Monday, September 1, 2014

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes:

This isn't the best picture AT ALL, but just let me tell you that these potatoes were SO, SO good and VERY easy! I had never made twice baked potatoes before, so I was actually a little nervous! But oh my, they were so easy! My whole family just loved them! I thought I made WAY too many for us, but we only had like 3 halves leftover, so I guess that was pretty good!! I made them a few hours before I needed them, and kept them in the fridge until I was ready to bake them! That made clean up a lot easier!
I hope you give them a try!

7-8 medium potatoes
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup prepared ranch dressing
1 tablespoon dry ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus more for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash dry potatoes. Rub each potato lightly with canola oil and prick several times with a fork.
Place potatoes directly on the top rack of the oven. Bake for 40-60 minutes (it depends on the size of your potato) or until you can easy poke the potato with a fork. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, milk, ranch dressing and ranch dressing mix with a hand mixer, until well combined. 
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and scoop out the potato with a spoon (leave a small amount in the skins, so that they hold their shape). Add the potato filling to the cheese mixture and mix until well combined. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese. Scoop filling into the potato shells. Sprinkle with additional cheddar cheese.
Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chicken Zucchini Boats:

Our garden did not do well this year for some reason, so we're kind of missing our usual over-abundance of zucchini! However, someone very generously shared some of their over-abundance with us, so now we're making all things zucchini!
I was rather skeptical of this recipe when I first saw it. It was just pretty unusual, and I wasn't really sure. But I went ahead and gave it a shot, and I'm SO glad I did!!
All the flavors blended together really well, and it turned out to be a rather simple, yummy dish!!
I hope you try it out!

2 large zucchini 
4 medium chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch bites
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow or red onion, diced
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen, but not canned)
1 tblsp. minced garlic
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Place chicken pieces in a large skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute over high heat, until chicken is done and liquid is mostly evaporated. Add onion; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add corn and garlic. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated.

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, scoop out the flesh of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Dice the scooped out zucchini and add to the chicken mixture, if desired. Place zucchini shells on a cookie sheet. Fill with chicken mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with desired amount of cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.
Slice and serve!

-You can add in the extra, chopped zucchini or you don't have to. I think it was very good added it, but it's completely up to you.
-I think this would be great with any kind of leftover, cooked chicken you might have - marinated, grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, etc.
-As you can see from the picture, the zucchini I used were very large! I'm talking over a foot long, bigger around than a softball. If you are using smaller zucchini, you will want to adjust the recipe, and also the cooking time. You want a fork to be able to just barely poke down through the flesh of the zucchini.
-This is not a dish that would work well to prepare ahead of time. Zucchini has a very high water content, so once cut, the longer it sits, it will produce more and more liquid.
-Click HERE to view MyRecipe Magic, where you can find the nutritional info for this recipe.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Italian Veggie Dip:

I love sweet snacks and a good dessert, but I also LOVE fresh veggies and dip!!!!! Especially a homemade dip. We had a bunch of fresh veggies recently, and my sister and I were so excited to make a big batch of homemade ranch dip to go with all the veggies we were planning on devouring! Unfortunately, we found out we were out of Ranch Dressing Mix. We grabbed the next best thing, and just hoped it would work!
And it did! Really well, actually! The Italian Seasoning was not overpower at all, but went so well with the vegetables! Just talking about it, makes me want a big bowl of veggies and dip right now!!
This is also perfect if you have lots of produce coming from your garden!
I hope you'll try it out!

1 (16 oz.) container Sour Cream
2 packets Zesty Italian dressing mix
Raw vegetables of your choice

Place sour cream in medium size bowl. Add dressing mix and mix until thoroughly combined.
Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve!

-This was also very good as a chip dip!
-Click HERE to view on MyRecipe Magic, where you can find the nutritional information for this recipe!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Slow-Cooker Philly Cheese-steak Sandwich:

We tried out these sandwiches for the 4th of July this year. We had never made anything like it before, so I was a tad nervous about how they might turn out! But it worked great and everybody loved it!
You can customize it to your taste by choosing whatever toppings you like!
I hope you give them a try!
(please don't mind the really tasted good!)

1 & 1/2  - 2 pounds beef round steak (see note)
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
Hoagie or Sandwich buns
-Onion slices
-Provolone cheese slices
-Swiss cheese slices
-Steak Sauce

Slice meat into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in meat, peppers and onions in a crock-pot. Pour beef broth over all, and sprinkle with dressing mix. Cover and cook on Low for 5-6 hours or High for 2-3 hours.
Serve on toasted buns with desired toppings!

-When we made this, we used "Hoagie Meat" from our butcher. It was sliced just right for this dish.
-I don't really care for peppers that have been cooked to death, so I didn't put any in the crock-pot. I just sauteed the slices in butter, and then put them on my sandwich.
-The above picture is not the best picture ever, but it was the only one I got! It was my dad's sandwich, so that is not a gluten-free bun, but click HERE to find the awesome, gluten-free buns that we used!
-Click HERE to view on MyRecipe Magic, where you can find the nutritional information for this recipe!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Calico Beans:

I wouldn't really consider our family big "tradition" people when it comes to holidays, special occasions, etc.
I guess because we don't have any "big" traditions. They are mostly just small, seemingly insignificant things, but somehow they make a difference to us!
This recipe is like that. When they were living, I always lived very close to both sets of my grandparents, so we were always at one of the grandparent's houses for any given holiday.
We usually went to my dad's parents for the 4th of July.
My grandma always made BBQ, grilled chicken legs, and Calico beans (to name only a few things!).
I don't know how on earth they got the name and they definitely aren't much to look at, but they're really good and they will forever scream "4th of July food" to me!!!
If you like ordinary baked beans at all, you will love these!
I hope you give them a try!!

