sunset harvest

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strawberry Dessert

I can't believe it has been a week since my last post, oops. I have a sweet dessert that is sure to impress anyone. I made these for book club as well, and they were delicious. I thought that the added brownie would be too much, but it was perfect. With Strawberries in season this is another recipe to throw in your rotation, and it is a very very easy dessert! The brownies can be made up ahead of time, which is what you need to start with. Cut the brownies up into tiny bite size squares. Dice up some fresh strawberries and then make the cream filling! 
Heavy whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar! EASY! Just pour whipping cream in large bowl and using an electric mixer, begin beating the cream, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to beat till it reaches desired consistency. Be careful not to over beat, but make it thick enough to spoon into dessert cups. I just used small plastic cups and they worked out perfectly! 
Begin assembly by placing some of the brownies in a cup, followed by the cream, strawberries, and then repeat. Serve and watch everyone scrape every last bit out of their dessert cup! This was enough for about 12-14 cups, so you could adjust to whatever quantities you need. I have had strawberries in my fridge off and on and when we make brownies I have made this dessert for me and the kids, so it is very easy to adjust the quantities! 
I had these on the table for book club right by the Spinach Artichoke dip..Recipe Coming Soon!

Strawberry Chocolate Dessert
adapted from Bakingdom

1 pan brownies, prepared, cooled and cut into bit size squares
2 pints strawberries, diced

For the cream;
2 Cups Heavy whipping cream
4 TBLS powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat heavy cream with mixer and add in powdered sugar and vanilla, continue to beat till desired consistency is reached.

Layer in small dessert cups and serve!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chocolate Toffee Bars

A few days ago I hosted book club at my house and when I came across these on Our Best Bites, I knew they would be making appearance at the get together. These were easy and tasted delicious. I kept them in the fridge to get chilled, and took them out about 15 minutes before book club began. I loved these and pretty sure everyone else did as well. Give these a try, they are worth it! 
Not too many ingredients necessary, I didn't have the dark brown sugar or toffee bits on hand, but picked them up while I was out.  Mix up the brown sugar and flour, and then grate your cold butter, looks like shredded cheese, but it's butter. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter blend the ingredients together. Lightly beat the egg and pour over mixture, stir to combine. 
Set aside 1/2 cup of  the chocolate chips and pour remaining into dough. Stir and then set aside 1 1/2 cups of the dough mixture. Press the rest of the dough into a greased 9x13 pan. I lined mine with foil and then sprayed it with cooking spray. When it was finished cooking and cooled it was easy to lift out and slice. Place the pan into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and immediately pour the sweetened  condensed milk over the hot crust. 
Reserve 1/4 cup of the toffee chips and pour the remaining over the sweetened condensed milk. Sprinkle the reserved dough mixture over the toffee chips, followed by the reserved chocolate chips. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and sprinkle remaining toffee chips over the top. Let cool in pan and then slice and serve and watch them disappear! 

Chocolate Toffee Bars
adapted from Our Best Bites 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x13 pan using cooking spray.

In a bowl combined the following;
2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup cold butter (either add by shredding or slice butter and add it to the mixture, using your hands our a pastry blender combine butter with sugar and flour)
Lightly beat one egg and pour over mixture, stir to combine.

Using one bag of semi sweet chocolate chips, remove 1/2 cup and pour the remaining chips into the dough mixture. Stir. And remove 1 1/2 cup of the dough mixture. Press remaining dough into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over the hot crust. Using one bag of toffee chips, remove 1/4 cup of the chips and pour remaining over the sweetened condensed milk. Followed by the remaining dough, and finally the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and sprinkle reserved toffee chips over the bars. Let cool and then slice.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easy Oven Fried Chicken Tenders

This simple dinner comes from the "Family Meals" cookbook by Maria Helm Sinskey that my bf gave me when I visited her in California a few years ago. If you want to get something ready in the morning to eat that night, this is a perfect idea. If these sit prepared in the fridge uncovered for a few hours, they dry out becoming even more crispy when you bake them later on. 
I started with four boneless/skinless chicken breast and just cut them in strips, I stock up on them when they are on sale, and don't typically buy the pre-cut tenders. In a shallow bowl or pie pan add flour, salt and pepper. In the second bowl beat 3-4 eggs and add salt and pepper. I usually start with three eggs but typically always need to add a fourth egg. In the third and final bowl, place the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese, stir to combine. Starting with the flour, dip the chicken strip in, followed by the egg, and finish with bread crumbs. Prepare a baking sheet by pouring some extra virgin olive oil to coat the sheet. Place chicken strips on a baking sheet and either place uncovered in the refrigerator or place in the oven at 425 degrees. Bake for 8 minutes and then turn the tenders over and bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. 

