Monday, April 29, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

Once upon a time, I went to parties and picnics with my family and I was young enough to not have to bring food to contribute.  My parents took care of that.  When the time finally came for me to attend a "grown up" party on my own and I was asked to bring an appetizer or dessert, this was one of the first things that I chose to make.  Straight out of my mom's recipe box, I have also made it many a time for get-togethers at my own house.  No matter the occasion, it is always a hit.  The only problem people seem to have is that once you start, you just can't stop eating it!

  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (do not substitute spread or margarine)
  • 1/3 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • pretzels and/or graham cracker sticks for dipping
  1. Mix cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add sugars gradually and beat until combined.
  2. Stir in chips. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. 
  3. Place on large sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into ball.  Wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
  4. Before serving, roll in pecans. Serve with chocolate graham crackers.

Difficulty: easy, though this isn't a last-minute appetizer and is definitely easier if you have a stand mixer
Time:  the hands-on time is minimal - maybe 15 minutes.  However, there is refrigeration time necessary.
Source: my mom - many, many years ago

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jalapeno Poppers

I love being invited to my friend Jennifer's house.  She is one of the best cooks I know.  Jenn puts out a spread like no one I know, and everything is a newer recipe. I have no idea how she finds the time to make 6 new menu items...I usually am brave enough to add one new recipe when I am inviting guests over. Everyone devoured this appetizer.  It was easy and used 3 ingredients that actually are usually in the house.  This is a great last minute appetizer when you find out someone will be popping-in.


  • 6 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 can of chopped jalapeno (depending on how hot you like things you may use anywhere between half and the entire 4 oz. can)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 can of crescent rolls

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Mix cream cheese, jalapenos, and 1 T sugar in a mixing bowl.  Incorporate well.  (Add jalapenos slowly to taste).
  3. Separate crescent rolls into two rectangles; roll over perforations.
  4. Spread mixture; roll into a log starting with long side of rectangle.  Cut each log in halves until you end up with 16 pinwheels per rectangle.
  5. Place on cookie sheet; bake 13-15 minutes, until golden.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10 minute prep; 15 minute baking time
Source: my friend Jennifer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kelly's Menu April 20-26

Spring weather has finally started and with soccer, outdoor play, and track season we've been grabbing and snacking a bit too much. Recently, my van has been seen in more than one drive-thru line.  Being organized and having the meal ready to go in the morning can still get me to all the after-school spring activities and fun play but I'll save myself the McDonald's guilt and the money.  Let's finish the school year and slide into summer with healthy eating at home.

This is a Saturday that my husband will be around so I don't want to be spending my time stuck cooking. I'll prep this in the morning and let it go all day.  This slow cooker meal will leave us enough for a few lunches during the week.

Sunday-Eclaire Dessert 
We'll be heading to my parent's house for Sunday dinner.  It is nice to bring something that isn't too hard or time consuming...I'll have to make it the night before so it sets up nicely.

I've been trying to leave this family favorite out of my menus since I can overuse it.  My husband requested it with lots of black beans and quinoa.   It's always nice to start the work week off with a crock pot meal.  When I prep this the night before, I just add an extra half hour to my time in the slow cooker.

Using Monday's leftovers to make Tuesday's meal should give me a few extra minutes to organize the piles of paper that have been slowly multiplying before I find a final place for them.

Wednesday- Assorted leftovers or sandwiches
Only a few more weeks of double duty dancing classes...the girls enjoy having grapes, ham sandwiches, and a few goldfish crackers thrown through the car in sandwich bags...we have a contest for the girl who catches the most bags on the first try and who cleans up best.

Joyce's kids love these so I am giving them a try this week.  Plus, biscuits were on sale at my local grocery store for $1.  I plan to pair it with this broccoli; roasting it takes the tart taste that many kids hate away.

I've been sitting on a few cans of pink salmon so this will work for a quick Friday meal.  I'll have everything ready to go, but if we decide to go out or pick up a pizza we'll have a ready meal for Saturday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Salsa Chicken Tortilla Bake

While I love leftovers, my family is not always as excited as I am to see the same dish.  One of my favorite recipes is Salsa Chicken; it's a regular in my monthly meal rotations.  I try to change it up by serving it one day with pasta and the next with family is not fooled.  When I saw a recipe calling for chicken, salsa, and tortillas, I made it the next day; after my family enjoyed it; I thought I could make recipe much easier on myself by using my crock pot leftovers (I even threw in the extra quinoa and mixed it up).  It was a quick hit with my family; the kids loved being able to pick up the wedges and dip into additional salsa.  No one realized it was yesterday's chicken.

Salsa Chicken ingredients; add tortillas and cheese for Day 2!

  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • Shredded salsa chicken (leftovers)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • Garnish-sour cream, optional

  1. Place one tortilla in the bottom of a lightly greased 2-quart round casserole dish; set aside.
  2. Spoon 1/3 of leftovers over tortilla in the dish, top with 1/4 cup cheese; repeat layering, ending with last tortilla.
  3. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; cover with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly; uncover for the final 5 minutes.
  4. Cut into wedges and serve. 

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10 minute prep, 35 minutes baking time
Source: inspired by Gooseberry Patch's Weeknight Dinners

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Salmon Cakes

What stopped me from making salmon cakes prior to a couple of months ago?  I have absolutely no idea.  But, nothing is stopping me now!  These Omega-3 packed patties have earned a top spot in our regular rotation.  I have been trying to incorporate more seafood into our diet, and I was actually surprised when I realized how affordable canned salmon is, not to mention all of the health benefits that it provides.  I have to admit that I let them dip the patties in ketchup, but my kids enjoy them more than I could have possibly predicted - in fact, they love them!

  • 14.75 oz can of pink salmon, drained
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Place salmon in a medium bowl.  Using a fork, flake salmon into small pieces.  Add ketchup, 3 Tbs. bread crumbs, celery seeds, egg, and pepper.  Stir with fork until combined.
  2. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.  Using wet hands, shape the salmon mixture into 8-9 2 1/2 inch patties.  Dredge the salmon patties in the bread crumbs to coat well on both sides.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the salmon patties, in batches if necessary.  Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until browned and heated through.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 25 minutes, tops
Source: adapted from Parents magazine, January 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Panko Chicken with Grapefruit Honey Sauce

This is a recipe that I have made for a couple of years, now, and it always reminds me of spring and summer.  It is so fresh and simple, with just the right texture and flavor.  My family loves it!  I am making it again this week, because, well, I completely over-indulged over the weekend and this chicken paired with a nice salad will help get me back on the healthy-eating track in a very tasty way!

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-3 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1/2 c grapefruit juice (I have squeezed fresh and used from a carton...both good, the carton much easier)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

  1. Mix Panko breadcrumbs with as much salt and pepper as you would like in a shallow bowl.  (I use grinders and grind for a count of 6 or so for the salt and pepper.)
  2. Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness. Dip each chicken breast in beaten egg and then Panko mixture to coat.  Cook in a skillet with 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil for about four minutes.  (I use as minimal oil as I can, but tend to add throughout the cooking process to assure the browning of the chicken.)  Check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel and add the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil and the garlic.  Cook until garlic is tender.  Add grapefruit juice and honey.  Cook until some of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce thickens slightly.  Serve over chicken.

Difficulty: pretty easy
Time: about 20-25 minutes
Source: Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express, copyright 2009