Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread - perfect as an appetizer for game day or a holiday party. Slice of Southern


The big game is this weekend and it's time to get your game day menu ready!

We always have a small gathering of friends and while we love to gobble up the usual food or burgers, slider, or chili, we also like to have some food that can be labeled "healthier" to nibble on as well.  This could include a salad, fruit and dip or as I'm sharing today a crudité platter with Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread.

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread - perfect as an appetizer for game day or a holiday party. Slice of Southern

A veggie platter (crudité) along with some crostini is the perfect match to this cheese spread.  It loaded with fresh herbs and cheese, an a bit of olive oil.  It's wonderfully satisfying and makes the perfect snacking platter.  The spread is very easy to put together and you can even make it up to a day ahead which is always handy when prepping for entertaining. 

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread - perfect as an appetizer for game day or a holiday party. Slice of Southern


Another plus to spread is that it's healthier than a dip made with sour cream and/or mayo!  A nice light ricotta is used is lighter in calories and fat.  A big plus for this dip is that if you have any leftovers (you possibly won't have any!)  can be spread on toast the next morning with a slice pear and a little drizzle of honey!  How perfect is that?  Pretty darn good if you ask me.

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread - perfect as an appetizer for game day or a holiday party. Slice of Southern

So mix it up with some indulgent game food this weekend along with some healthier options.  You won't regret this spread one bite!


Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread

15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbls fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 - 1 Tbls fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 teaspoon olive oil
Optional:  Assorted veggies (I use jicama, bell pepper, carrots, and celery)  Toasted crostini

In a medium bowl add ricotta and using a hand mixer beat on low until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add Parmesan and mix to combine.  Add in the herbs, salt and pepper and using a rubber spatula mix by hand until well combined.  Add in the olive oil and mix to combine. 

Cover and chill  a minimum of 1 hour up to a day ahead.
Serve spread with toasted crostini and assorted veggies.  

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread - perfect as an appetizer for game day or a holiday party. Slice of Southern

Herbed Ricotta and Parmesan Spread - perfect as an appetizer for game day or a holiday party. Slice of Southern

Monday, January 30, 2017

Easy Chocolate Coconut Tart

This five ingredient Chocolate Coconut Tart couldn’t be easier or more seductive! A chocolate cookie crust contains a chocolate coconut ganache that’s sprinkled with coconut and chocolate curls.

Can you believe it's only about 2 weeks until Valentine's Day?  Didn't we just celebrate New Years?  I can't believe how time flies.  Valentine's Day is a good reason to make a decadent dessert.  Can anyone say chocolate?  There nothing better than a dark chocolate sauce.  Add in some coconut and you have the dessert of your dreams in the form of a tart that reminds you of an Almond Joy bar!


This decadent dessert only needs five ingredients.  How easy is that?  A chocolate cookie crust holds a pool of chocolate coconut ganache that’s then sprinkled with chocolate curls and shredded coconut.  HEAVEN!

The chocolate coconut ganache flavor is definitely the star of this tart and is easy to make!  Heavy cream, dark chocolate chips and Smucker's Simple Delight Chocolate Coconut Flavored Topping are whisked together to make this decadent sauce.  The crust is a simple chocolate wafer cookie crushed and combined with some melted butter.  Couldn't be easier, really.

I hope you make this seductive tart for your Valentine this year, it totally sets the mood!


Easy Chocolate Coconut Tart

serves 8-10

32 chocolate wafer cookies (I used
Nabisco Famous Wafers)
6 Tbls butter, melted
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup
Smucker's Simple Delight Chocolate Coconut Flavored Topping
Garnish:  chocolate bar curls and shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add cookies and pulse until you have fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse until just combined.  

To a tart pan add cookie crumbs and press along the bottom and up the sides.  I use the bottom of a measuring cup to even it out and compact it down.  Place on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven.  Bake 20 minutes or until set in the middle.  Remove and place on a wire rack.  Cool completely. 

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, add heavy cream, chocolate chips and chocolate coconut sauce. Microwave on high 1 minute and stir together until melted.  Pour the sauce into the cooled tart shell.  Refrigerate about 1-2 hours until set.  Garnish with chocolate curls and shredded coconut and serve.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lemon Pepper Butter Chicken Breasts

Winter citrus such as lemons, oranges, and big juicy grapefruits are in abundance right now in the grocery stores.  I love citrus, and each week I go and buy a big bag full to use in various recipes.

Today we are using lemons.  I love lemons!  Especially as a sauce in my food such as Mediterranean Lemon Chicken or Apricot Lemon Chicken.  I even put it in my soup, Greek Style Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup.  The flavors just brighten everything.  Even salad dressing made with lemon and oil make the salads taste fresh and bright.  I can't get enough of them and when I have a bowl full I turn to an easy 30 minute chicken meal on a busy weeknight.


