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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Jalapeno Chicken Wraps with Cream Cheese and Bacon

Jalapeno Chicken Wraps
18 fresh Jalapeno’s
1 brick of cream cheese, softened
½ cup onion, diced fine
½ cup peppers, diced fine
1/3 cup carrot, diced fine
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1 lb. think sliced Smokey bacon
1/3 cup NY Maple Syrup
1 pkg. over sized toothpicks to hold it all together
There are a few steps to recipe so I found it best to one task at time for each ingredient before moving on to the next. 
Cut chicken breast into thin strips.  Place in bowl with store bought Speedie Chicken Sauce to marinate.
In small sauté pan, sauté onion, peppers, carrots, and garlic until soft and tender to the bite.   Remove from heat and let cool.
Well your vegetables are cooling, cut each Jalapeno in half, leaving the stem intact.   Remove seeds and membranes.   Remember to leave both halves together so you don’t have to match them up later.   

In small bowl, combine softened cream cheese and cooled vegetables.   Stir until combined.  
Fill each half of the Jalapeno with the cream cheese mixture and then sandwich back together. Place on a foil lined baking sheet or cutting board.   Fill all remaining peppers and set aside. 

Start wrapping each filled pepper with a strip of chicken.  I was able to find oversized toothpicks to stick through the middle and help hold everything together.   Once you have the chicken in place, you can then wrap it with a strip of bacon.   Place it on a foil lined baking sheet.    When the tray is full, brush each piece with maple syrup.  Place on sheet and place in a 350° oven.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Notes:  You won’t be disappointed with these.  While they are baking, they fill the house with a warm, spicy, maple aroma.   It drove our dog bonkers.  It wasn’t long after they were out of the oven that I found myself having to do a taste test.    Taste testing was delectable.  The Speedie marinade added just enough of a vinegar note to flavor the chicken.  The jalapeno on the inside and the bacon on the outside gave both the cream cheese and the chicken, a hidden Smokey flavor.    The sweetness of the maple syrup and the cool, creaminess of cream cheese off sets the heat of the jalapeno.  You won’t be able to stop at just one.  

You can amp up the filling by changing up the ingredients.   Tried these another time by mixing softened cream cheese with a drained black bean and corn salsa.  

You might try skipping the speedy sauce and brushing the chicken with a spicy mustard.   

Next time I am going to try a mixture of cream cheese and crumbly blue and try for more of a chicken wing flavor.    

The possibilities are endless.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Easy Peasy and Cheesy

I am not sure why anyone would purchase Alfredo sauce in a jar, when it is so easy to make it from scratch.   Not only is it easy, but it is versatile too.   It is delicious over pasta and can be used for a sauce over vegetables, chicken, steak or shrimp.  

I have used this Alfredo Sauce recipe to top breaded chicken,  baked chicken thighs, chicken stuffed shells, and all kinds of vegetables. However in this recipe I combined pasta, shrimp, tomatoes and spinach for a quick dinner.

I hope you enjoy it!

Shrimp Alfredo with Tomatoes and Spinach

1 bag pre-cooked frozen shrimp, 30 count, defrosted and tails removed
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lb. fresh spinach, washed and dried with stems removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated (can use parmesan)
inch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. thin spaghetti or fettuccine

Bring small pot of water to boil. Add fair amount of salt to boiling water. Add pasta and cook until aldente.

While waiting for pasta to cook: In large sauté pan drizzle oil. Over med high heat, sauté onion and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Add pinch of red pepper flakes. Once onions are translucent, add spinach leaves and tomatoes. Add the whipping cream and grated cheese. Reduce to simmer and add cooked pasta. Cook approximately 10 minutes and then stir in shrimp. Continue cooking just a few minutes, until shrimp are heated through. Do not over cook, as the shrimp will get chewy. You can add more or less cream to suite your taste.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Zing, Zing, Zing Went My Heart Strings

Do you remember when Hostess made Zingers?   Raspberry Zingers were one of my favorite snacks to carry in my school lunch.  

It was no surprise to me that I would like the same flavor combos in any other form such as Raspberry Trifle or in this case Raspberry Bars.  

This recipe is so versatile. You can make the total recipe from scratch or you can swap out ingredients for shortcuts and it still tastes great.   
Not only can the ingredients be swapped out but it can also be made in many forms.   I have made the bars in a sheet pan and cut into bars.  I have also put the dough in my mini muffin tins and made cookie cups.  Filled them with the jelly and frosted and sprinkled coconut on top.   I have made a large pizza style cookie and put it in a pizza box for taking to picnics or even to give as a gift.    Lastly, I have made cut-out cookies and sandwiched them together with the jelly frosting and coconut on the inside and around the edge.   Not to mention this flavor combo in a Halfmoon cookie or a Pustie.   Too many choices.   
If you liked Raspberry Zingers you are going to like this recipe.   
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Great Debate: White or Red

There has always been great debate over which is better White or Red  Clam Chowder.   My all time favorite and vote goes to Red.   I especially love the mix of vegetables and herbs in this recipe.

