Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cashew Broccoli

We had this really delicious broccoli for our Christmas dinner.  If you have trouble eating your broccoli (like we sometimes do in our house), this is such a great recipe!  (How can it not be delicious with 6 ounces of sour cream?)

We didn't exactly measure out 2 pounds of broccoli, but we used 2 (12oz) frozen steamer bags.  The minced onion that the recipe calls for is not the minced onion flakes that are so handy--it's real onion.  Also, if you can't find white wine vinegar, you can use regular white vinegar; that's what we did, and it still tasted wonderful.

Cashew Broccoli

2 lbs broccoli
2 Tbsp minced onion
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
3 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chopped cashews

Steam broccoli until tender.  Saute onion in butter; add sour cream, sugar, poppy seeds, paprika, vinegar, and salt and pepper.  Arrange broccoli on a serving plate.  Pour sauce over broccoli, and sprinkle with cashews.  Serves 6.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

During a recent nap, Teak looked like he was snuggling with my stuffed tiger.  It was pretty cute.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Twice-Baked Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes

This was really good!  It's a meal all by itself.  Whenever I make grilled shrimp, I usually serve it with a baked potato, so this just combined them. 

This is a Paula Deen recipe from a particularly ridiculous Christmas special that was on Food Network a couple of weeks ago in which her two grown sons dressed up like elves and her husband dressed up as Elvis-Santa.  I love her, but I miss the old Paula--the one who didn't say "y'all" every other word, the one who didn't scream and cackle like a witch, the one who didn't deep-fry every other ingredient.

Christmas time makes me nostalgic.


Twice-baked potatoes are always delicious, and they only get better with shrimp sauteed in a pat of butter.  Also, don't skip sprinkling the potatoes with paprika; it smelled wonderful!  We cut the recipe in half, but I'm posting the whole recipe below.  My mom and I enjoyed making these together, and I'm sure your family will enjoy them, too. 

Twice-Baked Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes

6 large Idaho potatoes
Vegetable oil, for coating
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and sauteed
8 oz grated Cheddar cheese
Paprika, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350.  Cover a baking sheet or pan with foil. 

Begin by washing the potatoes, drying them, and gently prinking them with a fork on all sides.  Coat each potato with vegetable oil, place on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour. 

Remove the potatoes from the oven, and slice them in half.  Scoop out the inside of the potato, and place in a large bowl.  Place the butter in the bowl.  Using a mixter on high, mix toghether, and then add the sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. 

Chop the shrimp into large pieces.  Fold the shrimp and cheese into the mixture.  Gently stuff the mixture back into the potato shells, making sure not to break them.  Pile the mixture as high as you can on top of the potato shells.  Sprinkle each potato with paprika.  Bake in the oven until browned on top, 20-25 minutes. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Spaghetti Pie

(The picture above was taken before I put it in the oven.  Just imagine that the cheese has melted.)

This is such a delicious way to make spaghetti!  We made this for Buck's parents for Sunday lunch, and it was a hit with everyone!  We used ground venison, but you can use hamburger meat, too.  We served it with a salad and crescent rolls.  This would be a great weeknight meal.  It definitely serves a crowd. 

Spaghetti Pie

1 lb ground venison
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
8 oz spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 1/3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tbsp olive oil
Tony Chachere's (or other Cajun seasoning), to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the venison and brown well.  Season with Tony's, to taste.  Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and remove from heat. 

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, and green onions.  Set aside.

Coat a two-quart casserole dish with cooking spray, and add the cooked pasta.  Spread the sour cream mixture over the pasta.  Add the meat mixture on top, and sprinkle with cheese.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Philly-Style Duck Sandwiches

Buck is an avid duck hunter, and of course, Teak is a mighty retriever now.  When Buck told me that he wanted to try a new duck recipe, I wasn't terribly interested.  Ducks haven't ever been my favorite.

Anyway, these duck sandwiches turned out AMAZING.  I'm not exaggerating; they were fantastic.  I went from being a skeptic to a believer just because of this recipe.  I really do look forward to Buck making these again.  

If you are also a skeptic or just don't want to use ducks, I'm sure it would be great with chicken or steak.  It would also be great wrapped up in a tortilla because these are very similar to fajitas, but the bun (we used potato rolls) were good because they absorbed some of the juices. 