What makes this dish different than other lemon chicken dishes?  Well, for one it's cooked in butter.  Yes, I said butter.  Not to be confused with the wonderful Indian dish, Butter Chicken, this chicken is cooked in a fat, which is butter instead of oil.  This creates a golden brown chicken that is tender and moist.  Add some lemon juice to that, along with spiced up lemon pepper seasoning and you have one heck of a chicken dish that is served with the brightest lemon sauce around!

You can have this on the table in 30 minutes so it screams weeknight meal! 

Add a side of rice, pasta, or a green vegetable and you are good to go.


Lemon Pepper Butter Chicken Breasts

serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls butter
1 lemon, sliced
2 Tbls lemon juice
Hot cooked rice (optional)

Place each chicken breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the lemon pepper.  In a pan combine the flour, and salt.   Dredge chicken in the flour mixture.

In a large skillet over medium heat add butter and allow to melt.  Add the chicken breasts to the butter and cook each side about 5 minutes until brown and no longer pink inside.  Remove chicken from skillet. Add lemon slices to skillet; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Return the chicken to the skillet.  Add lemon juice over the chicken breasts. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until pan juices are slightly reduced.

Serve chicken and lemon slices over rice if desired.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Optimize your cooking time: One Pot Meat Lovers Pizza Ravioli Bake


I'm and avid cookbook hoarder collector.  I have tons of cookbooks that I've collected over the years.

At some point (when my bookcase was full!) I had to stop buying them.  But then the magic of the Kindle Fire was born that allows you to buy kindle cookbook versions and store them digitally.  Woohoo!  I'm back to collecting cookbooks without taking up literal space in my house.  How dangerous is that?

One of my recent purchases is by the blogger Joanne Cismaru of the blog, Jo Cooks.  She has a wonderful blog and her book is titled "30 Minute One Pot Meals" which is geared toward busy cooks who need fast flavorful meals on the table in 30 minutes, using 1 pan!  Sounds perfect for me during hectic weeknights.

Browsing the book I came across a recipe for Quick Pizza Tortellini Bake.  This sounded sooo good, plus I get to use my newest 10" Cast Iron Skillet.  Since I didn't have exactly all the ingredients she used I made a variation of that and One Pot Meat Lovers Pizza Ravioli Bake was born.


Filled with hearty sausage filled ravioli and cooked in a mouthwatering sauce that has pepperoni in it, then topped with cheese that melts into ooey gooey goodness.  This is seriously one kick-ass meal!  Everyone, especially the kids, will love it! 

As everything is made in one skillet, you can optimize your cooking time and get dinner on the table quickly, in 30 minutes in this case.  Using one pan also makes clean up a breeze.  Don't you love that?  I sure do!  This was such a tasty dinner and if you crave pizza but only have pasta on hand make this dish.  It will satisfy your cravings so you don't even miss the crust!


Kitchen Note:  I found Guy Fieri's Pepperoni Marinara at my local grocery store.  I've also seen it at Walmart.  You can also purchase individual bottle online here or use your favorite marinara.

One Pot Meat Lovers Pizza Ravioli Bake

adapted from Quick Pizza Tortellini Bake, "30 Minute One Pot Meals" cookbook

serves 6

10 oz pkg Sausage Ravioli
2 c Pepperoni Marinara (Guy Fieri)
1/2 water
1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 c mini pepperoni
Garnish:  fresh chopped basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a large oven proof skillet with cooking spray.

Add the ravioli to the skillet.  Pour the marinara sauce over the top, trying to cover all the pasta.  Add the water to the skillet (do not stir).  Sprinkle the cheese over the top and then add the mini pepperoni.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove with oven and garnish with basil if desired.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Easy Beef Wet Burritos

 Spicy Beef Burritos smothered in a red sauce and ooey gooey cheese!


I wish I could be a better meal planner.  I think that would be a good resolution or goal for me to work on this year.

You see, most of my meals ARE planned, however other factors, such as cravings and energy level take over quickly during the week and I end up making something completely different than what I had planned.  Do you ever do that?  (I'd love to think it isn't only me...!)

So the other night I was going to make a chicken stir fry, when I had a craving for Mexican food.  A beef burrito was calling me.  Dang, why couldn't I crave a chicken burrito??  So I pop by the store for some ground sirloin and flour tortillas and head home.  Then it hit me.  I really want one of those 'wet' burritos.  You know the ones that are smothered in sauce.  Yeah, that sounds really good!

Easy Beef Wet Burritos

So I rooted around in the pantry for something to make a sauce with and spied a pouch of Fontera Taco Skillet Sauce.  I had the one that is a red sauce made with mild red chili and cumin, labeled Texas Style.  This is usually used as a taco sauce so I decided to put some with the meat to give it a saucy bite and the rest over the top.  As these sauces are made from Chef Rick Bayless I knew it would taste wonderful.  I've tried several of his different sauces in a couple of dishes and they do not disappoint.  Let' just hope my improvisation works!

So this is how I used this sauce.  I browned up my ground sirloin and added about half the pouch, stirring to coat the beef.  Once I built the burrito I used the sauce again pouring it over the top and then sprinkling it with cheese like the restaurants do.  Pop those babies in the oven to heat it all up and melt the cheese and you are done!  Time to eat!

All in all we both loved this version of Easy Beef Wet Burritos.  What a great use of his sauces.  He also has a verde sauce that would take great over a burrito as well which I want to try next time.  But for now my craving for Mexican food, and beef burritos is satisfied.  I'll try planning that Chinese stir fry for another day!


Easy Beef Wet Burritos

serves 4-6

1 lb ground sirloin
1 15 oz can refried beans (Spicy Jalapeno)
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
4 flour tortillas (I used burrito size)
1 pouch (8oz) Frontera Texas Original Taco Skillet Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat brown ground sirloin, using a spatula or wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Cook until no longer pink and browned all over.   Add 1/2 pouch of the taco sauce to the skillet, stirring meat to coat.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pan add the refried beans over low heat, stirring occasionally to heat.

Assemble your burritos.  On a flour tortilla place a 1/4 of the refined beans down the middle, top with meat, tomatoes, and 1/4 of the cheese. Fold both side in toward the middle and roll the long edges over the filling to make a burrito.  Place in a baking pan and repeat.

Cover the burritos with the remaining sauce and top with 1/3 cup cheese. 

Cover baking pan with a piece of aluminum foil and place in the oven.  Cook 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.

Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Comfort Food Soups

A mix of 10 comforting, healthy, and satisfying soups to enjoy this winter.


Winter is for enjoying comfort food.  There something so satisfying about a hot bowl soup and piece of crusty bread for your lunch or dinner, sitting in front of a fireplace or in candlelight!

Both MGG and I LOVE a good bowl of soup.  We also like variety in our soups with various flavors from Italian, Mexican to good 'ole American.  We also like to protein in our soups and often use beef or chicken, but we also love a good vegetarian soup as well.  Today I'm bringing you 10 delicious soups to make this winter.

Most of them are very healthy with a few splurges thrown in for an occasional treat!



Italian Style Roasted Chicken and Orzo Soup

Greek Style Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup

Slow Cooker: Mexican Vegetable and Quinoa Soup

Easy Minestrone 

Chicken Enchiladas Soup 

Chicken Tortilla Verde Soup

Cheesy Potato Soup

Easy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Beef Burgundy Stew

Rustic Beef Stew

Friday, January 13, 2017

Healthier Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

For quick weeknight dinners we eat a lot of Chinese food.

Stir frys that I make using beef or chicken and whatever vegetable I have on hand.  It's soooo much better than takeout and done in a flash.

But there are times when we go out to dinner and just crave a good Chinese meal.  MGG loves Orange Chicken.  To tell the truth I love it too, but tend not to eat it as much due to the large amount of sugar in the sauce.  So I set out to make a healthier version at home, using less sugar so that it isn't as calorie ridden, and using the "slow cooker"!!


Now I want to state that doing this on the stove only takes about 20 minutes.  So why use the slow cooker?  There are just some days that I am so busy that it is late when we eat, and I really don't want to stand over the stove and cook. 

Days where I work all day, I can through this in the slow cooker when I get home, wait for MGG to get home, then we're off to the gym.  When we are ready to eat after we get back and shower etc....a hot meal is ready for us.  I LOVE THAT!  Seriously, when I don't want to cook, he's lucky I don't just throw a salad his way and call it a day!

The slow cooker gives me an option to have a hot dinner when I really need it.  So cooking on high for 2 hours is perfect for me.  Or need be on low for 4 during the weekend when I'm running errands.

I used my favorite multi-purpose Breville Risotto Plus Maker.  I love it because it sautés, steams, slow cooks, and makes risotto...yum!  It really has been my go to slow cooker this past year and I can't recommend it enough.

So try this Healthier Slow Cooker Orange Chicken soon.  You'll love the flavor and won't miss the deep fried fat, nor the extra sugar.  I promise.


Kitchen Note:  If you have a slow cooker with a sauté option, use that to brown the cornstarched chicken instead of a separate skillet.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

3 thin Cut Boneless Chicken Breasts, chopped into 1" pieces
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup reduced sugar orange marmalade
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a small bowl mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, marmalade, salt and pepper.

On a plate add the cornstarch and the chicken tossing to coat. Preheat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil to heat. Add the chicken and quickly brown all sides, about 4 minutes. (You don't need to cook the chicken, only brown it.)

Add the chicken to the slow cooker.  In a small bowl mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, marmalade, salt and pepper.

Add the mixture over the chicken.  Cook on low 4 hours or on high 2-3 hours.  Serve over hot cooked rice.

adapted from The Recipe Critic


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