Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pesto Chicken

My friend Kelley invited me over for dinner one night and this is what we ate. Let me tell you, this recipe is amazing! I came home and made it for Brandon that same week. He scarfed it down and told me to add this to my "Kayla book." That's what he says when he REALLY likes something I've cooked. I don't really know if the real name of this recipe is Pesto Chicken or not but that seems like a fitting name.

Pesto Chicken

Chicken Breasts (however many you plan to serve; I used four)
Pesto (can be store bought or homemade; I used store bought and it was fantastic)
Tomatoes (probably 2; I used home grown red & yellow tomatoes; if using store bought, I recommend using roma tomatoes)
Mozzarella cheese (one slice for each chicken breast)
Pasta Roni (I like to use the Parmesan Cheese flavor but any kind will do)

1. Generously spoon pesto onto chicken breasts and bake according to package directions (I use the frozen kind out of bags. I don't remember time and temp; sorry, I'm terrible)
2. Meanwhile, begin pasta.
3. In the last 5 minutes of baking add to the top 2 or 3 slices of tomatoes and a slice of mozzarella. Bake for 5 more minutes.
4. When chicken and pasta are both done, place pasta on plate or serving dish and top with chicken. Enjoy!

Peppermint Dessert

I made this recipe for Christmas this year and it was a hit! I found the recipe on Katherine's blog (I find so many recipes on her blog that are amazing!) about a year ago and finally got around to making it and boy am I (and my husband & his family) glad I did! If you like peppermint, you'll love this dessert. My dad doesn't like peppermint and suggested making this with any other flavor ice cream and I think that would taste great too.

Peppermint Dessert

2 cups crushed chocolate wafers or Oreos
5 Tbsp butter, softened
first layer:
1 half-gallon peppermint ice cream, softened slightly (I just let it sit out while I made the crust)
second layer:
2 1-oz squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
3 egg whites

1. Combine wafer crumbs and butter (I used my food processor to grind up the Oreos then I just added the butter and everything mixed up reallly well); reserve 1/4 cup for topping (I skipped this step just like Katherine does and used all the crumbs for the crust). Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
2. Spread ice cream over and freeze while making the second layer. (Careful when spreading the ice cream on the top because when I did this I shifted my bottom layer around; I think my ice cream hadn't quite softened up enough).
3. In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and gradually add beaten egg yolks, stirring continuously. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts. Mix together and cool thoroughly. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into cooled chocolate mixture.
4. Spread over ice cream layer, sprinkle with reserved crumbs and freeze. Allow to soften slightly before cutting into squares and serving.

Chocolate-Caramel Candy

The most amazing candy you'll ever eat! At least that's what I think! It's very similar to a Snickers except that I always omit the peanuts. Not because I don't like them but because I just don't usually have them on hand and I'm too cheap to buy some when I know full well that this candy is perfectly delicious without them. I got the recipe from a Taste of Home Annual cookbook from 1999. There are a lot of steps involved but don't let that intimidate you because they are all very easy steps. I always use the same pan too so I'm not dirtying a ton of dishes. I rinse my pan out between the first and second layer but after that I use the same pan without rinsing and it turns out fine every time.

Chocolate-Caramel Candy
1 cup (6 oz) milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts
caramel layer:
1 pkg (14 oz) caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup (6 oz) milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Line 9x13 pan with foil; butter and set aside.
2. Combine the first three ingredients in a small saucpan (I always use a double boiler because I am terrible at melting chocolate any other way); stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Spread into prepared pan. Chill until set. (There is chilling time between each layer. I find that the time it takes to prepare each layer is plenty of chilling time.)
3. For filling, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and milk; bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow cream, peanut butter and vanilla. Add peanuts. Spread over first layer. Chill while making next layer.
4. Combine caramels and cream in saucepan; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Cook and stir 4 minutes longer. Spread over filling. Chill while making next layer.
5. In another saucepan, combine chips and peanut butter; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour over caramel layer. Chill for at least 4 hours.
6. Remove from the fridge/freezer 20 minutes before cutting. Remove from pan; cut into 1-inch squares.
Yield: about 8 dozen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells

I picked up this recipe from The Sister's Cafe a while ago and finally got around to making it and boy am I glad I did!! These were so good the entire pan was gone in one day! I don't think that has ever happened in my house! This recipe makes two 9x13 pans. I froze one so we could have it made and ready to go after Baby is here so I don't have to cook much. I hope I don't regret this later but I pulled the pan out of the freezer so we can eat more now! One thing I will do differently next time is actually listen to Erin's suggestion in the original recipe and make the filling the day before. I did change a couple of things from the original and those changes are reflected in my recipe below. Next time I will make this without the chicken mostly because I don't like cutting up and cooking chicken, I think doing so just adds more work and it would taste just as perfectly delicious without it. If I do omit the chicken then I'd probably call this Spinach and Four Cheese Stuffed Shells.

Chicken & Spinach Stuffed Shells

44 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (about one and a half 12-oz boxes)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (like I said above, I plan to omit this next time)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or a 5oz pkg pre-shredded)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 (26oz) jars prepared spaghetti sauce (any variety; I used Bertolli Vidalia Onion & Newman's Own Sockarooni and that was a great combonation)

1. Cook shells according to package directions (be sure to stir every once in awhile so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan and tear apart); drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 2 13x9x2inch baking dishes.
3. In a large bowl, combine chicken and all the rest of the ingredients except mozzarella and spaghetti sauce. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella.
4. Spoon into shells. Spread half of a jar of spaghetti sauce into prepared baking dishes. Arrange shells over sauce; top with remaining sauce.
5. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes.
6. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taco Dip

We have our Bible study Christmas party/dinner tonight with a Mexican theme for the food. I get to bring the chips and taco dip. Yay! Especially since I have this really good recipe that I got from a friend of mine a few years ago. I accidentally left out the Miracle Whip one time and it was so blah. It might sound weird to have it in this type recipe but it really does add to the flavor. Enjoy!

Taco Dip

1 large can refried beans (16 oz.)
1 large container sour cream (16 oz.)
3/4 c. Miracle Whip mixed with 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1 large can (or 2 small) green chilies
1 large tomato, chopped
2-3 green onion, chopped
1-2 c. grated cheese
Taco chips

Layer in dish. Ready to eat or let it chill for an hour or so.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cherry-Lemon Scones

I absolutely love scones! There is this place in town that makes the best scones but all the workers there seem to have awful attitudes so I don't like to go in there very often and "support" them. I have tried a few different scone recipes at home and none seem to compare, well, that was until I made this recipe I found over on Katherine's blog. She really seemed to have a lot of fun with it and made several different variations. The first time I made the recipe about a year ago I decided to experiment without trying the original recipe and boy did I do a terrible job! But I could tell that this was a good recipe and that it was just me making a mistake on flavors so I pulled it out an tried again this time doing the original recipe and let me tell you, it's amazing!! I will be making these again and again!! I had planned on taking these to treat day at work tomorrow but now I'm thinking twice about it. I may end up taking the guacamole that I made instead. I'm loving these scones!!

Cherry-Lemon Scones

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold & cut into pieces
1/2 cup dried cherries (I used cherry flavored Craisins)
zest of 2 lemons
2/3 cup buttermilk

glaze for scones:
juice of half a lemon
powdered sugar
vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients in food processor. Add diced butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add lemon zest and cherries and pulse 2 or 3 more times. Add buttermilk all at once and process until dough comes together. Pat dough on a floured surface into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into circles or half-moons. I like to cut mine like a pizza into 8 triangles. I'm always surprised by how small my triangles look but as they bake they really do grow to a more "natural" size. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and brush with lemon glaze.