The recipe from says to use 3 cups of thinly sliced duck breast fillets for four servings; I'm not exactly sure how many cups we had, but I do know that it was the breasts from two wood ducks for our two sandwiches.  You can count one duck per sandwich.

I highly recommend that you try these.  If you're friends with a hunter, he (or she) probably has some duck breasts in a freezer somewhere, and this is the recipe you should try!

Philly-Style Duck Sandwiches (makes 2 sandwiches)

2 wood duck breast fillets, very thinly sliced (Place the duck breasts in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up before slicing as thinly as possible with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.)

1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Tabasco sauce
2 slices pepper jack cheese

In a medium bowl, combine half the olive oil with the red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the duck slices and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for two hours. 

Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are lightly browned. Mound the onion mixture on one side of the skillet. Add the marinated duck to the other side of the skillet and stir-fry for two to three minutes. Once cooked, season with a dash of Tabasco sauce. 

Combine the meat and onion mixture. Form into two rectangular mounds, top with cheese, and cook until the cheese is melted. Fill each roll with the meat, onion, and cheese mixture.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

This is Teak Dog Tuesday's Christmas edition (and also the Wednesday edition--whoops).

Merry Christmas!

Chicken in Wine Sauce

This is such a delicious baked chicken dish, and it takes almost no time to throw it together.  If you're still scrambling to plan a Christmas menu, this is a worthy contender for the main dish at one of your meals.

If you don't drink or don't want to use wine for any reason, you can substitute the wine for milk or even water.  My sister says she commonly makes this dish for her friends who just had babies, and she and uses milk or water.  The taste isn't noticeably different.  Also, the last time I made it, I forgot to use the butter in the recipe, and it was still great.  That might be a meager way to cut some calories.

The recipe is from Paula Deen's cookbook, The Lady and Sons.  I hope you like it!

Chicken in Wine Sauce

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup herb-flavored stuffing mix, crushed
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Place chicken in shallow buttered casserole dish.  Layer cheese on top.  Mix soup, wine, salt, and pepper; pour over cheese.  Sprinkle stuffing mix on top, and drizzle with melted butter.  Bake for 45-60 minutes. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

On the way back fron a hunting trip, Teak wedged himself behind the center console in Biz's single-cab truck.  He chose to take a nap there, instead of the empty passenger seat.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tomato Bisque

This is my mom's recipe.  A few years ago, my dad started planting a huge vegetable garden in the summer, and it produced more tomatoes than they knew what to do with.  BLTs?  Check.  Marinara sauce?  Check.   Then she started making this tomato bisque, and it is SO delicious.  She, of course, makes it with her abundance with fresh tomatoes during the summer.  During the winter, I make it with canned diced tomatoes that I smooth out in the food processor, but I'm sure tomato puree would work the same way.

This recipe is always a treat and a crowd pleaser.  There are also some changes you can make if you want to use ingredients you already have or cut some of the fat out of the original recipe.  As with everything, the full-flavor version is better, but I couldn't notice much of a difference at all when I used 1% milk (instead of whole milk) and 1/2 stick of butter (instead of a whole stick).  I'll let you decide for yourself what you want to do. 

I strongly recommend that you try it.  You won't be disappointed.  Like Buck said over the weekend, this soup is good for your soul.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe, Mom!  I love you!

Tomato Bisque

2 lbs tomatoes, peeled and seeded OR 3 (14oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 Tbsp sugar
1 qt milk
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup flour
1/2 or 1 stick butter

If using canned diced tomatoes, pulse in food processor until in small bits, not large chunks.  Place tomatoes in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir in bouillon cubes, sugar, salt, bay leaf, basil, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in flour all at once to make a roux; cook 1 minute.  Whisk in milk a little at a time, cooking and stirring constantly until thickened.  Stir into tomato mixture and heat through.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pecan Pie Mini Muffins

I found this recipe in a Southern Living cookbook, and I had to try it because it only had five ingredients that I already had in my pantry.  I am SO glad we tried these.  Buck absolutely loves them.  I was impressed that they even looked like pecan pies coming out of the muffin tins.  If you don't want to go to the trouble of making a pecan pie this Christmas, everyone would be just as happy with these.  The only thing Buck wished we'd had with these is vanilla ice cream--a mistake we won't make next time. 

