• Apple Pie Perfection!

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    Apple pie…just like Grandma’s…I just love apple pie!  The search is over…this is the best apple pie!

    Ingredients:

    • No Fail Pie Crust
    • 6-8 c. apples (Fuji, Jazz, Braeburn, Granny Smith mix), sliced ¼ inch thick
    • ¾ c. sugar
    • 3 TBSP all purpose flour
    • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
    • ½ tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp. salt
    • 1 TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 425*.
    2. Combine apples through salt in a large bowl.  Let stand for at least 15 minutes, stirring several times, so the apples soften slightly.
    3. Pour mixture into the bottom of the crust and gently level with the back of a spoon.
    4. Top with butter.
    5. Brush the overhanging edge of the bottom crust with cold water.  Cover with the top crust, then seal the edge, trim, and crimp or flute.  Cut steam vents in the top crust and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
    6. Bake for 30 minutes with a baking sheet underneath.  After 30 minutes, reduce temperature and bake until fruit feels just tender when a knife is poked through the vents, about 30 to 45 more minutes.  For the filling to thicken, the pie must cook on a rack for 3 to 4 hours.

    Apple Pie:

    5star

  • Perfect Pie Crust

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    In my opinion, my Grandmother makes the best pies in the whole wide world…I’m not kidding!  Her crust is flaky and buttery and delicious.  I’ve seen her make pies, so I’ve always had an idea of what goes into it, but I never could get it just right, because in true Grandma form, she has no recipe…she makes it by feel.

    This is the perfect pie crust.  I. am. not. kidding.  It’s just like Grandma’s.

    Recipe from the November 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine.

    Ingredients:

    • 12 TBSP very cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
    • 3 c. all-purpose flour
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/3 c. very cold vegetable shortening
    • 1/2 c. ice water

    Directions:

    1. Cut the butter in 1/2 inch dice and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture.
    2. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix
    3. Add the butter and shortening.  Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas.  With the machine running, pour ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
    4. Dump onto a floured board and roll into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (if refrigerate longer be sure to let it warm up a bit before you try and roll the dough out).
    5. Cut the dough in half.  Roll each piece on a well floured board into a circle at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so it doesn’t stick to the board. You should see bits of butter int he dough.  Fold the dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all an unfold to fit the pan.
    6. With a small paring knife, cut the dough 1 inch larger around the pan.  Fold the ed under and crimp the edge with either your fingers or the tines of a fork.
    7. Makes 2 (9-11 inch) crusts.

    Perfect Pie Crust:

    5star

     

  • Crockpot Steak and Black Bean Chili

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    Oh how we love this chili, and by we I mean all 4 of us!  Even the pickiest, who generally won’t eat chili, ate this up (granted she just ate the big chunks of steak, but at least she ate it rather than turning her nose up)!

    This is a true Crockpot chili, and I love that this dish actually cooks all day.  Start it in the morning and 8-10 hours later, dinner is ready!  Definitely can’t beat that for a busy weeknight delicious and hearty dinner.

    Serve with Grandma Clark’s cornbread.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 lbs. boneless beef cubes, for stew
    • 2 heaping tsp. chili powder
    • 1 heaping tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 heaping tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 large green pepper, chopped
    • 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans
    • 2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans chili-style chopped tomatoes
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • sour cream
    • shredded cheddar cheese

    Directions:

    1. Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes.
    2. Place beef in slow cooker and turn it on low.
    3. Sprinkle the chili powder, garlic powder and cumin over the meat.
    4. Add onion and green pepper.
    5. Drain and rinse the cans of beans and add them to the slow cooker.
    6. Add tomatoes and sugar.
    7. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
    8. Uncover and sir in the tomato paste.
    9. Season with salt and pepper
    10. Garnish with sour cream and cheddar cheese

    Crockpot Steak and Black Bean Chili:

    5star

  • Skillet Italian Chicken and Pasta

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    Oh my, this is so delicious and so easy…definitely company worthy.  The chicken is so moist and flavorful!  We had leftover pasta (no chicken…it was all devoured), so on another night I reheated the pasta and cooked up some chicken sausage to go along with it.  I cooked up some additional sauce to go along with the leftovers…great 2 meal dinner!

    Ingredients:

    • 12 oz. bow-tie pasta
    • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
    • 16 – 24 oz. skinless chicken breasts, sliced
    • 1 TBSP + 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
    • salt to taste
    • 1 whole medium onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 c. chicken broth
    • 1 jar pasta sauce
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, if desired
    • 1/2 c. ricotta
    • 1 c. mozzarella, grated
    • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
    • 12 basil leaves, chopped
    • Extra cheeses and basil for serving

    Directions:

    1. Prepare pasta according to directions on box.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and 1 TBSP of Italian seasoning. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown. Remove the chicken to a plate.
    3. Add onions and garlic to the same skillet and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add broth, then scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen the bits. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to let the broth reduce.
    4. Add marinara sauce, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes (if using), then simmer for 10 minutes.
    5. Turn off the heat and add the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, cooked and drained pasta, and basil. Add the cooked chicken on top. Toss to combine, then add more of any of the above ingredients until the sauce is just how you like it.
    6. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan and a little basil on top.

