TEX MEX RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE ~ BLOG 365.362

Here’s another version of the infamous King Ranch TEX MEX RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE, none of which have any real affiliation to the ranch itself based on what research I can find.

TEX MEX RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 LARGE onion, FINELY chopped
2 stalks celery, FINELY diced
2 small sweet red peppers, FINELY chopped
2 cloves garlic, FINELY minced
3 cups diced or cubed rotisserie chicken
2 cans undiluted cream of celery soup (see NOTE)
1 can ROTEL tomatoes, drained but reserve juice
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder (see NOTE)
12 small corn tortillas cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheddar/Jack cheeses

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lightly spray 3 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, celery and peppers, sauteing until crisp tender.
  • Add garlic, cooking until fragrant.
  • Add chicken pieces, tomatoes and spices, stirring to combine and heat through.
  • Whisk together soups and reserved drained Rotel tomato juice until smooth.
  • Fold soup mixture into chicken mixture until well combined.
  • Line the bottom of baking dish with half of the corn tortilla strips.
  • Top with half the chicken mixture, followed by half of the cheese.
  • Repeat layers.
  • Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes until cooked through and bubbly.

NOTE:

  • You can mix up the soup flavors of your choice – I like to use a combo of cream of celery and golden mushroom or tomato bisque – really whatever is on hand works just fine!
  • I also use Pampered Chef TEX MEX seasoning instead of chili powder.
  • Rotel heat is your choice – mild, original or HOT.

LASAGNA STUFFED GARLIC BREAD ~BLOG 365.360

LASAGNA STUFFED GARLIC BREAD
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 yellow onion, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, FINELY minced
½ cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
½ pound ground beef
1 cup marinara sauce
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½teaspoon dried basil
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve a bit for garnishing)
½ c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 French baguettes
FRESH parsley, chopped for garnish
4 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, crushed to paste

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic and mushrooms and cook until tender.
  • Add your beef and season it with salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Cook until the meat is browned.
  • Drain off excess grease.
  • Add marinara sauce and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of your dish.
  • Spread the meat/tomato sauce mixture over the cream cheese.
  • Top with the mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese. 
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  • Cut the ends off the baguettes, cut it in half and then hollow out the middle.
  • Spoon in the lasagna mixture into the baguette.
  • Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, mix with the crushed garlic and most of the parsley.
  • Brush the mixture all over the baguette.
  • Sprinkle some of the grated mozzarella over all of it for the final touch.
  • Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes. KEEP A CLOSE EYE THAT IT DOESN’T BURN.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley over it.

COOKING THURSDAY ~ CREME-DE-MENTHE BROWNIES ~ BLOG 365.348

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)

  • In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
  • Remove from heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
  • Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
  • Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
  • Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
  • Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
  • Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CREME-DE-MENTHE FILLING
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
Milk (optional)

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
  • Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat in creme-de-menthe.
  • Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces

  • In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.

NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.

MEXICAN STREET CORN CASSEROLE ~ BLOG 365.339

MEXICAN STREET CORN CASSEROLE serves 4-6 adapted from Jet Tila

CASSEROLE
5 to 6 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut from the cobs
4 slices bacon, crisp and crumbled

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons canned chipotle in adobo
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
6 ounces Cotija, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1/4 cup chopped FRESH parsley

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the corn, sour cream, mayonnaise, adobo, chili powder, garlic salt, salt, pepper, bacon pieces and 3 ounces Cotija.
  • Pour into the prepared baking dish, then bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until bubbling on the edges.

CHIPOTLE CREAM DRIZZLE
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon canned chipotle in adobo, plus more if desired
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, chipotles, lime zest and juice in a blender. Add more chipotle, if desired.
  • Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Place in a squeeze bottle.
  • Remove the casserole from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with the scallions, parsley, remaining 3 ounces Cotija and a drizzle of the chipotle cream.

CARMELITAS COOKIE BARS ~ BLOG 365.335

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COOKIE BARS
adapted from https://donuts2crumpets.com/2016/03/caramelitas.html

These are awesome cookie bars with deliciously gooey layers of buttery oats, rich chocolate and creamy caramel.

2 (11 ounce) bags of Kraft caramel ball bits OR 22 ounces creamy Werthers caramels
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cups – 3 sticks melted butter
1/4 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups mini semi sweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Pour the rum over the raisins and let sit 10 minutes.

 

  • Melt the caramel bits and whipping cream together in a large saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mix together the oats, brown sugar, flour and baking soda until combined well.
  • Stir in the melted butter until you have a crumbly mixture.
  • Press half of the oat mixture in to a greased 9×13 pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Drain raisins of excess rum, saving the rum for a yummy drink later.
  • Sprinkle the raisins and chocolate chips over the baked base.
  • Drizzle the caramel over the raisins and chocolate chips (they will be swimming in it.)
  • Crumble remaining oat mixture evenly over the caramel layer.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes more.
  • Let cool for AT LEAST 4 hours on a wire rack, but the longer, the better if you can. Try to leave them over night. You can eat them sooner (if you must) BUT be warned you will just have a gooey mess, not bars!

