Monday, April 30, 2012

Southwest Pasta Salad

I needed to bring a pasta salad to our small group and I was tired of always making the one pasta salad I always make.  It is tasty and all, but variety is the spice of life!  A southwest pasta salad sounds right up my alley and this turned out just perfect.  Plenty of veggies (though I think next time I may use more corn) and the dressing was very flavorful and light.  Bill, who will try anything I make but doesn't necessarily mean he likes everything, said he LOVED it more than once.  Which I definitely took as a sign to make this a standby.

Southwest Pasta Salad
From: Our Best Bites

Prep Time: 30 min

1 box bowtie pasta
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced (or 3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes)
1 Large bell pepper, diced (red, yellow, or orange)
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup frozen corn
zest from 2 limes
1/2 cup Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese
Optional: 8oz diced cooked chicken

6 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1.  Boil Pasta in Salted water according to directions.

2. Zest limes and place zest in a large salad bowl.

3. To prepare dressing:  Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and sugar in blender or food processor.  Process until smooth.  With motor running slowly, add oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  Add cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up, but some pieces still remain in tact.

4. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool.  Place pasta in the large bowl with lime zest.  Add black beans, tomatoes, diced pepper, green onions, corn (no need to thaw corn), and chicken if desired.  Toss with dressing.  Taste, add additional salt and pepper to taste.  For best results, chill fro 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.  Serve with extra lime wedges if desired.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars

I saw this floating around pinterest a while back, and two of my friends recently made them to bring to our small group.  They were tasty, so I wanted to try them myself.  These sure aren't overly healthy, but they are really tasty, and very easy. Perfect to bring to any group gathering.  One thing I did do, was use light cream cheese.  Not sure if that made a difference, but every little bit counts I think.

Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars
From: Cookies and Cups
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 min

2 cans crescent rolls
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Unroll 1 can of crescent rolls and lay flat in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Stretch rolls to cover teh bottom of the pan if needed.  Pinch any seams closed.

3. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla until combined and smooth.  Spread over top of the crescent rolls.

4. Unroll your remaining can of crescent rolls and lay this on top of the cream cheese mixture, again pinching closed any open seams.

5. Pour melted butter on top of the crescent rolls.

6.  In a bowl mix the remaining sugar and Tbsp cinnamon together and sprinkle that evenly on top of butter.

7.  Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden brown.

8.  Let cool for approximately 20 minutes and then put in refrigerator to completely chill before cutting into squares.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Artichokes, & Spinach

This recipe called out to me to make this spring.  I love Asparagus especially in the spring, and artichokes in anything is good for me.  This turned out to be so easy and really light.  It was great as a side dish to our steak and great as a meal for lunch the next day.  I will definitely make this again and again.

Israeli Coucous Salad with Roast Asparagus, Artichokes, & Spinach
From: Two Peas and Their Pod
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 min

3 cups water
1 1/2 cups dry Israeli Couscous
1/2 - 1 lb of asparagus spears
Juice of 2 lemons, divided
1 cup jarred artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
salt & pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, bring three cups of water to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt, stir in the Israeli couscous.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until couscous is just tender, with a slight bite, about 10 minutes.  Drain into a fine mesh strainer, set aside.

 2. While couscous is cooking, roast the asparagus.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place asparagus spears on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and juice from 1/2 of one lemon.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Roast for 10-12 minutes or until spears are tender.  Cut into one inch pieces.

3.  In a large bowl, combine Israeli couscous, asparagus spears, artichokes and spinach.  Squeeze lemon juice from remaining half and other lemon over the salad. Stir well.  Sprinkle salad with Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve (cold or warm).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli

This is a recipe I saw on my friend Jacki's blog.  She cooks a lot of great things and seems to have similar tastes to what we like and this one just jumped out at me.  Bill likes broccoli so I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it and this sounded like a great recipe with some different flavors.  It turned out delicious and very easy.  I didn't have the same spices as Jacki but I used a Curry Vindaloo that tasted great.  I think this could taste great with a variety of spices so I may have to play around with it!

Creamy Baked Chicken and Broccoli
From: Jacki & John Ate This

2 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of flour
1 can of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp of Bangkok Blend spice (I actually used 1 Tbsp Curry Vindaloo, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
12 oz of pasta (I used penne)
3 cups broccoli

1.  Cut chicken into pieces about one or two inches in size.  Grease 9x13 pan and place chicken in pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In a large saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp butter and 3 Tbsp olive oil together over medium-low heat.  Add 4 cloves of minced garlic and saute for a couple minutes

3.  Add 1/4 cup of flour and whisk 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in can of chicken broth, then 1.5 cups of half.  Turn heat up and bring to a simmer.  Simmer slowly for 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning,  2 Tbsp of Bangkok spice (or whatever yo use), salt and pepper.

5. Add can of diced tomatoes bring back to simmer for 3-4 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cilantro

6. Pour sauce over chicken in the casserole pan. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until bubbly all over and chicken is cooked through.

7. While chicken and sauce is baking, boil a large pot of water, and cook pasta and broccoli together until pasta is al dente and broccoli is tender.

8. Serve chicken and sauce on top of broccoli and pasta

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Death By Chocolate - with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

This is a recipe from my Mom.  The original recipe called for Heath bars, but I'm not a huge fan of Heath bars so I made mine with Reese's Peanut Butter cups and it was a huge hit.  So easy (as long as you plan ahead) and very rich and delicious!

Death By Chocolate with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
From: my Mom
Prep time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min (for the brownies) 
Chill overnight

1 brownie mix (baked)
1 large instant chocolate pudding
Milk to make pudding
1 large cool whip
Reese's peanut butter cups (however many you prefer)

1. Break brownie mix into small bite-sized pieces.  Cut Reese's peanut butter cups into small pieces.

2.  Mix Chocolate pudding and Milk together.

3.  In a trifle bowl (or large glass bowl) a layer of brownie pieces, 1/2 of the pudding, 1/2 of the whip cream, and Reese's.  Repeat with the rest of brownie pieces, pudding, whip cream, and top with Reese's.

4.  Chill overnight.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Layered Taco Dip

This is a super easy dip that I LOVE.  My mom used to make it at gatherings growing up and we always ate the whole thing.  Perfect appetizer for any occasion

Layered Taco Dip
From: My Mom

1 can refried beans
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 pkg. taco seasoning
4 Green onions, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
Shredded cheese
Avocado, cubed (optional)

1. Mix sour cream, mayo, and taco seasoning.

2. Spread refried beans on bottom of pie plate.  Then spread the sour cream mixture over top.  Layer with onions, tomatoes and black olives.  Then cover with shredded cheese.  Top with avocado if desired.  Serve with Tortilla chips

(can be made ahead of time and keep in refrigerator until serving.  Add avocado right before serving if using)


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