Mini Spinach Lasagne

You are going to want to run out right now and make this! Its delicious! Its easy! It’s meatless (for those meatless Friday nights, or every night for some of you.)

I have made this twice now and keep forgetting why I dont make it more often. Probably because I just plain…forget.

The only hitch is, you should be using a brownie pan. You know, those square muffin type pans used to make brownies. Like this…

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They are more shallow than muffin pans and hold the square ravioili’s perfectly. I tried them in the round muffin pans and I couldn’t get them in there. You would have to use smaller ravioli’s, like some fresh ones I found at the store.

Anyway, hopefully you have one of these. If you don’t and want one, give me a call. (they are $20 bucks from Pampered Chef).

I dont have a picture of the finished product, but have a couple of the steps along the way. You can make it, take a pic and send it to me. Last night I made this for my son and his friends, then I left the house for book club. So I kind of forgot about taking a picture. They had that and the easy-cheesey-focaccia bread (without the pepperoni it was supposed to have), and a salad. Oh, and cheater cherry cobbler.

Mini Spinach Lasagna Squares

  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 oz parmesan, grated
  • 1 pkg chopped frozen spinach, 10 oz, thawed and drained. (I used slivered fresh)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 3/4 cup marinara sauce, divided
  • 24 small frozen cheese ravioli’s. (about 1 1/2″x2″)
  1. heat the oven to 350.
  2. mix 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, parmesan and spinach. Use a garlic press on the garlic and add to this. Mix with a wooden spoon or a mix n scraper.
  3. Measure out 1 tbsp. of the marinara into each well of the brownie pan. Place a frozen ravioli over it.
  4. Put a small scoop of the spinach/cheese mixture over the ravioli’s and then another ravioli on top of that. Now another spoonful of marinara.
  5. top it off with the leftover mozzarella.
  6. I put the pan on a parchment lined baking sheet, in case of spillage. Put into the oven and bake 20-22 minutes.

 

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Look at those pretty colors!

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For now you will just have to imagine them all cooked down, gooey, hot, and tender. Actually, now that I think of it, this could be a very versatile recipe, couldn’t it? How about seafood ravioli’s with a garlic cream sauce? (Like Alfredo) with maybe some chopped up bacon in between the layers. Ah ha! I think I’m on to something!

 

Anyway, thank you to the Pampered Chef for this great and snappy recipe. You can find it here… And it will have a picture of the done deal.

 

Oddn n Ends with a slice of cake

Turtle fudge skillet cake, a secret recipe
Turtle fudge skillet cake, a secret recipe

So, do you keep a glass of water by your bed? I could not more sleep at night without water next to me that sleep without air. Or without a fan of some kind on as white noise. Us light sleepers would be waking up all night at every little noise if we did not have white noise in the back ground. And a snoring husband does not count as white noise. Thats more like, I dunno, black noise. Just noisy noise.

So its 2 in the morning and you need a sip of water. So you reach over, half awake, take hold of the glass and take a sideways sip, because you are leaning over toward the night stand. Ever try drinking out of a cup sideways? I have never really tried it while awake, but I somehow can manage it while asleep. Of course, sometimes a little water might not make it quite to my lips. Sometimes it escapes the cup and lands elsewhere. And depending on just how cold it is that night, and where the elsewhere is it landed on, you might suddenly find yourself VERY wide awake. And damp.

I got to see an old friend out-of-the-blue yesterday, which was a treat. Rather than looking like an “old” friend Cinda is looking younger and fitter and better than ever. Both removing all sugar from her diet 3 years ago and then moving to the middle-of-no-where in Endicott WA with all the hiking and fresh air available, well, its taken its tole on her. She looks and feels great! She even, for her brief visit, helped me weed the little garden. Nothing like having a friend to chat with while weeding. The job gets done in a snap!

So the whole not eating sugar thing is very inspiring. One side of my head knows just how bad processed sugar is, but the other side, plus the taste buds, wont come to an understanding.

I got pretty excited yesterday thought. I am on a half-hearted sort of diet and have lost a few pounds. But yesterday I weighed myself after a couple of weeks and it read that I had lost 9 pounds! Wow! Should I be concerned or thrilled? Actually, I was a bit suspicious. So that half of the brain that wants to live sans sugar didn’t trust the scale and the rest of me was throwing confetti into the air and patting myself on the back. Wow, life feels pretty good.

