Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chicken, Green Chile and Spinach Enchiladas

These are some really yummy enchiladas!  The first time I made them they turned out a little too spicy for our family.  I only used one of the chipotle peppers this time and they turned out perfect.  I added some chopped baby spinach to the green chile sauce, mostly because I had it and needed to use it before it went bad.  I found the recipe at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Chicken, Green Chile and Spinach Enchiladas

(by Reeni)

4 cups Chicken, boneless, skinless, cooked and cut into bite-size hunks
2 and 1/2 cups Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup Sour Cream plus additional for serving
Salt and pepper
8-10 taco size flour Tortillas

Green Chile Sauce:

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1 tablespoon Canola oil
2 tablespoon Butter
2 tablespoon Flour
1 and 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
1 small can Green Chiles
1 -3 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, seeds scraped out, minced
1 and 1/2 cups Sour Cream
2 cups baby spinach, chopped

In a medium saucepan saute the Onion in the oil over medium-low heat until soft. Push the Onions to one side and add the Butter and Flour. Whisk together and cook for three minutes. Slowly whisk in Broth. Add Green Chiles and Chipotle(adjust the amount according to your heat preference). Bring to a slow simmer and continue to simmer about five minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the Sour Cream and spinach. Whisk until sour cream is melted and spinach is wilted and incorporated. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with baking spray and put a thin layer of Enchilada sauce in the bottom.

To a large mixing bowl add the Chicken, 1 cup Cheese, Cilantro, ½ cup Sour Cream, 1 cup Green Chile Sauce, dash of salt and pepper, and mix well.

In a skillet heat the Tortillas one at a time over medium heat about 30 seconds on each side.

Put a 1/2 - 2/3 cup of the Chicken mixture into each Tortilla, one at a time. Roll and place in pan. Repeat until all the Chicken mixture is used up. Pour the rest of the Green Chile sauce over the top. Sprinkle the remaining Cheese evenly over top.

Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly throughout. Let set for five minutes before serving. Serve with Sour Cream and Avocado.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chicken, Brie, Onion and Roasted Poblano Pannini

I'm not a big fan of sandwiches.  I think I ate so many of them as a child that I just don't want them anymore.  I will eat a good hot sandwich occasionally, though.  When I saw this recipe for Steak, Roasted Pasilla Pepper, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese Panini  at For the Love of Cooking, I knew I needed to try this sandwich.  Poblano and jalapeno peppers have become favorites of mine.  They aren't too spicy (without the seeds and ribs) and have wonderful flavor.  I've decided that I need to try some different types of peppers and experiment.  I'm not sure which one to try next, though.  Any ideas?

I had some leftover chicken breast leftover from dinner the previous night, so I used that instead of steak.  I also used brie instead of cheddar and added some carmelized onions.  I skimped on the peppers because I was afraid it was going to be too spicy.  I wish I hadn't.  Next time, more peppers will be piled on! 

Per sandwich:

cooked chicken cut into thin strips
2 slices of whole wheat sour dough bread
poblano peppers, roasted
Hot Sauce

Roast the peppers:

Clean the poblano peppers and carefully slit them down the center. Gently remove the seeds from the inside of the pepper. Line a baking sheet with tin foil then place the pepper on top.  Broil until peppers are blackened on all sides. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool for 10 minutes. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the blackened skin and stem gently. Slice into strips.

Prepare the sandwich:

Preheat your panini grill or a large skillet over medium heat. Mix a few tablespoons of mayonnaise with a few teaspoons of hot sauce; taste and add more hot sauce if desired.

Spread the mayonnaise mixture on each slice of bread. Next add the slices of chicken then roasted poblano peppers and finally the brie; top the sandwich with the other slice of bread and place on the panini maker then cook for 5 minutes.

If you are using a skillet, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until it's golden brown. Place a heavy pan on top of your sandwich so it presses and smooshes it a little.  Slice and serve with extra mayonnaise sauce on the side.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blue Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

I love to order stuffed mushrooms when we go out to eat and I used to make them a lot at home, too, but haven't in a long time.  I forgot how easy they are to make.  You can put lots of different ingredients into these little natural cups, so just be creative.  One of my favorite things to stuff mushrooms with is crabmeat.  I use the canned.  This time, I used what I had at home already...Maytag blue cheese and bacon.


9 large mushrooms
3 strips of bacon, fried and chopped or crumbled
1-2 ounces of crumbled blue cheese (depending on your taste)
3-4 tbsp of  melted butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard.  Gently clean the mushrooms with a wet rag.  Place caps on a small, greased baking sheet.  With a pastry brush, brush a little of the melted butter on each mushroom cap. 

