Roasted Tomato Appetizer

>> Friday, November 26, 2010

The sweetness of the roasted tomato, the creaminess of the cheese and the crunch of the cracker unite to make one delicious appetizer, if I do say so myself! One of my mom's friends brought something similar to a happy hour and I crammed as many of these in my mouth as I could. I absolutely loved it! You can make it with any kind of smallish tomato - I think for a Christmas appetizer, it would be really festive with red tomatoes!

Roasted Tomato Appetizer

1 pkg cherry or orange tomatoes, halved
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pkg Boursin cheese, any flavor (I have used Garlic & Herb and Black Pepper)
3-4 chives, chopped
1 pkg Carr's crackers

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss together to evenly coat. Spread on a baking sheet cut side up. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes, until soft and slightly browned in some spots. Let cool. (You can use the tomatoes immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 days.)

On a serving platter, place Boursin cheese. Spoon tomatoes over and around cheese. Sprinkle with chives. Serve with crackers.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

>> Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First off, my photography is horrible and the pumpkin bars look much yummier than this photo depicts!

I had a get together this afternoon and wanted to bring something festive on which to snack. I remember that a HS friend of mine had a recipe on her blog for pumpkin chocolate chip bars. I looked up the recipe she used and it called for 2 sticks (2 sticks?!?!!) of butter. I kept looking for another recipe that was a little bit healthier. I stumbled on to this little diddy. Here's the really ironic part - the healthier recipe is actually from Paula Deen. Who'd have thunk it?!?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
adapted by Erin from Paula Deen

4 eggs
1 2/3 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c applesauce
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 t vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour, sifted
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 11.5-oz bag of milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix until well blended.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. On low speed, slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Mix until just blended. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out with just a few crumbs.


Party Sandwiches

>> Monday, November 22, 2010

I've seen this recipe floating around the internet for months but I just got around to trying it. I really liked these little puppies and I think Andrew did too - after all he did eat 5 of them! They were easy and fast to prep so I think they would be a wonderful addition to a party buffet.

Party Sandwiches
adapted by Erin from All Recipes

4 T butter, melted
1 t Worcestershire sauce
2 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t poppy seeds*
1/2 t fennel seeds*
1/2 t dried chives*

12 dinner rolls
1/2 lb shaved deli meat (I used half smoked turkey and half honey ham)
Swiss cheese slices (I only used 3 full slices to cover 12 rolls)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine butter, worcestershire sauce, mustard and spices. Set aside. (FYI - If you make the butter sauce a few minutes ahead of time, the butter sets up a little, which allows it to better adhere to the top of the dinner rolls.)

To assemble the sandwiches, split each roll in half. Smear mayo on one side of each roll. Top with deli meat, cheese and other half of the dinner roll. Place sandwiches on a baking sheet.

Using a spoon or pastry brush, liberally spread the butter sauce over the tops of the sandwiches. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until slightly browned and cheese is melted.

*I used poppy seeds, fennel seeds and dried chives because I had them on hand. I think you could easily substitute any or all of these with your favorite herbs. Some ideas - parsley, basil, sesame seeds, dried onion


My Favorite Chicken Casserole

>> Sunday, November 21, 2010

When I got married, my mom put together a recipe box of all of our family recipes and a few new ones she thought I'd like. It was a wonderful gift and I use those recipes all the time. This chicken casserole is one of the new recipes that I have grown to absolutely love. I don't make it often as it's not very healthy but sometimes, especially if I need to feed a crowd, I just have to make it. Luckily for me, tonight was one of those times!

My Favorite Chicken Casserole

1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and chopped
4 T butter
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small white onion or 1/2 large white onion, chopped
2-3 celery ribs, chopped
1 8-oz pkg fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
1/2 lb velveeta, cut into chunks
1/2 t black pepper
1 can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 3-oz jar stuffed green olives, sliced
1 c chicken broth
12 oz farfalle pasta
Shredded cheddar cheese or breadcrumbs, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta according to pkg directions.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat melt butter. Add bell pepper, onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook until veggies are soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add velveeta and stir until melted. Blend in pepper, soup and olives. Add chicken and broth. Stir until well combined. Pour over cooked and drained pasta. Stir together.

Pour into a greased 9' x 13' casserole dish. Top with shredded cheese or breadcrumbs. Bake in preheated oven 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.


Thanksgiving Dishes

>> Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just in case you're looking for some Thanksgiving ideas, here are a few that will be on my family's table. I just love the holidays!

Caramelized Onion-Apple Bites - Oh my gosh, these are so good! I've made these several times before and they are the perfect holiday appetizer - delicious, not too heavy (gotta save room for the feast that follows!), a little gourmet, and they can be made ahead of time. Yum!

Holiday Fresh Cranberry Salad - My mom has been making this since I was born, so for me, it just isn't TG without it! It's so good that during high school, one of my friends (ahem, Jennie) would come over after TG dinner just to eat the left-overs!

1 qt fresh cranberries, washed
2 c sugar
1 lb. seedless red grapes
1 pt whipping cream
1 c chopped pecans

Grind cranberries in a food processor and place in a medium bowl. Add the sugar and stir well. Put cranberry mixture in a colander over a bowl, to drain overnight.

The next day, discard the juice. Quarter the grapes and mix them with the cranberries. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Just before serving, whip the cream until fairly stiff. Fold the whipped cream and pecans into the cranberries and grapes. Serve immediately.

Spinach Madeline - My mother-in-law makes this for holidays and it's fantastic. I'm not even a huge spinach lover but I love this dish!

2 10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach
4 T butter
2 T flour
2 T chopped onions
1/2 evaporated milk
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t celery salt OR 1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t freshly cracked black pepper
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/3 lb monterey pepper jack cheese, chopped
fresh breadcrumbs OR panko breadcrumbs, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In microwave, cook spinach until steaming hot. Reserve 1/2 c of spinach liquid.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until smooth. Add onion and cook until soft but not browned. Slowly add milk and reserved spinach liquid, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened.

Stir in garlic salt, celery salt, pepper, Worcestershire and cheese. Continue stirring until sauce is smooth. Add spinach and stir well to combine.

Pour into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

*Can be made ahead. Put spinach mixture into casserole dish and refrigerate for up to a day. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Mashed Potato Casserole - Delicious! This is another one of my MIL's recipes and the holidays are just not complete without these potatoes. Traditional mashed potatoes have taken a backseat to this divine concoction. I love this dish so much!

3 lbs potatoes
1/2 c butter
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/4 c milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain potatoes and place in mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended. Put in a greased 2-qt casserole dish and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake - I made this last year instead of pumpkin pie and it was decided that this will be the permanent pumpkin pie replacement. It was so silky smooth and deliciously creamy. I'm drooling even thinking about it!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle - I've made this at least twice before and it is fabulous. And so easy. And it can be made ahead of time. What more can you ask for?!? Did I mention it was really, really easy to make and assemble? Just saying...

Here are a few other websites that have some great holiday recipe ideas. Cheers!


Pumpkin Streusel Bread

>> Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Despite the name of my blog, I'm just not a big baker; however, it isn't fall unless you're baking (and eating!) pumpkin-something. I made this bread this afternoon and it filled the house with the most glorious aroma ever. My mouth is watering just remembering the smell! Other than the canned pumpkin and possibly the applesauce, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry - unless you're a dweeb like me who ran out of sugar, had a baby sleeping, neighbors who weren't home and finally had to call my dad to bring me 1 1/2 c sugar. Anyhoo, the bread is wonderfully moist and flavorful. If so inclined, you can easily tailor it to your specific tastes - add chopped apples, raisins, nuts in the batter, etc.

Pumpkin Streusel Bread
adapted from

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c cinnamon applesauce
2/3 c water
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c white sugar
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t allspice

1/2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 chopped nuts
2 T softened butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pans.

In a mixer, combine pumpkin, oil, applesauce, water, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, and white sugar. Blend well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and next four spices. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet mixture. Mix until just combined.

To make streusel topping, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. With a fork, mix in softened butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Pour batter into two or three 7' x 3' loaf pans. Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Bake in preheated oven 60 to 80 minutes. [The cooking time varies so much because it depends on if you make two ginormous loaves (like I did and it took 80 minutes) or three regular sized loaves. You could always make muffins or mini-loaves too and adjust the cooking time accordingly.]


Sloppy Lasagna

>> Sunday, November 14, 2010

I saw this recipe on another cooking blog that I really like ( and thought it would be perfect for the cooler weather we're finally getting here in Texas. It's a Rachael Ray 30 minute meals recipe but since I don't enjoy running around the kitchen like a chicken with my head cut off, I didn't attempt to make it in 30 minutes. Okay, I lied. I did try, failed miserably, had a glass of wine and told myself that cooking is supposed to be relaxing and not an Olympic sport. So I finished the recipe in about 45-50 minutes and I followed the recipe pretty exactly. I thought it was pretty good, but it could be better with a few changes, I think.

So next time I make this (it is much easier and faster than traditional lasagna, so I will make it again), I plan on making the following changes:
1.) I'll cook some finely chopped veggies - onion, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, whatever I have on hand really - before cooking the meat. I like to try to add as many veggies as I can to make sure we get our daily recommended number of vegetable servings.
2.) I'll cook the meat and then DRAIN the fat off. I didn't realize until it was too late that the recipe never says to drain the fat. Gross!
3.) To the sauce, I'll add a can/jar of tomato sauce in with the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Andrew and I both felt that the lasagna had plenty of bechamel sauce but not enough red sauce. This was especially true when I reheated the leftovers the next day - they were still good but on the dry side.

Another thing to make note of - this recipe makes scads so unless you're having 6 or more people for dinner or want tons of leftovers, I'd cut the recipe in half. Here is the link to the Sloppy Lasagna recipe. Enjoy!


Asian Bacon and Pork "Pops"

>> Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here is another great recipe inspired by FN's magazine. We eat a lot of Italian and Mexican food, so I was excited to make something with an Asian flair. And the lemongrass skewers made it seem just a little bit gourmet!

Asian Bacon and Pork "Pops"
adapted by Erin from The Food Network Magazine

1/2 lb bacon, trimmed of excess fat
1 lb ground pork
1 t sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 c loosely packed fresh cilantro
1 to 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 lime, zested
1 1/2 T low-sodium soy sauce
store-bought sweet chili sauce, for dipping

Preheat broiler. In a food processor, combine, bacon, pork, sesame oil, garlic, cilantro, ginger, lime zest, and soy sauce. Pulse to finely chop and combine well. Pause to scrape down sides as needed. (By using a food processor, the meat mixture is very fine and somewhat crumbly. If you want it to be chunkier, you can finely chop everything by hand. With a baby, I didn't have time to do that!)

Mold the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. Thread a skewer about halfway through the meatball and press the meat mixture down the skewer to form a torpedo-shaped meat patty.

Place the pops onto a foil covered baking sheet and broil 3-5 minutes per side or until golden browned. Serve with store-bought sweet chili sauce for dipping.

*If you're using lemongrass, trim the stalks into 4-inch pieces. If the stalks are thick, you can slice them lengthwise to create more skewers. My lemongrass skewers got a little singed while broiling. As an experiment, I used some wooden skewers (that I had soaked in water for about an hour) since lemongrass can get expensive when you need so much of it. The wooden skewers caught on fire in the first few minutes, and I had remove them from the oven. So don't use wooden skewers! Next time if I feel like the lemongrass is too expensive, I'll probably just roll them into meatballs and forego the skewers altogether.


Green Chile and Chicken Chimichangas

>> Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Every month I look forward to getting the Food Network magazine and seeing what new recipes look good. And every month I am not disappointed! This recipe was delicious and it really did taste like something you would order at a good Tex-Mex restaurant. Andrew thought it was so good that he tweeted about it!

I tweaked the recipe a bit to better fit the tastes of my family. I substituted refried black beans for the refried beans, omitted the jalapeno, and I halved the recipe. If you want to make chimichangas, I'd recommend buying the larger size tortillas because I had a problem getting the regular tortillas to stay folded. And don't forget to make the Mexi-Sauce to top the chimichangas - the ingredients and directions for the sauce are at the bottom of the recipe. Here is the link to the original: Almost Famous Chimichangas


Stuffed Pizza Rolls

>> Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This is one of our favorite comfort foods! We have spent many nights eating these while watching a movie and drinking wine. While these take a little more time to prepare than a pizza would, I just love these bite-size nibbles and think they're worth the extra effort. I've made them ahead of time (like during nap time) and then I popped them in the oven when Andrew got home from work.

You can stuff the pizza bites with any pizza toppings but we prefer good ole pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. We always use ranch dressing for our dipping sauce but marinara is good too.


Fried Mozzarella Sticks

What else can I say except YUMMY! And they really are easy to make so you'll never need to buy the frozen ones again. The recipe that we use is from The Pioneer Woman's website so you know it has to be good - and unhealthy! But everyone deserves a little caloric splurge every now and then...right?!?


Cowboy Quesadillas

>> Monday, November 1, 2010

I loved this one, and I bet that if you like BBQ chicken pizza, you will too. I make quesadillas a lot for dinner when I'm short on time. This was a great switch-up from the more traditional salsa quesadillas I usually make. Another great thing about this recipe is that you probably have most of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry already. Love those kind of dishes!

My changes: I omitted the rice altogether, upped the quantities of beans and corn a little and added a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. The dipping sauce is yummy too so make sure you don't forget to make it! Here's a link to the original recipe:


Blog template by

Back to TOP