Happy Halloween 2014!!

1922127_10101492801999965_8338671948942997232_nHave a Happy Halloween!  Check out these mini cupcakes I made!  I love how bright they are!

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Margherita Pizza with Bell Pepper, Mushrooms, and Eggplant

Margherita Pizza

This is our favorite flavor of pizza and it is best prepared with fresh ingredients!  This pizza uses roasted tomatoes instead of a red sauce.  We break the tradition by putting bell peppers, mushrooms, and sometimes eggplant on top!

Tomatoes

Ingredients:

-1 container of cherry tomatoes

-Olive oil for drizzle and brushing

-Fresh mozzarella, sliced

-1/2 cup of Parmesan, freshly grated

-10 fresh basil leaves

-2 mushrooms, sliced

-6 slices of a small eggplant

-1 bell pepper, sliced

– Italian seasoning

-Fresh cracked black pepper

-Salt

-Garlic powder

– 1 large pre-made pizza crust

Margherita Pizza

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Prepare the tomatoes in a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper.  (pan with sides)

Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil to coat.  Roll them around to completely coat.

Sprinkle a hint of garlic powder, salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning

Roast tomatoes in the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes.  They will look like sad, deflated balloons.  But they aren’t really sad they are sweet and savory all at once!

Set tomatoes aside in the fridge.  (I store extras in a sealed container for up to 3 days)

Lay your pizza crust on a pizza pan.  ( I prefer the one with holes to the pizza stone but either will work since we are cheating with a pre-made crust)

Brush the entire top surface of the bread with olive oil.  Make sure the edges are well coated in olive oil, this will give it a delicious taste and texture.

Next lay down the eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil leaves, and finally the mozzarella slices and Parmesan onto the bread.

Bake in the oven until edges are golden and cheese is starting to bubble.  Bake times will vary depending on how thick your crust is.  So for your first time I would check it after 10 minutes to see the progress.  🙂

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Pepper Jack Party Pinwheels

Pepper Jack Pinwheels yum!

Who loves party food?  I do, I do!  These are always a hit at parties and they disappear very fast!

My Nana taught me how to make these crowd pleasing pinwheels when I was a little girl.  I remember being grossed out at first by the cream cheese, but my Nana reassured me that it would taste good once we finished adding the other ingredients.

This recipe is really straight forward and easy.  I highly recommend this if you are looking to bring something different to a party.  Pinwheels are such a classic party food that it often gets forgotten among the piles and piles of pinterest dip recipes and canned dough recipes.  Which I still enjoy both of those things, but sometimes I just want to bring something completely different then everyone else.  These are refreshing at parties that only seem to have greasy or insanely sugary options.

I’ve made several different variations of this snack by changing the filling to veggies like, roasted red peppers, black olives and even cucumber.  In the end this recipe I’m sharing today seems to be everyone’s favorite combination of flavors, which is fine by me because it’s the easiest of all the things I’ve tried!

Ingredients:

-Tortillas, 1 package (Burrito size)

– 8 oz Cream Cheese, reduced fat

– 2 cups of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated

-9 slices of smoked deli ham, thinly sliced, from the deli

-9 slices of peppered turkey, thinly sliced, from the deli

-Chili powder

-Salsa, for dipping

Directions:

Spread each tortilla with cream cheese so that every inch is covered.

Sprinkle chili powder all over the cream cheese layer.  Not too much but not too little.

Lay a piece of both turkey and ham on top of the cream cheese layer so that it covers most of the tortilla.  Let the two meats overlap where possible to get both flavors together.

Add a decent layer of grated pepper jack on top of the meat, covering completely.

Grab one edge of the tortilla and carefully roll the tortilla up into a tight wrap.  Press down the ingredients with your finger tips as you roll it up.

Wrap each tortilla tightly in foil and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  This will allow the wraps to firm up.

Slice up into 1/2 inch thick pinwheels.

Plate and serve on a platter with a dish of salsa!

