Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Monte Cristo Poppers)

Welcome everyone to another Free Recipe Wednesday. I hope everyone is ready for the upcoming holiday and has done all of their shopping already. Today I bring you a recipe that would be a nice little treat for holiday dinner, maybe as a pre-dinner appetizer. These are bite-sized appetizer versions of the classic Monte Cristo Sandwich, which should be a hit at any holiday gathering. A Monte Cristo Sandwich, for those who might be unaware, is basically a ham and cheese sandwich that has been dipped in batter and deep fried. It’s then dusted with powdered sugar and served with jelly. I believe the cheese originally served on Monte Cristo Sandwiches was Emmental or Gruyere but most of the time when I find them in restaurants or diners they’re made with Swiss cheese. You could also use different types of meat if you were so inclined and this recipe actually uses two different kinds. Now of course these are most certainly not the healthiest thing in the world but they’re definitely delicious. Give these a try and let me know how they went over at your holiday dinner in the comments below.

Monte Cristo Poppers

  • 1 qt Oil, or as needed
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1 Egg
  • 2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 8 slices White Bread
  • 4 slices Swiss Cheese
  • 4 slices Turkey
  • 4 slices Ham
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Powdered Sugar, for dusting
  • Jelly, for dipping

1. Heat 5 inches of oil in a deep-fryer or deep pan to 365 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and water.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and then whisk into the egg mixture until a smooth batter forms; set aside in the refrigerator.
4. Remove the crust from the slices of bread and gently flatten them with a rolling pin or heavy plate.
5. Assemble sandwiches with a slice of turkey, a slice of cheese, and then a slice of ham; cut sandwiches into quarters, and secure with toothpicks.
6. Dip each sandwich quarter into the batter making sure that all sides are coated and gently drop them into the hot oil; fry until golden brown on all sides.
7. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
8. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving; serve with jelly on the side.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gluten Free Friday! (Cheesy Chili Spaghetti Squash Casserole)

Hello again everyone and welcome to another Gluten Free Friday. I hope everyone has had a great week and is looking forward to the weekend. Today I bring you a Gluten Free (and Low Carb) version of Chili Spaghetti. If you’ve never had Chili Spaghetti basically it’s exactly what it sounds like, spaghetti with chili on it instead of a normal tomato based sauce. Well today’s recipe uses spaghetti squash instead of the pasta so while the flavors are a bit different and the squash will be a bit softer than pasta, you still essentially get Chili Spaghetti without all of the gluten and carbs. It’s also fairly healthy otherwise and is high in protein as well at 23g per serving. Personally I think using spaghetti squash instead of pasta is a genius idea and I might even try other recipes using this idea. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheesy Chili Spaghetti Squash Casserole

For the Chili
  • 1 lb Lean Ground Beef (or Turkey)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Chipotles in Adobo (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 cup Prepared Salsa
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Casserole
  • 4 cups Cooked Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 3/4 cup Kraft Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Chopped Cilantro (optional)
  • Sour Cream, Salsa, Avocado to serve (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium saucepan brown the ground meat and season with salt and pepper; pour off any extra fat and discard.
3. Add the remainder of the chili ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the cooked spaghetti squash and melted butter, tossing to coat; season generously with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spread the squash out in a 12-14 inch casserole dish and sprinkle with 3/4 cup of shredded cheese.
6. Spread the sour cream over the cheese layer then spoon on the chili and spread it out, leaving a 1 inch border of spaghetti squash around the edge; top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.
8. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole or avocado slices as desired.

Approx nutrition info per serving: 284 cal, 20g fat, 6g net carbs, 23g protein

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Peppered Shrimp Alfredo)

Hello again food lovers and welcome to another Free Recipe Wednesday. Today I bring you a delicious pasta dish. Pasta is probably one of my favorite types of dishes to have but I have to admit that I definitely prefer a cream based sauce over a tomato based sauce. This recipe uses a pre-made alfredo sauce but feel free to make your own if you’re so inclined. Also, you can substitute chicken or another type of seafood for the shrimp if you have that picky person in your family that just doesn’t like shrimp. Despite the number of ingredients and steps this dish is really quite simple to make and I definitely recommend giving it a try. As always feel free to leave comments below and also be sure to come back Friday for a new Gluten Free Friday recipe.

