Chicken & Pepper Jack Mac

Need a little comfort food & spice in your life? Say no more. Discussions about what to eat for dinner is a daily staple. Chris, ever the lover of Mac & Cheese, requested white mac’n’cheese with a kick to it. A little internet perusing landed me to http://www.theviewfromgreatisland.com a blog I regularly check out. I opted to throw in some rotisserie chicken & we were both pleased with the results.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb large shape pasta, I used shells
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 lb Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped
  • S & P, to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions, 2 or 3 minutes less, for al dente. Drain; set aside.

Over medium heat, using a large pot, melt butter & add flour, stir constantly for a minute. Add milk & stir continually until sauce thickens. Remove from heat & add small amounts of cheese at a time, reserving a 1/2 cup of cheese; stir to incorporate. Season with S & P. Stir in the cooked pasta, sliced jalapeños, and chicken. Transfer to cast iron skillet & top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

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Zucchini Bread – Take 5

I’m always somewhat in awe of how recipes that contain the same ingredients, with slight variations in the amount of said ingredients, can altogether alter the taste of the final product. For whatever reason, even though it’s now fall, since this past summer, I’ve been on a serious zucchini bread kick. While I have several zucchini bread recipes, I opted for a new one on AllRecipes labeled, “Mom’s Zucchini Bread” & I am a fan as is the family & Chris’s coworkers. I’ve made adjustments along the way; sometimes using a combination of granulated (1 cup) & brown sugar (1 1/4 cups), instead of their listed 2 1/4 cup granulated sugar, increasing the vanilla extract from 3 tsp to 1 tbsp, & almost always use 2 cups of chopped walnuts as opposed to their suggested 1 cup. Also, even though it says 2 cups grated zucchini, I’m pretty sure I’ve used as much as 3 cups, if not more.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups, packed grated zucchini
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

Preparation

Grease two standard size bread pans, or spray with nonstick spray; set aside. Preheat oven to 335 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, from the flour to the cinnamon.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, add the oil, sugars, & vanilla extract & blend together. Incorporate the dry with wet ingredients until just blended. Mix in the walnuts & zucchini. Pour batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in the middle comes clean.

You can let them rest in the pans for 10 minutes before removing, but I’ve also removed them right away before to cool on a rack so you do you.

I always like to eat this warm with some butter. So, it heats nicely in the microwave for 30 seconds.

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Glazed Lemon Blueberry Loaf

I’ve always been fond of the lemon & blueberry combo; I find it light & refreshing, & was very surprised to hear from my husband, after sending him to work with the above tray, he’d had 2 slices & liked it as well. Just goes to show you can still learn things about your spouse after 22 years of marriage!

Ingredients:

For the loaves:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups Greek Yogurt or sour cream
  • Juice & zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for tossing of blueberries
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries

For the glaze:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice, 1-2 lemons

Preparation:

Prepare 2 standard loaf pans with non-stick spray; set aside or line with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, toss 2 tbsp of flour with the blueberries; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together oil, eggs, vanilla, sugar, yogurt or sour cream, lemon juice & zest. Add in the flour, baking powder, & salt & mix together until combined without over mixing. Fold in floured blueberries.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes, insert knife into middle of the loaf & if it comes out clean, allow to rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing. If inserted knife doesn’t come out clean, return to oven & bake for 5 minutes more at a time.

Once completed baking, allow to rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing & allow to cool completely before icing.

In a bowl, add the powdered sugar. Based on desired consistency of glaze, start with the juice of 1 lemon, stir, & if too thick, add the juice of another lemon. Pour evenly over both loaves, allow to dry completely before slicing.

Note:

Recipe can be easily halved for one loaf.

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Peanut Butter Bread

 

If you’re anything like me, you just read that, & thought, Wait! Whaaat? Peanut butter bread? That was me last night, utterly intrigued. Upon further investigation, I learned it’s a depression era bread. Makes sense. I also discovered quite a few recipes for peanut butter banana bread & using a blender to mix it in instead of a traditional mixer; of which I found no interest in either of those things. Fast forward to this morning & I was on it.

