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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Teriyaki Pork Chops!

 
 
We love anything that is flavored with Teriyaki and especially pork.  These "Teriyaki Pork Chops" are really very easy, but the flavor is just wonderful.   There is a Japanese restaurant in our city that we love to eat at and one of the chefs told me the key to good teriyaki sauce is pineapple juice.  They make their own and it's really the best.  Any time I make anything 'teriyaki' I add some pineapple juice to it.  The acid in it is also a natural meat tenderizer.   Here is what you will need for these yummy pork chops:
 
5-6 boneless pork loin chops (1/4 -1/2 inch is best)
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce (I use Kikkoman)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
 
Sprinkle the chops on both sides with the seasoned salt and lemon pepper.   In a heavy skillet with  lid, brown the chops on both sides in the olive oil.  
 
In a bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce and brown sugar.  Pour over the chops.  Pour 2 cups of water around the sides of the skillet.   The liquid should just cover the chops, so if you need a bit more add some water.  Bring to a boil and as soon as it boils, turn down to a simmer and cover.  Cook for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops.  Turn the chops over half way through to get that glazed look on both sides.  If your sauce seems to be getting too thick, add a tad bit of water.   The pork chops should be fork tender.
 
These are great served with fried rice or rice pilaf or Twice Baked Potato Casserole!
 
 



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Butter Toffee Bites!

 
 
 
You will never believe that these yummy little bites of heaven start with a Ritz cracker, but they do!!!  These are called 'Crack Cookies' by some, as in they are addictive, and they are, but I decided to give them a little nicer name...lol!    You won't believe how easy these are!  Here is what you will need:
 
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 lb. vanilla or chocolate candy bark (depending on how much chocolate you like)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Heath toffee bits, divided
2 sleeves Ritz Crackers
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted with 1 tsp. shortening
 
Place the semi sweet chocolate chips and the candy bark broken in pieces in a slow cooker set on low.  You can use either chocolate or vanilla candy bark.  I used vanilla and I thought it was plenty chocolate, but if you love a real deep chocolate flavor, use the chocolate bark.  Cook, covered on low for about 1 hour, stirring about halfway though or until the chocolate and bark have melted.  Add in the toffee bits and stir well. 
 
With a fork, dip each cracker individually, covering the whole cracker all over with the chocolate.  Shake the excess off and lay on a waxed paper.  When you get about 1/2 of a sleeve of crackers dipped, go back and sprinkle each one with a little more of the toffee bits you have left and some of the chopped nuts.  It's best to do this while they are wet and not set, so the nuts and toffee stick! Continue with the rest of the crackers until they are all dipped and sprinkled.  Allow to dry for about an hour or two.  You will know when they are dry because you can lift from the paper without any stickiness or mess.
 
Melt the white chocolate chips with the shortening and stir well to blend.  You can do this by placing in the microwave to 30 second intervals.  Don't over heat! When dealing with melting chocolate of any kind, be sure to use a glass bowl and make sure it's completely dry.  Any water will make the chocolate 'seize' or become grainy and it will not be smooth and satiny!  Just a helpful hint for those not used to working with melted chocolate.  Using a small spoon, drizzle each cookie with a  drizzle of white chocolate! 
 
When the white chocolate is completely dry and set, store in an airtight container.  If you layer, place wax paper or parchment paper between the layers! You do not need to refrigerate!



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chicken Chow Mein Casserole!

 
 
This is a really quick and easy casserole that has a touch of Asian flavor!  It's also very versatile so if your family doesn't care for some of the ingredients, like mushrooms or water chestnuts, just leave them out.  It's still going to be really good!  If you don't have red bell pepper, use green, although I think the red makes it more colorful!  This is really good to make with leftover chicken or even leftover turkey after the holidays!    Here is what you will need:
 
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 (6 oz.) can of sliced water chestnuts, drained (optional)
1 (10 3/4) can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. soy sauce
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 (5 oz.) can of chow mein noodles
 
In a large skillet over medium heat saute the bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic until just tender.  Add the mushrooms and saute lightly.   Stir in the next six ingredients.   
 
Pour into a 9"x9" casserole dish or a 2 quart will work that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the top with the chow mein noodles.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
 
It should be hot and bubbly when done.  This is best served with rice!
 


Monday, December 15, 2014

Twice Baked Potato Casserole...a Family Favorite!

 
 
These are probably our favorite potatoes in my family.  They are the potatoes I always make for most holiday and special occasion meals.  Of course, there really isn't a potato most of us have ever met and didn't like.   Potatoes tend to be a big part of our diet in Kentucky.  Rice has become more popular through the years, but the potato still reigns supreme here.   These are not hard to make at all, I can even do it in one pot if I use my cast iron that can go from stove top to oven.  Also, even though the original recipe has good rich things like butter and cream cheese, you can make low-fat substitutions which also will taste very good.    Here is what you will need:

6 large potatoes (7 or 8 if they are on the small side)
4 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbs. butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup real bacon bits or 5 strips of crisp fried bacon
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1 tsp salt (to salt the water the potatoes are cooked in)
1/2 tsp.black pepper
1/2 tsp.seasoned salt

If you want a lighter, lower fat version of this, you can use margarine instead of butter, light cream cheese, low fat buttermilk, and fat free plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream.

Peel and cut the potatoes in large chunks. You don't have to dice these small because you will be smashing them anyway.  Salt your boiling water (as you would for pasta) and bring to a boil, turn down to simmer until fork tender.  Drain the potatoes in a colander well. I use my cast iron so I can cook the potatoes, mash and mix and return to the pan to finish in the oven.  You can put them in a casserole dish to bake also and for company, I usually do.

Place the drained potatoes back in the warm pan, but not on the hot burner or they will scorch on the bottom.  Have you ever scorched potatoes in the pan?  It's a mess!  Add the cream cheese and the butter.  Place the cover back on the pan and leave it for about 10 or 15 minutes.  The cream cheese and the butter will soften and melt and make it really easy to mash the potatoes.  Using a good old fashioned potato masher, mash the potatoes, cream cheese and butter up a little.   Don't over mash at this point, you still have good things to add.
Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mash some more.   I like to leave mine with a some chunks in them, but if you prefer you can mash them smooth. 

Add the ranch dressing mix, black pepper, and seasoned salt and stir.  Fold in the bacon bits, half of the cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese.  
Smooth the mixture down and sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese on top. I sometimes also put a little of the bacon on top.  If you are baking in a casserole dish, you will need a two quart dish sprayed with cooking spray.    Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 -30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown.
It should be hot and bubbly when you remove it from the oven.  You can garnish the top with some more bacon, chives or sliced green onions at this point.
 
 



 











Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cream Cheese Fudge!

 
 
This is one of those recipes I like to call 'easy peasy', because anyone can make it!  Homemade candy, and especially fudge can be tricky.   This recipe turns out great every time.  It's so creamy and not overly chocolate.   Here is what you will need:
 
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (do not use light or fat free)
2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
 
 
Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it's fluffy.  Add in the melted chocolate and vanilla until blended.  Gradually add in the confectioner's sugar.  Fold in the nuts.
 
Line an 8"x8" dish with buttered parchment or wax paper.  Overlap it a little so you can lift the candy out once it has firmed up.   Pour the fudge in the dish and smooth the top.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  
 
Lift it out of the pan with the paper.  Remove the paper and cut in small squares.  It's ready to serve!  Now wasn't that easy peasy!!!