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Sausage and Sourdough Bread Stuffing

Isn’t stuffing usually the best part of Thanksgiving? Why do we only eat it at this time of year? Sure, I guess you could argue that sage is more of a fall herb so it’s weird to eat it in the spring or summer. But who cares? Is anyone with me in getting stuffing out of the Thanksgiving rut and into mainstream life? Plus, there are so many different and exciting stuffing recipes out there that if you only eat it once a year, it will take years to try them all. Well, I’m having a small Thanksgiving dinner this week and my friend offered to bring the stuffing so it was one less thing for me to do. But since I love making stuffing, I made a batch of this Sausage and Sourdough Bread Stuffing last weekend, just for me. Shh, don’t tell anyone!

Sourdough bread is toasted in the oven before being mixed with cooked onion, celery and spicy turkey sausage. Fresh fragrant herbs of thyme, sage, and parsley bring this mixture to life and send it over the top. A quick soaking of broth, egg and water and this stuffing bakes until perfectly tender on the inside and golden and crusty on top. A helping of this served with a side veggie and you’ve got a happy dinner for any night of the week, Thanksgiving or not.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange bread in single layers on 2 jelly-roll pans. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden, rotating pans after 10 minutes. Turn oven off; leave pans in oven for 30 minutes or until bread is crisp.

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Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook 11 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

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Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Add sausage to pan. Increase heat; sauté 8 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan using a slotted spoon; add sausage to vegetable mixture.

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Stir in bread, herbs, and pepper; toss. Combine broth, 1 cup water, and egg, stirring well. Drizzle broth mixture over bread mixture; toss.

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Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook 20 minutes or until browned.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Chicken Verde Tacos

It was so nice to get up this morning to head to the gym and have it be chilly outside. Am I alone in this? Turning off the air conditioning and opening up my windows was such a good feeling. I actually think I heard my house sigh with relief. Temperatures like this make me want to bake muffins, put chili in the crockpot, throw some chicken in the oven and start a big batch of soup. And while I would love to spend my week doing just that, I have a lot of work to do so all that cooking will have to wait. Thankfully, there are many quick and easy recipes out there for us busy bees. These Chicken Verde Tacos seemed almost too easy. So much so that I didn’t think they would be very good. Boy was I wrong.

Pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is warmed with salsa verde and stuffed into a corn tortilla before being topped with a light cabbage slaw. So simple. Rotisserie chicken is a busy girl’s best friend and tacos never disappoint. The salsa verde adds all of the spicy flavor you come to expect in a taco and the cabbage slaw provides a fresh, creamy crunch. With this busy week, I’m happy to have leftovers in the fridge which can be heated up in no time for lunch or dinner. With another busy weekend coming up too, I’m not sure when I’ll get to doing all that Fall cooking I want to do. In the meantime, I’ll keep making quick and easy recipes like this as I’m sure most of you do too.

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Combine chicken and salsa in a saucepan over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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Heat tortillas 20 seconds on each side over an open flame or according to directions. Combine cabbage and mayonnaise in a bowl; toss to coat.

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Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with cabbage mixture.

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Additions:

  • Lime
  • Cilantro

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix

I’m trying to be a little bit smarter about my snacking. I’m someone who has no problem snacking on nuts…so long as they have chocolate chips and dried cherries mixed in. But eating plain old nuts is no fun. So many people don’t like to eat nuts because they are so high in calories but they are also so high in good fat. Like with everything else, it’s about watching how much you eat and be careful with portions. But with nuts, they easily fill you up so a small handful (a portion) is just enough to do what a snack needs to do: satisfy! This Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix is a perfect snack mix to have on hand when my stomach is rumbling and I need something quick.

Slivered almonds, pumpkinseeds, and cashews are mixed with a frothy egg white and a spicy mixture of sugar (or Splenda), chipotle chile powder, cumin, oregano, and chile powder and baked until warm and crispy. Spices are a fun way to add a lot of calorie-free flavor to nuts to make them a little more interesting. Mixed with sugar, this spice mixture is sweet, spicy and smoky without being overly sweet, overly spicy or overly smoky. The combination is perfectly mellow but completely flavorful that makes this snack mix a little bit addicting. But just remember, a little goes a long way so this snack will last you for days and days.

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Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine sugar, salt, chipotle chile powder, cumin, oregano, and chili powder in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

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Place egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add the almonds, cashews, and pumpkinseeds; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with spice mixture; toss well to coat.

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Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325°F for 15 minutes, stirring once. Turn oven off. Remove pan from oven; stir snack mix. Immediately return pan to oven for an additional 15 minutes (leave oven off). Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack; cool completely.

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Store snack mix in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Splenda

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Pecan-Pumpkin Drops with Sriracha-Honey Butter

What is it about winter that makes baking so appealing? By the time the holidays roll around, I’m dying to start cookie baking. And even though that is all done with now and our lives are back to normal, baking is still appealing. Is it because of the weather? When it’s warm out, we don’t want to stay in the house, let alone to do something that requires turning on the oven. But in the winter, it just feels so right. Is it nesting? These Pecan-Pumpkin Drops didn’t require me hitting the grocery store for ingredients and neither did the Sriracha-Honey Butter I smeared on them! This combination of recipes was easy and didn’t require me going out in the cold for anything!

