Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Tonight was a breakfast for dinner night. It's really the only time I make Nate breakfast. I had come across these bad boys at Mormon Mavens and knew Nate would love them. They were so simple and so good. We both enjoyed them. These would be so fun for kids too. We topped ours with the icing that came with the cinnamon rolls, but you could also use syrup if you'd like. Enjoy!

tube of cinnamon rolls

Heat your waffle iron. Once hot, place a cinnamon roll in each segment of your waffle iron. Cook for a few minutes or until cinnamon rolls are a nice golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot with icing drizzled over the top.

No, they're not burnt in the middle, that's the cinnamon swirls.

Marinara Sauce

So good! I lost track of the times Nate said, "This is so good!" during dinner. He said it is by far the best marinara sauce he has ever had. I used this sauce in a lasagna last night and Nate declared it to be the best lasagna he's ever had. We also dipped our bread in the sauce. So I'd say this marinara sauce is a keeper! I made an 8x8" lasagna and had sauce leftover to freeze. Next time I'm going to double the recipe so I have more to freeze. I felt like a little Italian grandma with my sauce simmering away and making my house smell so good. I adapted this recipe from one over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe and according to the site, the sauce freezes well for up to six months. We loved this sauce!

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 (28-ounce each) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
2 dried bay leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and green pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic bread seasoning, bay leaves, and parmesan cheese and simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the sauce isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook sauce until slightly thickened and the vegetables are completely tender. Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaves. In a blender or food processor, blend the sauce (in several batches, if necessary) until it is smooth. The sauce can be frozen once it is cooled completely in freezer-safe ziploc bags for up to 6 months. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Turkey French Dip Sandwiches

These sandwiches are heavenly! They were so good, I enjoyed every bite, and I can't wait to make them again! In addition to tasting great, these sandwiches are so easy to prepare. We had Nate's brother Zak and his wife Domonique over for dinner, and we all really enjoyed these sandwiches. The turkey turned out so moist and tender, and the au jus was great. I saw this idea on Kelsey Nixon's cooking show, and I just adapted it to our preferences. Make this soon!

3 lb. turkey breast or turkey roast (I used a roast so we had both white and dark meat)
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, roughly chopped
seasoned pepper

Add the chopped onions to the bottom of the crock pot, add the chicken broth and the Worcestershire sauce. Top with some seasoned pepper. In a small bowl mix together the butter and garlic bread seasoning. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey, if you're using a turkey breast with skin, get some butter under the skin too. Place the turkey in the crock pot, on top of the onions. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Once it reaches that temperature, remove from crock pot and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Reserve the juices in the crock pot for your au jus dipping sauce. To make your sandwich, gently toast sliced baguette under to broiler until it is a nice golden brown. Top with turkey and any desired condiments and dip in au jus! You will love this!

Onion Strings

We love onion rings in our house. Our favorites are these baked onion rings, so good! Since I recently purchased a beautiful blue dutch oven, I now have the capacity to deep fry. Since we were having company for dinner, I thought we could splurge and enjoy some onion strings. These are a super thin cut version of onion rings and we all really enjoyed them! They were a good accompaniment to our turkey french dip sandwiches tonight. I got this idea from The Pioneer Woman, and they did not disappoint!

2 large yellow onions
buttermilk (or regular milk)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/2-1/2 tsp. seasoned pepper
vegetable or canola oil

Slice onions very very thin. Place onion strings into a baking dish, cover with milk, and let soak for an hour. Whisk together flour, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot to 375 degrees. Take handful of soaked onions and coat in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and careful drop into hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb and extra oil. Repeat with remaining onions. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce. We used fry sauce. You could also use these onions as a topping on sandwiches or burgers. Enjoy!

Mini Butterfinger Cheesecakes

Nate's favorite dessert is cheesecake. It's not something I make too often though. Since we were having company over for dinner tonight, I knew it was a perfect opportunity to make cheesecake. I just came across this idea over at Favorite Family Recipes, a few days ago. I'm happy to report they were a big hit! They are a fun little bite-sized dessert that is not too hard to make.