Mix the remaining ingredients (including the remaining butter) in a small bowl.  Spoon the mixture evenly into each mushroom.   Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until desired doneness. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chicken Taco Soup

Running late for work, I was determined to get something in the crockpot before I left the house.  I went to my freezer and pulled out baggies filled with the following: boneless skinless chicken breasts and chicken thighs, homemade black beans, chopped celery and chopped onions.  I dumped all of this into my trusty little crockpot, frozen and all.  Added a large can of enchilada sauce and a can of fire roasted tomatoes.  The only prep work I had to do was chop up a poblano pepper I added in at the last minute.  Set the crockpot on low for 8 hours and I had the most amazing dinner ready when I got home. 

All of this because of some prep work done days before.  I have been reading some blogs about cooking once a month and bulk cooking.  I don't think I could ever do that but I am doing my variation on the concept.  I got out my food processer one Sunday afternoon and chopped up a lot of onions, celery and carrots.  I put them in baggies and put them in the freezer.  I also cooked up 2 pounds of dried black beans and put them in baggies with about 2 cups in each baggy.  This is close to how much would be in a can of beans.  I got about 7 or 8 baggies out of $2 of dried black beans...can't beat that!  My next cook-ahead recipe is going to be this homemade enchilada sauce at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.  

This recipe was definitely inspired by a recipe I made a while back, Chicken Enchilada Chili.  Actually, the two are almost identical, but I wanted to share the process of how this meal came to be more than anything. 

I love this idea of doing a lot of the prep work ahead of time.  It makes meal preparation so much easier when time is short.  Not having to use a lot of processed food is another big bonus.  I seriously had this meal in the crockpot in less than 10 minutes.  It would have been faster if the poblano pepper had been chopped and frozen, also.  The food in the pot didn't look like much when I left for work, but when I got home it was like magic had taken place in my kitchen.  I LOVE IT!


1-1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken (breasts, thighs, whatever you have)
1 can black beans
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup onions, chopped
1 large can enchilada sauce (not sure about exact size)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped


Combine all ingredients in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips and cheese on top if desired.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chipotle Pork and Onion Casserole

This makes for a healthy, warm comfort food on a cold winter night.  I found the recipe in my new favorite cookbook, Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.  See previous post.   

Printable Recipe

12 ounces boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2 pieces
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1 tsp sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 can (8.5 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, unsalted
1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, minced
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the pork, chili powder, cumin and 1 tbsp of the oil in a bowl.  Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and sugar and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are very soft.

Add the garlic, carrot, and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned and the vegetables are softened.  Stir in the corn and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Transfer to a bowl and reserve. 

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat and add the pork.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the pork is no longer pink.  Add the reserved onion mixture, tomatoes and chile pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and scatter the cheese on top.  Cover with a sheet of foil that has been coated with cooking spray.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the pork is tender and the filling is bubbling.  Remove the foil and bake for 3 minutes longer or until the cheese has browned slightly.  Divide among 4 serving plates and top each with 1 tbsp of the sour cream.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cranberry, Chocolate and Pecan Scones

Another recipe from Belly Fat Diet Cookbook.  These scones were a pretty big hit especially warmed a little with some butter.  They were super easy!  I added 1/2 cup of mini-chocolate chip cookies...gotta have chocolate!

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp canola oil
2 eggs
2 tsps vanilla extrac
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
2/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly coat a 9" round baking pan with cooking spray. 

Whisk together the flour, pecans, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. 

Whisk together the yogurt, oil, and orange zest in a small bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the yogurt mixture and cranberries.  Stir just until blended. 

Press into the prepared pan.  Score the dough with a knife to form 8 triangles.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Nutrition Per Serving:  (without chocolate chips)

308 calories
6 g protein
38 g carbohydrates
15 g fat
1.5 g saturated fat
2 mg cholesterol
350 mg sodium
5 g fiber

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheddar and Potato Breakfast Bake

I wanted something to go along with my creme brulee French toast so I tried this recipe out of the new Bisquick Recipe Card book I found at the grocery store.  You know these great little books they have by the check-out.  I have a rather large collection of them and do actually try some of the recipes sometimes. 

Click here if you can't find it at your local grocery store.

We really liked this recipe.  It is rather healthy if you use the Bisquick Heart Smart Mix (which I didn't because I didn't have any).  It makes a very large casserole so I cut some into squares and put some of them in the freezer in individual baggies.  It also is very tasty in a whole wheat tortilla for breakfast.  I'm wondering if you can make this recipe using other types of baking mixes because I would like to try it with a whole grain baking mix.  What do you think?  Let me know if you try it. 


4 cups frozen potatoes with onions and peppers, thawed
1-1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
5 slices of Canadian Bacon chopped
1 cup Bisquick Heart Smart mix
3 cups fat-free (skim) milk
1 cup fat-free egg product
1/2 tsp pepper


Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 13x9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.  In medium bowl, mix uncooked potatoes, 1 cup of the cheese and the bacon.  Spread in baking dish.

In same bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, egg product and pepper until blended.  Pour over potato mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown around edges, the center is set and the cheese is melted.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My sister was wanting some oatmeal cookies so I went looking for a tried and true recipe online.  I found this one at Baking Sheet that had tons of good reviews.  They were really good, but didn't turn out quite as thick as I was wanting.  They were very flat but chewy and delicious.  I only made up half of the cookies the first night and put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.  The cookies did turn out a little thicker after the dough was chilled for several days. 

Stephanie, I know you are wanting to give up sweets for lent, but unfortunately these cookies are on their way to you!  Sorry! Hope you enjoy them!

Printable Recipe

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from The Frog Commissary Cookbook)

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups oats (rolled or "quick," but not "instant")
2 cups chocolate chips (about 12-oz.)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars until mixture is light in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk and the vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Either by hand or with the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour in to the sugar mixture until just incorporated.

Stir in the oats and chocolate chips by hand.

Drop 1-inch balls of dough onto the cookie sheet, placing about 1 1/2 inches apart so they have room to spread.

Bake at 350F for 10-13 minutes, until golden brown at the edges and light golden at the center.

Cool on baking sheet for at least 1-2 minutes before transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen.


- If you chill the dough for about 30 minutes before baking, you will have a slightly puffier cookie.

- You can substitute raisins for the chocolate chips.

- You can add up to 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts in addition to raisins or chocolate chips. You might want to make the cookies slightly larger if this is the case.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Creme Brulee French Toast

A friend of mine told me about this baked creme brulee French toast that her sister made that is just incredible.  I got the recipe the other day and decided this would be a great after church, Sunday late lunch on Valentine's Day.  She sent me the link to a recipe that was exactly like hers at AllRecipes. There are many reviews on this website regarding this recipe.  Many people cut down the amount of brown sugar because it was too sweet.  I did not.  I also doubled the vanilla extract and increased the orange liqueur to 1/4 cup instead of one teaspoon.  I wanted to taste the orange liqueur and the flavor definitely was pleasingly noticeable.  I didn't cut off the crust either because I wanted the crisp crust in the end.  No butter or syrup was necessary.  This was some of the most divine French Toast I have ever had!  It was so rich and decadent and simple to prepare.  Thanks Diane and Barbara!


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
8 thick slices of  French bread (enough to cover the pan in a single layer)
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier®)
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

2. Remove crusts from bread (if desired), and arrange in the baking dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy, and salt. Pour over the bread. Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.

4. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cheddar and Jalapeno Buttermilk Cornbread

Tonight, I made Black-eyed Peas Soup and wanted to make some homemade cornbread to accompany it.  I found this recipe at AllRecipes and made some adjustments.  My favorite thing about this cornbread is the ooey chunks of gooey cheese that you bite into.  YUM! 

Printable Recipe


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese chopped in small chunks
1 jalapeno pepper chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan or deep dish pie plate.

2. Melt butter in microwave and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into butter and egg mixture. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Fold in cheese, peppers and corn.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blue Cheese and Walnut Roasted Potatoes

I picked up a small piece of Maytag blue cheese at the store the other day and have been looking for a recipe to inspire me.  The inspiration came to me from my newest cookbook, Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.

There are so many recipes that I want to try in this cookbook.  They are all healthy and look so yummy!  I also like that it gives all of the nutritional information for each recipe.

I cook roasted potatoes all the time and it gets a little old so I was excited to try this version.  They turned out quite tasty but I think I put too much blue cheese.  My ten-year-old couldn't eat it because the cheese was too strong.  It was definitely a keeper recipe, but I think I may try it with feta next time. 


1 pound thin-skinned baby potatoes, halved
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 scallions, thinly sliced


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a 9"X9" baking dish with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Place the potatoes in the prepared dish and toss with the oil, pepper and salt.  Turn cut side down in the pan.  Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until very tender and lightly golden on the underside.

2.  Meanwhile, put the walnuts in a small baking pan or skillet and place in the oven to toast for 6-8 minutes.  Tip into a bowl and let cool.  Add the blue cheese and scallions and crumble with your fingers.

3.  When the potatoes are done, turn them over and sprinkle evenly with the walnut mixture.  Bake for 5 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

M&M Valentine Sugar Cookies

At 9:30 Monday evening I realized I hadn't bought any Valentine goodies for my sweet 3rd graders.  The class party was the next day, but I had no time (or energy) to come up with anything so their gifts would have to wait until the day after.  I don't really have any money to spend so I decided to bake something.  They love me baking for them so I started my search for a soft sugar cookie recipe.  The easiest and quickest one I found was this recipe at AllRecipes.  I like finding recipes that have reviews and tips from others that have tried them.  This particular recipe has almost 2,000 reviews and has scored a 4-1/2 stars out of 5.  Worth a shot!

The dough was simple to make, but turned out really dry.  I don't think I messed up any of the measurements, but I guess I could have.  I decided to take a chance and add another egg because I didn't think the dough would work out.  With the extra egg mixed in, it actually looked like cookie dough. 

The cookies turned out perfect!  They were soft and buttery, even the next day.  My kids were happy with their afternoon snack and Valentine's Day treat.  I will definitely be making these again!


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg (I used 2)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 2)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

German Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

My husband wanted something sweet to take to work with him and I found this recipe at Mommy's Kitchen.  I wanted to eat the icing right out of the pot!  Yummy and rich!  Perfect for potluck gatherings.


1 package (18-1/4 ounces) German Chocolate cake mix


2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten


1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter, cubed
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups flaked coconut
1-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Prepare cake batter according to package directions; set aside. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour half of the cake batter into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Gently pour cream cheese mixture over batter. Gently spoon remaining batter over top; spread to edge of pan. Bake at 325° for 70-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. For frosting, in a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks Cook and stir over medium-low heat until thickened and a thermometer reads 160° or is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat. Stir in vanilla; fold in coconut and pecans. Cool until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cooled cake. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 servings

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mongolian Pork

This recipe comes from Culinary in the Desert.  It was super easy and quite delicious.  I knew that I was going to have a limited amount of time to cook dinner the next night and I was determined to cook this recipe so I mixed the sauce ingredients (minus the constarch) together and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next evening, I cooked the meat for a few minutes and dumped the sauce in.  It was finished in less than ten minutes.  Cooking the rice was the most time consuming part of this recipe due to my prep work the night before.  

The recipe was originally for mongolian beef, but I didn't have any.  I have stocked my freezer with pork loin so chose to slice it into strips and use it instead.  I doubled the sauce recipe and I'm not sure I needed to.  It turned out pretty rich and salty so I think I will adjust the amount of soy sauce next time and not double the recipe. 

I had dinner made in 20 minutes.  This is a perfect meal for those busy weeknights, especially if you do a little of the prep work ahead of time. 

Mongolian Pork
(adapted from Cooking Light)

4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
16 ounces (1 pound) sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 to 6 green onions, sliced into 2" pieces

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, sherry, hoisin, vinegar, chile paste and salt.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Stir in beef, garlic and ginger - cook until beef is browned, stirring to crumble, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in green onions - cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in soy mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute.

Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles.

Makes about 4 servings.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pretzel Bites with Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Last weekend my husband mentioned that he could eat a whole bucket of those little pretzel bites you get at the mall.  Well, two days later Maria, at Two Peas and Their Pod, posted a recipe for these tasty little morsels.  Talk about luck!  She made it sound really easy so I decided that they would be a treat on Super Bowl Sunday. 

They really were very easy!  My son and I had fun making them into different shapes and sizes.  They weren't swimming in butter like the ones at the mall but that's okay.  I will definitely be making these again and next time maybe I will try using some whole wheat flour to make them a little more healthy.  YUMMO!!! 

Soft Pretzels:
recipe adapted from Bobby Flay
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

For the Pretzels:

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 2 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider. Place 4 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Serve with cheese sauce, recipe below.

Cheddar cheese sauce:

½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

For the cheese sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese until smooth and all of the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mandarin Pork with Garlic and Thyme

The crockpot has been my best friend and my worst enemy lately.  I've made some wonderful meals and then some absolutely terrible ones.  I'm pretty sure I'm never going to put pork loin chops in my crockpot again.  Every time I have cooked them lately they turn out the consistency and texture of sawdust.  I'm not sure what I'm doing but it's not working.  I thought maybe I was cooking it too long (8 hours on low), but I cooked it on low for 3-1/2 hours and it turns out the same. 

The sauce had a great flavor and I will definitely try this recipe again but not in the crockpot.  Next time, I will use it as a marinade maybe. 

I found the recipe on Megan's Cookin.  She used chicken and that might work better. 


1 lb - pork loin chops - about 1 inch thick
1 - 8oz can - mandarin oranges,
1 tbsp - Ginger, ground
1 tsp – Salt
5 cloves - garlic (minced)
1/2 cup - orange juice
1 tsp fresh Thyme
1 tbsp cornstarch


Place pork in Crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cornstarch, to the Crockpot.

Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for about 8 hours.

Remove pork and put orange sauce in a small sauce pan. Stir a little water into the cornstarch to make a this paste. Add to orange sauce and cook on medium heat till thickened. Spoon over pork and enjoy!