Baked Goat Cheese in Marinara Dip!

This appetizer recipe came from the folks at the Red Gold Tomato company and it is so delicious.   This would be perfect for your Super Bowl Sunday lineup.  The Red Gold Tomato company has been so nice to provide me with a variety of their products to sample in the last few years and now I have been asked to be an ambassador for their company and products.  I have always loved their tomatoes and such, even before I started writing this blog.  Now, I will have several challenges from them to share with you all.  

My first challenge was to compare a can of whole. peeled Red Gold tomatoes to a can of whole peeled Hunts tomatoes.  Here is what I found:

I poured the tomatoes from each can into a cutting tray they provided.  
This is my scorecard.  I was to rate each one from 1 being poor to 5 being extraordinary. The categories were Appearance - color and uniformity of size and integrity, amount of peel and seeds in sample, the media or juice, flavor intensity, and flavor attributes.  

I was to cut each tomato in half. This is the Red Gold one which was much firmer and intact.  They were also much more uniform in size.  On flavor, both tasted good, with nothing off about either of them, but the Red Gold tomatoes tasted a bit fresher.   As you can see, from the final score, while both cans of tomatoes were good,  the Red Gold tomatoes were just better.  

After my test was over I used the Red Gold tomatoes to make the tasty recipe.  Here is what you will need:

8 oz. goat cheese
5 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can whole, peeled Red Gold tomatoes
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. sugar
3-4 sliced green onions, including the green blades

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.  Uncover and mash the tomatoes or what I do is use my kitchen shears to cut them up.   Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes more.  

Place the goat cheese in the center of a rectangular baking dish you have sprayed with nonstick spray. You should have enough room for a one inch border around it.  Pour the marinara sauce around the goat cheese, but don't cover it, just around the edge.   Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Sprinkle with green onions.  Serve with garlic bread or on crostini!  This is so good, I can eat it alone!  

Caramel Maple Bacon Crack!

This "Caramel Maple Bacon Crack" or a.k.a. "Bacon Crack"  is called such a name, because it is very addicting!  This is the sort of sweet and salty combination I just love and it's so easy with 4 ingredients!   This is perfect game day food and with the Super Bowl coming up, it's a must try!  This would also be great for breakfast for brunch!  Everybody loves this stuff!  Here is what you will need:

1 lb. bacon
1 (8 oz.) can refrigerated crescent rolls ( you can use the non perforated sheet of crescent rolls dough also)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Cook the bacon to just until it is almost crispy.  This cooks more in the oven.   I microwave mine, but however you usually cook your bacon is fine.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.  

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  I prefer the nonstick Reynolds Wrap.  Spray the foil with nonstick spray.  Lay the crescent roll dough on the foil.  Do not separate the rolls.  If you are using the type with the holes in it, seal those together.   Prick the dough all over with a fork.   Drizzle half of the syrup over the dough.  Chop the bacon in pieces and sprinkle evenly over the syrup.  I keep the pieces bite sized.  

Sprinkle half of the brown sugar over the bacon and then drizzle with the rest of the maple syrup. If you like a little spicy with your sweet and salty, sprinkle the top with just a pinch of cayenne pepper to your taste!  This is totally option.  It's great either way.   Place in the 325 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.  

All to cool for about 10 minutes and then cut in pieces.   I just cut along the lines of the individual rolls and the cut those pieces in about thirds.

Sweet & Sticky Asian Style Ribs!

These "Sweet & Sticky Asian Ribs" are cooked in the slow cooker and then finished off in the oven to get a good glaze on them. I used boneless country style ribs, because of there meatiness and it's what I had, but you could also use a spare rib or a baby back rib.   The country style ribs really are good though because they have so much meat on them and get so tender with this method.   This recipe calls for some ingredients you might not keep on hand, but once you make these you will want them again and again, so the spices will not go to waste.    Here is what you will need:

1 large sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
2  1/2 to 3 lbs. of boneless country style pork ribs
Seasoned salt
black pepper
1/2 cup of hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sriracha sauce or chili sauce
1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp. Chinese five spice
1 Tbs. sesame seeds (optional)

Place a bed of the onion slices on the bottom of a large slow cooker.  Place the ribs on top of the onions.  Sprinkle the ribs with seasoned salt and black pepper to your taste.

I a bowl mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sriracha or chili sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, minced garlic, and Chinese five spice until smooth.   If you are not familiar with hoisin sauce, it's a delicious Asian sauce you will find on the aisle with the soy sauce and other Asian food items.  The Chinese five spice is usually just on the spice aisle with all of the other spices.   You can use this in so many recipes to give them a unique flavor.

Pour half of the sauce over the ribs.  Refrigerate the other half for later use.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.  If you have the time for the low cooking, I think it's better.  When they have cooked the amount of time.  Carefully remove the ribs to an oven safe dish or if your slow cooker has an oven proof insert, you can just remove it.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the ribs and place in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the glaze is just starting to bubble and brown.   Remove and sprinkle with the sesame seeds if you are using them.  One tip on sesame seeds, since you don't use them every day, they will last much longer if you keep them in the fridge.  The same for celery seeds and poppy seeds.  If you don't refrigerate, they can go rancid after a while.

These tender succulent ribs are good with anything.  You could serve them with fried rice and veggies for a more traditional touch or I served them with beans and stewed potatoes and cornbread.  They were so good!  

Mini Jalapeno Popper Crescents!

These "Mini Jalapeno Popper Crescents" are a yummy little appetizer you can put together with a few ingredients you probably usually have on hand.   These can also be made up earlier in the day and refrigerated on a cookie sheet until ready to bake so they are perfect for parties.  These would be so good for your Super Bowl party!  Here is what you need:

1 (8 oz,) can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup pickled jalapeno rings, diced
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
5 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Separate the crescent rolls into the precut triangles then cut each triangle in half lengthwise.

I a bowl mix the cream cheese, diced jalapenos, and garlic powder.  Place the dough on a sheet pan covered with nonstick foil or you could use parchment paper.  Spoon about a Tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on the widest part of the dough.  Sprinkle each one with some of the crumbled bacon.  Sort of press the bacon into the cream cheese.  

Roll up like you would a crescent roll.  Bake in a 375 degree oven on the center rack for 13 -15 minutes or just until golden brown! This makes 16 appetizers.  For bigger parties, you can easily double the recipe!

These are so tasty, hot right out of the oven!  Make plenty because they will go fast!

Game Day Chili!

This is my "Game Day Chili"!  It's a chili that has beef and beans in it and a bit of a kick also!  This chili is for those who like it spicy!  I know the whole debate over chili with or without beans.  Some areas don't think it's chili if it has beans in it.  Other areas wouldn't think it was right without the beans.   This is Kentucky so if you can add a bean to something, 9 out of 10 times, we will.  We just really like our beans here.   A big pot of this chili will feed a crowd and it's perfect to have when people are coming over to watch the big game.   This chili also just gets better the next day!  Here is what you will need:

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
2 (14.5 oz.) cans chili ready tomatoes (I used the Red Gold brand)
1 (10.5 oz.) can Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chillies
1 (15 oz.) can of tomato sauce
2 (15 oz.) cans of chili beans
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning ( I use Tony Chachere)
1 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. hot sauce ( I used Tabasco)
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 cups water

In a large Dutch oven, brown the ground chuck with the onions, bell peppers and jalapeno peppers to just soften them.  Drain any excess grease.  

Add all of the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix.  The Red Gold chili ready tomatoes have some chili seasoning in them, so they add to the flavor of this chili. If you use regular diced tomatoes, you might need a touch more chili powder and cumin.   Season it to your taste.  If you wonder about the brown sugar in this recipe, I always add sugar to tomato based recipes to cut the acidity.  Just a tad, makes the flavor so much better.

Bring up to a boil and boil for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover.   Cook for at least an hour.  Stir during this time to prevent sticking.  It's best if you turn to low and cook for another hour.   The longer it has to just simmer on very low heat on the stove, the better it gets.   

Serve with whatever toppings you like on the side.  I like a little shredded cheese.  Sour cream, additional jalapenos, or some diced onion are also good!  

Chicken & Bacon Fried Rice Casserole!

