Birthday Dessert

Yesterday was my hubby’s birthday.  I usually like to make him something sweet for his special day and since cherries are his favorite, I try to use them as much as possible.

I pinned this on Pinterest the other day.

Source

I just so happened to have a can of cherry pie filling around and this would be a perfect use for it.  He also loves brownies so these should be a big hit.

Hubby coaches my daughter’s basketball team and we just so happened to have a game last night.  I thought it would be great to make several of the brownie bites and take them to the game to share with the team.

I started by making a double batch of brownies.  I just used the mix from a box.

Easy

I made a double batch so I could bake them in my 9 x 13 inch jelly roll pan instead of the smaller brownie pan.

I baked them at 350 for about 30 – 35 minutes.  They had to bake longer because they were so thick.  I also did the brownies using the cake-like recipe.  I really should have done the fudge-like recipe.  I don’t think they would have been so thick but that’s alright; live and learn, right?

After the brownies cooled a little bit, I used a scalloped cookie cutter and started cutting the bites.

This gives you an idea of how thick the brownies are.  See my cookie cutter in there.  That thing got pretty warm after a while.

I got all the pieces cut out and put them on the cooling rack to cool completely.

I was left with this…

The outside edges.  I put it on a cooling rack also.

That is until the kids got home…

After they all cooled, I put a cherry on top with a dollop of whipped topping.

I did one on a special plate just for the birthday boy.

Hubby also asked for homemade pizza for dinner.

We had fun in the kitchen making his birthday dinner together.

So much cheaper, tastier and better for us than takeout.

Happy Birthday Scott.  We love you and hope you had a fabulous day.

Oh, and on a side note:  The girls won their basketball game and now go on to play in the championship game on Thursday.  After the game I had all the girls sing Happy Birthday to coach.  His face was so red.  I shared the brownie bites with them and they all loved them.  Teenage girls can put away some food 🙂

Easy Dinner Plans

Last week I started my e-Mealz subscription back.

I’m so glad that I did because dinner all week was quick, easy and tasted great.  Not to mention we had enough leftovers for lunches over the weekend.  I don’t think we went out to eat 1 time last week.

We started off the week with Ginger-Apricot Chicken and Crock Pot BBQ.  Both dishes were super easy and delicious.

We finished out the week with a Pizza Casserole, salad on the side and fresh homemade French bread.

For the pizza casserole you just brown some ground chuck with a little onion and garlic.  Then add the spaghetti sauce to that along with the cooked pasta and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Stir well and pour into a 9 x 13 inch dish.  Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Bake the bread along with the casserole and make your side salad while the other things are in the oven.

On Friday, I made Sweet & Sour Meatballs.  I had actually just made these for New Year’s Eve.  They are cooked in the crock pot for 4-5 hours on LOW.  This is another one of those 3 ingredient dishes.  Frozen meatballs, 18 oz jar grape jelly and 12 oz jar chili sauce.  Combine the grape jelly and the chili sauce in the crock pot and cook on HIGH until the jelly melts.  Add the meatballs and stir to cover them with sauce.  Turn the heat down to LOW and let cook for 4-5 hours.

Serve the meatballs on top of cooked egg noodles with a side of green beans & almonds.  I’m not a huge green bean fan, but I actually liked these.

On Saturday, we had BBQ Stuffed Potatoes.  I used the BBQ that had been left over from the Crock Pot BBQ I had made earlier in the week.  This recipe did take a little longer to prepare because of baking the potatoes.  They take about an hour and a half.  Once they are baked, slice them in half and top with the BBQ, some cheese, sour cream, butter, salt & pepper; anything you like, actually.  I served the potato along with carrot chips and dip and some steamed broccoli.

This meal was so filling and  perfect for a Saturday night.

No one can say we aren’t getting our veggies in this house.  We have definitely been eating some veggies.

So what have you been cooking this week?  Have you tried e-Mealz yet?

Ginger-Apricot Chicken

This week I started back with my e-mealz subscription.

I had missed it.

I started on Tuesday with Meal 1.

Ginger-Apricot Chicken with white rice and stir fry veggies.

It was delicious and easy and a no brainer.

I love not having to decide last-minute what is for dinner.

I love having a menu and since I went shopping for everything on the menu at once, I had all my ingredients on hand.

I start with about a pound of chicken breast.  I had it already thawed because I knew what was for dinner in the morning and it has been sitting in the fridge ready to go.

I added a little salt and pepper to the chicken then put it in the baking dish.

I then combine a bottle of Russian dressing, 1 cup apricot preserves, fresh ginger, cornstarch and onion soup mix

Pour mixture over chicken and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When the chicken is almost finished prepare the white rice and stir-fry the veggies in hot oil.  Add soy sauce to the veggies and cook until they are crisp-tender.

Plate up and enjoy!