Pecan Pie Mini Muffins

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix brown sugar, flour, and pecans in a bowl.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.  Beat eggs until foamy.  Stir together butter and eggs; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. 

Spray 2 mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.  Spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.  Yields 2 dozen mini muffins. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak stays outside if it's not raining, and he lies under a cypress tree in the yard.  He is COVERED with leaves and grass and tree sap by the time we get home from work.  I don't think we'll get all the sap out of his fur until his next haircut. 

White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

This was a Southern Living recipe, and not surprisingly, we loved them.  They reminded us a lot of the Ultimate White Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Oatmeal Crispies.  They were so good, and they'd be great as an edible Christmas gift. I ended up cutting the recipe in half, but I'm posting the entire recipe.  Make as many as you need, deciding how many you want to share.  :)  Enjoy!

White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, soft eggsened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked regular oats
2 cups (12 oz) white chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.  Stir in oats,  white chocolate chips, and pecans.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, and remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Yields about 5 dozen. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Creamy Fried Confetti Corn

YUM.  I made this alongside the chicken cakes, and this was an amazing dish, again from Southern Living.  It would be perfect at your Christmas table.   I tried to lighten it up (as much as you can lighten up a dish with 8 slices of bacon) by using half the amount of cream cheese (4 ounces instead of 8) and 1% milk instead of half-and-half, and it still tasted delicious.  I made a couple of other changes that I'll reflect below.  So delicious.

Creamy Fried Confetti Corn

8 bacon slices, chopped
4 cups sweet corn kernels (about 8 ears or about 2 large cans)
1 medium size onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I used jarred red bell pepper)
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Cook chopped bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon and drain on paper twoels, reserving 2 tablespoons of droppings in the skillet.  Set aside bacon. 

Saute corn, onion, and bell peppers in hot drippings in skillet over medium-high heat for 6 minutes or until tender.  Add cream cheese and milk, stirring until cream cheese melts.  Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper.  Top with bacon.  Yields 6-8 servings.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chicken Cakes with Creole Sauce

When I found this Southern Living recipe, I couldn't wait to try it.  These were SO good; Buck has already requested them again.  He said he would have been fooled into thinking these were crab cakes if I hadn't told him they were chicken. 

I used my favorite Crock Pot Salsa Chicken for the shredded chicken, and the salsa added extra moisture and flavor.  You could just as easily use leftover chicken or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store as a short cut.  As another short cut, I used the roasted red bell pepper from a jar since I didn't have a fresh one.  The cakes aren't spicy, but the red pepper in the creole sauce does add some heat.  I highly recommend these!

Chicken Cakes with Creole Sauce

1/2 medium size red bell pepper, diced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Creole mustard
1 tsp Creole seasoning

Saute the bell pepper, green onion, and garlic in a skillet coated with cooking spray for 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Wipe skillet clean.  Stir together bell pepper mixture, chicken, and remaining ingredients in a bowl.   Shape chicken into 8 patties.  Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Cook patties, in 2 batches, in skillet coated with cooking psray over medium heat, 3 minutes on each side or until golden.  Serve immediately with Creole Sauce.

Creole Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
3 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp Creole mustard
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp ground red pepper

Stir together all ingredients until well blended.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spicy Mushrooms

These mushrooms are very good, but please do note the title: they are spicy!  

This is another recipe from this month's Food Network Magazine, and it was really easy to put together.  It's also nice because it's easily adaptable to fit what you have around the house.  The original recipe called for 2 plum tomatoes, but I used 1 roma tomato; the original wanted 2 seeded fresh jalapenos, but I used 8 or 9 slices of pickled jalapenos.  Instead of starting with unpeeled garlic cloves to roast, I used the minced ones that come in water.  And it all worked out great.

I didn't think they'd be very hot.  Yes, the jalapeno slices had seeds, but I didn't think they'd be as potent with all the mushrooms and onions.  I was wrong.  They're hot!  If your family doesn't like spicy food, scale back the jalapenos.

