This was one of those recipes made up on the spot that ended up being a hit. I wanted to make a cheese ball but I didn't want to go to the store so I thought about the things I had on hand: cream cheese, bacon, Country Bob's ....jalapeno jelly...and that's about it but that's about all you need!
Our Respiratory Dept Council is sponsoring a dept Chili Cook-off tomorrow. I wasn't going to sign up but when Mary jokingly put my name on the list, I thought "Why not? I've been wanting to try my hand at green pork chili like we've had when we've traveled out west." After searching through recipes and experimenting a little, I came up with this healthy twist on the genre. The recipe's "secret" ingredients include Herdez Salsa Verde, Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Sweet Potatoes. Intrigued? I hope so.
Where my standard chili recipe focuses on hearty beans and a rich beef base, this recipe is lighter, with less fat, lighter beans, and gets it's richness from the warm spices and chocolate. If it sounds too strange to be believed, just take a leap of faith with me. Chocolate and cinnamon really make this chili warm with layers of flavors but with none standing out on its own.
My crockpot and chili have already been delivered tonight for the competition tomorrow. Wish me luck! And good luck to the dept council on your fundraiser-- not to mention: THANK YOU for all your hard work!
The greatest thing about the invention of the Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole is the ease of it. I've made cordon bleu from scratch, and while it's not hard, it takes time. The casserole combines both the basic elements of traditional cordon bleu: chicken, ham, and swiss cheese, along with a built in sauce for that creamy, dreamy, yumminess that is chicken cordon bleu.
I pinned two different recipes for Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole on Pinterest and this was the night I finally got around to moving it from my "wish" list to my "been there/done that/plan to do it again" list.
This recipe (on the left) from Recipe Sweet was my biggest inspiration. I liked the sauce made from scratch, although I spiced mine up a little differently and I used whole pieces of chicken rather than rotisserie, not that there's anything wrong with using rotisserie chicken, it can be a great time-saver. I just used what I had on hand. I prefer white meat and Gene prefers dark meat so it was easy to make a His and a Hers side to our casserole, along with a last minute thought on my part of adding broccoli to cook in that wonderful sauce, added to the Hers side, of course, since Gene hates broccoli. But for non-broccoli-haters, it would be good strewn throughout the casserole to bubble away in the sauce.
My second inspiration was this Pinned recipe from Little B Cooks for a quick put together. The sauce is made from Cream of Chicken Soup which cuts the time down to almost negative minutes putting this one together and there are times when that is a HUGE plus! Both of these recipes call for pre-cooked chicken, rotisserie or other, which can save oven time but I started with the uncooked chicken breasts and thighs I had on hand. Either works beautifully.
All we really need here are two words: "bacon" and "cheese".
If pushed, I could probably say a few more words: like yummy to the tummy Milton's snack crackers. I've been a fan of their gourmet line for many years but the beauty of the snack cracker line is that that crackers are smaller so you get the crunch, the whole graininess, and the slight sweet in a smaller version so you also get bacon and cheese with every bite--that's a win every way there is to win!
Out of the six flavors Gene and I, and lots of other family members, tried these were our favorite flavors: Original Multi-Grain, Honey Multi-Grain, and Honey & Corn, all yummy on their own or as a great base for chips or chicken and tuna salad.
In this area, southwest Missouri, they can be found at Wal-mart, Target, and Sam's Club.
Cristen and I were talking recipes the other night at work. She claims to be a "lazy" cook but really what she and her husband like to cook and eat are no-fuss, tasty, one pot meals/casseroles served with fresh salads and veggies as sides. The truth is not everyone enjoys cooking as a hobby and that's okay. Cristen's self-proclaimed "lazy" approach just means she has more time to spend doing other things she enjoys more than being in the kitchen.
While cooking is a hobby of mine, I confess, there are days it's not my favorite room in the house either and that's when I enjoy making casseroles and throw-it-in-the crockpot meals as well.
Very similar to shepherd's pie, the church basement tater tot casserole is just the Americanized version. Gene even admitted to me last night that as much as he loves mashed potatoes, the traditional topping for shepherd's pie, he actually prefers tater tots for their crispy texture on this casserole. Even more Americanized, he topped his with ketchup. I gave that a whorl on my second helping, and he's right, it's good.
Tater tot casserole is as simple or complex as you want to make it and ultimately customizable. Cristen said she sometimes uses the leanest ground beef she can buy, doesn't pre-brown it, merely pats it into the casserole dish, sprinkles a packet of taco seasoning over it, then pours over the soup/milk mixture, cheese, and tops with tater tots. Other times she pre-browns country style ground sausage adds whatever vegetables she has in the freezer with or without the cheese.