NOTE: I like to keep these in the refrigerator! These bars are even yummier cold in my opinion!

MAPLE BACON BARS ~ BLOG 365.332

At first I thought these were going to be too savory of a dessert recipe, but hubby and the neighbors cleaned their plates and asked for more. The salty and sweet mixed together to make a tantalizing bite that leaves you craving more.They were a HUGE hit!

MAPLE BACON BARS
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 LARGE eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon WHOLE milk
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 strips bacon, diced and cooked crisp
1/3 cup small chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Cream butter and brown sugar together until smooth and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla.
  • Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt.
  • Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture.
  • Fold in the walnuts and bacon pieces.
  • Spread into a 9×9 greased baking dish.
  • Bake 25 minutes. Cool completely.

MAPLE GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons PURE maple syrup
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth.
  • Drizzle over bars and let set before cutting into squares.

RUM RAISIN PUMPKIN PIE ~ BLOG 365.328

For us, traditional pumpkin pie has become kind of boring and don’t even try and serve one of those from a big box store, they’re so boring and cardboard like. When I found this recipe I just knew this would become our new favorite! I embellished it a bit with changing up the rum to an apple rum we love. I’m also increasing the amount of raisins next time.

RUM RAISIN PUMPKIN PIE

1/2-1 cup golden raisins**(see notes)
1/4 cup apple rum
1/4 cup boiling water
2 LARGE eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon FRESH ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
15 ounce can pumpkin
8 ounces evaporated milk**(see notes)
Crust for a single crust pie – your choice, homemade or store bought

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Roll dough into a 1/8 inch thick circle and transfer to a 9 inch pie plate. Trim crust to 1/2 inch beyond the plate rim and flute edge. Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with the rum and boiling water. Let them sit 5 minutes. **(see notes)
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, brown sugar, flour, salt and spices.
  • Stir in the pumpkin and raisin mixture.
  • Gradually blend in milk.
  • Pour into crust.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. **(see notes)
  • Cool on wire rack.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers if there are some.

NOTE:

  • I like to use golden raisins which are naturally plumper and juicier than regular raisins. When I use golden raisins I use all rum and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use the rest of your evaporated milk in your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.
  • Cover edges with foil last 15-20 minutes if edges are browning too quickly.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEESE ~ RUBY CHOCOLATE ~ BLOG 365.325B

I’m sure you’ve heard of it on your favorite cooking show, even if you have no idea what it really is. I know I had and even though it was explained, it just wouldn’t register and stay in my brain.

I’m entering a charcuterie board contest on New Year’s Even and chose the desert category. I’ve been looking for not only tried and true recipe ideas, but some new and unusual ones too. I ran across a recipe for chocolate covered cheese. YEP, you read that right, chocolate covered cheese!

I decided to try it three ways, milk, dark and ruby covered with a flake salt. I skipped white as I’m just not a fan – worst discovery of 1930 in my book! I also decided to try it with multiple flavored cheeses. I’m using Jack, sharp white cheddar and a champagnes Havarti. These are the pre-event taste tests> 😀

I figured I should do the research to really understand what Ruby chocolate it. I didn’t believe the cotton colored hue of the chocolate could be natural, but for the most part I was seriously wrong!

Ruby chocolate magically appeared in 2017 after a 13 year development process in Switzerland by the Barry Callebaut company. I say magically because the details of how it is produced are kept closely guarded, but they have noted that the color and unique flavor are products of the bean’s fermentation process.

Nestle released a limited edition KitKat overseas and another version again in 2019 in the UK leaving many companies scrambling to develop their own version.

Ruby chocolate is made from Ruby Cacao Beans which are found in South America; Ecuador and Brazil as well as the Ivory Coast (West African coast). Like specific grapes grown for specific wines, the ruby cacao beans are directly influenced by their growing environment so are cultivated in very specific climates.

So far in my taste testing I’m finding that far more women appreciate the flavor than men do. MEH seems to be the overwhelming consensus of the men I know and even many women can take it or leave it. BUT, it will still be a stunning addition to my charcuterie board 😀

There are NO added berries, flavor or dyes, yet ruby chocolate tastes berry like. The fruity flavor has hints of strawberry and raspberry and is quite smooth in texture, but not milky. While it’s NOT bitter, it does have a slightly tart after effect taste. I did find this image on the company’s website that may explain it better.

 

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEESE

8 ounces aged cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Flake sea salt

  • Cut cheese into 1/2-in. cubes.
  • In a microwave, melt chocolate in 30 second increments; stirring until smooth.
  • Dip cheese cubes in chocolate, allowing excess to drip off.
  • Place on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with a few grains of salt.
  • Let stand until set.

CRANBERRY CHICKEN SALAD ~ BLOG 365.318

CRANBERRY CHICKEN SALAD

1/2 cup DUKE’S mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon paprika
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup cranberries
1/2 cup FINELY chopped celery
2-3 green onions, chopped
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken pieces
thin sliced baby Swiss cheese

  • Whisk together the mayonnaise and paprika.
  • Fold in the celery, cranberries, green onions and chicken pieces.
  • Season to taste.
  • Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.
  • Serve on croissants with the Swiss cheese.

VERTICAL SCALLOPED AU GRATIN POTATOES ~ COOKING THURSDAY~ BLOG 365.313

It’s been a while since I’ve done a cooking Thursday, but I’m excited to be back among the regular blogging crowd and having the time to sit down and write 😀

This technique is just pure genius – I wish I’d thought of it first. All the yummy gooey cheese mix seeps in between each and EVERY layer adding to the scrumptious outcome.

VERTICAL SCALLOPED AU GRATIN POTATOES Serves 4-6
adapted from https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/au-gratin-potatoes/

4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced into 1/8th inch rounds
1-2 large shallots, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons salted butter
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Preheat the oven 375°.
  • Spray a 1 quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Toss potato slices in melted butter and sprinkle with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.

  • Arrange sliced potatoes in semi-tight slanted vertical rows. Don’t make them too tight, leaving enough space to add in the shallot slices randomly between the rows and on top of potatoes wherever you can fit them.

SAUCE
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup FINELY shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Add butter and place over medium heat in small saucepan.
  • Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour until golden.
  • Slowly add in milk, vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a simmer.
  • Turn heat to low and stir in shredded cheddar cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Pour the sauce evenly over the potatoes and onions to cover them.
  • Cover the pan with foil.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.

TOPPING
1/3 cup gruyere cheese
1/8 – 1/4 cup grated parmesan
FRESH chopped parsle

  • After 45 minutes, remove foil, sprinkle with Gruyere and Parmesan.
  • Return to the oven and bake for 30-45 more minutes or until potatoes are tended and golden brown on top.
  • Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
  • Enjoy!

FRUIT (BLACKBERRY) PIE BARS ~ BLOG 365.307

We live in blackberry country and have a blackberry festival every year. You can find recipes for all things blackberry abound this time of year. A neighbor shared these bars and recipe with me and I instantly fell in love.

FRUIT (BLACKBERRY) PIE BARS

CRUST & TOPPING

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup EXTRA FINE sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  • Cut butter in with a pastry blender until the butter is evenly distributed and mixture is crumbly.
  • Reserve 1 1/2 cups for topping.
  • Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake 12 minutes.
  • Cool 10-15 minutes.

FILLING

4 LARGE eggs
2 cups EXTRA FINE sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup flour
pinch salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon PURE almond extract
32 ounces FRESH or frozen blackberries, thawed and drained well

  • Whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Add sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon zest and almond extract, mixing until well blended.
  • Gently fold in berries and spoon the mixture evenly over the crust.
  • Crumble remaining crust mixture evenly over the berry layer.
  • Bake 45-55 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Cool COMPLETELY before cutting.

NOTES:

  • These are VERY thick bars and baking time may vary depending on the fruit you use.
  • These bars work wonderfully with all flavors of fruit. Cherry and peach are excellent! Cranberry is wonderful at this time of year also. I like to mix a few blueberries and strawberries into the cranberries for a little extra sweetness.
  • I HIGHLY recommend non-seeded fruits.
  • If you like THICK crusts, double your crust and topping ingredients – just sayin’ 😀

GREEN & WHITE CHICKEN CHILI ~ BLOG 365.293

GREEN & WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, FINELY chopped
2 cans BUSH Great Northern or Navy beans, drained
1 LARGE (4 ounces) can chopped green chiles
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon celery salt
FRESH ground black pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups rotisserie chicken pieces
1 can green chile verde enchilada sauce
2 cups HOMEMADE chicken bone broth
1 cup sour cream
1-2 cups Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Chopped Jalapenos, OPTIONAL but hubby likes them on his 😀

  • Melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add onions sautéing until transparent.
  • Sprinkle with the flour, stirring until blended and golden.
  • Add green chiles, cumin, celery salt, FRESH ground black pepper, enchilada sauce and broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes until begins to thicken.
  • Alternately add sour cream and cheese, stirring to blend.
  • Fold in chicken pieces.

NOTE:

  • You can substitute canned chicken or prepare your chicken breast on the grill and then shred.
  • Cooks well in a slow cooker and can be left on warm for several hours.