Friday, January 29, 2010

Pepperoni-Pesto Popovers

This is the final Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe we tried.  I love pepperoni and pesto, so this was perfect for me!  These were really easy to make.  Just unroll the dough, top it, cut it and roll it up.  I could have eaten the whole batch myself.  I used turkey pepperoni and reduced-fat crescent rolls, so eating the whole batch wouldn't have been that bad, right?  I would add more pepperoni next time - I thought 3 per popover wasn't enough.  We ate these for lunch and served our little popovers with vokda sauce.  I would definately make these again.  I think these would be great little snacks for a party.  We might make these again for the Super Bowl.

Pepperoni-Pest Popovers
(Printable Recipe)

1 tablespoon Crisco® 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil
1 tablespoon semolina flour or cornmeal
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup basil pesto
18 slices (1 1/2-inch size) pepperoni
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375°F. In 6-cup popover pan or 6 regular-size muffin cups (2 3/4x1 1/4 inches), brush 1/2 teaspoon of the oil over bottom and side of each cup. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the flour over bottom and side of each cup.

Unroll dough sheet on cutting board. Sprinkle with garlic salt; spread with pesto. Top with pepperoni, arranging slices in 6 rows by 3 rows. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Using pizza cutter, cut dough in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into thirds to make 6 equal pieces. Starting at short end, roll up each piece; place seam side down in popover cup so center of dough piece is on bottom and ends of dough are facing up (filling will show).

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Using knife or metal spatula, remove popovers from pan. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blueberry Muffin Tops

Top of the Muffin to You!  I love to eat the top of the muffin - I think it is the best part.  We all know from watching Seinfeld, nobody wants the stumps.  Not even the homeless!  This recipe avoids having to hire "a cleaner" to dispose of the stumps.

I thought using cookie dough as the base of the muffins was a great idea.  These took a little bit of time to put together, but it was worth it.  We both really liked these little muffin tops.  They were soft and had a nice hint of lemon.  I may add some coarse sugar on top next time for some crunch.  These would be great for a brunch with a mimosa (or two) or just as a soft blueberry cookie.

Blueberry Muffin Tops
(Printable Recipe)

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 1/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup milk
2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries

Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper. In small bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the flour, sugar and butter with fork until crumbly; set aside to use for topping. In another small bowl, mix remaining 1 cup flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

In medium bowl, beat dough and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. On low speed, beat in egg, milk, lemon peel and lemon juice until well blended. Stir in flour mixture just until combined (do not overmix; mixture will be a thick batter). Carefully fold in blueberries. (If using thawed berries, rinse and pat dry with paper towel before adding.)

Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls 1 to 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets, using rubber spatula to scrape batter from tablespoon. Bake 3 minutes; remove from oven. Sprinkle each muffin top with about 1 teaspoon crumb topping; immediately return to oven.

Bake 16 to 20 minutes longer or just until edges begin to brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 to 3 minutes before removing to cooling racks. Serve warm or cool.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mile-High Peanut Butter Pie

Now that I have your attention - go ahead and wipe the drool off your screen.  This pie is as good as it looks, if not better.  It is the kind of pie that calls to you from the fridge "Come eat me!".  We heard it calling and happily obliged. 

This was the second recipe we made from the Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist.  I wanted to use my new pie plate, and I love chocolate and peanut butter, so it was a good choice.  This was easy to put together; it just requires patience for the cooling of the brownie and chilling of the topping.  The pie was even better the next day.  It is a very rich pie, so you only need a little piece (or lots of little pieces).    This would be great for a cook-out or party.  I promise it will be a hit.

Mile-High Peanut Butter Pie
(Printable Recipe)

1 Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
1 box (15.5 oz) Pillsbury® Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix
1/4 cup Reese's® peanut butter chips
1/3 cup Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil
3 tablespoons water
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Jif® Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons Fisher® Party Peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons Hershey’s® mini chips semi-sweet chocolate

Heat oven to 350°F. Unroll pie crust; place in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie; flute edge.

In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, peanut butter chips, oil, water and egg 50 strokes with spoon. Pour batter into crust-lined pie plate.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, covering edge of crust with strips of foil after 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is golden brown and center of brownie is set. Cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate 1 hour or until completely cooled.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture over brownie. Sprinkle with peanuts and chocolate chips. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Maple-Bacon Rolls

It is almost time for the 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off.  Pillsbury has all the finalist's recipes posted on their website.  There are so many wonderful recipes!  I quickly made a list of several I wanted to try.  I decided to start with the Maple-Bacon Rolls for breakfast.  Sweet & Salty!  These were super easy and tasted great.  I used turkey bacon and a can of reduced-fat cresent rolls to help cut down on the calories and fat - with no sacarafice in taste.  These little rolls were a nice change from our usual crescent cinnamon rolls.  I really liked that it only took a few minutes to get these in the oven and didn't involve messing up a million dishes.  I also really liked the bacon - who doesn't?!