Peppered Shrimp Alfredo

  • 12 oz Penne Pasta
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lb Portobello Mushrooms, diced
  • 1 lb Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (15 oz) jar Alfredo Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Cream
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper, to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Parsley

NOTE: Since chicken takes longer to cook than shrimp, if you’re using chicken just pre-cook the chicken and add it on step 6 then move directly on to step 7

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter together with the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
4. Stir in onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 2 minutes.
5. Stir in garlic, red pepper, and mushrooms; cook over medium-high heat until soft, about 2 minutes.
6. Stir in the shrimp and cook until firm and pink.
7. Pour in the Alfredo sauce, Romano cheese, and cream; bring to a simmer stirring constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste
9. Stir drained pasta into the sauce, and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Cheese Ball Special)

Hello again everyone and welcome to another Free Recipe Wednesday.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and ate tons of delicious food.  For today’s Free Recipe Wednesday I’m giving you 4 delicious cheese balls to try.  It’s a bit of a long post but there’s lots of delicious goodness here.  I think at some point everyone has had a cheese ball of some sort and there are so many different ways that you can make them.  Personally I’m a huge fan of cheese, especially cream cheese, so cheese balls are most certainly a favorite of mine.  Unfortunately it never seems to be a holiday treat but maybe I’ll make one for Christmas dinner this year. Give some of these a try yourself and as always feel free to post comments below with your opinions, ideas, etc.

So the first cheese ball recipe, Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball, is just a basic variation of your standard cheese ball that’s sure to please just about anyone.  You can probably omit the black olives if you happen to have a picky person in the family or just don’t like them yourself.

Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball

  • 6 slices Bacon
  • 2 (8 oz) pkgs Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 (1 oz) pkg Ranch Dressing Mix (Hidden Valley, etc)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Green Onions, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Chopped Black Olives
  • 1 1/2 cups Chopped Pecans (optional)

1. Place the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes.
2. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate and once cooled, chop bacon into small pieces.
3. Stir together the cream cheese and ranch dressing mix in a bowl until smooth; add the bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions, and olives and stir until well combined.
4. Shape the mixture into a ball and roll in the chopped pecans; refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Next we have the Hot Pepper Cheese Ball, which is obviously only for those that can handle a little heat.  The pepper jack cheese and Worcestershire sauce really give this cheese ball its unique flavor.  This one is probably my all time favorite.

Hot Pepper Cheese Ball

  • 1 (8 oz) pkg Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup Chopped Pecans

1. In a large bowl, stir together cream cheese, cheddar, extra sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, onion powder, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce; cover and refrigerate mixture 1 hour.
2. Shape mixture into a ball and roll in chopped pecans.

The third cheese ball we have is the Pineapple Cheese Ball.  This one, like the following one, is going to appeal more to those that like sweet and savory flavors mixed.  This cheese ball is also good with a little Canadian bacon chopped up in it for that “Canadian Bacon and Pineapple Pizza” type of flavor.

Pineapple Cheese Ball

  • 2 (8 oz) pkgs Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Minced Celery
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 tsp Minced Onion
  • 1 (20 oz) can Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup Chopped Pecans

1. In a medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, celery, bell pepper, onion, and crushed pineapple.
2. Divide the mixture in half and form two balls out of the mixture.
3. Roll each ball in the pecans and chill until ready to serve.

Finally we have what I would consider to be a true dessert cheese ball, the Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball.  The cream cheese, sugars, and chocolate chips make this one interesting but definitely a crowd pleaser and kids really enjoy it.  If you’re making multiple types of cheese balls at once you can toss a few chocolate chips in with the crushed pecans so you can distinguish between various cheese balls easier.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

  • 1 (8 oz) pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup Confectioners' Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Miniature Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3/4 cup Finely Chopped Pecans

1. In a medium bowl beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
2. Mix in confectioners' sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.
3. Stir in chocolate chips; cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
4. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball; wrap with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 hours.
5. Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped pecans before serving.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Toasted Cornbread, Bacon, and Chestnut Stuffing)

Hello again everyone and welcome to the Thanksgiving edition of Free Recipe Wednesday. Today’s recipe is a variation of the classic Thanksgiving stuffing. In a recent edition of Rachel Ray Magazine there was about half a dozen or so different recipes for stuffing and I have to say the one below is probably my favorite. How can anything made with bacon be bad? The saltiness of the bacon really makes this stuffing spectacular. If you’re looking to change up your normal Thanksgiving routine this year, give this stuffing a try or if you’re interested in viewing any of the other stuffing recipes from Rachel Ray Magazine, head on over to their site and do a search for “stuffing”. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Toasted Cornbread, Bacon, and Chestnut Stuffing

