Jalapeno Popper Dip

Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!

Last year, a friend told me she made a jalapeno popper dip.  My interest was piqued, but I didn’t have jalapenos on-hand, so I didn’t act on that interest.  Our garden is now putting out quite a few of these lovely hot peppers, so I wanted to give this dip a try. We had company coming in for Labor Day, and I thought perhaps I’d find willing guinea pigs among my guests.  I found a recipe and tweaked it according to my preferences and the ingredients I already had in my home.  The results were scrumptious!  I will say that the original recipe I saw used green chilies in the dip as well, which would be a welcome addition.

2 pkg. cream cheese
1 c. sour cream
a couple of dashes of Worcestershire
1/2 c. shredded cheddar
6-8 fresh jalapenos, diced
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
corn chips, tortilla chips or other dippers

Combine all ingredients well.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Did I say yum?

Zucchini Pizza Pie

Since our summer months are usually inundated with zucchini, I try to prepare it in a wide variety of ways.  Most of my family agreed that this recipe is a keeper.  Once the crust in established, the rest of the dish is very flexible, so it’s a great option when trying to use what you already have on-hand.

4 c. grated zucchini
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
2 c. grated mozzarella or provolone
1 c. grated cheddar
1 lb. ground beef or pork sausage or chorizo, or whatever
1 onion, chopped
2 c. marinara sauce of your choice
1 c. bell pepper, chopped (or mushrooms, black olives, more zucchini, tomatoes, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400.

Put grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt.  Let stand 10 minutes, then squeeze out moisture.

Combine zucchini with eggs, Parmesan and half of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Press into greased 3-qt. baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes.

In large saucepan, cook ground meat and onion over medium heat until done.  Add marinara sauce.

Spoon sauce/meat mixture over baked zucchini crust.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with veggies of your choice.  Bake another 20 or so minutes, or until heated through.

NOTE:  This casserole freezes really well.

Bacon Ranch Broccoli Salad

Not too long ago, my friend, Jimmy, made this salad for his family and me for dinner.  I thought that kids across America would enjoy broccoli more if it tasted like this!  I asked for the recipe and was told that it was just broccoli and ranch dressing.  Hmmm.  “Surely it’s more complicated than that!” I thought.  I finally gave it a whirl yesterday, and no, it’s not complicated in the least.

Incidentally, this would be good with cauliflower, carrots, peas and many other garden veggies.  What an easy lunch to pack for the job!

1 bunch of broccoli, raw or barely blanched, cut in bite-sized pieces
bacon, cooked and crumbled (I think I used 4 or so slices.)
cheese, grated (I think I used about a cup.)
ranch dressing (from the bottle, from the packet or from scratch–your choice, as much as you want)

Combine above ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cheesy Chicken Bundles

I simply must share this recipe with you.  I found it while looking through some recipes, and it piqued my interest.  I had been searching for a new non-casserole, non-soup freezer meal that could be adapted for my power cooking classes.  I gave this a whirl, and it was an instant success.  Once we tried, it I realized that I had made it years ago and wrote it off because it was a hassle.  Obviously, my definition of “hassle” has changed considerably.  Plus, I now know that making a double batch yields twice as much for only one mess.

Anyway, I tweaked a couple of things, and it has worked beautifully for both my power cooking classes and my family.  I rarely buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I confess that I’ve been buying them monthly in order to put these on the menu.  Boneless, skinless chicken thighs would also work nicely.  I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine.

1 c. bread crumbs
½ c. cheese, grated (Swiss is my fave.)
½ c. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 ½ t. seasoned salt
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ c. butter, melted

Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise as though you were going to butterfly them.  The goal is to have a thinner piece of meat with which to work.

Combine bread crumbs, cheeses and seasoned salt in bowl.  Melt butter in separate bowl.

Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, then in cheese-crumb mixture.Tuck sides of chicken under to form individual bundles.

To freeze, wrap each bundle in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bag.

To serve, make sure chicken pieces are thawed.  Place bundles in large, shallow baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until topping is crispy and chicken is done.

NOTE:  If you use smaller pieces of chicken, you will have less baking time than if you use larger pieces.  If you think your pieces look smallish, start with a baking time of 25 minutes; you can always add more if needed.

Zesty Chicken

This creamy recipe is a super easy freezer meal option.  When you find chicken breasts at  a good price, buy enough for three or four of these meals, along with the remaining ingredients and you can have supper ready to cook and spares for yourself and a friend in less than 20 minutes.

If you’re steering clear of canned cream soups, you can easily make your own version for not much more time.  There are lots of recipes available online.

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg. cream cheese, cubed
1 pkt. Italian seasoning/dressing mix

Added later:  1 bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower or California medley, if desired

Add all ingredients to slow cooker, stirring to coat.

Cook on low 5-6 hours.  (Add a bag of frozen veggies last hour, if desired.)

If preferred, you can bake this in the oven, covered, at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Serve over rice or noodles.

Parmesan Cauliflower

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I’ve been on new recipe kick lately.  Does anyone else ever go through these phases?  I bet I’ve tried 10 new recipes so far this year.  I don’t know why.  It isn’t like I don’t have enough solid recipes to pull from as it is.  Oh, well.  It’s a relatively harmless pasttime, I guess.

Our family was blessed with an abundance of broccoli and cauliflower from a friend’s farm the week before Thanksgiving.  I hurriedly blanched and froze it, getting over a dozen quarts of cauliflower and about half of that in broccoli.  I like cauliflower just fine, but it’s not a veggie that I particularly crave.  I thought that surely I could find some new ways to prepare it that would really knock my socks off.  I don’t know that this recipe quite does that, but it really is tasty.  And super, super easy.  With the practically free cauliflower in my freezer, this hearty side dish costs us pennies per serving.  Nice.

Wash your cauliflower and cut it into bite-sized florets.  I used a quart bag of blanched, frozen then thawed cauliflower, but you could also use a head of fresh.  You just might want to blanch or steam it first to soften it a bit.

Combine the following into a paste:

1/4-1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 t.(ish) mayo
1 t.(ish) yellow mustard
dash or two of hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste

NOTE:  You might think you want to salt it at this point.  Keep in mind that parmesan is already fairly salty, so you may want to skip the salt or at least give it a taste first.

Stir the cauliflower into the paste, coating as much of the veggie as possible.

Bake in a small casserole dish, uncovered, at 350 for about 35-40 minutes.  The cheesy part will get kind of brown in the oven.  Feel free to cover it with a piece of foil if you’re afraid it will get too dark.  When the cauliflower is crisp-tender, it’s ready.  Cool for a bit before eating.

$12.00 (NOT!!) Cheesy Meatball Soup

This recipe came from my friend, Laura, and I think of her and our high school days every time I make it.  She and I have a lot of things in common, but there are some things in which she and I are polar opposites.  I still respect who she is, though, and I remember with fondness the common bond we share from our growing-up years.

Back to the soup:  There are all kinds of ways to cut costs in here to bring it down from a $12 soup to a $6 soup.  🙂  This is a great soup to make the day before you need it, because it re-heats nicely.  Plus, almost everyone loves cheese and meatballs.

The notes in parentheses are the things I do to reduce the cost.

2 lbs. cooked meatballs (You can buy prepared meatballs, or you can make your own, which GREATLY reduces the cost of this soup.  There’s a meatball recipe below.)
2 cans beef broth (15-ish oz. each)
2 cans water
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. cubed potatoes
1 c. chopped celery (I usually replace the celery with broccoli, and I add the broccoli when I add the meatballs.)
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. corn
1 t. hot sauce
1 jar Cheez-Whiz (I make my own version of this OR I just make a cheesy white sauce like I would for homemade macaroni and cheese.  You will need about 2-3 cups of cheesiness.)

Bring broth and veggies to a boil, simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
Add meatballs and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Stir in Tabasco and Cheez-Whiz just before serving.

Serve with more Tabasco, if desired, and tortilla chips.  I also like to have a tossed salad with it.

Meatballs:
2 lbs. ground beef or ground pork
1 t. Tabasco
1/2 c. bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 t. dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Mix and shape into small meatballs.  Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes, or until done.

NOTE:  Although the soup itself does not freeze well, these meatballs freeze beautifully, so feel free to double the recipe and tuck some baked meatballs into the freezer (which will make this soup much less time-consuming next time).