Then my brain forced me to march back in there later that day and try again, on the scale. Dang! Those 9 pounds were right back again.

Stupid scale. Guess it needs batteries.

Or it was mocking me.

One of the reasons we don’t have a scale is because we don’t set much store on it. Our clothes and a mirror tells us what we need to know. But our guest here can’t live without weighing himself several times a day. It’s a thing with him. One of many things. So naturally, if it’s sitting there…I’m gonna use it once in a while.

Until now.

So, cakes, huh? I’ve had a run of cake orders lately. This one I am sharing with you today was for my sons teachers birthday and was not exactly an order, but an idea of my own. I called and no one had provided one. It can’t hurt to grease the educational wheels, right? (Just kidding, she is a wonderful person and deserved a wonderful cake.)

Why had I bought the 12″ Executive skillet from Pampered Chef when it was on sale 60% off in April? Why? This Turtle Fudge Skillet cake, thats why! I kept hearing about  this cake you could make at shows baked in a skillet. This one or pineapple upside down cake or black forest cake…But this turtle cake was calling out to me.

But I know better than to make a cake just for us.  So here was the perfect opportunity. Except for one small glitch.

I never did get to taste it.

Not one nibble.

When I delivered it, it was warm and smelled like heaven. I had to just ravish it with my eyes. My lips never got to touch it.

Well, I am going to share the recipe with you all, so you can taste it anyway. But don’t feel sorry for me. I will make it again some day when we are having a dinner party or a birthday party or going to a pot luck. You betcha!

Turtle Fudge Skillet Cake

(of course, I tweaked the original recipe, just a little)

you need:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix of your choice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter plus 1 extra Tablespoon for the pan
  1. Mix well with a hand or standing mixer, the first 4 ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. If you have the PC Executive 12″ skillet, put one Tbsp of butter into it and, on the stove top, melt it over a medium heat. Spread it out.
  3. Pour the cake batter into the skillet, spreading it out evenly.
  4. Put in the oven and bake about 30 minutes, testing it a bit earlier to see if done. (with a straw or other pointy-sticky thing)

Now for the shiny, crunchy topping:

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate. If bars, chop up. Or use chips.
  • 1 jar of caramel topping for ice cream (although I only had half a jar left and made do)
  • about 1/2 cup or more chopped pecans
  1. Put the chocolate and half the caramel in a microwave proof dish and melt in the microwave about 30-45 seconds, stirring it up. (Or do this in a small saucepan on the stove.)
  2. After the cake is done, let it cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a large platter.
  3. Pour the melted sauce over the cake, smoothing it out and letting it drip over the edge of the cake.
  4. Now sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top.
  5. Then, if you want, drizzle the rest of the caramel topping over the top of the whole cake and stand back to take a picture because it looks amazing!

Mocha braised ribs n shanks

“Oh mummy, what arrrr we havin for supper tonight? Sumpin special for Saint Patricks day?”

“Ah aye wee lass aye, weel be havin ar traditional mocha braised beef with brown rice don’t ya know”.

Hm, alright, there is so many things wrong with this I could not even begin. But t’is true. We had a fine potluck yesterday with corned beef, potatoes, carrots and cabbage, (and lets not forget the Irish soda bread), the traditional American way of celebrating Saint Patrick’s day and being Irish, or wishing we were Irish, or just thinking briefly about the Irish. I did mean to make Shepherds  pie with lamb, but wouldn’t you know, out of the two stores I went in to, neither one had any lamb left that wasn’t a bone in affair, not suitable for Shepherds pie.

So fine, we did the corned beef yesterday, my duty was done, why not go a little wild? I was thinking of some spaghetti and meatballs, when suddenly I remembered this amazingly wonderful dish I made at one of my Pampered Chef parties, a recipe that came with my Rockcrok! (Pampered Chef recipes never steer you wrong.) And since I was there, in front of the lambless meat display, why not pick up some short ribs?
Because they are so freakishly expensive, that’s why!

I bought one pound of short ribs and it only came to 3 ribs! So right next to it and at a considerable savings, were beef shanks. Large round beef thingys with a nice marrow bone in the middle.

My inner gears went to spinning. This recipe lets the meat cook for several hours, surely long enough for shanks as well. The bone marrow will give a wonderful texture and vitamins to the stewy kind of meal it is. I know this recipe tastes wonderful because I made it once before.

