Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Turkey Cheddar Ranch Quesadillas



I love these easy peasy crunchy quesadillas for lunch anytime! Crisped tortillas filled with warm, gooey cheese some bacon and turkey, and drizzled with Ranch dressing? Yes please!


Change up the cheese and lunch meat however you prefer, or add some tasty fresh tomato to the filling, or diced and sprinkled on top (and / or avocado - yumm)! This is a great base to work with. The ranch works well with the turkey and cheese in this easy lunch. It's pretty much a quesadilla version of one of my favorite wrap sandwiches.



Turkey Cheddar Ranch Quesadillas

Ingredients
2 tortillas
2 slices turkey lunch meat
1-2 TBS real bacon pieces
2 slices American cheese, both cut in half
Ranch - for drizzling / dipping

Directions
  1. Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray, or pour a little bit of oil, or throw a pat of butter in there (you get the idea)!
  2. Lay one tortilla down in the pan; arrange half of the cheese on the tortilla (spread out a little to cover as much of the tortilla as possible), then layer on the lunch meat (cut into strips to make it fit as desired / needed).
  3. Sprinkle bacon pieces over, and top with remaining cheese. Add final tortilla to cover. Cook the bottom tortilla for about 2 minutes, or until cheese has melted and tortilla is golden brown (if it's cooking too quickly / too hot, reduce heat).
  4. Carefully flip quesadilla over and cook the other side for an additional 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and that side is browned as well.
  5. Place on a cutting board and slice into wedges, plate, and then drizzle with Ranch dressing.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Swanson's Ramen Chicken Noodle Soup


As part of the August Swanson campaign for the AllRecipes Allstars, I was sent 2 cartons of Swanson's delicious broth to use in any of their delicious recipes on AllRecipes and saved a LOT of them to try in the near future. I chose to make two of them right away - this yummy chicken noodle soup, and this mashed potato recipe which I'll be sharing soon.

I didn't have precooked chicken, so I chopped up a large chicken breast half and threw it in at the beginning of the recipe so it could simmer in the broth mixture and soak up all that delicious flavor.


This soup was perfect. Easy to throw together and consisting of pantry staple ingredients for the most part. I had a bag of mixed diced bell peppers in the freezer, so I tossed a handful of those in, in place of the called for red bell pepper. The broth is simple and delicious, with hints of the garlic and soy sauce. I used a reduced sodium Swanson broth, so added in a small sprinkling of the chicken flavored packet that came out of the ramen noodles I used for a touch more flavor. Taste test at the end and adjust as necessary for your family's preferences!

I found mine needed to simmer a little more than the amount of time called for to get the celery and carrot to the tenderness I was looking for. You may want to add more broth at the end as well, depending on how much simmers off during cooking, and how much the noodles absorb (and how "soupy" you want it)!

My baby girl loved this recipe - the noodles and the broth the very most though she did eat a few pieces of the veggies and chicken too. She slurped up probably half a cup of the broth and kept asking for more soup. I think this one is definitely a keeper!

Baby taste tester, extraordinaire!

Ramen Chicken Noodle Soup from Swanson on AllRecipes

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Certified Organic Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dash black pepper
1 medium carrot, sliced diagonally
1 stalk celery, sliced diagonally
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch-long strips
2 green onions, sliced diagonally
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces broken-up uncooked ramen noodles
1 cup cooked, shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast meat
Optional: add a small amount of chicken or oriental flavoring packets from the ramen noodles

Directions

  1. Heat the broth, soy sauce, ginger, black pepper, carrot, celery, red pepper, green onions and garlic in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil (if using raw chicken, add it at this stage).
  2. Stir the noodles and chicken in the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until the noodles are done and vegetables reach desired texture / tenderness.




Monday, August 24, 2015

#SecretRecipeClub ~ Veggie Lover's Pasta Salad


Welcome to the July, Group D, reveal day for Secret Recipe Club! I hope you will take a moment to visit the Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it is a wonderful group of food bloggers who are given a secret assignment of another member's blog each month and our goal is to pick ANYTHING from their blog to make and post about on our designated reveal day!

