Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The ones I missed....A 2014 Food in Review!


Happy New Year's Eve Jenny Mac Lipsmack Fans! 

I know I wasn't posting as much this year but I have been cooking quite a bit! I really need to create some system to get my recipes on my blog in an easier way! Any suggestions short of hiring an assistant, feel free to send me suggestions...So Good-Bye 2014....here is some of what I have made chronicling my year in food in review.


Cauliflower Tots is what caught my eye on Pinterest but when I saw the site included her version of Zucchini Tots and that was the abundant item currently from the summer's bounty...it is what I made.  These are pretty healthy with lower fat cheese and were VERY good!  I'd make again!



Bacon and Cheddar Zucchini Bread.  Ha-Ha....mine looked anemic.  Nothing like the picture on the website.  Perhaps I needed to cook it more but the cake tester came out clean.  I was afraid of drying it out.  It was okay.  I'd try again to see if it turned out better, but I was sad over the waste of good bacon in this.  I think half of it got thrown away.  You try it and see if yours looks like the one in their website. Let me know how you did!




I loveeeeeee demonstrating new foods for my students to try.  These were a little treat I found on Pinterest.  The students loved it so much I included it on my school website for the kids to have access to make at home if they wanted.  So if picky 7th graders gobbled these down and wanted more, you may have a hit at home with your kids!



Every so often I become OBSESSED with some type of recipe.  I have biscuits crumbs in my blood due to my grandmother making them all the time (Did I pass Me-mom?) However she would woefully say to us when we'd visit how sorry she was that these were not one of her better batches. WTH? They were always good! She was just overly perfectionistic! So the more I see recipes done on TV about biscuits and the flaky layers and the such...I wanted the same.  See the monster you created in me Me-mom?  Warning the recipe provided is good but it's really about the PROCESS of the dough folding.  Trust me, don't ignore this warning, it's more about the folding than the recipe.  I had to make this about 5 times to understand this.  Don't be stubborn like me.



I made this Pumpkin resembling Cheeseball for halloween.  I had printed it out last year but found it and made it this year.  I searched for the recipe and found it on Food Network.  It was really good with minced jalapeno and coated in ground up Dorito chips.  Next year, I'd make it with more minced jalapenos.  We like it zippy around here!



Sorry, I was too busy cooking on Thanksgiving....and we wanted to eat! But I included this picture because the real standout recipe that was new this year that I would DEFINITELY make again was the Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.  Sweet Heat.  We loved it.  I think I enhanced the recipe by adding just a touch of brown sugar 1/4-1/2 cup to bump the sweetness.  I buy those chipotle peppers in a can and separate the peppers out in their own baggie with some of the sauce and store them in the freezer! That is what this recipe called for ONE of those hot suckers in these here taters! Barely seen on the right...LOL



Christmas Holiday Party! We invited the neighbors to meet and greet.  We hadn't done it in a long time.  Those who came, we had a blast.  Might consider doing this again, maybe a tradition...Hey, it's gets the house cleaned too! LOL.  Found most of my ideas on Pinterest, modified them like the appetizer tree below.  When I figured out that only half of the neighbors were coming I chopped half of my styrofoam cone down (AC Moore, Michael's Craft stores, Jo-Ann's). Covered in plastic wrap. It was fun to assemble but really appropriate for a large crowd. We had much of this tree left over.



This was adorably cute but I'd use a different recipe.  Bottom half was mustard, onion with cheddar cheese and the top (head) was a pesto.  Coated in Parmesan cheese.  I just wasn't WOW'ed by the flavors.  Use the favorite cheese ball recipe of your own and use the picture as a base how to SCULP your snowman.  I will include the link so you can be your own judge if you like it or not.



I have made this Ranch Veggie Tree numerous times.  Kids even love it.  Very easy.  I tweak their version on Pillsbury.com by using dry ranch mix in whipped cream cheese and my decoration of the tree is more prominent. Their site includes a video if you need it.



Classic Sausage Ball recipe by Bisquick.  Next year I am making it with their Gluten Free mix since I have a GF neighbor and I would like to give her more options next time.  Also I think I will hunt for an optional dipping sauce as well.




I am NOT a seafood eater, however my husband is.  A good host has to please other people than herself, so sometimes she's gotta 'suck it up' and touch smell fish! K-man raved about this so this recipe will be repeated to keep him and my other guests in the future happy.  Thanks Pioneer Woman!



Easy Peasy! Phyllo Shells, brie and Cranberry Sauce.  Just melt brie for about 5 minutes in the oven and top with cranberry sauce.  Yum!



Just a peek of the SPREAD....


Party Sweets!  Top: Oreo Truffles, Middle: Salted Caramel Bon-Bons and Bottom: Pretzel Kisses and Pecan Rolo Pretzel Bites.


School Staff Food Gifts...Oreo Snowman
I tweaked this idea with adding sprinkles, and pull apart licorice garland.  Staff loved them!



Lastly, I just wanted an old standby for a sweet treat during the holidays.  Shortbread, simple, satisfies, makes many.



See you next year!

In Foodie Love,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gluten Free Elbows with Mixed Mushrooms and Italian Sausage Soup

Nothing helps a cold feel like it's getting better than some soup.  Homemade soup.  This is my second recipe for Barilla this month with Allrecipes Allstars Ambassadors.  So many people may think of just classic Italian recipes when using pasta...something tomatoey or lasagna layered or even a casserole.  I think people forget to round out a soup with some pasta to make it more a complete meal especially when the soup may be mostly protein and veggies...throw in some pasta!

Keep reading to view the recipe but also how it made it mine....

Gluten-Free Elbows with Mixed Mushrooms and Italian Sausage Soup
from Allrecipes.com, sponsored and recipe by Barilla

1 (12 ounce) box Barilla® Gluten Free Elbows
3 quarts chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
4 (6 ounce) packages mixed mushrooms
1 pound Italian sausage, boiled for 10 minutes and cut into 1/3 inch slices
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped


1. In a large soup pot, bring the chicken stock to a simmer.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute garlic with olive oil and rosemary for one minute or until slightly yellow. Add mushrooms and saute until lightly browned. Add sausage and saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms and sausage into broth; stir in beans, tomatoes and Barilla® Gluten Free Elbows. Cook for half the recommended time on the box.
4. Let the soup rest for ten minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and olive oil drizzled on top.

Cook's Notes:

1. I like using Gluten Free products, even though I have fallen off my Paleo wagon and have no gluten allergies, I find the GF products don't give me any stomach distress.
2.  Although it is nice to receive some coupons to assist in the cost of the recipe making, I didn't feel the need to get 4 different packages of mushrooms.  The slice baby bellas looked good so they won.
3.  We always have hot Italian sausage in the freezer so I baked 5 links off.  Always looking for Zip! Cutting into 1/3 inch?  Come on now...
4. I just used a handful of grape tomatoes that I had left,  you could use a 15 oz canned whole tomatoes if you wanted but I felt this soup had plenty already.
5. Skipped the parsley because I had fresh basil I needed to get rid of....
6.  Look at the amount of elbows in the picture.  I used only HALF a box.  If I has used the whole box, this wouldn't be a soup anymore but turn into a casserole.  Unless you are feeding an army, you will need to increase the amount of stock if you use the whole box.

This was a tasty soup AND very hearty.  After I made this I got wild whim to whip up some cornbread to eat with it.  Delish!

#AllstarsBarilla

Slurp!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Cheese Tortellini with Chicken Broth

Oh, what a busy, busy December huh? Between the shopping, cooking, wrapping presents, going to or hosting parties, visiting families....Is that why I am down with a cold?  Pushed my myself too much I guess.  I've been so occupied that I didn't even have the time to post my own personal fun things I made this month outside of my Allrecipes.com Allstar Ambassadors Sponsored recipes....so without further ado....
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Festivus! LOL. So, This month I choose two recipes from:
Personally, I felt the choices were a bit "out of the ordinary" for boxed pasta campaign.  There was duck, buffalo, pork ribs and carrot puree in a mac and cheese...I guess these poor companies can't make the home cooks happy.  Too boring or too weird for recipe choices, right?  I have to pick recipes that is going to be eaten and hopefully enjoyed!  No worries, I found some, we had a lot to choose from, I just thought some of the recipe ingredients were "out there"....I am sure some creative cooks were lovin' it.  For my first recipe I selected:

Three Cheese Tortellini with Chicken Broth
 Recipe on Allrecipes.com sponsored and by Barilla
  • 1 (12 ounce) package Barilla® Three Cheese Tortellini
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1.
Bring broth to boil. Add tortellini and simmer for 10 minutes.
2.
Serve in individual bowls topped with Parmigiano cheese; garnish with parsley.

Easy Peasy!
Before I did this recipe I did read the reviews.  Many commented on how bland it was.  You cooked the tortellini in chicken broth. Threw in some parsley and parm.  How jazzy can it taste with four ingredients?  Here's what I did to bump it up...

Cook's Notes:
1. I used the spinach and ricotta filled tortellini instead of the 3 cheese.
2.  I used Chicken Stock instead of broth.
3.  I tasted the finished product....ugh, bland.
3.  I added 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp. onion powder.  Definitely better!
4. Add chopped BASIL instead of parsley.  BANG. Delicious!
5.  Shredded fresh parmesan cheese instead of the green canned parmesan......oooey gooey, melty cheese.
6. Served to K-man, he raved.  He is normally making his own lunch from a canned soup when I am not around but when he ate this that I left behind, he was really impressed and wanted to know what new canned soup I discovered.  Of course this wasn't canned...I made it, that is why it tasted so good.
7.  If you follow this recipe as Barilla listed, please tweak it as I did.....who wants to go through the effort of making a soup for it to be bland? Always taste as you cook!

 #AllstarsBarilla

Tune in tomorrow for Gluten-Free Elbows with Mixed Mushrooms and Sausage Soup!

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Easy Flank Steak Fajitas

 Here is the second recipe I promised to make for Reynold's this month. It was a no-brainer.  I always use all their foils, the slow cooker bags and turkey bags.  Accept no substitutes! The heavy duty foil is great for the grill and in a campfire.  I adore the non-stick but I said that in my last post already.  Check out this recipe and my extra notes at the end of the recipe too!

Easy Flank Steak Fajitas
Allrecipes.com recipe by  


1 pound beef flank steak, trimmed of fat
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 red, yellow or green sweet peppers (or combination), thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 (6- to 7-inch) flour tortillas
Guacamole, salsa, and/or sour cream (optional)

1. Place steak in a large resealable plastic bag. Add lime juice, vegetable oil, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper to the steak in bag. Seal bag; turn to coat steak.
 
2. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour. 
 
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drain meat; discard marinade. Center meat on a sheet (12x18 inches) of Reynolds Wrap(R) Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Center sweet peppers, onion, and garlic on another sheet (12x18 inches) of heavy duty aluminum foil. Repeat steps above to make another foil packet. 
 
4. Wrap tortillas tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil. 
 
5. Bake meat and vegetable foil packets 30 to 35 minutes or until meat is desired doneness (145 degrees F for medium rare) and vegetables are tender, adding tortillas to the oven for the last 10 minutes of baking or until heated through. 
 
6. Open packets carefully by cutting along top fold with a sharp knife, allowing steam to escape; then open top of foil packet. Thinly slice the meat. 
 
7. Fill warm tortillas with meat and pepper mixture to serve. If desired, top with guacamole, salsa, and/or sour cream.


#AllstarsReynolds


 #MealMagic.
 K-man wanted his contribution in all this....

 Cook's Notes:
1. The cooking of the pepper's and onions is great if you need some time to do other things but I like a 'char' on my veggies.
2.  Cooking meat in a foil pack in the oven is not the way I cook a flank steak.  30 minutes was way too long when I cook it for less on a grill and I get the smoky char on it too.
3.  Corn tortillas break up too much for this, flour is better.  I tried one of each. The corn fell away immediately when the flour tortilla stretched with the ingredients with each bite.
4.  Next time I would see how different this would be using the Reynold's foil but on the grill.

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homemade Spinach Pizza Roll

If I asked what is the ONE dinner that you eat at least once a week, regardless of work night, school night or weekend....what would your answer be?

Fast Food? (please don't say McDonald's) Soup? Sandwiches? Spaghetti? Pizza? PB and J? Cereal?

Ours is PIZZA! First of all, we rarely call out for pizza if we do I am, knocked out, dragged out too tired from work to even walk into the kitchen and we have this little hole in the wall pizza place we call, no Domino's or Pizza hut (yuck) However, when I want an easy night to make dinner, it's Pizza Night! We like a thin crust, no sauce, one meat and lots of veggies!

