Monday, September 30, 2013

September Re-Make Recap

How is it the end of September already? I swear time goes by faster now that I'm an adult (well, I've been an adult for quite awhile now but you know what I mean). September really seemed to fly by. Tomorrow is October, a very big month in our little family. Baby Girl will turn 4 (I can't believe that either) and SP and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Pretty crazy, if you ask me. September was a delicious month in our house. I've really been making an effort to revisit old favorites from my blog and this month was no exception.

I can't believe it's been 2 years since I made this cheesy zucchini rice. That's a real shame because it's so delicious and I love that it's a veggie and starch in one side dish. Brilliant.

Chicken Tostada 2

I try to make one Tex-Mex meal a week. It had been awhile since I made these chicken tostadas and I needed to rectify that. These are so perfect every single time.

broccoli pasta

This broccoli pesto pasta is another dish I love because it's got everything mixed together. Not that we have trouble eating our veggies in this house but I love keeping things simple and this dish definitely fits the bill.


I made these flatbread pizzas every Friday for two months straight. They're just that good. Now that the weather is changing I'm planning to get some pizza dough and use the same roasted tomato method for our weekly pizza. I can't wait.


When I first made Lidia's meat sauce bolognese I froze 2-cup portions for easy weeknight meals. I pulled the first batch out this month and boy was it tasty.

We've brought back Sunday dinners at my parent's house and my mom requested something on the healthier side. I decided Cobb salad would be a nice, simple meal. I prepped everything at home, used a store-bought rotisserie chicken to make it even easier and we all enjoyed our meal.

Ham and Swiss Sliders

I wanted an easy meal one night and turned to these sweet ham and Swiss sliders. This time I actually made the savory version of these (basically you leave out the brown sugar and use fresh onion rather than dried powder) and we preferred that version. If you haven't tried these yet you need to change that ASAP.

I may not be much of a soup person but this chicken gnocchi soup has always been one of my favorites. I served it with the ham and Swiss sliders so I left out the chicken and swapped the gnocchi for elbow macaroni. It was still delicious.

I'm kicking myself for not remaking these black bean patties with corn relish and avocado cream sooner. Seriously, this is an incredible meal. Baby Girl loved it the first time but this time she was practically swooning, telling me what a great cook I am and devouring her dinner. I said it before but this is a restaurant-quality meal that's so simple to make. And the flavors are fantastic. I can't let another year go by before I remake this again.


I had a hankering for bacon, brie, lettuce, tomato, avocado sandwiches one day so I immediately put them on the following week's menu. I really love these sandwiches because they're an upscale twist on the classic BLT.


This taco rice is a great way to satisfy a taco craving. It's always a favorite in our house.


Ever since I made these Bang Bang chicken skewers for a recipe swap I've been obsessed with them. We're getting to the end of grilling season as the weather gets cooler so I wanted to make them again before I had to take my grilling indoors. This time I doubled the sauce recipe so we'd have plenty for the chicken and the veggies. It's so good over rice or couscous.


Nothing goes better with the Bang Bang chicken skewers than this grilled sriracha broccoli. I love the glaze.

IHOP pancakes

I wanted to remake these IHOP-style pancakes, with an eye to freezing most of them, but unfortunately the word buttermilk got separated into butter and milk on the shopping list and SP thought I'd gone crazy since those two things appeared further down on the list. I subbed regular milk, which was fine, but they lacked the zing from the buttermilk. I guess I'll just have to make these again.

I was skeptical the first time I made this cheese tortellini with pumpkin alfredo but it ended up being delicious. Now that fall is here and pumpkin is all the rage I thought I'd revisit it, with sliced Italian sausage on the side. Perfection.

This Texas roadhouse knockoff salad has become my go-to side salad. There's just something about the combination of lettuce, tomato, hard boiled egg, cheddar cheese, croutons and ranch dressing.

For the last Sunday dinner of the month SP spent hours in the kitchen making Lidia's sugo with sausage meatballs. This is a killer meal I wish we could make more often. Thankfully I was able to freeze three meatballs and some sauce for another time.
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Overnight Baked French Toast

Have you ever seen that episode of King of the Hill where Peg says to Hank, "Remember that time we had breakfast for dinner?" and he says, "Never again." I feel like we've inadvertently fallen into that mindset. The problem with breakfast for dinner is that it rarely lends itself to leftovers. And leftovers are pretty much all we eat for lunch during the week.

french toast

With me working from home and a few dinners on the meal plan that made more leftovers than we needed I figured I may be able to get away with breakfast for dinner during the week. When I asked SP what he might want he immediately said French toast. Rather than standing over the stove I decided to go with an Overnight Baked French Toast. You assemble the whole thing the night before and just bake it when you're ready to eat. Perfect.

french toast plate

When I told Baby Girl we were having breakfast for dinner she was so psyched. I don't think she's ever had breakfast for dinner so this blew her little mind. I was pretty proud of my fancy bread arranging in the casserole dish.

french toast closeup

I served the French toast with scrambled eggs and bacon on the side. The only issue I had with the French toast was the top of the bread didn't absorb the milk and egg mixture so it was crunchy rather than soft. Next time I think I need a bigger casserole dish so I can lay the slices flat. But the flavor was spot on. I halved the original recipe (printed below) because we didn't need that much food and it was perfect for the three of us.

