Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fiesta Ranch Chicken

Sometimes a girl just needs a super easy, not complicated, next to none hands-on-time dinner recipe. 

I love Fiesta Ranch Dip.  Have you ever tried it?  You mix it with sour cream and dip potato chips in it.    It has an awesome Mexican flavor.  Fiesta Dip was actually one of the first dips I started making and taking to parties.  Hello . . . what person can't mix a packet of seasoning with sour cream?  Once I started cooking, I started experimenting with more complex dips.  

I knew I would love the flavor of this chicken because of that Fiesta Ranch.  It might not be the most complex dish, but it has a great basic flavor that I think your family will enjoy.

Fiesta Ranch mix can be found next to the regular Ranch mix at your local grocery store.
Fiesta Ranch Chicken
adapted from: The 36th Avenue
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

3-4 chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. sour cream
1 packet Fiesta Ranch mix
cooked rice, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken breasts in a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Stir together soup, sour cream and Fiesta Ranch mix.  Spread over chicken breasts.  Cover with foil and bake for 50-60 minutes (if chicken is frozen) or 35-40 minutes (if chicken is thawed) or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  Serve over cooked rice.  Serves: 3-4.   

Jenn's Notes: I used 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup and light sour cream.  Cream of chicken soup can be substituted for the cream of mushroom soup.  This can also be cooked in a crockpot.    

Linked up at Weekend Potluck! and Strut Your Stuff Saturday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blueberry Pancake Muffins

I could not resist that box of blueberry pancake mix that was staring me in the face at Walmart the other day. It was only $1.60-ish.  Deal. 

The plan was to actually make pancakes with the pancake mix, but when I needed a snack for work, blueberry muffins kept popping in my head.  

I took that pancake mix and added a few extra ingredients and turned them into some seriously yummy muffins.

They are light and fluffy just like a muffin should be.
Blueberry Pancake Muffins
adapted from: Krusteaz
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 1/2 c. blueberry pancake mix
2/3 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Cinnamon Sugar Topping (Opt.)
3 Tbl. brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, mix together all muffin ingredients until combined.  Do not overmix.  Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.  Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins.  Bake 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins.

Jenn's Notes:  These are best when eaten within two days. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Romney Family Table Review Plus Best White Cake Recipe

The Publisher provided me with a copy of this cookbook for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed herein are my own.

My first impression of "The Romney Family Table" from just looking at the pictures . . .
. . . This is going to be a good book :)

The first 77 pages are full of family stories, pictures and traditions with at least one recipe included in each category.  It is obvious that family is so important to Ann Romney and she truly believes in the importance of sitting around the dinner table with your children and enjoying a home cooked meal.

She tells you about raising five boys and all the adventures and hard times that come along with that.

Her stories are very well written and they kept me interested and for those of you that are wondering - she does not talk about politics.

Then, you start off the recipe section with Breads.  Like always, I want to make every single bread recipe.  How do Sweet Potato Muffins, Orange Rolls and No-Knead Bread sound?

This book has a lot of classic recipes that I never get sick of, such as . . . Lemon Squares, Great Granny's Banana Cake and Ann's Honey Wheat Bread.

I cannot wait to try her Homemade Caesar Dressing that does not have anchovies in it.

You are sure to find many favorites in the more than 125 recipes that are included in this hard-back book.

Not only are you going to benefit from all the great recipes in "The Romney Family Table,"  but Ann Romney is donating the proceeds to the Center for Neurological Diseases at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.

That has got to make you feel good about where your money is going.
I wanted to share with you one of the many delicious desserts in "The Romney Family Table."

This white cake recipe intrigued me.  I had never seen the mixing method that was used to make this cake.  I had to see what type of cake it created and if she calls it BEST White Cake, it is worth a try.

The crumb of the cake really is unique.  It is almost dry and it's crumbly, but when you taste it, it doesn't taste dry and the flavor is really good.  I made it exactly as the recipe said, even triple-sifting the cake flour.
The Icing is really the star of this cake.  It tastes like CARAMEL.  You first cook butter, brown sugar and milk on the stove and then mix it into powdered sugar.  It is fairly runny at first, but it sets up SO QUICK.  You have got to work fast.  Since it sets up so fast, I went with a quick layer in the middle and on the top.

I personally really liked it and I know I will end up eating more than my fair share.

Overall, I am happy with this book.  My favorite sections are the bread and desserts (surprise), but the other sections have some great recipes too.
Best White Cake
adapted from: Ann Romney
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. triple-sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk, divided
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and 2/3 cup of milk.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup of milk, eggs and vanilla and pour into the batter.  Beat for another 2 minutes.  Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes, then invert to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Top with icing.

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
4 Tbl. milk
2 c. powdered sugar

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the brown sugar and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in the milk and cook just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar.  Beat until it is smooth.  Spread half over first cake layer, top with 2nd cake layer and remaining icing.  If icing becomes too thick, simply add a little hot water until it returns to a texture you can work with.

Jenn's Notes: My cake took around 30 minutes to bake.  I garnished mine with pecans and it was super tasty. 

Linked up at Strut Your Stuff Saturday!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mint Cookies 'n Cream Pudding Cookies

This is one cookie you really really need to make.

It's the kind of cookie that every time you go into the kitchen you can't help but eat another one even if you already ate three today.  Oops :)  

Chewy like chocolate chip cookies, minty from the chips with an OREO flavor from the Cookies 'n Cream Bars and pudding.

Made them on a Friday night and they were still soft and delicious on Monday.  
These do not skimp on the add-ins.  Every single bite has some kind of minty or chocolatey goodness in it.

I have been a huge fan of these mint chips ever since I made these Red Velvet Cookies last year.  My local grocery store sells them all year round which is very dangerous, because I want to eat these cookies EVERY DAY.    
The un-baked cookie dough is irresistible too.

I only baked half of the dough the first night and I kept sneaking into the fridge for a taste of the dough.
"The Mr." isn't a huge mint fan like I am, so I made some without the mint chips and they were incredible.  

But not only do these taste INCREDIBLE, they are sweet on the eye too.  So pretty with the bright green color and OREO speckled Hershey's Cookies 'n Cream bars with the brown chocolate cookie.  

Loved them! 
Mint Cookies 'n Cream Pudding Cookies
adapted from: Creme de la Crumb
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 (4 oz.) box Cookies 'n Cream pudding mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
13 snack-size Cookies 'n Cream bars, broken into chunks
3/4 c. mint chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, dry pudding mix, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla.  Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add the cookies 'n cream bars and the mint chips and stir together.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Drop dough by spoonfuls (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons) onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cookies will look underdone.  Yield: around 36 cookies.

Jenn's Notes: I refrigerated my dough overnight.  I will absolutely make these again.   

Linked up at Time to Sparkle! and Tuesday Talent Show! and Strut Your Stuff Saturday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baked Tex-Mex Taquitos

I was driving home from work today and I see this little maroon car stopped in the middle of the street.  I'm thinking oh no, the car must have stalled.  I slow down and prepare to stop incase they need help pushing the car to the side (even though I'm a wuss and wouldn't be much help) and as I get up to the car, there is a young girl typing on her cell phone.

Uh, what?

She didn't even bother to pull off to the side of the road to type her text, she just stopped in the middle of the road and figured no one was around, so it didn't matter.

What a smartie :)
Anyway,  I really wanted some homemade corn salsa, but since it has fresh avocado in it, we have to eat it pretty quickly before it turns brown.

My solution?  Mix the extra salsa in with some chicken and cream cheese and roll it up in a tortilla.

"The Mr." made his with flour tortillas and served with Taco Bell Fire Sauce (his latest and greatest hot sauce love) and I made mine with my favorite corn tortillas and covered in lettuce and extra corn salsa.

I LOVE corn salsa.

 Next time I make it, I will snap a few pics and share the recipe with all ya' all.

Until then . . . Stay clear of little maroon cars on the road :)
Serve alongside:
Baked Tex-Mex Taquitos
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  (I bake mine with taco seasoning, lemon pepper, s&p)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. Monterey cheese, grated
3/4 c. corn & bean salsa
juice of 1/2 a lime
3/4 tsp. cumin, or to taste
3/4 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
2 Tbl. chopped cilantro
6 corn or flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine all ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.  Heat tortillas in the microwave for 15-30 seconds or until pliable.  Divide filling evenly between tortillas.  Roll up tightly and place, seam side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Spray tops of taquitos lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp.  Serves 2-3. 

