Monday, April 30, 2012

Cilantro Lime Pesto and Chicken Tacos

Did you know that basil pesto isn't the only kind of pesto?  I have seen sun-dried tomato pesto and then I found this cilantro lime pesto.  Who knew?  

This cilantro lime version is the perfect way to liven up your tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas or I think it would be great drizzled over a salad.

I only had one problem.  The original recipe called for 3 Tbl. of fresh chopped garlic.  I thought that sounded like a lot, so I only used 2 Tbl and even with 2 Tbl. it was super garlicky.  My mouth was burning with garlic flavor the rest of the night.  You did not want to get close to me! Ha Ha.  Next time, I will only use 1 Tbl. and see how that goes.  Other than that, the flavor was amazing and I can't wait to try it on all kinds of dishes!
adapted from: Food Network

1 c. fresh cilantro (no stems)
2 1/2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbl. sliced toasted almonds
1 Tbl. chopped fresh garlic
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 c. shredded Asiago (or Parmesan)
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 c. chicken broth

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Serve as desired.  This can also be frozen.

Jenn's Notes: The original recipe called for 3 Tbl. of garlic.  I recommend using WAY less and I typed the above recipe with a lesser amount.  Other than that, it was delicious.  

Chicken Tacos
grilled chicken, sliced
black or pinto beans, warmed
shredded Monterey or Cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce, opt.
sour cream
homemade salsa
corn or flour tortillas

You can really serve these however you like with whatever toppings you like.  I grilled my chicken on the George Foreman, cut into slices and then served in my taco and drizzled the cilantro lime pesto over the top.  You could also cook the chicken in a skillet, cube it and toss the cooked chicken in the pesto.

Other versions can be seen over at What's Cookin' Chicago! and Brandy's Crafts!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Easiest Salsa Around {Blender Salsa}

This is my absolute FAVORITE salsa right now.  Ever since I first discovered it a few months ago, I have made a batch AT LEAST every other week, if not once a week - no lie.  It reminds me of salsa I have had at various restaurants.  I swear you will never buy store-bought salsa again. 
  • I love it plain with chips
  • I love it mixed with sour cream, cream cheese or Greek yogurt for a creamy dip 
  • I love it served over any kind of taco, burrito, quesadilla, enchiladas, etc . . .
  • I love it served over breakfast dishes.  Did you know that eggs and salsa taste great together?   
Since this EASY salsa uses canned tomatoes, you never have to worry about it tasting bad from un-ripened tomatoes and because you add fresh onions, cilantro and lime juice, it tastes like a fresh salsa.  All the ingredients are pureed together and it's not too spicy, so you can LOAD it on your chip, like me.

There are so many versions of this floating around the web, I combined a few and came up with the perfect version, according to my taste.

Now, I know salsa is like a chocolate chip cookie.  Every Single Person has their own opinion about how it should be.  That is what is so great about this recipe.  My version below is more of a mild version.  If you want it hotter, use original Rotel or add jalapenos.  If you want a few chunks, don't puree it as much, if you don't love cumin like I do, then add less.  You get the picture.  You really can do whatever you want with this recipe.  
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (10 oz.) can mild Rotel, drained
1/4 med. onion
1 clove garlic, peeled 
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin, or to taste
big handful on cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime

*Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles) is pretty spicy on its own (even the mild one), so depending on how spicy you want it, you can add 1/2 - 1 jalapeno.  I never add a jalapeno, but I add a small sprinkle of cayenne.

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and process until it reaches desired consistency.  Taste and adjust as needed.  Store in mason jars in the refrigerator.  Makes enough to almost fill two 16 oz. mason jars.  (I use a food processor and I don't chop anything before hand, but if you are using a blender, you might want to roughly chop the onion and garlic to help it blend better).  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homemade Sno Balls

Do you remember eating those Hostess Sno Balls when you were a kid?  I do!

I got a new cookbook the other day and I love it.  The first recipe I wanted to try out of it was for "Pinkies" which is a homemade, WAY BETTER, version of a Sno Ball.  Then, I saw Cheryl make them on a recent Paula Deen episode.  So, it was meant to be. I made them that night.

I'm pretty sure I followed the cake recipe exactly, but something happened while they were baking.  The cupcakes had been in the oven for about 15 minutes, so I went over there and turned on the oven light so I could take a peek.   


What happened?

I think a chocolate volcano just erupted in my oven.

You should have seen it.  I wished I would had taken a picture to show you guys.  So, I pulled them out and had to clean my oven.  Of course, I had to sneak a taste of what chocolate cake was remaining in the pan.  It was DELICIOUS.  The cake was so flavorful, but there was no way I could use what was left for my dessert.  Since I already had my coconut colored and my filling made, I went with a good old trusty Devil's Food Cake Mix and I added freshly brewed coffee instead of the water, to replicate the flavor of the scratch ones. 

So, if you dare try the from scratch version, the flavor will be delicious.  I would recommend filling the cupcake liners WAY LESS than suggested.

If you want the easier route, the cake mix tasted super good too!

I think these Homemade Sno Balls turned out SO GOOD!  They are light and not too sweet.  They will take you back to your childhood, so give them a try.   
 Homemade Sno Balls
18 chocolate cupcakes, either from scratch or a box mix

Whipped Coconut Buttercream
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. whole milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 Lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar

Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of the milk, the vanilla and the coconut extract in a small saucepan and whisk until blended.  Set the pan over medium heat and gradually add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, whisking constantly.  Cook the mixture, whisking until it comes to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken and starts to "burp", 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to keep it lump free.  If you do get some lumps, press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), whip the butter until soft and creamy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the cooled milk mixture, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy, like whipped cream, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of bowl occasionally.  Yield: about 6 cups

How to Tint Coconut
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
1 Tbl. water
liquid food coloring (I used 3 drops of red)
4 c. sweetened flaked coconut

Add the water and food coloring to a large mason jar (if you don't have a big enough jar, you will want to do this in two batches).  Swirl around until the water and food coloring are combined.  Add the coconut, top with the lid, and shake until all the coconut is evenly coated and colored.  Spread out over a paper towel and allow to dry.  This will take several hours.  I would recommend making it the night before.  

To assemble the cupcakes:  Use a paring knife and scoop out a hole in the middle of each cupcake, about 1 inch deep.  Fill each hole with frosting.  Turn the cupcake upside down and frost top and sides of cupcake with frosting.  Press the colored coconut into the top and sides of each cupcake (or roll the cupcake in the coconut).  Place in a cupcake liner and serve.  

Jenn's Notes:  These are really really good!  The frosting is not too sweet at all, so if I was using it for another dessert, that wouldn't be coated in sweetened coconut, I would probably add a little extra sugar.  Also, I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla and I couldn't taste the coconut flavor in my finished frosting and I would add a little more next time.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rocky Road Brownies

This brownie recipe was one of the first recipes that got me into baking (5 or 6 years ago).  One of my co-workers, Liz, would make these every once in a while and bring them to work for us to munch on.  They were one of the best brownies I had ever eaten.  I was used to store-bought brownies and box mix brownies and had never tried a "from scratch" version.  I was so impressed that a young woman (like myself at the time) could create such a yummy treat.  I was used to Mom's and Grandma's making treats, not young women.  I guess you could say that's what started it all - my foodie obsession!

I started making these weekly, then monthly, then here and there.  Eventually, I kind of forgot about them and moved onto other recipes.  Well, at work the other day, the same day I had chili cheese potatoes, I also had a marshmallow brownie for dessert.  It was chewy, gooey, very rich and was topped with a creamy frosting. 

I just couldn't get over how good they were and I had to find out who made them and get the recipe.  I got the recipe and couldn't wait to make them as soon as I got home.  I decided to check the recipe to Liz's.  It was the exact same recipe, no wonder I LOVED these brownies so much.  I hadn't made them for a few years and had forgotten what was in them.  It reminded me how much I loved them.  The only difference was Liz makes homemade frosting and the ones from work had store-bought frosting.  Whichever you prefer, they will be AMAZING.

If you have never tried a brownie recipe from scratch, let this be the first one.  You never know what/who might come from it! 
Rocky Road Brownies
adapted from: Liz M.
(Printable Recipe)

1 c. melted butter
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla        
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
chopped walnuts or pecans, opt.
1 (10 oz.) bag mini marshmallows

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. evaporated milk, more or less
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. powdered sugar


1 container store-bought milk chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine melted butter, sugar and cocoa powder.  Add flour, vanilla, salt, eggs and nuts.  Whisk together until completely smooth and well combined.  You can either use a hand mixer or a whisk for this.  Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with the marshmallows.  Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed up.  Allow to cool and then  spread homemade icing or store-bought frosting over the top.  To make the icing:  Using a hand mixer, beat butter until fluffy.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and creamy, adding evaporated milk as you go to reach desired consistency.       