Overnight Baked French Toast
As seen on Our Best Bites

8 eggs
2 cups half and half (one pint)
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 lb loaf of french bread
softened butter for greasing baking dish (2-3 tablespoons)

4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter

For Serving
melted butter
maple syrup
powdered sugar
whipped cream

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half and milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Set aside.

Cut bread into 1 inch chunks or into thin slices. Butter bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Place the bread in the dish. Whisk egg mixture then pour evenly over bread. Use a rubber spatula to very gently toss bread. Spread out evenly, cover dish, and refrigerate overnight.

Add brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and stir to combine. Cut cold butter into very small pieces and add to bowl. Break up butter and combine mixture until crumbly. Cover and place in fridge until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle topping evenly over top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares. Drizzle with melted butter and syrup, top with berries, whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar if desired.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mini Apple Pies

How adorable are these Mini Apple Pies? My friend asked me to make apple pie for our Southern dinner. I remembered that Lishie had made mini apple pies for a recipe swap awhile back so I went in search of the recipe.

mini apple pie

These were so awesome and really easy to make. You all know I don't really bake so just stirring a few things together was right up my alley. I loved that these made individual servings rather than a big pie. We served these with some vanilla ice cream for a delicious treat after a tasty Southern meal.

mini apple pies

Mini Apple Pies
As seen on DeLish Lishie

2 large honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored & thinly sliced
Juice of 2 lemons, plus the zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 sheets refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 425.

In a medium bowl, combine apples, lemon juice & zest, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss gently then set aside.

Unroll pie crust onto a work surface. Using a 4"-wide biscuit cutter, cut out six circles from each sheet, reserving scraps. Press each circle inside spaces of a muffin tin.

Evenly divide apple mixture into each prepared muffin cup. Cut reserved dough scraps into strips 1/4-inch. Top each pie with strips in a basket weave pattern or with cut shapes.

Bake until the crust is browned, about 18-20 minutes. Let pies cool in muffin tin, then remove.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Rather Rich Corn Muffins

It's been awhile since I made cornbread so when I needed a great recipe for the Southern dinner I was making with a friend I asked the ladies on my cooking board for suggestions. These Rather Rich Corn Muffins sounded awesome.

corn muffins

This recipe made a ton of batter - I got 36 muffins from it - which was a good thing because these were a big hit with the adults and kids alike. Mine didn't get golden brown, but they were baked in my friend's oven on the convection setting so that may have been the reason. Regardless, the flavor was amazing. I'll definitely be making these again.

Rather Rich Corn Muffins
As seen on Fake Ginger, from The Pastry Queen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal plus extra to sprinkle over
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh corn kernels or canned corn, drained (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Generously grease 36 standard muffin cups or line them with disposable muffin wrappers.

Pour the butter, cream, and eggs into the large bowl. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt on top. Stir until the ingredients are combined and not lumpy. Stir the corn into the batter, if using.

Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full with the batter. Sprinkle cornmeal over the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly brown; they should spring back when you touch the tops lightly with your fingertips.

They are best served warm, and are equally delicious toasted and buttered.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Recipe Swap: IHOP-style Pancakes

The Blogger's Choice recipe swap is back and I received Kate's blog. I had a tough time deciding which recipe to pick before I landed on these IHOP-style Pancakes. I've been searching forever for a fluffy, thick pancake recipe and couldn't wait to try these.

IHOP pancakes

These were absolutely perfect - light, fluffy and a little tangy from the buttermilk. The recipe made enough that I could freeze what we didn't eat for breakfast. They reheated beautifully. I microwaved them for a few seconds to thaw and then toasted them in the toaster oven. They tasted just like the day I made them. I can't wait to make another batch. I've finally found my go-to pancake recipe. Thank you so much Kate!

IHOP-style Pancakes
As seen on Kate’s Recipe Box, from Cookin Up North

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the egg with the buttermilk and add to the flour mixture, stirring only until smooth. Add the melted butter and sugar.

