Quesco Blanco and Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This afternoon it was 3:pm and I had no idea what was for dinner. Standing in front of my deep freeze I decided we had a lot of chicken breasts so I'd do something with them. I brought them into the house and soaked the package in warm water in the sink to thaw while I checked email and thought about what to do with them.

Inspecting my refrigerator I decided I wanted to use up some of the Queso Blanco cheese and after some more thought I decided to fashion a stuffed chicken breast out of one of my favorite foods; Jalapeno Poppers. The end result was a delicious dish I'm proud to share! Enjoy.

Queso Blanco & Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken Breasts

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
6 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. queso blanco cheese
3 small jalapeno's
1/3 c cooked, crumbled bacon or real bacon bits
Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Inbetween a piece of wax paper, plastic wrap or plastic baggy pound your chicken breasts to flatten. I simply use a rolling pin and it works great! In a food processor, chop the jalapeno's until they are finely chopped. I keep our jalapeno's in the freezer as we harvest them from our garden. I did a handful at a time, which is why the photo looks like there is more than 3. They were also frozen, hence; the ice on the sides.

Place the cream cheese in a microwavable bowl and soften 30-60 seconds depending on your microwave. Add the jalapeno puree' and the bacon bits. Slice the queso into 6 slices. Place a slice of queso blanco and 1/6 of the cream cheese mixture onto a chicken breast. Roll up tightly and secure with toothpicks. Finish all six and roll in fine, seasoned bread crumbs. (I make my own, but you can use store bought - Panko is good.)

Bake on oiled foil or a seasoned pampered chef baking stone for about an hour at 375 or until your chicken is done. Serve hot.

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Mmmm Artichokes!

One of my all time favorite foods are artichokes. When they go on sale at the grocery store (which is $1.50 each around here) I get a couple and try to time the preparation of them when none of the kids are here so I don't have to share... LOL. My son doesn't care so much but my youngest daughter (11) adores them too!

Last night the kids were all busy with friends and I was all alone on a Saturday night. It was time for an early dinner and since it was just me I decided to have my artichokes.

Use a scissors to cut off the triangle shaped leaves because frankly? They hurt! The tips of the leaves are sharp and yes, they can puncture your thumb and draw blood! Cut off damaged dry leaves at the bottom, the tips of the triangles, and using a large knife you can sheer off the top of the artichoke too.

Some people only believe in steaming them... me? I go for 'quick' and 'easy' which for me is boiling. I place them in a pan of water that almost covers them, top it with the lid and put it on high. When it comes to a boil I turn the heat down a bit and let them simmer until they are soft. Usually I go do something else and come back to them after about 20-40 minutes when I remember them. *wink* At that point I drain them and lay them upside down on a towel to completely drain the leaves of excess water.

While they finish draining I melt 1/2 stick of real butter and add about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice to the butter. Pull off the leaves one by one and dip them into the melted butter, scraping the artichoke flesh off the bottom portion of the inside leaf. You don't bite the leaves, you don't chew them. You simply scrape the soft flesh from the base and place the leaf in a discard pile.

When you get to the center of the artichoke you've reached the best part. The heart. There will be a soft center with fine hairs all leaning towards the center. Using your finger or a spoon you can gently push around the edge of the center and pull it out. Do not eat this part as the little hairs are irritating. Discard the hairy center and the remaining heart is yours for the taking. Dipped in butter and finished off in about 4-5 full bites.Print Friendly and PDF


A Crumb Donut Imitation

While surfing the internet one night I found these. Now, I love my coffee in the mornings, but I can just imagine how amazing these might taste with it. Don't you think? I don't have pitted dates in my cupboard right now or I would make these. Instead, I'm adding it to my collection here so I can make these when I pick up some dates. I can almost taste them right now... Yum!

Tastes Like Hostess Crumb Donuts Cookies

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup very soft, pitted dates
1/2 cup finely shredded banana squash
1/2 cup shredded coconut
More shredded coconut for rolling
Splash olive oil
1-2 tbs nutmeg
Sea salt

Put almonds in food processor and process to very fine
pieces. Add dates, a little at a time. Add splash of olive
oil, a little salt and a little vanilla. The mixture will
look like very coarse meal at first, and then all of a
sudden it will come together in one big ball.

