Pastry Chicken a la King

My first recipe after a somewhat long hiatus is my perfect definition of updated comfort food. These mini Chicken a la Kings are kind of like potpies (minus the pie crust). They are so cute and sooo delicious. I actually ate mine standing in the kitchen because I couldn’t wait to get to the table. And if you run out of pastry shells, the filling is yummy by itself as left overs. I’ve been trying to add more veggies to my diet, and this recipe also checked that box. It has peppers, peas, celery and mushrooms.

But don’t just take my word that this is a keeper; I definitely recommend trying it for yourself!

Pasty Chicken a la King (from May 2013 Taste of Home Magazine)

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Ingredients:

1 – 10 oz package frozen puff pastry shells

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk (original recipe calls for 2%, but I used skim to keep it a little lighter)

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

1. Bake the pastry shells according to the package directions.

2. While baking shells, in a large skillet heat butter over medium-high heat. Sauté the mushrooms, red pepper, celery and onion until tender.

3. Stir flour into vegetables until blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.

4. In a small bowl, mix egg yolks and cream. Stir in a small amount of hot veggie mixture into egg yolk mixture; return all to the pan, stirring constantly.

5. Add lemon juice, salt, paprika and pepper; cook and stir over low heat for 2 minutes or until thickened.

6. Add chicken and peas; he alt through.

7. Pull out the centers of the pastry shells and fill with chicken mixture. (This was my favorite step because I ate like half of the centers. They were DELISH!!)

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The Best Thing I’ve Ever Baked!

Last Thursday was not only Valentine’s Day, it was also my fiancé’s birthday. His only birthday request was that I bake him a treat to bring to work. Of course, I had no problem with that. He gave me about a week’s notice, so I had a little time to do some research and run some ideas past him. The cupcake we decided on was a combination of three things on my Pinterest Recipe Board, which resulted in vanilla cream stuffed Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream.

Since these cupcakes are filled and the cakes and buttercream are completely homemade, baking the double batch for Bob took several hours (this includes baking and cool time). But all the hard work was worth the “A++” text I received Thursday night and hearing that all 24 cupcakes were devoured.

And even though I didn’t get to eat one of the actual cupcakes, I was able to get a little taste. I kept the cores of the cupcakes and used the extra filling and buttercream to create bite size samples. I do believe that these were the best cupcakes I’ve ever made and maybe the best I’ve ever eaten!

Vanilla Cream Stuffed Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

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The cupcake itself comes from Just Putzing Around the Kitchen. Her original recipe includes a Nutella buttercream, which I’m sure would be super tasty. But, one of the guys Bob works with can’t eat chocolate. So that is where the idea for a strawberry buttercream came in (recipe from Blissfully Delicious). Plus, the pink made them festive for Valentine’s day. This recipe doesn’t call for a filling either, but that was a special request by the birthday boy (original filling recipe).

Strawberry Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients:

– 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp table salt
– 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
– 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 2 large eggs.
– 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 12 strawberries, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners

2. In a large bowl, beat softened butter, yogurt, eggs and vanilla until smooth

3. Slowly stir in dry ingredients until completely incorporated

4. Gently mix in chopped strawberries

5. Divid batter among muffin cups until each is about 2/3 full

6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tops are pale gold and springy

7. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely

8. Once cool, core each cupcakes and store centers in a container in the fridge

9. While cupcakes are cooling, make the filling

10. Fill each cupcake and top with strawberry buttercream

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Vanilla Pudding Filling

Ingredients:

1 package instant vanilla pudding and 1 container cool whip

Directions:

1. Mix pudding with half the milk called for

2. Fold in cool whip

Strawberry Buttercream

Ingredients:

– 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
– 4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
– 1/4 cup fresh strawberry puree (puree whole strawberries in food processor or blender)
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Cream the butter

2. Add in the sugar one cup at a time and beat until just blended

3. Add the strawberry puree and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes

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Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Yesterday, Bob and I watched probably close to 6 hours of the Cooking Channel. And besides one show called Little Paris Kitchen, which of course made me want to move to France ASAP, it seemed all the shows were about food trucks. At first all these shows made me jealous that I don’t live in a big city where food trucks line the street with food ranging from grilled cheese to foie gras sliders to mini pies. But then, I got inspired to try and cook some of the dishes that caught my eye. One of the dishes that made my mouth water was at a burger truck that made cheese stuffed burgers. As I watched people cut their burgers in half and saw the ooey gooey cheese, I turned to Bob and said, “We have to make those tomorrow for dinner!” So we did.