This "Chicken & Bacon Fried Rice Casserole" is one of those recipes you just put in the oven and forget until it's time to eat   This is so tasty and got two thumbs up from the men at my house!  Add a salad or a vegetable and dinner is served!  Here is what you will need:
7 slices of bacon, uncooked
4 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. oil
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1  1/2 cups raw long grain rice (do not use instant rice)
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (I used breasts)
6 slices provolone or Swiss cheese
1  (10.25 oz.) can of cream of chicken soup
1  (10.25 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can water
1 soup can milk
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9"x13" baking dish with the bacon.  You don't cook it first.
Melt the butter with the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the celery and onion and saute just until it starts to get soft.  Add the raw rice and saute until the rice is just starting to get golden.  You will need to turn it constantly while doing this or it can burn.  If you have ever prepared Rice a Roni, it's the same concept.
Spread the rice mixture over the bacon. Sprinkle with the seasoned salt, black pepper and garlic powder.  Place the chicken breasts (or thighs) on top of the rice.  Sprinkle them with just a little seasoned salt and pepper to taste.  Place a slice of the cheese on top of each piece of chicken.
In a bowl, mix the soups, water, milk, sour cream, and soy sauce until smooth.  Pour evenly over the chicken.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a 350 degree oven for and 1 hour and 30 minutes. 
Uncover and bake for about 10-15 minutes more or just until starting to brown.
When serving this, be sure to scoop the rice down from the bottom of the baking dish so that the bacon mixes in with it.  The bacon seasons the rice so perfectly.  This is a very family friendly recipe! 

Cheesy Macaroni Sausage Bake!

This is an old recipe that I got from a family friend.  It's one of those recipes that you can prepare pretty much at the last minute without having to run out and get the ingredients, because most of the time you have them on hand.  It's also quick to prepare and it's very inexpensive per serving.  If you add a salad and rolls or we like it with pinto beans and cornbread, you have a meal.  Kids and adults both enjoy this also.     Also, for those who complain about the canned soups and processed cheese, this recipe has neither!  Can you believe it?  I was so tempted to add some Velveeta to this just to bug those of you who constantly lament about the evils of Velveeta, but I didn't! Velveeta is so misunderstood by some!

 Here is what you need for this:

8 oz. elbow macaroni
1 lb. pork sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
4 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided ( use what you like, sharp, mild...doesn't matter)

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions minus about a 1 minute of cooking time. Be sure to salt the water.  Drain and set aside.

Crumble and brown sausage along with onion and peppers in a skillet.   When the sausage is browned and the onion and peppers are soft, add the flour to the mixture and cook just a little to get rid of the raw flour taste.  Add the salt and pepper.

Add the milk and cook until it starts to bubble and thicken a little.  Let it bubble for a minute or two.   When it's thickened a little, turn the heat down and add 2 cups of the cheese. Save the other cup for the top. 
Fold in the macaroni and mix together.
Pour into a 2.5 or 3 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the other cup of cheese over the top.
 Place in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

The Ultimate Cheesy Garlic Bread!


This "Ultimate Cheesy Garlic Bread" takes garlic bread to a whole new level!  It's absolutely scrumptious!  It makes regular garlic bread sort of boring!  This is so good with pasta dishes or soups!  It's also just a good game day snack!  This couldn't be any easier either.  Here is what will need:
1 loaf Italian bread
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature, but not melted
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, garlic or garlic powder, and mayonnaise.  Blend until smooth and it has a spreadable consistency.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  Mix in the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.  This will be sort of stiff and not smooth, but that is ok.
Cut the loaf of Italian bread in half vertically and place on a baking sheet.  This is the size Italian loaf that usually come two loaves to a pack, not the larger, flatter French bread.  This makes enough spread to do both halves of one loaf.  With a spoon, spoon the mixture on the cut surface of each of the halves of bread and then smooth it down so it stays on when baking. 
Sprinkle the top with the oregano and basil.
Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  If you like the bread really crispy and crunchy on the bottom, cook 20 minutes.  If you like it softer, the 15 minutes works better.  I like mine crunchy on the bottom, but not hard, so I cook for about 18 minutes.
Place on a serving plate and cut across in slices!  Enjoy!