Cheesy Jalapeño Bites (Man Night Cheat Treat!)

So I haven’t posted a naughty treat in quite some time!  But the season of parties has arrived, so I thought I would share this little gem!  Perfect for man nights!!  I love man nights!!  My house always gets clean, I get to cook fun food…and before I leave or go hide in the bedroom, I get to enjoy the fact that most men are easily pleased.  So the fact that I can make tacos or chili or jalapeño bites gets me tons of “mmmm’s, “oh my gosh”s, and “Tabby this is so good, you’re amazing”s, haha!  Its a nice feeling.  So here is something to hopefully help you get a similar reaction!!

Cheesy Jalapeño Bites!!  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 Egg Yolks (Psst…secret…I totally forgot these and they STILL WORKED!  Baha!)
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softenedd
  • 16 oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese (Yes, it is a lot!  But worth it!)
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Jalapeños (I used fresh, then found out after I had already mixed it that my mom uses the ones from the can!  But it seemed to still work well, so choose your fancy!)
  • Bread Crumbs

 

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix everything but the bread crumbs together in a bowl.
  3. Form into small bowls and roll in bread crumbs, getting a nice coating.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.  THEY WILL FLATTEN OUT, that’s fine!! 🙂

Photo-25

Yeah buddy!  Golden brown, melty, spicy…perfection!

Photo-26

Here it is with a big ol’ pot of chili and sweet cornbread!  A perfect feast for  a man night in!!  I hope you enjoy!

Crackers, Cheese, and Marshmallows…and Bacon (Cheat Treat!!)

I know.  It sounds cray cray.  But years of Kirkwood tradition and countless converts says it’s not.  (P.S…if you don’t know me, Kirkwood is my maiden name.!)  Growing up I would tell my friends about how we ate crackers, cheese, and marshmallows at my house…thinking it was completely normal.  It didn’t take many confused looks to realize that I was wrong.  However, I would promptly invite them over (because my parents loved to cook for my friends), we would broil up a few of these beauties….and we made them believers!!  In FACT, Mr. Rodgers himself has become a believer…and it was his idea to create this post when we were trying to decide on a treat for date night.  🙂

Okay, now a confession.  Kirkwoods ourselves are converts to this concept as well!!  I think of it as Kirkwood tradition because I have never known my family without said tradition.  However, before I was born, my dad’s sister married my uncle Nic…who I have also never known life without.  And he introduced my family to his Anderson tradition.  And the rest is history.  I love my Uncle Nic.  And I love this recipe.  It is perfection.  And now I am proud to say, this is no longer simply an Anderson/Kirkwood tradition…it is now an Anderson/Kirkwood/Rodgers tradition.  I even added a few twists.  Yep.  You guessed it.  BACON.  I figured if we were going to be naughty and eat a treat…we might as well go all out and really eat a treat haha.

Growing up, we ALWAYS made this with saltine crackers.  However, since Mr. Rodgers loves to experiment, he suggested we try it with all different types of crackers.  If we had a bigger budget, we probably would have grabbed even more.  Personally, I wanted to try this on giant Cheese Its.  But we narrowed it down to three types.  At the end, I will reveal our thoughts on all three so that you can decide what you want to try for yourself.  Or maybe you want to try them all!!  Let me know what you like best 🙂 This is a treat you don’t want to miss!!

So, here’s what you need: (For 3 or 4 people)

  • 20 Crackers (Traditionally Saltines.  We also tried with Triscuits and FlipSides)
  • 10 Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Cut in Half (Cracker size!!)
  • 10 Large Marshmallows, Cut in half
  • 5 Slices Cooked Bacon, Cut into bite sized pieces (optional)

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Preheat your broiler.
  2. Prep all your goodies!!
  3. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Lay out your crackers in a single layer.
  4. Top each cracker with a slice of cheese, a piece of bacon (if you are using it), and half a marshmallow (cut side down.)
  5. Slide it under your broiler.  Leave the oven door propped open slightly and keep an eye on it constantly cause this happens fast!!  Cook until cheese is melted, marshmallows are puffing up, and the top of the marshmallows are toasted and brown.  About one minute, maybe two.
  6. EAT AND BE AMAZED!!!

So….after our experiment, here are our thoughts on the crackers:

Saltines:  Best flavor!!!

Sea Salt and Black Pepper Triscuits: Best crunch!  But flavor a little overwhelming.

FlipSides:  Most trendy!  (Pretzel is so in right now!)  But just not quite the flavor of those classic Saltines!

Try it…what crackers can you think up that would win with this combo?!

PhotoHere’s the crackers we experimented with…and our creations…

Photo (3)Half with bacon….

Photo (1)Half without!!  And now, after they hung out under the broiler a couple minutes….

Photo (4)

BAM!!  How gorgeous, melty, and toasty is that?!  You have the crunch of the cracker, the goo of the cheese, the slight crunch and salty smokiness of the bacon, and the super sweet creaminess of the marshmallow with just a little more crunch on top with the toasted top!  It’s layers!!  And again I say…it’s perfection!!  Again, we have with bacon…

Photo (2)And without!  And honestly I can’t way which I love better, because they are both so heavenly!!  I love the tradition of the original, which really doesn’t NEED anything.  However, bacon never HURTS anything, does it?!  😉  Both glorious.  And up for you to decide.

Photo (5)Pretty!!

Photo (6)Melty.  Yummy.  AAAAAH.  I told myself I would start eating healthy again today.  But this is testing my resolve.  I better end this post now.  Okaaaaay bye!

Stuffed Acorn Squash (Fall Perfection!!)

Stuffed Acorn Squash 4

I try new recipes at least three times a week, and love them 90% of the time. However, it is very rare that I declare them perfection.  Here it is…I’m gonna do it.  This recipe is PERFECTION!!!  I mean…how often is it that you have been eating the leftovers for three days straight, and you are still disappointed when they run out?!  My husband agrees completely…it has officially been added to the Rodgers Family Favorites 🙂  Weirdest thing is…tomatoes make me want to vomit a little…and this has tomatoes in it…and I didn’t even notice them I loved it so much.  That’s how you know its REAAALLLLLYYYY good! And great thing is…if you watch your labels carefully, this can be totally gluten free 🙂

Recipe adapted from eatingwell.com

What you need:

  • 3 Acorn Squash
  • 1/2 Roll of Pork Sausage (I used Sage Sausage)  Note: original called for 5 oz of bulk turkey sausage, if you want to make it a little liter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder (or more if you want a kick)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Carton cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Several dashes hot red pepper sauce
  • 1 Cup Cheddar cheese, shredded (or cheese of choice)

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut the squash in half horizontally.  Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Bake squash cut side down in a greased dish for 45 minutes, or until nice and tender.
  4. While your squash is baking, heat and grease a large skillet or pot over medium heat.  Brown your sausage.  You can drain if there is extra grease but I didn’t feel the need to 🙂
  5. Add onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. (3-5 minutes).  Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in tomatoes, beans, salt, and hot sauce and stir, scraping up any yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.  Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes “break down,” about 12 minutes.
  6. When your squash are ready, take them out and reduce the heat to 325 degrees.  Fill the squash halves generously with your sausage filling and top with cheese.  Put them back into the oven until your cheese is melty, about 10 minutes.
  7. Eat, be shocked…add to your list of favorites 🙂

Stuffed Acorn Squash 2

Warm gooey cheesy goodness, and pretty stinkin healthy too!!

Stuffed Acorn Squash 3 Stuffed Acorn Squash 1

Gluten Free Kielbasa and Cheese Pasta!

Gluten Free Kielbasa Pagodas

Comfort food!! My favorite! This is a quick and easy dish that I often make at work, it gives me my protein and the satisfaction of a cheesy pasta…without the gluten that, unfortunately, I have discovered my insides are not fond of.  Sad day…  Oh wait…over it!! Cause you know what?! I declare that gluten-free does not have to mean delicious-free!

If you or someone you know is attempting a gluten-free lifestyle…and if you love macaroni and cheese and all that yummy comforting childhood food but want to avoid the wheat and that mysterious orange death powder…give this one a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂

What you’ll need:

  • 6-8 ounces of your favorite uncooked gluten-free pasta.  (Pictured is corn/quinoa blend pagodas. I’ve also made this recipe with gf macaroni…that was my favorite.  Be creative, you could certainly use spaghetti or even spaghetti squash!)
  • 1 lb fully cooked turkey kielbasa (or smoked sausage of choice), cut into slices.  Double check your package to make sure its gluten-free! According to Google it looks like Hillshire Farms is a safe brand.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (I am a “more is better” girl when it comes to garlic.  Can I get a witness?!)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1 C fresh or frozen peas, or half a bag of frozen broccoli
  • 1 C (4 oz, or more to taste) cheddar or jack cheese, shredded
  • A few good cracks of fresh black pepper

The process:

  1. Read the package on your pasta, and get it cooking.  I would follow the instructions closely on this one…gluten free pasta can be finicky and you don’t want to end up with mush 🙂 Note: if your pasta gets done before your sauce…make sure to toss it with some olive oil so you don’t end up with a pasta brick 🙂
  2. While you wait for your pasta, melt your butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Toss in your kielbasa slices and garlic cloves. Cook until your kielbasa is starting to brown, but be careful! You don’t want your garlic to burn!!
  3. Combine cornstarch and milk until smooth.  Gradually add it to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Add peas or broccoli.  Cook and stir until it reaches desired thickness…probably 2-5 minutes.
  4. Add in pasta and cheese, and stir until it is all combined, melty, cheesy, thickened goodness!!
  5. Eat.  Be pain-free.  Enjoy!

Verdict: This meal makes me happy because I love pasta, cheese, AND kielbasa.  I thought I was giving up pasta when I decided I should give up gluten.  NOT SO!  I have made this twice with minor differences between the two…and definitely recommend the use of gluten-free macaroni, and cheddar cheese! If I do pagodas again I will cook less so the sauce covers the noodles better…which is why I changed it to “6-8 oz uncooked pasta” from the original “8 oz pasta.” Feel free to try adding your favorite herbs and spices and let me know how it goes!!