  • 2 - 8 1/2 oz boxes Corn Muffin Mix (such as Jiffy)
  • 1 - 14 1/2 oz can Chicken Broth (about 1-3/4 cups)
  • 1 cup Half-And-Half
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1/2 lb Bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs Celery, chopped
  • 1 - 8 oz jar Whole Roasted Chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Sage
  • 1 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Bake the cornbread according to the package directions; let cool and break into 1-inch chunks.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
3. In a large baking dish, arrange the cornbread chunks in a single layer; toast in the oven, stirring once, until golden, about 10 minutes.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, half-and-half and eggs; fold in the cornbread, cover and let soak for 10 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
5. In a large, heavy skillet, cook the bacon until crisp at the edges, about 8 minutes; transfer to a large bowl, discarding all but a thin coating of drippings from the skillet.
6. Add the butter to the skillet, then stir in the onion and celery; cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 10 minutes.
7. Stir in the chestnuts, thyme and sage during the last minute of cooking then stir in the cranberries, parsley, soaked cornbread and salt and pepper to taste; Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
9. Place the stuffing in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish; cover with greased foil and bake for 40 minutes.
10. Uncover and continue to bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Tater Tot Casserole)

Hello again friends and food lovers. Welcome to another wonderful Free Recipe Wednesday. We’re half way through the work week and that means we’re just 8 days away from Thanksgiving….and 35 days away from Christmas if you’re keeping track. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to all of the delicious food on both holidays. Today’s recipe isn’t necessarily something you’d fix for the holidays but it’s a delicious family recipe that kids love. I recall my mom making Tater Tot Casserole many many times when I was a kid and I remember how much I looked forward to having it. Now if I could just remember to ask her for the recipe for the Corn Fritters she used to make. Anyway, the recipe below came from Campbell’s Kitchen so I don’t know if it’s exactly like the way my mom made it but it sure tastes just like I remember. The only thing this recipe needs is a nice layer of cheese on top. You could also throw in a bag of frozen mixed veggies if you wanted to add a bit of nutrition to the dish but it’s really good just the way it is. Give it a try and let me know in the comments if you have any ideas for other variations to the dish.

Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 cups Frozen Tater Tots

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. 
2. Cook the beef and onion in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the beef is well browned, stirring to break up the meat; drain and return the beef to the pan. 
3. Add the soup, ketchup and Worcestershire to the skillet and stir well. 
4. Spoon the beef mixture into a 12x8-inch shallow baking dish; arrange the tater tots all over the top of the casserole.
5. Bake the casserole for 25 minutes or until the tater tots are done.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gluten Free Friday! (Chipotle Cheese Crisps)

Hello again everyone and welcome to another Gluten Free Friday. I hope everyone has had a good week and is ready for the weekend. Today’s recipe is a variation of Frico, known in America as Cheese Crisps. Frico is an Italian food that typically consists of a circular layer of shredded cheese with a bit of flour that’s baked or fried until crisp. One of our local grocery stores used to sell cheese crisps but we haven’t been able to find them lately. The ones they used to carry were made primarily of Parmesan cheese but you can use any blend of Italian cheeses to make these and you can even spice them up any way you like. Today’s recipe is a gluten free version of these cheese crisps, using almond flour instead of regular flour. This recipe is also a bit different than your typical cheese crisps in that it calls for butter as well. In addition to being gluten free these are also low carb, containing less than 1 carb per crisp. Give these a try, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. As always, leave comments below letting me know what you think.