There really isn’t a recipe for this dish, and the idea isn’t earth shattering. You just need hamburger, seasoning, cheese, buns and your favorite toppings.We kept ours very classic with cheddar, but you could really stuff your burger with any kind of cheese.

To shape the patties we used a large circle cookie cutter, but it’s not necessary. If you do have something to shape them, simply fill  it half way with seasoned ground hamburger, add the cheese and another layer of hamburger, then grill. We used our handy dandy George Foreman since it was snowing/sleeting in Green Bay.

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To give the burgers even more flavor, Bob added a little garlic butter to the buns and toasted them on the George Foreman too.

The burgers looked great, but the best view was definitely when I cut mine open! And for some reason, the burgers tasted better with the cheese in the middle compared to just being on top.

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Crab Lasagna and Nutella Cheesecake

This weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a while. On Saturday Bob and I had our engagement photos. We started at the Green Bay Courthouse for some super classy inside photos. The rainy and cloudy weather almost ruined the second part of the day… outside photos, but just as we were leaving the courthouse, the sun started to peak out. For outdoor photos, Bob and I were hoping to have some snow since it is January. But our photographer found this forest/park that was just beautiful even without snow. The photographer posted a sneak peak of our photos on her Facebook page, and I CAN NOT WAIT to see the rest of the photos!

All the love, picture taking and wedding talk put me a happy, love-drunk kind of mood, so I decided to make a yummy dinner and dessert for Bob and me. For dinner, I combined our love of crab with our love of lasagna with these delicious crab lasagna rolls.Then for dessert I made a super easy, super yummy no bake Nutella cheesecake. One of the main reasons I chose this dessert was because I wanted to be able to use the dessert cups I got for Christmas.

Crab Lasagna Rolls (originally from Turtleheart Cove)

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Ingredients:

8 lasagna noodles

Tomato sauce (at least 26 oz)

8 ounces crab meat (real or imitation)

1 1/4 cup cottage cheese (drained)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1 egg
Directions:

1. Cook the noodles according to package directions, until al dente. If you overcook them, they will be too mushy to roll.

2. While the noodles cook, mix the crab meat, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, onion powder and egg.

3. When the noodles are done, drain and lay out on waxed paper.

4. Spread about 1/4 cup of the crab mixture onto each noodle. Leave about an inch on the end and don’t fill too full, so the filling doesn’t ooze out when you roll them.

5. Gently roll up and place in a baking sheet seam side down. Don’t roll too tightly or push down on the rolls to prevent the filling from falling out.

5. Cover in tin foil and cook at 375˚for about 30 minutes.

I didn't cut the crab up too much, so we would get these nice big bites.

I didn’t cut the crab up too much, so we would get these nice big bites.

No Bake Nutella Cheesecake (originally from Andy & Bell)

These dessert is very tasty, but also very filling. Bob and I could have easily shared one.

These dessert is very tasty, but also very filling. Bob and I could have easily shared one.

The original recipe called for Belgium Butters Almond Thins, but I couldn’t find these at my grocery store (I knew I should have gone to Woodman’s today; they have everything…usually). So I just used 15 Oreos. If you do know where to get some Almond Thins, the recipe is 5 Oreos and 10 almond thins.

Ingredients:

Crust-

15 Oreos, crushed

3 tablespoons melted butter

Filling-

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup Nutella

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

whipped cream (I used about 3/4 of a container of cool whip)

Directions:

1. Mixed together the cookie crumbles and the butter; press onto the bottom of your serving dishes.

2. Beat the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth, then add the vanilla and beat about a minute more.

3. Fold in the whip cream with a spatula.

4. Divide the filling among your serving dishes and cool until set (and ready to eat).


Easy BBQ and Ranch Chicken Pizza

Today was a good day. Why? Because my first issue of Bon Appétit (BA) magazine arrived! The subscription was a St. Nick gift from Bob, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting its arrival for a month now. And not only has it finally arrived, but it’s also the cooking school issue—teaching basic cooking techniques like pan roasting, braising and even making homemade stock. As I flipped through it, I marked pages of recipes I can’t wait to try and even what occasions I might make them for. The chocolate buttermilk cake with chocolate-pecan icing would be perfect for Bob’s upcoming birthday.

