Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zucchini Cakes

Looking for something to make with all of that zucchini you have growing in your garden? Well, officially, I don't have any zucchini growing in my garden, but my friend whose garden I was babysitting has tons, so for this week, I have lots of zucchini to cook with. While I was looking for a recipe for zucchini bread, I came across this one for fried zucchini cakes. It reminded me of potato cakes. Have you ever had those? Oh how I love those things. I haven't had one in years, but man does it bring back some glorious childhood memories. OK, back to the cakes. They are delicious. Let me state that again, they are simply delicious! Who ever knew that zucchini could taste so good? These are a must try. And they aren't too terribly unhealthy, you do fry them in olive oil.


Zucchini Cakes

Ingredients:
1 whole Large Zucchini (about 2 cups shredded)
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
½ cups Breadcrumbs
½ cups 4-cheese Italian Blend, Parmesan, or Romano
2 whole Eggs
Kosher Salt To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Olive Oil

Directions:
Wash and cut the end off of one large zucchini. Shred it using the large holes of a cheese grater, kitchen aid attachment, or food processor. Squeeze the shredded zucchini inside of a clean towel until you’ve removed as much liquid as possible.
Place shredded zucchini into a medium sized bowl. Add minced garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese (shredded), eggs, kosher salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a fork until well mixed.
Heat olive oil to a medium heat. When the oil is hot enough drop a spoonful of zucchini batter into the skillet and flatten it slightly. After about two minutes, turn the cakes over ( they should be nice golden-brown) and cook on the other side until done (about 2-3 minutes).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Best Chicken Salad

Seriously, this is the best chicken salad I've ever eaten. Granted, I don't eat a lot of chicken salad, but I want to eat this one. I actually made it for my son's birthday party, and I was still thinking about it the next day. The first time I had this chicken salad, I was in college. A woman in the church (it sounds weird saying that because she's not all that older than me!) had me over for lunch and she served this on croissants. This was about 8-9 years ago, and I still remember loving this chicken salad. When I served this at the party, I served it on the small sandwich thin rounds. You know, the really thin bread that is shaped in a circle? It was perfect. OK, have I convinced you to try this yet? I think I'll make another batch this week. I'm craving it, like a crazy pregnant woman, which I am not. Go make this, you're tummy will thank you!


The Best Chicken Salad
from Allison Stanley

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken breasts, boiled and then shredded or cubed
3/4 cup of mayo
3 stalks of celery, diced small
2 green onions, chopped
red grapes, sliced in half (about a 1/2 to whole cup depending on preference.)
half of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
First, boil and shred or cube the chicken. Next, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add celery and green onions to chicken and mix well. Squeeze half of lemon over the chicken mixture and mix again. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour. I actually let mine sit over night and it tasted perfect. Before serving, add the mayo and grapes. Stir well and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Easy Baked Crab Cakes

At my house we love anything in pancake form. I think I've stated that before. My boys especially love my go to crab cake recipe. My oldest son has eaten 3 in one sitting before! But, I'm on the lookout for a new crab cake recipe. I want something with a tad more flavor. I combined two different recipes I found on All Recipes and changed some other things to come up with what I have below. I also served it for myself with Trader Joe's Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce. When I was shopping there a couple of months ago, they were sampling their crab cakes with this sauce. I've been thinking about it ever since. Tonight was the night I popped open the jar, and it was so yummy! You only need a little bit, because the flavor is really strong, but I think it adds a great kick. These are great even without the sauce. And do you know what else is great about these? They are baked. Yes, you heard me right, I baked these babies. You could fry them in a couple of tablespoons of oil, but I decided to try and make them slightly healthy and bake them. I baked them at 350, but I think you could easily cut the time down and bake them at 400 and it would work great.


