Monday, October 30, 2017

Caramel Apples

Apples are in full swing right now, and caramel is always amazing.  Need I say more?
Now, I am all about buying pre-packaged caramels and melting them for an easy apple dipping sauce, but if you find yourself needing a home-made version, this one is pretty great.
You can roll these babies in whatever toppings your heart desires, but we opted for mini M&M's, home made granola, coconut, sliced almonds, and drizzled chocolate.

Caramel Apples
Recipe from Our Best Bites

1 lb. dark brown sugar (about 2 cups packed)
2 sticks butter
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c. dark corn syrup (I used honey)
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. molasses
1/4 tsp. salt
Apples (covers at least 12)
popscicle sticks
assorted toppings of choice

Thoroughly wash and dry apples.
Place sticks in apples and place in a dish or baking sheet in the fridge to chill.
Prepare toppings in bowls.

To make the caramel, combine the first 8 ingredients in a large nonstick saucepan.
Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves (about 15 minutes), occasionally wiping down the sides of the pan.
Increase heat to medium-high.
Cook caramel at a rolling boil, stirring constantly but slowly, until candy thermometer registers 236 degrees (about 10-15 minutes).
Pour caramel into a deep, skinny bowl, large enough to fit an apple.

Dip chilled apples in caramel mixture, and roll in desired toppings.
Reheat caramel if it becomes too thick to dip.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Apple Fritter Bread

This delicious, festive fall loaf is bursting with that classic apple cinnamon flavor!  This is great as an alternative to muffins in the morning, or perfect for an afternoon snack.  It could even double as a dessert, though I majorly deducted the amount of sugar called for.  I also opted for whole wheat flour, but you could use white if that is what you like or have on hand.  You can use any type of apple you have lying around, but granny smith are always a great choice for baking.
We all loved it, especially the kiddo's!

Apple Fritter Bread
Recipe modified from The Baking ChocolaTess

1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour (white or wheat)
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
2 apples, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk or cream, plus more if needed for consistency

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat white sugar and butter together until creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition.
Add vanilla.
Add flour and baking powder into creamed mixture and stir until blended.
Add milk, and mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, add the remaining Tbsp. sugar and tsp. cinnamon to the chopped apples, and stir to coat evenly.

Pour half of the batter into a large greased loaf pan.
Sprinkle half of the chopped apples over batter.
Sprinkle half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over apples.
Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.
Pout remaining batter over the apples.
Top with remaining apples, and remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Lightly pat apples into batter.
Using a knife or spoon, gently swirl the brown sugar mixture through loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean.

To make the glaze, mix powdered sugar and milk together, adding more of either until desired consistency is reached.
Let bread cool for at least 15 minutes before drizzling with glaze.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Green Tomato Enchilada Sauce {Canned}

This recipe is like a mix between enchilada sauce and salsa verde (which to be honest I don't really know the difference).  You can certainly pour this over your tacos and burritos, or use as a dip for chips.  I wanted a canned version of this recipe - a favorite when making chicken enchilada chili, and a great go to for delicious enchiladas like these ones.  However, I don't usually grow tomatillos, but green tomatoes seem to be in abundance this time of year as cold nights freeze exposed portions of my tomato plants.  I cringe at all of the green tomatoes still left on the vine, with no time to ripen, and this recipe solves my problem.

This is easy and delicious, and a great way to clean up the remaining produce from the garden.  And there is nothing like opening up a can of that garden goodness all through the winter.  Using a blender makes a big difference here - just throw it in and pulse, no need to skin, chop or dice anything.
I adapted this recipe from Our Best Bites, as well as Montana Homesteader, while still making it suitable for home canning, but you can certainly freeze this if the idea of canning intimidates you. 

Green Tomato Enchilada Sauce
9 lbs. green tomatoes, cored and rough chopped (about 24 cups)
2 extra large onions (about 4 c. pureed)
4 green bell peppers (about 3 c. pureed)
2-3 jalapeƱos, whole
1 1/2 c. lime juice (about 9 juiced limes with pulp)
2 bunches cilantro
2 heaping Tbsp. roasted garlic (or minced)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Heat a large pot over medium heat.
Puree green tomatoes and add to the pot.
Rough chop onions and puree in blender, then add to the pot and stir.
Puree bell peppers with jalapeƱos, then add to pot and stir to combine.
Combine lime juice and cilantro in the blender and puree.

