBQ season time!  We had our first cookout with friends this last weekend, and so I was able to try out a new salad recipe :)  This one is great, reminded me a lot of the yummy Broccoli Salad our family loves.  The pasta in it was great, and the pecans were perfect.  It gets me excited to try out some more summertime salads :)  

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 (16-oz.) package farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
1 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Peel away tough outer layer of stems, and finely chop stems.

Whisk together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes, and stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving.

Recipe Source:  My Recipes

Monday, April 9, 2012

Butter Rolls

Easter dinner 'round these parts consisted of honey mustard glazed ham, crash hot potatoes, asparagus, deviled eggs, and these yummy rolls (with a helping of strawberry shortcake for dessert :)  

For holidays like Easter, it is fun to make everything from scratch...even when it is so much more convenient to grab a bag of rolls from the store (give me a few decades...when I am cooking for more people I may change my mind!).   These rolls were great with a little jam on top, and have a nice buttery flavor.  

The rolls do harden up after a while, so are best if served straight from the oven.  I had another one for lunch today, and about 20 seconds in the microwave is all it needed to soften up and taste fabulous :)

Butter Rolls
1 pkg yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 C warm water
1 C milk
1/2 C butter
1 tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
3 eggs
4 1/2 C flour
1/2 C butter, melted for dipping

In a small pan bring milk to a boil and add butter and salt. Turn off heat and allow butter to melt.  Cool in refrigerator until it comes to room temperature.

In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water and add 1 tsp sugar. Allow to proof.

In another larger bowl beat 3 eggs; add 1/3 C sugar and mix together.  Add cooled milk and yeast to egg mixture.  Add flour, one cup at a time beating with mixer constantly. This will be slightly thicker than cake batter.  Cover batter with a towel and allow to rise until double.

Grease counter top and place dough on counter. Do not add more flour unless it is just too sticky to handle.  Form dough into small, 1 inch size balls.  Melt 1/2 C butter and dip each ball into butter before placing in pan. Put three balls into each muffin tin to form cloverleaf rolls.  Let rise until double.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe Source: Your Home Based Mom

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Classic Deviled Eggs

  • Gotta love an old classic.  I don't know why I never think to make deviled eggs any other time of the year but Easter time, but I should try making these yummy things a few time a year!  There are so many different varieties I ran into while searching for a recipe...southwest, bacon and cheddar, cream cheese filled...all sounded great!
I made these as a request by my hubby, and he approved :)  I definitely ate more than my share.  Better get back to that diet tomorrow...

  • Classic Deviled Eggs

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Smoked Spanish paprika, for garnish

Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with enough water that there's 1 1/2 inches of water above the eggs. Heat on high until water begins to boil, then cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and leave covered for 14 minutes, then rinse under cold water continuously for 1 minute.
Crack egg shells and carefully peel under cool running water. Gently dry with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks to a medium bowl, and placing the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
Evenly disperse heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Recipe Source: Food Network

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bunny Bait

 Say hello to Easter snacking at its finest!  There is something about combining sweet and salty ingredients that is just phenomenal.  This fits the bill if you are sweet/salty kind of guy/gal.  It is a fun recipe and can easily be switched up to create a fun snack for any holiday.  We'll call this one bunny bait.  

Bunny Bait

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, or 2 bags tender white popcorn
12 oz. Plain Vanilla Candy Melts, such as Wilton (or almond bark, or white chocolate candy coating)
1 1/3 cups pretzel squares, broken into pieces
1 12 oz. bag plain Milk Chocolate M&Ms or Mini M&Ms (for Bunny Bait use pastel M&Ms)
Multicolored Sprinkles, about 1/4 - 1/3 of a 2 oz. container

Pop popcorn in a popcorn popper into a large bowl (or alternately in the microwave if using microwave bags of popcorn) according to manufactures directions.  Remove any unpopped popcorn kernels.  Toss in broken pretzel pieces and M&Ms.  

Melt Vanilla Candy Melts in a microwave safe bowl on HIGH power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth.  Drizzle half of melted chips over popcorn mixture, then stir, tossing gently a few times with a rubber spatula.  Then drizzle remaining half of melted chips over popcorn, and gently stir mixture until evenly coated (don't over stir though or your sprinkles wont stick if the white chips begin to set and harden).  Pour mixture into a single layer onto wax paper.  Sprinkle entire mixture evenly with sprinkles before vanilla chips set.  Allow to cool and harden, then gently break into pieces and store in an airtight container. 

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Try some variations....

Valentines....Cupid Crunch
Switch out he pastel M&Ms for red, white, and pink ones.  Or take out the M&Ms altogether and put in conversation hearts.  Use red and white sprinkles. Another thing that would be good is to put in some gummy cinnamon hearts AFTER the chocolate has set.

Christmas...Rudolph Crunch
Use red and green M&Ms.  Add in some broken up pieces of peppermint candycanes.  Or using some Oreos that have green or red centers would be cute, too.  Use red and green sprinkles.

St. Patty's...Leprechaun Lure
Switch out the M&Ms for green and yellow ones.  Use green and yellow sprinkles.  Breaking up a few Oreos that have green centers would be cute, too. 

4th of July...Patriotic Crunch
Use 6 oz red M&Ms and 6 oz blue M&Ms (available at craft stores)
Use multicolored red, blue and white sprinkles mix
Optional - sprinkle with red Poprocks candy once chocolate has almost set (so they don't just dissolve)

Halloween...Monster Bait
Use the brown and orange M&Ms.  Use orange centered Oreos, broken up.  Use black and orange sprinkles.

Thanksgiving...Gobble Crunch
Use 12 oz. Reese's Pieces in place of M&Ms
Use brown, yellow, orange, red sprinkles

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter with your families!