Gluten Free Chipotle Cheese Crisps

  • 1 1/2 cups Almond Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Chipotle Powder (or cayenne)
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Finely Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 6 tbsp Butter, cut into pieces and room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, chipotle pepper and salt.
3. Add cheese and butter and work in with hands, rubbing butter in with fingers, until a dough forms.
4. Transfer dough to a sheet of waxed paper and form into a log 1 1/2 inches in diameter; roll log back and forth on counter to smooth the sides.
5. Roll up tightly in waxed paper and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and as long as several days.
6. Cut log into 1/4 inch slices and bake 12 minutes, or until it spreads and edges are starting to brown.
7. Turn off oven and continue to let bake and crisp, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Watch carefully to make sure they don't burn.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Sausage Balls)

Hello again everyone and welcome to another Free Recipe Wednesday. Today’s recipe is an easy one that is delicious and easy to make. These are perfect as an appetizer for holiday family get-togethers. I’ve been making these since I was a kid and the recipe below is just the basic recipe. They’re good made with just the basic recipe below but of course there are a lot of variations. My favorite way to make these is to wrap the sausage mixture around a black olive before cooking them. It’s a nice added dimension of flavor, if you like black olives of course. You could also use hot sausage and add a little cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to make a spicy version of these. I also prefer to shallow fry my sausage balls instead of baking them but of course the healthier option would be baking. Give these a try and let me know what types of variations you come up with for these.

Sausage Balls

  • 1 lb Ground Pork Sausage
  • 2 cups Biscuit Baking Mix
  • 1 lb Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl combine sausage, biscuit baking mix and cheese.
3. Form mixture into walnut size balls and place on a baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and sausage is cooked through.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Chicken and Corn Chowder)

Hello again everyone. Welcome to another Free Recipe Wednesday. I’m feeling a bit under the weather right now so this post is going to be short. With the cold weather thoroughly set in – more so in some places than others – soup is a go-to for a lot of families and individuals. Today’s soup is a delicious, thick, and hearty chowder that’s perfect for cold nights. Don’t be dissuaded by the amount of ingredients and directions, it’s really quite easy to make. Give it a try and of course I encourage you to do a little tweaking and modifying. Leave a post below and let me know what you thought and whether or not you did anything differently.

Chicken and Corn Chowder

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
  • 1 Small Carrot, finely diced
  • 1 Stalk Celery, diced
  • 1 Small Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups White Corn Kernels
  • 1 1/2 cups Yellow Corn Kernels
  • 4 Russet Potatoes, diced
  • 2 Cooked Chicken Breast Halves, shredded
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 1 pinch Nutmeg
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add carrot, celery, onion, and garlic into hot butter and cook, stirring regularly, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
3. Stir flour into mixture to make a paste; cook until lightly browned being careful not to burn the flour.
4. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside to cool, about 15 minutes; once cooled add 1 cup of the chicken broth and mix until thoroughly combined.
5. In a large soup pot over medium heat, stir together white and yellow corn, potatoes, chicken, and 3 cups of chicken stock.
6. Stir flour/veggie mixture into the ingredients in the soup pot; bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until thick, about 5 minutes.
7. Stir the half-and-half, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper into the chowder; bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gluten Free Friday! (General Tso's Meatballs)

Hello again friends and food lovers. I hope everyone has had a great week. It’s Friday (at last) so that could only mean one thing, it’s time for another Gluten Free Friday recipe. General Tso’s Chicken is one of the most popular, and my wife’s favorite, Chinese dishes that you’ll find at virtually every Chinese restaurant in the country. As with a lot of Chinese dishes found in America, including Cashew Chicken invented right here in my home town of Springfield Missouri, General Tso’s Chicken was reportedly invented here in the United States at a Chinese restaurant in New York City in the early 1970s. Well today’s recipe is a Gluten Free variation of General Chicken that I found somewhere online. However, instead of using glutinous breaded chicken, this recipe uses meatballs and Gluten Free Soy Sauce in the sauce to make this Gluten Free as well as low carb. Give it a try and as always let me know what you think in the comments below.

Gluten Free General Tso’s Meatballs

For the Meatballs
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey or Chicken
  • 2 Tbsp Minced Ginger
  • 1/4 cup Scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • Olive Oil, for frying

For the Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp GF Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar Substitute
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum (or Arrowroot Powder)
  • 1/4 cup Scallions, chopped
  • 4 – 5 Small Dried Chilies, seeded and chopped

1. In a large bowl combine all of the meatball ingredients and mix thoroughly; form into 16 balls and fry them in oil over medium heat until they are cooked through and crispy.
2. In a small saucepan combine the sesame oil, vinegar, GF soy sauce, water, sugar substitute, and xanthan gum and whisk until combined.
3. Add the scallions and chili peppers and bring the sauce to a boil; simmer for five minutes until thickened and then remove from the heat.
4. Add the cooked meatballs to the thickened sauce and stir to coat; garnish with more chopped scallions and chilis if desired.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Golumpki aka Cabbage Rolls)