For November, the Allrecipes.com Allstar Ambassadors could choose Reynolds this month to cook, blog and share about. I jumped on that!  I am a huge fan and use the Reynold's Non-stick Foil practically everyday. I have a roll in the drawer and always a spare in the cabinet for when you finish the "roll in the drawer." Nothing is more infuriating than to pull out the foil to cover a long pan and BOOP!- you get a 3 inch strip and naked cardboard roll! Dammit, you say because you have no more.  Not me.  As soon as I open the new roll, I am shopping for the back up roll next week.  So yeah I am THAT devoted and it really is totally different that regular foil.  I especially love using it when I bake my bacon.  I do not fry it on the stove anymore.  350ยบ for 20 minutes on the non stick foil....so much easier. 

Ok, back to pizza.  One of the recipes I choose was the Homemade Spinach Pizza Roll.  I love variations on a popular favorite!  Some people would call this a stromboli but whatever, my mouth and stomach don't care what it's called.  It was delish! Take a look at some of my notes after the recipe.

Homemade Spinach Pizza Roll
from Allrecipes.com, recipe by

1 tablespoon cornmeal
8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
1 (13.8 ounce) package refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (8 ounce) can pizza sauce, warmed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with Reynolds Wrap(R) Non-Stick Aluminum Foil; sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
2. Brown sausage in large skillet on medium-high heat. Drain and set aside.
3. Unroll pizza dough onto prepared baking sheet. Carefully stretch or roll dough into a 13x10-inch rectangle. Arrange sausage on dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Layer spinach on cheese. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the Parmesan. Starting from a long side, roll up dough to make a 13-inch-long loaf. Pinch seam and ends to seal.
4. Place loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg. Using a sharp knife, cut four 2-inch slits in top for steam to escape.
5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If necessary, cover the last 5 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Remove from oven and slice into rounds to serve with pizza sauce.
#AllstarsReynolds 
#MealMagic
Cook's Notes:
1. Don't ask why my photos were taken at an angle.  I viewed them now and in the cropping process I was like WTH, was I thinking?  Stupid but oh well. I am NOT one of those photogs that take too many pictures.  I click for what is needed and CHOW DOWN, no time to mess around.
2.  This was actually my second attempt, the sausage went in that version.  It stuffed it too much and although it was ok....the internal picture wasn't as nice. So when I made TAKE 2.  I had only meatballs on hand.  Chopped up and sauteed olive oil.  They worked just fine.
3.  My first attempt was using a store brand canned pizza dough, I also rolled it out too thin, don't do that.  The second one I used Pillsbury and didn't push my luck on the thinness, I stretched it out just about 2 inches more than it's original size.  You can see the breading around holds the ingredients well. 
4.  i REALLY liked the spinach on this.  I hate how you can pile on tons of fresh spinach and it reduces down to nothing.
5.  Even though the Non-Stick foil really sticks less, the cornmeal really helps make this virtually non sitck.  I use cornmeal on my fresh pizza dough nights too.
6.  What I adore mostly about making pizza or pizza rolls/strombolis is that they are so versatile.  Whatever ingredients you have on hand will work and you will never get tired of Pizza Night each week.


Bite it!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Applesauce Energy Bars

I couldn't resist making another recipe using applesauce this week.  K-man loves oatmeal stuff and I am on a "healthy' bender with my 7th grade classes.
I kept getting compliments all day when I baked these in school twice today.  So the 'smells' I was putting out in the halls was driving kids and teachers insane.
It was driving me insane.
Look to my notes after the recipe for my slight tweak that I did after making this two times in a row.  You know, I had to make a batch before class to ensure that "TV magic" of pulling out the ready bars after I slipped the ones I demonstrated into the oven!!! LOL
  
Applesauce Energy Bars
Allrecipes.com sponsored by Mott's

1 cup Mott's Natural Applesauce
3 cups quick oats
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sweetened coconut flakes
1 c. dried fruit bits
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c (1 stick) melted butter, cooled
1 egg



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine oats, flour, coconut, fruit bits, cinnamon and baking soda in large mixing bowl.
 