Maple-Bacon Rolls
(Printable Recipe)

10 slices precooked bacon (or turkey bacon)
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
3 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Microwave bacon as directed on package until very crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside to cool. Generously spray large cookie sheet (dark cookie sheet not recommended) with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray, or line with cooking parchment paper. Unroll dough sheet on work surface; press into 12x8-inch rectangle.

In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the syrup with fork or wire whisk until smooth and creamy. Spread mixture evenly over dough, covering to edges. Finely chop bacon; reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish. Spread remaining bacon evenly over butter mixture. Starting at short end (I started on the long end), roll up dough; pinch edge to seal. Wrap roll in plastic wrap; refrigerate 5 minutes to chill so dough will be easier to cut. (I skipped chilling the dough and they sliced just fine)

Unwrap roll; place seam side down on cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut roll into 12 (about 3/4-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, on cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Place waxed paper under cooling rack. Remove rolls from cookie sheet to cooling rack; cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix powdered sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 3 tablespoons syrup with wire whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing over rolls. Garnish with reserved bacon.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010


We tried a new place for lunch yesterday - Olexa's in Mountain Brook.  I ate lunch with some friends on Friday, and they were going on and on about the cake from Olexa's.  I looked Olexa's up on the internet and saw they had a cafe and decided to take Chicken Legs to lunch there on Saturday.  

The interior is really cute.  You feel like you are outside in France with all the little bistro's around you.  The menu has lots of selections -salad, soup, quiche, sandwiches, etc.  I opted for the Ultimate Grilled Cheese with Tomato Basil soup.  OMG - the best tomato soup ever!  Chicken Legs got the Almond Chicken Salad Croissant and he said it was the best chicken salad he had ever eaten.  After lunch, we had to try a piece of cake.  On the recommendation of our server, we went with the vanilla cake.  The cake was really good.  It was light and fluffy.  The buttercream on top was perfectly sweet and creamy.  We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our entire meal.   I have a feeling we will be going back often - probably as soon as next weekend. ;)

Olexa's Cafe, Cakes, & Catering on Urbanspoon
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Saturday, January 23, 2010


I ate at Flip - the new ulta-hip burger place - at The Summit this week.  This was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten!!  This is the second Flip location in the US.  The original Flip is in Atlanta.  Chef Richard Blais, runner-up on season 4 of Top Chef, is the mastermind behind these amazing burgers.  The menu is very different from your usual buger joint - they have your basic burger (Flip Burger), Steak Tartare Burger (hold the tartare sauce), Crab Burger, Lamb Burger - you get the idea.  I had the Flip Burger and fries.  Michele had the Bacon Cheese Burger and vodka battered onion rings.  The burgers are not as big as the "usual" burger you get in a restaurant.  I thought they were the perfect size.  The onion rings were light and crunchy and not the least bit greasy.  The fries were topped with big kosher salt that really put them over the top.  I plan on making room for a milkshake next time - they freeze the icecream with liquid nitrogen!

Flip burger boutique on Urbanspoon

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos

I really love Mexican food, but I quit eating it out so much (too salty and fattening, but oh so good!). In order to satisify my need for Mexican food, I've been looking for new recipes to try at home.  I found this recipe over on Southern Living's website and decided to give it a try this week.  This was a nice change from our regular tacos and chicken fajitas.  I really loved that it was made in the crock pot and it was ready when I got home from work!  The meat mixture is runny so I added a cup of minute rice to soak up all the wonderful juices.  We both enjoyed this and ate the leftovers last night.  I would definately make this again.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos
adapted from Southern Living
(Printable Recipe)

1.5- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 small white onion
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice of one lime
red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
Toppings: shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, salsa

Sprinkle beef evenly with salt.   In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients except tortillas.  Stir to combine.  Place beef in a slow cooker; cover with the tomato mixture. Cook on HIGH 4 hours or on LOW 8 hours (longer the better) or until beef is tender. Serve with warm tortillas and desired toppings.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce

I saw a picture on the internet of a tomato and mascarpone sauce and it peeked my interest.  I had never heard of such a sauce and I thought it would be good.  I googled it and found that most recipes are a basic tomato sauce with mascarpone added.  Sounded simple enough!  I decided to give it a whirl and it turned out great.  This was so simple and it packed a lot of great flavor.  The mascarpone added a nice creaminess to the sauce that we both really enjoyed.  This was a nice change to our usual tomato sauce.  We served the sauce with some garlic & herb grilled chicken for a fabulous dinner!