The sight, texture, & taste of the dough, & the smell of the bread while baking had all of those senses convinced I was making peanut butter cookies at 8am! Rest assured the end result does not lend itself to the equivalent of cookies. The bread is very peanut buttery, dense, & not very sweet.

Ironically, while I did not opt for the recipe of peanut butter banana bread, I did, in fact, make an open faced peanut butter bread with a smear of peanut butter topped with banana & drizzled with honey sandwich. What can I say? For years, when I regularly ate breakfast, my go to was a banana with peanut butter & when my girls were young, I’d serve them “banana boats” (bananas cut lengthwise with peanut butter spread on them, which my 17 year old still requests I make for her).

More often than not, these days breakfast consists of black coffee, but today was not one of those days. After the bread cooled, & while on a conference call (God bless 3 hour conference calls from the comfort of my kitchen) I ate the above around 9:30am & it was so hearty & filling, I didn’t eat again until dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

Blend/ beat together the milk, eggs, peanut butter, sugars, & vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk together the salt, baking powder, & flour, add to the wet mixture & blend until just combined. Transfer dough to prepared bread pan. 

Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to finish cooling on a baking rack.

Notes to self:

*stick with your baking intuition & reduce the oven temp to 325 or 335 degrees & check for doneness at 40-45 minutes.

*can you say, peanut butter French toast for brunch?

*mini chocolate chips in the dough, please

*Turbinado sugar & chopped peanuts added to the top & swirled in prior to baking for a sweet, crunchy topping & swirl

*toasted with jelly

*forgo the sugars & use honey instead

*peanut butter bread with peanut butter & sliced apple sandwich

The possibilities are endless!

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1, 2, 3 Chocolate Sauce

This chocolate sauce is synonymous with my childhood summers, Christmases, or Spring Break. Basically, any time we went to visit my maternal grandparents on their farm. It was a nightly ritual that after dinner the 5 gallon bucket of Schwan’s vanilla ice cream was retrieved from the cellar, placed in the kitchen sink, & various family members would arrive throughout the night to visit, joke, laugh, & play cards. Someone would inevitably man the stove to create the sauce & one by one, we’d scoop out our ice cream & drizzle with the 1, 2, 3 sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

Preparation:

Add & stir together all ingredients in a medium size sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil; then reduce temperature to low. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly. Enjoy!

Posted in Desserts, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Avocado Bacon Toast

Let’s just be honest here for a sec: sometimes I’m a little late to the party. Avocado Toast has been around for as long as there’s been avocados & toast, but here I am way behind the curve, an outlier, of sorts. I can be a slow learner. However, I should be cut a little bit of slack considering it’s only been within the last 5 years or so that I discovered I even liked guacamole. I know! With that said, this is quickly becoming my favorite breakfast/ brunch/ lunch meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices Sourdough, or another equally hearty type bread (this is not the time for super soft Wonder Bread)
  • 1 avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked & chopped

Preparation:

While the bread is toasting, half the avocado lengthwise & remove the pit. Once the toast is ready, spoon out one half of the avocado & using the back of the spoon spread it out around the toast. Repeat. Crank a salt grinder once over each slice, add a very light drizzle of olive oil over the avocado mash, & top with bacon bits. Enjoy!

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Breakfast Burritos

Sausage, egg, & cheese

Bacon, potato, egg, & cheese

Aside from tasting good and being a filling meal, they make easy leftovers. So while you may think, “I don’t need to make that many.” Rest assured when I say, it’ll get you off the hook for making them again when the freezer has the remaining ones wrapped up individually; at the ready for the microwave. Voila, in a minute you’ll have breakfast in hand.

Ingredients:

  • A dozen eggs
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or cream
  • 1 lb bacon or sausage
  • S & P
  • Shredded Colby jack cheese
  • 10 – 12 flour tortillas (it just depends how much filling you put into the tortilla)

Preparation:

Whisk together the eggs, add a splash of cream or milk, and season with salt & pepper; set aside. In a large electric skillet, cook either the bacon or sausage until done. Remove most of the grease. If using bacon, remove from skillet & chop into chunks & put back into the skillet. Pour the eggs over the meat, stirring occasionally until eggs are scrambled & incorporated with meat. Sprinkle cheese over the top, cover, & allow to melt. Spoon onto warmed flour tortillas & eat as is or add toppings of salsa, sour cream, or avocado.