I found this recipe in a cookbook my mother-in-law had. It is titled Dom Deluise-Eat this It'll Make You Feel Better.    It is a great read, filled with stories of family and friends as well as packed full of family style Italian recipes.    Not only was Dom Deluise a funny comedian, but he also loved to cook.  His love of laughter and cooking come together in the pages of this book.  Each recipe comes with it's own background story, often evoking an a-ha moment or punch line to make you chuckle.   Being married into an Italian family, I can see a lot of similarities in Dom Deluise growing up in an Italian family and my husband's family stories.

When I borrowed the book from my mother-in-law, I had written down quite a few of his recipes to try, but the Red Clam Chowder was my all time favorite. 

I was fortunate enough to find a copy of his book in a garage sale a few years ago, so now I have my very own copy.    The book is still a good read.   I had forgotten that not only were there family recipes, but also recipes from some of his co-stars and friends.    Turns out the Red Clam Chowder Recipe was from his friend and co-star Mel Brooks. As told in the book, Mel, Dom and their wives have shared many a meal together with either Dom or Mel doing the cooking.

Once you try this recipe you will see why it made the book.   It is bellissimo!

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is that even a word?

Gagootz!  Gagoots!  May sound like a sneeze to some but it is actually an Italian word for squash or Zucchini.  When used as slang, Gagootz expresses an entirely different meaning: "good for nothing".  I think we all know a few those.    


Cucuzza! No, I didn't stutter.  Cucuzza, is another word used in parts of Italy, that also refers to squash. It has a flavor combination of summer squash and cucumber. Cucuzza is an edible gourd. It has many other names, including bottle gourd and calabash. It can grow up to 3 feet long. It has light green inedible skin that you must peel away. The white, pulpy flesh has many seeds in the center, similar to a cucumber and has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. .

So to answer the question, yes, they are words in the Italian language.  Fortunately enough, we all have been blessed with more than enough zucchini's throughout their season in the USofA.  They are very versatile and whether it is called a Zucchini, Squash, Gagootz or Cucuzza, it can be sliced and fried or sautéed, steamed or microwaved. They all make great addition to soups, stews, gumbos, quiches and sauces and can even be used in baked goods such as quick breads, muffins and pies.

Recently I put my clever to work and I tried my luck at making Gagootz Stew. It received rave reviews from both my husband and my father-in-law, who I thought would not like it for the fact that the stew was loaded full of fresh crunchy vegetables.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Finger Lick'n Good

I have always been a fan of Dr. Pepper, so why not try it in a BBQ sauce.   Made this recipe recently for a picnic.   Not only did I add it to my pulled pork while it was cooking, but I also added it to my slow cooker baked beans and set some out as condiment for those who wanted to put in on their pulled pork sandwich.   Both the picnic and the food were a success.   Received a lot of comments on how good the baked beans tasted (will be posting that recipe too).   

If you like a nice Tangy BBQ sauce this is the recipe for you.   Go on and give it a try, you'll be lick'n your fingers for sure.

Basting the chicken with yummy sauce.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Minty Deliciousness

Mint and chocolate are one of many classic combinations and you can't go wrong pairing them together whether it is in a brownie, a cookie, a cake, a pie or a cupcake.

My family has always enjoyed the Mint layered brownies, but when I wanted to make cupcakes for someone's birthday, I thought why not chocolate and mint with a Thin Mint cookie decoration. Not to forget the ganache filling and coating on top of the cupcake. Or for either of those to be outdone by the Butter Mint frosting that tastes just like an after dinner butter mint.

Thin Mint Cupcakes

1 Chocolate Cake Mix
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant coffee
3 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
24 Girls Scout Thin Mint Cookies (for decorating)
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (for decorating)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard size cupcake tin with paper liners. Pour cake mix into a medium sized bowl. Add in eggs and mayonnaise, stir until combined. Add water with coffee mixed in, stir just until combined. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full of the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the baking time. Do not overbake (dries out your cake).

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

Instructions for Ganache
Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream in the microwave just until heated through. Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate. Allow the mixture to sit for about a minute. Then mix until it looks smooth and glossy.

Set the warm ganache aside. Allow to cool before using it in cupcakes.

Butter Mint Frosting
1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 tbs. heavy cream
1tsp. peppermint extract
1 tbsp. Crème de Menthe
Instructions for the Butter Mint Frosting
In a small measuring cup, add the Crème de Menthe, peppermint extract, salt and cream. Mix until salt is dissolved.

Cream the butter until smooth and it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time, beating until combined. Add the liquid ingredients, and beat again until light and fluffy.

Assembling the Cupcakes
Once cupcakes have cooled, core out a 1 1/2 inch diameter circle in each cupcake. Save the top of the cored cupcake piece to put back on top after filling with ganache.

Fill the hole with a heaping teaspoon of cooled chocolate ganache. Replace the top of the hole with the reserved cupcake piece.

Spread a thin layer of the ganache over the entire cupcake. Immediately press mini-chocolate chips, around the edges only, into the wet ganache.

Pipe the frosting on each cupcake inside of the rim of mini chocolate chips.

Drizzle left over ganache over cupcakes. Top with a chocolate mint cookie.

Notes & Swaps
You can add more mint flavoring to either the ganache or the cupcake, but I didn't want the mint to overpower the chocolate flavor. 

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