Here’s some more pictures of the process!! I put the recipe first cause I always scroll through to the recipe at the end when I am using recipes from other blogs, and I get annoyed having to pass all the pictures! But for you visual learners, here ya go!!

Cook your gluten-free pasta according to package instructions, drain when ready and toss with olive oil if sauce is not done.

While waiting for your pasta to finish cooking, brown your kielbasa and garlic in the butter!

Combine your milk and cornstarch and gradually stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil and add veggie of choice.  Stir, letting thicken for 2-5 minutes.

Add in pasta and cheese and stir until well combined and melty!!! Serve hot and enjoy peace of taste buds and peace of digestive system!

 

 

 

Creamy Avocado Enchiladas!

 

Oh my gosh.  Seriously.  Eat these.  I’m not kidding.  Do it.  I thought that I didn’t like enchiladas.  Until I ate these ones.  Life.  Changed.  FOREVER!

The picture doesn’t do it justice.  Bare with me as I learn to take photos…and wait for a camera I can use other than my little 3GS’s camera. 😉 I am SO thankful for my iPhone…but as far as iPhones go, its slightly ancient and the pictures I take are proof 😉

Anywho…on to important business.  FOOD!  Thank You Lord for Pinterest…or I never would have discovered my avocado enchilada love! And thank you to closetcooking.com for being the wonderful soul who first pinned it.  I am forever in your debt.

Here’s what you need to make these beauties:

Note: For the sauce you need a food processor or blender to get it really creamy! However, I recently broke mine, so I mixed the sauce ingredients in my KitchenAid mixer to get it as creamy as possible.  My husband suggested that.  He’s a genius.   Obviously, if you do it that way its going to have some more chunks in it.  It still worked smashingly…you just might want to make sure you chop your jalapeno and such a little smaller 🙂

  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 1 Cup salsa verde
  • 1/2 Cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 4 avocados, divided
  • 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (or if you don’t have a food processor…chopped up as tiny as you can get it! Feel free to remove the seeds and ribs if you don’t want to bite in to one, or if you want it less spicy.)
  • 1 Clove garlic (refer to my advice on the jalapeno!)
  • 1 tsp Cumin (It says toasted and ground. I just used the powder and it tasted great.  If you wanna toast and grind your own…go for it and let me know how you did it and how it tastes!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I hate it when recipes say that.  I used 1/2 tsp of salt if that helps.)
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (or you can do what I do…go to the produce department and buy cilantro paste and give this sauce a few good squeezes of it.  The stuff tastes exactly the same as the fresh herb, and yet will stay good for weeks in the fridge in contrast to the few hours you seem to get out of a bunch of cilantro leaves)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 4 Cups shredded cooked chicken (I baked 4 chicken breasts with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs for about 40 minutes.  It was just the right amount.)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (Don’t throw away those white ends! Stick them in a cup of water in your window and they’ll grow you a constant supply!)
  • 2 Cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 tortillas, 7 inch (I couldn’t find any that said “7 inch” on them…so I just used “small taco” size)

How to do it.  It’s really pretty easy!!

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop up your jalapeno, garlic cloves, and cilantro and peel your avocados.  Believe it or not, I’ve known people who try to peel their avocados with a knife or vegetable peeler.  Don’t do that.  Cut it in half long ways, take a big spoon and scoop between the skin and the flesh, starting at the big end.  It will pop right out.  You probably already knew that, but I just had to make sure.  If you don’t have a food processor or blender and are preparing your sauce in a mixer or by hand, smash two of your avocados in a bowl, like you’re making guacamole.  The more you smash, the creamier it should get 🙂  But read closely, ONLY SMASH TWO OF THEM!! You need to dice the other 2 🙂 Once your veggies are prepared, you are ready to begin combining things with ease!  If you are slightly OCD like me, you can also pre measure everything at this step too and have it all waiting in cute little bowls 🙂
  3. In your blender, food processor, or mixer, add your chicken broth, salsa verde, sour cream, the first 2 avocados (the smashed ones if you’re using a mixer), jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice.  Blend, process, or mix it until it’s as creamy as possible (or whatever consistency you decide you want it.  🙂 ) Now…admire its beautiful color.  Green is my favorite 🙂
  4. Now take half of that sauce and mix it with your shredded chicken, 2 diced avocados, green onions, and half of your cheese.  I had a total of about 4 Cups of sauce…so about 2 Cups should be going into this mixture 🙂
  5. Coat the bottom of a 9X13 pan with some of the remaining sauce, I used about a Cup.
  6. Wrap the chicken mixture in the tortillas burrito style, and place them seam side down in the saucy dish 😉
  7. Pour any remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas, and cover them with CHEEEEESE! Confession…I think I forgot the cheddar cheese here…but it still seemed to be PLENTY of cheese and was magically delicious…so if you don’t have quite enough cheese…don’t fret, it will still be a success!
  8. Bake in 350 degree oven until the cheese has melted and the sides are bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Eat.  Enjoy.  Be changed!!! 😀

Here’s a picture of my end product.  It’s not very pretty…but in real life it was gorgeous…and DELICIOUS! Trust me, it’s true.