    Skillet Italian Chicken and Pasta:

    5star

  • Baked Chicken Parmesan

    There is absolutely no frying involved in this recipe…it is so easy….and so delicious.  It’s definitely a healthier version of traditional chicken parmesan and no one misses the hassle or the extra calories of the traditional version.  The croutons give this dish the breading of the traditional version, and since I use fat free croutons, none of the guilt.   The kiddos devoured this meal!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
    • 1 (3-oz.) package fat free croutons, divided
    • 1 jar of pasta sauce, divided
    • 1/4 c. chopped basil
    • 8 oz. mozzarella, shredded , divided
    • 4 oz. Parmesan, grated , divided

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*
    2. In a 9 x 13 pan, add olive oil and garlic; then add the chicken and sprinkle with salt and ½ tsp. of Italian seasoning.  Crush ½ of the croutons and sprinkle over chicken; then cover chicken with 2/3 of the jar of sauce.  Add remaining Italian seasoning and chopped basil.  Then add 4 oz. of shredded mozzarella and 2 oz. of grated Parmesan; then spread remaining sauce over the cheese.  Top with remaining croutons and remaining cheese.
    3. Bake for 35 minutes or until done.

    Baked Chicken Parmesan:

     

     

  • TT’s Salsa

    We had some friends over the other night for taco/nacho bar, and TT (9 yo) wanted to make a salsa, so he researched online and printed out a recipe.  We adapted the recipe to what we had on hand, and it was so good, and we’ll definitely make this one again.  This recipe makes a lot of salsa, so you might want to halve the recipe.

    Recipe adapted from Food Network.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans of fire roasted tomatoes
    • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans of Mexican stewed tomatoes
    • 1/2 c. cilantro
    • 1/2 onion
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed
    • 1/4 tsp. cumin
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp. sugar
    • 1 lime, juiced

    Directions:

    1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are combined and the salsa is at a consistency you like.
    2. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
    3. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

    TT’s Salsa:

     

     

  • Restaurant Mexican Rice

    I love Mexican rice, and this is one of the best Mexican rices I’ve ever had.  It’s so flavorful and really tastes like rice you’d get at a Mexican restaurant.

    Adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1/2 whole large onion, chopped
    • 2 c. rice
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 (10 oz.) can mild Rotel tomatoes
    • 1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
    • 2 c. chicken broth, more if needed
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. salt

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
    2. Add onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
    3. Reduce heat to low and add rice and garlic. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t burn. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes.
    4. Add Ro-tel and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes.
    5. Finally, add broth, salt and cumin and stir together.
    6. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 additional minutes or until rice is done. Periodically mix the rice, and add more liquid as needed.

    Restaurant Mexican Rice:

     

     

  • French Toast Bake

    This is the perfect brunch dish or feed a crowd dish.  It is so delicious and so easy.  All the prep is the night before, and then you refrigerate overnight and pop it in the oven in the morning, and then pure yumminess!  Definite crowd pleaser.

    Original recipe from Rach’s Blog.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 c. melted butter (1 stick)
    • 1 c. brown sugar
    • 1 loaf Texas toast
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 1/2 c. milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 TBSP powdered sugar
    • Brown Sugar and Cinnamon ( step 6 )
    • White Sugar and Cinnamon ( step 8 )
    • Cooking Spray
    • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
    • Maple syrup (optional)
    Directions:
    1. Melt butter in microwave & add brown sugar….stir till mixed.
    2. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray
    3. Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9 x 13 pan….spread around
    4. Beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and 1 TBSP powdered sugar
    5. Lay single layer of Texas Toast in pan
    6. Spoon 1/2 of egg mixture on bread layer and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon
    7. Add 2nd layer of Texas Toast
    8. Spoon on remaining egg mixture, lightly spread butter on the bread, and then sprinkle with white sugar and cinnamon
    9. Cover & chill in fridge overnight
    10. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (covered for the first 30 minutes)
    11. Sprinkle with powdered sugar
    12. Serve with warm maple syrup
    French Toast Bake:
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  • Red Chile Sauce Chicken Enchiladas

    These enchiladas are so yummy and definitely restaurant quality.  Definitely craveable.  I like my enchiladas heavily sauced so the only change to the original recipe is to double the sauce.  Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium onion, chopped fine
    • 2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine (optional-I didn’t use)
    • 2 tsp. canola oil
    • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 TBSP. chili powder
    • 4 tsp. ground cumin
    • 6 tsp. sugar
    • 4 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
    • 2 c. water
    • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large chicken breasts)
    • 1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    • 1 c. shredded Monterey jack cheese
    • 1/2 c. minced fresh cilantro
    • 12 (6-inch) soft corn or flour tortillas (fajita-size for flour tortillas)
    • cooking spray
    • salt and ground black pepper

    Directions:

    1. In a large saucepan, combine the onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer.
    2. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts you are using. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside to cool. Continue to simmer the sauce over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
    3. Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the leftover onion mixture from the strainer to a large bowl and set aside.
    4. Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onion mixture in the large bowl. Also stir in 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese and the cilantro. Toss to combine.
    5. Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Spread the tortillas on a clean work surface, and spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.
    6. Heat oven to 400 F. Pour 1/2 of the enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through.
    7. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
    8. Serve with remaining enchilada sauce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, additional cilantro, if desired.

    Rec Chile Sauce Chicken Enchiladas:

     

     

  • Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

    This quinoa salad was a big hit (even the kids liked it!) and a crowd pleaser.  Recipe is adapted from the July/August 2013 Splash magazine.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. uncooked quinoa
    • 2 c. water
    • 1 shallot, diced
    • 1 lemon, squeezed
    • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 2 c. cucumber, diced
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 c. crumbled feta
    • 20 kalamata olives (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Bring water to boil; then add the dry quinoa.  Place lid on pot and reduce heat to a simmer and heat for 12 minutes, or until done.
    2. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
    3. Combine shallots through salt and pepper with the cooled quinoa.  Top with feta and olives.

    Mediterranean Quinoa Salad: