September 30, 2012

Spicy Tortilla Lasagna



Funny 1st grade story from this week ... One of our spelling words this past week was 'blog.'  Kind of a strange spelling word for 1st graders if you ask me, ... but ... no one asked me!  So, anyway, since none of my students had any idea what a blog is I decided to show them my blog as an example.  (It just so happened that Neapolitan Cupcakes were showing on the front page, which totally amazed and enthralled my students!  They want me to make some for them ... which I can't ... against school rules.) 

Anyway, as I was scrolling down the front page ... showing them what a blog post is, and how people write to me and I write back in comments, and so forth ... one of my little students hollered out, "Hey, who's that?" ... referring to my childhood picture in the right sidebar.  I said, "That's me when I was 4 years old."  To which he promptly replied, rather exuberantly, "You look like a boy!"

Tact is not the forte of six year olds. 

I don't think I look like a boy in that picture, do I?  Oh, wait.  On second thought, don't answer that.  'Cause if you do think I look like a boy, I don't think I really want to know.  


Well, since school is still C.R.A.Z.Y. busy, I've been turning to some of my super-easy-stand-by recipes for our dinners.  This Spicy Tortilla Lasagna is just one such recipe.  And it's not exactly a recipe, it's more just something I threw together one night and have stuck with it ever since.  I like that it comes together super quick, and it makes a big pan so there's always leftovers for another night.  (No cooking the next night - yay!)

Start this dish by spreading a small amount of salsa (this lasagna's sauce) in the bottom of a baking dish.  This keeps the bottom layer of tortillas from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and provides a tad of moisture for those tortillas to soak up.


Next, layer in two whole tortillas (I use whole wheat) and then tear small pieces from another tortilla to fill in the corners and any other big 'gaps.'


Then spoon in a layer of the lasagna filling ... a mixture of ground turkey (or beef), black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes ... and ...


... top with salsa and cheese.  Layer on up two more times, and you'll have ...


... a tasty tortilla treat!  It's a yummy alternative to traditional lasagna, especially if you're in the mood for a super easy spicy kick.  And now I'm going to go try to get over being called a boy.  Ha!


I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Pinterest, Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers, bloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!



Spicy Tortilla Lasagna
Source:  A Tracey Original (though I know there are probably 1000's of recipes out there similar to this, I did not refer to any when whipping this up)

Ingredients
1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 T. chili powder
Dash of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 (14.5 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 of a 10 oz. package frozen corn, thawed
8 tortillas (I use whole wheat)
About 36 oz. salsa (mild, medium, hot, salsa verde, or a combination of any of these)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Directions
1.  Brown ground turkey or beef together with chopped onion; drain.  Season with ground cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper.  Add black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine.

2.  Spray a 9"x13" baking dish lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread a small amount of salsa in the bottom of the dish.  Top with two whole tortillas; tear pieces from a portion of another tortilla to fill the corners and any other gaps around the sides of the pan.  Top the tortillas with 1/3 of the meat/black bean mixture, 1/3 of the salsa, and 1/3 of the shredded cheese.

3.  Repeat to make two more layers.

4.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until heated through and bubbly.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

NOTE:  This is a very flexible recipe.  Adjust spices and other ingredients to fit your fancy!

Enjoy!



This post is linked with Sunday Showcase Party, On the Menu Monday, This Week's Cravings, Mix It Up Monday!, Mangia Mondays, Trick or Treat Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Whatcha Whipped Up, Cast Party Wednesday, Sweet Treats & Swanky Stuff, Share Your Creations, Full Plate ThursdayInspiration Friday, Foodie Friday, Kitchen Fun & Crafty Friday, Foodie Friday with Diane Balch, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Weekend Potluck, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Think Pink Sunday, Sundae Scoop, Taste & Tell Thursdays.

September 27, 2012

Fruit Salad Cheesecake




Holy cow!  Can you say B.U.S.Y.?????  I feel like I have been running ragged the past few weeks!  And, from what I hear 'around,' it seems to be a trend with lots of folks right now.  I haven't been in the kitchen at all for about the past two weeks ... we've eaten take out three times this week ... and I've resorted to my stash of  'emergency' frozen foods for the remaining nights.  I'm ready for life to settle down a bit.  How 'bout you?