Hello everyone and welcome to another Free Recipe Wednesday. Today’s recipe is something I’ve only had a couple of times before but it was super delicious. Cabbage rolls are common to the ethnic foods of many parts of Europe. My in-laws, being of Polish descent, are always making dishes I’ve never had before and this is one of those. Cabbage rolls, also known as Golumpki in the United States, are often served during the Christmas season and on festive occasions. The recipe below uses a crock pot to cook these and while they are still very good in the crock pot I feel like if you cook them in the oven, covered with foil, for 1 hour at 350 degrees they taste even better. As with most recipes, I would tweak the ingredients of this one just a bit to make them better. I think I would add ½ tsp garlic powder, more or less depending on how much you like garlic, and I would increase the amount of onion to ½ cup. I would also double the amount of sauce so you have plenty to cover the rolls with. Overall this is a good recipe just the way it is and if you like cabbage I definitely recommend you give them a try.

Golumpki (Cabbage Rolls)

  • 12 Cabbage Leaves
  • 1 cup Cooked White Rice
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Minced Onion
  • 1 lb Extra-Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Boil cabbage leaves for 2 minutes; drain.
3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, egg, milk, onion, ground beef, salt, and pepper.
4. Place about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf and roll up, tucking in the ends; place the rolls in a slow cooker.
5. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce; pour over the cabbage rolls.
6. Cover the slow cooker and cook the cabbage rolls on Low for 8 to 9 hours.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Smoked Cheese Ravioli)

Hello again friends and food lovers. Welcome to another Free Recipe Wednesday. Today’s recipe isn’t quite like the fall/holiday recipes I’ve been posting this month but it’s still one I think you’ll enjoy. Personally when it comes to pasta I’d much rather have a cream based sauce than a tomato based one so I’m always on the lookout for something new. When I first saw this recipe I knew it would be good, especially with Smoked Gouda cheese which is one of my favorites, but I could also tell the sauce was just a base to start with and that it needed more. That’s the nice thing about most cream based sauces is that you can modify them in so many ways. The recipe and picture below is the basic recipe, and it’s good the way it is, but personally I feel like it needs more color. I think adding a can of rotel with the green chilis and maybe sprinkling some green onions on top is a great way to liven up this dish. You could also add oregano, basil, and garlic to the sauce for a different flavor profile and/or use meat ravioli instead of cheese ravioli. Like I said before it’s good the way it is but it’s fun to experiment and make something your own. Give it a try and let me know in the comments below what you thought and what modifications you made to yours.

Smoked Cheese Ravioli

  • 1 (16 oz) pkg Frozen Cheese Ravioli
  • 1 cup Half-And-Half Cream
  • 1 cup Shredded Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • 1 tsp Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 tsp White Pepper

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil over high heat; stir in the frozen ravioli and return to a boil.
2. Cook uncovered about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ravioli float to the top and the filling is hot; drain.
3. While the pasta is cooking, bring the half-and-half to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.
4. Whisk in the Gouda cheese until melted; season with parsley and white pepper.
5. Pour the sauce over the cooked ravioli; garnish with parsley and serve.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gluten Free Friday! (Baked Apples)

Happy Friday everyone! Welcome to another edition of Gluten Free Friday! Today’s recipe is a delicious dessert that I had once at a family gathering and have been meaning to make sometime. As these bake, the brown sugar and butter melt together on the inside while the apples soften creating a flavor similar to apple pie. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with orchards, like I am, then you should also still be able to get fresh orchard apples at least through the end of October. This dessert is just great in general but it’s especially awesome for celiacs or those just simply following a gluten free diet as they’re able to enjoy one of the fall season’s best desserts, apple pie, without the glutinous crust. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Baked Apples

  • 4 Large Baking Apples (Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, etc)
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 cup Currants or Chopped Raisins
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 cup Boiling Water

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Wash the apples; remove the cores to 1/2 inch of the bottom of the apples and use a spoon to dig out the seeds. Make the holes about 3/4 to 1 inch wide.
3. In a small bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon, currants/raisins, and pecans.
4. Place the apples in an 8 x 8 square baking pan and stuff each apple with this mixture; top with a dot of butter then add the boiling water to the baking pan.
5. Bake the apples 30-40 minutes until they are tender but not mushy; remove them from the oven and baste the apples several times with the pan juices.
6. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Double Edition)

Hello again foodie friends. Welcome to another edition of Free Recipe Wednesday. As you may have noticed, there wasn’t a Free Recipe Wednesday last week. Unfortunately, I was out sick a couple of days and instead of doing a late week recipe I figured I’d just give you all 2 recipes this week.

The first recipe, Brown Sugar Smokies, is something my boss makes often to bring in for our monthly “food day” at work. It’s really a simple finger food to make with the majority of your time putting toothpicks in each one as you wrap bacon around it. You can put these in a crock pot when they’re done for easy transport and to keep them warm if they’re going to be sitting out in a pot-luck type situation. The sweetness from the sugar and the saltiness of the bacon really works together to make these super delicious. You’ll have friends and family begging you to make them again.

The second recipe today, Spicy Deviled Eggs, is a take on the holiday classic. In our family there’s rarely a family holiday get-together without Deviled Eggs ….and if there is, someone’s in trouble. The thing about Deviled Eggs is that there are so many different ways to make them. I learned how to make them from my grandmother at an early age and ours have always been mayonnaise based. However, as I’ve gotten older and had other people’s Deviled Eggs here at work I’ve come to realize that a lot of people make them with mustard. I still prefer mine mayo based with no mustard but I’ve yet to have a bad Deviled Egg. Today’s recipe is a spicy version of Deviled Eggs, using both mayo and Dijon mustard. The Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce really make these Deviled Eggs super flavorful. Give them a try, as well as the first recipe, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Brown Sugar Smokies

  • 1 lb Bacon
  • 1 pkg (16oz) Little Smokies Sausages
  • 1 c Brown Sugar (more or less to taste)
  • Toothpicks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cut bacon into thirds and wrap each strip around a little sausage; place a toothpick through each sausage to hold the bacon in place.
3. Arrange the sausages on a baking sheet and sprinkle them liberally with brown sugar.
4. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the brown sugar is melted.

Spicy Deviled Eggs

  • 12 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Hot Pepper Sauce, or to taste
  • 1 pinch Salt and Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Paprika, for dusting
  • 1 can (6 oz) Black Olives (optional), drained and cut in half horizontally

Following the instructions in Step 2, in regards to the cold water, will make the eggs much easier to peel.

1. Place the eggs in a saucepan with a lid, pour in water to cover, bring to a boil, and then remove the pan from the heat; cover and let stand for 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Remove the eggs from the hot water and immediately dunk them in ice water or place them under cold running water; once cooled, peel the eggs.
3. Cut each egg in half lengthwise; remove the yolks to a bowl and mash them with a fork until the yolks are “crumbly”.
4. To the yolks add mustard, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper; stir the mixture until smooth and thoroughly combined.
5. Using a spoon, piping bag, or a sturdy plastic bag with a corner cut off, fill each egg half with the deviled yolk mixture; dust each egg with a pinch of paprika.
6. If using the black olives place an olive half, round side up, in the center of each egg. 
7. Refrigerate until chilled, 20 to 30 minutes, and serve cold.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Gluten Free Friday! (Gluten Free Orange Chicken)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone has had a good week and it looking forward to the weekend. Welcome to another edition of Gluten Free Friday. If you’re on a gluten free diet one of the things you really don’t get to enjoy is Chinese food. Most Chinese food, like General Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken, is loaded with gluten in the breading and let’s not forget about the noodles, crab rangoon, and egg rolls that are also loaded with gluten. Well today I have a solution to that problem with a Gluten Free Orange Chicken recipe. I came across this recipe one day while navigating the sea of recipes on the internet and immediately knew I was going to have to give this a try. Now I know this won’t satisfy your cravings for crab rangoon or egg rolls (though I’m working on that), but it’s a good start and hopefully this does the job of satisfying any cravings you might have for Chinese food. In addition to being Gluten Free, this dish is also low in carbs and high in protein. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Gluten Free Orange Chicken

For The Chicken
  • 2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil

For The Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Gluten Free Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Orange Extract
  • 2 tsp Sweetener
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tbsp Orange Zest
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Scallions, chopped

1. Chop the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces.
2. Combine the cornstarch and coconut flour in a medium sized bowl and season with salt & pepper.
3. Add the chicken to the flour mixture and toss well until fully coated.
4. Heat coconut oil in a large saute pan.
5. Cook the chicken in small batches until golden brown and no longer pink; remove the chicken to a plate or bowl.
6. Combine the ginger, orange juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, orange extract, sweetener, water, and coriander in a blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.
7. Pour into a saute pan and cook until reduced by half.
8. Add the chicken into the sauce and stir to coat.
9. Cook for about two minutes and then add the orange zest, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and scallions.
10. Cook for another minute, then remove from the heat and serve garnished with more orange zest if preferred.

