Texas Favorites

Dr. Pepper Popcorn

I’m pretty sure that if Dr. Pepper isn’t Texas’ official state drink, then it’s tied for first with sweet tea!  The bubbly, iconic soda pop is from small town Dublin, which located in our great state and we all have the deepest appreciation for it…or maybe the correct ‘A’ word is addiction. 😉

That being said, we always have a case of the famous Dr. P in our pantry ready to drink.  Though, this time, I decided to change things up a bit and instead of drinking it, why not eat it??  With snack time around the corner and an ample amount of popcorn sitting on the shelf next to it, the idea of a sweet and salty popcorn came to mind.

Really, this recipe couldn’t be easier and takes just minutes to prepare.  The only bummer is waiting that 20 minutes while the delicious mashup is baking in the oven!  So please, try to let cool before gobbling it all up!

 

The Starting Lineup

2 microwave bags plain popcorn, popped
• ¾ cup butter
• 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
• ½ cup Dr. Pepper
• ¼ cup light corn syrup
• Pinch of salt

*If handy, I also LOVE to add a handful or two of shelled peanuts to the mix!  Once coated and baked, they may be my favorite part of the entire recipe!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a medium sized saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, Dr. Pepper and corn syrup until it comes to a boil. Allow it to boil for about 4 minutes and don’t stir.

Pour over the popcorn (and peanuts) and toss to evenly coat. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

DrPepperPopcorn

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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

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

 

Rockin’ NYE Ribeye Crostini

As always, the days are long, but the years go fast, and this one is just about up!  While even myself is just about ‘over’ cooking all of these extravagant holiday meals (kind of), I figure we opt for finger foods for our last hoorah!

Until next time, “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for the sake of auld lang syne.”  A very Happy New Year to you! xo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless ribeye steak
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bakery French baguette, 1/2″ slices. lightly toasted
  • Red onion, very thinly sliced
  • Chives, chopped, but kept a bit long
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, prepared horseradish, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard; season with salt and pepper.  Cover and set aside.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high-heat until nice and hot.  Rub the steak with oil, salt and pepper till desired doness, making sure to rest about 10 minutes prior to slicing.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain and arrange on the toasted baguette slices.  Top with a dollop of the horseradish cream you made prior, a slice of red onion and a chives.  Enjoy and Happy New Year!!

RibeyeCrostini

Creamy Crockpot Cocoa

It’s that time again!!  Today is the first day of winter in 2018 and we could all use a cup of rich, velvety hot cocoa!  It does not matter if you’re in the northern blankets of snow or the southern “cold” 60-degree temperature.  A large mug of hot chocolate really brings the season to life!

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Marshmallows, peppermint candy canes, whipped cream (Garnish)

 

To your crockpot, add all the above ingredients, cover and set on low, stirring ever so often till combined, 2-3 hours.  Set on warm and serve with your favorite accompaniment’s.

This makes about 12 large mugs/24 smaller cups.  It can easily be doubled for a large party.  Enjoy!

HotCocoa

 

Southwest Flank Steak Chili & Grits

My days growing up in hot & spicy Arizona has met our southern grit life here in the south with this one!  All of the flavors of a traditional chili soaked up into yummy, bacon and cheese loaded grits.  The juxtaposition of textures and flavors is on point with this recipe!

*If the flank steak cooks a bit longer and shred’s apart, that is just as yummy too!!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-3/4 lbs flank steak
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 14oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
  • 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4oz can green chilis, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 4 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 cup American-cheddar blend cheese, shredded (pepper jack or cheddar works too)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen fire-roasted corn
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Prepared grits (I loaded ours up with green onion, bacon crumbles and cheese)

 

To your slow cooker, whisk together the chicken broth, 2 Tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, the tomatoes, pinto beans, green chiles and jalapeno.  Roughly tear 2 of the corn tortillas up and add to the liquid mixture.

Butterfly the flank steak horizontally, without cutting all the way through (opening like a book).  Lightly pound the steak until about 1/4 inch thick.  Season with salt, pepper, 1 Tablespoon of the chili powder and 1 teaspoon of the cumin.  Press the cheese over the steak in an even layer, followed by the cilantro and arrange the last 2 of the corn tortillas over top, overlapping if needed.  Starting with the long side, roll up into log-form/pinwheel and tie with kitchen twine; tuck ends in and tie lengthwise as well.  Transfer your steak pinwheel to the slow cooker and spoon some sauce over top.  Cover and set to low for 7 hours.  *Add corn in 30 minutes prior to eating.

Remove the steak and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Slice into pretty pinwheel medallions and serve over loaded, bacon’y, cheesy grits with a ladle of the slow cooker juices and vegetables over top!

*If the flank steak cooks a bit longer and shred’s apart, that is just as yummy too!!

ChileGrits

Pumpkin, Bacon & Sage Alfredo Gnocchi

This creamy, smoky recipe is the ultimate Fall-inspired adult dish.  We all have seen pumpkin used in just about every which way (after all, it’s Fall y ‘all!), but I’d like to incorporate its savory side to the mix.  So what a better way to introduce it than to fluffy pillows of gnocchi and crispy bacon and sage!

So before you’re on the couch this Thanksgiving, enjoying that pumpkin pie and the 5th replay of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that day (I know I’m not the only one), try this dinner out.  You will impress!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 (17.6oz) packages gnocchi, cooked to package directions (or a 16oz pckg pasta of choice)
  • 8 strips bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 12 sage leaves, fresh/chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups Half & Half
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pasta water (optional, to thin)

 

Cook your gnocchi (or pasta preference) to package directions, drain in colander and set aside.  *Keep a 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain, in case the sauce gets too thick.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, crisp up the chopped bacon.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

In that same skillet, add the butter and onions, sauté for 6-7 minutes.  Turn to medium-low and add the garlic and sage leaves for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn.

To the onions and herbs, spoon in the pumpkin puree, plus the half & half and parmesan cheese; whisk until smooth and creamy.  *Add pasta water, if needed.

Lastly, add in the cooked gnocchi/pasta and most of the bacon (reserve a bit for garnish); gently combine.  Serve with the extra bacon crumbles, sage and parmesan cheese.

*The same amount of gnocchi produces about half of the volume of pasta.  Hence the 2 packages of gnocchi vs 1 package of noodles.  ….science…

PumpkinBaconSageGnocchi

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