bake

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!

ChickenSaladCrescents

 

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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

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!

pimientocheesebiscuits2.jpeg

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

McMuffin Casserole

The Egg McMuffin: hands down, a favorite amongst most American’s for breakfast.  My only problem is on the weekends, I like to sleep in.  Waking up soooo early during the week to get my two young boys ready for their school day is always hectic and definitely not our favorite time.  Soooo, since I try not to be up early enough for breakfast on Saturday or Sunday, you can imagine I also try not to leave the house pre-noon.

So here we have it!!  The breakfast casserole that will keep with you in your bed a bit longer and keeps the same flavor as our fast-food favorite!  I, personally, love to assemble this before my late night trip to bed (remember, for me, it’s a Friday or Saturday night) and pop in the fridge until my boys do their “yell at the video game screen to wake mom from her sweet slumber” move.

Serve warm alongside some crispy, hash brown oval patties (a la McD’s) and a cup of fresh fruit and you, my friend, have yourself a winner!

*Can easily substitute cooked breakfast sausage for the Canadian bacon.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package English muffins, lightly toasted, split and torn into 1-2″ pieces
  • 1 package Canadian bacon, rough chopped
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 5 slices American cheese, torn
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter

Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread half of the lightly toasted and torn English muffins in the bottom of the dish; sprinkle over the Canadian bacon, 1 cup of the shredded cheddar and the torn American cheese.  Top with the remaining English muffins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour over the English muffin mix and sprinkle on the remaining cup of cheddar cheese.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but no longer than 12.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter and pour over the “soaked” casserole.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes prior to serving.

mcmuffincasserole

Chiles Relleno Breakfast Casserole

Classic chiles rellenos are a bit tricky and time consuming to make, especially if making for a crowd.  Now while this may not be the traditional dipped, battered and lightly fried at the perfect temperature, this recipe gives you the same flavor and is a breeze compared!  Plus, it is still served with that perfectly seasoned thin tomato sauce that is a must have and is a bit lighter given the “no fry” here.

So give this a whirl for your next brunch or south-of-the-border craving!

The Starting Lineup

  • 8 fresh poblano peppers
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 28oz can tomatoes
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage (can sub chorizo), cooked
  • 1 cup cotija cheese (can sub feta)
  • 1 tsp each: cumin, Mexican oregano, kosher salt
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack/ and or cheddar cheese, shredded

 

STEP 1:  Char the poblano chiles over an open flame or under the broiler.  Transfer to a paper bag (close) or a bowl topped with plastic wrap and allow to steam for 15 minutes.  Once done, gently remove the blackened skins, slice vertically (without cutting all the way through) and scrape the seeds out.  Set aside.

STEP 2:  Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions in the olive oil till softened, about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic for another minute.

Next, add in the tomatoes, gently breaking up with your hand or a wooden spoon.  Stir in the cumin, Mexican oregano and salt to taste.  Bring to a simmer, set to low for 15-20 minutes and remove from heat to cool.  The sauce should be the consistency of a thin spaghetti sauce, not too thick.  If so, add a bit of chicken broth or water to thin.

STEP 3:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish ladle in the prepared and cooled sauce.  In a large bowl, mix together the cooked breakfast sausage/chorizo with the cotija cheese and 1 cup of your shredded cheese. Stuff each poblano chile with the sausage-cheese mixture, it’s ok if it spills out a bit.  Place your stuffed poblano peppers overtop the sauce.

STEP 4:  In a large bowl, beat the dozen eggs and then whisk in the flour, baking powder and a hefty pinch of salt.  Pour the eggs over top the stuffed chiles and sauce.  Top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees until eggs are just set.  Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Serve with fresh fruit and warm tortillas if desired.  Enjoy!

ChileRellenoCasserole

 

Pot Pie Potatoes

I am fairly certain that baked potatoes were made for ‘stuffing’.  Growing up with Midwest roots, we had this side dish quite often, and always, always loaded up with butter and sour cream.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing un-tasty about that, especially accompanied with bacon, cheese and chives, but why not something else?!  Let’s change it up!

Since it has been quite rainy here in Texas and the weather has cooled to proper Fall temps, all I have been craving is good, old-fashioned, comfort food!  Given my husband and oldest son are suckers for chicken pot pie, I just had to put the two together!  I chose our favorite, standard pot pie vegetables, but feel free to add green beans or corn or heck, buy a large bag of frozen veggies and be done with it!  *Just add the frozen veggies towards the end.  The other ‘best part’ of this meal is not having to worry about the crust!  If you MUST, feel free to serve it alongside warm biscuits (very yummmmmmy), but I actually liked just the warm potato for a change.  Plus the potato skin crisp’s up beautifully in the oven!

This delicious, home-style recipe is even easy enough for the work week!  Just throw all the ingredients into your slow cooker and set to low.  When you return home in the evening, bake the potatoes and bam!! dinner is served!

 

*If you have the time, by all means make your own “cream of” soup with flour, butter and cream/milk and add to the slow-cooker.  They also make great gluten-free cream soup’s now that can be substituted as well! 🙂 

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large, russet potatoes, baked (scrubbed clean, coated in extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt – baked directly on rack in 375 degree oven until fork tender, about 40-50 minutes.)
  • 2-3 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2′ cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 8oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 26oz low-sodium cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf *remove prior to serving
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • *cornstarch/milk slurry to thicken at the end, optional

 

Spray or line your slow cooker for easy cleanup.  Lay in the prepped vegetables (besides the frozen peas) and the cubed chicken breasts.  Pour in the soup and the chicken broth, stir together.  Lastly, stir in the seasonings.  Set to low for 7 hours.

About 1 hour before dinner, preheat your oven and bake your potatoes till for tender.  You can also stir in the frozen peas to your chicken pot pie mixture.

When the potatoes are ready, slice vertically, careful not to cut all of the way through.  *I like to scoop out a bit of the potato flesh, but to each their own.  Ladle a large helping of your pot pie mix into the hot potato and enjoy!

PotPiePotatoes

 

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