Pepper Jack Pinwheels

Roasted Red Peppers in a Jar

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Gotta Have It- Roasted Red Peppers in a Jar

One of my “Gotta Have It” ingredients is a jar of roasted red peppers.  These things have saved and made many of the dishes I’ve cooked in the past few months.  This item one of those items that is ALWAYS in my pantry or fridge.

I bought this jar at our local farmer’s market but these can be found at most grocery stores.

These peppers add an incredible depth to the flavor of many different dishes.  The best part is I can just scoop out a few spoonfuls and drop it into what ever I’m cooking.  I love fresh red peppers but these make my life a lot easier when I am in a hurry.

This jar was around $4 and has been used for at least a dozen meals and I’m not even halfway through with it.  A typical fresh red pepper at the grocery store can range from $1 if your lucky all the way to $1.99.  This jar has several red peppers in it for a much lower cost AND it lasts a long time.

Uses:

Marinara Sauces

Almost any pasta dish

Marinades

Taco Meat

Burritos

Pizza

Salsa

Salad

Pitas

Fajitas

Burgers

Hot sandwiches

Omelets

Nachos

Mac n Cheese

Corn bread

Juicy “Animal Style” Burger

Animal Style

Animal Style

My husband and I absolutely loved this burger and found it to be almost identical to the real deal.  We unfortunately live no where near the “real deal”, so making it at home is the only way for us to enjoy an animal style burger.  🙂  If you haven’t made it to an In-n-Out Burger you gotta try it!  It is awesome.  You’ll long for it after you’ve had it!

What does “Animal Style” mean?  

Here’s what it means to me.

First of all, the burger patty has mustard cooked onto one side of it.  So essentially you spread mustard on one raw side of the beef patty and slap it onto a hot griddle.  The mustard is fried to the meat and creates a memorable surprise for you taste buds.

Second of all, the burger has sweet, heavenly, caramelized onions piled on top of the juicy patty.  These onions are crucial to this burger!

Third of all,  (yes, I’m going to continue this pattern) the bun is toasted on the griddle in the remaining oils and flavors left from previous cooked goodies.  This allows the bun to soak up flavor, and crisp up with awesomeness.  Without a crispy bun it would be a soggy mess.

Fourth and final of all, the sauce is freshly made.  The sauce is basically a version of a thousand island dressing, consisting of ketchup, mayo, sweet relish, and white vinegar.

Love it!

Copy Cat Animal Style burger

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Tomato, sliced
  • Ice Berg Lettuce
  • 4 slices sandwich Cheddar
  • 4 Buns
  • Butter, for spreading
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chili Powder (OPTIONAL)
  • Ketchup
  • Dill Relish
  • White Vinegar
  • Mayo

Directions:

  • Shape the meat into 4 burger patties.  Dry season both sides with Salt & Pepper. Let patties marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. (Chili powder optional)
  • Caramelize the onion in oil in a skillet for about 25 minutes and set onion aside in a bowl.
  • Using the same hot skillet, cook burger patties on one side til almost done.
  • Squirt mustard onto the uncooked sides of the patties.
  • Flip patties over so that the mustard side can cook.
  • In a separate skillet, butter and grill the inside of each bun.
  • Top the plain side of the patty with cheddar.
  • On the bottom bun place lettuce, tomato, patty, caramelized onion, and then finally the animal style sauce.

Sauce Directions:

  • 1/4 cup Mayo
  • 3 tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dill Relish
  • 1 tbsp Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

http://www.redbirdrecipes.com

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Animal Style

Grilled Chicken Fiesta!



Grilled Chicken Fiesta

Juicy chicken alert!!!

This recipe is a super filling and healthy dinner option.  (use low sodium everything if you can find it)  Usually my husband wants everything covered in cheese, but this dish was so incredibly rich with explosive flavors he forgot cheese was even an option.  🙂  I was very pleased with this dish for many reasons.  The flavors are so fresh and bold.

