Friday, November 18, 2011

Fluffy Mandarin Orange Salad

I realize this isn't exactly winter-time fare and that's it's a bit strange to see a somewhat summery salad/side sitting in snow! But I had a carton of cottage cheese that needed using and we like this any old time of the year. It's a great way to round out any meal and add a little sweetness to your plate to offset all that yummy savory. My sis-in-law Sam shared this recipe with me ages ago and I was shocked at how simple it was considering how amazing it tastes. My kids love this! We generally go the all orange route, but think that this could be definitely be adapted to almost any flavor gelatin and a fair number of fruits, i.e. peach with canned peaches, raspberry with fresh or maybe even frozen raspberries, strawberry with fresh strawberries-you get the picture I'm sure! Or mix and match: peach gelatin with raspberries and so on. Enjoy experimenting with this super easy and delicious recipe!

Fluffy Mandarin Orange Salad
{Recipe from my fabulous cook of a sister-in-law Sam}

16 oz + large or small curd cottage cheese
1 regular size carton whipped topping, thawed
1 package orange Jell-O (smaller or larger works, just use what you've got on hand)
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained

In large bowl gently mix cottage cheese, orange jell-o, and mandarin oranges together. When thoroughly mixed gently fold in whipped topping and make sure it's well-combined. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve. SO easy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oven Baked Jo-Jo Potatoes w/ BBQ Fry Sauce

I hope I'm not the only one guilty of an unhealthy addiction to the jo-jo potatoes at the grocery store deli? We don't get them often, but when we do it's all I can do to share them with my poor children. But now I can make them at home! These aren't a sure-fire replication by any means but they were super tasty and I imagine a bit more healthy than their deli counterparts, being oven baked with minimal oil. As for the bbq fry sauce, holy smokes I wanted to drink it! So gross I know, but it was delightfully yummy and a nice detour from the more traditional ketchup. Plus it's a total no-brainer just 2 basic ingredients and you're on your way to dipping heaven. These are a great side dish to be sure!

Oven Baked Jo-Jo Potatoes
{Recipe source: Real Mom Kitchen}

4-5 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
4 T olive oil
1 tsp season-all or other favorite seasoning
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 475. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Then slice each half into wedges end to end. Should get about 8-12 wedges from each potato. Place wedges on cookie sheet and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with seasonings and toss again. Make sure potatoes are in a single layer on sheet and baking at 475 for 12 minutes, turn or toss potatoes as well as you can and then bake another 12 of so minutes until fork tender.

BBQ Fry Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup favorite bbq sauce (we do Sweet Baby Ray's)

Mix mayo and bbq sauce together in bowl until smooth. Serve!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shredded Southwest Beef Tacos {Crock Pot} w/ Chipotle Coleslaw

These tacos were a delightful little addition to our taco repertoire. I usually lean more towards the chicken variety, but every now and then it's nice to have some beef and one of the great things about these, aside from the crock pot of course, is that they make a large quantity of southwest flavored, shredded beef that I imagine could be easily frozen and used in any number of other applications. Homemade baked taquitos, smothered burritos, quesadillas, or some seriously filling nachos come to mind. But what I loved the most about them was the cool, smoky chipotle flavored coleslaw to serve on top. I loved how the crispy, cool, creamy coleslaw offset the warm, somewhat spicy beef. A fabulous texture party going on in my mouth. I definitely recommend trying these and loving all the left over meat options you'll have because of it.

Shredded Southwest Beef Tacos {Crock Pot} w/ Chipotle Coleslaw
{recipe from Cooking like a Champion via Smitten Kitchen}

3 pounds beef brisket or bottom round
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 spanish or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled or petite diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 to 2 whole canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup molasses (optional, I left this out-thought it sounded kinda gross)
To serve:
Corn or flour tortillas
Chipotle Slaw, recipe follows

Season all sides of beef roast with salt and pepper. Heat veggie oil in skillet on med-high heat just shy of smoking. Sear meat on all sides. Place in slow cooker. To drippings in pan add garlic, onion, chili powder, coriander and cumin and stir until fragrant about a minute. Add vinegar and scrape up bits from bottom of skillet. Stir in water, tomatoes (crushing them if using whole), chipotles, and bay leaves. Pour all of the mixture over meat in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred beef and add back into crock pot juices a little while before serving. Serve on tortillas topped with chipotles coleslaw.

