Toffee Chip Cheese Ball!

This "Toffee Chip Cheese Ball" is a little different as far as 'cheese balls' go!  It's a sweet cheese ball that is great served with fruit slices or graham crackers or even something like vanilla wafers or shortbread cookies!   This goes over really well with those who might not care for the savory cheese balls!   We served it a few weeks ago at my niece's bridal shower with apple slices and graham crackers.  With the apples it reminds me of a caramel apple and it's great for a Fall party or gathering! Here is what you will need:

 2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs. butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1  (8 oz.) pkg. Heath milk chocolate English toffee bits
2 cups dry roasted peanuts, chopped fine

apple slices, graham crackers, vanilla wafers or shortbread cookies for serving

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until well blended with an electric mixer.   Blend in the brown sugar, confectioners sugar and vanilla.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips and the Heath toffee bits.    This will be very soft.  Pull as much as you can away from the sides of the bowl into a ball shape.  Cover with plastic wrap, leaving it in the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight.   This needs to be very cold or you won't be able to form the cheese ball. 

Place the finely chopped dry roasted peanuts on a large piece of wax paper.  Remove the cheese ball from the bowl and with your hands form into a smooth ball shape.  Lay it in the peanuts and roll it to coat all sides.   When it is all coated in the peanuts lay it gently on a serving plate.   This is a semi soft cheese ball, so it must be very cold and you have to work fast.    

Place apple slices and graham crackers around the edges for serving!  Or you can use whatever you like for serving!   If you do not have time to chill this or don't want to take the time, you can place it in a serving bowl and serve as a dip instead of a cheese ball. Just sprinkle the top with the chopped nuts.   I think the cheese ball makes a prettier presentation, but they both taste the same!  

Caramel Pumpkin Spice Cake!

I love trying new recipes using pumpkin, especially for Fall!  This one is a 'poke cake'!  You know the cake you poke holes all over while it's warm and then pour something creamy and yummy over it to soak into the cake!  The creamy and yummy something just happens to be caramel in this recipe and I do love anything caramel also!  This turned out to be a wonderful, moist and delicious cake!  You will want to try this one for sure!  Here is what you will need:  

1 box spice cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup Sprite or 7-Up (or any lemon lime soda), can substitute water
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) jar caramel ice cream topping

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs. butter, softened 
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1  (8 oz.) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
1  1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl mix cake mix, pumpkin, lemon lime soda or water, eggs, oil, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla until nice and smooth, but don't over beat this.

Spray a 9"x13" baking pan with nonstick baking spray.   Pour cake batter in the pan and spread evenly.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  When a pick comes out clean in the center, it's done.

Remove from oven and while warm, poke holes evenly all over the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon or with a straw.   Remove the lid on the caramel topping and microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds just to soften enough to pour.   Pour evenly all over the top of the cake.  It will run into the holes and that's a good thing!  Let the cake cool completely before frosting!

Place the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well blended.   Add in the vanilla.  Fold in the whipped topping.   Spread evenly over the cooled cake.  

Sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts or pecans!   Refrigerate until ready to serve!  This cake just gets better as it sits!  It becomes even more moist and yummy!  

This is a perfect Fall dessert and it would be wonderful for the holidays!  

Creamy Cheese Grits!

These "Creamy Cheese Grits" take grits and kick them up to a whole new level!  They are so good!  I love grits any way you prepare them.  I will let you know that growing up, we did not eat 'cheese grits' and to some southerners, adding all of this to grits is not really smiled upon.  My mother prepared grits in the classic southern style, with butter, salt and pepper only.  That is how grits are supposed to be eaten and if you are truly southern, you already know this.  However, through the years, grits have evolved and adding a little this and that to them, has made them more palatable for non-grit eaters to enjoy.    This recipe for 'cheese grits' is wonderful for those who think they don't eat grits.  It's also really good for recipes that use grits for a base, like "Shrimp and Grits"!   Here is what you will need for these wonderful cheesy grits!

4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup quick cooking grits (do not use instant)
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of black pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (optional)
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 Tbs. butter
1 cup shredded cheddar or Gouda cheese

Place water and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium high  heat and bring to a boil.  Here is a tip for cooking grits, always salt the water you cook them in, because you cannot salt grits after they are cooked.  They will just never taste salty.

 Stir in the grits, stirring until well mixed so lumps don't form.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are thickened.  You need to stir them several times during this so they don't stick.

Stir in the garlic powder, black pepper, dash of hot sauce, cream cheese, butter and shredded cheese.   I usually use shredded cheddar, but when I have Gouda it gives this a decadent creaminess that is so good!  The Gouda is also perfect when making this for the base for Shrimp and Grits! The cheeses should be melted through before serving.

Pour into a serving bowl and top with a little crumbled bacon or some additional cheese!  

Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Chops!

This is absolutely the easiest and best slow cooker recipe I have ever made.  I originally saw this on a slow cooker site, but I did change it just a little by adding a cup of sour cream to the sauce at the end.  
Here is what you will need:

2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1 pkg ranch dressing mix, 1 cup sour cream and 5 or 6 boneless pork loin chops about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick.  I usually just buy a whole pork loin and slice my own to save money and to be sure I get the thickness I want.   You can substitute boneless chicken breasts in this for the pork and it would be great also!

Spray your slow cooker liberally with cooking spray.  This really makes clean up so easy. Lay your pork chops in the bottom.  Sprinkle with pepper.  The soup and the ranch dressing mix have enough sodium in them that you won't need extra salt.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high 4-5 hours depending on your slow cooker.  At the end of the cooking time, add a cup of sour cream to the sauce.  You will need to temper your sour cream gradually with some of the hot sauce before adding it or it will curdle (not a good look).  If you are not serving immediately, turn the crock pot to warm to hold it. 

I usually serve this over hot buttered egg noodles, but it is also excellent over rice or mashed potatoes.  Add a salad and rolls and you have a great meal! 

Tori's Golden Graham S'mores Bars!

My sweet little cousin Tori, made these "Golden Graham S'mores Bars" and brought them to a family dinner!  These little things are delicious and a little bit addicting!   People couldn't quit eating them.  They are also super easy and call for just a few ingredients and they are no bake, which makes them perfect during this heat wave!  Here is what you will need:

4 Tbs. butter
1  (10 oz.) miniature marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla
1  (16 oz.) box of Golden Graham cereal
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips, melted

In a saucepan melt the butter and marshmallows together until smooth and well blended!   Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.   Add all of the cereal and toss to evenly coat it!   Grease a 9"x13" baking dish.  Press the cereal mixture down evenly in the pan.   Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over the top.  

Allow to cool for about an hour, then cut in squares and watch them disappear!  

Peanut Butter Gooey Bars!

If you love a Pay Day candy bar, you will more than likely love these gooey peanut butter bars.  That is just what they remind me of.  They are not only delicious, but also very pretty.  Here is what you need for these:

1/ 2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed tightly
1 egg
1  1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chocolate flavored syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 13"x 9" baking pan liberally with nonstick baking spray or butter it well.

To make the cookie base, combine the butter, crunchy peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and egg in a mixing bowl. 

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add to the creamed butter mixture.  Beat until well blended.  Chill the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 

Press the chilled dough in the baking pan.  Place in the preheated 350 degree oven for 17 - 20 minutes.  Do not over bake this.   Cool for about 3 minutes. 

Place the creamy peanut butter in the microwave for about 1 minute.  Pour this over the cookie crust.  Top with the mini marshmallows.  Drizzle the chocolate syrup over the top.   Place back in the oven for just about 5 minutes or until the marshmallows are just starting to brown lightly. 

 Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen.  Cool completely and then cut with a sharp knife sprayed with nonstick spray in about 2 inch squares.  "Peanut Butter Gooey Bars!"

Homemade Banana Split Ice Cream!