Up until about a month ago, I avoided boneless chicken breasts like the plague, because it always seemed to turn out tough.  Well, after having tried one of our new restaurants in town, I noticed that their chicken breast were huge and thin, clearly it was tenderized to the max.  A light bulb went off…how is it I’ve never pounded out chicken breasts before?  That same week I tried tenderizing chicken breasts and marinated them over night.  This chicken was better than almost every grilled chicken breasts I’ve ever had at a restaurant.  Some of you probably already know this trick and good for you, but discovering this trick was like the gates of kitchen heaven opening up with possibilities!  I had tenderized wild game and beef but never chicken.  Anyways, if you have never tried tenderizing your chicken breasts before, I hope this encourages you to try it out.  I went from buying chicken breasts once a year to buying it once a week.

I really enjoyed this dish because it was so different from most of the chicken dishes I have had recently.  I will definitely use this same recipe in the future to create wraps for an on the go meal!

Cilantro, Onions, Garlic, and Jalapenos Oh My!Cilantro

Fiesta Topping Ingredients:

-2 cans of black beans (low sodium)

-1 jalapeno, diced

-1/4 cup cilantro

-1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

-3 cloves of FRESH garlic, chopped

-1 can of yellow corn (low sodium, or no salt added)

-1 can of tomatoes with diced green chiles (low sodium)

Suggested Toppings:

– Light sour cream

-Avocado, diced

-Fresh cilantro (my husband could make a cilantro salad he loves it so much)

Marinade Ingredients:

-2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

-2 tbsp olive oil (for grilling)

-1/2 tbsp of fresh cracked black pepper (FRESH)

-1/2 tbsp salt

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp chili powder

-1 tsp cilantro, dried or 2 tsp, fresh

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Tenderize the chicken.

Directions:

Tenderize chicken breasts until they are almost doubled in size.

Place tenderized chicken in a bag with marinade ingredients and let sit over night.  (marinate for at least 4 hours, it will not taste as good if you don’t marinate it, nor will it be as juicy)

Get your grill up to a consistent temperature of about 375-400°F.

Lay chicken on heated grate over direct heat for 5 minutes then flip over for another 5 minutes to achieve beautiful grill marks.

After 5 minutes on each side, move the chicken to a sheet of foil prepped with 2 tbsp of olive oil and finish cooking through indirect heat off to the side or on a higher rack.  (this is crucial to maintaining the juiciness of the meat)

In a medium pot, saute onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro for about 2 minutes until tender.  Add black beans and simmer on medium low covered the until tender.  This takes about 15 minutes, make sure to stir occasionally.  Once beans are tender, use a sturdy spoon to gently mash to thicken the mixture a little.

Discard the juice from the can of corn.  Add in corn and tomatoes with green chiles and simmer on medium covered for another 10 minutes.  If chicken is still cooking, switch burner to a keep warm setting or on low.

Plate the grilled chicken immediately and top with fiesta black bean mixture.

Throw some diced avocado on there, drop a dollop of sour cream, and add a sprig of cilantro.

Devour.

Grilled Chicken Fiesta

Homemade Parmesan Croutons

Homemade Parmesan Crouton

Homemade croutons are incredibly easy to make and delicious.  I always use my left over french bread to make croutons for the week.  I learned how to make croutons more out of necessity than a desire to be a fancy pants in the kitchen.  One night we ran out of store bought croutons and we just happened to have some french bread that was left over from a previous meal.  Croutons can obviously be made from almost any bread and really only requires some sort of oil for the crisping process.  In the following recipe I used a butter spread as my oil but you could most certainly use olive oil, which is now my preferred oil.

Ingredients:

-1 Loaf of french bread

-Butter spread

-grated Parmesan cheese (fresh)

-garlic powder

-Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Thinly slice the french bread into 1/3 inch slices.

Lightly smear one side with the butter spread.

Sprinkle Italian seasoning.

Sprinkle a sparse amount of garlic powder on top.  (Easy on the garlic powder, less is more.)

Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan on the buttered side of the bread.

Cook in the oven on a thin baking sheet or pizza pan cheese side up until cheese has melted.

