Friday, October 31, 2014

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Happy Halloween!

I can't wait to see the little one's lining up at the door tonight. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to see a lot of Elsa's and Olaf's tonight!

I loved trampsing around the neighborhood when the kids were little, but I missed answering the door. Now that the kids are big and don't trick or treat anymore I miss walking around the neighborhood!

It's cooled down quite a bit here in New England so I'm breaking out the casseroles.

I just threw this together , much like I do with my soups. I did take note of what I used to make this so I could share it with you all tough. More than once I've made one of my "throw this and that in" casseroles and forget to write down exactly what I did. This time I remembered.

I used 3 very large chicken breasts when I make this but you could most certainly use the meat from a rotisserie chicken in a pinch.

Chicken and Rice Casserole 2

Chicken and Rice Casserole
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Printable recipe
2 - 8oz boxes Uncle Ben's Wild Rice cooked according to package directions * see note
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
3 to 4 cups completely cooked, cubed chicken (you can use a rotisserie chicken if you'd like!)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Blend in flour with a wire whisk, stirring constantly, cook for 1 or 2 minutes or until the flour turns golden. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat.

Sauté the onion, carrots, celery in the olive oil until tender. Add in the garlic during the last few minutes.

Add the sauce, rice and chicken to the veggie mixture and stir to combine. Spread in an a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over rice mixture. . Bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Note* See the note on the bottom of the Uncle Ben's box when you are making 2 boxes at once. There are instructions for making 2 boxes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Easy Apple Pastry Puff

Easy Apple  Puff Pastry

I could eat stuff made with apples every day. I really could.

Every year we go to the same apple orchard to pick. I'm very loyal to my local farmers. I've been picking blueberries at Macombers Farm in Rhode Island for over 20 years and I can proudly say the same thing about Sunset Orchards in Scituate, RI too. It's the only place I go to get my apples.

It's a yearly tradition that we have. My friends and I go pick, they have a coffee, I get some cider, we pick a whole buncha apples and then I make apple treats. The kids would all go with us up until a few years ago when it became uncool to be seen with your parents. The kids are now 17, 18 and 19 so they want no part of apple picking anymore. They'll come back one day. I keep telling them this. I'll be patient.

There is nothing like a fresh picked apple. Unless you've had one you wouldn't even know what you were missing. They are so crisp and so fresh. I love baking with them because I don't have to add much sugar. The sweetness of the apples really shine through.

So I made some apple treats over the last month and I'm now down to the last few apples. I just threw this recipe together to make something sweet for the Sunday football games. It was super easy to make. I always have a package of puff pastry in my freezer to whip up goodies. I also make a Ham & Cheese in Puff Pastry savory appetizers that also takes just minutes to make. Puff Pastry to the rescue!

Easy Apple  Puff Pastry 1

Apple Puff Pastry
recipe from Lisa@ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Printable recipe
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
4 medium apples, peeled and cored and sliced thin
4 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar (less if your apples are really sweet)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

In a skillet melt the butter and toss in the apples. Cook for about 5 minutes, just until they become a little soft. Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for another 5 minutes until the apples get all gooey and caramelized. You don't want them to be mush so don't over cook! Take off the heat to cool a bit.

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place 1 sheet of the puff pastry on the baking sheet and roll it out just a little. You can do it right in the pan or on the parchment on your counter. You're not going to double it in size of anything, just make it a wee bit bigger. Make sure to do this on a piece of parchment or you will have a heck of a time moving it!

Place the apples to the left hand side of the puff pastry leaving a half inch of space from the edge. Fold over the pastry and use a fork to "pinch" the edges together all the way around the pastry. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut some slits in the top to vent it. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread - makes 2 loaves!

Arcadia - pond

Arcadia - picnic table

Arcadia - lone leaf

I have a favorite month.

It's October. That shouldn't come as a shock to most of you who know me. I love October for all sorts of reason. I celebrate my anniversary, one of my son's birthdays, my Dad's birthday and several relatives birthday in October. I wait every year to take vacation in October. It's stunningly beautiful here in Rhode Island.

It rains color here. It drips magic from the trees. Every ordinary road is brought to life, every sidewalk is a kaleidoscope of yellows and reds and orange. It just makes everything better and more beautiful.

It brings to life the baker in me.

Give me something to stir or mix or to add chocolate chips in and I'm a happy camper. Let me warm my kitchen with the oven. Let me hear the boys come tumbling down the stairs asking "what's that smell?" and then "when can we eat it?".

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread 1

For me it's what I hope memories are made of. I hope they always remember me in the kitchen and lots of good stuff coming from the oven.

This Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread is some good stuff. This recipe makes 2 loaves, so you can keep one and spread the Autumn love by sharing the other.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Bread - makes two loaves!
slightly adapted from a recipe at Your Cup of Cakes
Printable recipe
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
4 eggs
1 cup applesauce
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips.

Cream Cheese Filling:
12 oz. cream cheese (1 block and one ½ block), room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 Tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans. I always line mine with parchment too, but you don’t have it. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract and sugar.

In a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mix and fold in until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

For the filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and milk together until smooth.

Pour about 2 inches of batter into the bottom of both loaf pans, spread to cover the bottom. Spoon the cream cheese filling over the batter and gently spread it on top. Take a butter knife and swirl the cream cheese mixture into the bottom batter. Top each pan with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips if you’d like. Bake for 60-80 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Honey BBQ Sticky Wings

Honey BBQ Wings

It's was blustery and chilly over the weekend. The leaves were flying like snow in the yard. It was just the kind of weekend I love. Every time the back door opened I'd have a pile of leaves in the breezeway. I love that I need to wear my socks in the house now and that it gets just chilly enough for me to have to put on a sweater and dig out my slippers. I was made for this weather.

This is my favorite time of year to cook and bake too. Who wants to turn the oven on in the summer? Not me. This time of year it warms the kitchen up nicely. Makes me happy.

I make wings yesterday. Football food. There will be a lot of football food heading your way. There is something deeply satisfying about a big ole pan of wings. My guys love them. I'm not as big of a wings fan as they are. I don't do spicy so the whole buffalo wings thing is lost on me. I do like the sticky, gooey wings though.

I loved these wings. I made up the recipe on a whim. Looking at a few recipes on the internet and then giving them my own spin. I didn't want anything complicated. I just wanted some "gooey I need 3 or 4 napkins to eat these" kinda wings and that's what I got!

This is a very simple recipe. The hardest part was waiting for the wings to cool enough to eat them!!

Honey BBQ Wings 2

Honey BBQ Sticky Wings
recipe from Lisa @The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Printable recipe
4 pounds of wings
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons ketchup

Oven to 375. On a parchment or foil lined baking sheet bake the wings for 25 - 35 minutes, or until wings are cooked through and juices run clear. Turn the oven up to 400.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl (you want a large bowl to toss them around in). Toss a few wings at a time in the bowl and coat them with the sauce. Return them to the oven for 5 - 10 more minutes or until they are bubbly and crispy. I turned on the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Devour!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Apple Fritter Cake

Apple Fritter Cake 2

Look at me. I go from being a bad blogger to a blogger who is posting during her vacation. Pretty good huh? We are on vacation this. We just took the week off to work around the house, get the yard prepped for winter, plant the garlic, get everything in storage before the snow comes. It's a yearly event and it's not that much fun but being home and doing it during the middle of the week makes it a little easier.

We haven't been all work and no play, no sirree. We had a birthday party for my youngest son who turned 18. *sniff*. Where have the years gone? We did some Christmas shopping and we even took it easy and lazied about a bit. I've been doing a lot of cooking at baking. My word, if I was home everyday I think everyone in the house would pack on the pounds. I just can't stop! I am over the moon to share this recipe with you all.

This cake, this cake, this cake! I haven't been this excited about a cake in a long time.

I was browsing Pinterest looking for a different apple recipe and I came across this beauty. It just sounded good. The best tasted even better. My mother-in-law made it and my father-in-law upon first bite declared it "the best cake he's ever had". My friend had a piece and after the first bite she was oooing and ahhh-ing. It is that good!

This cake is amazing! Like, I want to make it every week amazing! The moist soft cake, the sweet apples, that glaze! I really can't say enough about it. I already know it's going to be my go-to cake. AMAZING!

I only adapted it very slightly from the original. I added in some pure maple syrup to the glaze and it just sent it over the top. Apple and maple are just a perfect combination, but if you'd prefer it without the maple, just add in another 2 tablespoons of milk.

I'm adding this to my "must make" list for Thanksgiving!

Apple Fritter Cake
slightly adapted from The Domestic Doozie
Printable recipe
For the batter:
3 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

6 small or 4 large apples cored, peeled and diced into small pieces

For the topping:
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the glaze:
2 cups of powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 teaspoon. vanilla

Start by mixing all the ingredients for the batter (except the butter) together in a bowl. Once combined, carefully pour in the melted butter. If you do this part with your mixer at a high speed it will splash everywhere. So slow is best. Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 pan, any smaller and it will overflow while baking. Evenly distribute the apples over the top of the batter.

In a separate bowl mix together the topping, it will be thick so do your best to drop scoops of it evenly over the apples. I just plopped them all over the top of the apples. It will spread while it bakes.

Bake at 350 for 40 - 45 minutes. You want the apples to become tender and the cake to get golden brown. If the top is getting too brown you can always tent it with foil. Once baked let sit for 20 minutes and then pour the glaze all over the cake.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Easy Enchilada Casserole

I had a hankering for Mexican. That doesn’t happen very often with me. I’m not really into Mexican food. Maybe it’s because I’m such a wuss when it comes to heat. I can barely handle the mild sauces so imagine me ordering at a Mexican restaurant….”no sauce please cause even your mild is too hot for me”. Yes I’m baby when it comes to heat. I can handle mild enchilada sauce though and I even had a can in my cupboard so I decided to whip this up for dinner.

Let me tell you, there are loads of Enchilada casseroles all over the Internet. Loads I tell ya. I looked a few over and decided that I could just whip up my own. So that’s what I did.

I made this very basic because I have a picky eater at home. You can certainly add in whatever you like….black olives, green chilies, beans, etc. The next time I make this I might have to make sure Evan isn’t home to eat it so I can be a bit more adventurous.

I didn’t measure out most of the ingredients. I just eyed the sour cream. Just dollop it over the top so you get some bites with a bit of sour cream in them.

I think frying the tortillas makes them a little less “gummy” in the oven. You can certainly just use them without frying them first if you’d like.

The four of us ate ¾ of the pan. It was that good.

This would make great football food. We ate ours while watching football. That’s why I said that, lol. Throw it all together the night before and pop it in the oven before the game.

Easy Enchilada Casserole
recipe from Lisa@ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Printable recipe
6 medium tortillas
2 pounds ground beef.
1 medium onion, diced
Enchilada sauce (I bought the large can)
Sour cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Vegetable or Canola oil for frying tortillas

Oven to 350º F.

Heat up a little oil in the bottom of a skillet. Place the tortillas in the pan one at a time and fry until brown and bubbly on each side. You may have to add a little more oil to the pan with each tortilla to prevent them from sticking. Move to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.

Place the diced onion in the same pan and cool until just translucent. Add in the ground beef and cook until done. Drain the grease. Set aside.

Pour an even layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan, making sure the enchilada sauce coats the entire bottom of the pan. Place 2 tortillas in the bottom of the pan. Cut the 3rd tortilla in half and use the pieces to cover the bottom as best as you can. It doesn’t have to look pretty.

Add a layer of ground beef and top with dollops of sour cream. Sprinkle with one cup of cheese.

Add a second layer, cover the tortillas with the rest of the enchilada sauce and continue to layer with the ground beef and sour cream. The top layer should be shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes – 40 minutes or until brown and bubbly.