A 5-Star Rated Entree Without Leaving the House


It was a nice Sunday so Mr. Special and I wanted to enjoy the outdoors. Not wanting to be in the kitchen, I decided to use the slow cooker and cook chicken that we had defrosted. What to do with the chicken breast was the next question I asked myself.

So, I “traveled” to the Foodnetwork.com website to view chicken breast recipes and found a very interesting recipe. Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts. (Recipe courtesy Claire Robinson.) I had some blue cheese on hand, but I also had some mild Italian chicken sausage as well. So, I created my own recipe AND developed it for the slow cooker (Slow Cooked Italian Sausage and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts). We thought after eating the meal, that this was definitely worth 5-stars!!

My slow cooker has a temperature probe (a God-send). If you’re ever looking for a good slow cooker, I definitely love my Hamilton Beach (Model 33969) Set and Forget 6-Quart Slow Cooker

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I have had it for about 3 months and I look forward to cooking with it. The probe helps regulate the temperature of meats during cooking. A very nice innovation, seeing as I’m always wondering if a meat is thoroughly cooked. It’s a “no brainer.”

The helpful product guide it comes with is something I refer to almost all of the time. The recipe I created as well as photos are below. Enjoy!

Slow Cooked Italian Sausage and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 4 – 5 hours

Total time: 4 hours and 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 links mild Italian flavored chicken sausage, casings removed

1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 or 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1/2 stick butter, at room temperature

1 Tablespoon lemon pepper (no-salt) seasoning (this recipe used Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper Seasoning)

Instructions:

Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small mixing bowl and using (clean) hands, combine sausage, cheese and garlic.


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Place chicken breasts on a cutting board. Slice into right side of each creating a pocket. chixstuffedblog5Fill each breast with stuffing mixture.chixstuffedblog6 Place all filled chicken breasts in bottom of slow cooker.chixstuffedblog7

Cut butter into tabs and place over top of chicken breasts. chixstuffedblog8Sprinkle with seasoning.seasoning1

Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours. (If using a probe with slow cooker, stick into a chicken breast and set at 180°F on low or high.)

Cook until chicken is thoroughly cooked through and juices run clear; internal temperature is 180°F.chixstuffedblog9

Serving Suggestion: Serve with white rice/brown rice OR pasta with a cream or lemon sauce.chixstuffedblog10

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Tasty Slow Cooked Beef PLUS Dessert


What may seem like a simple meal in the slow cooker can mean a tasty, special meal for two. Ingredients such as garlic, shallots, carrots and jarred piquillo peppers offers a variety of flavors in this easy slow cooked dish. Served over rice, is my serving suggestion.

Piquillo peppers have never been a staple in my pantry. But after this dish, it very well may be.

I will definitely make this dish again. Very tasty combination of flavors. The recipe and photos are below.

An easy dessert recipe is also below. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Stew for Two

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Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 6 hours

Total time: 6 hours and 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb. stew beef chunks

2 teaspoons fresh ground black peppercorn

3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced

1 shallot, peeled and diced

2 Tablespoons diced jarred piquillo peppers

1 teaspoon olive oil

16 ounces baby carrots

Sauce:

6 ounce can tomato paste

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoons ground dried basil

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Spray slow cooker bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Place first 6 ingredients in slow cooker; placing meat in center and sprinkle and drizzle other items over meat. Arrange carrots around meat.slowbeefcarrot1

Create sauce. In a small bowl mix sauce ingredients until combined.slowbeefcarrot3

Add sauce over meat and other ingredients in center of slow cooker. slowbeefcarrot2

Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours, or on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Serve warm.

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Pineapple Cream Cheese Tartletscctartlets1

(Inspired and changed recipe located at: http://phyllo.com/recipes/cream-cheese-tartlets/ )

Yields: 15 tartlets (Double, Triple, even Quadruple) (More for More Smiles!)

INGREDIENTS:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar or Confectioner’s sugar

1 Tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest (optional)

1/4 cup canned pineapple chunks, plus 1 Tablespoon juice from can, divided

1 package of Athens Mini Fillo Shellsathens1

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven at 375º F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat together first 4 ingredients plus 1 Tablespoon of juice from can pineapple until smooth, creamy and well blended.

Arrange shells on baking sheet and place approximately 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture in each shell.cctartlets2

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool.cctartlets4

Garnish with chunks of pineapple. Serve.cctartlets5

Posted in Beef, carrots, Cheese, cream cheese, Desserts, Fruit, Meats, Pastries/Breads/Muffins, pineapple, Roast, Sauces, Slow Cooker, Snacks, tarts, Tomatoes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Afternoon Means Cookies


A chilly Sunday afternoon usually means I’m in the kitchen baking a little treat for “Mr. Special” and I. So I opened the cupboards and had some yellow cake mix and a package of peanut butter cookie mix on hand. I was torn. Cake or Cookies? So, I decided to make Cookie Bars using BOTH!!