I sold myself on the idea and bought the meat before I had time to back out and rethink it. 1 lb. of ribs and 2 beef shanks. Mix and match. (Such is the way  many of my plans come to fruition. A kind of jump-in-and-hope-for-the-best mentality.)

Lucky for you, I have a few minutes to share this recipe. It took no longer than starting any kind of stew. You braise the meat, saute the veggies, add the liquids, put it all together and let it bake away in the oven while you forgetaboutit and sit down to blog, or find some other interesting thing to do, like folding laundry. Or go catch a movie. Or walk the dog who keeps digging holes because he is bored. Or collect eggs, then spy on the hens to see if you can guess which one ate one of the eggs. Or make homemade play-do for the kids and have them model their names with it.

This recipe is a wonderful rich stew to be served over rice, in my opinion. It is a bit spicy, with mocha overtones from the coffee and chocolate. (Yes, you read right, chocolate) I used half the called for chipotle and just over half the amount of chocolate. (Don’t hate me, but I am not a huge chocolate fan.) So do as your conscience allows. Oh and by the way, the beef shanks were even more tender than the ribs as it turns out! Next time I would just use shanks. It looks like Oso bucco, a fab Italian dish. Just make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go as it is a little unusual. Such as a dish with coffee AND chipotle AND chocolate AND tomatoes…

Here is the beef, the sauce, the brown rice all mingling indecently together next to some discreet salad.
Here is the beef, the sauce, the brown rice all mingling indecently together next to some discreet salad.

Mocha Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 pounds short ribs (or ?)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped plus 3 Tbsp sauce (I used 1 large Tbsp. of the blended chipotle mixture.)
  • 3 Tbsp. each brown sugar and flour
  • 1 tsp.  ground cumin
  • 1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups coffee (2 cups hot water mixed with 2 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee granules or your own coffee)
  • 1 cup  beef stock
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I only had dark chocolate, which worked fine, but I used 2.5 oz. Having a kitchen scale is priceless!)
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven Crockpot (Or other dutch oven) and heat for 3-4 minutes or until shimmering. Season ribs or other beef with salt and pepper. Brown half the ribs, uncovered 6-8 minutes, turning once. Remove from Dutch Oven and repeat with remaining ribs. Drain the pan if the drippings are more than 2 Tbsp.
  2. Into the hot drippings add the diced onions, garlic, *chipotle peppers with sauce, brown sugar, flour and cumin. Saute for about 2 minutes (add the mushrooms if using).
  3. Dissolve the coffee in the hot water (if needed). Stir in the coffee, tomatoes and beef broth into the Dutch Oven. Cook uncovered until simmering. Remove from heat and add the meat.
  4. Put the lid on it and put in the oven for 2-2 1/2 hours or until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.
  5. Remove ribs.Skim fat from top of the sauce. Stir in chocolate until melted. Divide ribs and sauce among the serving plates, serving over rice.

*A good tip from a friend of mine, she takes the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and blends the whole thing up then stores it. When she wants it for a recipe, she just  spoons out what she needs. It has been working for me beautifully as well. So I did not worry about the chili and the sauce as though they were two separate things.

Here is the browned meat just starting its incarceration with all the other felons into the Rockcrok and into the oven to think about its life choices.
Here is the browned meat just starting its incarceration with all the other felons into the Rockcrok and into the oven to think about its life choices. (I love this pot, goes on the stovetop, into the oven or microwave and under the broiler, no worries!)
Seems I forgot to braise the mushrooms with the other vegies, so I gave them a quick shake in the skillet and stirred them into the 'stew'.
Seems I forgot to braise the mushrooms with the other veggies, so I gave them a quick shake in the skillet and stirred them into the ‘stew’.
About 3 hours later, give or take, I removed it from the oven and lifted the lid. Oooh..Transformation! Rebirth! Alchemy! Well, no...
About 3 hours later, give or take, I removed it from the oven and lifted the lid. Oooh..Transformation! Rebirth! Alchemy! Well, no…
Here are the bones I removed from the stewiness. They were not attached to anything anymore. Bones-no-more!
Here are the bones I removed from the stewiness. They were not attached to anything anymore. Bones-no-more!

This was a big hit. Just a hint of spiciness, but not too much for my light-weights. All the other flavors mixed together to make it warm and complex. Just wonderful. I started it around 3 pm and we ate at 7. It was done by 6:30, but then there is pulling everything else together. (Like family members from their rooms and getting them to set the table and so on…)

Sorry we didn’t get any pictures of the fab cake we had as a stand by dessert! I would like to share that one. Butter cake with cream cheese icing. So easy too. Darn shame. Well, maybe tomorrow I can get a picture of a little leftover piece. That might do. Because if you like butter cakes, you will want to try this one.

Nifty Twice Baked Potatoes

Also called “Potatoes on the half shell” by some folk. Not me. But some.

These are not just ordinary. They are ‘nifty’ and I will tell you why.

In a minute.

First, do you not love twice baked potatoes? I have never met anyone who did not just love them.  I have seen them for sale, wrapped up in cellophane in a deli’s window case. They are notoriously wonderful. Not just your everyday mashed potatoes. Those tend to be more watery. Not plain baked potatoes either, not that those are bad.

No, these are baked potatoes mashed with plenty good stuff. Oh, like milk and salt and pepper.

And butter.

And bacon bits.

And green onions.

And sour cream.

Or cream cheese.

Or cheddar cheese. Definitely topped with some kind of cheese.

Anyway, all this came about because I got a Pampered Chef box in the mail today. Whoo-hoo! Love getting boxes from them. And these were free products from our new spring line that I had earned by just having 2 parties in Dec. (Who says I just had 2?) Thank you all my hosts! You are the bees knees!

Well, these spring products are not to be revealed until March, but I am going to give you a sneak peek at one nifty item that worked amazingly well. I think we bonded and are going to be great friends after this.

It’s just a little thing too. Its called a ‘Scoop Loop’ and I am afraid you cannot get it just yet. But soon my friends, soon.

What could this little tool be doing?
What could this little tool be doing?

Back to potatoes. Easy stuff this. Just bake your potatoes like usual. Depending on the size of your potato and if you microwave it or bake it. I suggest baking until you can squeeze it from the outside, with a good potholder of course, and it gives nicely. Then set it aside to cool, just a bit.

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Now I usually lay the potato out the long way and slice some off the top, then scoop out the filling of dry fluffy potato and put it into a bowl.

But I went to dinner at a friend’s house and her potatoes were lined up like a bouquet in a baking pot. I loved it and decided to do mine likewise. (Although I think hers turned out prettier, my guys didn’t care a fig. They just dug in and wanted to eat them.)

Is this stuffing the potatoes at top mock speed? Or is it my son making crazy with the camera so he could get back to his online video gaming?
Is this stuffing the potatoes at top mock speed? Or is it my son making crazy with the camera so he could get back to his online video gaming?

This is what makes these so nifty. This and the cool tool I am using.

So I cut the potato in half, right through its belt line. Mr potato head! Then I scoop out the fluffy innards with this nifty new tool. Wow!

Really, wow!!

So easy. So clean. It just pulled out the potato in seconds. No, nanoseconds. Cleaned it out perfect. Into the pot went the potatoes. Then the salt, pepper, milk, sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, some cheddar. I think that’s it. But why stop there. You could put in um, bell pepper? Or ham? Roasted garlic? Or if you are in San Francisco you might put in chopped kale? Or roasted eggplant. I  wouldn’t. But people from San Francisco might.

The point is, the potato is a blank canvas upon which you can add your favorite things. Or go easy with chicken broth instead of dairy. Or go wicked with blue cheese. Parmesan anyone? Black beans? But please, no quinoa. I have to draw the line somewhere.

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Mash up the potato with all the goods, then spoon it back into the waiting potato shells. Top with more cheese and pop back into the oven until hot through and melty.

I decided to use my deep covered baker because I knew it would be deep enough and the lid would come in handy to keep the whole thing warm. Thats the beauty of stoneware. It keeps your food warm and fresh. I tucked a crushed  piece of parchment in there to hold the little beauties up while they heated.

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That way I can roast the asparagus in a hotter oven while I get the rest of dinner ready, and I know they won’t get cold.

It is St. Valentines day after all and I want dinner to be extra nice. I DO NOT want to go out to dinner on 1) a Friday night and 2) Valentines night. I will leave that to the young daters and proposers. We can go out to dinner another night and pretend. Besides, hubby has had a busy week and I am just getting back on my feet too.