Oven Fried Chicken Tenders
adapted from "Family Meals" by Maria Helm Sinskey 

Pour 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

3-4 boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into strips

Line up three shallow bowls or pie dishes. In the first bowl, add;
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper

In the second bowl beat together 3 eggs and add 1 tsp. salt and dash of black pepper

Finally, in the third bowl, add 1 cup dried bread crumbs, 1 tsp. salt, dash of black pepper and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

In that order, dip each chicken strip. (Flour, egg, breadcrumbs)

Place on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, turn over the strips after 8 minutes and bake an additional 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. 

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Best Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is hands down my absolute favorite. So thankful for Krista from Krista's Kitchen for putting this on her blog. I love how the dressing is just enough and you are still able to actually taste the pasta and other ingredients. I have made this for cookouts, graduation parties, and on occasion, just for me and the is that good! I receive numerous compliments every time I make this. Next time you have to bring a dish to a cookout, etc. give this one a try, it will not disappoint! 
There's my little helper in the background. She has gotten used to me snapping pictures of food, and this time didn't run when I got the camera out. The dressing uses oil, vinegar, sugar (which is missing in the picture), basil, accent, garlic salt, black pepper and onion salt. I added in a red bell pepper, hard salami, cheddar cheese, carrots and onion. The add in options are endless, whatever you feel like throwing in!  
Get your water boiling and cook rotini pasta according to directions on the box. While your water is boiling, bring the oil, sugar, vinegar, basil, accent, onion salt, garlic salt and black pepper to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool while you cook the pasta. Once the pasta is finished boiling, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. 
Toss all the veggies, meat and cheese with the pasta noodles and pour the dressing over to coat. The picture doesn't even begin to do this delicious pasta salad justice, so just take my word and try this for your next get together!

Rotini Pasta Salad

1 box of Rotini Pasta noodles, cook according to package directions and rinse in cold water when pasta is finished cooking. 

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced, I also like to use a couple green onions in place of a yellow/white onion
1/2 block of cheddar cheese, diced (Pepper jack would work, any cheese for that matter!)
Hard salami, cubed (I have also used pepperoni in the past)

Bring the following ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan

2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. accent
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper

One the dressing comes to a boil, remove from heat. Combine veggies, meat and cheese with cooked pasta noodles and pour dressing on top, stirring to coat. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu

When making this meal in the past I have kept it pretty simple. But I was one of those that had to warn my husband, that there may or may not be 3 or 4 toothpicks in the chicken. A great tip if you do need to stick toothpicks to seal up any type of chicken dish, break a spaghetti noodle to the size you need and stick that through the chicken to hold it together, it will cook in the oven, and is "safe" for all those dinner guest. I love this recipe because you actually stuff the meat and cheese into the chicken breast. I have made this a few times and it is always a family pleasing meal. We were having a few people over for dinner and this was a meal that I was able to prepare pretty much all in advance so that left more time for socializing later! To begin you will take some deli ham, take some sliced swiss cheese and roll the cheese into the ham. 

Once you have rolled enough for the amount of chicken breast you are making, set the ham rolls aside and begin to prepare the chicken. I find the thicker the breast the easier it is to stuff. Starting at the thicker end of the breast cut a slit about an inch wide, and then taking the knife keep going down the chicken, lengthwise, careful not to cut through the sides of the breast. 
Stuff one ham roll down into the breast. Now, there have been a few times I was able to see the ham coming out at the bottom, but not to worry, I think the ham helps protect the cheese from oozing out. Now if you want, stick a piece of uncooked spaghetti to seal the opening shut, however I think that most of the time this is unecessary. After you have done all the chicken breast, place them in the fridge, covered for at least 20 minutes. While the chicken is in the fridge, it's time to make the breadcrumbs. I think this makes the meal. Homemade breadcrumbs are by far my favorite, no more of the can stuff unless I am in a very big hurry. 
Take a few slices of bread, and place in a food processor. Add in ritz crackers and pulse till combined. Drizzle in melted butter and pulse. Once combined, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 450 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Once they are dried out, it is time to get your assembly line ready. In one dish place eggs, and beat together with dijon mustard. Then in a separate bowl place about one cup of flour. Take chicken and starting with flour coat and then move onto the egg mixture, finish by coating the breast in the bread crumbs. Continue with each chicken breast. 
Place on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet. At this point you can place covered in the refrigerator till it is time for dinner. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken on lowest rack in the oven for 10 minutes, move to the middle rack and turn the temperature down to 400 degrees. Finish baking, about 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu

4 Thick Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast
4 Slices thin deli sliced ham
2 Slices of swiss cheese, cut in thin strips

Roll strips of cheese in ham slices. Place on a plate and prepare chicken by cutting about a 1 inch slit in the thickest part of the breast. Cut down, length wise to the end of the chicken, widening as you go. Place a ham roll into the opening and place on a baking dish, repeat with remaining chicken. Place covered in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. 