1 c. ground vanilla wafers (I used the reduced fat kind), just pulse these in your food processor and they're ready in no time flat
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter (I used reduced fat)
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3 Fun Size Butterfinger, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookie crumbs, sugar, butter and salt into a bowl; mix to combine. Spoon mixture into bottoms of a mini muffin tin and press. Bake for 8-10 minutes and remove from oven.
Reduce heat to 300 degrees. In a stand or electric mixer, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Beat sugar, egg, cream and salt until well combined. Spoon batter over baked crust. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until cheesecake is set. Let cool for 2 hours, then remove from pan.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. If needed, return back to microwave for 15 seconds or so until smooth. Spoon over tops of cakes then sprinkle crushed butterfinger over top.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

This dinner is full of memories for me. This is a super easy dish, one I've made since I was very first married, before I really learned to cook. I remember my mom making this on cold winter nights when I was growing up. We always looked forward to Shepherd's Pie. My mom always put a sprinkle of paprika over the top, so I did too. I'm sure everyone has their own version of this dish, but here is mine.

1 lb. ground beef
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can green beans, drained
1/2 onion, diced
mashed potatoes (Nate prefers instant mashed potatoes, so I just use one package of Idahoan brand butter and herb potatoes)
shredded cheese, optional
steak seasoning
salt and pepper
smoked paprika

In a skillet, cook ground beef and onions. Season with steak seasoning a small amount of salt and pepper. Once beef is cooked and crumbled, reduce heat to low and add tomato sauce. You may not need the full can. You want enough to generously coat the meat, but you don't want it really soupy and runny. Spread meat mixture into the bottom of a glass 8x8" baking dish. Top meat with green beans, and then with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the top of the mashed potatoes with a small amount of paprika. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The potatoes should have a nice light crust. Remove from oven and top with a bit of cheese and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted (if you want cheese). Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

General Kim's Chicken

This dish is my take on General Tso's Chicken, so Nate renamed it General Kim's Chicken. It's a great base recipe, you could easily turn this dish into orange chicken or sweet and sour chicken, just adjust the sauce. I had several different recipes that I reviewed prior to making this, it's a compilation of those recipes and personal preferences. One of our favorite couples, Sarah and Mike were my guinea pigs for this dinner and they both, in addition to Nate, ensured me it was a yummy recipe.

2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bit sized cubes
2 eggs
vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
5 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. sriracha sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup cold water
red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat 6 cups vegetable oil in a large dutch oven or deep fryer to 360 degrees. Whisk eggs with salt and pepper. Add chicken and stir to coat evenly. Take each piece of chicken and dip into cornstarch. Coat entire piece of chicken and shake off any excess cornstarch. Repeat with remaining chicken. Fry in small batches for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and chicken is cooked through. I always do a test batch with 2 or 3 pieces to work out any issues. Drain chicken on a paper towel-lined plate.
Dissolve cornstarch in cold water, whisking well. In a bowl combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, sweet chili sauce, and sriracha. Add in cornstarch slurry, again whisking well to make sure everything combines. Pour sauce into a hot wok, stirring constantly until sauce thickens to desired consistency. Then add chicken to wok and stir to evenly coat chicken.
Serve immediately over hot basmati rice. Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes if you like things nice and spicy!

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Believe it or not I've never made or eaten pasta salad. I don't really care for salad dressing so I've never bothered to try it. We had a sibling dinner tonight and we were asked to bring pasta salad and drinks. I gave this easy salad a try. I simply used less dressing and I actually really enjoyed this dish. I modified a recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff and I was very pleased with the results.

1 lb. rotini pasta
8 oz. Italian dressing
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 small can sliced olives
20-30 slices turkey pepperoni, chopped
5 oz. colby jack cheese, cut into small cubes

Boil pasta until al dente, rinse, drain, and cool. Refrigerate. Dice up veggies and pepperoni. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl making sure everything is well incorporated. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

Breakfast for Dinner Casserole

Nate and I went up to Idaho to visit my grandparents Easter weekend. Saturday morning my super cute grandma made us a breakfast casserole. This dish is really similar to what she made and it is perfect for breakfast for dinner.

6 eggs
10 oz. shredded hash browns (if you're using frozen, make sure to thaw them first)
1/2 lb. cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup milk
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced

Whisk together eggs and milk. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in all other ingredients. Pour into a greased 8x8" or 9x9" baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until eggs are cooked through and set. Serve warm.