So, where was I. Oh yeah. Potatoes and stuff. Like Chocolate chip cookies with walnut cookies for dessert. It was going to be chocolate cake, but after the cookies, I thought, just how many sweets do we need around here? (Okay, more…) Besides, I wanted to sit on the sofa and watch “While you were sleeping” with Sandra Bullock before she went into space and got bombarded with space debris! Yikes.

Ready for launching onto the dinner plates.
Ready for launching onto the dinner plates.

If you really do want to see this nifty new tool and the other new spring products in a sneak preview, there is only one way. We, some other consultants and I, are having a taste testing open house on Monday the 24 of Feb. We are making new recipes from the new Seasons Best and are inviting some people to come do a taste test for us. There will be new products to play with, kitchen tools to practice with. (Ever want to play with the Ultimate Mandolin? And get it right? Or the non-cutting can opener? Or the manual food processor?) There will be prizes of course.  But you must know the secret knock. So I guess you will have to contact me. Email or call or Facebook. Then I can fill you in on the details.

Bring a  friend/hubby/daughter/sister/pal, whatever. Of course, I will be there and I am your friend. But bring someone to talk to in the car. Someone to watch your back while you go sneaking on thirds of that dip I am bringing.

And no, you cannot take home my Scoop-loop, as much as you will fall in love with it, just-no.

Another indispensable tool, my kitchen spritzer filled with olive oil. Used like a can of non-stick but without the propellent and chemicals.Now instead of drizzling the oil over the spears, I just mist them with the olive oil. Less waste, more even distribution. Then during the last 6-7 minutes I use another mist and some Parmesan sprinkled over. Don't forget the pink salt.
Another indispensable tool, my kitchen spritzer (new glass ones)  filled (and refilled)  with olive oil. Used like a can of non-stick but without the propellent and chemicals.Now instead of drizzling the oil over the spears, I just mist them with the olive oil. Less waste, more even distribution. Then during the last 6-7 minutes I use another mist and some Parmesan sprinkled over. Don’t forget the pink salt.

Baked Pancakes?

Well hang on to your hats pancake lovers! Here is salvation for pancake makers everywhere, whether you are the Saturday morning pancake dads or the any-day-of the week pancake moms, this will change your life.

Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic. Or some might say not enough.

But really, baked pancakes?

This is only slightly less dramatic and wonderful than when I discovered baked bacon, which changed my life.

Pancakes, baked, in a large stoneware bar pan. Into one huge pancake. Then cut into squares. Or rectangles or hearts or stars, whatever.

I heard this from another Pampered Chef consultant who makes her bacon in the oven (but we already know that trick, don’t we.) in the large bar pan at 400 degrees. When done, she pours off most of the bacon fat, then pours the pancake batter into that same bar pan and pops it back into the oven. About 15 minutes later, voila!

Well, it was Friday and I didn’t make the bacon, but wanted to make a brinner for our evening meal. So it was scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes, baked in the oven. Now that I have replaced my much beloved and missing bar pan, I find all kinds of reasons to use it. Here was just another.

They turned out beautiful, easy-peasy and delicious. My picky husband even complimented them.

Here we are digging in. I put the leftover slices in a ziplock to save for 'toaster pancakes' later.
Here we are digging in. I put the leftover slices in a ziplock to save for ‘toaster pancakes’ later.
Oh dang, you wanted a bit? Well, here is the last one.
Oh dang, you wanted a bit? Well, here is the last one.

I just used Trader Joe pancake mix (I sometimes mix the multi-grain with the regular) with eggs, milk and a little sour cream, then poured it into the pre-heated pan, topped with frozen blueberries, swished them around in the batter a bit with a wooden spoon and popped it into a 400 degree oven. A while later it looked golden on top so I took it out and it was done. Way too simple to be real!
The blueberries ‘sank’ but since it is only a pancake and about 1/2″ high, they didn’t have far to go.

I am not sure you would get the same wonderful effects with a metal pan. The metal would get pretty hot and perhaps burn the bottom before the top was done. You could use other shape stoneware though. If I hadn’t made such a large batch (I generally do not measure pancake ingredients any more and sometimes end up with a tad too much, which makes Bear happy as he gets leftover pancakes.) If you were making less you  could put them in a smaller square baker stoneware pan. Or the medium bar pan. But there you go. You must try them at your next pancake fest! All your pancakes done at the same time, no flipping, no waiting and mom gets to eat with the rest of the family!

Whoop-whoop!

Chicken Brocolli Ring, an old favorite revived

Now that I am a Pampered Chef consultant, I am looking up old favorite recipes to try. I have yet to try one I did not like and they are almost always time thrifty as well as cost thrifty. They remind me of ‘Semi-Homemade’ recipes from Sandra Lee.

Well, I went to a team meeting last week and the hostess had made a taco ring, rings being a favorite Pampered thing. Apparently this has been around for a long time, but I had somehow missed it and boy, what I missed! I loved that stuff and kept eyeballing the other ladies to see who would be the first to dig in for seconds. Or thirds…

To my utter disappointment, no one did. But after the meeting I noticed that several women had  quietly disappeared and it wasn’t out the front door that I was sitting near. They had slipped unnoticed into the kitchen to help ‘clean up’ the leftovers. So I, of course, never a shirker, helped them.

Well, hubby had brought home a Costco chicken, all roasted up so I figured this was my chance to try a ‘ring’.  So I will share it with you now, so you can reminisce about your rings of old.

One thing I would have done differently. I do not  like bell peppers. Hubby does, so I kept them in thinking I could pick them out. But I kept missing them…eww. I would leave them out next time.

I modified the original recipe a bit, no big surprise there, but it is basically the same. It is a good way to get broccoli into my diet, since that is another vegetable I don’t really like, at least cooked. But I chopped it up good in my manual food processor. Ooh, now I can add links to the items I use to take you to the Pampered Chef website so you can see those things. Ah-ha!

As for seasoning, the recipe calls for All Purpose Dill Mix. which I do not have. But I used dill and some other seasonings that I had ordered for my kit. Like the Bell Pepper Herb rub, and the Greek Rub. Then I just added some dill I had in my cupboard. They worked fab!

Broccoli cheese ring
Broccoli cheese ring on my old pizza stone (“the worse it looks the better it cooks”)

So here is the recipe with my variations. I strongly suggest baking it on a Stoneware baking stone of one kind or another, either a bar pan or pizza pan or a stone pie pan. I made a half recipe, saving the rest of the chicken mixture for another day.

Chicken and Broccoli Ring

1 cup of broccoli florets, chopped

2 cups of chopped cooked chicken breasts (canned or roasted)

½ cup diced bell pepper (I used way less and was still sorry, but if you like it….)

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

½ cup mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, pressed in garlic press

1 green onion, diced

2 teaspoons All-Purpose Dill Mix (or dill and other seasonings of choice)

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tubes of refrigerated crescent roll dough

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

Sesame seeds (Optional)

 

Preheat oven to 375. Combine broccoli, chicken, bell pepper, cheese, mayo, dill and other seasonings, garlic and salt in Classic Batter Bowl. Mix well.

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Unroll one package of crescent dough and separate triangles. Lay them in a circle, with the big end overlapping each other in the inner part of the ring, while the points all point out like starfish arms. Press lightly together to help seal.

Looks like a starfish to me.
Looks like a starfish to me. Look how dark chocolate the baking stone is after all these years!

Using  a large scoop,  scoop balls of chicken mixture around the ring, towards the inside. (see picture). Bring points up and over, tucking in under the inner part of ring.

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Brush egg wash over all and sprinkle with almonds and/or sesame seeds.

Put in oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I wish I had kept it in a few more minutes. Stoneware pans do not burn on the bottom like metal pans, so you can safely bake until done without fear of cheese burning to the bottom of the pan, but I had forgotten that. A bigger ring would probably take a few minutes longer to bake.

IMG_2839 (1024x1009)Okay, not perfect looking, but not too bad for first chicken ring. Will definitely be doing more of this kind of thing! This with a side salad was perfect. Oh, and I sautéed some corn in butter too. I had a few ears getting older by the moment and using my kernel cutter, stripped the cobs (for chicken snacks the next day) and just put the corn in a skillet with a little butter to slowly cook while I made the salad. The round stone kept the chicken ring nice and warm in the meantime.

Can you tell I love these stones? I have several and they have all seen good use. Biscuits, cakes, brownies, Irish soda bread, Turkish bread, Italian cheese swirl, ribs, chicken, roasted veggies, potatoes, the list goes on and on. Love them!

(By the way, if you have Pampered Chef stoneware pans sitting around in your cupboards and you are thinking “Linda, I just don’t use them” let me know and I will email you recipes to rekindle your love for these great pans!)

As a side note, I wanted to share the story of my son’s birthday gift to me.This is my 16-year-old. As I got up this morning he jumped out from behind a corner and covered my eyes, no easy task with someone who wears glasses, let me tell you. As he guided me to the kitchen, he told me his story.

“I woke up at 2 in the morning and realized I did not get you a birthday present. So as I was thinking about this, I heard voices outside. I went out and there was a fairy sitting on the chicken fence talking to the chickens. But they were all sleeping and not listening. I listened and the fairy granted me one wish. I said I wanted him (guess it was a guy fairy?)  to clean the kitchen for my mom every day for a week. And when I got up this morning, it was all clean!” And at this point he uncovered my eyes.

IMG_2840 (1024x765)Dishes, pans all washed, dried and put away, the trash taken out the counters wiped. Wow! I told him this gift was worth more than gold. I might just get used to this…Love you Paul!

Grand Opening Party!

Don’t you love ordering things online? Then they come in the mail and by that time the pain of having to pay for it has  diminished and its kind of like Christmas!

whoop-whoop!

I became a Pampered Chef consultant on the 15th and ordered my starter kit. (And got a free brownie pan-see stars and hearts in my eyes!)

The kit was supposed to arrive Friday, according to the Fed-ex tracking system, which we know never fails. But this time they were wrong in the right direction!

It came today!

Here is me opening all my goodies.
whoop-whoop!! Here is me opening all my goodies.A new apron?! Oh no, you know how I hate aprons…!

Now I am official! Good thing too, since I have already booked some parties.

YOU ARE INVITED TO EITHER OF MY GRAND OPENING PARTIES!!!

Yes, you my dear reader friend. Come watch me nervously fumble, demonstrate Pampered Chef tools while making something delicious to eat. I need to practice.

And practice.

And practice.

So I am having 2 grand openings. One at night, for you after-workers. (or whoever) It’s this coming Tuesday at 6:30. We be having drinks and fajitas baby! My friend Michele will be helping me to do this first one.

Then on the next Saturday, the 2nd of Nov,  is my flying solo party starting at 1:00. Not sure what food I am demonstrating at that one yet. I encourage recent hostess’s to come because they can also get the host specials. (Remember, no hostess pays the full price for anything for 1 year).

You can never go to too many Pampered Chef parties. Each one has its own ‘party-tude’. You can pick up something for yourself or a holiday gift or wedding gift, spreading it out without breaking the budget buying all at once. (Or for heaven’s sake, have a party and shop for free and half price!)

Let me know if you can come. Call me. Email me. I even have a new email addy. You can use my old one or this one:

pcbakermom@yahoo.com

It’s a grand opening after all. I think this calls for balloons, don’t you? And games. And prizes. What the hey.

WHAT?! Christian Bale's coming to my party???
WHAT?! Christian Bale’s coming to my party???

3 Minute Bacon Cheese Dip

Say “cheeeeesssssseeeee”!

Now  say it with bacon on top.

Oh mercy!

I don’t have any pictures. I was having too good a time and forgot to whip out my camera phone. So let me tell you the story behind the cheese dip that can change your life. Then the ubber easy recipe.

First, a story.

We used the last garden tomato last night on our tacos. It seems it is time to take the last sprawling, aged, decrepit tomato plant and rip it out. The job fell to son #2. We sent him out with suggestions of gloves, clippers and shovels. I figure, he is 16, he can manage without my help.

A few minutes later I found him huddled in the bathroom with a towel over his head. It seems when he started pulling at the tomato plant, some bugs did an Avatar thing, swarming out to save their ‘tree’, swarming all around his head. Now while this might not have bothered his older brother, who probably would have tried to catch them and pin them to a bug board, it kind of freaked this kid out. There was no way he was going back out there that day. Since then we have had him go out and hack back a bit at a time. I’m sure not going to do it. Yuck!

So, I had a Pampered Chef party here a few weeks ago. I wasn’t really planning on it until I saw the host special of the month 60% off stoneware. I love baking. And I love baking with stoneware and I was down to just a couple of pieces after breakage or mysterious disappearances. I also love 60% off.

So I had a party and now have a new beautiful bar pan upon which I have already made a cheesey potato appetizer and some caramel brownies. How I have missed you my sweet bar pan!

