Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS

2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES

cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.
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Recipe—Creamy Tomatillo Chicken

Creamy Tomatillo Chicken

Tomatillos are one of those things that I am just figuring out what to do with. I remember as a kid peeling the husks off them all summer long since my mom grew them in her garden but all I remember her really making was her tomatillo salsa.

Every once in awhile I end up with a small bag of them from a friend or our produce delivery. Never enough to actually make a whole batch of salsa with. But now I can say I have two recipes that use tomatillos. One is my green chicken chili, which I promise to post soon, and the other is this incredible Creamy Tomatillo Chicken recipe.

If you can prepare the sauce the night before it is perfect for a busy workday. Just come home, take the marinated chicken out of the bag, and bake. After marinating for that long you are sure to get a super juicy and flavorful chicken breast. The ranch gives it a nice refreshing quality while the cilantro and lime give it a little zip! While I served this with rice which was awesome, I really want to try the chicken chopped up over some greens with corn, black beans, and some red bell pepper. The sauce would make for an amazing dressing over a little southwest salad!

INGREDIENTS
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 tsp garlic
1 c cilantro leaves
4 tomatillos, husked and chopped
1 tsp lime juice
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

GARNISHES (Optional)
Lime wedges
Extra cilantro leaves

STEPS

  • Add into a blender the mayonnaise, buttermilk, ranch dressing mix, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and lime juice.
    Blend until well combined and transfer about half of the mix to a one-gallon Ziploc Bag.
  • Add the chicken to the bag and seal tightly.
  • Store the chicken in the fridge and marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
  • Transfer the remaining marinade in a small bowl, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • When ready to begin cooking preheat the oven to 375º and transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish.
  • Dispose of the leftover marinade.
  • Bake the chicken for 20–25 minutes or until cooked completely through.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken to the plate and poor the additional sauce over the top.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and some fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Enjoy! 

Recipe adapted from Creme de la Crumb.

Recipe—Italian Cheese Rolls

Italian Cheese Rolls

Sometimes you just need to spruce up the ordinary with a little pizzazz. While there is nothing wrong with plain garlic bread or even simple dinner rolls but sometimes it is fun to take those sides dishes to the next level. I have seen these cheese filled Pillsbury rolls popping up all over Pinterest and decided to come up with some yummy rolls of my own. I went with an Italian version to go with all the pasta dishes I make, a great substitute for the traditional garlic bread.

Italian Cheese Rolls

INGREDIENTS
1 container of Pillsbury Grands Flaky Biscuits
block of mozzarella, cut into eight 1.5” x 1.5” cubes
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
salt

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Open the tube of rolls and flatten each one using the palms of your hands.
  • Position a cheese cube in the center of each flattened roll and wrap the edges of the roll up around the cheese cube making sure they are sealed up tight.
  • Place seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Repeat until all the rolls have been assembled.
  • Mix together the melted butter and garlic.
  • Brush each roll with the garlic butter.
  • Sprinkle all the rolls with the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and a little salt.
  • Bake the rolls for 16–18 minutes or until they are golden on top.
  • Let the rolls cool for about 3 minutes before serving. That cheesy filling can be nuclear.

Recipe—The Perfect Turkey

Perfect Turkey Dinner

To brine or not to brine? That is the ongoing question I have people ask me about cooking a turkey. Well here is your answer, I am a briner. I have prepared turkeys both brined and not. While I am no professional chef I would consider my self very versed in eating. I personally think brined turkeys come out with more flavor and are more moist than that of a turkey that is not brined. Some of you may be asking, “what the heck is brining?”

Brining is the process of soaking your turkey in a salt (and sometimes herb) infused bath for several hours prior to cooking. I find that your bird will be more evenly flavored and it will also be the moistest bird you ever have.

Brining the Turkey

I make an awesome citrus herb rub (see recipe below) for my turkey. It is flavor packed and will make all your dinner guests ohhhh and ahhhh. The orange zest is not overpowering at all. It actually is a really nice complement to all the other flavors of a thanksgiving dinner. Trust me. I know how to make a delicious turkey.

Perfect Turkey

Notes: Do not brine your turkey if it is self basting, pre seasoned, or kosher. If you do not have a pan that is large enough you may use an oversized bowl, ice chest, or even a baking bag tied off. The key is that the bird is completely submerged.

BRINING INGREDIENTS
1 c kosher salt
2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp pepper
thawed turkey

STEPS FOR BRINING

  • Find a large pot that will hold your turkey making sure you have at least an inch or two of room at the top.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in your pot.
  • Add the salt and sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Remove the pan from heat and add in 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper.
  • Place the pot in your sink (this will help in case any liquid overflows).
  • Remove all of the giblets and neck from your turkey and gently lower it into the pot.
  • Cover the pot with a lid or saran wrap.
  • Place the pot in the fridge and marinade for 12–16 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey and pat dry.

Citrus Herb Turkey Rub

TURKEY INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 c Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 oranges, zested and quartered
1 c butter, softened
1 brined turkey

STEPS FOR TURKEY

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a small bowl combine the garlic, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, chili powder, orange zest, and butter and mix until well combined.
  • Starting from the neck of the turkey, carefully separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers.
  • Push about half of the herbed butter mixture under the skin and spread it out evenly. (Don’t be afraid really get it all over in there! The butter will melt and all those yummy flavors will just seep into the meat.)
  • Use the other half of the mixture to evenly cover the top and sides of the turkey.
  • Place the orange quarters inside the turkey’s cavity.
  • Place the seasoned turkey in a roasting pan and loosely cover with foil.
  • Roast the turkey for 20–23 minutes per pound and baste every 45 minutes. (Note: If you are running out of juices in the pan just add some chicken broth or cubes of butter.)
  • Remove the foil for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
  • When the temperature in the meatiest part of the turkey reaches 165º remove it from oven and allow it to rest for 25–30 minutes.
  • Carve and gobble up.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

Recipe—Tuscan Tortellini Soup

Tuscan Tortellini Soup

I saw this recipe a couple of months back for a ravioli soup and knew I had to try it. Well I am never one to really “follow” a recipe so I mixed things up and created a tortellini soup. Tortellini are far less doughy so you have these fabulously light cheese filled pillows floating around in a rich creamy tomato soup and then of course some big hearty chunks of sausage in the mix as well. This soup was phenomenal! My four-year-old son gobbled it up and he is usually kind of weird about soups (I think it is a texture thing). This recipe made a massive pot, which allowed us to have a full dinner and then also freeze a bunch for future meals. Tuscan tortellini soup is perfect for a chilly winter day and is so quick and easy to prepare. I could go for a big bowl of it right now!

INGREDIENTS
2 lb ground Italian sausage
4 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
4 c chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 c half & half
1 c heavy cream
6 oz bag baby spinach leaves, chopped
18–20 oz fresh four cheese tortellini (I got two 9 oz packages.)
1 c parmesan cheese, shredded
croutons

STEPS

  • Brown the sausage over medium-high heat in a VERY large soup pot.
  • Once the meat is about halfway cooked add the butter, onion, and garlic and cook until the union is soft and transparent.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and chopped spinach.
  • Bring to a boil and add salt and garlic powder.
  • Boil for 10 minutes making sure to stir frequently.
  • While the soup is boiling cook your tortellini in a separate pot per package instructions and drain.
  • Add the half & half and heavy cream to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the parmesan and cooked tortellini until the cheese is melted.
  • Transfer the soup to a bowl using a ladle.
  • Top with croutons and additional parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from Kleinworth & Co.

Recipe—Smothered Chicken

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.

