Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Praline Cream Cheese

I love most everything about fall...the food, the clothes, the smells, the excitement in the air as football is in full swing!  

I saw these perfect-for-fall Pumpkin Muffins at Flair For Home, and I knew the ingredients would be on my next grocery list!  They are super easy and quick to prepare.

 These muffins are the perfect treat for neighbors, teachers, or as a gift to a new mom!
The base for these muffins is a boxed pumpkin muffin mix.  Pillsbury or Kroger brand available.

Pumpkin Muffins with Praline Cream Cheese 

To prepare muffins:

1 box pumpkin bread mix
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
*1/2 can pumpkin (regular sized can)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with Pam.  In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients, except pumpkin, with spatula.  Fold in pumpkin last.  Fill muffin cups with batter.  

Bake for 18-20 minutes.  

*Save other half can of pumpkin for another batch later in the week!

To prepare praline cream cheese spread:

1- 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

Using mixer, combine cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth.  Remove from oven and serve warm with praline cream cheese.  

Send half a recipe to a neighbor, friend, or teacher!


White Bean Chicken Chili

If the temps go below 80 in September in Arkansas, we pull out the sweaters, jeans, and boots...and make chili.  Never mind that it will be close to 90 degrees two days later.  We will enjoy a "fall day" any way we can get it!  Last week gave us a few such days, and White Bean Chili made the menu!  This recipe makes a large batch, is delicious, and can be easily frozen for later use.  

White Bean Chili

1 lb dried Northern Beans or 3-(16 oz) cans
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. vegetable oil
4-5 chicken breasts, cooked
5 c. chicken broth 
1-(7 oz) can chopped green chilis, drained
2 T. ground cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/8 t. dried oregeno 
1/4 t. dried cloves (I omit)
1/2 T. chili powder
1/2 t. Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/8 t. ground cardamom (I omit)

For topping chili:
Grated Monterey Jack cheese
Sour Cream

Cook beans according to directions if using dry beans.

 In a stockpot, saute onion and garlic in vegetable oil until tender. To onion mixture, add beans, chicken, and next 9 ingredients, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Add additional seasonings to taste. (We added more Tabasco and chili powder)

 Serve with grated Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  Cornbread is the perfect addition to make a meal.

Best prepared one day in advance, and leftovers freeze easily.
Recipe adapted and changed from Food for Thought, Birmingham Junior League.

Chicken Enchiladas

These are our all-time favorite enchiladas!  They stay in the regular rotation and routinely are on the menu for guests. 

 These enchiladas boast a rich, creamy filling and are full of flavor!  They also freeze well and are great to pull out for busy weeknights or for giving away.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 large onion, chopped very fine (I use 1/2 large onion)
2 T. butter
2 c. shredded cooked chicken (about 4-5 small breasts)
1/2 c. chopped pimientos (4 oz jar)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 t. cilantro
1/2 t. salt 
1/2 t. pepper
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
10-12 flour tortillas (Mission brand fajita size)
1 c. whipping cream

Optional Toppings:
Sour cream

For filling: Saute onions in butter in a large skillet over medium heat until soft. Add chicken, pimientos, green chiles, cream cheese, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese.   

 Cook over low heat until mixed well and cheese is completely melted.

Place 4-6 tortillas between two damp paper towels.  Microwave 30-45 seconds.  Repeat for remaining tortillas when ready to fill.
 Spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture onto a heated tortilla and roll up to close. Arrange enchiladas seam-side down in a greased 9X13 dish.  (You will need an extra small dish for enchiladas that do not fit.)

Pour the whipping cream over the enchiladas that you plan to bake.  If freezing some, place directly in freezer ziplocs without whipping cream.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake covered 25 minutes,  then uncover, sprinkle remaining Monterey Jack cheese over enchiladas, and bake until cheese melts. 

Top with your choice of sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.


Yield: 10 enchiladas
As an appetizer before the enchiladas, try either Babalu's Guacamole or this easy and delicious guacamole!

For a complete meal, serve alongside black beans and salad or Mexican rice.  
Recipe adapted from the Little Rock Junior League's Apron Strings

Easy Pork Tenderloin with Cavender's Seasoning

Happy Friday! 

I don't know about you, but I am really glad it's Friday.  Getting back into the groove of school, homework, and sports has been tough!

Dinnertime during these busy seasons can be disjointed, eating at different times or eating together late.  This easy pork tenderloin requires little prep, cooks quickly, and is full of flavor.  You can even prepare it ahead of time and slice for mini sandwiches.
Easy Pork Tenderloin with Cavender's Seasoning

1 package pork tenderloin
Mayo or olive oil for coating meat
Cavender's Greek Seasoning

Preheat oven to 500 degrees on broil.
To prepare meat, coat entire surface of tenderloin with either mayo or olive oil.  Then, generously sprinkle Cavender's Greek Seasoning over entire surface of meat. 
Transfer to a foil-lined grill pan sprayed with Pam.  Broil at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crust forms.  Turn oven down to 325 degrees and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until done.
Allow meat to sit for a few minutes before slicing.