A few years back I used to be a Pampered Chef consultant.  I already used their tools every day and liked both the products and the recipes. It seemed a no brainer. That business lasted a little over a year before I let it go. The economy had just crashed and I was also trying to salvage my RE appraisal business. Oh, and home schooling. Something had to give. But in the back of my mind, I always kept open the possibility that if I ever wanted to start a business again, that would be the place to go. I had no problems with the Pampered Chef company. They were amazing actually. Showering you with incentives and gifts, training videos, oh, and darn good products. They really do pamper their hosts too. I had no complaints after my last party. I love the word Free followed closely by the words 60% off and half  price.  (and free shipping, there’s that free word again. Free-free-free. I never get tired of it.)

So last Monday I went to my PC consultants consultant meeting where happy-peppy people who share Pampered Chef go. I met her director, a wonderful sweet woman named Michele. (yes, with one L) who has had her own PC business for 18 years. It was here among these maybe 10 friendly enthusiastic women that showed up that I decided to get back into the game. I have always loved the idea of sharing what I love, baking and cooking, hence this blog. PC is just another avenue to do the same. Share recipes, tips, hints and some great tools to make the job even easier. And make some money doing it! Help pay school tuition. Save up for a trip to visit my daughter in Paris next spring. These things I can see working for. (How about a new chair to sit here at my computer. One that doesn’t sink every time someone sits in it and sound like a farting hippopotamus when you get out of it!)

So, at this meeting she had a kind of “Wine, Chocolate and Cheese” party. She had made a wonderful chocolate cake in just a few minutes in her microwave. (Magic!) There was a bottle of wine where she showed us the PC wine opener and how to use it. (Could this possibly be the most important item they sell? At least to wineauxs ). And then the 3 minute cheese dip of magic heaven.

I have tended to be anti-microwave in the past. Down right hostile even to microwaves. Using it only for an occasional melting of butter or microwave popcorn or warming up leftovers in a pinch and even then with great reluctance. But what I hear from these knowledgeable women is that the technology has helped turn it into more of an oven. PC had these pots made of stone (Rockcrok) that fit in your micro and make moist juicy chicken and pork dinners in minutes. Crispy bacon? I had to see to believe. (Okay, fyi, the pots also go on stove top, oven, freezer and bbq.)

But you are asking “where is the cheese please?” (or “just give me the dang dip recipe for petes sake!”) Okay, here it is.

She  cooked it in the microwave in 3 minutes in a small covered ceramic baker called a “Garlic and Brie baker”. Into it she put:

1 brick of cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp.  of milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese/4 oz. (although the original recipe called for mozzarella)

1 -2 Tbsp. of PC 3-onion rub. (I don’t have and would dice up some scallions and garlic, plus some garlic salt. At least until I can get some of that heavenly smelling rub. They have all kinds of rubs you can use to make an assortment of dips. This is just the one she made.)

3 slices of bacon

Put the first 4 ingredients into a good, non plastic microwave dish and cook on high for 3 minutes, stirring once half way through.

Now Michele cooked her bacon in the microwave using a stone ridged pan, in the microwave and it got brown and crispy. Until you have that pan, you can cook the bacon any darn way you please. I would fry it up on the stove, or use leftovers from a previous bacon bake-up.

When it comes out of the micro, just crumble the bacon over the top.

Serve this gooey, cheesey salty-bacony dip with crackers of choice and/or vegetable slices, like cucumber rounds, pepper slivers, celery sticks, etc. Friends dont let friends eat this alone!

Good thing we had so many people there or I might have made myself sick eating the whole darn bowl!

Later I found the recipe in their latest “Season’s Best” booklet. Their two buck book that comes out several times a year. I have an assorted few from the past and that is where I found our favorite Strawberry Triffle  and Caramel Nutty Brownies among other things. I have yet to try one of their recipes that wasn’t delicious. Of course, I don’t do the recipes with broccoli, so…

Anyway, expect to see more new recipes, hopefully with pictures. Pictures of PC parties, pictures of new foods I intend to make with new kitchen tools to make the whole thing easier, quicker and more fun.

I have to go use my new brownie pan now. If you stick your noses outside and smell brownies, I may be the culprit.

I just had to have at least one pic.

is that cheese dip?
is that bacon cheese dip I smell?
Give ME the bacon cheese dip!
Give ME the bacon cheese dip!
You think so!?
Just try and get it big guy!