Category Archives: cheese

Philly Cheese Steak Mac and Cheese

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This recipe came about from the request of several people on my Facebook page. I had an impromptu survey asking what Mac and Cheese everyone would like to see me come up with and this was the overwhelming winner. I mean it was a landslide! I was excited. I love Philly Cheese Steaks and Mac and Cheese so the idea of smooshing them together made me a very happy camper. I mean, is there such a thing as too many Mac and Cheese recipes? I think not! I am thinking I should create a label for the blog for just my Mac and Cheese recipes. I am very curious to see how many I have!
For many people, myself included, Mac and Cheese is a comfort food. We know it might not be the lowest calorie dish (ssshhhhh if we don’t say it out loud it isn’t true!), but it isn’t a dish we have all of the time so we can splurge in those times when we just need a warm hug for our tummy right?

I really thought long and hard about this recipe. I mean there are so many views on what a true cheese steak is. Most people I know that are from Philly love the original cheese steak. It is just cheese and steak, usually the cheese being a cheese wiz type product. Some prefer the provolone instead. I have been reminded by my best friend, who is from Philly, that if you order a cheese steak in Philly you do not get onions, mushrooms, and peppers on it. They are items you have to request. So I guess my recipe does not reflect a true authentic cheese steak but I love onions, mushrooms,and peppers, so this is my loose interpretation. To my wonderful Philly fans, you are welcome to leave out the veggies, I will not be offended. But I am telling you, yummmm yummmmm, this was great with those veggies I promise!!
It was hard for me to not just eat this off of the spoon!!
Philly Cheese Steak Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded white American cheese
1/2 cup shredded Provolone cheese
1 cup shredded yellow Cheddar cheese
3/4 pound good quality deli roast beef, sliced as thick as bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bell pepper, chopped (any color, I mixed green and red)

10 to 12 cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Butter flavored non stick spray

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened and given up their liquid. Add the roast beef and continue to cook until the beef is heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add butter to pot and melt, whisk in flour 1 minute then milk. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, thicken sauce 5 to 6 minutes. Melt 2/3 of the combined cheeses into the sauce.

Preheat broiler.

Drain pasta and return to hot pot. Toss hot pasta with chopped meat and veggies to combine, stir in cheese sauce and coat. Transfer mac n cheese to casserole and top with remaining cheese. Spray the top with the butter flavored spray and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Brown under broiler 3 to 4 minutes, serve.

ENJOY

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BLT (Bacon, Leek, and Tomato) Quiche + a Quick Quiche Cheat Sheet

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I have been wanting to do something different for breakfast lately but Kevin, bless his heart, has taken over the chore of making breakfast on the weekends and he leaves too early in the morning to make breakfast through the week. It is not that I don’t love his breakfasts, it is just, well……it is “Man food”. You know what I  mean? Pure, simple, straight to the point. Eggs with sausage, hash browns, and toast. 
I have tried doing BFD (breakfast for dinner) but he hasn’t been real thrilled with that idea. So I decided I had to put my foot down and tell him that I was making something with veggies in it for breakfast. I did add the footnote that there would be bacon in it. I mean bacon, eggs, cheese? How can that be wrong? Right?
He also went along with it because I had picked up leeks for a recipe I made a few days ago and he hates wasting food even more than me. So when I said it was a  great way to use the leeks up he was on board.
When I was buzzing through the grocery store the grape tomatoes looked great so I new exactly what I wanted to do. Bacon, leek, and tomato, yummmm!!