There is nothing as good as homemade ice cream in the summer!  Actually, I love ice cream year round, but it's one of my biggest weaknesses so I don't indulge often.  When I do, I like to go all out.  This "Banana Split Ice Cream" is one we have been making since I was a child and it's still a crowd pleaser.  Here is what you will need:

4 ripened bananas, mashed
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, sweetened with 1/2 cup sugar
2 (8 oz.) cans of crushed pineapple
1 (10 oz.) jar of maraschino cherries, drained and quartered
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz.) can of evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well blended.  Pour into the freezer canister of an ice maker and freeze according to the manufacturers directions!   It usually takes 30-40 minutes.  When it stops turning or gets very slow you know it's ready.  Cover the canister with a thick towel or blanket and let it sit to ripen for 30 minutes to an hour!   Serve and enjoy!  

Cucumber Tomato Herb Salad!

This "Cucumber Tomato Herb Salad" is a really simple salad that uses all of you fresh summer produce and herbs.   I grow a variety of herbs every summer and I love to find ways to use them as long as they last.   This salad pairs well with most any main course!  Here is what you will need:

2 medium cucumbers peeled and sliced thin
3 tomatoes diced in bite size pieces
1/2 large Vidalia onion, sliced in thin slices and then separated into rings
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Place the vegetables and chopped herbs in a salad bowl.  In another bowl, add the zest of the lemon and then the juice of the lemon.  Whisk in the olive oil.  Add the sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.  

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and herbs and toss to coat them all.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to let the flavors incorporate!  Toss again before serving!  

Strawberry Refrigerator Cake!

This "Strawberry Refrigerator Cake" couldn't be any easier and it is absolutely delicious!  This is the perfect summer dessert, because it's actually fairly light.    This cake is also pretty enough for a special occasion like a birthday or wedding or baby shower.   We went with a three layer cake using 8 inch pans, but you can make a sheet cake or make two layers and use 9 inch pans.  Here is what you will need:

1  (15.25 oz) strawberry cake mix (plus the ingredients it calls for on the box)
1 quart of fresh strawberries, capped
1 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed (we used Cool Whip)

Mix the cake mix as directed on the package, except substitute Sprite or 7-Up for the water it calls for.  This is a trick my mother has used for years and it makes a cake mix cake much lighter and moist.    Spray three 8 inch pan with nonstick baking spray then line with parchment paper and spray again.  If you do this, your cakes will never stick.   If you don't have 8 inch pans, you can use two 9 inch pans.   You can also make a sheet cake, but I prefer the layers so you get more filling between them.   When the layers are done, turn them out and allow them to cool completely.  Once they are totally cool, prepare the frosting. 

Put the strawberries and pudding mix in a blender or food processor and process until the strawberries are completely broken down and the pudding has incorporated.  It will start to thicken.  Pour into a mixing bowl and just lightly fold in the whipped topping until it is all incorporated.   

Place the first layer on a cake plate and top with frosting.  Repeat with the other two layers and then frost the sides.  You can garnish with whole fresh berries on top or around the sides.   Refrigerate until ready to serve!

This makes such a pretty cake and it's so simple!  Hope you enjoy it!

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Potatoes & Carrots!

This "Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Potatoes & Carrots" is just good ole down home comfort food and it could not be any easier.  The pork chops turn out fork tender and it makes a really yummy gravy to cover them in.   I love this type of recipe for busy days when I just don't have a lot of time to cook.  I used boneless pork loin chops in this cut fairly thick, about 1/2 inch.  I think that works best, but if you only have bone in they work also, just be sure to let everyone know they have bones in them and if they cook out during the slow cooking be sure to remove them.   Here is what you will need:

5-6 boneless pork loin chops
2 tbs. oil
seasoned salt
black pepper
1 bag baby carrots (could use 4-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced)
5 -6 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 medium sweet onions, peeled and sliced and separated into rings
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (could substitute cream of chicken or cream of celery soup)

I like to brown the pork chops before assembling the ingredients in the slow cooker.  I use my Ninja slow cooker for this, because it  can be used on a stove top setting to brown and then switch to a slow cooker settting.  It's my favorite slow cooker because of this feature.  If you are going to invest in a new slow cooker, I suggest it highly.    You can also brown the pork chops in the oil in a skillet on the stove top.  You can also skip this step all together and they still turn out great.  I just like the flavor when they are browned a little.   Sprinkle both sides with seasoned salt and pepper.  

Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray.  Place the baby carrots on the bottom.  Next lay the potatoes over the carrots.  Place the onion rings on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle the vegetables with a little seasoned salt and black pepper.   Go easy on the salt though, because the soups contain sodium.

Lay the chops on top of the vegetables in a single layer.  Sprinkle the dry onion soup over all.  End by spreading the canned soup evenly over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high 4-5 hours, depending on your slow cooker.  

This turns out so delicious!  I served it with white beans, cornbread and of course sweet tea!  Hope you try it!  

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Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet!

This "Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet" is one of those recipes you only have to use one skillet to make, so clean up is a breeze!  This is like a from scratch Hamburger Helper, but it tastes so much better!   If you are feeding big appetites on a budget, this is a winner, because it make a huge amount and it's very filling!   It's just good old comfort food.  Here is what you will need:

1  lb. ground chuck
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
8 oz. elbow macaroni, uncooked
3 cups milk
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large oven proof skillet, brown the ground chuck and diced onion.  Season with the seasoned salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.   Stir in the uncooked macaroni, milk, and Velveeta cheese cubes.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer uncovered for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the macaroni is tender and the cheese has melted.   Turn the heat off and stir in the sour cream until it is all incorporated.  It's a good idea to temper the sour cream by stirring a little of the hot mixture into it until it is warmed up, that way it doesn't break when you add it. 

Sprinkle the top with the 2 cups cheddar cheese.  Place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 -20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Serve with a salad and bread and dinner is done!  

Nutty Fudge Pie!

If you are a chocolate lover, like I am, this pie is going to be your new favorite!  It's nutty and fudgy and delicious!   It's also pretty easy to make!  It's so good topped with whipped cream or go all out and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top!   It's  decadent!  Here is what you will need for this sinfully delicious pie:

1 deep dish pie shell, blind-baked
1  1/2 cups sugar
4 Tbs. cocoa powder
1  (5 oz.) can of evaporated milk
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

To blind-bake the pie shell, just place it in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it is just starting to brown a little.  Don't over brown it.  Doing this just keeps this particular pie from having a soggy crust.   Remove when just starting to brown and set aside.  

To make the filling, combine the sugar and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.  Add in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla and beat well.  Make sure it all very well incorporated.  

Break the eggs in another bowl and with a fork beat them lightly.  Add to the filling and beat until combined.  Fold in the nuts.  

Place the pie shell on a cookie sheet and pour the filling in.  The cookie sheet prevent spill overs and helps the pie bake evenly.

Decrease the oven to 325 degrees.  Place the cookie sheet on the center rack and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until set.  If the edges of the crust are starting to brown too much you might need to place a pie shield on or use foil to cover the edges.  

Remove from oven and cool.   Slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream!  Enjoy!  

Fresh Corn and Asparagus Salad!

This "Fresh Corn and Asparagus Salad" is full of wonderful fresh veggies and herbs!  This is the perfect Spring and Summer salad!  Asparagus is in season right now and I love to find new ways to use it!   This goes together really easy and holds up well in the fridge for a few days!  Here is what you will need:

1 (1-pound) bunch of fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1 inch pieces
6 ears of fresh corn, shucked
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thin including some of the green blades
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup good Italian Dressing (I used Olive Garden)
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
6-7 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat.  Drop the asparagus in and when it comes back up to a boil, boil the asparagus for about a minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.    Drop the shucked corn in and boil for about 10 minutes.  Remove and drain. When it's cool enough cut the corn off the cob.  Place the asparagus, corn, green onions, tomatoes, and basil in a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the Italian dressing, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder together until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to coat.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.  

Right before serving, sprinkle the bacon over the top!  This is really good with grilled meats and for cookouts or potlucks!

Celebration Punch!

If you are hosting a graduation party, a baby or bridal shower, or a reception of some sort, you need a good punch recipe that makes plenty for a crowd.  This is a really good one, because it's fairly easy, serves a crowd and it is loved by all ages!  You can also vary it up some, depending on who you are serving.   You can serve it like this with an ice ring or mold in the center or you can leave the ice ring out and add your favorite ice cream sherbet to it.  This makes it frothy on top and if you are serving children or teens, they love it!   Here is what you will need:

2 (2 liter) 7 Ups or Sprites
2 (2 liter) Ginger Ales
3 (64 oz.) tropical punch ( We used Fruit Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch)
3 Oranges (sliced in thin slices with the peel left on)
3 lemons (sliced in thin slices with peel left on)
3 limes (sliced thin slices with the peel left on)
1 pint fresh strawberries, capped and sliced
ice ring or mold

Variation:  Substitute 1/2 gallon of your favorite sherbet for the ice ring! You can use pineapple, lime, orange, raspberry sherbet, whatever you like or which goes well with your theme or event!  

Place your ice ring or mold in the center of the punch bowl.  Pour the 7-Up, Ginger Ale, and tropical punch over the ice, which will float to the top.   If your punch bowl won't hold all of this, use about half of all of the liquid and then just add to the bowl as the guests are served. Right before serving add the fruit all around the outside of the ice ring!   Don't add the fruit too early, because as if it sits for too long it can make it bitter.  If you are using the sherbet, scoop it in
 at the last!  

This makes a really pretty punch for special occasions and it's delicious!  

Cheesy Buffalo Pork Chops!

If you are a lover of Buffalo wings or cook for those who love them, these "Cheesy Buffalo Pork Chops" are a must try!   They have that yummy, spicy Buffalo flavor and the cheesy topping really compliments it!  They turn out tender and juicy!  Here is what you will need:

6 pork loin chops (you can use boneless or bone-in)
black pepper
garlic powder
4 Tbs. butter, divided
2 Tbs. oil 
1 cup hot wing sauce, divided ( I used Frank's)
6 slices Provolone or Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter along with the oil. Add 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce to the mixture. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt, pepper, and little garlic powder to taste.   Cook the chops for about 4-5 minutes on each side. They should be browned.  

Line a baking sheet with foil.  The nonstick foil works great for this or you can spray regular foil with nonstick spray.  Place the pork chops on the baking sheet.   Melt the other two tablespoons of butter and mix with the remaining hot sauce.  Brush each pork chop with the hot sauce mixture.  Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness.  

Remove from oven and place a slice of cheese on each chop and place back in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is just starting to bubble.

These are so good!  We loved them and will be making them again for sure! 

Cheesy Sausage Rotel Casserole!

I came up with this "Cheesy Sausage Rotel Casserole", because I had the ingredients to make my Cheesy Sausage Dip  but I needed something more like dinner and not just an appetizer.  I always have a lot of pasta on hand, thanks to the nice folks at Barilla, which is my favorite pasta, so I came up with this casserole!  This is so good and for some reason it really hit the spot with me.  I ate the leftovers several days for lunch and it reheats really well.   I will definitely be making this again!  Here is what you will need;

12 oz. penne pasta (or any tubular pasta)
1 lb. pork sausage
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies
16 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese
8 oz. cubed cream cheese
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
3-4 sliced green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions, drain and set aside.

Brown the sausage along with the diced onion and bell pepper in a skillet.  If there is excess grease, drain the sausage.  There usually isn't much fat in sausage now though.  Add the seasonings, Rotel, Velveeta cheese, and cream cheese.  Cover and turn the heat to low.  Stir it every now and then while the cheeses are melting.  When the cheeses have melted, add 2 cups milk and stir until creamy and incorporated.  Pour the sausage mixture over the cooked pasta and lightly toss to mix it all.