Spicy Mushrooms

1 roma tomato
8 slices pickled jalapenos
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
Olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
Juice of 1 lime
Parsley, for garnish

Cut tomato into quarters, and set on baking sheet skin-side-up along with jalapenos and garlic.  Broil for 5-6 minutes or until charred.  Peel the garlic, and chop the vegetables.  Saute the onion and mushrooms in olive oil and salt to taste for 8 minutes.  Add the tomato mixture, the chicken broth, and some chopped parsley; cook 5 minutes.  Stir in the juice of 1 lime.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Dressing

Again, we made this for our pre-Thanksgiving feast, and it was delicious!  The apples and dried cranberries made the dressing sweet, and the sausage made it savory.  We loved it.

I read that you can actually stuff your turkey with this to make it stuffing, but as I don't know anything about cooking a turkey, we baked it in a 9"x13" dish and called it dressing.  It's fantastic.

Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Dressing

1 1/2 cups cubed whole wheat bread
3 3/4 cups cubed white bread
1 lb ground pork sausage
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 tsp dried sage
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
4 Tbsp butter, melted
Chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread the white and wheat bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes in preheated oven.  Transfer bread crumbs to a large bowl.  

In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned.  Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors.  Pour sausage mixture over bread in bowl.  Mix in chopped apples, dried cranberries, and parsley.  Spoon into 9"x13" casserole dish, and drizzle with melted butter and chicken stock.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, drizzling with chicken stock to moisten dressing 2-3 times during baking. Serve warm.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Amazing Corn Casserole

You want this at your Thanksgiving dinner, your Christmas dinner, your birthday dinner, and probably more often than that.  The problem, as with all delicious dishes, is that you can only afford to eat this one a few times a year.  But I promise you, it is absolutely amazing.  

We made a pre-Thanksgiving feast this weekend, and I wanted to make sure and post this first and recommend it highly.  It was awesome.

Amazing Corn Casserole

1 (15.25oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15.25oz) can creamed corn
1 (8oz) pkg corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter.  Pour into a greased 9"x13" casserole dish.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with shredded cheese.  Return to oven for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Let stand for at least 5 minutes, and then serve warm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

On Sunday, while tracking a deer with Buck, Teak had the very unfortunate experience of getting approximately 837 cockleburrs stuck in his fur, with about 70% of them in the hair of his right ear.  Teak is 2 1/2 years old, and even though he's had many haircuts, we've never let the groomer touch the curlson his ears or the top of his head.  His ear hair is very long, which worked to Teak's disadvantage and the cockleburrs' advantage.  After pricking our own fingers full of holes, and removing several of them, Biz decided the only way to finally settle the matter was to take the beard trimmer to Teak's ear.  Now he has sad, very uneven ears.

How sad is he?  This honestly put me in a bad mood on Sunday.

Cheesy Corn Puffs

This recipe is in this month's Food Network Magazine as a new twist on an old-fashioned kitchen staple: a can of creamed corn.  They were good, but I think they'd be even better with some sharp Cheddar cheese or some chopped jalapenos.  As much as I love pepper jack cheese, it doesn't have the kick that these need. 

Cheesy Corn Puffs

1 cup creamed corn
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, plus more for topping
3 eggs
1 Tsbp fresh chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 400.  Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.  Bring the corn, butter, and salt to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 2 mintues.

Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool slightly.  Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well between each addition.  Stir in the cheese and chives.  Chill the dough 15 minutes. 

Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto the prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle with more cheese.  Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown and puffy, 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Club Sandwich Puffs

This is another recipe I adapted from Plain Chicken.  They were so good, and they're a great appetizer or snack for tailgating.  They're quick to put together, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator already.  Try them!  They're great fresh out of the oven. 

Club Sandwich Puffs

1 oz deli ham, chopped
1 oz deli turkey, chopped
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1 tsp minced onion flakes
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 (8oz) package refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl, combine finely chopped ham, turkey, bacon bits, onion flakes, cheese, honey mustard, and egg.  Mix well.

Lightly spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.  Unroll crescent rolls and press into one large rectangle; cut rectangle into 24  squares.  Press dough squares into muffin cups and shape up around the edges.  Fill each muffin cup with some of the meat mixture.  Bake 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak got a very special present on Sunday afternoon: a steak bone.  He was the happiest dog in the world.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Black Bean Dip

This is based on the recipe for Paula Deen's Monster Mash, but I don't think we should limit it to just Halloween.  This dip has a place at your party table all year long.  It's extremely easy, and it was really good!  I liked it better when it was hot instead of when it had gotten to room temperature.

