Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

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When I was younger my dad was always trying to inspire a love for the culinary arts in both my brother and I. Whether or not I understood quite what he was attempting is still up for debate. What I do know for sure is that any time I got to use the potato masher; I was on board to help prep dinner. Some of my favorite dinner making memories involve me attempting to mash potatoes and subsequently covering the kitchen cabinets in lovely milk, butter and potato mixture… oops! I like to think I’ve grown up a tad bit since then, but some days I still find myself cleaning random large splatters from the counters and cabinets.

I decided to make a grownup version of my favorite childhood potato dish- twice baked fillings meet sweet potato. Yes, salty, savory, and sweet plus potato. Thank me now or thank me later.

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ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes
8 slices bacon
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 green onions, sliced, divided

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directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; saving the skins.

To the potato flesh add cream cheese, butter, salt, pepper, bacon, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 the green onions. Mash until well blended and creamy. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with remaining cheese and green onions.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Easy King’s Hawaiian French Toast

Easy King's Hawaiian French Toast

The last time Bill and I were up in Sacramento, we had brunch at the cutest restaurant I’ve been to in a while. The High Hand Cafe is inside an old greenhouse {or atrium, not quite sure} nestled in between some lovely gardens; there’s even a nursery you can browse while waiting for a table. As soon as my eyes crossed the menu, I knew I was getting my favorite brunch item—eggs benedict. Even though my mind was quickly made, I couldn’t help perusing the rest of the menu for new recipe ideas. The Brioche French Toast stopped me in my tracks. Hmmm, that didn’t seem too hard to make. I always find myself stuck in a breakfast rut, either my go-to spinach acai smoothies on weekdays or easy peasy breakfast sandwiches on Saturday or Sunday. I forgot how easy it is to whip up a sweet breakfast treat—not only was this recipe quicker to make than breakfast sandwiches, but it was definitely more satisfying for my sweet tooth 🙂

Easy King's Hawaiian French Toast

ingredients:
8 slices King’s Hawaiian Bread (leave out overnight, if possible)
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Unsalted butter, for cooking
Maple syrup, for serving
Powdered Sugar, for sprinkling

Easy King's Hawaiian French Toast

directions:
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and vanilla. Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat it on all sides so that it’s well-saturated.

Shake off any excess and place the coated bread on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of bread.

Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, place two slices of bread at a time in the pan. Cook until golden brown on one side then flip, about 2 minutes, and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown and slightly crisped. Repeat with remaining slices.

Serve immediately. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warmed maple syrup.

Easy King's Hawaiian French Toast

Double Peanut Butter Brownies

Double Peanut Butter Brownies

It’s funny how life works.  Before I met Bill, peanut butter was never a factor in any of my dessert recipes.  I never grew up eating PB&Js, so it’s not one of those flavors I crave.  Bill, on the other hand, is a peanut butter fiend.  I have to peel him away from the M&M section at Target because he can’t decide between classic peanut and peanut butter M&Ms and Lord knows I don’t need 6 bags of each sitting around the house, waiting for me to eat them… As a result of this peanut butter obsession, every May I find myself pinning peanut butter desserts in the hope of finding Bill’s next birthday treat.  So far we’ve tried Peanut Butter Cupcakes, a Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Brownie Cake (heart attack), and this past year we ended up with Double Peanut Butter Brownies.  Yes, I am posting this recipe nearly 6 months late, oops!  I just found the pictures, so please excuse my tardiness.

Double Peanut Butter Brownies
ingredients:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons peanut butter
chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, chopped

Double Peanut Butter Brownies

directions:
In a medium saucepan combine chopped chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted; cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

Stir sugar and the 1/4 cup peanut butter into melted chocolate. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition just until combined. Stir in vanilla.

In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined. Finally add chopped peanut butter cups and fold into the batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Double Peanut Butter Brownies

Pot Roast Crock Pot Tacos

Pot Roast Crock Pot Tacos

OMG. First off can I tell you how much I love my crock pot. It’s freaking magic– how do I not use it every single day for every single meal? But in all seriousness, you load that puppy up in the morning and by the time you’re home from work, dinner is basically done. In this case, I needed to do a little frying of tortillas and mixing of the sauce, but 10 minutes of final prep and dinner was on the table- hello miracle appliance! I will admit it’s usually a neck and neck race between my crock pot and my food processor for favorite kitchen tool, but after this recipe, the crock pot is number one, at least for this week!

But on to important things… I’ve tried making a couples pot roasts in my life, but nothing has stayed as moist and been as flavorful and enticing as this recipe. The onions and juice are actually to die for, like I may have fallen to the ground I was so in heaven. The combination of the crispy taco shells, topped off with some arugula for a tiny kick, leaves you ready to devour a HUGE plate of these babies. I had to fry up a second batch of taco shells because I couldn’t get enough!

Pot Roast Crock Pot Tacos

ingredients:
For the Pot Roast:
2 1/2 lb chuck roast
garlic salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 envelope dried Lipton onion soup mix
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
arugula, to top, optional
shredded cheese, to top, optional

Pot Roast Crock Pot Tacos

For the Taco Shells:
corn tortillas
vegetable oil

For the Horseradish Sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
2-3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Pot Roast Crock Pot Tacos

directions:
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Liberally season chuck roast, on both sides, with garlic salt and black pepper. Sear each side of the roast until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes each side.

Meanwhile, in the base of a slow cooker, mix chicken stock, soy sauce, onion soup mix, sliced onion and garlic. Transfer roast to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.

When roast is finished, shred meat, discard fat and put meat back into slow cooker to keep warm with onions and juices.

To make Corn Tortillas:
In a 10-inch pan, fill with enough vegetable oil to come up 1-inch on the sides of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Fry tortillas one at a time until golden brown. Transfer to a dish lined with paper towels to drain.

To make Horseradish Sauce:
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish sauce and salt. Mix to combine.

To serve tacos:
Fill each shell with shredded pot roast and caramelized onions. Top with horseradish sauce and sprinkle with arugula and cheese, if desired.

Pot Roast Crock Pot Tacos

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

I feel like everywhere I look, I see recipes for one pot pastas to one pan brownies. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining I’m all about convenience and washing fewer dishes, but is it really easier to do it all in one dish?? Also, how big of a pot are we talking about? Knowing my luck I’d start out in one pot and end up having to upgrade mid-dish, completely going against the one pot directions. My one saving grace is that at least I have a dishwasher… No pruny dish washing hands here. Perhaps I’ll try one of these popular recipes, but for now I’m enjoying my one pot and one pan recipe for chicken parmesan pasta bake. You’ll see in the pictures, I got pretty darn close to it being a two pots and one pan recipe, so go big when it comes to picking out your pot, you can thank me later.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

ingredients:
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
16 ounces pasta
1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

directions:
Preheat the oven to 400F.

Set an oven-safe saute pan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, water, chicken broth, and the pasta to the pot, gently stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover the pan and continue simmering until the pasta is tender, about 18 minutes. Stir the pasta frequently as it cooks.

Once tender, remove the cover and stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, pepper, and chicken. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Sprinkle the top evenly with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and bubbles around the edges.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake