Dinners

Recipe—Smothered Chicken

I am not posting this recipe because it is super easy or quick. Not that it is challenging by any means, just lots of steps and dirty pans. But hey, sometimes meals are completely worth it. I am posting this recipe because it is rich, tasty, and a wonderful indulgence. This is the type of dinner for a romantic night, a special occasion, in or if you are entertaining a couple of guests. The name says it all, a simple chicken breast smothered in all sorts of wonderful, creamy, scrumptious, goodness. This is the perfect recipe for all the low carb lovers out there. When I’m focusing on eating low carb I typically go for lower fat items but sometimes you just need something rich to satisfy those cravings. This is it.  Even if you aren’t watching carbs, this will be a wonderful indulgent dinner.

CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices, mozzarella cheese

CREAMED GREENS INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp red onion, minced
1 bunch of kale or chard, inner stalks stripped out and greens chopped
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

SAUTEED MUSHROOM INGREDIENTS
1/4 c butter
2 c mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c white wine
1 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper

CHICKEN STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a small bowl combine the garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken.
  • Place the seasoned chicken in a greased baking dish and bake for 16 minutes.

CREAMED GREENS STEPS

  • While the chicken is baking, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the red onions and garlic to the pan and sauté for 2–3 minutes.
  • Add in the chopped greens and cook until they are completely wilted.
  • When the greens are done stir in the cream cheese and parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Continue cooking until the cream cheese is melted.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.

 SAUTEED MUSHROOM STEPS

  •  Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until browned all over.
  • Add the wine, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Continue cooking until most of the wine is cooked out.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • When the chicken is done cooking, remove the dish from the oven and flip the chicken over.
  • Divide the creamed greens over the top of each breast.
  • Add the sautéed mushrooms to each breast.
  • Top each breast with the sliced mozzarella.
  • Continue baking the smothered chicken breasts for another 14–16 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Butter, Bacon, Cheese, and Garlic.

Appetizers

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Any recipe that has bacon, cheese, and jalapeños is a home run in my book. Wrap that up in a flaky delicate layer of puff pastry and it is a grand slam baby! These look like they would be heavy because they are good sized but the puff pastry is actually really light. These are the perfect appetizers for any occasion. The puff pastry takes what is an average appetizer and glamorizes them. Delicate enough for girl’s night in or macho enough for a guy’s night of watching sports. Either way, everyone will love them!

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

INGREDIENTS
9 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, deseeded, and deveined
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 c bacon, cooked and chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a medium-mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper.
  • Stuff each pepper half with a heaping mound of the cheese filling and set aside.
  • Unfold the thawed puff pastry and cut each sheet into 9 squares.
  • Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the pastry squares and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them, making sure they are about an inch apart.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each popper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the poppers are golden brown on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Reclaiming Your Castle.

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Last weekend we went to another summer BBQ. This one was about two hours away and would be a long windy drive. I needed a dessert that would transport well. Pies seem to always end up squished and most of my Pyrex dishes wont fit in my ice chest. I have seen individual desserts in mason jars trending on Pinterest and I thought to myself, “I bet something like that would transport wonderfully.” And they did! Now what to put in them? Hmm…

If you have been following my blog for a while now then you may know that I love my cheesecake. I am not picky about my desserts but if it has the word “cheesecake” in the name I will lack all self control. So I knew I wanted some sort of cheesecake in a jar. (I know, pretty self-serving right?) Blueberries were on sale at the grocery store and so my decision was made. I would be taking individual blueberry cheesecakes in mason jars. They made a great presentation, were out of this world good, could not have been easier to serve, and they were fun to eat. In other words, they were amazing!

Note: I was able to fill six 8 ounce mason jars. You can get also get 4 ounce jars for smaller servings.

BLUEBERRY FILLING INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp butter
4 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c butter, melted
1 1/4 c sugar, divided
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c milk
8 oz tub of Cool Whip
mason jars (see note above regarding sizes)

BLUEBERRY FILLING STEPS

  • Melt the 2 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add in the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the pot.
  • Lightly mash the blueberries with a hand held masher making sure to leave about half of the berries in tact.
  • Bring the blueberry filling to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook the filling for 6–8 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Remove from heat.

CHEESECAKE STEPS

  • While the blueberry filling is cooling, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 c of the sugar.
  • Distribute the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of each jar saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnish.
  • Using a hand held mixer, beat together the cream cheese and remaining cup of sugar until well combined. Gradually add in the milk until it is nice and creamy.
  • Distribute the cream cheese filling among the jars. (I transferred my filling into a Ziploc bag, cut of the corner, and piped it into each jar.)
  • Add a layer of the blueberry filling to each jar.
  • Fill the rest of the jar with Cool Whip and sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs.
  • Add lids if you will be transporting your dessert.
  • Chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • Enjoy!
Appetizers

Recipe—Creamy Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups

This is actually a recipe adapted from one my mother-in-law made back around the holidays. They seemed like such a great idea and were absolutely delicious. She brought her Mexican inspired wraps over all rolled up in Saran wrap and then just sliced them when she got to our house. They traveled great! When she put them out I could not stop eating them. They were so yummy! So when I was invited to a summer pool party a couple weeks back I knew these would be a hit! Me being the tinkerer I am I had to put my own twist on them. I added in the chicken, olives, and cilantro to help bulk up the filling. They were wonderful additions. If you have any parties coming up definitely keep these in mind. They are relatively easy to assemble and are the perfect finger food for a party of any kind.

Note: You can use a couple of tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning or just part of an envelope of taco seasoning you would pick up at the store. If you like a little heat add in a chopped jalapeño.

INGREDIENTS
2-8 ox packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp taco seasoning
10 oz can Rotel tomatoes and chilies, drained
rotisserie chicken, skinned and chopped
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
4.25 oz chopped black olives
1 package burrito sized tortillas

STEPS

  • Using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic, and taco seasoning until well blended.
  • Fold in the canned tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, green onions, and chopped olives.
  • Lay a tortilla out flat and place a heaping spoonful of the creamy mixture in the center.
  • Use a rubber spatula and spread an even layer of the filling out to the edges of the tortilla.
  • Roll up the tortilla and as you finish each place on a cutting board or plate.
  • Continue until the filling is gone.
  • Place the rolls in the freezer for 30–45 minutes allowing them to firm up. (I do this step so that when I slice them they keep their round shape.)
  • Slice the rolls into 1 inch thick pieces and arrange on a plate.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Snacks, Sweet Treats

Recipe—Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip

Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip

The other day I was going to be attending a pool party for one of my favorite munchkins. I knew there would be plenty of kids there and I wanted to bring a snack that all the kids would love and have fun eating. Well turns out the grownups liked this just as much as the little ones. This cookie dip was a HUGE hit! This is a cream cheese based dip blended with a scoop of dry cake mix giving it the true cake batter flavor. It was delicious! Super creamy and just the right amount of sweet. I’m guessing this will forever be a staple on our party menus.  It would be perfect for a birthday party or any type of social event, and I’m sure it will get people talking. This is by no means healthy, but sometimes you just need to relax and let the kids have a little fun enjoying a special treat. It’s all about moderation after all, not that you will be able to control yourself with this dip. So dive in, let loose, and enjoy this perfect youthful treat! I know you can’t resist.

Note: I served this dip with Nilla wafers but I know it would go great with graham crackers or animal crackers as well.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 c butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 cup dry funfetti cake mix
1 tsp vanilla
1/4–1/2 c milk
1/4 c sprinkles, plus more for garnish

STEPS

  • Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cake mix for 2 minutes.
  • Add in vanilla and cooled butter and continue beating for another 2 minutes.
  • Beat in the vanilla and then 1/4 cup of the milk. Add more milk as needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.
  • Transfer the dip to a small bowl for serving and garnish with additional sprinkles. Serve immediately with your favorite dippers or refrigerate until ready to serve. (Note: the dip will get very firm in the fridge so remove it 15–20 minutes before you plan on serving it to allow it to soften.)
Appetizers

Recipe—Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

Are you on the hunt for an elegant and absolutely delicious hours devours? If so the hunt can come to an end. This dish takes less than 10 minutes to make and is the perfect snack to serve at the next function you have coming up. Salmon is an incredibly popular fish here on the West Coast and I really enjoy the flavor combination of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers. This has all those wonderful flavors plus a nice refreshing zest of lemon and a little bite from the shallot. One of the things that is great about this recipe is that it can be whipped up minutes before your social function or even made ahead a day or two ahead of time. This appetizer truly is perfect for an afternoon or evening social, or even spread on your bagel for breakfast.

Note: You can serve this dip with crackers, toasted bread, sliced cucumber, pretty much anything, but what I love is this dip served with everything crackers or bagel chips. Just something about all those wonderful flavors really takes this already awesome dip to the next level.

INGREDIENTS
4–6 oz smoked salmon
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c cream cheese
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp capers
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp shallot, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 tbsp chives, minced

STEPS

  • Place all ingredients except for the salmon in a blender or food processer and blend until well incorporated.
  • Add the smoked salmon to the blender and pulse until desired consistency.
  • Transfer the dip to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Serve with some toasted crostini or your favorite crackers.
Appetizers

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball

I have always loved the idea of cheese balls, but have been turned off by the fake processed taste of the premade ones you get at the store. Well cheese balls seem to be redeeming themselves with all the creative gourmet versions popping up all over the place. I recently threw my husband a little birthday bbq and wanted an appetizer that could be prepared ahead of time and then just set out once the party started. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was exactly what I was looking for! My husband loves bacon, and of course loves the spice of jalapeños. (Don’t all men? Okay I guess vegetarians may be repulsed by the bacon but there are substitutes for that.) Once I had the bacon cooked and the jalapeños chopped this recipe came together in about 5 minutes. It was super quick and easy. A perfect recipe for any social events you may have coming up. By the end of the night I had several people asking for the recipe, which, in my mind, is a very good sign.

Note: This can be made a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz cream cheese
3/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp green onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 jalapeños, deseeded, deveined, and finely chopped, divided
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
1/4 c pecans, chopped

STEPS

  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, green onions, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Fold in half of the chopped jalapeños and half of the crumbled bacon until well blended.
  • On a large plate combine the remaining jalapeños, remaining bacon, and the pecans and mix together.
  • Using your hands shape the cream cheese mixture into a large even ball.
  • Once you have formed the ball roll it in the pecan mixture until it is evenly coated.
  • Place the finished cheese ball on a plate and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  • Serve with your favorite crackers.

Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.

Appetizers

Recipe—Chubby Chicken Taquitos

This is one of the snacks I whipped up for my Super Bowl get together a couple weeks back and they turned out AMAZING! I find many of the store bought taquitos are too much tortilla, not enough meat. That is not the case with these, hence the name chubby chicken taquitos. These things are stuffed with all sorts of delicious flavors. In fact they were so filling I think they would even make an awesome meal. These aren’t spicy in the least so they are great for the whole family. Keep these in mind for a fun dinner or even your next fiesta!

Note: The recipe is written for baked taquitos but I fried half and baked half just to compare. They were equally good but the fried ones had a nice light crisp to them that was wonderful. Feel free to use your preferred cooking method.