4 Slices of Bread
25 ritz crackers
6 TBLS butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine bread and bread crumbs in food processor. Add in melted butter and continue to pulse till combined. Place on a rimmed baking dish and bake for 3-5 minutes, keep an eye on these so they don't burn. 

Set up your breading bowls, you will need two. 
In first bowl, combine;
3 large eggs
2 TBLS dijon mustard
Beat to combine

In second bowl place;
1 cup flour

Remove the chicken and coat each breast with flour, followed by the egg mixture, and finally coat in the bread crumbs. Place in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes on the lowest baking rack. After 10 minutes, move the chicken to the middle rack and turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until thermometer reads 160 degrees. Remove chicken and let rest 5 minutes before serving. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Peanut Butter and Chocolate

What's not to like? Peanut butter and chocolate. A perfect combination, that is if you like chocolate! I found these bars and when I realized I already had all the ingredients to make them I decided to try them. I thought they were a satisfying treat! I sent the pan with Doug to work and he said everyone loved them. If you want a fast and easy snack, give these a try!
Mix together the eggs and peanut butter till combined. Add in the brown sugar and stir. Mix in the Bisquick and stir just until it is all combined.
Add in chocolate chips and place in an 8 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for about 35 minutes or until it starts to brown.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

3/4 cup peanut butter, I prefer Creamy
2 eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 bag (6 oz) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8 inch square baking pan. Combine eggs and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar and mix till combined. Stir in Bisquick and mix just till incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and at this point your arm will be telling you it is time to put that batter into a pan! I just used my fingers to press it all in the baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until it starts to brown. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls

I really enjoy all the recipes over at Jamie Cooks it Up! And when I saw her recent chicken stuffed crescent rolls, I knew I would be making them ASAP. This is one of those EASY meals that you could make the morning of and then just throw them in the oven when you are ready to feed your hungry family dinner!
I used left over chicken from this meal we had a few nights ago. It was probably a good 2 cups of shredded chicken. If you have leftover grilled chicken, baked chicken, etc. this is a perfect meal to use the chicken for. You will need about 2 cups of cooked chicken, green onions, cream cheese, and then if your pallets can stand the heat some jalapeno peppers. I only added the peppers to Doug's portion of this meal. Mix the softened cream cheese with the chicken, green onions and as you can tell in the picture below, I decided to add some shredded cheddar cheese. One can never have enough cheese in a dish...right!?
Take the crescent dough and separate into triangles. Take about 3-4 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and place in the center of a rolled out triangle. They just need to be rolled out a little to make it easier to fill.
Beginning at one end, start to roll the dough around the chicken, making sure to press and seal so that the chicken is completely enclosed in the dough. Melt some butter and place some crushed corn flakes on a plate I just used my rolling pin to crush the corn flakes. Coat the balls in the butter and then roll in the crushed corn flakes to cover. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, or use parchment paper.
The three separate rolls are for Doug, they have the jalapeno peppers in them. He was unable to be here for dinner, so I placed his in the fridge, covered and he can pop them in the oven when he is home for dinner. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The original recipe uses a cream of chicken based sauce to top each roll with. Knowing it was just me and the kids I decided to not use an entire can of cream of chicken soup, and instead just mixed some butter, sour cream, milk, and cheese up over the stove top till everything was melted together. This was just a simple sauce, but the kids both enjoyed, and of course I loved it.
And one more picture, the roll without being cut, I topped the sauce with some fresh chives from my garden. If I was feeding more than 4 for dinner, I would probably double up on the rolls, I think they will reheat nicely for lunch tomorrow! I will have to find out later after Doug tries his with the jalapeno in them and see if he likes the added heat!

Chicken Stuffed Crescent Rolls
adapted from Jamie Cooks it up!

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together the following
2 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken
4 oz. cream cheese
4 green onions, diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
*Optinal: Diced Jalapeno Peppers

Open can of crescent rolls and separate into triangles. Spray a rolling pin lightly with cooking spray and roll each triangle out. Place 3-4 TBLS of the chicken mixture onto each triangle and roll, using your fingers press all the seams together to enclose the chicken.

Melt 4 TBLS of butter

Using a rolling pin or food processor, crush about 3 cups of corn flakes into crumbs.

Roll each filled crescent roll in butter and then coat with corn flakes. Place on parchment lined or lightly greased cooking sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

To make simple sauce for the top, in a small saucepan combined 1 TBLS of butter, 2 TBLS sour cream, and about 2 tsp. of milk over medium heat. I added in about 1 cup of shredded cheese and stir till it was all combined.

Serve over chicken and enjoy this low fuss and easy meal!

Now that I have made these, I think trying other variations, such as ham and cheese stuffed crescent rolls are in my very near future!