Cheese

Cheddar Chicken

This is a great child friendly recipe that is also sure to impress the adults at the table.  Seriously who doesn't love cheese & crackers?  

Prep Time is about 30 minutes so it's great for busy Moms, cook time is 35 minutes and it serves 3 adults comfortably.  I recommend serving with your favorite vegetables and cous cous.

Ingredients:

1 package of chicken (3 breasts)

2 gallon sized freezer bags

1 1/2 teaspoons Braggs Amino Acids OR 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pinot Grigio Vinegar

1 egg

30 Ritz crackers

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons butter

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Trim your chicken and cuts the breasts in half (not filleted) and put them in a gallon sized freezer bag.

3. Add Braggs, vinegar and egg.  Seal the bag and make sure you've squeezed the air out.

4. Squish the marinade thoroughly in the bag.  Using a kitchen mallet, flatten the breasts so that they are about 3/4 of an inch thick and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

5. While the chicken marinades, fill the other plastic zippered bag with Ritz crackers.  Use a rolling pin to turn the crackers into crumbs.  Pour onto a plate, add cheese and toss with fork.

6. Dip each chicken breast into the cracker and cheese mixture and place onto a lightly sprayed pan.  The bottom doesn't need to be thickly coated, just the top.  Sprinkle remaining mixture onto the breasts.

7. Sprinkle minced garlic and pour melted butter across the breasts.

8. Bake for 35 minutes.

Serves 3

On a side note, I usually skip the butter and just spray with a little olive oil to make the crust stick but last night I treated the family to a little extra fat and boy did it go over well.  I believe my husbands response was, "Dang Baby, this is awesome!  What did you do different?"  While there are ways to "health" this recipe up, it sure is fun AS IS!

Empanadas: A Mexican Tradition

An empanada is basically a turnover. They are a classic item in the Hispanic culture and can be sweet or savory. Fillings range from fruit to meat and are a part of the holidays as well as a regular menu item in many Hispanic kitchens. Our granddaughter Ava is fortunate to have both German and Mexican heritage and we spent an afternoon keeping her connected with her 'latina side' by preparing empanadas to leave for Santa. The original recipe came from my Aunt Mercy's kitchen and I adapted it to decrease the fat content. I'm giving you both recipes so you can choose the one that best suites your taste.

Ingredients:

All Purpose flour

cream cheese

butter

cinnamon, sugar mix

your choice of fruit filling

Mercy's Marvelous Empanadas

(makes about 6 dz. mini-empanadas)

4c flour

8 oz. cream cheese

4 sticks butter or margarine

 

Yvonne's Less Fatty Empanadas

(makes about 3 dz mini-empanadas)

2c flour

1/2 c reduced fat cream cheese

1 stick butter

In a bowl, blend room-temperature cream cheese and butter together until well mixed. Next, add flour, about 1/2c  at a time until you've used all the flour. Refrigerate for 2 hours. ( This is imperative with the original recipe. It will be sticky and hard to work with if you don't refrigerate.)

Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough out like a pie crust. The stem of a wine glass made it easy for little hands

to help with the work.

 Spoon the filling ( about 1 t for a 4-5in. circle) in the center then fold over and use a fork to seal edges.( We used pineapple filling.) I recommend  you brush the bottom edge with a little water to help the dough stick and prevent bursting open when heated.

 Place in the oven @  350 ˚for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle

with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and a perfect place to get to know each other better or iron out differences. We can share family history, build memories and if we allow ourselves, in the midst of mouth-watering aromas, make ourselves vulnerable to one another, leaving a Fingerprint in each others lives.

Practically Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite family Christmas morning traditions was waking up to the smell of fresh Cinnamon Rolls (not unlike the recipe below :).  Several years ago, my mom and her friend packed all of us kids up and took us to the mall where they watched through the glass window at the Cinnabon shop until they learned all the tricks of the trade! Every year after that we've woken up to fresh, gooey, homemade Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning. Now THAT makes a home.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
 Directions
  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

This recipe was taken from All Recipes website. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

  I don't know about you, but this time of year is when I get the itch to bake! Expecially with ingredients like pumpkin! Here is a really simple recipe I found on Heidi's Recipes that you can make for your friends and family, or even better WITH your friends and family! (Don't forget to set aside a few of these decadent treats for yourself!)

Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls

1 Spice Cake Mix
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (low-fat or regular)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  3. Combine dry cake mix and pumpkin puree.  Beat on medium speed until fully combined.  Mixture will be thick.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and smooth surface.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is slightly browned.
  6. Cool cake completely.
  7. Crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl.  Break up the cake with your hands or two forks until fine crumbs appear.  Add the softened cream cheese, mixing well with a large wooden spoon or your hands until mixture is fully combined.
  8. Roll cake and cream cheese mixture into small balls (about 1 Tablespoon per ball).  Set aside.
  9. Melt almond bark in double boiler or microwave.
  10. Using two forks, dip each ball into the melted almond bark and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Adorn with sprinkles.