Now, the crazy-busy'ness for me is coming mostly from work.  The start up of the schoolyear is kickin' my pa-tooty this year!  It's always busy for teachers at the start of the schoolyear, but this year is waaaayyyyyy extra busy.  We're implementing a 100% completely new curriculum, our staff of instructional assistants was cut in half due to budget constraints, and I have ... well, shall we say ... the most academically diverse class I've ever had.  But I'm persevering, will get things running smoothly without running myself ragged, and will be back in the kitchen soon.

[DISCLAIMER:  Contrary to my husband's opinion, the prior statements do not constitute 'complaining.'  They are simply statements of fact about the current situation, which absolutely is not complaining  He seems to confuse the two ... silly, silly man.]



So, for today's post I'm turning to a dish I've had in my queue for a while but just haven't shared yet.  I have quite a few of those.  I seem to be able to make stuff and photograph it much more quickly than I can edit all those photos and write posts.  That queue of stuff sure comes in handy for crazy-busy times like now!

I'm excited to finally share this Fruit Salad Cheesecake with you!

Mark is actually the one who found this recipe.  He was reading a magazine while we were visiting his mom one weekend, and it had a page of recipes in it.  Obviously knowing how much I love to cook and try out new recipes, he scanned for anything he thought would be of interest to me ... and landed on this Fruit Salad Cheesecake.  Isn't he sweet?

Well, he was certainly right ... this recipe was indeed of interest to me.  I mean, Fruit Salad Cheesecake??  I had never heard of such a thing!  And, of course, had to give it a try.

Think upscale fruit cocktail wrapped in a creamy, light-and-fluffy cream cheese-and-whipped-topping blanket.  And what a different way to present fruit salad!  I loved it.

I tried it out in two sizes ... full-size cheesecake made in a 9-inch springform pan, and these individual mini cheesecakes made in muffin tins.


Both worked, so size choice is just a matter of what presentation one wants to make.   

So, how do you make this unique fruit salad?  er, cheesecake?

Simply make a crushed pineapple, cream cheese, and gelatin mixture with a little simple simmering on the stovetop.  Then mix in some halved fresh grapes, mandarin orange slices, coarsely chopped maraschino cherries, and chopped pecans.



Fold in some whipped topping, and pour the mixture into a vanilla wafer crust.  Chill ... and you're done!  Pretty easy, huh?


For the individual mini fruit salad cheesecakes, I wasn't quite sure what would work best as a method for them ... so, I tried a few different ways:

1.  Pouring the fruit salad mixture into muffin cups first, topping with three vanilla wafer cookies as the crust, with the plan of then inverting them when I removed them from the pan.
RESULT: Not so great.  The vanilla wafers didn't 'fit' well, and they just looked kind of messy when inverted.

2.  Placing a single vanilla wafer in the bottom of foil cupcake liners, and pouring the fruit salad mixture on top.
RESULT:  Didn't like the look of the ridges from the foil liner, but it wasn't too bad a method.

3. Placing a single vanilla wafer directly in the bottom of muffin tin cups, without any type of cupcake liner, and pouring the fruit salad mixture on top.  My worry with this one was that I wouldn't be able to get the mini cheesecakes out of the pan.
RESULT:  This was my favorite method.  I liked the look of the smoother sides, and ...


... the 'remnants' left in the pan when removing the cheesecakes was minimal.  I simply sprayed the pan very lightly with nonstick cooking spray, and ran a knife around the edge of each mini cheesecake before lifting it out of the pan.


The vanilla wafer cookie doesn't completely fill the bottom of the muffin cup, so the bottom comes out looking like this:


... but I don't think it looks too bad! (Hey, how many people will turn their fruit salad over to check out the bottom anyway?)

I think they look pretty cute served up on a cake stand!

So, whether you make individual minis ... 


... or a full-sized cheesecake, this is one decidedly different way to serve fruit salad!  er, cheesecake.  er, fruit salad cheesecake.  er, whatever! 

  We invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Google+, PinterestFacebookTwitterGoogle Friend Connectbloglovin', or Feedburner.  We'd love to have you back soon!  Want to promote your website, business, or Etsy shop with us?  Visit our advertise page for details.