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fresh Orange Honey Butter

I found this Sweet Orange Butter over at Real Mom Kitchen and she claimed that this butter would make an ordinary roll taste like an orange roll.  Did I hear the words Orange Roll?  

Well, it was delicious.  It was smooth and creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness and a nice strong orange flavor.  It definitely will liven up your plain old rolls!   

If orange butter isn't your thing, try my favorite Cinnamon Honey Butter instead. 

Fresh Orange Honey Butter

1/2 c. butter, room temperature
3 Tbl. powdered sugar
1 Tbl. honey
1/4 tsp. vanilla
grated zest from one orange

Beat butter until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, honey, vanilla and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy.  Serve with your favorite rolls.   

adapted from: Amy Richardson as seen on Real Mom Kitchen

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich . . . So Good!

This sandwich is CRAZY GOOD.  My mouth is watering and my stomach is growling just thinking about it.  Imagine . . . . A fat grilled chicken breast brushed with copycat Winger's Sticky Finger Sauce, topped with a blue cheese ranch dressing, crunchy bacon and a crisp piece of lettuce!  Is your mouth watering now?  Not only does it taste delicious, but you can have this on the dinner table in less than 30 minutes.  This will be a frequent menu item no doubt about it.  I already have it planned again for next week. 
Men love this, women love this and I think kids might even love this.  Okay, maybe not the kids?  I personally don't think it is too spicy, but kids might. 
I would pay money for this one!
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

chicken breasts
3 Tbl. Frank's Hot Sauce (no substitutes)
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbl. water
bacon, cooked
ranch dressing
blue cheese crumbles
hamburger buns

For sticky buffalo sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the Frank's hot sauce, brown sugar and water until sugar dissolves and remove from heat.  It will thicken as it sits.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and any other desired seasonings.  Grill chicken on the George Foreman.  When chicken is almost done, brush top with sticky buffalo sauce, flip over and brush other side with sauce.  Finish cooking until chicken is done.  Meanwhile, combine some ranch dressing with some blue cheese crumbles, to taste.  Serve chicken on a hamburger bun with cooked bacon slices, lettuce and blue cheese ranch dressing.  Serve sandwiches with additional sticky buffalo sauce.  You can serve the whole breast on the bun, but it is easier to eat if you slice the chicken.  I can get 3-4 servings out of two large Costco chicken breasts, if I slice them before serving.        

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

I hate it when I buy an ingredient and plan on using it for one dish and then I don't end up making that dish and I still have the ingredient to use up.  That is what happened a few weeks ago with some Ricotta cheese.  I was going to make some skillet lasagna, but then ended up making regular spaghetti.  Then, I was going to make regular lasagna, but it didn't sound good anymore.  So, there sits this brand-new carton of Ricotta cheese in my fridge that is about to expire.  I try really hard to not waste ingredients, but I had no idea what to use that Ricotta for.

It couldn't have been more perfect timing.  I knew I had seen Giada make desserts using Ricotta before, so why not in a muffin?
I had frozen some fresh blackberries a few months earlier.  Once they had thawed, they were pretty wet and juicy.  You all know how I hate chunky berries in my muffins, so I pressed the blackberries through a fine-mesh strainer and then I swirled the juice into my muffins instead of adding whole chunks.  

These muffins are AMAZING! I would say they are in my top five BERRY muffins, right up there with these Old-Fashioned Blueberry Muffins and The Best Blueberry Muffins Ever.

The first day, they are light and fluffy and have an incredible flavor.  The next few days, they become a little more dense, but they are still moist and still have great flavor.  Adding the zest of two lemons might sound like a lot, but the end result only has a light lemon flavor and I think it is perfect.  
Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins
(Printable Recipe)

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. ricotta cheese (whole or low fat)
1 large egg
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. fresh blackberries
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest.  Rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and lemon zest mixture together until light and fluffy.  Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth.  Beat in the egg, lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.  Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill each muffin cup half way with batter.  Add three blackberries to each muffin cup.  Top the muffins with remaining batter so blackberries are covered.  Generously sprinkle turbinado sugar over each muffin top.  Bake muffins for about 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.  Let muffins cool for five minutes and serve.    