Chipotle Coleslaw

2 t finely chopped canned chipotles in adobo

1/2 cup mayo

2 T honey

1 T fresh lime juice

1/2 pound (about 2 cups) shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

Combine chipotle, mayo, honey, and lime juice in large bowl. Add cabbage and onions, tossing to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Turtle Brownies

Back when we lived in good old Provo and were getting ready to move to Alaska a kind friend of mine brought in dinner to us. Things were a little hectic, kitchen stuff was packed, and we were feeling so done with fast food. So you can imagine how welcome a homemade meal was at the time. We sat in the living room on boxes eating this delicious meal with an odd assortment of paper products. It was in that somewhat bizarre state that I first tasted this little gem of a dessert and I enjoyed them all the more for it. Almost as soon as we were done eating, I called said friend and told her I must have this recipe even if I had to write it down on a napkin (since the paper was all packed) and stuff it as padding into a box. She was nice enough to remind me that email was still an option even if our computer wasn't available. After we moved, into my inbox the recipe came and we've been enjoying them ever since. What's not love about the ease of a cake mix, gooey caramel, crunchy nuts, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips? Absolutely nothing, that's what!

Turtle Brownies
{Recipe source: Sarah H.}

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (5.6 oz)
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup evaporated milk, divided
1 14 oz package caramels, unwrapped
1 cup chocolate chips (we like milk)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

In a bowl, stir together cake mix, dry pudding, butter, and 1/2 cup evaporated milk. Press 1/2 of mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt caramels and remaining 1/4 cup evap milk, stirring frequently. Spread caramel mixture over baked layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Drop remaining cake mix in teaspoonfuls over the brownies. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the top is set. Let cool completely before trying to cut. Tip: run sharp knife blade under hot water periodically while cutting to help make clean cuts through the caramel layer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ham & Swiss Sliders with Poppyseed Sauce

Wanna a recipe for the tastiest little bite of a sandwich out there? Well here you go! I'm telling you these are one of the best sandwiches I've had the pleasure of eating. They are super easy. They can easily be made in bulk and are perfect for a luncheon, church function or potluck, baby shower, wedding shower or just plain weeknight dinner. They go great with soups, or salads, or pastas, or good old potato chips. They're good hot or cold and they will knock your socks off. Have I sung their praises and functionality enough yet?

The secret's in the sauce, although it might seems a little strange at first to assemble a perfectly good ham sandwich and then pour sauce all over it and bake it, it is not. The finished product is sandwich perfection and you'll want to make a boat load because these little babies go fast. In fact, I might just have to put them on the dinner menu again this week. So hurry up and plan a lunch and join your friends in dying and going to heaven eating these!

Ham and Swiss Sliders
{Recipe source: My good friend Tammy M. Note: On the rolls, you can use either King's Hawaiian style rolls as shown above or hard kaiser-like rolls which will be larger and a dozen or fewer will work with the sauce amount. I like them both ways and say try both and pick your preference or mood for that day!}

12-24 good hard rolls or king's hawaiian rolls
12-24 slices good quality honey ham
12-24 small slices of swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup miracle whip

1 T poppy seeds
1 1/2 T yellow mustard or honey mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 T minced onion, dried is fine
1/2 t worcestershire

Mix mayo and miracle whip together. Spread onto both sides of cut rolls. Place a slice of ham and slice of swiss inside each roll. Place prepared sandwiches close together on a cookie sheet or large baking dish.

Mix ingredients for sauce together and pour evenly over all the sandwiches (note: I like to let my sauce cool and slightly thicken a bit, spoon it over the tops of each sandwich, and that way it melts down over the sandwich as it bakes instead of immediately pooling at the bottom). Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve warm.

*Sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to bake.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

It's that time of year again when our sunlight is waning and that means no natural light to take appetizing food pictures with. But don't let the yellow tint of this photo deter you from trying these deliciously prepared vegetables. Now I know that a lot of people think brussels sprouts are gross. They were the dreaded childhood vegetable for most, right along with peas and broccoli and lima beans right? Basically anything healthy and green. I'd encourage anyone with a list of disliked since childhood foods to revisit those foods with their now grown-up taste buds. I've realized that several things I could have sworn were the most disgusting things ever put on a plate before me, are actually quite good: mushrooms and avocados are couple that come to mind. Similarly, I'd like to think that this actually wonderful veggie gets a bad rap because it hasn't been prepared like this. We serve them with our thanksgiving dinner every year, in place of green bean casserole and it is a most welcome switch. I've made many a brussels sprout hater into a brussels sprout lover with this dish. I'm confident you'll change your mind and wish for brussels sprouts at every meal!