I let myself feel okay about eating huge quantities of this dip because I used fat free cream cheese, shredded cheese made with 2% milk, and organic fat-free black beans.  Surely that cancels out the bag of chips we ate along with it. 

It makes quite a bit, too, so you can save any leftovers (or in my case, what wouldn't comfortably fit into the 8x8 dish), and spread it in some tortillas with shredded chicken for a delicious soft taco later in the week.

Black Bean Dip

4 oz cream cheese
2 (20.5 oz) cans refried black beans
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
Tortilla chips, for serving

Preheat oven to 325.  Lightly spray a 2-quart baking dish.  Cut cream cheese into small cubes and place on bottom of dish.  Combine beans, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese, and spoon into the baking dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Remove from oven, and stir so that the cream cheese is combined with the other ingredients.  Turn on the broiler.  Top dip with the remaining cup of shredded cheese, and broil until the cheese has melted and is slightly browned.  Serve hot with tortilla chips. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Carrot Cake Cookies

Let me recreate for you a conversation I had with Erica, one of my very closest friends, during our freshman year in college.

Me: Ooh, I love carrot cake!
Erica: You look like you'd love carrot cake.
Me: Why?
Erica: I don't know...
Me: Is it because I'm a redhead?
Erica: YES!

Whatever the reason, I do love carrot cake, and I couldn't wait to make these carrot cake cookies from Everyday Cooking for Two.  And I'm happy to report that they're everything I'd hoped they would be.  And more.  With cream cheese icing.

Now, I goofed on the icing.  I was trying to make it healthier.  (As if it matters--seriously.  It's cream cheese icing.  Who am I kidding?)  I tried using 2 1/2 tablespoons of applesauce instead of 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter, so the consistency is all wrong.  There are little lumps of powdered sugar that don't look appetizing.  

But if you could taste them, you wouldn't care.  

If I were really worried about making them healthier, I would have added the 1/3 cup of raisins that the recipe calls for, but I didn't have any at the house, so I didn't; you can.  Also, the original recipe says that baby carrots had less taste than regular carrots, so I used regular carrots.  It took me almost 3 carrots to reach 3/4 cup. 

You should make these as soon as you can.  The recipe made 21 cookies for me, but it depends on the size of the cookies.  These would be awesome for a holiday treat or for an everyday treat. 

Carrot Cake Cookies

4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350, and spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray.  Finely shred carrots and set aside.

Make the frosting first.  Cream together softened cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the vanilla and lemon juice, and continue to mix.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Refrigerate until needed.

In a large mixing bowl combine the stick of melted butter with the brown sugar, white sugar, and egg yolk. Whisk or beat together.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.  Mix together well, and slowly combine with the butter/egg mixture.  Add the shredded carrot, the oats, and the raisins.  Mix well. 

Spoon onto cookie sheets in 1"-diameter dough balls.  Flatten them slightly with your fingers.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes; then rotate the pans, and bake for 8 more minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.  When cooled, frost with icing. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet and Savory Burgers

We LOVED these burgers!  I don't eat a lot of red meat, but I couldn't get enough of these.  I think the sauce is what made them extra good.  It was really spicy just to taste it on its own, but it was perfect with the burger on both sides of the bread (and as a dipping sauce for the fries). 

This was a Southern Living recipe.  It called for chili sauce, and I wasn't positive what that meant, so I got a jar of sweet chili sauce in the Asian foods section of the grocery store.  I should also note that this is probably my first burger, ever, without cheese on it.  I didn't even miss it.  The recipe says you can top the burger with grilled pineapple slices and grilled red onion, and I'm sure that would be great, but both of us ate our burgers with the bread, the meat, and the sauce.  Simple and delicious.

The bottom line is that we'll definitely make these again.  I can't recommend them enough.

Sweet and Savory Burgers

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1.5 lbs ground chuck (80/20)
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup jalapeno jelly
Hamburger buns

Combine the first five ingredients, and pour them in a shallow dish.  Shape the ground chuck into five patties, and set the patties in the soy sauce mixture to marinate.  Make sure both sides of the patties are dipped in the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for four hours.