2. In separate bowl, mix together, melted butter, brown sugar, applesauce, and egg. Stir applesauce mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Spread mixture into lightly greased 9X13 pan.
 
3. Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and cool before cutting into squares or bars.


#AllstarsMotts

Baker's Notes:
1.  When I did the first batch, the cookie baker in me did not like how the brown sugar was NOT incorporated with the butter.  I mashed and mashed and stirred the flour mixture and those brown sugar lumps were impossible to break up.  I think those unincorporated sugar blobs encouraged the bars to break apart easier because they were not able to melt and 'glue' itself to the grains in the bar.
2.  I happened to have some pumpkin spice caramel dip left over and did a little drizzle on them to 'jazz' them up.  The kids love any additional sugar!  HA!  I didn't do it for that!  lol
3.  Compared to the tasty Apple Squares I did last time, these were not overly moist or "wet" as the squares were. The whole grain oats really helped absorb the 1 c. applesauce. 
4.  Next time I would add some nuts (almonds are my fave).  The coconut was not overwhelming however I wanted some crunchy bit like from a whole almond.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Golden Apple Raisin Squares

Halloween is over. Sniff sniff. We are now enduring the "otherwise known as sugar high or sugar crash time." It's a roller coaster ride for the next week. 

As a teacher, the day after Halloween is the WORST, luckily we had the weekend to buffer  all the candy intake however they were still 'hummin' on today.  So the kids are buzzing on sugar and crashing....up and down, up and down- all week.  I am finding candy wrappers everywhere. 

Here is some 'eye candy for you' of our All Hallow's Eve.... Above, is one picture from our yard, we are leaning to a skeleton/graveyard theme more and more it seems.
We love Halloween here not for the candy....but the added bonus it brings....


We are cool cuz we pass out the regular sized candy, I hot glued some roaches on each one.  All 60 of them. We like to think that somewhere in our town, teens are screaming thinking they have a roach in their bag.  Mwhahahahahahha. We give less terror inducing fruit snacks to the little ones....in case you think we are absolutely horrible.  Hey, we notice the kids who pass on by our house, no biggie. 


Witchy-poo, was what they saw first when I opened the door.  So I don't jump and scream at the kids.  I let the visuals do the work.  We also can't understand what she says other than "beware"....


Breakfast anyone? It was time for some spider eggs (doughnut holes) when I served my TA on Halloween morning.  I can't believe those 8th graders really asked if they were spider eggs.  REALLY? Is gullible still NOT in the dictionary?


Mr Skelton and his hot Skelly wife.  Yes, we are crazy like this....


Next up, is a little video Mr Skelly took of our new bay window dressing....

video

Ok, now that you are up to date on things....

Let's get down to business...I had an assignment to make something from Mott's the month of November. The Allrecipes Allstar Ambassadors teamed up with Mott's to use their applesauce in some of their suggested recipes.
 
I had K-man choose the recipe since he would be eating it (JennyMac being on Nutri System can only have a bite). Look to the bottom of the recipe for my little tweaks! 
 
Golden Apple Raisin Squares

Ingredients:
1 (3.9 ounce) container Mott's® Healthy Harvest Blueberry Delight Applesauce
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/3 cup golden raisins
 
Directions:

1.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil or coat an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl.
2.
Combine the eggs, applesauce, sugar, oil, and apple in a separate bowl, and whisk until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Stir in the raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Smooth with a rubber scraper.
3.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

#AllstarsMotts

Baker's Notes :

1. The store I went to didn't have the Harvest Blueberry, I used a kid's Mott's Mixed Berry instead.
2.  I don't understand the use of oil, when I have other recipes that use no oil and only applesauce as an oil replacement.  Is that why this recipe is overly wet?
3.  I double the recipe and cooked it in a 9X13 pan with no problem.  I checked it at 25 minutes and the toothpick test came out clean.
4.  I used Honeycrisp apple (my fave), I think Golden apples can get mushy.  Would a tart Granny Smith do well here, I think it could!
5. These were extremely moist, maybe too moist, almost wet and they tasted heavenly.  An apple spice cake thing but they put raisins in the title and it uses golden raisins hence why you can't see them.  These squares will serve well for K-man for dessert and breakfast this week because I doubled the batch!

 Bring on the Fall Harvest!