But with exotic ingredients such as Dungeness crab for a delicious sounding Crab Toast or flounder fillets to go with the Fennel-Tomato Sauce, also comes the thought “where am I going to find this in Green Bay?” So, as I make my foray into the gourmet recipes of BA , hopefully, I’ll stumble upon some great local places to buy the ingredients. Here’s hoping…

From the fancy pages of BA to the more everyday-cook pages of Taste of Home, I’m sharing a recipe for an easy BBQ & ranch chicken pizza. One of the reasons I selected this recipe was because it uses ranch dressing. Bob LOVES ranch and especially on his pizza. So this recipe eliminated his need to add it on the side since it’s already in the sauce. He did have one minor complaint though. Bob wasn’t a huge fan of the crescent crust; it was too buttery for him. I love crescents, so I liked it. But I’m sure a refrigerated tube of pizza dough (or maybe even a refrigerated tube of french bread) would work perfectly.

BBQ & Ranch Chicken Pizza (from December/January Taste of Home Magazine)

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Ingredients:

2 tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls

1/2 cup hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce, divided

1/4 cup ranch salad dressing (Bob and my preference is Hidden Valley Original)

3 cups cooked and cut up chicken breasts

2 cups shredded pizza cheese

Directions:

1. Press the crescent rolls onto the bottom and sides of a 15 in. x 10 in. baking sheet. Bake at 375˚ for 10 minutes.

2. Mix 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce and the ranch; spread over crust.

3. Toss the cooked chicken with the remaining 1/4 BBQ sauce and arrange on the crust.

4. Top with the cheese.

5. Bake 15 – 20 minutes for until cheese is nice and melted.

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Pork Tenderloin with Zesty Italian Sauce

The recipe I chose for tonight’s dinner was perfect. I wanted something easy that I didn’t have to slave over. Especially since my whole body is sore from my ballet class on Monday (the first after 2 whole weeks off of being lazy and eating too much holiday food). So I found something in the Quick Fix section of my December/January Taste of Home Magazine. This issue’s quick fix recipes were all about 5 ingredients or less (not including salt and pepper) and based on the idea of making basic’s better. This dish used a pork tenderloin, white wine, canola oil, butter and zesty Italian dressing. And the “quick fix” part lived up to it’s title; from start to table, I’d say it took about 25 minutes.

Pork Tenderloin with Zesty Italian Sauce (from Taste of Home)

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Ingredients:

1 pound pork tenderloin

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup zesty Italian dressing

1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

1. Cut the pork tenderloin into 8 slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. In a large skillet, brown both sides of the pork slices in canola oil. Remove from pan; the centers of the slices will still be red/pink.

3. Add the white wine to the pan and stir to loosen up browned bits. Boil until liquid is reduced by half.

4. Stir in the dressing. Cook until slightly thickened.

5. Return pork to pan. Cover and simmer for 3- 5 minutes or until pork reachers 145 degrees. (Mine took about 8 minutes, but I also had a 1.5 tenderloin).

6. Stir in the butter and let rest for 5 minutes.

I served the pork with a simple salad and a glass of the leftover wine—the best reason to cook with it!


Cheesy Egg and Potato Dinner

IT HAS BEEN AGES. The past couple months have been crazy. We’ve been super busy at work, which has left me exhausted when I come home for the night. And I got engaged!!! So of course I’ve been pinning and planning and pinning some more. But really there is no excuse. I haven’t stopped cooking, so I’ve had plenty of recipes to share, and I didn’t get rid of my camera. In fact, I got a new lens for Christmas. So… my New Year’s resolution is to blog more!

For my first blog of 2013 (and since early November), I’m going to share a recipe from a recent Taste of Home magazine. This baked cheddar eggs and potatoes was easy to make, and it’s breakfast for dinner—always one of my favs! It was hearty enough to fill you up for dinner, and it tasted just as good reheated this morning for my breakfast.

Just as a note, this recipe calls for an ovenproof skillet. I don’t have one, so when it came time to pop it in the oven, I transferred it to a casserole dish. It created more dishes, but saving the plastic handle on my non-stick skillet was worth the added hand washing.

Baked Cheddar Eggs and Potatoes (from the December/January issue of Taste of Home)

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Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 eggs

1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a 10-inched ovenproof skillet (or regular skillet), melt butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook until golden brown and tender, stirring often.

2. Stir in the parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.

3. With a spook, create four wells in the potato mixture; put two eggs into each well.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until egg whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. If you used a regular skillet, at this point you’ll want to transfer to an oven proof dish.

5. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for an additional minute or until cheese is melted. I definitely used more than the 1/2 cup called for, so use as much or as little as you want!

A close up—look at the ooey gooey cheese!

A close up—look at the ooey gooey cheese!