Fruit Salad Cheesecake
Source:  Adapted from Taste of Home, as published in Carolina Country magazine, May, 2012

Ingredients
Crust:
1 1/2 c. vanilla wafer crumbs (I give vanilla wafer cookies a quick whirl in the food processor)
2 T. butter, melted

Filling:
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cold water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cubed
1 1/2 c. halved seedless grapes
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained and cut in half
1 (10 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
2 c. whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)


Directions
For the Crust:  
1.  In a small bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan coated with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

For the Filling:  
2.  In a small saucepan, cook crushed pineapple and sugar over medium heat for 5 minutes or until heated through.  

3.  Place cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin; let stand for 1 minute.  Stir gelatin mixture into the warm pineapple mixture.  

4.  Reduce heat to low and add cubed cream cheese.  Cook and stir until cream cheese is melted and the mixture is well blended.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

5.  Stir the grapes, mandarin oranges, cherries, and pecans into the cooled cream cheese mixture.  Fold in the whipped topping.  Pour into prepared pan.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.


For Minis:  Instead of making vanilla wafer crumbs and butter mixture, place a single vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of muffin tin cups that have been very lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Fill muffin tin cups full with fruit salad mixture.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy!


September 22, 2012

Ugly Buttermilk Baked Chicken


This is one of those dishes that just isn't pretty.  In fact, I'd say this dish is downright ugly.  Come on, we all have them ... ugly favorites that sure taste good! 

Right?

Well, this is certainly one of those.
 

And Mark and I love it.  It's one of our comfort-food-go-to-recipes ... and it never disappoints.  Buttermilk makes the chicken super moist and tender.  As most Southern cooks know, buttermilk makes things better!


Since this recipe has a pretty short list of ingredients, makes use of convenience products, and comes together in a single baking pan, it's a very easy throw-together-on-a-weeknight meal.  Bake up the chicken for about 45 minutes, serve it over some rice or couscous (I use couscous because it's ... you guessed it ... faster!), and you've got yourself one very tasty ugly-duckling dinner.

While this ugly duckling won't grow up to be a beautiful swan, once you taste the flavor, I don't think you'll mind.


I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Pinterest, Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers, bloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!



Buttermilk Baked Chicken
Source:  A family friend
Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. buttermilk, divided
1 (10.5 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (4 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained

Directions
1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Place butter in a lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish; place in the oven until butter is melted.

2.  Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Place 1/2 cup of the buttermilk in a shallow bowl.  Place flour in another shallow bowl.  Dip chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour. 

3.  Place dredged chicken in the baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

4.  Turn chicken pieces over in the baking dish, and bake for 10 minutes more. 

5.  Meanwhile, stir together the remaining 1 cup buttermilk, cream of mushroom soup, and mushrooms; pour over the chicken and bake for an additional 10 minutes, shielding with aluminum foil if necessary to prevent excessive browning.

6.  Serve over rice or couscous.

Enjoy!


This post is linked with Sundae Scoop, Think Pink Sunday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, On the Menu Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Mangia Mondays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tuesday Talent Show, Trick or Treat Tuesday, Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Weekend Potluck.

September 19, 2012

Neapolitan Cupcakes {Happy Birthday to Me!}


Happy birthday to me ... happy birthday to me ... happy birthday dear, Tracey ... happy birthday to me!

Psssst! ... It's my birthday. 

Hadn't figured that out yet, had you?  Well, it's true.  Today is my birthday!

Ever since I can remember, my Mom has made me Neapolitan Sheet Cake for my birthday.  Ever since I can remember, without fail ... even arranging for someone else to make it for me one year when she was going to be out of town.  She's a good Mom like that.  This year was no exception.  Though Mom made me my cake two weeks early.  But no complaints here.  Nope, not a one.

I just love the classic Neapolitan flavor trio ... vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  Mmmmmm, yummy.  In honor of my Neapolitan birthday tradition, I decided to share a new Neapolitan sweet treat with you today - these Neapolitan cupcakes.

Now, let me just tell you ... these cupcakes have been a labor of love.  I've been working on perfecting them for about a year now.  A year!  Can you believe it??  I've had the cupcake itself figured out for that entire year.  But the frosting?  That's another story.  The frosting had been eluding me.  I had failed attempt after failed attempt, with several versions turning out not-as-I-desired.

Until now!  Finally!!!!  Finally, a friend of mine who knew I was working on this cupcake found a strawberry frosting I was happy with.  Thanks so much, Jennie and Southern Lady magazine!