Recipe—Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

Every couple of months I get together with a fabulous group of ladies for a book club meeting. I don’t know why we really call it a book club meeting because about 20% of the time is spent discussing the book we read and the other 80% is spent drinking fabulous wines, eating delicious foods, and catching up with some good old fashioned girl talk. Maybe wine and food club meeting would be more appropriate? Either way, we always end with an awesome variety of the most wonderful treats. Our last meeting was on a Friday night right around dinnertime so I wanted to bring something filling and yet low carb (I try and cut out carbs from the food when I know I will be consuming plenty in the wine.) These were absolutely wonderful! They were light yet completely filling. The meatballs were packed full of wonderful Mexican flavors and they really complemented the turkey nicely. The refreshing creamy cilantro lime sauce is actually from a recipe I shared a couple months back for shrimp taco cups. I LOVED that sauce and wanted to make it again. I could put that sauce on everything. So tasty!

CREAMY CILANTRO LIME SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1/3 c mayonnaise
1/2 c sour cream
2 tbsp milk
2 oz. canned diced green chilies
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS
1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c panko or breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

SAUCE STEPS

  • To make the sauce combine all sauce ingredients except the cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Add in cilantro and pulse until combined.
  • Refrigerate sauce until ready to use.

MEATBALL STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a large bowl combine all meatball ingredients.
  • Using your hands mix well.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop a spoonful of the meat mixture and shape into 1”–1 1/4” round meatballs.
  • Place the formed meatballs into a greased baking dish making sure they don’t touch.
  • Bake for 16–20 minutes.
  • Serve hot with the cool cilantro lime dipping sauce.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe­—Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Greens

Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Greens

I love a big thick juicy homemade beef burger just as much as any one else, but I also love coming up with tasty alternatives to the all American meal. When I saw a recipe for an Italian sausage burger on Huffington Post I knew I had to try it. I love the flavor of Italian sausage and like Popeye I love my greens. So I made my own little tweaks and made these fantastic Italian sausage burgers. They were awesome! They are definitely rich, but oh so tasty.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb bulk Italian sausage, formed into 4 thin patties
4 slices of provolone cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 bunch chard, kale, or spinach, inner stalks stripped out and greens chopped
salt
1/4 c pesto
1/4 c mayonnaise
4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half

STEPS

  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat.
  • Add the sausage patties and cook until browned on the bottom, about 5–7 minutes.
  • Flip the patties and cook on the other side for an additional 5–7 minutes or until cooked all the way through. (Top each patty with a slice of provolone during the last couple of minutes.)
  • While the sausage patties are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and chopped greens.
  • Cook until the greens are wilted and tender and season with salt.
  • Place the ciabatta rolls in the oven to lightly toast and heat through.
  • In a small bowl mix together the pesto and mayonnaise.
  • Spread the cut side of each roll with the pesto mayonnaise.
  • Place the cooked patty on the bottom bun and top with cooked greens and top bun.

Recipe adapted from Huffington Post.

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.

Recipe—Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

My husband and I grew up in a very small town so on the weekends it was not out of the norm for us to drive an hour to go to the closest mall or to go find some entertainment outside of town. On our way back home we frequently passed this wonderful little Italian deli. They had the BEST sandwiches and side salads. One of the side salads, which my husband absolutely loved, was their Italian pasta salad. I did my best to recreate this salad just for him. This makes a party sized batch, so if you are just making it for the family I recommend halving it. This is a perfect salad for a bbq or potluck and is sure to be a hit with all partygoers.

Note: This pasta salad will last approximately 4 days in the fridge. It gets better each and every day as the Italian dressing soaks into the pasta and veggies.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb rotini noodles
2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 c Newman’s Family Recipe Italian dressing
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, sliced
2-6 oz jars artichoke hearts. drained
1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 c mozzarella cheese, cut into squares
2.25 oz can black olives, sliced
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water and the 2 tbsp of salt to a boil.
  • Add noodles and cook per package instructions.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bow.
  • Add the Italian dressing, garlic, red bell pepper, red onion, celery, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  • Refrigerate the pasta for 3 or more hours.  The longer the better.
  • Stir well before serving.