Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pineapple Raspberry Crumble

 One of my all time favorite desserts is any kind of baked fruit with a crumbly topping, topped with vanilla ice cream. Crisps, brown betties, pan dowdies, slumps, grunts, buckles, I love them all. (yes, they are all names of fruit desserts lol)
But here's the thing... I've always thought of crisps and crumbles to be the same thing, depending on what side of the pond you live. In America we say Apple Crisp, but say, in England, they would call it an Apple Crumble. But then I found this recipe on a blog called Pretty Plain Janes. It's a crumble, but it's not a crisp, so I stand corrected! It appears that all crisps are crumbles, but not all crumbles are crisps! Usually when I make a crisp, I add cinnamon, and oats, and brown sugar, but this crumble topping is just flour, butter, and sugar. And OMG it's freaking AMAZING. Why have I never thought to do this before? Game changer! I've already decided that this will be the topping for every crumb topped fruit pie in my future. FABULOUS.
 Oh, btw, I didn't do it exactly as it was listed in the original. (c'mon, you know me by now, right?) First of all, I used raspberries instead of strawberries. Why? Because I was cooking for my friend AJ who told me that he likes raspberries! It's all about playing to your crowd, people! Also, I didn't make it in an 8x8 pan (as you can see), and I may or may not have had a slightly heavy hand when measuring the crumble ingredients. More is more!
 So, give this one a try and let me know how you like it. It's perfect for your summer cookouts or BBQs. I promise you your friends and family will devour it! Oh! and don't forget the vanilla ice cream! It's a must!

4 cups chopped fresh pineapple
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup plus 2 tbs flour
1 cup plus 1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter

 Preheat oven 375ºF. Grease an 8" square pan. Toss pineapple and berries in a bowl with 2 tbs flour and 1 tbs sugar. Pour into prepared dish.
Combine remaining flour, sugar, and salt in separate bowl. Add butter and combine with hands until a crumbly texture forms. Spread evenly on top of fruit. Place in oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is golden and your home smells like tropical cake. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

For the crumble topping, the original stressed that you have to use your hands to combine the flour mixture with the butter. in order to get it just right. Being the rebel that I am (lol),  I just threw everything into a food processor and buzzed it until for about 20 seconds until it came together. It came out perfectly!
It seems to me that this would work perfectly with pretty much any fruit or fruit combination. Blueberries, peaches, mangoes, and yes definitely strawberries. Mix and matchn'em up however you like, and as always go for whichever fruit looks the freshest!
If you're feeding a crowd, just double the whole recipe and bake it in a 9x13 pan.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Country Ham and Corn Casserole

    When I first saw this recipe (from Pillsbury, I believe), it reminded me of my favorite corn casserole that is now a staple side dish at Thanksgiving dinner. But then after I gave it a closer look, I thought mmm... maybe this would be a great something to have for lunch or brunch, kind of in the same way you'd have a quiche! And do you know what? I was right! All you need is a simple side salad to go with it along with a nice tall glass of ice cold sweet tea, and you have the perfect little lunch that just hits the spot. And honestly, it couldn't be easier to make. You basically just mix everything together and bake it! Easy, right? Now that's my idea of an easy recipe! Try it!

Ok wait... UPDATE....
 The following recipe is my tweaked version of the original. What can I say? I can never leave well enough alone. After I posted the original, I thought, "wait, this can be better." So I made it again! The first time I made it, the amount of butter was just way too much to the point where it looked like an oil slick while it was baking. So I literally cut the amount of butter by half. Also, instead of adding a can of Mexicorn as the original recipe required, I decided to use a can of whole kernel corn and some chopped roasted roasted red peppers. I finished it off with a little black pepper. I think this is a MUCH better version! Still not too heavy, still very delicious with a simple side salad, still perfect for a brunch. And just fyi, the fresh green onion on top as a garnish really makes it!

2 c. cooked ham, cubed
1/2 c. green onions, chopped (plus more)
1/4 c butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 (15oz) can cream style corn
1 (15oz) can whole kernel corn
1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
1 pkg corn muffin mix
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 c shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 2 qt casserole dish.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the cheese. Pour into casserole dish.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and set. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with more chopped green onions.

So now that I've tweaked it a little, the only thing I would change or vary might be to add a little heat, possibly with some chopped jalapeno peppers. The corn really lends itself to Southwestern flavors, so if that's your thing, go for it!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Joey's Chicken Enchiladas

 About a million years ago, I was having a Mexican themed dinner for my gang of friends. As I always like to do, I made a bunch of different things with the intention of taking photos and sharing the recipes with everyone. I even came up with my own enchilada sauce for the occasion! Well, somehow or other, the dinner happened, but the photos didn't, and ever since then I've been looking for the right time to make these fabulous enchiladas again so I could take a photo and share the recipe with you. 
 Well, that time has FINALLY arrived! Don't they look yummy?
Now, usually, when I come up with a new recipe, it takes me a few tries for it to land exactly where I want it, but with this recipe, I think I landed it on the very first go. They're cheesy and gooey and saucy and savory and as spicy as you want to make them! You can even save time by assembling them ahead of time. I'd say they were definitely worth the wait.
Hope you like 'em!