Pour into a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray!  Sprinkle the top evenly with the cheddar cheese.  Place in the preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until bubble around the edges!

 So yummy!

Sprinkle with a little green onion for garnish!   I served it with a tossed salad!  This one is a must try y'all!!!

Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole!

This "Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole" is new to the site and it got a two thumbs up from the family!  It's one of those one dish meals we all love!  This is a meal in itself, but you could add a vegetable or salad to make it complete!  If you are cooking for meat and potatoes people, they are going to love this one!  

Here is what you will need:  

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed in bite size pieces
6 medium size to large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack/Cheddar blend or shredded Cheddar cheese
10 slices of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
4-5 green onions sliced 
sour cream for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, ranch dressing mix, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and dash of hot sauce together.   Add the diced potatoes and with a large, slotted spoon toss them to coat with the oil mixture. 

 Remove with the slotted spoon, so that the excess oil mixture stays in the bowl to a 9"x13" baking dish or 3 quart casserole.

Put the cubed chicken in a the remain oil mixture and toss to coat.  Pour the chicken and remaining oil over the potatoes.  Evenly placing the chicken over the top in a single layer so it browns.  I like to keep the potatoes and chicken separated in two layers at the beginning to be sure the chicken cook evenly.   Place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 1 hour.  About halfway through toss everything to be sure it is all evenly browning the the potatoes aren't sticking. 

Remove when it's all browned and the chicken is done and top with 3 cups of shredded cheese of whatever you chose to use and sprinkle with the crumbled bacon.  Place back in the oven for about 7-10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted!

When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the green onions!

Serve as is or...

With a little sour cream on top!  Either way this was fantastic!  We will definitely be having it again and it makes a pretty large casserole!  

Cheesy Ritz Cracker Chicken!

This "Cheesy Ritz Cracker Chicken" is absolutely scrumptious!  This is an oven fried chicken coated in Ritz cracker crumbs mixed with cheese.  What could be bad about that, right?  I soaked my chicken in buttermilk for about an hour ahead of time and it was so tender you could cut it with your fork.   If you don't have time to marinade it for the hour, it still works fine. There is a cream sauce you can also make that is so easy and it's great over the chicken and mashed potatoes or rice. Here is what you are going to need for this:

12 boneless chicken breast tenderloins or 4 large boneless chicken breasts cut in thirds lengthwise
2 cups buttermilk
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers, crushed fine
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
4 Tbs. butter, melted
seasoned salt
black pepper

Cream Sauce
1 (10.5 oz.) can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over it all making sure to coat it all over really well.  If you have time, cover and let it hang out in the fridge for about an hour.  This really tenderizes the chicken and makes it so good.  If you don't have time for that, you can skip it and it's still good.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the Ritz cracker crumbs and the finely shredded cheddar cheese in a gallon size Ziplock bag.   You can crush the crackers in the food processor or place them in the bag and use your rolling pin to crush them.  I prefer using the rolling pin to do this, because I don't like them too fine.

Place about three pieces of the chicken at a time in the bag, seal and shake to coat the chicken.  Be sure to let the excess buttermilk drip off first.   Place each piece on a baking sheet you have covered with nonstick foil and sprayed with nonstick spray.  Make sure they are not touching.   If the pieces do not get good and coated, once they are on the baking sheet, I go back and pack some extra crumbs on top of each piece.   Continue  breading until all pieces are coated.  

Drizzle each piece with the melted butter.  Sprinkle each piece with a little seasoned salt and a little black pepper.   

 Place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until browned on top.  There is no need to turn them during cooking.

To make the cream sauce, just place all of the ingredients for it in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat just until heated through.  I served the sauce on the side and let everyone that wanted it over their chicken or mashed potatoes, serve themselves.   

 This is a must try!  It's so good!