Approximate nutrition info per serving: 424 calories, 20g fat, 6g net carbs, 46g protein

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New "Printer-Friendly Version" Button

As you may have noticed, there is a new "printer-friendly version" button below each recipe title that looks like the one above.  Clicking this button will open a printer-friendly version of the recipe that you can print.  Now you can print all of your favorite recipes from my blog without all of the formatting and the picture(s) so you use less ink when you print.  This button will be added to all recipe posts going forward and I will gradually be updating older recipe posts with this button as well so you can go back and print your favorites.  I hope everyone finds this new feature useful.

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Slow Cooker Pumpkin Turkey Chili)

Hello again food fanatics and welcome to another edition of Free Recipe Wednesday. This week I have another fall recipe for you. When I think of all the comfort foods out there one of the things near the top of the list would have to be chili. Chili is great on cool fall nights and it’s so easy to make. Today’s chili recipe is a sweet spicy version but doesn’t have a lot of heat so even kids or those sensitive to spice can enjoy it. If you want your chili a little spicier try using a can of medium or hot Rotel tomatoes instead of regular diced tomatoes. Also, if you don’t have fresh pumpkin you can use a 15oz can of pure pumpkin instead. I personally think this is one of the best chili recipes I’ve ever tried and it’s actually quite healthy with all of the veggies, beans for fiber, and using turkey instead of beef. Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Turkey Chili

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 (28 oz) can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 cups Cubed Fresh Pumpkin
  • 1 (15 oz) can Chili Beans
  • 1 (15 oz) can Seasoned Black Beans
  • 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • Shredded Cheese and Sour Cream, for garnish

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Brown turkey, stirring often, until crumbly and no longer pink, about 10 minutes; drain and transfer to a slow cooker.
3. Stir in diced tomatoes, pumpkin, chili beans, black beans, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and chili powder.
4. Set slow cooker to Low, cover, and cook about 3 hours or until pumpkin is tender and has started to break apart.
5. Garnish with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Product Review! (Banquet Bowls)

Hello again everyone. As I mentioned in this week’s Free Recipe Wednesday I finally have a New Product Review to post here on the blog. Last weekend while grocery shopping I was in the frozen food section picking up some Banquet Sausage & Gravy Pot Pies, which I did a review of previously, and I noticed 5 new frozen meals that Banquet has come out with. Banquet doesn’t really call them anything, they just tell what the dish is and have a picture of it on the box, but I have started calling them Banquet Bowls because every one of them is pictured in a bowl on the box. Obviously the container inside isn’t really a bowl but rather a container like most frozen dinners come in. As with just about every Banquet item, these were cheap at only $1 each so I decided to pick up 3 of the 5 to give them a try. The ones I bought, and tried, were the Cheesy Rice and Chicken, the Queso Mac, and the Three Cheese Ziti. There is also a Cheesy Potato Bake and a Fettuccini Alfredo which I will most likely buy and try after trying the other three.  (Click the pictures on the right to enlarge them.)

With all 3 of the ones I tried, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. A lot of frozen meals just lack flavor and you have to salt the heck out of them just to make them taste good enough to get down. These were so good just the way they were and I didn’t even have to salt them, although I did anyway. My favorite of the 3 I tried was probably the Queso Mac. Usually cheesy frozen meals have a runny cheese sauce and you really don’t get a lot of cheese flavor or if you do it’s a weird flavor. This was creamy, almost like Velveeta shells and cheese and the flavor was really good. I could probably eat that one every day. I also really enjoyed the amount of food you get for your dollar. All of the ones I tried were the perfect size for lunch, with maybe a small bag of chips or a piece of fruit to go along with it.

Overall this was another success by Banquet in my opinion. The price is just right, the quantity of food is good, and the flavor is definitely above par when compared to other frozen meals. I personally look forward to trying the other 2 that I haven’t tried yet and buying more of the ones that I did try. Give them a try yourself and post comments below letting me know what you thought about them.