The Gift of Hospitality

As a child growing up on a farm in Southwest Georgia, it was not uncommon for family and friends to drop in for an unexpected visit.  It was also not uncommon for my mother to greet them at the door with a smile on her face and say:  “Ya’ll come on in. Now, ya’ll just sit down and talk to Roy, (my daddy) and I will have supper ready in one hour.” And as they would say in Georgia:  “You can bet your sweet britches that in one hour flat, a spread would be on her table --- three vegetables, 2 meats, macaroni and cheese, and oh yeah, fried corn bread.”  Guests would remark:  “I never met anybody that could whip up that much vittles in such a short period of time.”

What amazed me was that Mother never sat down to eat with her guests.  She was up serving them --- filling their tea glasses before it got empty, and continuously saying:  “Ya’ll eat now, you hear!”  “I’ve got plenty more food left in the pots in the kitchen.”

And then there were the holidays. “Oh, my goodness!”  She baked tons of finger-licking goodies and cakes on top of cakes.  My mother could have put Paula Deen to shame!  After the death of my daddy, she sometimes remarked:  “I’d love to get a job as a hostess at a restaurant.”  “I just love greeting people.”

Yes, Mother definitely has The Gift of Hospitality.

What do we mean by “The Gift of Hospitality”?  Rather than define this gift, it is easier to describe it.  People with this gift:

  1. provide an environment where people feel valued and cared for
  2. meet new people and help them to feel welcomed
  3. create a comfortable setting where relationships can develop
  4. set people at ease in unfamiliar surroundings
  5.  friendly, outgoing, trusting, sociable and relational caring
  6. they are the greeters at church, the potluck host, hospitality dinner team leader   (Adapted from Cyber-Space Ministries)

In the book of Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians, various gifts are listed that God has given us.  However, 1 Peter 4:7-10 specifically calls out for HOSPITALITY.

The end of all things is near.  Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  [NIV]

During this upcoming holiday season, the people with the Gift of Hospitality are about to “kick it up a notch,” as the famous chef, Emeril would say.  They don’t mind - - -they love it!  My Pastor, David Berkeheimer, says:  “the gift God has placed within an individual is the one they use with a minimum of effort, a maximum of joy, and with a maximum effectiveness.”

Back to my Mother:  She is 87 years old now, and her body no longer allows her to serve the way it once did.  Often I hear her say:  “It just kills me that I can’t cook up a big meal like I used to and have a crowd of people sitting around my table.”  That, my friend, is The Gift of Hospitality that is still in her heart.  Once God gives you a gift, no matter what it is, the passion for it never leaves you because that was the way He created you to serve others and bring honor to Him.

I just know that when Mother gets to heaven, she is going to be standing at the Pearly Gates waiting for all her family and friends to arrive.  I can just hear her saying:

“Ya’ll come on in. Now ya’ll sit here and talk to Jesus, and I will have supper ready in one hour.”

Tomatillo: Do It Your Way

Tomatillo is commonly known as a green tomato ( in spanish, tomate verde). It is small and covered by an inedible  paper- textured husk and it's flavor is wonderfully tart. My non-Hispanic friends, like Jennifer and Sheri frequently order Enchiladas Verdes ( enchiladas with a green sauce)  when we eat dine at Mexican restaurants so I thought I would just figure out how to make them myself. I've created a recipe for tomatillo salsa which can be eaten with chips or used as the base for the salsa verde in my rendition of  enchiladas verdes.

Don't blink your eyes or you'll miss the  one and only direction for ...

Simply, Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients

18-20 roasted tomatillos

2 roasted Serrano peppers (seeded)

2 cloves garlic

½ t. sugar

1 t salt

½ c cilantro

2T scallions

Put all ingredients in the food processor and puree. The tomatillo has a muted color and the specks of cilantro are bright. This salsa is great looking because of the contrast.

* You can prepare the sauce on the weekend and keep refrigerated until you're ready to make the enchiladas.

Serve it with chips and watch it disappear or keep on going and treat your family to:

Enchiladas Verdes Esquisitos

(Exquisite Green Enchiladas)

Ingredients

1 doz. corn tortillas

21/2 c  cubed cooked chicken

1/2 c white wine or water

8 oz sour cream

1 T cornstarch

salt

2 c  grated white cheese of your choice (Mozarella, Monterrey Jack, pre-packaged Pizza or Italian Blend)

Reserve 1/2 c cheese

 

Heat tortillas on a hot griddle to make them soft and pliable. Fill each tortilla with 2 T chicken and 1 heaping T of cheese. Roll and line them up in a  9x13 baking dish. Cover and place in oven @ 325 while you prepare the sauce.

                                  

Sauce

Heat tomatillo sauce and add ½ c. white wine or water. When sauce is heated through, add  1 t salt. Place ¼ c  sauce into a small bowl and add 1 T cornstarch. Mix through.  Return to stove and add to saucepan  allowing  sauce to thicken and bubble. Add 8 oz. sour cream and stir until sauce is creamy. Remove from heat when it begins to bubble. Pull enchiladas out of the oven and pour sauce over them. Sprinkle remaining ½ c of cheese and serve immediately.

My family thinks these are dreamy!!

Hotcakes for the 4th - Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!

  Happy 4th of July!!! If you're scrambling around trying to find a fun recipe to bring to the BBQ, this Fourth of July Cupcake recipe may be just the thing! Taken from Baking Bites these cupcakes are as cute as they are delicious! Enjoy :)

Fourth of July Cupcakes 2 large eggs 1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine) 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam (optional) 1 tbsp blueberry preserves (optional) red food coloring blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, melted butter and vanilla extract until smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk just until batter is smooth. Take out two small bowls and place 3/4 cup batter into each one. Add 1 tbsp jam and red food coloring to first bowl and whisk to incorporate. Add 1 tbsp blueberry preserves and blue food coloring to second bowl and whisk to combine. Add additional food coloring (batter should be very brightly colored, use at least 15 drops of each color minimum) as needed until desired color is reached. Divide red batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Divide blue batter evenly into muffin cups, centering it on top of the red batter (do not attempt to smooth it out!). Divide remaining white batter evenly (again, do not attempt to smooth it out!). Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 6-oz cream cheese, room temperature 1/4 cup butter, room temperature 1 1/2-2 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well-combined.  Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar until the mixture reaches a thick easy-to-spread consistency. If you prefer stiffer icing, add a little extra confectioners’ sugar. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

Connect to the Future

Whether consciously or subconsciously,women imitate other women. We draw from those we admire and those who take time to teach us . The best way to  "become who we are created to be" is to be led by our mothers and sisters. We might be biologically connected to these women or they might be people whose paths have crossed with ours  any place in the world. As a woman with a gift or talent (we all have them), we can then teach and lead others.  In our family, cooking and eating are  times to link generations and we begin to teach the culinary arts early in a child's life.  

 

 

Today is no exception as my daughter Kala and granddaughter Ava prepared a quick and easy summer appetizer.

 

 

Fresh Fig Appetizer

Ingredients

8 fresh figs

1/4c. honey or blue agave sweetener

1 fresh lime

cracked pepper corns

goat cheese

 

First, mix  the juice of one lime with the honey or blue agave.

 

 

Next, slice the figs in half (Ava is given a spreader and a couple of figs). Fill each fig-half with  1t. of goat cheese. Arrange figs on serving plate and drizzle the sweetener over them. Finish off with fresh cracked pepper.

 

While it takes a little time and patience to include a little one in food preparations, gardening or whatever it is that you do well, the payoff is great. Legacy is established, mentorship is birthed and trust binds lives together.

Time and love connect us to the future.

Basil-Cilantro Pesto

It's quick! It's easy! It's healthy and more than anything, it's DELICIOUS! Pesto is a sauce that can be added to pasta, used as a topping on pizza  and today it's featured in Pesto Chicken Salad. Traditional pesto ingredients include basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. We're shaking it up a little and melding the sweet taste of basil with the fragrant mix of  parsley and citrus found in cilantro.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 c. fresh basil

1 c. cilantro (no stems)

1/3 c. walnuts

1 large clove garlic

1/3 c. Romano or Parmesan cheese (Romano is a little stronger)

1/4-1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

pinch of kosher salt

 

 

First of all, run the walnuts through your processor.

 

 

Next, add the basil, cilantro, minced garlic, cheese, salt, and drizzle a little oil in the processor. Pulse and add oil. Repeat until it takes the form of a thick paste.

 

 

Chop 2 c. of chicken (what you see above is the last of a rotisserie chicken) and add some chopped black olives and the pesto. Because I like texture, I added some minced celery as an afterthought. Blanched almonds would also work. They would add texture, taste and visually change the look of the salad.

 

 

 

This Chicken Pesto Salad is whipped up in about 15 min. and served on a toasted baguette or crackers.

 

 

Simply Strawberry Valentine Cupcakes

If you're looking for a "hit" at home, work or party, this recipe is it! People will beg for you to share your secret. The following recipe is a shortened version from Cupcakes from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn. Mix the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer and pour 1/3c. batter  into cupcake liner and bake for 20-25 min. @ 350.

  • 1 pkg. (18.25 oz) plain white cake mix
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz) strawberry gelatin
  • 1 c. finely chopped fresh strawberries with juice, from 11/2c. whole berries
  • 3/4c. milk
  • 3/4c. vegetable oil
  • 4 large  eggs

Prepare Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup fresh ripe strawberries, rinsed, capped, and mashed to make ½ cup, then drained well
  • ½ cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut, thawed
  • ½ cup of chopped pecans

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the sugar and drained strawberries.  Blend the frosting on low until the sugar has been incorporated.  Then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.

Frost those pink babies and enjoy!!