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tblsp. mustard
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 (28 oz.) can Baked Beans
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen baby Lima beans

In a large skillet, brown beef and bacon until meat is no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, combine ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar; mix well. Add meat and beans. Stir until well combined. Pour into a greased casserole dish.
Oven Method:
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until hot, bubbly and lightly browned.
Slow-Cooker Method:
Pour into your crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours.

-I often mix this up the day before I need it and I keep it in the fridge until I'm ready to bake it.
-Stay tuned for the "Philly Cheese-steaks" sandwich recipe (also pictured above) coming next week!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Green Stuff:

This is one dish I have grown up on my whole life and I don't think I'll ever get tired it!
My mom and grandma used to make this salad all the time! Pappy always called it "rainbow stew"!!! I have no idea why! I've also heard some people call it Watergate Salad........we always call it Green Stuff.  It's so easy to make, and I think we make it for just about every occasion - Christmas, 4th of July, family reunions, whatever!! We've tried different Jello Salads and things instead of this salad, and people have said "it's good, but just doesn't take the place of Green Stuff"!
If you're not a huge fan of pistachios, don't worry! It only has a very slight pistachio flavor that you hardly notice! It's such a great dish for the summer, and I hope you'll give it a try!

2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, do not drain
2+ cups mini marshmallows
1 (16 oz.) container Cool Whip

In a large bowl, mix together pudding and pineapple until well combined. Stir in marshmallows - start with 2 cups and add more if you want! Fold in the Cool Whip. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Mini Freezer Omelets:

These are so easy to make and fabulous for a fast and easy breakfast!
I like to make some with just meat and cheese, and then some with other mix-ins. That way everyone can find something they like! I hope you give them a try!

8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Mix-ins of your choice:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sauted peppers, onions and/or mushrooms
black olives
chopped tomatoes
crumbled, cooked bacon
crumbled, cooked sausage
chopped ham

Place eggs and milk in a large bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Divide evenly between 12 paper-lined muffin cups (with foil and paper liners). Add small amounts of any mix-ins you like! Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until eggs are set. Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until completely frozen. Place in a gallon zip-lock bag and return to the freezer. 

To Re-heat:
Remove foil muffin cup, and place omelet on a plate. Microwave for 45-60 seconds or until heated through!

-I actually love to eat these with grits over the top!
-If you don't use the muffin-liners with paper and foil, the regular ones will stick to the omelet really bad!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Five Guys Burgers and Fries:

Just added to the "Eating Out" Tab on the right hand side!!
I've never been to this restaurant before, but I've seen them in lots of different places.
Be sure to read their story on the website! It's pretty interesting how they got started!

Funny story: my brother just helped do some landscaping at one of the "5 guys" vacation homes!!!

I hope you check it out!
Let me know if you try anything from this restaurant and how you liked it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

8-Hour Chicken Marinade:

I love to mix up a meat marinade in the morning and let the chicken, pork, steak or whatever it may be, just soak there all day! It's almost like a slow-cooker meal, really. Prep it in the morning and let it just get better and better as the day goes on! 
This one is definitely better the longer is goes! I really don't know how to describe the flavor - it's not sweet, but not tangy or spicy either! The ingredient list kind of surprised me, but everything went together really well and I thought it was really yummy! I served it just plain with roasted asparagus and french fries on the side, but it would also be great chopped up over a salad as well!
Hope you try it out!

1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I only had Honey Dijon, so that's what I used)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons lime juice
4 & 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 chicken breasts

Place chicken in a gallon zip-lock bag. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken and seal bag, getting out as much air as possible. Shake well to evenly coat. Chill for at least 8 hours (can be more). Place chicken breasts on grill and discard remaining marinade. Grill until done!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Pat-In-the-Pan Pie Crust:

I have a pretty good Pie Crust Recipe on the blog already, and I really do like it, but I've really struggled getting it to that "amazing" point. It's by far the best of that type that I've tried and it is definitely good, but I'm just not sure how to compare it to this one! I always have a hard time transferring the rolled pie crust to the pan in one piece! Plus the entire process of making a pie, just takes a really long time. 

Until now. 
A friend lent me a magazine called "Cook's Country." You may be familiar with it, but it was something new to me, and I just loved it! It was super interesting and had some great tips.
And that's where I found this recipe.
I didn't have anything to loose, so I gave it a try and was beyond thrilled! 
Granted, you can not use it for a two-crust pie, but for a single pie crust, it's amazing! SUPER fast and easy to make and REALLY yummy! 
The ingredients and directions were a little surprising to me, but trust me, they all work and I hope you'll try it out!! 

1 & 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tblsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick (8 tblsp.) butter, room temperature
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

Lightly coat a deep dish 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray; set aside. 
In small bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, sugar and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. 
Add flour mixture and mix on medium-low until mixture resembles course crumbs - about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and beaters. 
Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps - about 30 seconds.
Turn dough out onto plastic wrap. Form into a ball and then flatten into a 6-inch disk. Transfer to prepared pie plate. 
Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate toward sides, using the heel of your hand. You can hold it up to the light to make sure that it's pressed out evenly. 
Continue pressing up the sides and slightly over the edge of the plate until even.
Flute the edges. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. 

To make a pre-baked pie shell:
Adjust your oven racks so that one rack is in the center of the oven and pre-heat to 325 degrees. Lightly prick bottom of crust with fork. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

To fill a pie and then bake:
Prepare according to your recipe directions and bake as directed. 

-When I made the apple pie in the above picture, the directions on the apple pie filling can said to brush the crust with an egg white wash. I really don't think this crust needed it at all. As you can tell from the picture, it got plenty golden-brown and almost burnt. I think it would have browned just fine on it's own, with no egg white wash!