January 30, 2011

Monte Cristo Casserole

Monte Cristo CasseroleAll I have to say is when I found this recipe at Real Mom Kitchen I knew I’d found another perfect breakfast for dinner recipe!  Eaten for dinner and breakfast the next morning, I can’t find a single thing wrong with this dish!  I used Simply Fruit strawberry jam to cut down on the processed sugars, since I’m guessing the French toast has more than I care to know about.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (12.5 ounces each) frozen French toast slices, thawed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of thick sliced deli baked ham, diced
  • 1 cup thick sliced deli roast turkey, diced
  • 8 ounces or 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 24 oz. container of frozen strawberries slices, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 

  1. Cut the slices of thawed French toast into 3/4 inch cubes.
  2. In a small bowl,  whisk together milk and eggs.
  3. In a large bowl, place half of the French toast cubes.  Pour half of the egg mixture over the cubes and toss gently with a spoon or spatula.  Toss until cubes are well coated.
  4. Place the coated French toast cubes in a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  5. Next layer half of the ham, turkey, parsley and cheese on the coated French toast cubes.
  6. Using your same large bowl, toss together the remaining French toast cubes and egg mixture to coat.  Place the coated French toast cubes in an even layer in the baking dish followed by layers of the remaining ham, turkey, parsley, and cheese.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and set in center. Remove to cooling rack; cool 10 minutes.  While the casserole bakes, combine the sliced strawberries with the jam.
  8. Cut into 8-12 squares. Sprinkle the top of each square with a dusting of powdered sugar followed by a spoonful of the strawberry mixture.

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January 25, 2011

Chocolate Choco-Mint Chip Cookies

Chocolate Choco-Mint Chip CookiesHow about Brownies for Dinner?  I don’t make much chocolate in our house because no one else eats enough of it, then I’m stuck eating all of it.  And I do eat it.  Which tastes good but undoes everything I try to do with my running and lets face it, just because I’m older and wiser, doesn’t mean it gets any easier to keep that junk off my hips!  I like to store fresh-baked cookies in freezer bags.  They last longer, and believe it or not, I tend to forget they’re in there, which helps with portions.  These, however, didn’t last long enough!  Even my girl who doesn’t much care for chocolate, packed a couple for herself in her school lunch and I heard an “awwww” when they were gone.  I used Andes mints because I didn’t want a mouthful of mint chip, but neither did I want just chocolate.  Just the perfect blend of mint with each bite without being nauseating.  Chewy to nth degree, these pack a powerful chocolate punch without being over sweet. 

The dough also freezes well!  Scoop the dough as you would when baking it and line up as many of the dough balls on a baking sheet that will fit. Then place the baking sheet in the freezer until all of the dough balls are completely frozen. At that point, you can put all of the dough balls into a freezer bag.To bake from frozen, extend the baking time to 10-12 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 10 ounce bag of mint chips (I used Andes)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir into butter mixture until well blended.
  4. Mix in the chips. Drop by a rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until set. Cool on pan for about 2 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

January 23, 2011

Chipotle Mac & Cheese

Chipotle Mac & Cheese

This was one of those rare meals where I had no intention of eating it because I had plans to go out with a friend.  As I prepared it though, I knew there was no way I’d be able to resist at least trying the cheesy spicy mac!  The original recipe, from Smells Like Home, called for 1/4 cup of the adobo chilies but after making the Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken, and realizing just how little my family appreciates spicy foods, I decided to use just half of one chili.  It lent the dish a spicy undertone but not enough for anyone to complain about.  Yes, I had a small bowl just to say I’ve tried it before posting here; I would have enjoyed all the chilies this called for, so depending on who you’re serving, adjust those babies accordingly!

Ingredients

  • 14.5 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • One half of a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 4 oz. pepper Jack, divided
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • Up to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, as needed
  • 1/2 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350* 

Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. 

1.  Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water for 7 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid before draining.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour until the two become a smooth mixture.  Cook for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Slowly whisk in milk, making sure there are no lumps in the mixture.  Add chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and cilantro to the milk mixture and stir to combine.

4.  Bring the heat up to medium-high and continue to stir frequently until the mixture thickens (it should coat the back of a spoon) and begins to simmer.  Allow the mixture to simmer for 2 minutes and remove from the heat. 

5. Slowly stir in most of the cheeses, reserving some to sprinkle on top before baking.  The cheeses should melt into the milk mixture and become slightly stringy.  If the mixture starts to become a mass of cheese, add in some of the hot pasta water to help thin it out.

6.  Pour the drained pasta into the pot you cooked it in and stir in milk-cheese mixture so that it completely coats all of the pasta.  Transfer the pasta to the baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and Japanese panko breadcrumbs.  Bake uncovered for 20 - 25 minutes or until the sides begin to bubble and top is nicely browned.  Allow the mac and cheese to set for 5 minutes and garnish with extra cilantro (if desired) before serving.

January 19, 2011

Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken

Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken

I’m not sure how I found Pink Parsley, but after last night’s dinner I’m sure glad I did!  Seems like I’m always saying how dinner turned out better than expected but it’s true, because this was fantastic!  The original recipe called for four chilies in adobo, but I halved that knowing how spicy it’d turn out and even with two, it was just a little too much for the kids.  Next time I’ll just use one to avoid their burned lips and tongue.  I happened to think it was just the right amount of spicy, not needing milk to extinguish the heat, but plenty to get the point across. 

I added water to the bottom of the pan while the sweet potatoes cooked to help keep them from drying out, then poured the excess water out before adding the chicken.  Served this with some open bags of mixed veggies and a spare head of broccoli that needed to be eaten.  Gobbled up by everyone, despite it’s spiciness!

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 11 chicken tenders cut in half
  • chopped Italian parsley or cilantro, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

1.  Place the sweet potatoes in a medium bowl.  Pour two tablespoons of the olive oil and stir.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, chipotles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cinnamon.  Pour two teaspoons of the chipotle mixture over oiled sweet potatoes.  Toss to coat.

4.  Scatter the potatoes on the bottom of a roasting pan, adding about 1/4 cup of water to avoid drying out and bake 40-45 minutes. 

5.  Put chicken pieces in the bowl that had the potatoes, and pour in remaining paste. Toss to coat. 

6.  When potatoes are nearly done, drain any remaining water, stir, then carefully place the chicken on top of the sweet potatoes, and continue to roast until the chicken is just cooked through (registers 165 on an instant read thermometer), about 15-20 minutes longer.

7.  Drizzle with remaining honey and garnish with parsley or cilantro.