For the month of August, I was assigned to "Without Adornment" and immediately fell in love with the beautiful flowered background and the gorgeous soft colors of her photos for this recipe. Her blog header says "My Quest to Be Myself"... at this point in my life that phrase means a LOT to me... I am making some very big changes in my life for that purpose; to be myself, true to myself, honest with myself, trusting in and caring for myself. It's hard. It can be really, really painful to just be yourself sometimes. It doesn't seem like it should be that big of a deal, but it really can be and so I connected with this blog right away. Learn more about Bean here. You will find some very cool photos of her, and a particularly cute one of her and her hubby. She confesses her love of cooking and baking, and due to allergies / intolerances her recipes are typically gluten, egg, dairy, and refined sugar free. If you haven't read her about me page go check it out. I was very moved and may have wiped a tear or two away by the end.


I visited the Recipe Index, and immediately was drawn to the Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa - I have been wanting to make these at home for.ev.er!! I kept browsing and came across Homemade Applesauce, Strawberry Daiquiris (I've been wanting an excuse to buy some coconut rum), Pork Chop Stroganoff, Slow Cooker Lamb Stew, Swedish Meatball Stew, and this Veggie Lover's Pasta Salad... I want to try them all.

I opted for the veggie lover's pasta salad. I love, love pasta salad and it's such a great summer side dish. I tweaked to fit what I had on hand, and preferences (omitted artichokes and raw bell pepper and replaced with carrots and mushrooms, and subbed some mozzarella for the feta cheese). The dressing is light and fresh with lemon juice and simple spices, and this makes a perfect side dish or a great base to add meat to (like grilled chicken) for a one dish summery dinner! Delicious!


Vegetable Lover’s Pasta Salad adapted from Without Adornment

Ingredients
12-oz garden rotini noodles, uncooked
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into halves
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, julienned or diced into thin rounds
5 - 6 large mushrooms, rinsed and diced
3 cheese sticks, diced into small chunks
Optional: 1/2 cup diced salami chunks

Dressing ingredients
1/2 c. olive oil
3 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
2 - 3 TBS parsley
salt, pepper, other spices to taste

Directions
  1. Cook noodles until very al dente. Drain and rinse with lots of cold water.
  2. Add prepped vegetables and cheese to a large bowl, and add the noodles.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, prepare the dressing and whisk to combine until creamy.
  4. Pour dressing over salad and toss until coated, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  5. Put salad in fridge until ready to use; serve chilled.





Thursday, August 20, 2015

#BundtBakers ~ Sprinkled Jelly Donut Bundt Cake

 
This month the #BundtBakers are celebrating all things sprinkled, inside and out! Our wonderful host is Terri from: http://www.loveandconfections.com/.
 
BundtBakers

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.
 
 
When I saw this adorable "Sprinkled Jelly Donut Bundt Cake" I couldn't resist; I knew my kiddos would thoroughly approve and I thought it was a fun recipe. It's super simple and very moist and tender with the addition of the pudding mix and the yogurt. My 16-year old son had lots of fun "helping" to eat the cake pieces I carefully cut out for the jelly filling well.


My sweet girl will turn TWO years old on the 17th of next month... I cannot wrap my head around how fast the time has flown since she made her appearance into my life. I am exhausted pretty much all the time, completely in love, and as grateful as I can be. I also cannot believe I have an almost 2 year old and an almost 17 year old... the gap between them still blows my mind sometimes, but it's pretty special too watching them be siblings and enjoy and annoy each other. Lindsey loves to yell "KENT" as loud as she can when she's looking for him or right after I holler for him down the steps, and they pick on each other, and snuggle and play together too.


I actually ended up using some leftover raspberry sauce I'd made awhile back for some parfaits; I simmered the sauce down to thicken it up and it worked REALLY well as a "jelly filling" in this recipe. You can use pretty much any sort of jam / jelly filling that you like. Lindsey liked the filling a lot. It was still warm when I spread it into the cake middle, and she would put her finger in, taste test then tell me "good! hot!" and then do it again. :)


The warm glaze soaks into the cake adding to the sweetness and the moisture as well. It also makes a good surface to apply a liberal shaking of sprinkles to! Whatever glaze pools in the middle of the cake can be gently spooned back out and over the top again.

Here are this month's "Sprinkles" Bundts:

Sprinkled Jelly Donut Bundt Cake from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Ingredients
Cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
Small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
4 large eggs

Filling:
1 cup seedless raspberry jelly (use your favorite, any flavor will work)

Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 Tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray bundt pan generously with vegetable oil spray, then lightly coat with flour. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, combine cake ingredients. Beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat for 1 - 3 minutes, until thick and smooth. Pour batter in to bundt pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until cake is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Let cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then carefully turn onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
  4. Once cake is completely cool, carefully split in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Use a spoon to make a well in the center of the bottom half of the cake, about an inch wide and half an inch deep. The well should go in a circle in the middle of bottom half (this is to hold the jelly).
  5. Fill the well with jelly so that it is level with the cake. Replace the top half of cake.
  6. Mix glaze ingredients with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over cake, spreading to cover. Top with sprinkles.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Smothered Beef Burritos


I have been wanting to fix this recipe for awhile now and am so glad I finally made the time to prepare it. It is slightly labor / ingredient intensive up front, for preparing the spice blend, cooking up some rice, warming some beans, making the meat mixture, etc. Once you have your components prepared it comes together in a snap and bakes up saucy and deliciously cheesy in the oven!


This is very reminiscent of an enchilada - I think the biggest difference is the rice and beans in the filling mixture, and the fact that the red sauce is more of a gravy then a straight tomato sauce like I'm used to using in enchiladas. This sauce starts as a roux, so is thicker and has a different consistency then enchilada sauce. The spice blend in this recipe is fantastic - it really makes this dish special.


Today is Kent's first JROTC event at school - I am making a double batch of cornbread this morning to take over. Kent is an LE-3 this year; his 3rd year in JROTC and possibly his last, but we'll see. It is a tough class / program, but he really loves the group, and I can tell he feels proud of the accomplishments he achieves as a member of JROTC. I am so, so curious to see what my big boy will decide to do when he graduates... will he decide to pursue the military right away, at all? I know he really likes the idea of it and is currently considering the Air Force, but we'll see what the years bring in time I suppose. It is so hard and so wonderful watching him grow up.


Smothered Beef Burritos from That's Some Good Cookin'

Ingredients
Spice Blend
3 ½ tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Meat
1 1/4 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, medium diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Spice Blend (see above)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups unsalted beef stock

Red Sauce 
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups unsalted beef stock
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 ½ tablespoons Spice Blend (see above)

Additional Ingredients for the Burritos
1 (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups prepared rice
6 large (10-inch) burrito-style tortillas (I used about 8 smaller taco sized tortillas)
12 ounces Colby-jack cheese, grated (or shredded cheddar)

Instructions
For the Spice Blend:
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Set aside.
  2. For the ground beef:
  3. Use a deep frying pan with a lid to cook the ground beef. Heat frying pan over medium heat; cook together the ground beef, onion and garlic, breaking up the ground beef well. When ground beef is no longer pink, remove pan from burner and drain grease.
  4. Return pan with meat mixture to the burner. Sprinkle with Spice Blend; stir well. Whisk together the tomato paste and beef stock. Pour it over the meat mixture.
  5. Bring meat mixture to a simmer then cover pan, leaving lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, but the meat mixture is still moist. If meat mixture becomes too dry, add a little water or additional stock. While meat is cooking, make the spicy gravy.
For red sauce:
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Make a roux by sprinkling the melted butter with flour and whisking together until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, just until the roux begins to turn a light golden brown and smells nutty.
  2. While whisking briskly, slowly add the beef stock to the roux. Pour carefully to avoid splatters and whisk constantly. Add the tomato sauce and whisk to combine, then add in the spice blend until well combined. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until gravy has thickened to your preferred consistency.
For the assembly of the burritos:
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Warm tortillas briefly in a microwave, on a microwave safe plate, until lightly warm and pliable.
  3. Working with one tortilla at a time, lay a tortilla in the baking dish (you can use a cutting board if preferred, but I like filling them in the dish to prevent having to move them, and keep the filling more confined); spoon approximately ¼ cup meat mixture, ¼ cup prepared rice and 3 tablespoons black beans a little off center across the tortilla. Fold in tortilla sides, wrap one end snugly over filling and roll up in remaining tortilla, tucking in sides as needed. Place burrito in baking dish. Repeat process with remaining tortillas.
  4. Ladle desired amount of the spicy gravy over the burritos (you may choose not to use it all at one time). Sprinkle the grated cheese over burritos. Place baking dish in oven and cook until cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve with desired toppings such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sour cream, etc.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Asparagus Mushroom Bacon Crustless Quiche


This was such a treat! I've had quiche on my "to make" list for ages, and ages... and ages. I love the idea of an easy, elegant dish that can be made for ANY time of day. We had some asparagus in the refrigerator that needed to be acknowledged, and I had taken Monday off for an R&R day and decided to finally indulge my desire to make a quiche at home. I am so glad I did!


The eggs are very light and fluffy thanks to all that cream in the dish (if you prefer denser, you can add more eggs and / or reduce the cream by 1/2 cup). I used Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and asparagus (I still cooked the veggies in bacon grease though). I didn't cook my mushrooms long enough to get rid of all the moisture before baking, so there was some excess liquid at the bottom of the pie dish that we had to drain off before enjoying.


My son dislikes asparagus - and he probably ate half of this dish because it was so good (though he kind of picked around the asparagus a little). I couldn't get over how soft and fluffy the eggs came out! What a delicious treat to share and enjoy. Makes a beautiful brunch dish, or an elegant dinner with a fresh green salad on the side. Definitely a keeper - and easy to adjust the add-ins to your liking.

Asparagus Mushroom Bacon Crustless Quiche from on AllRecipes

Ingredients
6 ounces bacon, diced                                
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
  1. Position oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch pie plate generously with nonstick spray.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir bacon in the hot skillet until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon and drain all but 2 tablespoons grease from skillet. Cook and stir mushrooms in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, then add asparagus pieces. Cook until mushrooms have released their moisture and asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more. Drain off all excess liquid.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and toss bacon into asparagus mixture. Spread asparagus-bacon mixture into the prepared pie pan. Sprinkle cheeses over mixture.
  4. Whisk cream, eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Pour egg mixture over ingredients in the pie plate.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until quiche is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles


The school year is officially back underway. Kent brought home a HUGE stack of papers for me to sign on Monday after his first day back, traffic is a mess again (we live very close to the high school, and I pass another couple schools on my way to work), and we have our first school function coming up this weekend for his JROTC group; I get to make a few batches of cornbread for a Potluck! I love that my boy volunteered me for cornbread because mine is "so good". :) He also wanted me to bring some of these cookies to share with everyone - I told him I certainly don't mind making another batch but I don't think cookies really count as a side dish (which is what his group is assigned to bring).

I'm very excited to share this recipe with you today - it was a such a great treat we enjoyed recently. I've actually never made snickerdoodle cookies before. I don't know why - we love soft sugar cookies, and I love, love, love cinnamon so this cookie should be a given in my household!   


I can tell you they certainly will be from now on. Everyone loved this recipe. They are hard to stop eating. Perfectly light and soft in the middle with a crisped edge and cinnamon sugar coating. If you want a sweeter cookie increase the amount of sugar in the cinnamon / sugar mix you roll the dough balls in. I liked them this way, but they definitely weren't all that sweet.


My sweet baby taste tester - she kept pointing and saying "cookie?" I said "Do you want a cookie?" and her eyes got all big and she'd say "Yeah!" we did that a few times before she finally grabbed one. :)

The original recipe says this makes 4 dozen cookies - but I made 24 really good sized cookies that were perfectly cooked at 11 minutes - so adjust the cooking time based on how large you make your cookies. If you make them smaller 8 minutes seems to be perfect.


Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles adapted from Beth Sigworth on AllRecipes

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon-Sugar Mix to roll cookies in:
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt (if dough is too wet to roll into balls, add a little more flour if needed). Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
  3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Refrigerate dough between batches.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard (if you make smaller cookies, cook them for 8 minutes, larger cookies will need a little longer). Cool on sheets for a minute or two, then carefully move to racks to finish cooling / setting.