Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salsa and Cheese Boats (or Papal Hats!)

I made these as an after school snack for the boys. When I handed them to Kyle I said, "Don't they look like little sailboats?". He responded, "No, they look like the Pope's hat!!

Salsa and Cheese Boats (or Papal hats)!

Here's what you need (I didn't give measurements because you can make as many as you want!):

Flour tortillas, fajita-size
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Taco seasoning

Here's how to do it:
Cut each flour tortilla into 4 equal pieces.
Fold up the rounded edge.
Fold in the sides.
Now you have a boat or Papal hat!
Put the tortillas in a mini muffin pan.
Spoon in a little salsa.

Top with shredded cheese. Spray the tortillas and sprinkle everything with the taco seasoning.
Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes, until the tortillas are golden brown and the cheese melts


Track and Field Cake

Kyle's birthday cake! I used two boxed yellow cake mixes, so I cheated a little! The track is homemade marshmallow fondant - the kids love it so I always make extra... The lines on the track are melted white chocolate. The "long jump" is a fruit strip and graham cracker crumbs, and the "hurdles" are white chocolate-covered pretzels!

Pearled Couscous with Spinach and Herbs

I adore pearled couscous; even more than regular couscous. I think it's the texture and mouthfeel - it's more satisfying overall. This side dish is incredibly fast and easy - especially because I "cheated" a little and used the seasoned pearled couscous. 

Turn this into a complete meal by adding chicken or steak! 

Pearled Couscous with Spinach and Herbs

1 box (4.7 ounces) Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil pearled couscous (or any seasoned variety, including Basil and Herb)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups baby spinach leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine the couscous, water and oil (reserve the seasoning packet). Set the pan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the seasoning packet and simmer for 5 more minutes, until the couscous is tender (there will be a little liquid left in the pan). Remove the pan from the heat, add the spinach, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Toss gently to incorporate the spinach into the couscous. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese (with Cottage Cheese!)

Truth? I've never put cottage cheese in my mac 'n cheese before, but I'm working on a story where I'm adding "retro" ingredients to modern favorites. Cottage cheese came to mind, and I decided to fold it into another retro favorite. 

The result is really cool! The cottage cheese not only cuts out a lot of fat, it adds a creaminess you wouldn't get otherwise. It's spectacular! 

Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese (with Cottage Cheese!)

Cooking spray
12 ounces elbow macaroni
2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika, regular or smoked
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1-2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
Heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Whisk the flour into the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and add the mixture to the hot milk. Cook, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese and cottage cheese. Stir until cheese has mostly melted. Fold in the Dijon mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the mixture to the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and top with the panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden.

Serves 4

Apricot-Glazed Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese-Wasabi Dip

Who wants wings? These wings are downright amazing. Why? Because the glaze is a sweet and savory blend of apricot preserves, soy and sesame. A little Asian flare puts them in the "truly unique" category. Plus, they're baked, so they're healthier and there's no messy cleanup afterwards! 

Note 1: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd.
Note 2: Once the chicken wings are coated with the apricot preserve-hot sauce mixture, you can marinate them (in the refrigerator) for up to 24 hours before baking; this makes them great for prepping ahead for a party.

Apricot-Glazed Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese-Wasabi Dip

Cooking spray
1 cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 pounds chicken wings and drummettes, wing tips trimmed and discarded if necessary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoons wasabi paste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking rack on top of a foil-lined baking sheet and spray the rack with cooking spray (don’t forget the foil – the apricot glaze that hits the baking sheet blackens from the sugars – it would be a nightmare to clean up).
In a shallow dish, whisk together the apricot preserves, hot sauce and sesame oil.
Add the chicken wings and drummettes and turn to coat.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking rack, reserving the leftover marinade.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Brush with the reserved marinade and bake another 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crispy.
To make the dip, combine the sour cream, blue cheese and wasabi and mix well.
Serve the wings with the dip on the side.

Serves 4-6