Variation:

I’ve also shredded a potato & cooked with the meat.

For remaining mixture, spoon onto tortillas, roll & wrap with Saran Wrap, place in a gallon sized bag, label & place in freezer.

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Doubletree Cookie Recipe

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, & brown sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, & blend on low speed for 30 seconds before increasing to medium speed for 2 minutes, or until light & fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With mixer speed on low, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon & blend for 45 seconds without over mixing. By hand, stir in the chocolate chips & walnuts.

Form 3 tablespoons dough balls & place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until edges are golden brown & center is soft. Remove from oven & allow to cool 1 hour on baking rack before removing.

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Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Frosting

 

 

Every year I look forward to baking my own birthday cake. A new cake every year for the last several years. Perhaps one day I’ll tire of this or change it up with a pie or other type of dessert, but as of now, I’ll stick with cake. This is also the first year I celebrated my birthday a la quarantine style due to Covid-19.

A few weeks ago, before the world seemingly fell apart, we went to Colorado to visit my parents. While we were there, the state essentially shut down because of the Coronavirus so we opted to return home to get some things done before returning to work. It was at that time, my boss let me know I was unable to return to work for 2 weeks since I’d been in Colorado. While there are still slices of this yummy lemony cake left, my birthday has now come & gone. I’ve done some conference calls & will be back to work tomorrow as an essential worker in my role as a hospice social worker. Since the rest of my beloveds birthdays are to follow, we joked about having this cake to celebrate:

 

 

Stay safe out there & wash your hands!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk (**or 1 cup sour cream)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Thinly sliced lemons & fresh raspberries for garnish

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds

Preparation

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (since my oven bakes at a higher temperature, I preheated mine to 335 degrees). Grease & flour 2 9-inch pans (you can also use 3 pans, if you’d like) & line with parchment paper that is also greased & floured; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt; set aside.

Put the sugar in a food processor along with the zest of one lemon. Pulse until the sugar & zest is completely incorporated. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use the back of a large spoon & press the zest into the sugar until fully incorporated.

Cream together the butter & lemon infused sugar for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides & bottom of the bowl, as needed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture into creamed mixture & mix on low until it just comes together. Add in the buttermilk (or sour cream) & fresh lemon juice. Mix together, being careful not to over-mix.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. If using 3 pans, bake for 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Since I used 2 pans, I baked for 33 minutes, again at 335 degrees.

Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes prior to removing from pans. Allow cakes to cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.

For the frosting:

Cream together the cream cheese & butter until smooth. Add in the salt, lemon juice, & zest until incorporated. Using 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time, sift in & beat well after each addition, scraping down the sides & bottom of bowl to fully incorporate.

After frosting the cakes, garnish with thin lemon slices & fresh raspberries. Note: the lemon slices are for presentation only, don’t leave them on the cake as the liquid from the lemons will seep out.

*If planning to use three pans, I’d increase the cream cheese to 16 oz, add another stick of butter, increase the powdered sugar by another 3 cups, & another tablespoon of poppy seeds.

**This is the first time I made this cake, & while I did not over mix or over bake, the cakes weren’t as moist as I would have liked. In the future, I will use 1 cup sour cream in lieu of 1 cup buttermilk.

Recipe for cake obtained from: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/lemon-layer-cake-with-lemon-poppy-seed-buttercream-recipe/

 

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Pork Tacos

This is a meal that comes together relatively quickly & in terms of the family, one we all agree on, which sometimes is a rarity.

We use this kind of cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb. packages of pork stew meat
  • Canola oil
  • Tex Mex seasoning, 2-4 tsps, sprinkled over pork while cooking
  • Cheese sauce
  • Flour tortillas

Tex-Mex Seasoning (I keep this on hand & use it for nachos, beans, tacos, & all sorts of things:

  • 3 tbsp, plus 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

Preparation:

In a large skillet (I use a cast iron) heat oil to medium-high heat. Add pork, seasoning, & cook until no longer pink. While the pork is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce as directed on package. Add meat to flour tortillas & drizzle with cheese.

I serve this with beans, rice, chips, & guacamole.

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