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

2 lbs brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and the top layer of leaves removed, discarded and large sprouts cut in half
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon
1 shallot, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
3 T butter
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

After brussels are trimmed and ready, heat large skillet over medium high heat. Cook bacon until crispy, then crumble and set aside. Leave residual bacon grease in pan and add olive oil and butter. Over medium heat briefly saute shallot and garlic, add brussels sprouts and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then add chicken broth and put lid on skillet. Cook brussels sprouts until tender and cooked through. Transfer veggies and any remaining sauce to serving platter, top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Candied Walnut Salad

I'm so in love with gourmet or specialty salads. And this one is no exception. It's the perfect fall/winter salad. Apples, dried cranberries, and walnuts-or more importantly candied walnuts hence the name. Not to mention the gorgonzola AKA stinky cheese in our house. I've come a long way in the "stinky" cheese department and although I still choose almost any other dressing over a blue cheese dressing, in this salad I think it's totally needed and actually quite like it. So if you're unsure about it like I was, just go for it.

The dressing is the perfect finishing touch and could easily be used on any number of other salads. It's a great basic red wine vinaigrette to add to your repertoire. I think it's safe to say that if you serve this to your friends and family they'll love you all the more for it...Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve dinner would be perfect. So festive!

Candied Walnut Salad
{slightly adapted Recipe Source: Our Best Bites}

1 large head of romaine
3/4 cup craisins
2 crisp apples
juice of half an orange
crumbled gorgonzola, to taste
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 recipe honey red wine vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Make dressing. This can be done ahead and kept in fridge until ready to use.
Wash and chop lettuce. Be sure it's well drained.
Caramelize the nuts by placed walnuts and sugar in a small skillet over medium heat. As they warm up stir constantly, especially when the sugar begins to liquefy. Scrape bottom of pan constantly while tossing nuts around to coat well. This step goes really fast and it's easy to burn them. As soon as they appear to be well-coated with just tough of color and no grainy sugar, remove from heat and let cool.
Chop apples, leaving skin on, and toss with orange juice.
To assemble salad, put lettuce in serving bowl. Add in apples, green onions, craisins, crumbled gorgonzola, and cooled candied walnuts (may need to break them up a bit if they're stuck together because of sugar coating). Right before serving drizzle with dressing, a little at a time, and toss, stopping just before you think you should and it's probably perfect. You just want a nice light coating, not a soggy drenching with a pool of dressing in the bottom of the bowl. Adjust if neccessary and serve immediately. Dressed salads don't keep, so if you must serve the dressing on the side-but it's better all mixed together in my opinion.

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette
{I find this a very versatile dressing that can be used on any number of salads, plus is makes quite a bit and you will have leftovers}

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup honey
2 cloves garlic
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 T poppy seeds

In blender combine vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Place lid on blender and turn blender on high. While blender is running, add oil in a steady stream. Once oil is added blend a few second longer and add poppy seeds-don't blend more than a second or two-just enough to mix in the seeds. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Shake well before serving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin {Crock Pot}

I've said before that this, this, and this are the best pork recipes out there and believe you me they are darn good. But my friends, this here recipe is exceptional. I was admittedly a bit unsure of how the balsamic vinegar would play out with the pork, but boy oh boy I need not have worried. It's the perfect pairing.

The pork itself is the picture of ease and juicy, tenderness thanks to the 8+ hours it spends in our little friend the crock pot. And the sauce is the best of full-flavored-a-little-bit-sweet-a-little-bit-sour goodness. If you're dining with the feint of heart, it's nice that the sauce is a condiment that can either be used or skipped, but as my word is my bond you won't want to skip it. That would be a travesty of epic proportions!

With the season of holiday's upon us this would be a stand-out main dish at any event. Also, it's so easy and hands off that you won't need to worry about the main portion of your entertaining meal, you've got that part in the bag! So you can go ahead and dig into more time consuming fancy sides if you want instead. Parties aside this pork will definitely grace our sunday dinner table often and I think it should yours too.

Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin {Crock Pot}
{doubled and adapted recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe of course!}

4 lbs (give or take) boneless pork loin roast (not tenderloin) rinsed, dried, and trimmed of excess fat and silver skin-blech!
2 t ground sage or poultry seasoning
1 t salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chicken broth (or water)

1 cup brown sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
4 T soy sauce

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients listed under pork and rub thoroughly all over prepared roast. Place in slow cooker and pour in 1 cup of chicken broth (or water). Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Near the end of cooking time for the roast remove pork from the slow cooker , shred into medium-large pieces, and place back in juices while you move on to the sauce. Combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens. (doesn't take long)

Arrange shredded pork on serving platter, spooning some of the juices over it. Then drizzle generously with balsamic glaze and serve.

Remove pork from the crock pot, shred, and