Combine the chili sauce and jalapeno jelly, and set aside. 

When ready, grill the burgers over medium high heat for 6-7 minutes per side, or until cooked to desired doneness.  Smear pepper jelly mixture on both sides of the bun, and garnish burger with grilled pineapple and grilled red onion, if desired. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chicken and Black Bean Mini Empanadas

I really liked these!  This were really good served with salsa and sour cream.  If you're going to the trouble to make them, you might as well make several sheets of them, and that's fine because they reheat beautifully.  I was able to get 11-12 empanadas per sheet of puff pastry, and I cut them into circles with a water glass.  I'm sure a biscuit cutter is more proper, but you use what you have.  Similarly, I used a beer bottle to roll the puff pastry dough into the a bigger rectangle because I didn't have a rolling pin.  I've since received one.  (Thanks, Amanda.)

To speed up the process, you can also make the filling the day ahead.  I made the filling with my favorite, Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, but you could use any shredded or ground meat--beef, pork, turkey, or deer (if you live in my neck of the woods).  The recipe calls for a can of black beans, but I didn't even use half of it. 

This is the perfect party appetizer or tailgate food, and they're nice and filling.  You should try these! 

Chicken and Black Bean Mini Empanadas

4 sheets Puff Pastry dough
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/2 lb  cooked shredded salsa chicken
1 Tbsp Philadelphia Cooking Creme Southwest Blend
1 small red bell pepper, diced (I used one from a jar)
2 tsp dried minced onion flakes
1 tsp taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used the 4 cheese Mexican blend)
1/2 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Thaw the puff pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes or until they're easy to handle.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Stir the egg and water with a fork in a small bowl.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, and combine the chicken, bell pepper, taco seasoning, and Cooking Creme until warm.  Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese and half the can of black beans. 

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface, and roll out into a 16"x12" rectangle.  Cut into 12 (2.5") rounds.  Put 1 teaspoon of the chicken mixture on each round.  Wet the edges of the round; fold over and press the edges with a fork to seal.  Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining sheets of puff pastry.  Brush empanadas with egg wash. 

Bake for 18 minutes or until golden.  Serve with salsa and sour cream. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

In this month's Food Network Magazine, there are recipes for different dinner pockets.  Just like Hot Pockets, these were nice and tasty, but they're better because you can control the ingredients that go into them.  In the magazine, they suggest broccoli-cheddar pockets, shredded chicken pockets, and picadillo pockets.  We went with good ol' ham and cheese. 

These were so easy because the recipe only calls for refrigerated bread dough.  The can that I had expired in April, so instead of wagering a precious sick day over a $3 can of bread dough, I opted for the two new cans of crescent rolls that I had.  I think they were even better than they'd be if I'd followed the recipe.

I'm putting the recipe like it calls for in the magazine, but if I use two cans of crescent rolls again, I'll definitely make more filling next time.  Also, change it up to make it how you like it--I always use whatever cheese we have, which usually ends up being the Mexican four-cheese blend.  If you want to splurge on some gruyere, be my guest!

Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets

1 (11oz) tube refrigerated French bread dough (or 2 cans crescent rolls)
1 cup (about 4 oz) grated cheese
1 cup (about 4 oz) deli sliced ham
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Cooking Spray
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 425.  Mix the cheese, ham, mustard, nutmeg, and cayenne in a bowl until combined.  Squeeze the mixture together with your hands to make it compact.  Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. 

On a floured surface, roll out the dough.  (If using bread dough, cut the dough into four pieces, and roll out each piece into a 6"x8" rectangle.  If using crescent rolls, cut the dough into 8 pieces.)  Divide the filling evenly among each dough rectangle.  Fold the two shorter sides of the dough over the filling, stretching the dough to cover.  Fold the two longs ides of the dough to form a packet; pinch the edges to seal. 

Place the pockets seam-side-down on the prepared baking sheet.  Beat the egg and one tablespoon of water in a small bowl; brush the pockets with the egg wash.  Bake until golden-brown, or about 15 minutes. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cookie Empanadas

These cookies are just sinful.  What's not to love in this recipe?  The dough is made of butter, cream cheese, and flour.  Then you fill them with jelly.  Then you bake them and roll them in cinnamon and sugar.  Good grief.  Amazing.  They're especially good just out of the oven.