INGREDIENTS
3 chicken breasts
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c green salsa
juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp sliced green onions
1 1/2 c jack cheese
10–12 soft taco sized flour tortillas
cooking spray
kosher salt

DIPPING SAUCES
salsa
sour Cream
guacamole

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add chicken breasts.
  • Boil chicken breast for 20–25 minutes.
  • While the chicken is boiling, combine the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir in the cilantro, green onions, and cheese.
  • Set the filling mixture aside.
  • Remove chicken from pot and place on a large cutting board to cool.
  • Using a large fork shred the chicken breasts to pieces.
  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Heat 3–4 tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave (This makes them soft and easier to work with.)
  • Spoon some of the chicken filling down the center of the tortilla and roll tightly.
  • Place the finished taquitos seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet making sure they don’t touch.
  • Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling until gone.
  • Spray the tops of the taquitos with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake for 15–20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Dinners, Soups

Recipe—Creamy White Chicken Chili

Chili is one of my favorite comfort foods and I love that this is a fun twist on the classic bean based dish, and the fact that it is super easy is a huge plus too. I took several different recipes I found online and mixed them all together and came up with this one for creamy white chicken chili. I think it turned out pretty darn fabulous! I used green chilies keeping it really mild so that everyone in the family would eat it but you can substitute jalapeños to give it a good kick. The mild heat is really balanced out nicely with the creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the corn. I served it up with some cut up tortillas on the side but a quesadilla would be great too. If you have any chili cook offs coming up give this recipe a shot. You may just get some extra points for thinking outside the box.

Note: To simplify this recipe and shave off some time, pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store and skip the first four steps. You can chop it up while the veggies are cooking.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2-4 oz cans diced green chilies (use jalapeños if you like it hot)
15.5 oz can cannellini beans
1 1/2 c chicken broth
8.5 oz can corn
8 oz cream cheese, cut into a few pieces
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and season with salt and pepper.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot or saucepan.
  • Add the chicken and cook through stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil.
  • Heat the oil in the same pot and add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and oregano.
  • Season the veggies with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring ever minute or so.
  • Add the green chilies and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the can of beans and all the juices, the broth, corn, and cooked chicken.
  • Simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add in the cream cheese.
  • Stir the chili until the cream cheese is completely melted and smooth.
  • Allow the chili to simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the cilantro.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Talk about a match made in heaven! Two classic American desserts coming together to make one heck of a fabulous and indulgent dish. This delicious recipe is perfect for all the holiday social events this time of year. I recently made it for my office party and it was a hit. I cut the squares pretty small so that they were easy to handle and could be eaten as a finger food. This reminds me a lot of Dutch apple pie á la mode. You have the crisp topping drizzled with syrupy caramel, the soft spiced apples, and the creamy sweet cheesecake layer all over a buttery crust. This is a great recipe to keep in mind come Christmas since you can prepare it a day or two in advance giving you some extra time with your guests on Christmas day. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

CRUST INGREDIENTS
2 c flour
½ c brown sugar
1 c butter, softened
½ tsp cinnamon

CHEESECAKE FILLING INGREDIENTS
3-8 oz packages cream cheese
3/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

APPLE LAYER INGREDIENTS
3 apples peeled, cored, and finely chopped
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

STREUSEL TOPPING INGREDIENTS
1 c brown sugar
1 c flour
½ c oats
½ c butter, softened
1 c caramel topping

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon and mix with your hands until crumbly.
  • Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with foil making sure to go up the sides. (The helps you to easily remove the final cheesecake from the dish making it a breeze for cutting into bars.)
  • Press the crumbly mixture into the bottom of the lined pan making sure it is an even thickness.
  • Bake crust for 15 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the warm crust and using a rubber spatula carefully spread it so that it is an even layer.
  • In a small bowl stir together all the apple layer ingredients.
  • Sprinkle the apples over the cream cheese layer.
  • In a small bowl combine the streusel ingredients and using your hands mix until crumbly.
  • Sprinkle the streusel over the apple layer.
  • Bake for 40–45 minutes.
  • Allow the cheesecake to cool and then drizzle with the caramel sauce.
  • Once cheesecake is room temperature store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • To serve, carefully lift the finished cheesecake from the pan by holding the edges of the foil.
  • Transfer to a large cutting board and cut into bars.
  • Serve cold.