Recipe adapted from Lisa Fischer's Crockpot Wednesday on B98.5!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chicken Tacos in the Crockpot

This recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights when your family may be eating late or in shifts due to late afternoon activities...like today at our house!

Chicken Tacos in the Crockpot

For chicken:
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8-10 Chicken breast tenderloins 
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 can chicken broth or 2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water

For finished tacos:
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheese (Mexican blend, cheddar, or Mont Jack)
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream
Green onion, chopped fine
Chopped tomato
Fresh Guacamole

Add chicken broth or dissolved bouillon water to crockpot.  Add the taco seasoning and mix well.  

Place chicken into liquid in crockpot.  **If you will be gone all day, add enough water to fully cover chicken.  Unnecessary otherwise.

Cook chicken 5-6 hours on low.  If you are home, shred chicken with a fork once it is tender, or shred once you arrive home, allowing the meat to absorb as much juice as possible.  

To assemble tacos, heat flour tortillas in a little butter in a small skillet.  Remove from heat and place a serving of chicken onto tortilla and fill with desired toppings from list above.  Wrap and enjoy!
Printable Recipe

Serve with Mexican Rice or Refried Beans for a complete, easy, weeknight meal!
**Don't you think this chicken would be great in hard taco shells or over lettuce for a taco salad?


Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicken Gyros

Several weeks ago, David and I visited a local eatery (Terrace on the Green for you locals) that served delicious traditional gyros, and like many visits to restaurants, we leave craving a menu item for days...so I set out to make chicken gyros at home.  The traditional lamb used in Greek restaurants is complicated to prepare at home, but chicken is a suitable alternative!

The following recipe is adapted and combined from two sources...Annie's Eats and Kalyn's Kitchen.   Serve these delicious gyros with this Traditional Homemade Hummus I recently posted!

*Please note that both the chicken and tzatziki sauce require being made ahead of time.  Read recipe for details. 

Chicken Gyros

For the chicken:
4 cloves garlic, pressed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 t. red wine vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping T. plain yogurt
1 T. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or equal amount of chicken tenderloins (if using breasts, butterfly to maximize marinade on surface of chicken)

For the tzatziki sauce:
16 oz. plain Greek yogurt 
(you can use regular plain NOT NON-FAT yogurt if Greek is unavailable, but you must strain it the day before...Yogurt Straining tutorial)
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded (see below)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 t. white wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For finished gyros:
Flatbread (in deli section next to pita bread)
Fresh tomatoes, chopped
Red onion, sliced thin

To prepare chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.  Whisk together, mixing well.  Add the chicken to the mixture, coat well, cover, and allow to sit in refrigerator for one hour.  Do not over-marinate...the lemon juice will begin to "cook" the chicken.

Cook the chicken either in oven or in skillet.  Oven...bake at 375 degrees until cooked through, about 25 minutes.  Skillet...allow a little oil to heat in medium temp skillet.  Add chicken and cook until done.  

Remove chicken from oven or skillet, allow to cool for a few minutes, and slice into strips.

To prepare tzatziki sauce, peel the cucumber with a potato peeler, slice it longways, and remove seeds with a pointed spoon (like a teaspoon).  Picture below.  
Chop cucumbers and remove as much water as possible by squeezing with paper towels.  

Place the cucumbers, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a food processor and process until cucumbers are finely chopped.  (You can test salt after mixing with yogurt in next step.)  If there is an excess of water, use the corner of a paper towel to soak up a bit more.  

Then, combine cucumber mixture with Greek yogurt (or strained yogurt), mixing well.  Add salt to taste as desired.  Refrigerate for about two hours to allow flavors to mingle.

Heat flatbread in microwave or for a very short time in the toaster.  Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, chopped tomatoes, and red onion.  Serve immediately.  

Serve with Traditional Homemade Hummus, pictured below!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

If you love freshly-baked banana bread right out of the oven, then you will triple love the addition of chocolate chips and a sugary crust to this tried and true treat!  John David calls it "chocolate chip banana cake."  Rightly so, because it is decadent!

 My neighbor, Courtney, shared this recipe with me.  You may even have the ingredients in your pantry already...if so, get to bakin'!  

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

6 ripe bananas
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. salt
1 cup mini or regular chocolate chips (I used regular and added a little more than a cup)

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork until large chunks disappear.  Add other ingredients in order given,  mixing until just blended.  Do not over-mix.  

Grease two 9x5 loaf pans or four mini loaf pans and coat generously :) with sugar.  For greasing pans, you can use Baker's Joy, Pam, or butter by hand.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Freezes well.  Half recipe to prepare one loaf. 

The mini loaves are the perfect size for gifts for teachers, new neighbors, or just because!