Easy Baked Crab Cakes
adapted from All Recipes


Ingredients:
3 cans crab meat, drained
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP spicy brown mustard
3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 green onions, green part only, chopped
4 oz crushed Ritz crackers

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together, except for the crackers. Form small balls, roll in crackers, and place on greased baking sheet. (I lined mine with tin foil for easy clean up.) Smoosh slightly to make a patty. Do this until all the crab mixture is gone. I made about 13. Bake in oven for 15 minutes and then gently flip them, and bake them on the other side for 15 minutes. You could up the oven temperature to 400 and cut the time down, but I didn't think to do that until after I realized it was going to take 30 minutes in the oven! Serve with mustard sauce if you desire, or alone.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Andes Mint Brownies


I am a sucker for anything chocolate and mint. This looks SO good!

*Makes one 9X13-inch pan

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 package Andes mints (24-28 mints)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.

Unwrap all the mints and coarsely chop. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, stirring well to combine. Whisk in the vanilla and then the eggs. Blend well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Gently stir in the chopped Andes mints. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 32-35 minutes, until the brownies are set in the middle but not overbaked. Let cool completely, slice into squares and serve.

Magic Vanilla Ice Cream

Want to make ice cream, but don't want to buy an ice cream maker? I've got a recipe for you! I've really wanted to try making my own ice cream, but didn't want to purchase an ice cream maker I would only use a handful of times. When Melanie posted this recipe on her blog last week, I knew I had to try it. It looked super simple, which it is, and it looked just like regular ice cream you would buy at the store. This ice cream is delicious. It is creamy, not icy like some ice cream can tend to taste. I'm betting you could add different things to it to flavor it to your liking, but I'm not sure. And like I said, it is VERY easy. Absolutely anyone could make it, and then you can boast that you made it yourself! It is so good, and easy, that I'm planning on making up a couple of batches for my little one's birthday party on Saturday. This is one to try, definitely. Do it. And do it early, or you won't be able to have it for dessert after dinner.
Magic Vanilla Ice Cream

*Makes 1 quart of ice cream

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce white chocolate chips (I used Nestle.)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream

Directions:
In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the sweetened condensed milk and the white chocolate until the chocolate melts, about 1 minute on 50% power. Stir. If the chocolate isn’t completely melted, microwave for 20 second intervals at 50% power until the mixture is combined. I have a small microwave and I had to continue microwaving it for awhile longer after the initial one minute. Set mixture aside and let it cool. When cooled, stir in the vanilla, salt and sour cream. Blend well. I used a whisk.

In another bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture, combine well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the rest of the whipped cream into the white chocolate gently until it is fully incorporated.

Place the mixture in an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks. If you are going to store the ice cream for several days before serving, press plastic wrap or wax paper directly on the surface of the ice cream before freezing it. I did use plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream and it worked perfectly.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

Looking for a stove top macaroni and cheese that is easy to prepare and tastes yummy? I've got one for you! I've tried making my own mac and cheese before, but most recipes are baked, and my kids don't like them as much, frankly, neither do I. I like the good old Kraft shells and cheese, but it isn't all that healthy so I found a great alternative in this recipe. This makes enough to feed an army if you're using it as a side dish, so either half it, or plan to use it in another meal within a couple of days. I froze the second half of mine, and baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes covered and then an additional 15 minutes uncoverd and it tasted great. The original recipe calls for evaporated milk and a tad of hot sauce, I didn't use either. Below is what I did, and I won't change a thing!

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from The Food Network

Ingredients:
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
3 ounces cream (The original recipe calls for 6oz evaporated milk, I used cream and milk instead.)
3 ounces milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
1/2-3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
8-10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (I only used 8oz, because that's all I had.)

Directions:
Cook the pasta to al dente in a large pot of boiling, salted water, and drain. Return pasta to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese.  Continue to stir over low heat for about 3 minutes or until creamy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mexican Chicken Skillet Hash


I don't normally fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants for dinner but one night this week I had to. I didn't want to spend money on take out and needed something quick because my kiddos were hungry! (My meal plan crashed when I was missing ingredients). So, I dug through my fridge and freezer and came up with the following meal....one I will DEFINITELY repeat!
Here's how it came together with pre-cooked ingredients...I'll tell you how to make it without any pre-cooked ingredients, but then it wouldn't be as quick to throw together but will still taste good. :)

Mexican Chicken Skillet Hash

(serves 2-3)

2 medium cooked baking potatoes with skins
1/4 c onion, diced
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 c cooked and shredded Mexican chicken
1/2 c Mexican 4-cheese blend cheese (or any cheese you like)
Garnish: sour cream, avocado/guacamole, salsa, fresh herbs

I started by cutting up the cooked potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks and adding those to a hot, oiled skillet along with the onions over med-high heat. Let sit several minutes before stirring so you get a nice crisp coating on the potatoes. Stir so both sides of potatoes get crispy and onions get tender and add salt/pepper. Add the cooked chicken and stir all together until chicken is heated through. Turn off heat and add cheese across top. Cover and let sit a minute until cheese melts. Serve with optional garnishes.

Now...to make this without previously cooked potatoes or chicken....there area a few ways you can do it. By the way, my Mexican chicken was only chicken breasts with a can of Ro-tel cooked in the crockpot.

~Cook a few chicken breasts/thighs and 1 can of Ro-tel in the crockpot on low 4-6 hours or just bake in oven and cook potatoes at the same time
~Use leftover cooked chicken and add some diced tomatoes and green chiles
~Cook potatoes in microwave (I think mine takes 8-10 minutes...can't remember)
~Buy those unseasoned, pre-cooked diced hash browns at the store (I think they are by Simply Potatoes) and are found in the cooler section

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pancakes


We have chosen not to buy frozen pancakes anymore and it took me awhile to find a good pancake recipe that I can make ahead and freeze. I finally found one and have been using it for a few months now! The pancakes are yummy and they freeze very well! I usually double the recipe and the kids can eat on those for about two weeks!

Pancakes (Betty Crocker Heart Healthy Cookbook)

1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
(You can also use self-rising flour and just leave out the baking powder and salt. This is what I usually do!)
3/4 cup milk
1 T sugar
2 T vegetable oil (I use canola)
3 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1. In medium bowl, beat egg with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. For thinner pancakes, stir in additional 1 to 2 tablespoons milk.

2. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat to 375 degrees. Grease griddle with oil, if necessary, or use cooking spray.

3. For each pancake, use slightly less than 1/4 cup batter. Cook pancakes until bubbly on top, puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other sides until golden brown.

To make buttermilk pancakes substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the 3/4 cup milk. Decrease baking powder to 1 teaspoon. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. I do not use the baking powder or soda here when I use self-rising flour.

Add 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries to batter if desired!!

Enjoy!!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Easy Sloppy Joes

Photo credit: Oxmoor House

We love Sloppy Joes in our house! It is one meal I know my 5-year-old will clean his plate for. I adapted this recipe from MyRecipes.com for our tastes and we like to add a slice of cheese to ours as well.


1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 c green bell pepper, chopped
1 c ketchup
2 TBSP worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook beef, onion, and bell pepper together until meat is no longer pink. You will not need to add any water if you don't drain your meat...the vegetables provide a good amount of water. Add ketchup, worcestershire and salt and pepper. Simmer covered on low for 15-20 minutes. Serve with buns or over a baked potato. You can double this recipe and freeze some for another night's dinner and also make during the day and keep warm in a slow cooker so dinner is ready when you are....enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken

Here's an easy meal with mostly pantry staples if you're in a pinch to throw together dinner without running to the store. I wasn't overwhelmed with this meal (but crockpot meals rarely overwhelm me) and it was good enough to want seconds. I loved the juice mixed in with rice. This may have turned out even better if I cooked it for a shorter time. Mine was dried out at 5 1/2 hours...so I would check it between 4-5 hours.

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken

6 BLSL chicken breasts
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup crushed pineapple w/juice
1/2 c brown sugar

Slow Cooker on low for 4-6 hours OR in oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve over rice.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cake Mix Bar Cookies

1 yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips with mixer. Once mixed, stir in chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Spread in greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Macaroni Casserole


2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small jar of pimentos with liquid
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped onions
Ritz crackers

Cook macaroni and salt to taste. Add rest of ingredients. Sprinkle top with crushed Ritz crackers . Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.