Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wedge Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing


LOVE this version of  wedge salad.  It combines sweet and salty together for the perfect combination of flavors.  Very easy to whip up and of course delicious!


Ingredients:

1 head of iceberg lettuce, core removed and quartered
1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup glazed pecans, chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

For dressing: 
1/2 avocado
1 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preparation:

In a blender combine avocado, ranch dressing, milk and herbs.  Blend until smooth. 

To assemble salad place one quarter of lettuce head on a plate.  Sprinkle 1/4 of blue cheese over lettuce wedge.  Next pour on about 1/4 cup of prepared dressing.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the bacon crumbles, and 1/4 of the chopped pecans over the dressing.  Serve immediately.  


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Roasted Chicken Legs



Growing up our Mother always made this oven roasted chicken.  After speaking with my Mother this morning I found out that it was originally our Grandmother's recipe and also that I made it wrong ;).  LOL  Still delicious and I had all the right ingredients but my technique was off.  It is such a simple recipe but the combination of theses spices are not only delicious but look really pretty too.  They are spices that most people always have in their pantry.  So if you are running out of chicken ideas here is a nice, simple and quick recipe to throw together at the last minute.  I used chicken legs when making this recently because they are so super inexpensive and seem to be the part of the chicken my kids like the most.  If you don't like chicken legs feel free to use any other part of the chicken and prepare in the same manner.  You can't mess this one up!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons Lawry's season salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
(1-2 tablespoons water *optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place chicken in a shallow un-greased roasting pan.  It's best when you leave the skin on to cook because it keeps the chicken really moist and allows you to cook the chicken for a longer time to achieve a nice crispy exterior without drying out the inside.   If desired you can remove the skin before you eat it.  When I made this the other day I made a dry rub of the spices and sprinkled it over the top of the chicken and baked it halfway (about 30 minutes) and then I flipped the chicken over and sprinkled the other side with the spice rub and cooked it about another 30 minutes until it was golden and the skin was crispy.   I found out however, my Mother and Grandmother made this as a wet rub by adding a little water to the spices and then rubbing the chicken with the wet mixture and cooking the same way.  I think it's a matter of preference but I will definitely try the wet rub next time.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Watermelon Cake



I refuse to let the summer end!  
I made this watermelon cake for a friend's block party.  It is such a cute dessert for a BBQ.   All the kids really loved it.  I wanted to use a strawberry cake mix so there was a hint of fruit flavor but my daughter insisted on having just vanilla so I opted to color the white cake mix reddish pink to look like watermelon instead.  Now it's even easier to finish this cake because you can buy pink and green frosting already pre-colored at the market.  (The pink frosting you will need to add a little red food coloring to make it less of a shocking pink color and more "watermelon" colored.)  Overall very simple cake to bake and assemble.  I hope you give it a try.  I originally saw this cake on Pinterest, you can find the original recipe on this cute blog call Bird on a Cake.


Ingredients:

1 white cake mix, prepared as per direction on box
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
red food coloring
pink frosting (or white frosting with red food color)
green frosting (or white frosting with green food color)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl mix white cake mix according to the packaged directions, or of course you can make your favorite white cake from scratch.  Add 5 drops of red food coloring to the prepared batter.  You may add more to get the desired "watermelon" color.  Add about 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips to the colored cake batter to resemble watermelon seeds.  You do not need to measure this out exactly, just eyeball it.  Reserved the remaining chocolate chips for the top of the cake.  Pour cake batter into two 9" cake pans that have been greased generously with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake cakes at 350 degrees F. for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Remove cakes from oven and leave in pans until completely cooled.

Once cakes have cooled, carefully remove them from the pans.  With a serrated knife carefully slice off a small amount of the top of each cake to make them flat.  Place one cake topside down onto  a cake plate.  Take your reddish/pink frosting and frost the top of the first cake leaving about a 1/4 inch around the cake at the edges. Sprinkle the frosting with some more of the mini chocolate chips.  Now take the second cake and place it topside down on top of the 1st cake.  Using green frosting, frost the sides of the cake and about 1/2 inch of the edge on the top of the cake.  Fill the top of the cake in the middle of the green circle with reddish/pink frosting and sprinkle additional mini chocolate chips on the top of the pink to look like watermelon seeds.  Decorated the bottom edge anyway you like, I just did little balls but putting frosting in a ziploc bag and cutting a tiny corner of the bag and squeezing out a little at time to make balls.  

*Notes:

If you want the cake to taste like watermelon, use the powder of a packet of watermelon flavored jello and sprinkle 3/4 of it into the cake batter and the other 1/4 of the packet into the pink frosting.  You could also use a strawberry cake mix if you don't feel like coloring the cake and you will still get a nice fruit flavor to your cake.

You may want to put a thin layer of frosting on the cake and then refrigerate to firm up the frosting and then add a second layer of frosting so it looks nice and smooth.  This just makes it easier to frost and covers up any imperfections.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cilantro Coleslaw



This is a traditional coleslaw kicked up a notch. I LOVE the addition of cilantro, so delicious and really changes the taste of the usual every day coleslaw.  You can also add any veggies that you want, I like the addition of crispy sweet pepper slices.

Ingredients:

2 - 8oz bags of prepared cole slaw mix,  (It's just easier ;)
1 sweet bell pepper, sliced thinly -  your color choice (red, orange, yellow)
A big bunch of chopped cilantro - who needs to measure??
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Place coleslaw mix (discard the dressing that comes with the slaw if you bought a kit) and sliced peppers in a large bowl, set aside.  In a small mixing bowl coming, milk, mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk together until combined.  Pour milk mixture over coleslaw and mix until throughly coated.  Place in refrigerator to chill.  Chop up a big bunch of cilantro (I don't measure but you want anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cilantro) Before serving remove coleslaw from the refrigerator and  mix in cilantro.  Serve cold!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Light Whipped Fruit Mousse Parfait

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie.  We used to always make this as a pie with a low fat graham cracker crust.  Now with so many of us not eating carbs we have adapted this family favorite to a yummy, refreshing mousse parfait.  This is great for a BBQ dessert or to serve at a Brunch in the summertime.  I've also served the mousse in a large bowl with graham crackers for dipping for those who want to have some carbs ;)

Ingredients:

1 box sugar free strawberry Jello (or any other flavor you like)
2 containers of light strawberry yogurt (or any flavor to match your Jello choice)
1 tub of light cool whip, defrosted in the refrigerator
1/4 cup water, boiling

Preparation:

Dissolve Jello with 1/4 cup of boiling water.  In a large bowl add the yogurt and the dissolved Jello and mix to combine.  Once combined, add the entire tub of cool whip and fold in until thoroughly incorporated.   Assemble into a parfait by alternating whipped cream with each layer of fruit mouse. Top with fresh fruit and then refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours but I prefer overnight.  Serve cold. 

Make other flavors if you want to have a colorful, multi layered parfait.  For this parfait we used strawberry and orange/peach - Great combination!

Orange/Peach: Orange Jello and Peach yogurt
Lime: Lime Jello and Key Lime yogurt
Lemon: Lemon Jello and Lemon yogurt
Raspberry: Raspberry Jello and Raspberry yogurt

Really the flavor combinations are endless!




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cups



Happy Labor Day
I saw this super simple "recipe" on an episode of the Pioneer Woman.  My son begged me to make them.  Really so simple, just 3 ingredients and what could be yummier than ice cream and Oreos? Great little treat to keep in the fridge for the kids.  You can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients:
2 pints of vanilla ice-cream, slightly softened
1 package of Oreo cookies
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation:
In a food processor pulse 15 Oreo cookies until they are small crumbs. Add melted butter to cookies crumbs and mix until combined.  Press a tablespoon of the cookie mixture into the bottom of each muffin tin and press up the side.  Freeze until set, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile take 8-10 more Oreos and put in food processor and pulse into crumbs.  Put softened vanilla ice-cream in a large bowl and add cookie crumbs and mix to combine.  Spoon ice-cream mixture into each muffin cup on top of cookie crumb crust.  Top with some extra crushed Oreos and place muffin tin in the freezer overnight to set.  I used a silicone muffin tin which made it very easy to pop out each ice cream cup.  Pop out cups and store in a ziploc bag in the freezer.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies


There is nothing better than a good classic peanut butter cookie.  I always loved to make these when I was young and not much has changed.   You can add chocolate chips or nuts and even oatmeal to this recipe but I always just prefer them plain.....simple and delicous!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus a small bowl of extra sugar for finishing cookies)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl cream together softened butter and peanut butter.  Beat in both sugars until light, about 2 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated evenly.  Add salt, baking soda and flour and beat until just combined.

On a prepared cookie sheet (lined and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) Roll dough into small balls and place 1/2 inch apart.   Using the back of a fork first dipped in water and then dipped in granulated sugar, gently flatten each dough ball and make a crosshatch pattern.  (press fork down in one direction and then lift up.  Then press fork down in other direction across the lines to make pattern).  

Bake for 10 minutes until cookies are slightly browned on edges.  Let cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.  Enjoy!