Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bacon Appetizer Crescents

This is the perfect party appetizer.  Cutting crescent rolls in half makes the portion size just right for finger food. It's another find from the Kraft Foods website.  I love it!

1 pkg (8 oz) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
8 slices Oscar Mayer Bacon (cooked and crumbled).  You may use another brand, but O/M is the best.
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onions - I use green onions
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp milk
2 can (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except crescent dough.

Separate each can of dough into 8 triangles; cut each triangle lengthwise in half.  Spread each dough triangle with 1 generous tsp. cream cheese mixture; roll up, starting at short side of triangle.  Place, point sides down, on baking sheet.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

White Chocolate - Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

I found this recipe on the Kraft Foods website and it's definitely a keeper.  Planning a special dinner?  This is your dessert.

12 Oreo Cookies, finely crushed (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
3 squares Baker's White Chocolate, divided
2 pkgs (8 oz each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup red raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crush Oreo cookies in a Ziploc bag.  Mix cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of Springform pan. Melt 2 chocolate squares as directed on package.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended.  Add melted chocolate; mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended.  Pour over crust.

Bake 25 - 28 minutes, or until center is almost set.  Cool 5 minutes; spread with preserves. Melt remaining chocolate square; drizzle over cheesecake.  Cook cheesecake completely.  Refrigerate 4 hours.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Citrus Chicken Salad

This recipe got mixed reviews for dinner tonight.  I loved it.  I thought it was just the right amount of citrus and heat, but the youngsters weren't quite as impressed.  You'll have to decide whose taste buds to trust.

1 (15 oz) can of Mandarin Oranges in light syrup
3 Tbsp sugar
2 limes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp olive oill
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cups of baby lettuce greens (washed)
Salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts.

Drain the can of Mandarin Oranges and save the syrup.  Pour syrup into saucepan and add sugar. Bring to a boil and let sauce reduce to about half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Zest two limes into a small batter bowl.  Slice limes in half and juice both into bowl with lime zest.  Add cayenne pepper and olive oil  Add Mandarin Orange mixture when cooled and whisk well.  Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing into a small prep bowl for later use.

Grill the chicken breasts on a grill pan or outdoor grill for 6 minutes on first side.  Brush with set aside dressing and then turn chicken.  Brush tops of chicken again with dressing.  Cover and cook for 5 more minutes.  Turn chicken again and allow to sit for five minutes.  Slice in small pieces to be place on top of lettuce to serve.

To serve, place desired amount of baby lettuce leaves on plate.  Top with cooked chicken breasts and Mandarin Oranges.  Whisk dressing and then drizzle over the top.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I really liked this!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fun With Herbs - Rosemary

I've been cooking with more herbs and trying out new flavors lately.  Tonight's dinner was complimented by Rosemary.  The kids and I liked these recipes - the hubby wasn't so sure . . . we may have to ease him into these new flavors.

Rosemary Pork and Roasted Potatoes

3 lb pork loin roast
8 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
2 cloves garlic (pressed)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Seasoned salt
Pepper to taste

Using two silicone bands, secure three sprigs of Rosemary to the top and bottom side of the roast.
Slice two sprigs of Rosemary, removing stems.  Place in small prep bowl with garlic, olive oil, seasoned salt and pepper.  Stir well and brush mixture over all sides of the roast.

Place on a broiler pan and broil on a lower rack for about 35 -40 minutes.  Turn over and change oven to bake at 450 degrees.  You'll place the Roasted Potatoes in the oven when you turn your roast.  See that recipe below.

6 russet potatoes (washed well, but not peeled)
2 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
1 clove garlic (pressed)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of bacon (cut in half)

Chop two sprigs of Rosemary, removing stems.  Place in a small prep bowl with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

Slice potatoes into quarters.  Place in a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes.  Drain well and pour into a large mixing bowl..  Pour Rosemary mixture over the potatoes and stir to coat.  Pour into a baking dish and top with half slices of bacon.  Place in oven when pork roast is turned.  Allow to roast at 450 for about 30 - 35 minutes.

Remove roast and potatoes from oven.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing roast to serve.

Serve with your favorite steamed green veggie.  This recipe will serve 6.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake

Who doesn't love gooey butter cake?  And what could possibly make it better . . . why, chocolate, of course.

1 (18.25 oz) package chocolate cake mix
3 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese (at room temperature)
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13" cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 cup of melted butter.  Stir until well blended.  Pat the mixture into the pan and set it aside.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the two eggs and the cocoa powder and beat until well mixed.  Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar.  Beat until well mixed.  Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Spread over the top of the batter in the pan.

Bake the cake for 40 minutes.  The center should be slightly gooey.  Slice and serve with whipped topping, if desired.  I actually like to sprinkle a little bit of powdered sugar over the top.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saucy & Creamy Lasagna

I love lasagna, but it's really hard to find good lasagna.  I have tried for years to find a recipe that works for me.  I think I've finally perfected it -- this is a combination of a few recipes I've tried over the years.  I took the best from each recipe.  Give this a try and let me know what you think.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage
2 jars (26 - 28 oz) of your favorite pasta sauce (I like Prego Tomato, Onion & Basil)
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/4 cups Half & Half (not fat-free)
1 (15 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Put a large stock pot of water over high heat to bring it to a boil.  Once boiling, add lasagna noodles and boil for nine minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Combine olive oil and butter in large frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and garlic and cook for five minutes until softened.  Add the beef and Italian sausage breaking up with a spoon, about 10 minutes, until browned.  Season the beef to taste.

Add pasta sauce to meat and allow to simmer over low heat as the rest of the ingredients are prepared.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan and then add flour.  Whisk while cooking over medium-low heat for about 1one minute.  Whisk in the Half & Half.  Cook until the sauce boils (whisk often).  Stir in the ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in nutmeg.  Remove from the heat.

Spray a 9 x 13" deep baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread 1/4 cup of the white sauce over the bottom of the pan.  Arrange 4 lasagna noodles in the dish and top with one third of the meat sauce mixture and 1/2 cup of the white sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers two more times.  Top with four lasagna noodles and the remaining white sauce and the mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.