Chicken Salad Carrot Crescents

“Hippity, hoppity Easter’s on its waayyyy….”

I can never enter the Spring season without singing that song verse on more than one occasion.  So, now that we’re even closer to this years Easter holiday, it’s in my crawl as much as one of my favorite festive recipes!  These buttery crescents are shaped onto cone molds and when a tinted egg wash is applied and baked, resemble not only perfect vessels to stuff, but cutesy lil’ carrots!

Depending on our Easter plans for each year, I’ll either serve these at lunch, for an appetizer or bring to a potluck to rave oohs and aahhs.  Plus, they taste great!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 (8oz) cans crescent roll dough
  • 1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp water (can add food coloring if desired)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 1/2 cup grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh parsley or dill, garnish

In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, grapes, celery, onions, pecans, mayonnaise, celery salt and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Unroll the crescent dough and pinch seams together.  Using a pizza cutter, cut lengthwise into 6-8 equal strips.  Brush each with egg wash and roll each strip out to about 16″, like a thick spaghetti noodle.  Repeat.

Using either a cream horn mold or foil shaped into a cone, wrap one strip of dough around the mold.  Apply more egg wash.  Place on prepared baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes until golden.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then carefully remove mold.

Fill each “carrot” with chicken salad (or salad of choice) and top with a parsley or dill sprig, enjoy!

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Hummingbird Cookies

It’s Spring and Easter is fast approaching!  These two things ALWAYS bring to mind one of my favorite desserts of all time, the southern staple, Hummingbird Cake!  Now, one of the most commonly asked questions about this delight is “what the heck is that??”.  Well, for a real quick history lesson, its origin is from Jamaica, but the recipe was eventually printed here in America in 1978 in an issue of Southern Living Magazine.  The Hummingbird Cake is actually the number 1 most requested cake recipe in the magazine’s history.  It’s really that good!

The flavors of this layered cake contains pecans, mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and cream cheese frosting.  It stays moist and flavorful for days.

Now, that all being said, this year I decided to make the recipe a bit more fun and turn it into a handheld cookie!  Trust me, this idea was also out of convenience to not have to pick up cake crumbs from my young boys.  For some reason cake crumbs are way worse than cookie crumbs….anyway.  These cookies pack that same flavor and are just as pretty to look at!  Again, try these for your upcoming Easter get-together or church potluck.  They will not disappoint!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, drained and mashed
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped

*Use a spoon to fill measuring cup with flour.  Packing will result in a dense, heavy cookie.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar.  Mix in vanilla, mashed banana and mashed pineapple.  Stir in 2 tablespoons flour.  Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Add to wet ingredients and mix until combined.  Stir in pecan pieces.

With a medium size cookie scoop, portion dough onto your prepared cookie sheets.  Press each cookie gently with your palm to flatten; bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on edges.

While cookies are cooling, make the frosting.  Mix the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar until creamy.  Frost the top of each cooled cookie and sprinkle with the pecan pieces.  Enjoy!

hummingbirdcookies

Springtime Tortellini Pesto Soup

When it comes to Spring, many ingredients come to mind, but one of my main go-to’s has to be asparagus!  I also let go of my rich, creamy soups for a light, broth version.  I know I’m about to make this soup whenever I can get my hands on that crisp, stalky green vegetable.  I also know I can prepare it on a busy weeknight, as it takes a mere 30-40 minutes to make.  Plus, since it fills a large pot, the leftovers can be had the following day for lunch or dinner!  Pair with a side salad and warm rolls and you have the perfect Spring time supper!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups (64oz) chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto, plus more for garnish
  • 2 (15oz) cans great white northern beans, rinsed
  • 16 oz frozen tortellini
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • Precooked chicken sausage, sliced (i.e. HEB Naturals Apple Gouda)
  • Shaved parmesan cheese, garnish
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes (*add garlic towards the end of the 5 minutes, careful not to burn).

To the onion and garlic, add in the broth and whisk in the pesto.  Add in the tortellini and white beans and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Lastly, add in the asparagus, spinach leaves and sliced sausage and simmer until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and top with more pesto and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

SpringtimeTortelliniPestoSoup

 

Pimiento Cheese Drop Biscuits

Question:  Can you make buttermilk biscuits even yummier??  Most may give a nay shake of the head, BUT I am here (of course) to say otherwise!  Now, I’ll stop for a quick minute, because if you do not know what the cheesy “caviar of the south” staple is, it would be hard to answer my original question.  Pimiento cheese is a perfect blend of sharp cheddar cheese, mayo, cayenne and pimientos.  I often like to add diced jalapenos to mine; I also like to scoop it onto a bacon laden, juicy grilled burger…I digress….

Anyway, this spin gives such a new and great flavor to your standard biscuits and I will also say, your Sunday Supper guests will be raving until they get home!  *make a double batch to send home with guests; still great warmed up in the microwave.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup pimientos, diced
  • Melted butter, for brushing the tops
  • Flaky salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, pepper, sugar, garlic powder, baking soda and cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cheese and toss to coat.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and mayonnaise; add to the dry ingredients until combined and fold in the pimientos.

Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle with salt and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. *I like to sprinkle a pinch more salt while warm after baking.  Serve warm and enjoy!

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Crispy Baked Artichoke Hearts w/ Lemon Garlic Aioli

This may just be my new favorite appetizer!  First off, they’re beautiful!  All gold and crispy-crunchy, a great tangy bite from the artichoke itself AND the dipping sauce, and they’re also more on the nutritious side!  A happy “win” for me!

Plus, if you’re craving a vegetarian option, these are great piled between two soft bakery rolls!  Make sure the bun halves are slathered with the lemon-garlic aioli and fresh slices of tomatoes and butter lettuce!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (15oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Lemon-Garlic Aioli

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt 

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic and salt till incorporated.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Place drained artichoke hearts in a dish and thoroughly pat dry with a paper towel.  In a small bowl, combine melted butter and garlic powder.  In a separate dish, combine the parmesan and Panko breadcrumbs.

Dip each artichoke heart into the melted butter, followed by the breadcrumbs.  Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with all remaining artichokes.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve alongside the lemon-garlic aioli.  Enjoy!

ArtichokeHeartsAioli

Garlic Butter Italian Sausage Sandwiches (slow-cooker)

Cooking Italian sausages right in your slow cooker equals the most tender, flavorful and simple supper!  Plus, since there is basically no prep work involved (besides slicing the bell peppers and onions), you simply add the minimal ingredients to your pot, cover and be about your day!  You can welcome yourself home to the delightful smell of a gourmet dinner and it’s also great for a crowd!

*serves about 10 people.  If wanting something other than sandwiches, or for leftovers, you can serve over al dente noodles or polenta.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 packages Italian sausage links (appx 10 links, sweet, mild or spicy)
  • 24oz jarred Italian diced tomatoes (I love Racconto organic San Marzano’s)
  • 3 Bell peppers, cut into strips (I used red, orange and green)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini’s 
  • 1 tsp each salt, pepper and garlic
  • 10 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
  • 10 hoagie rolls
  • 1 container garlic butter (often found in deli or bakery section)

To your slow cooker: add in the sausage links and top with the sliced bell peppers, onions, pepperoncini’s and the seasonings.  Pour the jarred Italian diced tomatoes over top and set to low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5.

On a baking sheet, split the hoagie rolls and generously slather on the garlic butter to each side.  Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until just golden brown.  Fill each roll with a sausage and your desired amount of sauce and veggies.  Top with the cheese and place under your broiler for another 1-2 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

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French Onion Meatballs (slow cooker)

Meatballs!  You can never go wrong serving meatballs.  Whether it’s for an appetizer, a hot sandwich, atop a pizza, with lingonberry jam (I can go on and on), it is rarely served with creamy, dreamy, buttery mashed potatoes…and why not??

Given we are still in the middle of winter (those poor people in the 2019 polar vortex right now, I shouldn’t be complaining), I am craving a warm bowl of anything!  When you combine these ingredients together, along with the work of your slow cooker, you end up with tender meatballs and a rich, onion and mushroom gravy that pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes.  I always like to add that extra touch of the melty Swiss cheese for a more authentic French Onion flare, but feel free to omit if desired.  Just don’t tell me or I’ll deem you crazy. 😉

 

*If you’d like, and have the time, sauté the onions on low with a couple of tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt until caramelized.  Add these to the slow cooker, along with the other ingredients, in the beginning versus rawEither way, it’s delicious! 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 ( 30oz) bag homestyle meatballs, frozen
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thick
  • 12 oz container fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cans low-sodium cream of mushroom soup, plus 1-1/2 can milk
  • 1 packet dried onion soup mix, low-sodium if possible
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 1 package sliced swiss cheese
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Layer in half of the onions and mushrooms, followed by the frozen meatballs and then the remaining onions and mushrooms.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, dried onion soup mix, milk and pepper.  Pour overtop the meatballs.  Set to low for 6 hours, stirring once or twice.

30 minutes prior to eating, layer the swiss cheese overtop.  Recover and allow to melt.

Serve in a bowl with buttery mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles and a sprinkle of parsley, enjoy!

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