Tomato Mascarpone Sauce
(Printable Recipe)

olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot or small onion
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (San Marzano if you can get them)
2 tsp basil
4 oz mascarpone cheese

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute shallot until translucent; add garlic and cook for one minute, or until fragrant.  Pour tomatoes and basil into skillet and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add mascarpone and stir until combined.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Serve with your favorite pasta.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Buttery Chicken "Scampi" Pasta

This is the second recipe I tried from my Deen Bros Take It Easy cookbook.  This was quick and easy, as promised.  I followed the directions as written and it was a breeze.  We both really enjoyed the flavors in the sauce; it was light and fresh with a little tanginess from the lemon.  It reminded me of our favorite Chicken Picatta.  In the book, Jamie Deen said he loves shrimp scampi but his son, Jack, doesn't like shrimp.  Jamie decided to substituted chicken for the shrimp and they both agreed it was a winner.  We agree too!  I would definately make this again, especially during the week. 

Buttery Chicken "Scampi" Pasta
Deen Bros
(Printable Recipe)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 inch-long strips
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cooked pasta, such as linguine for serving

Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.  Add the wine, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Simmer until the wine has reduced by half, 3-5 minutes.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the sauce in the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until no longer pink inside and the juices run clear when pricked with a fork.  Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.  Serve over the pasta.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chicken & Rice

I have been wanting to try to make chicken & rice for a while; I just never really wanted to take the time to boil the chicken, debone it, yadda yadda yadda.  I finally decided that I was going to suck it up, bust out my pressure cooker and give it a whirl.  I have never really cooked with my pressure cooker, much less cooked a whole chicken and make chicken broth.  I said a little prayer, in hopes I wouldn't blow up my kitchen, and set out on my mission.  This was surprisingly easy.  It only took 20 minutes to cook the chicken and another 20 minutes to make the rice.  I wouldn't call this an easy weeknight meal just because it takes over an hour to make when you include the time for the chicken to cool.  This is however an easy meal to prepare and it makes a great Sunday dinner, especially on a cool and rainy day like it was this past Sunday.  We both really enjoyed it.  I was trying to get a flavor similar to the Cracker Barrel and I think I succeeded.  Give it a try!

Chicken and Rice Recipe
(Printable Recipe)

Water - to cover chicken
1 3-4 lb.  whole chicken
3-4 stalks celery; rough chopped
1 large sweet onion; rough chopped
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3 cups long grain white rice
1 packet onion soup mix

Place chicken, celery, onion, pepper, salt, oregano, and garlic salt in a pressure cooker.  Cover with water and lock the lid in place. Bring to pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting that will maintain pressure; cook for 20 minutes. (You can also boil the chicken for an hour or two if you aren't daring enough for the pressure cooker)

Once cooking is complete, release the pressure by running cold water over the pressure cooker.  Remove chicken to cool in order to de-bone.  Put broth to the side.

When cool enough to handle, de-bone chicken.

Drain celery and onions from broth and put approximately 6 cups broth back into pot along with the rice, chicken, onion soup mix and more pepper and salt.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes stir in another cup of broth. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Cinnamon Caramel Corn

This recipe has been on my "to make" list for some time.  I wanted to make it during the holidays, but I never got around to it.  I can't believe I waited so long to try and make caramel corn - it is SO easy and SO good!  The cinnamon was a nice touch - makes you feel all warm and toasty inside; which is good because it is 26 degrees outside!  Whip up a batch today and eat it while you watch one of your favorite movies this weekend!  Be careful - this stuff is addictive.  We are calling it "popcorn crack".

Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans
Recipe by Our Best Bites
12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels or 2 bags of microwave popcorn)
1 C pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 C brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C karo syrup (or honey)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a 2 liter capacity microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so 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.

Remove from oven and cool.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Honey Mustard Baked Chicken

This is the first recipe we tried from my new Deen Bros. Take it Easy cookbook.  I (*obviously*) love chicken and I love honey mustard so this was a safe pick.  The honey mustard has olive oil and tomato paste mixed in with it and then it is just slathered over the chicken.  Talk about easy!  This is a real 30 minute meal and is super easy to fix after work - or any other night you don't want to cook.  I really loved the sauce on the chicken - it was sweet & tangy, like a BBQ sauce but not as spicy.  We will be having this again -it's a "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!".

Honey Mustard Baked Chicken
Deen Bros.

3 Tbsp honey mustard dressing
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp tomato paste (I used about 2 tsp)
4 chicken breast

Preheat oven to 400.  Season chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Mix together honey mustard, olive oil and tomato paste.  Spread dressing mixture over top of chicken breast and bake for 25 minutes.

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