Once cheese has melted, flip each slice of bread over cheese side down and let crisp until golden.

Depending on your oven cooking time may very.  Make sure your oven is completely heated before putting bread in the oven.  The bread should be crisp throughout.

Chop bread slices into cubes.

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*I have also used this recipe to serve bruschetta on and just as a side for pasta in place of a softer garlic bread.

Country Boy Breakfast Quiche

Country Boy Quiche

This is a simple recipe I made a few months back that I’d like to share.  The night I cooked this my husband was baffled by this dish.  He had never heard of a quiche before.  I was baffled that he didn’t know what a quiche was because eggs are one of his favorite foods.  Anyways this dish is a huge hit with him and he can level this by himself in 2 days.  As much as he loves it, he refuses to call it a quiche.  He calls it an egg pie, which is adequate, I suppose.   🙂

It is a very filling dish and is great after a morning hunt!

Ingredients:

-Pre-made deep dish pie crust

– 6 eggs

-1 lb cooked ground breakfast sausage (I prefer spicy)

– 1/2 diced onion

-1/2 diced jalapeno

-1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar

-1/4 tsp salt

-1/4 tsp black pepper

– 4 tbsp of your favorite salsa (I used a roasted bell pepper salsa)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs and all other ingredients together in a medium size bowl.

***Put your pie crust/pie pan on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  This will save you from making a mess when putting it into the oven and makes it much easier to get out.  No oven mitt thumb prints in the pie! 🙂

Pour egg mixture into pie crust.

Bake till golden for about 30-40 minutes!  Keep an eye on it!

For added flavor and garnish, top it with a spoonful of your salsa!

The Pampered Chef Mix N Chop

Today I wanted to quickly share one of my favorite kitchen tools for browning ground meat.  I am not one to buy those infomercial type kitchen gadgets that serve one purpose and end up being more trouble to wash than the “time they save cooking”.  (Ex. any type of onion chopper. )  That being said, one non-traditional kitchen tool I have been using for about 2 years is the Mix N Chop by Pampered Chef.  I’ve been nothing but pleased with this tool.  It is the fastest and most efficient way to chop and brown ground meat.  My favorite part is that it doesn’t require extra time to clean and actually speeds up the process of chopping up the meat to a fine consistency.

The Mix N Chop is very easy to use.  As you can see below in the photo, it has a 5 bladed star shaped end and then just a regular handle on the other end.  According to Pampered Chef, it is heat resistant up to just over 400°F.  So this is great for people that tend to walk away with a tool still in a pot or pan.  It won’t melt!

Pampered Chef is a great company to buy tools from because if something goes wrong with it they will usually replace it for free!

Here is an action shot! 🙂  Check this tool and others out at http://www.pamperedchef.com/

Mix N Chop

Mix N Chop

4 Can Taco Soup

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This soup recipe was shared with me by a girl I went to college with and it doesn’t disappoint!  This is a fast homemade soup that does not require much time or work.  It tastes great, freezes well, and is filled with protein and fiber!  I love making this soup during the cold months!  I usually am not one to eat soups because I am very much a texture person but this soup is chunky and when you top it with tortilla chips it adds a great layer of crunch.  Try it out, you will not be disappointed!  🙂

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Ingredients:

-1 lb of ground beef (pork, venison, or turkey would work too)

-1/2 tbsp of olive oil

-1 packet of taco seasoning

-1/2 a yellow onion, diced

-1 jalapeno, diced

-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

-1 can of corn

-1 can of ranch style beans

-1 can of Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies

-1 can of black beans (low sodium if available)

Toppings:

-Tortilla chips

-Diced avocado

-Grated cheese

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Directions:

*Use 1 large pot for the entire process.

In a heated pot, saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeno in olive oil until tender.

Add in the ground beef and taco seasoning to brown.

Once the meat is cooked all the way, add in the ingredients and juices from all 4 cans.

Place the lid on the pot and let the soup simmer on medium to medium low for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Serve soup with crushed up tortilla chips, chopped avocado, and grated cheese.

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