I chose to go the browned, lean ground beef direction, sauteed garlic, onions, and a mix of colored sweet peppers that I keep chopped and uncooked in the freezer at all times, and peas, along with shredded Italian mixed cheese.
Another variation is my friend, Chris' venison, sausage, and green bean tater tot casserole
Gene has been on a cooking roll this summer, keeping our table loaded and our tummies full (especially on my sleep days--thanks, Honey!) with lots of great country style ribs. If you're not familiar, country ribs are the cut of pork ribs that are long strips of meat, usually with no or very few bones. Maybe not as pretty as their boney cousins, the babyback rib, but lots of juicy, meaty tenderness without fighting those rib bones.
Neighbor Dave posted these photos and this recipe on Facebook and it looked so good I had to make it for us. Delicious! The only difference in mine was that I didn't have a fresh tomato so I subbed a half can of Ro-tel tomatoes. Also yummy!
Pinterest Recipe? Why yes, yes it is. And an excellent one at that. Easy to put together in the slow cooker and melt in your mouth yumminess!
After clicking several links, I finally tracked it down to Danielle at Let's Dish who adapted it from Wendee who posted it to Allrecipes.com (links below to their versions). I adapted it slightly from Danielle, mostly to accommodate that I used boneless country ribs instead of a tenderloin or loin. The ribs have more fat in them so I didn't add the water to either step in their recipes and did remove most of the melted fat (with a turkey baster--great fat removing tool) before adding the sauce.
After reading on Facebook the other day that the grandmother of our neighbors was going over to their house for lunch made by her grandkids, I was excited when they posted a photo of their lunch made by 8 year old Samuel and thrilled when he agreed to come over and allow me to interview him for his recipe for "Taco Dogs".
Apparently, entrepreneurally-minded Samuel has been busy this summer running a business he calls "The R Family Cafe". He charges $2.00/5 year membership for regular lunches and an extra $1 per "romantic meal". Gene and I will have to take him up on that one! Wonder what he charges to cook for a dinner party of 4-6? We might have to contract him for one of our Dexter dinners, although with the violence and Debra's cursing, we'll probably have to send the Chef home to bed prior to showtime!
When I asked what his little sister was doing while he was slaving away over a hot microwave, Samuel informed me that she "played on the computer" but after lunch provided an impromptu ballet recital for the entertainment.
When asked what he served with his taco dogs, Samuel stated that his mom steamed broccoli from their backyard garden "you know, on top of the stove where the fire is" and then put cheese on it to form a tasty sauce. He also said that since they had to pick off a few bugs who were trying to munch for free on their garden broccoli, that meant it was extra good. I agree. That's how you know your garden is successful, when you have to fight the critters and bugs for your produce!
All I have to say in closing is "Watch Out!" to all my local chef friends: Dave Ponder, Steve Young, and Brad Lyons, Samuel is on his way up and he's going to be a force to be reckoned with!
Like everyone else on the planet I have a job, and like a lot of other people on the planet, I work nights. It makes for odd schedules in so many ways, and meals, according to me and everyone I know who works 12 hour overnights, can be a nightmare...or at least challenging. I've spent hours on Pinterest searching for and planning a big cooking day where I stock lots of healthy meals in the freezer so that I don't dread cooking as much on my work and sleep days or make Gene do it. I know, it's a pretty pedestrian fantasy but trying to avoid the non-nutrition of fast food and the expense of restaurant food by cooking clean home-made meals consistently (the key is consistently) can be a challenge. It ain't for wusses, that's for sure!
I did a mini trial run this afternoon on the whole pack the freezer in one afternoon concept and I have to say it was much easier than I thought it would be and very emotionally rewarding. it's great to know that I already have dinner for my work day tomorrow prepped and in the firdge and a half dozen easy options in the freezer for my sleep day on Tuesday. This will be particularly good for when I work stretches of 12 hours on/12 hours off. 12 hours sounds like a lot of time until you try to do all those normal little things like sleep, bathe, spend time with the family, answer emails, watch a little of the boob tube, let alone trying to cook from scratch--and we don't even have kids! My admiration is off the charts for the moms and dads who work 12 hour overnights and manage to keep the family and their sanity together and dressed in clean clothes and with full bellies.
I chose four coordinating recipes this afternoon (recipes/links/photos follow) mainly to make it easy on myself and because both ground beef and round steak were on sale at my market this week.