Preheat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter onto the cooking surface for each pancake. Allow to cook until bubbles begin to form on the top. Lift the edge of each pancake to see if the bottom is golden brown. Once it is, use a large spatula to carefully flip the pancake. Cook the other side until light golden. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.

To freeze: place cooked pancakes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with cling wrap. Cover with more cling wrap and freeze the baking sheet until the pancakes are frozen. Place frozen pancakes in a freezer bag. Store for up to 6 months.

To see what else was made in the swap click the links below.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Collard Greens

We got together with some friends recently and the theme was Southern cooking. One of the dishes I was tasked with making was collard greens. I love collards at our favorite BBQ place so I looked for a similar recipe.


These had awesome flavor but were incredibly salty, so much so that they were basically inedible. As a result I modified the recipe below, omitting the salt in Paula's house seasoning. I'll definitely be making these again with the modification. They really were delicious, even if the picture doesn't do them justice.

Collard Greens
Recipe modified from Paula Deen

1/2 pound smoked meat (ham hocks, smoked turkey wings, or smoked neck bones)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoon hot red pepper sauce
1 large bunch collard greens
1 tablespoon butter

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, black pepper, garlic powder, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.

Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don't need to be stripped. Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into 1/2 to 1-ince thick slices.

Place greens in pot with meat and add butter. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done taste and adjust seasoning. Remove the meat from the ham hock, etc. and add to the collards.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tropical Chicken Kabobs

As summer winds down I've been thinking back to some of my favorite summer meals. One thing I loved this summer were skewers. My favorite was definitely the Bang Bang Chicken Skewers, but really you can thread some meat and veggies on skewers, grill them up and my family will devour them. These Tropical Pork Kabobs were no exception.

tropical skewers

I rarely cook pork so the first thing I did was swap it out for chicken. I also prefer to keep each ingredient on its own skewer(s) since they have different cooking times. I goofed and forgot to defrost the chicken early enough to marinate it overnight, something I highly recommend so the flavors have time to really seep into the meat.

tropical skewers2

We all enjoyed this with couscous. There really is nothing like grilled meat and veggies in the summer.

Tropical Chicken Kabobs
As seen on The Barbee Housewife, from So Tasty, So Yummy

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 pineapple or 1 20 oz. can, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 onion, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 lb. whole button mushrooms

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar, garlic, chili garlic sauce, and brown sugar. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade. Place the chicken and the marinade, in a plastic bag, keeping the reserved aside. Marinate overnight.

Pre-heat the grill. Skewer the chicken, pineapple, onion, zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms. Place the skewers on the grill, baste with the reserved marinade every time you turn the skewers. Cook until the chicken is done, about 6 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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Friday, September 06, 2013

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

I was so in love with this meal I pushed it to the front of my queue so I could share it with you guys right away.

chicken nuggets3

Chicken nuggets are usually thought of as kid food, but who doesn't love crispy, crunchy chicken? I can tell you it's always a hit in this house. And to toot my own horn a bit, I'm really good at frying chicken, at least boneless chicken. Juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside. I've been wanting to make homemade chicken nuggets and I searched for a good recipe for awhile before Our Best Bites published this one.

chicken nuggets2

Yes, this isn't a healthy meal but there's just nothing like fried chicken, is there? You just don't get that same result with baking. Everything in moderation is my motto. The buttermilk and pickle juice marinade is key here. It imparted a delicious, subtly briny tang. I served the nuggets with cheesy zucchini rice, a side dish I always forget I love and kick myself for not making more often.


The homemade honey mustard was the perfect sauce for dipping. SP threw it together while I was finishing up the last batch of chicken and we all loved it. The original recipe calls for lemon juice but we didn't have any so we left it out and it was perfect as-is.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets
As seen on Our Best Bites

1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup dill pickle juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
Tabasco sauce (I didn't have any)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
2 cups panko
Canola, vegetable or peanut oil

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. In a gallon-sized food storage bag, combine pickle juice, buttermilk, and about 10 dashes of Tabasco sauce (if using, I didn't have any so I didn't use it and these were still amazing). Add the chicken and seal the bag, then refrigerate it for 1-4 hours.

When ready to cook, whisk together 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, the flour, baking soda, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a large plastic food storage bag. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the panko to a third shallow bowl. Begin heating about 2 inches of the oil in a heavy pot.

Place the chicken pieces into the flour and shake to coat. Roll the chicken in the egg, then roll to coat in the Panko. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.

When the oil reaches 350 degrees, place 1/3 of the coated chicken pieces in the pan and cook, stirring gently and frequently, until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes). Drain the cooked chicken on a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve immediately.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Modified from All Recipes

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey

Mix together in a bowl. Serve immediately or cover and chill.

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