Not only do I love the taste of these cupcakes, I also love the "Hey, how'd you do that?" reaction I get from people when they see them.  Truth be told, it's really not that hard.  And I'm going to share with you how to do it!

Start by whipping up your favorite vanilla cupcake batter and favorite chocolate batter ... making sure they're of the same 'base' recipe with the same required baking temperature and time.  I use my BEST Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the wonderful bakers at The Hummingbird Bakery, along with their corresponding chocolate cupcake recipe.

Once your batters are mixed, put a little chocolate batter on one side of a paper cupcake liner set in a muffin pan.  I've found tipping the pan just a tiny bit to keep the chocolate batter to one side is helpful ... but you only need to tip truly a tiny bit.


Then, put some vanilla batter on the other side.  I've found the chocolate batter to be just a teeny bit thicker, so it 'runs' just a little bit less ... that's why I start with the chocolate.


Then bake 'em up, and they'll look like this.


Aren't they neat looking?  I love the side-by-side look of the two flavors.  I tried marbling them together instead in one batch, and while they taste the same, the look just isn't as 'dramatic.'  Mark and I decided we like the side-by-side look wayyyyyy better.


Once the cupcakes are cooled, whip up some strawberry cream cheese frosting, made a bit fluffy with the addition of some whipped topping.  This was the key to a frosting the way I wanted it ... whipped topping.  I didn't want the 'density' of a butter cream or true cream cheese frosting ... don't get me wrong, I love both those types of frosting.  It's just not the texture I wanted for these cupcakes.  I also tried a Swiss meringue ... total fail.  I'm thinking I may not have done it right.

Anyway, whip up this strawberry cream cheese frosting ... 


... and pipe it onto your beautiful 1/2-and-1/2 cupcakes.  Sprinkle on a few pink sugar pearls, just for fun.

Then unwrap and indulge.  Mmmm, mmmm ... it's a yummy birthday party in your mouth!


I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Pinterest, Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers, bloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!


Neapolitan Cupcakes
Source: Cupcake batters adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook , Strawberry Frosting adapted from Southern Lady magazine, March/April 2011

Ingredients
Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
1 c. all-purpose flour
A scant 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 T. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. whole milk (I also tried it with 2% milk, and it worked fine)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
A scant 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 T. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. whole milk (I also tried it with 2% milk, and it worked fine)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract



Strawberry Frosting:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened (I do not recommend using reduced fat)
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. strawberry jam
1 tsp. strawberry extract (optional*)
1 (8 oz.) container whipped topping (such as Cool Whip)
1 c. confectioners' sugar



Directions
Prepare the Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
1.  Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency. Gradually pour in half of the milk; beat until the milk is just incorporated.

2.  Whisk together the remaining milk (1/4 cup), egg, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.

Prepare the Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
3.  Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency.

4.  Whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Slowly pour about half into the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Turn the mixer up to high speed for a few seconds to beat out any lumps.

5.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture.  Beat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.

Cupcake Assembly:
6.  Spoon a little chocolate batter into one side of a muffin pan cup lined with a paper cupcake liner; then spoon a little vanilla batter into the other side.  Repeat with remaining muffin cups, filling each cup a total of 1/2 full. 

7.   Bake at 325 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool slightly in the pan before removing cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.


Prepare the Strawberry Frosting:
8.  Combine cream cheese and butter; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Beat in strawberry jam and strawberry extract until well combined.  Beat in whipped topping and confectioners' sugar.

9.  Pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  I found it good to chill the frosting for about 20 to 30 minutes before piping onto the cupcakes.


NOTES: 
- This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. And it really does make 24! Fill your cups only 1/2 full, as this batter rises quite a bit. When I divided the batter between only 20 or so muffin cups, I had several that rose over the sides of the cups way too much. If you're like me, you'll feel like there's not enough batter to stretch to 24 cupcakes ... but there really is.

*-I've made this frosting both with and without strawberry extract.  Strawberry extract can be difficult to find (here's a link to strawberry extract on Amazon.com ... you can order it).  If you're unable to find it, you can go ahead and make the frosting without it.  While the strawberry flavor won't be quite as prominent, the frosting is still great without it.


Enjoy!



