bake

Cranberry Fig Brie Bites

This is a popular Christmas appetizer not only in our home, but with many families that I know.  The only difference with mine is, per usual, I kicked it up a notch with the addition of fig jam.  The jam adds just the right amount of sweetness that definitely offsets the tartness of the cranberries.

These truly are a perfect holiday treat that your guest will happily pop in their mouths throughout the evening.  Not to mention your happiness when this all comes together for you in about 25 minutes, prep AND baking time!  Feel free to change up the jams or cranberries for something more savory or spicy, plus toasted pecans are a fun topper to them too!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for dusting the dough and cutting board
  • 1 (8oz) tube crescent dough
  • 1/2 cup fig preserves
  • 1 (8oz) wheel of brie cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish *remove prior to eating

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the flour down and roll out the crescent dough while pinching the seams together.  With a pizza cutter, cut the crescent roll dough into 24 equal-sized squares.  Gently press each piece of dough square into a 2″x2″ size and place in the muffin tin.

Spoon a small dollop of fig jam into the center of each crescent square, followed by a cube of brie, another dollop of cranberry sauce and a sprig of rosemary.  Bake until they’re a light, golden brown (about 12 minutes).  Serve warm.

CranberryBrieBites

Overnight Gingerbread French Toast

Everything’s bigger in Texas, right??  So it’s no surprise that a Sunday brunch or Christmas morning breakfast inherits that same thinking.  This French toast casserole delivers thick chunks of chewy bread laden in a sweet custard, which is loaded with all the flavors of Christmas.  The flavors of everyone’s favorite lil-guy-shaped -cookie, gingerbread!

This recipe is fantastic, because the night before (say Christmas eve after the children have gone to bed), you can easily whip this together.  In the morning, pop it in the oven and it’ll be ready at the same time everyone is finished opening their gifts from Santa!  Trust me, even the little ones will leave their toys when they smell the aroma of gingerbread coming from the kitchen!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 loaf bakery sourdough bread, cubed into 1″ pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 6 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp each brown sugar and granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp each ginger and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar, butter, whipped cream and maple syrup (garnish)

 

Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with melted butter.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Whisk in all other ingredients, besides the bread.  Add the cubed bread to the bowl and toss to coat.

Once coated, pour the mixture into your prepared loaf pan, making sure any excess liquid is also added.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and give the bread mix a quick toss.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  *Optional serving suggestion:  Slice thick and place on a hot, buttered pan to sear the outsides of the French toast.  Serve with powdered sugar, warm maple syrup, a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.  Enjoy!

GingerbreadFT

Puff Pastry Pecan Rolls with Bacon Caramel

These sticky buns are quite the guilty pleasure and one that needs to be taken advantage of!  They’re sweet, salty, and unlike your typical breakfast bun, these are made with puff pastry which gives a light and airy crunch to them, a la Baklava!  Plus, they have baaccooonnn!!  To answer the old age question, nothing, I repeat nothing, is better than bacon!

*Make sure to serve fresh and warm as the caramel will harden.  You can reheat them.

**These can also be made using your standard dough recipe for an equally delicious and softer bun!

***They’re also great as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb bacon + grease
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 (17.5oz) package puff pastry (freezer aisle)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place a 12-cup muffin tin on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cook the bacon slices until almost crispy, but not quite done.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Pour the bacon fat into a small pot.  Once the bacon is cool, crumble into small pieces.

Place the pot of bacon grease over medium-low heat.  Add 1 cup brown sugar and cook, whisking frequently, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes (the mixture will look granular).  Slowly stream in the maple syrup and whisk vigorously as the mixture begins to bubble.  Once the syrup comes together, add the cream and kosher salt.  Remove from the heat and whisk until all of the cream is incorporated.  Reserve until ready to use.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Unfold both sheets of puff pastry and arrange the sheets so that the fold lines run parallel to the counter edge.  Generously brush the sheets with the melted butter.  Combine the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the buttered sheets.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup crumbled bacon and some of the chopped pecans over the pastry.  Gently press the bacon and nuts into the sugar mixture with your palms.  Roll the pastry away from you, forming 2 tight logs.  Use a serrated knife to cut each log into 6 equal pieces.

Pour 1 Tablespoon of the caramel into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon each crumbled bacon and chopped pecans.  Place sticky buns cut-side into caramel in each muffin cup and gently press down, maintaining the round shape.

Bake until the caramel bubbles and the buns are deeply golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Work quickly to release the sides of the buns from the muffin cups, using a small knife, as if you wait they will stick.  Carefully invert the muffin tin onto another baking sheet/serving tray.  Spoon any caramel that remains in the muffin tin over the buns.  Serve immediately.

PecanPuffPastry

 

Green Chile Artichoke Dip

If you haven’t realized, I like to take classic recipes and give them a bit of a spin!  The typical artichoke dip is no exception.  I took the hot, cheesy concoction and amped it up with a couple cans of green chiles and diced hot peppers.  What was usually tasty, but quite bland, now has a real kick of flavor and your guests will love the welcome change!

*IF you have any leftover, you can served warm over grilled chicken breasts and rice.

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cans diced green chiles, (one 4oz hot, one 7oz regular)
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1-2 fresh jalapenos, diced (I keep seeds in)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain the artichokes and pat dry.  In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients and transfer to an 8-inch cast iron pan (preferred, to hold in the heat) or 8×8 baking tin.

Place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until hot and bubbly, and then pop under the broiler till the top is a golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips, baguette bread or fresh veggies.

GreenChileArtichokeDip

Everything (but the) Bagel Chicken

….with a Green Onion Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce…yes!  So, I purchased a gigantic bottle of Everything Bagel seasoning a couple of months ago and have used it liberally.  Yet, whenever I look at it, it seems like a never-ending-bowl-of-pasta!  I swear it’s a great purchase, since it’s pretty hard to run out of and goes a long way!

That being said, we’ve been limiting our fried foods to only when we eat out (which for me, is about never.  I rarely eat out and I rarely order anything fried when so…though it’s so, so tasty!).  So while keeping my family healthy(er), instead of battering and frying the chicken, why not use up that giant tumbler of yummy seasoning?!  It provides a great crunch, mine is gluten-free and if you’re doing the Keto diet, this should work well too!

No matter what, it’s quick, easy and certainly yummy!

*serves 4

The Starting Lineup

  •  4 chicken breasts
  •  2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup Everything Bagel seasoning

Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Everything Bagel seasoning
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened (1/3rd Neufchatel is fine) 
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup green onions, sliced + more for garnish if desired

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the melted, unsalted butter, Everything Bagel seasoning, softened cream cheese and milk.  Fold in the sliced green onions and taste for salt and pepper.  Cover and set aside.

In a baking dish, sprayed with non-stick, place down the chicken breasts.  Brush one side of the chicken with half of the melted butter and then sprinkle with half of the Everything Bagel seasoning; should be pretty coated.  With kitchen tongs, turn the chicken breast over and repeat with the remaining butter and seasoning.

Place the coated chicken into the oven for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through.

Remove the cooked chicken and serve alongside the cream cheese dip, enjoy!

*I prefer to drizzle the cream cheese over top, sprinkle with extra green onions and serve alongside asparagus spears or an arugula salad.

EBChicken

 

Green Chile Chicken Pizza

I feel like I’ve been on a sort of hiatus.  I imagine that is also the definition of ‘summer’.  I now see how my kiddos summer break is relaxing for them, but in turn, means more work for me!  With only 1 week left till school begins, I’m about to be on my A-game again and can cook and RELAX.

This recipe is dedicated to the days I have my boys hollering for pizza, as I’m excited it’s a Taco Tuesday!  The best of both worlds!  Our local Texas grocer, HEB, has a yearly Hatch chile roasting event and its spectacularly delicious!!  That being said, I purchased a roasting bag full and came up with this family pleaser!  Hint: you can just as easily use the canned variety.  I just recommend to at least mix the hot and original mild variety.  Who wants a bland pizza?!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2-3 rounds pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 8oz ‘hot’ hatch green chiles
  • 4oz green chiles (to top pizza with)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (garnish)
  • 1/3 cup cotija cheese (garnish)

*Makes 2-3 medium pizzas

**Your local pizzeria will often sell you fresh pizza dough, which makes your life that much easier!

In a large pot, sauté the onion till translucent (5-7 minutes).  Add in the chicken breasts, chopped poblano peppers, 8oz green chiles, chicken broth, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and salt.  Cover, and simmer on low for 2 hours, until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the cooked chicken, shred and set aside, reserving the chile/poblano sauce.  Allow to cool slightly and use either an immersion blender or transfer to your stand blender and combine thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to your pizza dough recipe/brand’s instruction (often 500 degrees for homemade).  If homemade, roll out your dough to roughly 12″ in diameter.  Ladle on the pureed green chile sauce and top with your shredded chicken, extra green chiles and mozzarella cheese.  Bake in the preheated oven until your crust is a golden brown and cheese is bubbling and melty!

Remove and top generously with the fresh cilantro and cotija cheese, enjoy!

GreenChilePizza

 

Peach, Basil & Goat Cheese Pizza

As they say, simple is best!  Especially when it comes to summer suppers.  We often enjoy this with fresh peaches from our yard and if in the mood, we’ll even prepare this on the grill!  This sweet and savory pizza is perfect as an appetizer or paired with a side salad for a light dinner.  I kept this meal as light as can be with only four toppings, but feel free to add on what you wish.  Perhaps mozzarella, thinly sliced onion or red pepper flakes or pepperoncini’s for a kick!  Just remember…simplicity is key with this dish!

The Starting Lineup

Refrigerated pizza crust (i.e. Pillsbury’s BEST Classic Crust)
• 2 TBSP olive oil
• 1 -2 fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
• 4oz goat cheese
• 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
• Balsamic Glaze (*NOT to be confused for balsamic vinegar)

 
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Unroll your dough, place on a baking sheet or pizza stone and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the par-cooked dough and add on the peach slices and crumble the goat cheese overtop, place back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown.  Remove and immediately sprinkle on the fresh basil and drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

*Bake dough according to your recipe or store-bought package directions. Remove halfway through, add toppings and finish baking. Dusting cornmeal under the dough before baking yields a great crunch!

PeachBasilGoatCheesePizza2

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