The recipe only made about 15 cookies.  I did half with apple jelly and half with strawberry preserves, and I thought the apple ones were better (but it's not like I turned down any of the strawberry ones).  The preserves leaked out of the cookies more during baking, and the jelly held up better.  You could easily switch up flavors, but the jelly was better to cook with. 

I will absolutely make these again.  These would be great Christmas cookies.  Delicious!

Cookie Empanadas

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fruit jelly
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Day/Week Before: Cream butter and cream cheese together until smoothly blended. Beat in the flour. Shape dough into a smooth ball, wrap in foil or cling wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to a week.

Day Of: Remove dough from refrigerator 30 minutes before using. Preheat oven to 375.  Shape dough into one-inch balls, then press the balls flat with the bottom of a glass on a floured surface.  Place small spoonful of jam in center of each round, moisten edges with water.  Fold round over and press edges together. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately roll in sugar mixed with cinnamon. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak went for a swim and retrieved his bumper like a champion.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

These were great!   I made the filling for the caps the day before, and then I stuffed them and baked them the day I served them.  These would probably be even better if some breadcrumbs were involved, but these were excellent how they were.  I tripled the recipe below, but you can change it to suit your own needs.  You can also use whatevevr mushrooms you want, but I used baby bellas.  Yum!

Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400. 

Remove mushroom stems; set aside caps, and chop the stems.  In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Slowly cook and stir the chopped stems and onion until the onion is soft; remove from heat. 

Place onion caps on baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 5-6 minutes, and remove from oven. 

In a medium bowl, stir together the mushroom stem mixture, bacon, and 1/2 cup of cheese.  Mix well.  Scoop the mixture into the mushroom caps.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.  Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato Aioli

I made this dipping sauce last week for some grilled shrimp, and it was awesome!  It was easy to throw together, and I already had all the ingredients.  I made it the day before I needed and let it sit overnight so that the flavors could blend together.  It was delicious!

The original recipe calls for 4 crushed garlic cloves, but I only used 2, and I always use the minced garlic that I can store in the refrigerator.  I also used reduced-fat mayo and the sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil--YUM.  I love sun-dried tomatoes, so I let some of the oil into the aioli besides just the tomatoes.

Like I said, we used it for shrimp, but you can use it for anything you like.  Enjoy!

Sun-dried Tomato Aioli

1 cup good-quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

In a blender or food processor, process all the ingredients until smooth.  Chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak visited his friend Kate yesterday, but because Kate is bigger than Teak, she tends to knock him down a lot.  Teak gets tired of it, and you end up with before-and-after shots like these.



Monday, October 3, 2011


I love sangria.  This was my first attempt in making it myself, and it couldn't have been any easier or more delicious.  I will say this, though: I highly recommend a designated driver.  It's dangerous!  I started making this from Pioneer Woman's recipe, but I added orange juice just to have something in the pitcher that wasn't completely alcoholic.  I will definitely make this again.

It's a shame that I didn't take a picture of the pitcher when it was full, but it was beautiful. 


1 bottle red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 bottle white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup vodka
1/3 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 orange, cut into slices
1 lemon, cut into slices
2 limes, cut into slices

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, and allow it to refrigerate overnight before serving.  Serve cold or over ice.  Have tongs out to retrieve fruit.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ultimate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy October!  October is the birth month for me, my sister, my sweet friend Erica, and her sweet baby who is making his debut in the world right now, as I type.  This will be a great month. 

I don't eat regular chocolate, but I love white chocolate.  My favorite cookies in the world are the Subway white chocolate chip cookies (for Valentine's Day, Buck gave me a dozen cookies instead of a dozen roses, and I was not disappointed at all--no sarcasm).  These cookies were incredible!  How could they not be delicious, since they have two sticks of butter?  They're our new favorites!  You have to try these. 

Ultimate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 bag white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. 

Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla and eggs.  Gradually add dry ingredients, and mix until a smooth batter forms.  Fold in white chocolate chips. 

Scoop rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets, and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.