GINGER-APRICOT CHICKEN

1.5 + pkg boneless chicken thighs or breasts

8 oz bottle Russian dressing

1 cup apricot preserves

1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

3 tsp corn starch

1 pkg onion soup mix

Place chicken in baking dish, plump side up.  Combine dressing, preserves, ginger, cornstarch and soup mix.  Stir well and pour over chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min – 1 hour or more until tender.  Serve over rice.

Classic Beef Lasagna and Parmesan Herb Knots

For dinner last night, I decided to try some lasagna. And great big gigantic dinner rolls.

Usually my lasagna comes out all runny and looks more like a pasta casserole than lasagna.

I found this recipe in a magazine and have had it in my recipe binder for several years.

I had never made it but when I was working on my menu for this week, decided to give it a try.

It calls for pre-cooked lasagna noodles, which I love using.  The only problem I have had with them in the past is adding the water to make sure the noodles cook.  I always think it’s what makes my lasagna’s runny.  This recipe, though, calls for a cup of wine instead of  water.  Huh, that could be interesting.  All I had in the fridge was some Burgandy, so I used that.

It was so good.  The Burgandy went so well with the spaghetti sauce.  I never would have thought to try that combination but you can bet I will be adding wine to my lasagna from now on.

Santa was good to me.

He brought me this.

I was sooooo excited.  I’ve been wanting a stand mixer for several years but it never quite made it to the top of my list.

I’ve been making homemade dinner rolls every night for dinner.

To go with the lasagna, I made Parmesan Herb Knots.

They were delicious, but huge.  I think I could have made several more from the recipe than I did.

I haven’t used it for cookies or icing or anything like that yet.  We already have so much Christmas candy around that I don’t want anything else sweet in the house to temp me.

Try this lasagna.  You’ll be glad that you did.

CLASSIC BEEF LASAGNA

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided

1 container (15oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese

1 cup red wine

1 jar spaghetti sauce

12 no-boil lasagna noodles

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and ricotta.

2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add ground beef; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into small crumbles and stirring occasionally.  Add wine; continue cooking 3 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Remove from heat and stir in spaghetti sauce.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In 13×9 inch glass baking dish, spread 1 cup beef-sauce mixture.  Layer 4 lasagna noodles over sauce.  Top with half of cheese mixture, 2 cups beef-sauce mixture.  Repeat layers.  Top with 4 remaining lasagna noodles and beef-sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

4. Cover with aluminum foil; bake for 40 minutes.  Uncover; bake 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

PARMESAN HERB KNOTS

Makes 18 rolls

Ingredients:

2 tsp granulated sugar

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2/3 cup warm water

1/3 cup fat free powdered milk

1/3 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes, unflavored)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

3 1/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional) for topping

Directions:

1. Combine the granulated sugar, yeast and warm water in mixing bowl.  Stir and let stand for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy and bubbly.

2. Add the cool water, powdered milk, potato flakes, olive oil, salt and 2 1/2 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.  Mix for 2 minutes.

3. Add the parmesan cheese and mix until completely incorporated.  If necessary, add the remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft smooth dough ball is formed.  Continue to knead the dough for 4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil.  Turn to coat dough and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Combine 1/4 cup olive oil and Italian seasoning and let stand while dough rises.

4. Punch dough to deflate and divide into 18 equal portions.  Roll each into a 12-inch rope and tie into a knot.  Place on prepared baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 35-45 minutes.  Brush lightly with herbed olive oil mixture.  If desired, sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of the optional Parmesan cheese.  Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Enjoy!!

I’m linking up here….

Creamy Dreamy White Cheddar Grits

Having been born and raised in the Midwest, grits were never a part of our daily staple.  In fact, I had never tried grits until about a year and a half ago.  A friend of mine had made them for a luncheon she was having and insisted I try them.  They were delicious and I was so bummed that I hadn’t tried them sooner.

I guess the deliciousness comes from the fact that they were the ones they make at The Flying Biscuit Cafe.  I hadn’t ever been there before but after trying their grits recipe, I just knew that I must try the rest of their food.  Luckily for me, they have a restaurant very close to hubby’s office.  We have met there several times for lunch.

So, without further ado; here is the recipe for Creamy Dreamy White Cheddar Grits from The Flying Biscuit.

CREAMY DREAMY WHITE CHEDDAR GRITS

6 cups water

2 cups half-and-half

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups quick grits

1 cup grated white cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1.  In a saucepan, combine water, half-and-half, salt and white pepper and bring to a boil.  Slowly pour grits into boiling water while whisking the entire time.  (Watch out for splattering; mixture is very hot).  Reduce to low head and continue to whisk often, until thick and completely smooth, about 10 minutes.

2.  Add cheese and stir gently until cheese melts.  Whisk again to combine.  Turn heat off and allow grits to rest 5 minutes.  Add butter and stir until completely smooth, silky and shiny.

Enjoy!

Be warned, once you make these, you will be hooked.  The recipe makes a huge pan full so I hope the rest of your family will eat them.  Mine won’t and I always end up with tons left over.  Grits just aren’t the same the next day, so I don’t make them often.