Chicken Eggplant Parmesan

This is my take on Chicken Eggplant Parmesan. 

It doesn't have as much fat as a traditional eggplant parm recipe and it's easy to make. 
Everyone thought it was DELICIOUS!

While I was sitting here writing this, I thought what fun it would be to use breaded chicken strips and build the entire thing on a hoagie and eat it as a sandwich. Yum!

Isn't this plate gorgeous? 

Leah and Jane, 2 of my sisters, and my mom, got it for my birthday this past year. 
Love it....just sayin!

Don't you just love fresh mozzarella!

So good!

Chicken Eggplant Parmesan

1 tbsp butter, divided use
2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 medium eggplant
6 chicken breasts
½ cup flour
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan
1 med. onion, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

Heat large skillet and add ½ tbsp butter and ½ tbsp oil. Slice eggplant into 6- ¼ inch slices (I peel mine), sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown in the pan. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Mix flour and cheese. If necessary, pound chicken breast so all are the same thickness. Salt and pepper both sides and dredge in flour/cheese mixture. Add more oil, if needed, to the same skillet and brown on both sides. Remove and set aside on a wire rack, so the crust does not get soggy.

Heat oven to 400*.

Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining ½ tbsp oil and ½ tbsp butter. Saute onion and red pepper until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Place half of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Place in chicken breasts and put an eggplant slice on top of each one; spoon on more sauce and top with a slice of mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes.

To serve, top with grated Parmesan, if desired. 


Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

I know, I know,,,,2 soup recipes in a row. I can't help myself. I have so been digging soup for lunch lately, plus I've had 2 acorn squash sitting on my counter, just starring at me, for the last 2 weeks.

It was a must. And it turned out to be a delicious must that I will repeat, again and again.

I really enjoy the flavor of this soup. The pepper flakes and curry gave it a wonderful bite and the nutmeg added that little, somp-em somp-em!

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cook for about an hour.

Roasted acorn squash,,,yum. You could eat them just like this if you wanted to.

Meanwhile, saute the onion with red pepper flakes and garlic. 
Then add your seasonings and chicken broth.

Once the squash is cool, the peeling will easily peel right off.

Add them to your soup

and just break them up with your spoon.

Here's what it looks like after its blended (or pureed).

I drizzled a little cream on the top. 
Total deliciousness!

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

2 acorn squash
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion
Dash of red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tsp sage
¼ tsp curry
Dash of fresh nutmeg
4 cups chicken broth
¼ cup cream
Salt and Pepper

Heat oven to 400*

Roast the squash by cutting in half, removing the seeds, drizzling with oil, salt and pepper, then placing cut side down in a pan and roasting for 50-60 minutes.

Heat up a large saucepan and add butter and oil. Saute the onion for several minutes or until translucent. Add red pepper flakes, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add bay leaf, sage, curry and nutmeg, then give it a good stir. Add broth and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Peel skin off cooled squash and add to the pot, and with your spoon, brake the squash up some. Partially cover pan and simmer 15 minutes.

With an immersion blender (food processor or blender-in batches), puree until desired consistency.

Add in ¼ cup cream and stir. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed. 

Note: I actually added a drizzle of honey, just to add a touch more of sweetness, because I didn't think my squash was sweet enough for this recipe.


Roasted Tomato & Blue Cheese Soup

This soup turned out so good.

I got the idea from  Sumptuous Spoonfuls. I thought the sound of tomato soup with blue cheese in it sounded really intriguing, so of course, I had to try it!

I can’t begin to tell you how delicious this turned out.

I had some small tomatoes that I wanted to use up, and just added 3 medium ones that I cut in half, drizzled them all with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roasting them adds a deep layer of flavor that you can't get by adding them raw
and makes for easy peeling.

Throw them in the pot with your sauteed onion, pepper flakes and garlic, 
then simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the broth and cream and blend. Using an immersion blender left the soup with great consistency and little tender pieces of the onion that were a delight to chew. You could just as easily use a blender or food processor, but do it in batches being careful of the heat.

Simmer for an additional 20-25 minutes, add the basil and blue cheese, and enjoy!

Blue cheese haters in the family? No problem! If you didn’t know it had blue cheese in it, you would just think it had this indescribable delicious bite of flavor.

Linked with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday.

Roasted Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup
Serves 4-6

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
5 medium sized tomatoes, roasted and peeled
1 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup cream
2 tsp fresh basil 
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles
Crumbled bacon, if desired

Heat oven to 400*.

Place tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until well coated; place in oven and roast for 20 minutes. Let cool, then peel off skin.

Heat a medium-large pot over medium-high heat; add olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook until it starts to soften and a little color appears; add garlic and continue cooking 2-3 minutes.
Add the roasted and peeled tomatoes, and their juices. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add the broth and cream. Use an immersion blender (or a blender or food processor) and blend until desired consistency. Add basil; lower the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer (not boil!) for about 20-25 minutes. Add the blue cheese and stir until melted. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Serve garnished with croutons, a bit of bacon and fresh basil or parsley, if desired.


Candied Jalapenos - aka....Cowboy Candy

I came across this recipe on Tasty Kitchen.
It was originally  posted by Rebecca from Foodie with Family.

Right when I saw it, I knew I had to give them a try. 
They turned out just as I expected.
Totally delicious.

I made some tuna fish and used the jalapenos with a little bit of the juice,
instead of pickles or relish. Super yummy. They would also be great with your 
favorite cheese, in pasta, on many uses. 
And they were easy to make, which is a definite bonus!

Linked with Weekend Potluck.

Candied Jalapenos..... aka, Cowboy Candy

3 pounds Jalapeno Peppers, Washed
2 cups Cider Vinegar
6 cups White Granulated Sugar
½ teaspoons Turmeric
½ teaspoons Celery Seed
3 teaspoons Granulated Garlic
1 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper

Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems (I removed the seeds and membranes out of about 3/4 of the peppers and also used a variety of peppers from my mom and dads place, Griffin Farms).

Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar.

Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.

Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.

If you do not want to can these to the point of shelf stable, you can simply put the jars in your refrigerator and store them there. I prefer to keep the fridge space free so I can them. If you wish to can them, follow the instructions below.

Note: If you have leftover syrup, and it is likely that you will, you may can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It’s wonderful brushed on meat on the grill or added to potato salad or, or, or … in short, don’t toss it out!

To can, place jars in a canner and cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth, then label.

Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Or don’t. I won’t tell!


Pepper Steak

My mom and dad have a place just outside of Benton, AR called Griffin Daylilies and Produce. My mom is constantly bringing me over all kinds of produce, yea me.

Anyway, the other day she dropped me off a bag full of all different kinds of peppers. I had yellow ones, green ones, purple, red,,,,, a rainbow of colors. Some hot, some not, all delicious.

So they didn't go to waste, I decided Pepper Steak sounded delicious. I served it over Mushroom Rice Pilaf. Both recipes were adapted from Rachel Ray. It was Scrumptious!

The rice would be great on it's own, as a side dish for,,,whatever, everything. I actually ate it out of the fridge, cold, for breakfast the next morning. (I don't have pictures of making the rice but it was really easy, and good).

Simply, here's all I did.

Brown your meat in hot oil then remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan add the onion and all those beautiful peppers you selected.

By this point you have added in the flour, sherry, broth and tomato paste.

Here is your finished dish. It really did turn out super delicious. 
I really enjoyed it and I'm pretty sure you will too.

Pepper Steak


Mushroom Rice Pilaf:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
10 white mushrooms, chopped
1 3/4 cups water
1 package rice pilaf mix (recommended: Near East brand), 6.09 ounces
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped

Pepper Steak:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds tenderloin tips or sirloin, cut into chunks
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2-2 cups of peppers (your choice), seeded, 2 inch dice
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup dry sherry 
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

In a medium pot over medium to medium high heat add a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter. When butter melts, add chopped mushrooms and saute 3 to 5 minutes. Add water and cover the pot; bring to a boil. Add rice and pilaf packet to water. Stir to combine, reduce heat and cook 18 minutes. Add parsley, fluff with fork.

Preheat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil to really hot pan. Add meat and sear on all sides, 5 minutes. Season with salt and remove to a plate. Cover meat loosely with foil to hold heat. 

Reduce heat on pan to medium. Add butter to pan. Add peppers and a little onion. Saute peppers and onions 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir in and cook 1 minute longer. Whisk in sherry and start to pick up pan drippings. Whisk in broth and continue whisking. Add tomato and black pepper. Slide meat back into the pan and coat with sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.

Spoon Pepper Steak over Mushroom Rice Pilaf and serve.

Tip:  Have your broth ready to add before you add your sherry.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.



Making Memories and Homemade Pizza

Kasidee and Kathryn, 2 of my grandkids, stayed with me one Friday night. 
It's always fun having them over, but I wanted a fun project for Kasidee. 
After giving it a little thought, it came to me. 


Aren't they beautiful!

What's more fun for a 4 year old than making and cooking her own pizza.
So I made up a batch of my most favorite Best Ever Pizza Dough, and we went to work.

Lol, the pizza wasn't the only thing being cheesy.

Here's Kasidee's final masterpiece. Fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, white cheddar cheese.

She really enjoyed it. I should have got a picture of it after it cooked, but by that time, I was so intent on getting it to the plate for her, I forgot.

Doesn't this look yummy! This was the one I made for the adults.

I think I'm hungry for pizza.

It was such fun and I'm sure it will be one of those memories that Kasidee will always remember.

I do so enjoy making those with her. 



Buffalo Chicken Strip Wraps

I first started making these wraps when I was catering lunches around town.

Really easy to make and delicious.

You could add cheese or any topping that strikes your fancy, but my favorite is just on a warmed up flatbread with blue cheese spread and shredded romaine. And maybe some thinly sliced onions.

Here's all you do.

Put your sliced chicken breast in a bag and throw in your marinade seasonings.
I like to marinate them at least an hour or even overnight.

Make sure not to crowd them on the baking rack. 

Turn half way through cooking process.

Just that easy.


Linked with Weekend Potluck

Buffalo Chicken Strip Wraps


4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
4 tbsp hot pepper sauce, Frank's recommended
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6-7 wraps depending on size
Shredded romaine lettuce
Onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. blue cheese dressing
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Cut breast into strips and place into a gallon bag. Add hot pepper sauce, olive oil, vinegar, worcestershire, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Marinate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 400*
Cook strips on a baking sheet with a rack 12-15 minutes, turning half way through, until done.
Place wraps in a clean kitchen towel and microwave 15-20 seconds.
To serve: Cover wrap liberally with blue cheese spread. Place 2-3 stips on wrap with lettuce and onion. Fold and enjoy.

NOTE: I like to use "Kangaroo" White Greek Pita Flatbread.


Killer Brownies

If I had to choose my favorite brownie recipe.....this would be it.

The first time I made them was at a small dinner party I hosted. 
Needless to say, they were a huge hit then, and every time I've made them since. 
If I remember correctly, I just plopped a scoop of vanilla ice cream 
beside it and called it good. 

And it is....very!

Linked up with Weekend Potluck and Foodie Friday

Killer Brownies

8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp butter
2 cup sugar
4 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Heat oven to 350*.

Melt chocolate and butter, 3 minutes on high, in the microwave. Stir until melted and smooth. Whisk in sugar; then whisk in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour into a tinfoil lined and greased 9x13 baking dish; bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is just set. I usually start checking mine about 5 minutes early. Do not over cook. Remove and peel off foil. Makes 24.