Pumpkin and pecans, along with a little nutmeg, make up the primary flavors in these petite little muffins which are a perfect on their own or as an accompaniment to your winter meal. Served warm with a little butter or cream cheese would be oh-so-lovely but the sriracha-honey butter I smeared mine with gave these muffins another jolt. The sweet and spicy butter blended with the mellow pumpkin makes for a flavorful melt-in-your-mouth combo. Eat these muffins, and the butter, however you like. Just make them. Both. And stay warm!

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Preheat oven to 425°F. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl, stirring with a whisk; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

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Combine pumpkin and buttermilk in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

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Add pumpkin mixture and chopped pecans to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.

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Drop batter in mounds of about 1/3-cupfuls onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

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Bake at 425° for 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet; cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm.

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For the Sriracha-Honey Butter, combine butter, Sriracha, and honey in a bowl.

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Chill until ready to serve.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Sources:

  • Muffins: Cooking Light magazine
  • Butter: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Easy Salty and Sweet Christmas Bark

I used to go with my mom to a small chocolate store half an hour from where we lived in Illinois every December. We would pick up bags of red, green, brown and white melting chocolate which we would bring home, melt and pour into different Christmas molds like wreaths, bells and snowmen. I really miss that. I hadn’t played with melting chocolate since then which was way too long ago. I found melting chocolate at Target and next thing I know, I’m throwing pretzels, chocolate cookies and peanut M&Ms into my cart. I ended up making this Easy Salty and Sweet Christmas Bark.

Why haven’t I been doing this before? Making bark is SO easy! And now that I know that, I’ve been looking up different kinds of bark on Pinterest and my mind is reeling. I want to make more! Now that I know where to find melting chocolate, how easy it is to work with and how stinking good it is, I’ll start making bark all year, not just during the holidays!

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Easy Salty and Sweet Chocolate Bark

  • 1 pound white melting chocolate (I used CandiQuik vanilla candy coating)
  • 1 cup pretzels (preferably holiday shapes – trees, bells & stars)
  • 6-8 chocolate sandwich cookies with red or green filling (like Oreo)
  • red and green m&ms (regular or peanut)
  • red and green sprinkles

Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or wax paper; set aside. Chop cookies into 1/4th; set aside. Melt chocolate according to package directions. Pour half the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet; spread to approximately 1/4 inch thick.

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Working quickly, add the pretzels, cookies pieces, m&m’s, and sprinkles over the chocolate in a sporadic pattern.

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Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the pretzels and cookies. Garnish with additional sprinkles; if desired.

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Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Once set, break the bark into pieces.

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Green Pesto Sauce

I’m a real sucker for pesto but it’s one of those sauces that I don’t like to buy (I think it’s better when it’s fresh) yet I never make it at home, even when I have a bunch of basil.  Pesto is so full of flavor and so easy to make that it’s just silly that I don’t make it more. It’s good on any meat, pasta, veggie, pizza, sandwich or even eggs. When I came across this recipe for Green Pesto Sauce, I wasn’t sure what to think since it’s made with fruit juice but one day at the store, I found myself looking at bottles of Naked juice and decided to give this pesto a try.

Basic pesto ingredients of basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, and nuts (I used sliced almonds because I had them on hand) are combined with parsley, green fruit juice and lemon juice which add other layers of flavor. This isn’t your basic pesto so the hint of sweetness from the fruit juice may not be your cup of tea. And while I prefer regular pesto, I was pretty surprised with the interesting and unique flavor of this.

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In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth.

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Serve at once atop steamed or roasted potatoes or vegetables or cover and chill up to 2 days. Stir in additional juice to desired consistency.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Sliced almonds
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Taco Night Popcorn

Who doesn’t love a really simple snack recipe? Popcorn, in general, is a simple and low calorie snack but sometimes it can just be so stinking boring. I go in waves with popcorn where I’ll eat a portion-controlled bag each and every night and then when I run out, I’ll buy another box that will sit, unopened, in my cabinet and go well past the expiration date. Sometimes it tastes good and sometimes I can’t fathom the thought of it. But I came across a bunch of recipes for flavored popcorn and decided I had everything to make this Taco Night Popcorn. With a frosty beer and a good movie, this is an addicting and not boring popcorn snack.

Olive oil, chili powder, lime zest, cumin and garlic powder are mixed together and tossed over basic microwaved popcorn and pieces of tortilla chips (I used these chips – my favorite!) making this a flavorful snack that really does make you think of tacos. I combined the oil and spices together and dumped the mixture into a zip-top storage bag then added the popcorn and chips and shook it all up. It really seemed to coat the popcorn well, without too much of any oil or spices ending up in random clumps. I know adding olive oil to a healthy snack like popcorn isn’t necessary what you want to do when you are trying to be good but a little goes a long way and this is a great snack for those nights when you just can’t have plain old popcorn yet again.

Like this? Also check out Chili and Spice Popcorn and Buffalo Popcorn!

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Mix olive oil, chili powder, grated lime peel, cumin, and garlic powder; toss with 1 bag microwave popcorn, popped, and tortilla chip pieces.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Good Housekeeping magazine

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