September 14, 2012

Couscous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Mint {Eating the Alphabet Letters P, Q, R}


It's Eating the Alphabet challenge time!  This month's letters? ... P, Q, or R.  Oh, wow, there were so many possibilities with this letter set.  Despite that, though, it was not hard for me to choose my dish to share ... I immediately knew I was going to share this Couscous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Mint.  It's one of my all-time absolute favorites!

I know, I know ... the flavor combination may sound a bit, well, ... odd.  But believe me, it's soooooo good.  The sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and dried currants, with the 'refreshingness' (yup, I think I just made that word up) of the fresh mint is wonderful.  And the pomegranate seeds and walnuts also bring a fantabulous crunch.  Mmmmmmm, mmmmm ... yummy for my tummy.  It makes my tummy do a little happy dance.

Now, you can certainly seed your own pomegranate ... click here for a great tutorial on that.  One word of caution on this topic ... do heed the advice to do this with the pomegranate underwater.  I may have learned this lesson the hard way.  I plead the 5th.

And this may .. or may not ... be why I now cheat with this little task.  See?  Beautiful pomegranate seeds all already out of their pomegranate wrapper.  Ahhhhhhh, you gotta love Trader Joe's.


Aren't the colors of this salad gorgeous?  I think so! ... Little currant, pomegranate, and mint leaf gems sprinkled throughout to make your eyes ... and tummy ... happy.  So go ahead ... grab some pomegranate seeds and fresh mint and give your tummy a little happy dance! 
I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Pinterest, Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers, bloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!



Couscous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Mint
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Ingredients
1 (10 oz.) box plain couscous
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. pomegranate seeds (approximately 1/2 of a pomegranate)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
About 1/3 c. chopped fresh mint
About 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. dried currants


Directions
1.  Prepare couscous according to package directions.  Fluff couscous with a fork and place in a large bowl.  Mix in remaining ingredients.

2.  Chill for about an hour prior to serving.

Note:  This is also wonderful served immediately, while still hot, as a side dish.

Enjoy!





September 13, 2012

Pear-Walnut Crisp



This dessert holds a very special place in my heart.  Not only do I usually make it with pears from my mother-in-law's farm ...

... see them growing on her trees? ...




... it's also the dessert I served the night my parents and my husband (then boyfriend!) met for the first time ... back in February, 2003.  Hard to believe Mark and I have been together for almost ten years now!

We had been dating for only about five weeks when these all-important introductions were made.  My parents and I were leaving on a cruise to celebrate my Dad's retirement, so they had traveled to my place in Charlotte the night before we left.  I invited Mark over for dessert so the three of them could meet.

Meeting-the-boyfriend-or-girlfriend's-parents is so nerve-wracking, isn't it??  I'm sooooo glad I don't have to go through that anymore!

Anyway, apparently the introductions evening went well ... 'cause just four months later, Mark and I were engaged ... and Mom, Dad, and Mark get along fabulously.

Now, that night's Pear-Walnut Crisp was made with store-bought pears.  But now ... now I'm fortunate to have a supply of late-summer home-grown pears.

We've found that our home-grown pears have a thicker skin than store-bought ones and are too 'chewy' in the crisp, so we peel them.  When working with store-bought pears there's no need to peel.  Unless, you know, you have an issue with pear skin.  Then by all means, peel away to your heart's content.
Just toss pear slices with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, top with an oats-and-brown-sugar-and-butter topping, toss in some chopped walnuts, bake it up ...


... and you've got one delicious and comforting dessert.



Throw on a scoop of vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or a little whipped cream ... or go plain ...whatever you prefer.   Mmmmmmm ... one of my favorite desserts.  And not just because of the wonderful memory that goes with it.


I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Pinterest, Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers, bloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!


Pear-Walnut Crisp
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Ingredients
6 c. sliced pears (about 3 lbs.)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/3 c. oats
1/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts


Directions
1.  Core pears and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices.  (You don't need to peel the pears unless they have a thick skin.)  Combine pears and lemon juice in a 2-quart baking dish; toss gently to coat the pears with lemon juice.

2.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon; stir together with a whisk.  Add this mixture to the pears, tossing well to coat the pears.

3.  Combine flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt.  With a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers, work in the butter pieces until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add oats and chopped walnuts.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pears.

4.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until pears are tender and the topping is golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This crisp is delicious plain, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, or with freshly whipped cream.