I love quiche. My Mom used to make them when I was little. Although back in the day they sold quiche mix in cartons right along with the Egg Beaters. How simple could that be? Frozen pie crust, carton of quiche mix, hot oven, BOOM, breakfast! But seriously making quiche is so ding dang simple there is no reason to not give it a try. I will have a handy little “Quiche Cheat Sheet” after the recipe.
BLT (Bacon, Leek, and Tomato) Quiche
1 large leek, root end and dark green leaves cut off, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
1 handful gape tomatoes, halved
4 slices thick cut smoky bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
3 eggs
Kosher salt and cracked pepper
1 1/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
Pie dough (handmade or store bought)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pie dough in a 9 inch pie plate and crimp the edges, chill for 30 minutes. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights (can use dried beans if you do not have pie weights). Bake about 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake another 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool.
Place the chopped leek into a large bowl filled with cold water. Swish them carefully and allow them to sit a few minutes to release the dirt and grit that is between the leaves. Scoop out with your hands and lay them on a clean kitchen towel. Roll the towel and squeeze the moisture out. Set aside.
Meanwhile cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once bacon has rendered its fat and begun to crisp slightly, remove it with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the leeks and saute being careful to not brown the leeks. Once the leeks begin to soften add the halved tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to let the tomatoes release some of their juices. Remove from heat.
In a bowl combine the eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and evaporated milk. Whisk until completely blended. 
Spoon the leeks and tomatoes into the pie crust and sprinkle with the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top and bake on a baking sheet for 40 to 50 minutes or until the filling is set. Allow to cool 20 minutes before serving.
ENJOY!!
Easy Quiche Cheat Sheet
Make Your Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pie dough in a 9 inch pie plate and crimp the edges, chill for 30 minutes. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights (can use dried beans if you do not have pie weights). Bake about 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake another 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool.

Choose Your Veggies
1/2 to 1 cup of up to 3 of the following veggies;
Roasted Asparagus           
Roasted or Steamed Broccoli     
Shredded Potatoes, sauteed     
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
Green Peppers, chopped and sauteed
Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
Onions or Shallots, sliced or chopped and sauteed  
Green Onions, chopped
Jarred Roasted Red Pepper, chopped
Spinach, chopped and sauteed (or frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained)
Frozen peas, thawed
Meat
1/2 cup of up to 2 of the following meats;
Bacon, chopped and cooked
Sausage, cooked and crumbled
Ham, chopped
Shredded chicken
Crab, picked clean
Now Some Cheese
Up to 1 cup of the following cheeses, crumbled or shredded;
Swiss
Gruyere
Fontina
Provolone
Gouda
Brie
Mozzarella
Goat Cheese
Cheddar
Jack or Pepper Jack
Feta
Parmesan
Now Let’s Make Some Quiche
Whisk 3 eggs, salt, pepper, and 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, half and half, milk, or evaporated milk in a  large bowl. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (if desired), seasoning such as chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, grated lemon zest (would be awesome with a crab quiche). 
Spread the vegetable/cheese mixture on the bottom of the prepared pie crust and pour the egg mixture on top. Bake until the filling is set, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake

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This was one of those pantry/fridge clean out recipes. I hadn’t made it out to the store and Kevin was too tired to stop on the way home. When he came in the door he said he was starving and asked what was for dinner. I was quick to begin the search through my supplies to see what I could come up with. I have certain things I keep stocked so I always have them on hand. Canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, and whole), pastas, and sausage (in the freezer) are pretty much always on hand. I had some leftover baby spinach from salads a few days before. Plus of course I am never without several different types of cheeses.
After about the third time of Kevin asking was was for dinner I told him to hush, I mean I never let him go hungry right? Sheesh all the pressure! I still think it is funny when he gets nervous about what I am making. He has told me several times that I have never made a bad meal. Where is the faith and the love? I mean come on, really?
After this was all done and put on the table all he could say is “Wow that looks and smells really good” *sigh*thank you! Seriously, I think he just loves making me crazy but I keep telling him it is a quick trip and he doesn’t want to push it too far too fast!

Anyway, back to the food. This is a great quick casserole for a busy weeknight. It really takes very little time at all and tastes wonderful. Kevin took the leftovers to work for his boss and himself the next day. That always lets me know he liked it!

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake
8 ounces short cut pasta (I used Penne)
8 ounces Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 can 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large skillet and cook sausage over medium high heat, stirring to crumble. When sausage is browned add onion, cook until translucent, add the garlic and cook for an addition 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bit from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh spinach. 
  4. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a small (2 quart) casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the half of the mozzarella and Italian cheese blend. Cover with remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minute.
ENJOY!

Quick and Easy Taco Salad

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I have been missing my best friend a lot lately. I mean I miss her all of the time, but lately it has been a lot! She lives in Southern California and I am in Western Washington. We haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but we can sure burn up the phone lines when we want to!! You know a true friend  (and she is more like a sister to me than a friend) when you can not speak for a while, but when you do it can last 3 hours! That’s us!!
Anyway, this is a salad that she used to make all of the time. The first time I made it for my family they thought it sounded like a weird combination of flavors, but they ate it so fast I almost didn’t get any! After that I was requested to make this at least every other week (more like every week actually). This salad is inexpensive and extremely simple to make, and a great way to get your kids to eat some veggies if they aren’t big fans. My kids hated tomatoes but ate them up like crazy when I made this salad for them. Kevin had never had it so he was skeptical about having a salad for dinner, but once he had it he said that it was like an entire meal in one bowl. He is right! Meat, veggies, dairy, yummm!! 

You can use packaged dressing and taco seasonings if you want. I make my own now so I have them on hand to use. Here is the link to my Homemade Italian Dressing Mix. I will post the recipe for homemade taco seasoning at the bottom (I don’t have a post for that yet).
Quick and Easy Taco Salad
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 package low sodium taco seasoning or 1/4 cup homemade taco seasoning (see below for ingredients)
1 bag of chopped romaine hearts
1 to 2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 can sliced black olives
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix or 2 tablespoons of my Homemade Italian Seasoning Mix
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Tortilla chips
Hot sauce, optional
Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown the ground beef/turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small bits. Add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. You can add a splash of water here if needed. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions, avocado, and cheese. Toss to combine. 
In a shaker bottle, or medium bowl, combine the dressing mix, olive oils, vinegar, and water. Shake or whisk to combine well. 
Add the taco meat to the salad mix, toss, add salad dressing (as much or as little as you want), toss. Crush up several handfuls of tortilla chips and toss with the salad. Dish up into bowl and top with hot sauce if desired!
Serves 4 to 6
ENJOY!

Healthy Mexican Pizza

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I love taking my fast food favorites and lightening them up. It takes the guilt out of the equation for me while I can indulge in something that used I used to feel guilty eating. This is a knock off of Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza, something I used to eat all of the time, but the Taco bell version was so full of fat and calories it was insane!! So I gave it up and figured I would never be able to enjoy one again. Then I decided to start picking some of my old fast food favorites and challenging myself to “healthify” them. So not only I, but everyone else could enjoy them without feeling like we needed to eat them in a closet somewhere! I did that with my Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls and to everyone’s surprise here at home they were a huge hit. So when I announced I was again making a healthy version of a fast food fave I wasn’t met with much resistance.

I have become a big fan of black beans and they are one of the things that lighten this dish up and make it healthy. Trust me, you will not miss those fattening re-fried beans at all, which is a huge things for me to say because I used to be addicted to re-fried bean and cheese burritos!! I also use lean ground turkey in place of that greasy beef taco meat they use. Reduced fat cheese, baked tortillas instead of fried, and fresh veggies make this a fantastic tasty fast food at home dish. You can of course add low fat or fat free sour cream if you like as well.
Bye bye Taco Bell, hello healthy and tasty food!!
Healthy Mexican Pizza 
recipe is for 2 pizzas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Salt and pepper 
1 15-ounce can of black beans with jalapeno (Recommend Bush’s Beans)
4 soft taco size flour tortillas
1/2 cup chunky salsa (Recommend Pace Garden Pepper Salsa)
1 cup low fat cheddar or cheddar jack cheese, grated
4 green onions, chopped
1 vine ripened tomato, diced
Sliced black olives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Heat olive oil in a skillet, over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Breaking the turkey up with a wooden spoon, cook until meat is no longer pink. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
In a sauce pot heat the black beans over medium heat. Using a potato masher or fork, mash half of the beans to make them thicker. Once warm remove from heat.
Spray the bottom of two shallow baking dishes or pie plates with non stick spray. Place a tortilla in each one. Top the tortillas with the beans and then the meat mixture. Place another tortilla on top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the cheese, green onion, tomato, and black olives. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing pizza into pieces.
ENJOY!!

Chili Rellenos with Roasted Tomato Sauce for #SundaySupper

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Pardon the shadow on the picture. I didn’t think I was blocking the light when I took the pictures last night, but after reviewing them I saw a shadow on all of the completed dish pictures. I would like to think it was my Mom hovering over me as I made this dish vs my poor photography skills!
The reason I say this, and why I chose this dish for this #SundaySupper meal, is because this is one meal that reminds me of my Mom more than anything else I have ever made. You see when I was young, like maybe 5, my babysitter was a little lady from Chihuahua Mexico. She was one of the best cooks I have ever known and I loved sitting with her in the kitchen as she cooked and told me stories about her childhood in Mexico. She used to let me make flour tortillas and stir the pots.
Like I have said, my Mother was not a cook really. But for some reason this lady encouraged my Mom to try. Lord love her that my Mom chose this to be one of the recipes she would go for. I will admit, it is a pretty labor intensive meal. But I just had to have these smells, flavors and memories in my kitchen again. I hadn’t made these in 18 years!!

You can simplify this meal by using canned whole green chilis instead of roasting fresh chilis and not roasting the tomatoes. But I love it the original way.
Chili Rellenos with Roasted Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce:

  • 4 medium Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
  • Salt
  • Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the tomatoes in half and place them halved side up on  a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, until you see the tomatoes “wilting” and giving off their juices. 
Add the tomatoes and chicken stock to a small pot over medium heat. Simmer the tomatoes until soft and stir in the garlic.
Use an immersion blender to combine or transfer to a food processor to blend until smooth.
Add the 1/4 cup of oil to a frying pan, over low heat, and stir in the flour to make a roux mixture. Cook the flour until browned, then add the tomato sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add the oregano. Keep warm.

For the chilis


  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 1 pound queso fresco cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oil

Tomato sauce:

  • 4 medium Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
  • Salt
  • Cracked Pepper

Directions

Rice and beans, for serving, if desired
Heat broiler. Place the chilis on a backing sheet and char the chiles on both sides. Once blackened put in a plastic bag for 10 minutes to sweat out any moisture. Remove from the bag, slit them down the middle and remove the skin and the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the queso fresco and set aside.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the egg whites to a large bowl. Reserve the egg yolks. Beat the egg whites with an electric beater until the whites fluff up. Add in the flour and the egg yolks and mix until completely incorporated.
Add the oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Spoon a bit of the egg batter on top of the oil to form a “pillow” for the stuffed pepper. 

Allow it too firm for a minute or so and then gently place the pepper in the middle of the pillow. 

Spoon batter over the top of the pepper to cover it.


 and fry until golden brown on both sides. 
Remove from the oil and allow to drain. 



Transfer to a serving platter, pour the tomato sauce over the cooked chile rellenos and serve.

Sopas (Soups), Ensaladas (Salads), and Entremeses (Starters)

La Comida (the food)

Postres (desserts)

Bebidas (beverages)

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day (this coming Sunday, September 16) during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite recipes for a Mexican Fiesta! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  We’d also love to feature your Mexican Fiesta recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!


“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin

Creamy Latin Style Pasta Salad for #laborday #sundaysupper

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Happy Labor Day everyone! I was trying to think of something different than my usual BBQ regulars. I knew we were grilling steaks and making a spinach salad but I wanted a pasta salad, because well, I love pasta. I decided to go to my Southern California roots do something with a Latin/Mexican flair. I was watching Simply Delicioso with Ingrid Hoffman and saw a pasta that she was working on and it gave me TONS of ideas. But you know that as a food blogger I can never leave anyone’s recipe alone, so off my little mind went with ingredients dancing in my head. I figured go big or go home, so I threw all of my favorites at this pasta, well not ALL of them, but most of them. Wow, who knew that my little thoughts would go so far?

I love it when my little mental foodie trips take me to a good place, and this of surely did! There is creaminess, spicyness, all of the things you would want from a great side dish. I know I have said we love things hot here, but trust me this is not too hot. You will love every bit of this pasta salad. I will bet money on it!! Kevin said that from now on if someone asks us to bring a dish to a BBQ this is the one we are bringing!!

Creamy Latin Style Pasta Salad

1 pound curly pasta (rotini, cavatapi)
1/2 fat free condensed milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced ham
1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco (can sub feta) cheese
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (a good handful), chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, diced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, cook according to package directions. Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, combine the evaporated milk, oil, Queso Fresco or feta, cilantro, lime juice and some salt and pepper in a blender. Puree until the dressing is smooth and creamy.

