Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Dinner with The Pioneer Woman

Last weekend Anthony and I were watching the Pioneer Woman's show on FoodNetwork when we saw her recipe for Fancy Mac and Cheese. We looked at each other and immediately decided we were having THAT for our Valentine's dinner. Anthony found that it and a recipe for bananas foster were in her latest cookbook. So, with a salad on the side, we had our menu complete.

The mac and cheese requires some special cheeses, so it is definitely a special occasion dish. I knew the cost would add up, so I compared prices at Kroger, Trader Joe's and Central Market. Trader Joe's won by a landslide. PW uses 3 separate skillets/pots for the onions, bacon, and cheese sauce, but I just made them all in my trusty large cast iron Dutch oven, draining the fat after the bacon. It worked perfectly! This recipe is to die for and not as heavy as one might think.

For dessert, we made PW's Bananas Foster. It was easy and tasty, although I would have liked the sauce to be a little thicker. I think that was my fault for not cooking the butter and brown sugar long enough, for fear of burning it.

All-in-all, a success! I never cease to be amazed by the Pioneer Woman. I have not found any other source for recipes that i can count on 100% of the time to not only work, but taste fantastic. If you haven't checked her out, you must!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine Pretzel Buttons

I found this idea for Valentine Pretzel Buttons on Pinterest and thought they would make a great treat for my niece and nephew. It couldn't have been easier. You could really do these for any holiday. My grocery store was out of regular M&Ms, so I used the cherry ones they had for Valentine's. They were perfect! I'll be keeping this idea for when Eleanor is older because kids could definitely help with it.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

WAIT!! Before you tune me out, this is not your mama's pot pie (which I'm sure was lovely). It has a couple if twists that might sound strange, but trust me. You won't want any other chicken pot pie again.

I have to admit, I did not make this up. I got it from Judy Byrd ( at my sister's bridal luncheon (I can't remember if we had it at mine too). The great thing about this recipe is that it is impossible to mess up and you can change it to suit your tastes.

1 deli Rotisserie chicken
1 jar alfredo sauce (I have tried the different variations and have come to the conclusion that the plain alfredo tastes best in this recipe, but you can try others like garlic or four cheese if you want)
vegetables - (we use 3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots, 1 tbsp pimentos, and 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes, drained, but you can use any combinations of vegetables you want. mushrooms and artichokes are good too)
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 box of 2 refrigerated pie crusts (we use Pillsbury)
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine chicken, sauce, vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Put 1 pie crust in the bottom of a pie pan, pour in chicken mixture, and top with the other crust. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a little water or milk. Brush on top of the pie. Bake for 45 min. or until the crust is browned and the filling is warmed through. If the crust starts browning too early, cover it with foil.

Easy, right? Keep in mind - everything but the crust in this pie is already cooked, so you are just baking the crust and warming everything else up. Have fun and experiment with different vegetables!

P.S. Don't throw away the remains of your rotisserie chickens - put them in a bag in the freezer until you have a couple and make chicken stock with them.  YUM
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Trader Joe's Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter Cookies

On my most recent trip to Trader Joe's, I purchased one of their new products - Speculoos Crunchy Cookie Butter. I tried it several ways including straight out of the jar with a spoon, on some Trader Joe's cinnamon graham crackers, and on a piece of toast with bananas.  My favorite version was on the toast.  The crunchy cookie butter is very tasty with little cookie crunches throughout, but it has a little bit of a chalky texture when eaten by itself. So, when I found a recipe for Crispy Cookie Butter Cookies that used a whole cup of the stuff, I jumped on it!  This recipe is SO easy and, once you have the cookie butter, you probably have the other 5 ingredients in your pantry and fridge.  These cookies are flourless and so have a crispy texture that melts in your mouth.  Make them!!
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