Jenn's Notes: I used a homemade corn and bean salsa, but you can purchase one at the grocery store.  If you can't find one, you can always use regular salsa and add some beans.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Two Ingredient BBQ Chicken

This recipe is pretty much a no-brainer.  It is the simplest recipe ever.

We had a luncheon at work the other day and my friend, Nate, was in charge.  It was a dutch oven themed lunch.  We had dutch oven potatoes, pasta salads, barbequed ribs, this yummy barbequed chicken and desserts.

This chicken was so tender and juicy and had great flavor.  I couldn't believe he poured BBQ sauce over frozen chicken and that was it.  He didn't even add salt and pepper.  It's all about the BBQ sauce.  Sweet Baby Rays has great flavor and it's pretty peppery, so no seasonings are needed.

It's easy enough for a weeknight and tasty enough for Sunday dinner.    Delicious.  

Serve alongside:
Two-Ingredient BBQ Chicken
adapted from: Nate H.
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

4 frozen chicken breasts
1 bottle Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken breasts in a large, oven-safe, pot (one with a lid).  Pour bottle of barbeque sauce over the top.  Cover with lid and bake for 50-55 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  Remove from oven and serve.

*This recipe is written using frozen chicken breasts, you can use thawed breasts, but your baking time will vary.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Monster Candy Rice Krispie Treats

There is a deli called Hickory Kist not far from my work.   They sell the biggest, fattest, softest rice krispie treats EVER.  I have no idea what their secret is to keeping them so soft?  You can order them from one of their locations or you can walk into almost any gas station and buy one.

For awhile there, I couldn't get out of the gas station without one in my hand.  I finally decided I needed to scale back on the rice krispie treat budget :)
It had been awhile since I last ate one, then last week, my boss ordered a big tray of them for a meeting.  So So So GOOD. 

It reminded me how much I loved them and it only made me want more.

There was no way I was going to buy them, I was going to make my own, but I didn't want plain krispie treats.  I wanted MONSTER treats and I had more than enough candy to load inside.
I have all these bags of candy with only a few pieces left in each one.  They were practically begging to be made into a cookie bar or rice krispie treat.

Every bite of these krispie treats is a surprise.  You never know which chocolatey treat you are going to get.  They are delicious and exactly what you will want when you find yourself with lots of leftover Halloween candy.
After day one, the secret is to zap them in the microwave for 8-10 seconds.
You will have ooey, gooey and chewy rice krispie treats all over again.
Monster Candy Rice Krispie Treats
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

4 Tbl. unsalted butter
16 oz. mini marshmallows
6 c. Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped up candy

I used:
6 fun-size Snickers, roughly chopped
6 Reese's Miniatures Cups, cut into fourths
7 Caramel Kisses, cut in half
1/2 c. M&M's
*2 Tbl. white chocolate chips

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the cereal and then the chopped up candy.  Pour mixture into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan and lightly press down to form bars.  Allow to cool.  Cut and serve.  After day one, they taste amazing if you zap them in the microwave for 8-10 seconds.   

* I added the white chocolate chips in with the marshmallows, so they melted and helped create a creamy coating.  

Linked up at Saturday Night Fever and Tuesday Talent Show! and Time to Sparkle

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fresh Garden Tomato Chili

My mom brought me a big bag of fresh garden tomatoes the other day.  Garden tomatoes have such an amazing flavor.  A flavor unlike any store-bought tomato.

Rather than eating the usual BLT or making salsa with the tomatoes, I wanted to try something different.  I had seen a recipe for Fresh Tomato Chili awhile back and I wanted to create my own version.

I am super happy with how it turned out and the flavor is incredible.  I prefer a thick and chunky chili and so I simmered mine with the lid off and that way the liquid evaporated.  To top it all off, I added a healthy amount of shredded Cheddar, a dollop of sour cream and some green onions . . .  mmm.

I will make this recipe over and over again.  If you can't get any garden tomatoes, you can always use regular store-bought tomatoes.  The flavor will be a little different, but it will still be good.  If you like a little kick to your chili, you can add some chipotle chili powder or a diced canned chipotle chili in adobo.

Serve alongside:
French Bread Rolls
Soft and Chewy French Bread
Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits
Chili Cheese Bake Potatoes (use leftovers)
Fresh Garden Tomato Chili
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1/2 Lb. lean ground beef
1/2 Lb. ground pork or ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 c. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
*10 med-large tomatoes, peeled, seeded
    and roughly chopped
1 Tbl. chili powder, or to taste
2 tsp. ground cumin, or to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste
1 tsp. oregano, or to taste
2 bay leaves, opt.
1 Tbl. brown sugar
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans, undrained

For serving:
sour cream
shredded Cheddar cheese
chopped green onions
Fritos or tortilla chips

Brown ground beef and ground pork or turkey in a large pot over medium heat.  A few minutes before it is completely cooked through, add the chopped bell pepper and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute 30 more seconds.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.  I like to simmer mine for at least 2 hours for better flavor.  The longer it simmers the more the liquid will evaporate.  If you like more liquid, then simmer with the lid on.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. 

Garnish with sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and serve with Fritos or crushed tortilla chips.  Serves: 4.    

*For the tomatoes:  Soak in hot water for 2 minutes and use a paring knife to remove the peel.  Cut in half horizontally and remove the seeds.  Remove the stem and roughly chop.  These will break down during the cooking process, so no need to be precise here.      

Linked up at Tuesday Talent Show!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

These are melt-in-your-mouth-better-give-the-entire-batch-away-cookies or you will eat EVERY SINGLE ONE by yourself.  You think I'm kidding?  Learn from my experience :)
We had an event at work a few months ago and they ordered in some cookies.  One of the cookies was a peanut butter cup stuffed soft and chewy peanut butter cookie rolled in sugar.  It was one of the BEST peanut butter cookies I had ever had.
I was bound and determined to create a similar recipe at home.

These are pretty darn close, but none-the-less they are DIVINE.  SO DANG GOOD.  Like dangerously good.
The secret is to not overbake them.  Even one minute too long will change the texture.  They should be super soft with a slight chewiness to them.

After you try this recipe, you might find yourself keeping Reese's on hand at all times.   Just saying :)
PB Cup Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
24-30 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures 
1/3 c. sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter, brown sugar and sugar until very light and fluffy.  Add the peanut butter, then the egg and the vanilla.  Beat until combined.  Slowly add the baking soda, salt and flour.  Mix until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.  Scoop out about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of dough and flatten.  Place one peanut butter cup in the center and form dough around the peanut butter cup.  Roll into a ball and roll in sugar.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Repeat.  Bake for 9-10 minutes.  No longer.  Yield: 24-30 cookies.

Jenn's Notes: All of the times I have made this recipe, I have let the dough sit in the refrigerator overnight.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

It was one of those weekends.

Ya know, the kind where . . .

1.  Your dryer breaks on Saturday when you have a full load of wet towels

2.  Your oven breaks (again) on Sunday when you are dying to bake Low-Fat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3.  You think you have Monday off work , but you find out it really isn't for two more weeks (Columbus Day).  Bummer big-time.

4.  Breaking Bad is OVER

But hey, it could always be worse.  LUCKILY, I got both of the appliance parts I needed for $100 and they are easy enough to just install yourself. 
This soup is exactly what I needed.  It's Fast and it's Easy and not to mention, DELICIOUS.  "The Mr." and I both loved it and I WILL be making it again.     

It's thick and creamy and doesn't taste semi-homemade.
I used this cheese tortellini that I got at Costco a few months ago.  It was only $9 or so for a TON of tortellini.  I divided it up and froze it and I have been using it ever since.  Love it.   

We served our soup with some sliced french bread and are having the leftovers tonight along with my favorite Lighter and Leaner Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches.

Make It. Love it.
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1/2 Lb. Italian sausage, opt.
1/4 c. chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans tomato soup
1 (14.5 oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 c. half-and-half (I used fat-free)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbl. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
9 oz. cheese-filled tortellini
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
    plus more for serving
Opt: 1 Tbl. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbl. cold water

Brown sausage in large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped bell pepper and saute until tender.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Drain any grease.  Add the tomato soup, chicken broth, half-and-half, onion powder, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and add the tortellini.  If you want your soup a little thicker, stir in cornstarch mixture.  Cook until tortellini is done (check package directions).  Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Garnish with more Parmesan, for serving.  Serves: 4-5.  

Jenn's Notes: I wanted meat in my soup and Italian sausage was perfect and tasted great, but it is completely optional.  I did add the cornstarch mixture.  This is a great recipe.  

adapted from: Key Ingredient

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