Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mini Puffed Oven Pancakes

This weekend we celebrated my husband's 30th birthday!  He has had a hard time with this idea of getting older, but I for one, think he is just getting better with age!  Let me take a minute to tell you about this husband I have.  He is pretty awesome.  He is one of the hardest workers I know, he is an amazing father and he. is. funny.  He has done so many things for our family in the nearly 9 years that we have been married, including but not limited me 2 perfect babies, working so hard in school and work that I can be a stay-at-home mom, buying and fixing up multiple houses, and making me laugh a whole lot.  But, one of the best things he has ever done for me personally, was win me a Kitchen Aid Mixer.  That was pretty dang awesome of him.  

Everyone raise your virtual hand if you read Our Best Bites!  If you have your hand down, I'm telling you right now that you should!  They not only share amazing recipes, but are laugh-out-loud funny!  I strongly recommend.  Anyhow, for those that don't know, about 6 months ago their second cook book was released.  To celebrate, they hosted a contest where you were to photograph yourself with a picture of the new book and send it in to them to be judged.  The best, most creative pictures would then be selected to receive prizes.  I told Jason about it, but also included that I had no ideas to make myself stand out.  He, however, has never backed down from a challenge, and viewed this as such.  So he came up with this...

And we won!!  Thanks to his creative mind and shameless desire to make people laugh, I now own a shiny red Kitchen Aid mixer (and there is this lovely picture floating out there in blog land for all the world to see)!  See, he really is the best!!  So happy birthday to him!

Okay, so I was getting to the recipe.  These Mini Puffed Oven Pancakes are one of our very favorite recipes out of that Our Best Bites Cookbook.  They are amazingly simply and incredibly delicious.  Last time I made these, I had to whip up a second batch immediately because we devoured them so quickly! Then those disappeared just as fast.  Jason loves them so much that he requested them for his birthday breakfast yesterday and we almost needed a third batch!  

Mini Puffed Oven Pancakes

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons butter, melted
Powdered sugar
Whipped cream, optional

Place a nonstick mini muffin pan in the oven and heat to 400 degrees.  Meanwhile, place the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a blender and blend until mixture is smooth.  Remove the pan from the oven, doing so very carefully and with an oven mit, as the pan with be very hot.  Quickly spray the wells with nonstick spray.  Fill the muffin wells 3/4 full with batter.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, until batter is puffed and slightly golden on top.  Remove the puffs and place on a plate or platter.  Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Drizzle with maple syrup or strawberry sauce and whipped cream, or eat them alone with your fingers!  All ways are equally delicious!

Strawberry Sauce

3 cups frozen strawberries
2 Tablespoon sugar

Place strawberries and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the strawberries release their juices, about 5 minutes.  Cook for 1-2 minutes longer, stirring continuously and smashing berries slightly with a fork.  Serve over pancake puffs.

Recipe Source:  Pancake Puffs from Our Best Bites.  Strawberry Sauce from The Unsophisticated Kitchen

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Marsala Pork Chops

This recipe is a good one!  I love these pork chops!  However, I probably should have changed the name to something else.  The original recipe called for Marsala wine, but I don't keep wine on hand, so I improvised and adapted the recipe slightly to what I had.  Yep, I pushed the marsala right on out of there.  But I couldn't think of a better Marsala it is, but isn't...get it?!  Good.  Name aside, this is a truly delicious meal.  It has only been the last few years that I have discovered a deep love of onions and this meal definitely caters to that taste.  If you love onions and garlic, you will adore this meal.  If you don't...well skip over this one and I'll have something for you non-onion lovers in the next few days!  

Marsala Pork Chops

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
4 pork loin chops (the original recipe says bone-in, I use boneless)
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon peper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter cubed
Hot cooked egg noodles

Place bread crumbs in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add pork chops, one at a time and shake to coat.  In a large skillet, cook pork chops in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.  Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, sauté onions in remaining oil until tender.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add the chicken broth, pepper and salt, stirring to loosen browned bits from the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally until liquid is nearly evaporated.  Stir in butter until melted.  Serve over pork chops and noodles.

Recipe Source:  Adapted slightly from Taste of Home
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Open-Faced Chicken Avocado Burgers

I first made these open-faced burgers about 3 years ago when I really started getting serious about learning how to cook.  I remember looking at the recipe and being totally overwhelmed with the list of ingredients and I remember that it took, what seemed to me, a very long time to throw them together.  I even went to a specialty store to look for the ground chicken because I was sure that the regular grocery store wouldn't carry it.  Well, after all the work I thought I put into them I was delighted at how delicious they were!  The avocado dressing sauce was tangy and delicious and took what could be just a regular old burger over the top!  Even though I loved these and thought they were one of the best things I had made yet, I didn't make them again until just a few weeks ago.  The only reason being that I remembered them to be way too much work!  But when I was at Walmart the other day and spotted the ground chicken (that I thought was some crazy uncommon ingredient), I had a sudden strong desire to make them.  So I pulled out the recipe when I got home, and I actually laughed out loud at myself.  I couldn't believe that I thought these were so difficult to make!  It showed to me how far I have traveled in my culinary journey, because things that once seemed so overwhelming and difficult to me, now seem like a piece of cake!  Beautiful in their presentation, these are an easy and delicious spin on the classic burger! 

Open-Faced Chicken Avocado Burgers

Avocado Sauce:

1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 medium ripe avocado, peeled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons prepared pesto
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground chicken
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
4 slices Italian bread (3/4 inch thick)
2 cups fresh arugula or fresh baby spinach
8 slices tomato
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a blender, combine the first eight ingredients; cover and process until smooth.  Chill until serving.  For burgers, in a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, pesto, garlic and salt.  Crumble chicken over mixture and mix well.  Shape into four patties.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook burgers in 2 Tablespoons of oil for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees and juices run clear.  Top with cheese; cover and cook for 1 minute longer.  

Meanwhile, brush the bread with remaining oil and place on a baking sheet.  Broil 3-4 inches from heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until toasted.  

Spread each slice of toast with 2 Tablespoons of the avocado dressing (refrigerate the remaining sauce for another use...I have used it on sandwiches and other hamburgers).  Top the slices of bread with the spinach, a burger and sliced tomato.  Sprinkle each burger with basil and pepper.  Serve.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chocolate Lover's Dream Cookies

It has been nearly another week since my last post!  Am I the only one that ever feels like life is impossible to catch up on?!  I know I'm not, but for some reason right now that is where I am at.  I can't seem to get my head on straight lately!  And time is just flying by!  I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but my husband is graduating from dental school next month and we are moving our little family clear across the country to Chattanooga, Tennessee!  We are super excited about this new adventure we are about to embark on, but also really overwhelmed at what it takes to make a move of this magnitude!  We are also really sad to be leaving this city in Arizona that we have made our home.  Needless to say the next 8 weeks of life are going to be full of stress, anxiety and lots of other emotions.  To get me through this phase, I am going to need lots of sugary, rich desserts...just like these chocolate lover's dream cookies.  These are delicious little morsels of chocolatey goodness!  As the name implies, they are chalk full of chocolate...a base that delightfully tastes like a chewy brownie,  dotted with chunks of my personal favorite, white chocolate chips and then of course, semi-sweet (or in my case, milk chocolate) chips as well!  Perfect!  It took me about 10 cookies, before I realized that these were infinitely better when dipped in a cold glass of milk!  They were super easy to throw together and are literally a chocolate lover's dream cookie! 

Chocolate Lover's Dream Cookies

6 Tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vanilla or white chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 milk chocolate and 1/2 semisweet & loved the result)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the oil, butter and sugars until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a medium bowl; gradually add to oil mixture and mix well.   Stir in both kinds of chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets or baking mat.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Do not over bake!  Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks to finish cooling.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home

I am linking up at these great parties!

PS...How was your Easter?!  Ours was fantastic!  We attended church, had friends over for dinner and dessert, and just spent time together as a family.  It was a really nice weekend for us!  Though this has nothing to do with food, other than the fact that Easter is a day to eat an amazingly delicious meal, I had to share this picture of my sweet kids in their Easter best!  My 2 year old is a bit of a stinker and REFUSED to let me take a good picture of her, so this one featuring her non-smiling glare, is literally the best one I got!  I hope your Easter was as good as ours!

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