Place the drained pasta in a large bowl. Add the ham, bell peppers, onions, jalapeno, black beans, and avocado. Pour the dressing over the pasta and gently mix it into the salad. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving.

ENJOY!!!

Labor Day Cookout Recipes:

Starters & Snacks

Main Dishes

Salads & Sides

Drinks

Desserts

Wine Pairings

  • Labor Day Cookout Food And Wine Pairings byENOFYLZ
Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 p.m. EST for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite cookout recipes!
All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us throughTweetChat!
We’d also love to feature your Cookout recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls

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I have been trying to lighten things up a bit around here. With the warm weather we of course are wearing less clothing which makes it a bit obvious that the cool sweater weather we have around here 8 months a year has allowed us to hide a multitude of sins! So I am trying to “sneak” in healthier versions of foods we love without making it stand out too much. I mean I don’t want a flashing light above the dinner table saying “Healthy Food Here” it might just make everyone run and hide. Really though to me it is a bit of a challenge. I like to see their faces and hear what they think about the food before I tell them it is healthy. I just don’t want them to get it in their heads that they wont like it before they even try it. Why does healthy = tasteless or inedible to some people?

What started the whole idea for this meal was a commercial I saw on TV for a pan that you can bake tortilla shells in to make healthier taco salads. I liked it, but I hate to buy all of those “gadgets”. If I bought every one that peeked my interest I would need a whole storage for just my kitchen stuff!! So I of course turned to my trusty internet for ideas. I saw one that used upside down jumbo muffin tins, but the tortillas wouldn’t stay tucked in the right way, so back I went for more ideas. 
That’s when I found this fantastic idea at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. It is brilliant! I knew I had canning jars in my pantry so I was set and ready to go with it. I was so excited about this meal. I made Avocado Hot Sauce to substitute for guacamole and sour cream and a can of black beans with jalapeno already in my pantry!
You can see here how perfect the canning jars work for this process. I used the soft taco size flour tortillas so the bowls were small  I only ate one for dinner but the guys ate two plus I think Seth made a soft taco later. Hungry boy!
The jars are the pint jars by Ball but any oven safe glass or cup would work for this too. I think they came out so good, crispy without the guilt of frying them in oil!
Healthy Chicken Taco Bowls
6 soft taco sized flour tortilla shells
Olive oil
1 pound chicken tenders
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can of black beans with jalapeno (I used Bush’s)
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded or chopped
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
Combine the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Place chicken tenders on a baking sheet an drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the cumin mixture on both sides of each chicken tender. Reserve excess mixture. Bake tenders for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn oven up to 400 degrees
Meanwhile place jars upside down on a rimmed baking sheet and spray them with non-stick spray. Heat tortillas (I did 2 at a time) in the microwave for about 30 seconds, just enough to make them soft so you can form them over the jars. Using your fingers, rub a bit of olive oil on each tortilla, just enough so it will crisp up and to help keep it from sticking. Press the sides of the tortillas down gently to form the “bowls” around the jars.
Shred cooled chicken with two forks, set aside. Place the can of black beans in a small sauce pot and heat.
Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes depending on your oven. Just check them to make sure they crisp but don’t burn. Remove from heat and carefully remove each shell from the jars. 
Assemble each taco bowl by adding black beans, then the chicken, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, a sprinkling of cheese, and top with the Avocado Hot Sauce.
ENJOY!!

Food Star Friday – Crab Stuffed Mushroom "Throwdown"

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My Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Paula Deen’s Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Happy Food Star Friday everyone! Today I am doing a little twist to my regular Food Star Friday post. I decided to have some fun and do a recipe “Throwdown”. I love Paula Deen, even if her food hasn’t been the healthiest in the past. I just love her sense of humor, love for her family, and basically her joy of life. I do have to admit though, another thing I love is her crab stuffed mushrooms!! I know, I know, not the healthiest thing in the world. But hey, like I say, all things in moderation. I don’t eat them everyday so if I have a few here and there (like once a year maybe) I don’t think it is that bad right? However, I decided that I wanted to try to make one of my favorites a little healthier so I can enjoy them a little more than once a year.