Enjoy!



September 9, 2012

7-Layer Greek Dip


 


Are you ready for some football?!?!!  Oh, yes, it's the first Sunday of football season!  I'm excited ... but my husband is not.

See, our household is ... well, ... a bit 'backward' when it comes to sports.  I'm the sports fan of the family.  My husband is decidedly not.  I've always thought it's kind of funny that a woman who loves sports (me, that is) married a man who couldn't care less about them.  Do you know how many men out there would be thrilled to have a sports-loving wife??  Oh well.

In honor of the first Sunday of football season, I'm sharing this absolutely delicious 7-Layer Greek Dip adapted from How Sweet It Is.  I love that it's a Greek-flavors twist on the usual Tex-Mex layered dip.  And - BONUS! - it's healthy!  Love it when delicious and healthy come together.

Now, hubby may not love football - but he sure loved this dip.  It's definitely earned the hubby seal of approval.



With layers of hummus, creamy feta, tzatziki, kalamata olives, artichokes, cucumber, and tomatoes ... all laced with fresh dill and lemon, ... it's definitely got my seal of approval too.


So, layer away, dig on in, and let me know if 7-Layer Greek Dip wins your seal of approval, too! 

I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Pinterest, Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Linky Followers, bloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!





7-Layer Greek Dip
Source:  Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Ingredients
2 c. plain Greek yogurt, divided
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. very finely chopped seeded cucumber
About 1 c. peeled & seeded coarsely chopped cucumber
3 T. chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 1/2 c. (6.5 oz. jar) kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c. (12 oz. container) hummus (or make your own if you have a favorite recipe)
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke hearts, well drained and coarsely chopped
5 oz. package feta cheese crumbles
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
Salt & pepper


Directions
1.  Grab a pretty good-sized glass bowl (this makes quite a bit of dip) ... and get started layering in the ingredients.  Layer #1 - Tzatziki:  Use paper towels to pat dry the 1/4 up very finely chopped cucumber*.  In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons olive oil, the 1/4 cup very finely chopped cucumber, chopped fresh dill, minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Spoon into the glass bowl, spreading evenly along the bottom of the bowl.

2.  Layer #2 - Kalamata Olives:  Sprinkle the chopped kalamata olives evenly over the tzatziki layer.

3.  Layer #3 - Hummus:  Spread hummus evenly over the olive layer.

4.  Layer #4 - Artichoke Hearts:  Use paper towels to pat dry the chopped artichokes.  Layer on top of the hummus.

5.  Layer #5 - Cucumbers:  Use paper towels to pat dry the coarsely chopped cucumber.  Sprinkle with a pinch of pepper and layer in evenly over the artichokes.

6.  Layer #6 - Creamy Feta:  In a small mixing bowl, combine feta crumbles, remaining 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper.  Spread evenly over the cucumber layer.

7.  Layer #7 - Tomatoes:  While chopping tomatoes, remove some of the large 'clumps' of seeds.  Use paper towels to pat chopped tomatoes dry, and then place tomatoes on top of the creamy feta layer.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Chill for about an hour to let the flavors meld.

8.  Garnish with a fresh dill sprig and a bit of lemon zest, if desired.  Serve with pita chips or crackers.


Notes:
- *Patting the ingredients dry is optional, but I recommend doing this.  As this dip sits, it will tend to get watery ... so I do all I can to get as much water out & away from the ingredients as I'm making this.  Don't worry - if/when it gets a bit watery, it's still absolutely delicious ... just a tad more messy to 'dip' out.
- Due to the possibility of 'wateriness,' I usual make this the day I'm serving it, not the day (or couple of days) before.
- This is a very 'flexible' dip - change up the ingredients to suit your taste!


Enjoy!




This post is linked with Sunday Showcase Party, On the Menu Monday, Mangia Mondays, This Weeks' Cravings, Trick or Treat Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Whatcha Whipped Up, Cast Party Wednesday, Sweet Treats & Swanky Stuff, Full Plate Thursday, Inspiration Friday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Bloggy ReadingWeekend Potluck, Foodie Friday with Diane Balch, Feasting in Fellowship, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Sundae Scoop, Think Pink Sunday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Mix It Up Monday, Marvelous Mondays.

Share Buttons

Get widget