Jenn's Notes: Like I said above, I pressed my blackberries through a fine-mesh strainer and swirled the juice into the muffins instead of adding whole berries.  I also combined some cinnamon and granulated sugar and sprinkled that over the top of each muffin instead of turbinado sugar.  You have to fill the muffin cups full in order to only get 12 muffins and not have extra.  I was worried they were going to spread a lot and get crunchy on top, but the top was my favorite part!  I am still eating these, four days later, and they still taste great!    

Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod as seen on A Southern Fairy Tale

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grammy's White Sheet Cake

My mom made this cake for Easter.  We all ate a piece after lunch, plus I took four pieces home that night.  The next day, when I came home from work, all four pieces were gone.  What?  No one even saved me a piece? 
So, I did what any other person would have done. . . I got out the ingredients and made my own cake.  It is so easy to whip up, because you don't even have to get out the mixer.  

You must make this cake.

Then, you must hide it from everyone in your house, because it will disappear if you blink an eye.
  It is so tender and it melts in your mouth, it's buttery, it's extremely moist and it has a delicious rich frosting on top! I love rich desserts and this one hit the spot!  It tasted good with some fresh fruit, but honestly it is perfect served on its own.  

By the way, I made this on Monday night (a half a batch) and it is already GONE.  Not even a crumb is left and I am being begged to make it AGAIN! 

*Update 4/29/12 - I have already made this cake three times since Easter (4/08/12).  It is a family favorite and the only dessert anyone requests lately!*
Grammy's White Sheet Cake
adapted from: Frieda Loves Bread
(Printable Recipe)

1 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream

1 c. butter
6 Tbl. evaporated milk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. chopped pecans, opt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter and water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the sour cream and mix until blended.  Pour the batter into a well greased 11''x17'' sheet pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove cake from oven and allow to cool slightly while you make the frosting.  Put the butter and milk into a medium saucepan.  Heat until butter is melted and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla and a dash of salt.  Whisk until completely smooth.  Add nuts (if desired) and spread over cake.  

Jenn's Notes: I love this cake.  I tried it with non-fat plain yogurt instead of the sour cream and it was not as rich as it is with the sour cream, but it was just as moist.  By the time I added my frosting, my cake was completely cool.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beef Stroganoff from Scratch

Growing up, the only stroganoff I knew was My Mom's Stroganoff.  It was and still is one of my favorite things to eat.  As I have gotten older, I have discovered there are all types of versions of stroganoff.  I had been wanting to try the version from Our Best Bites, but the only thing that stopped me from making it was the type of meat it called for.  Then, the other day at work, my friend Natalie was talking about it and said she used ground beef.  What a great idea, why couldn't I use ground beef in this version too, because I love it in my Mom's? 

I thought this version was good and it was pretty similar in taste to my Mom's, but honestly I like hers a little better.  It is faster (less chopping) and easier and I think it tastes just a little better, but hey, that is what I grew up with!  The only reason I would make this version over my Mom's was if I had something against canned creamed soups, which some people do.  I did love that you can easily whip this up in less than 30 minutes! Fast and Easy.    
Beef Stroganoff from Scratch  
slightly adapted from: Our Best Bites Cookbook

1 Lb. top sirloin or tenderloin steak (I used ground beef)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbl. butter, divided  
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 c. onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 2 1/2 c. warm water
3 beef bouillon cubes
5 Tbl. flour
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 c. sour cream

Slice steak into strips 1/4-inch thick and about 2 inches long.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.  Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat and then add mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pan.  Saute for 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms are browned and onions are tender.  Remove mushrooms, onions and garlic from pan and set aside.  Slightly increase the heat and melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in pan. Add beef and saute, stirring for 3-5 minutes or until pink is no longer visible.  While the beef is cooking, whisk water, bouillon, flour and Worcestershire sauce together until smooth.  Add this mixture to the beef and return the mushroom mixture to the pan as well.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes to thicken.  Remove pan from heat and stir in sour cream  Add additional salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve over egg noodles or white rice.  Serves: 4.  

Jenn's Notes: I love to pile on the sauce, so I adjusted the recipe so it made quite a bit more and I typed it above with the measurements that I used.  Also, I cooked mine a little different - I added the ground beef to a large skillet and I cooked it until it was almost done and then I added the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the meat and I sauteed it all until the meat was done and the veggies were tender.  Then, I added the sauce and cooked until thickened and stirred in the sour cream.  I did not add any butter.  I served over egg noodles, but I do think it would be delicious over rice or a baked potato.    

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Peanut Butter and Honey Chewy Granola Bars

I am always looking for healthy snacks that can easily be made ahead of time and wrapped up and placed in my drawer at work to munch on when I get hungry.  I especially love it when I find healthy snacks that are not only fast and easy, but taste great too! I think these granola bars are yummy and I think they are great to eat for breakfast, during work for a mid-day snack or to send in your kid's lunches! 

These bars are chewy with a crunch here and there from the nuts, yet they are extremely soft.  They do break apart a little around the almonds, but I am okay with that.  You can taste both the peanut butter and the honey.  If you don't want the honey flavor, you could always use corn syrup instead, but they won't be as healthy that way.  Whatever the way, these are a great grab-and-go snack! 
Peanut Butter and Honey Chewy Granola Bars
2/3 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. raw almonds, toasted
1 c. rice krispies
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sunflower seeds 

Add peanut butter, honey and vanilla in a large saucepan and heat until the peanut butter melts.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Press into an 8x8 dish and let sit until firm.  Cut into bars and wrap in plastic wrap.    

Jenn's Notes: To toast almonds, spread out evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You should be able to smell a nutty aroma when they are done.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mom's Macaroni Salad

I am so NOT a pasta salad person, except for THIS pasta salad (and one other one).  I can easily pass by them at any lunch or barbeque without thinking twice.  I don't know why, but they have never been my thing.

However, this macaroni salad is my FAVORITE.  I grew up eating it and I still look forward to the few times a year when my Mom makes it.  She makes it on Easter and any other time we barbeque.   

I decided that I needed to learn how to make it.  Of course she has the recipe memorized and doesn't need to measure anything, but I made her sit down and write me a recipe with measurements.    

I tried it last Sunday and it turned out very yummy,  just like Mom's.  This was the first and only pasta salad I have ever made.  So, that's good news for you guys, because you can make this and have it turn out great on your first attempt.  If you are still looking for that perfect salad to take to Easter dinner, this one is a great choice.    
Mom's Macaroni Salad
from: Sharon H.
(Printable Recipe)

1 (16 oz.) pkg. salad roni (Ditalini)(about 3 cups)
1-2 cans tiny shrimp, rinsed and drained
3/4 - 1 c. celery, chopped
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped, opt.
    or scant 1/4 c. dried onions that have been hydrated in water
4 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

2 c. Miracle Whip
2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 tsp. yellow mustard

Cook noodles according to package directions.  When done, drain and rinse.  (Rinsing them will help prevent the noodles from sticking together in clumps).  Allow to cool and dry completely.  Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients.  Taste and adjust, if needed.  When noodles are cool and dry, add the tiny shrimp, celery, onion and chopped eggs.  Add the dressing and fold together until everything is completely coated.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with paprika before serving.    

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chili Cheese Baked Potatoes

We had a baked potato bar at work the other day.  One of the toppings was chili.  I love chili on everything else, so why not on a baked potato?  I thought it was so good and I couldn't wait to try it at home.  At work, they just used canned chili, which was yummy and you could always use that if you want, but I wanted to create a homemade chili that would be perfect on top of a potato.  My version is not as thick as the canned kind, but I thought it was perfect.  

I loved this dish and it was so easy to throw together.  You can whip this up on a weeknight in no time and the leftovers taste great too.  

Chili Cheese Baked Potatoes
from: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

1/2 Lb. lean ground beef
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 c. red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
pinch of smoked paprika, opt.

4 large Russet potatoes, baked
sour cream, for garnish
shredded Cheddar, for garnish
chopped green onions, for garnish

Brown ground beef in medium pot; add the chopped onions and peppers and saute until tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.  Taste and add more seasonings, if needed.  Let simmer, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste.  Serve over baked potatoes and garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese and green onions.  Yield: 4 big servings.  

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