I was inspired when I went Goggling to find some tasty recipes and found Chrissy Page’s Cake Mix Cookie Bars. chrissyChrissy and I are Food-Blog Buddies and I’ve tried some of her recipes before.  So it was easy to know that the recipe would be delicious. I used her recipe and added and subbed what I had on hand.

The Result? OMG Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.cookiebar2b

Why do I call them OMG cookie bars? Because that’s what both “Mr. Special” and I exclaimed after taking the first bite of the scrumptious cookie bars warm from the oven. “Oh My Gosh” will be your exclamation as well!! Recipe below, Enjoy!

OMG Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Ingredients (in order of appearance):

17.5 ounce package peanut butter cookie mix

15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix (this recipe used Pillsbury’s Traditional Yellow Cake Mix)

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup or more semi-sweet milk chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with parchment paper, over lapping parchment on both sides (optional) or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In stand mixer bowl, add first 6 ingredients. With beater attachment, turn on mixer at #2 speed for 30 seconds. Turn mixer up to #4 speed and add eggs one at a time. Continue for 15 seconds. Turn mixer off. Add chocolate chips and turn mixer on #2 speed for 20 seconds or until most of chocolate chips are incorporated into batter.

Dump batter on to prepared baking dish. Spread dough; using (clean) hands or flat spatula. Dough should go all the way to edges of pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and edges are slightly browned. Remove pan from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Using a knife, carefully slice into warm cookie vertical and horizontal creating cookie bars; approximately 2-inches width x 2 1/2-inches length.

Yields about 30 cookie bars

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Today is National Spaghetti Day


Since today is National Spaghetti Day, here’s my FAVE!

Italian Chicken Sausage Topped Quinoa Pasta  Yummy!

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What’s your fave spaghetti recipe??

Posted in Chicken, Italian Cuisine, Poultry, Spaghetti, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Recipe is in the FINALS!!


My recipe Italian Ravioli with Pesto is a Finalist  in the Tyler Florence Ultimate Wine and Food Sweepstakes !! THANKS to Everyone Who Voted for My Dish!!!

So, now it’s up to Tyler Florence, himself, to review the final recipes and decide on the 5 entries that will win and will travel to San Francisco! Not only will the winners fly to San Francisco, but they will also enjoy  dinner at Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern, private cooking demonstration with Chef Tyler Florence at his West Coast Kitchen Essentials shop in Mill Valley, visit and tour at the Michael Mondavi Family Estate in Napa, and dinner at Tyler’s Rotisserie & Wine restaurant.

Fingers crossed!! Hoping that my tasty ravioli recipe will be one of the winning recipes!! I got luggage for Christmas, so I’m READY!!!

I’m ALSO hoping that my foodie friend Josee Lanzi is also a finalist in the contest too!! Her Trout and Creamy Mango Sauce stood out to voters as well. Thanks for you guys who were voting for her as well. Glad to  help out a great, hard working lady like herself. Her and I ventured the RealWomenofPhiladelphia.com for a while and she was a finalist on there as well. Good Going Again, Josee!! Hope to see you in San Francisco!! We could BOTH use a nice trip!!

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Win Announced With LocalTV Interview


I knew that it would be different to be interviewed on TV, but it was more than different. It was such an honor and a “blast” to have Raleigh’s local station, WNCN TV-17‘s own Page Crawford interview me this morning.

Page is not only pretty, she is talented. I felt so at ease sitting with her and I felt as though I was simply talking to a friend. Thanks Page for your support and help this a.m. And speaking of a.m.  IT WAS EARLY! I don’t know how everyone looks so perky and it may be caffeine, but all I know is all of the anchors looked very healthy, perky and bright this a.m. as well. All very business-like and very nice and accommodating.

Oh, and we discussed Dei Fratelli tomato products and my winning recipe in the Dei Fratelli Ripened Recipe Contest I announced a month ago.  Thanks again, Dei Fratelli. I can’t wait to try more recipes using your wonderful tomato products!

Watch this at WNCN

Posted in carrots, Cheese, Contest, Havarti, Italian Cuisine, Mozzarella, Mushrooms, Pizza, Snacks, Tomatoes, Vegetables, Zucchini | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TIME IS ALMOST UP TO VOTE!!


You Only Have Two Days Left to Vote for my Italian Ravioli with Pesto in the Tyler Florence Wines Ultimate Food & Wine Experience.   Please vote today AND tomorrow!! When you vote for me, I owe YOU, so please let me know  when you are up for a recipe/cooking contest!! I’m always looking for more foodie friends to support!

Tyler Florence Ultimate Food & Wine Experience

Go to site by clicking on photo above and VOTE! It’s on page 2 of the Cabernet Sauvignon Tab! My Recipe is listed (without a photo) as Italian Ravioli with Pesto Angela M. While there, you can click and print the recipe for your kitchen!

Thanks for Your Support!!

Posted in Beef, Contest, Italian Cuisine, Meats, Ravioli, Sauces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas . . .


Yesterday was the finale of my wrapping and bagging of all of the Christmas gifts. All is now under the tree. Not sure if we could get anymore under there. christmas2012aToday, I’ve been busy baking cookies and baking Red Velvet mini-cakes with Cream Cheese frosting. I decided to use the paper cake pans I picked up while Christmas shopping. christcake1We will be heading to my brother’s house tomorrow for a nice Christmas spread. Like last year, I’m hoping to blog about some of their treats. Enjoy Yourselves and Hope the Jolly Fat Man is Good to You and Your Family!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

-Angela, “Mr. Special”, Maggie & Gigi

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A Christmas Favorite


Two years ago I created a recipe for a sweet bread made with spiced apple cider.  swtpotocake2 I took a little from about 4 different recipes and created my own bread using spiced cake mix and yams/sweet potatoes. swtpotocake3So glad I did and my family is too! I’m sure my mom has been wondering if I would make the treat again. She in particular, liked it a lot.

So, this year when “Mr. Special” was talking about sending some goodies to Long Island, NY where his family lives, I knew I needed to include a few loaves of the spiced bread. I’m hoping his mom and dad like it.

It’s truly a sweet bread or cake that is very similar to a pumpkin bread. I call it a bread simply due to me not frosting it. Plus, I make it in loaf pans like a bread.  However, if you wanted to make this yourself, you could certainly choose a cream cheese or vanilla frosting to top the goodness and call it a cake. Whatever you may call it, it’s some kind of good!!

I call it Yam Good Sweet Potato Bread. The recipe is below, Enjoy!

Yam Good Sweet Potato Bread

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Yields: 20 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box (Duncan Hines) spiced cake mix

1 individual package spiced apple cider mix

15 ounce can yams/sweet potatoes, drained and strings removed

3 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

Instructions:

Heat oven to350°F. Spray (2) 9-inch round glass baking dishes or (2) 1-qt. loaf pans with butter cooking spray. FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS – USED 5 MINI-LOAF TIN PANS

In a large mixing bowl, beat ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared baking dishes. Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Bake 25-30 minutes for loaf pans.) MINI-LOAF PANS BAKED FOR 20-25 MINUTES.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: No need for frosting, but if preferred, use a simple cheese cake or vanilla flavored frosting.Add nuts of choice for more texture and flavor. CAN BE DECORATED WITH MELTED WHITE CHOCOLATE IN RIBBON OR SNOWFLAKE DESIGN.

Posted in Breakfast, cakes, Contest, Desserts, Pastries/Breads/Muffins, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HELP ME WIN A TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO!


When trying to think up a recipe to go along with a Cabernet Sauvignon, I thought up a creative ravioli recipe. I’ve tried ravioli before making them using wanton wrappers. So, after I designed the recipe, I entered it into the Tyler Florence Wines Ultimate Food & Wine Experience. Tyler Florence Ultimate Food & Wine Experience

Now, that it has been entered, I need YOUR VOTE!! Please vote for my Italian Ravioli with Pesto. The Recipe is listed there, and I have listed it here as well. Such a fantastic dish to be served with a great wine like Tyler Florence Wines’ Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008

So, PLEASE VOTE for my tasty Italian Ravioli with Pesto. Go to site by clicking on photo above and VOTE! It’s on page 2 of the Cabernet Sauvignon Tab! Thanks for Your Support!!

 Italian Ravioli with Pesto

Serves: 4 – 6 servings (30 wontons)

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

Pesto:

6 ounces jarred sun-dried tomatoes, drained

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms

6 ounces white button mushrooms, chopped

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves

3 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1/3 cup canned Italian seasoned crushed tomatoes

2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese

couple pinches both salt and ground black pepper

Wonton Ingredients:

1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and diced

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves

1/2 pound sliced Italian Bresaola, sliced into thin 1-inch strips

1 pound package round wonton wrappers (60 wonton wrappers)

1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon water, whisked for egg wash

Instructions:

Create pesto. Place sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with warm water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms from water and place in a food processor or blender. Add basil, parsley, garlic, nuts and onions; process until well blended. Add vinegar, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and process. Stir in olive oil and grated cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.

Create wontons.In a large saute pan bring heavily salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly to a gentle boil.

Assemble the ravioli: Put a wonton wrapper on a clean dry working surface and brush the entire wrapper with egg wash. (Keep the remaining wonton wrappers covered while working to prevent them from drying out.) In a medium bowl, mix peppers, ricotta, garlic, and basil together. Put a few pieces of beef in the center of each wrapper then add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ricotta mixture on top. Gently stretch another wonton over top to cover, connecting the edges of the wrappers, press to secure. Gently lift, cup hands over filling to release any air inside, pinch around the rim to secure and put on a plate or large flat dish. Repeat with remaining wontons.

Cook the wontons: Gently put a batch of wontons in the boiling water, turn over half way through cooking and remove after about 5 minutes. Repeat for all wontons.

Serve warm ravioli equally in bowls with pesto sauce spooned over wontons. (Pesto can be warmed in microwave or on stove top for a few minutes if desired.)

Posted in Appetizers, Beef, Contest, Italian Cuisine, Meats, Mushrooms, Ravioli, Tomatoes, Walnuts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments