Monday, May 2, 2016

Strawberry Magic Bars

I think strawberries just scream spring. So when I needed a dessert for a recent party at work, I thought this would be perfect. And it was. There are several layers and steps, but they create a delicious dessert - and maybe that's why they are called Magic!

There's a graham cracker crust, with a sugar cookie layer, then TWO strawberry layers, white chocolate and sweetened condensed milk... Oh my. Sweetness.

These bars need to chill overnight in the fridge so plan accordingly. But do plan to make them. They will make your Spring tasty!

Get more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Strawberry Magic Bars

9 graham cracker sheets (one sleeve), crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup quartered fresh strawberries, pureed
4 oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is ok)
3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

In a large bowl, mix together the graham crackers, 4 Tbsp. of butter (melted) and the 2 Tbsp. of sugar. (Alternatively you can crush the graham crackers in a food processor and then add the melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined.) Press into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.

In a different bowl, mix together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp baking powder, set aside.

Beat together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter until creamy, about two minutes. Add in the egg and then the vanilla until just combined. Slowly add in the flour mixture until it is fully combined.

Very carefully layer the cookie dough mixture on top of the graham cracker crust by picking up small amounts of dough, flattening it in your hands, and setting it on the crust. You may not be able to entirely cover the graham cracker crust, but it will spread slightly when baking.

Beat together the cream cheese and the pureed strawberries. Spread evenly over the cookie dough.

Evenly spread the sliced strawberries over the cream cheese layer. Top with the white chocolate chips and then cover with the sweetened condensed milk.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight before slicing. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Wine and Glue

Monday, April 25, 2016

Honey Sesame Chicken {Instant Pot Recipe!}

I got an Instant Pot for my birthday! If you are not yet on the Instant Pot bandwagon, it is an electric pressure cooker. My knowledge of pressure cookers was pretty limited. I only knew of the stove top version and the propensity to "blow up." I didn't want to be part of that. But when I started reading about this new-fangled pressure cooker that was electric and could do multiple types of cooking (rice!, yogurt!, steam!, saute!, stew!) and could make meals in mere minutes, I knew I wanted to learn more.

I've now become a believer. Not only is the pressure cooker fast, it makes delicious food! (Of course, it matters what you put in it, but we'll get to that.) So far, I've tried beef ribs, chuck roast, steel cut oats (3 minutes, people!) and this delicious chicken dish.

Unlike a crock pot, you can do multiple-step dishes in the Instant Pot. For this recipe, you saute the chicken briefly with the aromatics, before bringing the pot to pressure and fully cooking the meat. Then at the end, you return to the saute setting to thicken the sauce. And you wash one pot!

A note of caution: although this chicken only "cooks" for 4 minutes in the pressure cooker, it does take a bit of time for the pot to come to pressure before the 4 minute count down begins. So plan your rice and side vegetables accordingly! (This is the one thing I still need to get used to - the "advertised" time doesn't include the warm up time, which can be significant, especially if there's a lot of liquid in the pot.)

In any case, this is an absolutely delicious meal, devoured by everyone in my family and making enough for leftovers for lunch the next day. I served it on rice with a side of sauteed green beans and snap peas, and it was a wonderful combination. Here's to more pressure cooking in the future!

Find more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Tasty Tuesday, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Us, Wow Me.

Honey Sesame Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sesame oil
2/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. water
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Set the pressure cooker to saute and let it heat up. Add oil, onion, garlic, and chicken to the pot and saute stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about 3 minutes.

Add soy sauce, ketchup, and red pepper flakes to the pressure cooking pot and stir to combine. Set the cooker to manual (high pressure) for 4 minutes. At the end of four minutes, turn pressure cooker off and do a quick pressure release.

Add sesame oil and honey to the pot and stir to combine. Turn pressure cooker to saute mode, then dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pot. Simmer until sauce thickens. Serve over rice sprinkled with sesame seeds and green onions. Serves 6-8.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Pressure Cooking Today

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mango Coconut Muffins

I love muffins. They are a staple at my house, appearing weekly to help aid in the "gotta get out the door but need to eat breakfast" situation. I especially like it when I can make muffins that have some nutritional value and aren't just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. So I was excited that this month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to Sarah's blog, The Pajama Chef where I found an amazing recipe: Mango Coconut Muffins.

These muffins use coconut oil and are studded with delicious and vitamin A- and C-packed mangoes. To amp up the "tropical" quotient, they also have coconut and almond extract. You can just imagine that you're on a sandy beach soaking up the sun when you eat one of these muffins!

I used frozen mango for this, and just let them thaw slightly before chopping. If you have fresh, that's great, but frozen works well, too. You can also use a combo of regular and whole wheat flour, and experiment with different extracts. I used almond, cause it's my favorite, but vanilla or coconut would be delicious, too.

Thanks, Sarah, for a great recipe and for making my mornings brighter!

Get more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Mango Coconut Muffins

2 cups flour (or use 1 c. all purpose and 1 c. white whole wheat)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup diced mango, fresh or frozen
1 cup shredded coconut, divided

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl stir together buttermilk, milk, coconut oil, egg, and almond extract. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in mango and 1/2 cup of the coconut.

Divide batter evenly between 12 paper-lined muffin cups and then top with remaining coconut.

Bake at 400 for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days and then freeze leftovers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Stack

I love Mexican food. Luckily, so does my family. Tacos, taco salads and enchiladas are common in the rotation. I really love enchiladas, but sometimes I just don't want to roll up all those tortillas. Luckily, there's another option. This enchilada stack has all the tasty goodness of green chile chicken enchiladas, layered up in a springform pan. Just cut into pie-shaped wedges and voila! Great taste, easy peasy.

My family is a also a huge fan of guacamole, so I served these up with heaping spoonfuls of guac, salsa, and additional sour cream. You could also serve chopped tomatoes, cilantro, onions, or whatever else you like to dress up Mexican food with!

(And for those of you who love leftovers, we especially liked the two remaining pieces as leftovers a couple nights later - it seemed like flavor intensified.)


Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Try a New Recipe, Tasty Tuesday, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Us, Wow Me, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Stack

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (7-8 ounces) green chile enchilada sauce
1/2 cup sour cream, light or regular

For Stacking:
4 white or whole wheat 9- or 10-inch tortillas
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
4 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

For Serving:
Additional sour cream
Or any of your favorite Mexican fixings!

For the sauce, in a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the enchilada sauce, sour cream, salt, and pepper.

To assemble, lightly grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan (depending on the size of the tortillas you are using). You may need to trim your tortillas to fit in the pan. Assemble by layering one tortilla, topping with sauce, chicken and cheese; then adding one tortilla, sauce, chicken, cheese; one tortilla, sauce, chicken, cheese; one tortilla, remaining sauce and cheese. (Basically it's four layers of nearly the same thing except the final layer doesn't get any chicken.)

Bake at 400, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

Let the enchilada stack rest for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into pie-shaped wedges to serve and garnish with your desired toppings.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, March 21, 2016

Honey Peanut Wafers

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Margaret's blog, Tea and Scones. I was really tempted to make some sort of scone recipe from her blog, because, well, it's called Tea and Scones! But I changed my mind when I saw this recipe for these simple cookies. As she says in her post, it's a little dangerous that you can whip up these beauties so quickly. I think it took me less than 5 minutes to put the dough together, and then I had to wait since the oven wasn't even hot enough yet! I loved these peanut cookies cause they are so different from any other cookie I have made. They are crispy, which is wonderful, and peanutty and loaded with honey, and just downright delicious. Thanks for a great recipe!

Honey Peanut Wafers

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

Gently stir together the sugar, honey and egg in a medium mixing bowl. Then whisk in the butter.

Add the flour mixture; folding it in with a large rubber scraper. Then add the chopped peanuts and mix well to distribute the nuts evenly throughout the dough.

Drop tablespoon-size pieces of the dough onto silpat- or parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the cookies cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chicken Pepper Jack Flatbread (or pizza!)

I love finding new and different ways to prepare pizza. This one has just the right amount of kick from the salsa and the pepper jack cheese. And since it's chicken, you don't have to feel quite as guilty...We love flatbreads and this one adapts nicely. You can use your favorite color of bell pepper - or use mini peppers for a beautiful combo! This would also make a great party appetizer - everything about this is so versatile. What's not to love?

Find more great stuff at Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Try a New Recipe, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Us, Wow Me, Full Plate.

Chicken Pepper Jack Flatbread

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup diced red, yellow and/or green bell peppers
1 pound of homemade pizza dough, or 4 flatbreads
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add peppers; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, unroll pizza dough onto a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray; press dough evenly to all edges of pan. Bake at 425 for 8 minutes. (If using flatbreads, simply place them on a pizza pan or cookie sheet - no need to prebake.)

Stir salsa into cooked vegetables; spread over partially baked crust or flatbreads. Top with chicken and then cheese.

Bake at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into squares or slices.

Recipe Source: Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Frosty Lemon Squares

We've seen some signs of spring here and it is welcome! A sunshiny day does so much good for my disposition, and the warmer temps don't hurt either. This light, creamy, lemony dessert is a wonderful way to celebrate spring, and would be a delightful end to any Easter dinner. I used macadamia nuts in the crust and it was fabulous - I loved the combination of the salty nuts with the tart lemon and the sweet cream cheese filling.

This also keeps a long time in the freezer which makes it great to have on hand for last minute company, or just when you need a little lemon in your life.

Find more great recipes at Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy, Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Frosty Lemon Squares

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup ground pecans or macadamia nuts

Cream Cheese Layer:
2 packages (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Lemon Layer:
1-1/4 cups sugar
6 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
3 to 4 drops yellow food coloring, optional

1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a small bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour and cornstarch (mixture will be crumbly). Stir in nuts. Press into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over crust. Cover and freeze for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and water until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in the lemon juice, butter, lemon peel and food coloring if desired. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spread lemon mixture over cream cheese layer. Cover and freeze for 1 hour. Fold lemon peel into whipped topping; spread over lemon layer. Cover and freeze for up to 1 month. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. Makes 20 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Taste of Home
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