1 rotisserie chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 can diced tomatoes, (don't drain)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more to taste)
Taco size flour or corn tortillas
sliced scallions
Easy Enchilada Sauce

Pull the chicken off the bones and use a fork to shred. Set aside.
In a sauce pan, saute onions, peppers, until they begin to soften. Add spices and continue to saute for a few more minutes. Add diced tomatoes and shredded chicken. Stir to combine. Remove from heat. Add about half of the shredded cheese. Stir to combine. Set aside.
Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with enchilada sauce.
To assemble enchiladas:
Dip tortillas in enchilada sauce so that it is coated on both sides. Lay it flat on a plate. Fill with a big heap of the chicken filling, then roll into a log. Place each tortilla roll into the baking pan. Top with more enchilada sauce and the rest of the cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350ºF or until melted and bubbly. Top with sliced scallions. I like to serve it with a bit of sour cream on top and a little fresh salsa!

I purposely didn't add any heat because I'd rather leave that up to you. What kind of heat do you like? You can add jalapenos or your favorite chilis to the chicken mixture with the other peppers. You can add crushed red pepper flakes or Tabasco sauce to the sauce. For a little smokey flavor, you can add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to the filling. You can add Sriracha to everything! Choose your heat, choose the amount, or just leave it out!
If you have burrito size tortillas instead of taco size, just cut them in half and proceed as directed. 

Joey's Easy Enchilada Sauce

 This sauce only takes a few minutes to throw together and it's absolutely the perfect thing for your next Mexican themed dinner. What kind of enchiladas do you like? Chicken? Beef? It goes with everything! It's my own recipe and I hope you like it! Oh, and if you wanna add some heat, go for it!

3 tbs oil
3 tbs flour
2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken stock
1 6oz can tomato paste

Add oil and flour to a sauce pan. Over medium heat, whisk together to make a paste. Add the spices and whisk to combine. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste. Whisk again until smooth. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. It should be a little on the thin side, not quite as thick as ketchup. If it becomes too thick, just add a little more broth. Adjust salt if needed. That's all there is to it!

I like to measure all of the spices into a small bowl and then add them all at once. This way you're not burning the first spice by the time you finish measuring and adding the last one.
If you don't have chicken broth, you can use powdered or cubed bouillon. Just omit the added salt. Or you can just use plain water.
If you'd like some heat, add as much crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper as you like!!

No-Bake Avocado and Lime Cheesecake

  Do you love avocados as much as I do? I love love LOVE them. It's absolutely not uncommon for me to just cut up a couple avocados into a bowl, sprinkle with some kosher salt, and there's lunch. But I must admit, as intriguing as it has always been, I've never used avocados in a dessert.
Well, that is until now!
 I recently had a few friends over for a Mexican themed dinner, and I wanted to incorporate avocados somewhere in the menu. The usual thought would have been to make guacamole, but then I thought, hmm.. let's try something different!
 As usual, I did some googling, looking for ideas. I found several recipes for cheesecake and quickly noticed that they all seemed to be no-bake cheesecakes. Maybe the avocados don't do well with the baking? Who knows? But I went with it. It was as easy as throwing everything into a food processor and blitzing it until smooth and creamy! And OMG it's SO delicious! You can really taste the buttery avocado, and the tartness from the lime cuts through everything to make a very LIGHT and refreshing dessert. Who knew????
 So, the next time you're looking for a "slightly outside the box" kind of a dessert, give this one a try. (it's from Kraft!) And it's a total time saver because you do it ahead and let it chill until you're ready. I bet your family and friends are gonna love it!

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8oz) pkg cream cheese
2 fully ripe avocados
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp zest and 2 tbs juice from 2 limes
2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping

Combine graham crackers and butter. Press into bottom of a 9" spring form pan.
Process all remaining ingredients except Cool Whip in a food processor until smooth. Spoon into a mixing bowl. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour over crust. Smooth the top. Refrigerate four hours or until firm. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen cheesecake just before serving. Remove rim.

OK, I did a few things slightly differently. Instead of using graham crackers, I used vanilla wafers. Why? Because I like 'em! Also, I baked my crust for about 10 minutes at 350º because I wanted it to have more of a toasted flavor, then quickly chilled it in the freezer before filling it with the cheese mixture.
And since I didn't want to ruin the nice smooth side edge of the cheesecake, I decided to spray the inside of the springform pan ring with cooking spray. No need to run the knife around!
To decorate, I just piped some more Cool Whip on top, and then added some more fresh lime zest just before serving. 
Btw, one other thing.. this cheesecake softens to a very soft mousse when it is left out and comes to room temperature. Be sure to keep it chilled at all times!