To the pot add garlic, sugar, cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro lime mixture.
Stir to combine, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Ladle hot enchilada sauce into hot, sterilized jars.
Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and top with sterilized lids.
Screw on bands and place in prepared pressure cooker.
Process in a pressure cooker at 11 lbs. for 20 minutes.
Be sure to adjust for altitude (13 lbs. of pressure for Utah).

Makes 13 pints.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Aside from the option of dipping tortilla chips, crackers and vegetables, this makes a great spread on sandwiches.  Easy to make and super delicious!

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Recipe and Photo from Key Ingredient

2 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 c. canned chopped green chilies
1/4 c. canned diced jalapeno peppers
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
veggies, crackers or tortilla chips for serving

In a large bowl, beat the first five ingredients until well blended.
Spread into an ungreased 9" pie plate.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Top with bread crumbs.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dry Chicken Salad Mix {Meal in a Jar}

Chicken salad is one of the many things that I love, but not so much anyone else in my family.  This mini meal in a jar option is perfect for small numbers, but you can definitely double or triple this recipe if you're feeding a lot.

Aside from the convenience of having ready made meals like this lining your shelves, these make excellent options for camping, hunting or 72 hour kits.  These can just as easily be put into mylar bags, or if you aren't worried about shelf life, a ziplock would work just fine.
For added convenience, you can add in the shelf stable mayo packets that you can find in the deli section of grocery stores if you are taking this to work, or on an outing where you don't have refrigeration.
Chicken salad in 5 minutes!
The shelf life of this chicken salad mix is 1 year (minus the mayo of course).  If you have a food saver with the ability to seal a mason jar or vacuum seal a mylar bag, you can extend the shelf life up to 15 years if kept in a cool, dry place.
You can use any brand of freeze dried or dehydrated foods here, but I've included links to the products that I personally use.  If interested, you can click here to find out more about how you can earn these products for free or half off.

Dry Chicken Salad Mix {Meal in a Jar}
Menu Managed Original

In a pint mason jar, layer in the following order:
1/3 c. dehydrated apples (or freeze dried), broken into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Mayo packets, if adding, can be placed on the top.

To make:
Remove mayonnaise packets.
Add water to jar, until just barely beneath the top of the food.
Add the lid back to the jar and shake.
Let stand for 3 minutes, then turn the jar upside down.
Let stand for 1 minute.
Remove lid and add mayonnaise.
Stir to combine.
Serve with crackers, on bread, or plain.

Serves 2.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

One of our all time favorite meals is this cilantro lime chicken, which we always serve with this salsa.  But this is a great go to even if you don't want to make a meal out of it.
This is also one of those "recipes" that I don't ever measure.  I just chop up the veggies and throw it all together, so feel free to modify the measurements to meet your needs.
I rarely make this with avocado's, since I am the only one in the family that likes them, AND because they do not do well if you have extras.  If you want to add them in, be sure and do so immediately before serving.  It is great either way!

Corn and Black Bean Salsa
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 c. chopped onions, or to taste
3-5 large chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (leave seeds in if you like a spicier salsa)
Large handful chopped cilantro, or to taste
Salt to taste
3 chopped Hass avocados, optional

Add all ingredients except salt and avocados to a large bowl and stir to combine.
Sprinkle salt over everything and stir again.
Taste and add additional salt, if needed.
Fold in diced avocados, if using.

Serve cold or at room temperature with favorite tortilla chips.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Zucchini and Rice

This is not a new recipe here on the blog, but I wanted an updated photo, as well as the addition of carrots and Italian sausage.  This was one of the recipes given to me by my mother-in-law when I got married.  It is definitely a favorite at our house - one that we go back to again and again.  A perfect meal for any night of the week!

Zucchini and Rice
Recipe from Lyn Hoggan Denna

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 small onion
2 large ribs celery
4 carrots
2 large zucchini
2 c. rice
4 c. chicken broth

In an electric frying pan, brown sausage with onion until browned.
Once browned, add rice and stir until rice is lightly browned.
Meanwhile, cut up all vegetables.
Once rice is browned, sprinkle mixed veggies in an even layer over the top. 
Pour chicken broth over the vegetables.
Cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is done.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chocolate Cake Cookies with Marshmallows

Boxed cake mix cookies like this one are the perfect fix for a quick dessert anytime.  These are easily interchangeable to make all kinds of variations.  The original recipe drizzled chocolate over the marshmallow with peppermint candy cane sprinkles for a Christmas version.  I opted for a peanut butter chocolate drizzle.  If I had some peanuts I might have crushed them and added it, but you get the idea.  Let the imagination go on this one.

Chocolate Cake Cookies with Marshmallows
Recipe from Make It & Love It

1 chocolate cake mix (any type)
2 eggs
1/2 c. shortening or butter
large marshmallows
toppings/drizzling chocolate of choice

Beat cake mix, eggs and shortening in a large bowl until well blended.
Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet (makes 24 cookies).

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
While baking, cut marshmallows in half with scissors.
When cookies are done, place a marshmallow half on each piece.
Place back into the oven for 2 minutes to toast and help secure the marshmallow to the cookie.

Cool completely, and top with melted chocolate or other toppings of choice.
Makes 24 cookies.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Green Chili Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This simple meal has great flavor and is easy to throw together any night of the week.
If you want to throw this back into the spaghetti squash shells (like she did in the original recipe), by all means, knock yourself out.  I just find the casserole approach much.  much.  easier.
Be sure and use a green enchilada sauce that you love, because the flavor really shines through in this dish.  I love this recipe, but you can swap it out for whatever your family likes.

Green Chili Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Recipe modified from Recipe Runner

1 large spaghetti squash
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, cubed
2 c. corn
handful cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. pepper jack cheese, shredded (or cheese of choice)

Cut spaghetti squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
Place cut squash on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, combine chicken, enchilada sauce, and corn in a skillet over medium heat and heat through.
Fold in cilantro and keep warm.

When squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape out the flesh and layer it in the bottom of a greased 9x13" baking dish.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Pour chicken and enchilada mixture over squash and spread out evenly.
Top with shredded cheese.

Place back in the oven until cheese is melted.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coconut Crusted French Toast

Take your every day french toast to the next level and dip each egg slathered slice in shredded coconut.  Trust me, your taste buds will thank you...
You can serve this with any array of toppings you'd like; we opted for fresh berries, toasted almonds and extra coconut.  I'm pretty sure some whipped topping made it on there as well.  Divine.

Coconut Crusted French Toast
3 eggs
splash milk
6 slices bread of choice
2 c. coconut

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs and milk.
Pour coconut onto a plate and spread out evenly.
Dip each slice of bread into egg mixture and coat both sides.
Remove and let excess drip off.
Lay one side of the egg dipped bread into the coconut and press to adhere.
Place on greased skillet or grill, and cook over medium low heat until both sides are cooked and coconut is toasted.
Serve with desired toppings.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Roasted Garlic

I use a lot of roasted garlic for this salsa recipe, as well as this spaghetti sauce.  And so I will occasionally stockpile a bunch of this in my freezer to cut down on time when making them.  But aside from large batch garlic recipes, there are several everyday uses where these deliciously caramelized cloves come in handy.
I usually puree them in a blender and freeze in mini ice cube trays - making them easy to add a punch of delicious garlic flavor to just about anything.  Use to replace chopped garlic in any recipe, or throw them into soups or stews, or sauces.  You can add a few cubes to some softened butter and spread over bread or toast for the best garlic bread of your life.

Roasted Garlic
Method from Our Best Bites

olive oil
tin foil

Take a head of garlic, and cut the pointed tip off, about 1/4 of the way down (you want to expose the actual cloves).
Place each clove on a piece of tinfoil, cut side up.
Drizzle with olive oil, letting it seep down between the cloves.
Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Wrap the head of garlic up in tinfoil, securing it at the top.

Place all of your tinfoil garlic heads into the oven, directly on the rack.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes (time depends on the size of the head of garlic).
Garlic is done when it is soft/squishy when squeezed.

Remove from oven and let cool.
Unwrap from foil and squeeze each clove out of the head.
Use within one week if storing in the fridge, or freeze for future use.