Like I explained in my posts for Manic Monday and my Crab Salad Sammies, we found ourselves pleasantly surprised by a gift of 4 very large and very fresh dungeness crab last week. I was so excited. As we were cleaning them I kept nibbling. They were so tender and sweet I almost wanted to just dig in and eat them plain, but I had known, almost from the minute the crab hit my kitchen, that I wanted crab salad sandwiches and stuffed mushrooms. Once I got down to the business of planning the recipes I realized that I was very torn. I knew I loved Paula Deen’s crab stuffed mushrooms but have been trying to make things a bit healthier. So that was when my son suggested a “throwdown” between the two recipes. What a great idea right? It was a way to really be able to compare the two recipes side by side and get honest opinions.
Everyone was in the kitchen as I combined the stuffing for each recipe, commenting and wondering how it would go. Once the mushrooms hit the oven we all adjourned outside to not only beat the heat of the kitchen, but to relax and enjoy a cold drink. One the timer went *DING* the relaxing stopped. Into the kitchen we all piled to take a peek of the little beauties as they came out of the oven. Everyone wanted to grab them right then and there but I chased them outside so I could get the platters set up and the crab salad sandwiches made. As soon as I got the food on the table outside (and took my photos) they dove in.
What was the verdict? Everyone of course loved the creaminess of Paula Deen’s, well they do have cream cheese in them, but I was surprised to hear them say they loved mine as well. Mine had more crab in it so that flavor came though. At the end it was a tie. They said that there would good things about both and they would want them both again *sigh* the whole point of the “throwdown”, to have a winner!
So I guess I will need you to check them out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
1 pound of very large mushrooms, stemmed and the ribs carefully scraped out to make room for the stuffing
4 tablespoons butter
5 green onions, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1 pound crab meat, picked clean of shells
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (I used Old Bay)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop stems and set aside. Spray a shallow baking dish with butter-flavored spray.
Melt butter in skillet, add reserved chopped stems, green onions and red bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender. Combine cooked ingredients with bread crumbs, crab meat, seafood seasoning, salt, and pepper. Fill each mushroom with as much as possible. Top each mushroom with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until mushroom caps are tender and cheese is crispy.

ENJOY!!!

Food Star Friday – Banana Muffins with Marscapone Frosting

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As you can tell from my lack of it on the blog, I am not a big baker. Well between me not baking much and the fact that, believe it or not even with kids here, sweets just don’t aren’t popular in my house. Don’t get me wrong. I could make a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies and they would be gone tomorrow. But I want to try out new cakes and pies and those just don’t go over well. I guess I should just make them and feed my neighbors well right?

Well since I had a Food Star Friday coming up, I figured it was a great time to pull out a baking recipe. I had gone to the store and picked up 4 bananas a few days ago and hid them so no one would eat them before they got ripe enough to use. I am so sneaky. Once I got down to baking them I had everything out and into the bowls, just one more ingredient needed…vanilla. CRAP where is the vanilla??? Just as I was starting to get really upset (at myself for not checking a head of time and at whoever used the last of the vanilla) Dylan’s girlfriend told me she had seen it in the pantry. She proceeded to rummage around and come up with the vanilla. They had used it for French toast and it didn’t get put back in the box *sigh* so now I have vanilla right? I open it up and pour it into the tablespoon…..just under one tablespoon left in the bottle AARRGGGG!!! Why does baking always end up so stressful for me? OK, back to why were are here…the muffins.

The recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis. I love a lot of her recipes, so when I saw this one I decided to take a stab at it. My friends, it is so good!! The muffins are moist and don’t really need the frosting but I will tell you that the frosting is out of this world! If you are baking challenged like me this is a great recipe for you because it is not difficult at all. The best part…..the muffins went so fast I almost didn’t have time to take the photo!! So give them a try, you will be very happy you did, I promise!!!

Banana Muffins with Marscapone Frosting

Muffins:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed

Frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I omitted the nuts)

Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly. The muffins may be eaten warm or cooled completely and frosted.
To frost the cupcakes: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone cheese and then beat in the honey. Spread the frosting over the muffins. Sprinkle with the walnuts.