Take the big ball out of the food processor and, using
your hands, mix in the shredded squash, the nutmeg and the
shredded coconut until it is all mixed in. Taste and add
more coconut or nutmeg if desired.

Roll the mixture into small balls, and roll in shredded
coconut to cover. Place on a plate in a single layer and
chill in the freezer until firm. After they are firm, you
can put them in a container; they will keep for a very
long time in the freezer.
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Review Time! This time a Rice Product

Just a heads up on a product that is both affordable and good! Rice-A-Roni's 'Nature's Way' Long Grain & Wild Rice is a keeper.

For about $1.20 a box it's in almost anyone's budget but it doesn't taste like it. It's full of flavor and has just right amount of spices.

Prepared as it says on the box, it's a great accompaniment to any fish - especially salmon. It's also great with any chicken dish. I like to serve both the rice side dish and steamed broccoli with lemon butter. They compliment each other and the dish being served.

Another 'cheater' meal I learned when I was about 12 years old is to take a box of long grain and wild rice and mix it with a can of mushroom soup and a can of water (yes, you use the seasoning packet that comes with it too). Place into a greased 13X9 pan and top with 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Bake about 45-60 minutes. So easy and yet so good.Print Friendly and PDF


How to Make Toffee Coated Popcorn

Although I have never liked caramel popcorn (not even Cracker Jacks - I can't eat it - yuck.) I love 'toffee' coated popcorn. I used to make it about once a year but now it seems I'm making it about every month! I've made twice so far in September.

I like it heavily coated so I make sure to make a lot of the toffee and use barely enough popcorn. The more toffee the better!

Toffee Coated Popcorn

2 t canola oil
1 c white corn syrup
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c water
1 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1-2 bags microwave popcorn

Combine the oil, syrup, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and cook and stir until it's thick and the color of a penny. If you have a thermometer you need to get it to 300 degrees. If you are like me and use the ice water method, you want a teaspoon of the mixture to be at 'hard crack stage' when dropped into a glass of ice water.

Cook the popcorn while the toffee is boiling so the popcorn is still warm when you coat it. At hard crack stage, remove the pan from the stove and add the vanilla. Immediately pour the candy over the popcorn, stirring to coat. At this point pour the popcorn out onto buttered foil or wax paper and let it cool a minutes. When it's cool, break it apart and place in large gallon sized zip lock baggies to store.

Yum!Print Friendly and PDF


Chocolate Brandy Trifle

Because I cook and bake so often my family is a bit spoiled and I admit that sometimes we don't finish cakes and pies. They taste awesome, but I really do bake all the time and so a cake a week isn't unusual here.

This was a chocolate cake I had left over and since I almost never throw food out (gasp!) I find other ways of using it. For this recipe use leftover (or fresh) chocolate cake of any style. A regular cake, pound cake, with or without frosting... doesn't really matter. It can even be a little dry, with the layers, it won't matter!

Tear or cut it into large cubes and place a layer of cake on the bottom of a glass trifle dish.

Drizzle brandy over the cake and top with a layer of chocolate pudding. Now add a layer of cool whip, homemade whipped topping or Rich's ready whip.

Make another layer of cake followed by the same pudding, whipped cream layer.

Continue doing this until the cake is gone and your dish is topped off. Finish with a layer of cool whip or whipped topping. I like to put chocolate curls or sprinkles on the top sometimes too.Print Friendly and PDF


Italian Salad Dressing Mix

I have a handful of these dressing mix recipes on hand because I almost never buy bottled dressings. I admit I don't always *follow* a recipe though. I use 2 or 3 and just look at them as a guide as I mix what I feel like mixing that night.

Italian Salad Dressing Mix

2 tsp oregano
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp basil
2 tsp paprika
1-1/2 tsp black pepper
2 T garlic powder
6 T sugar ( I use Splenda )

To make: use 3 tablespoons dry mix with 1-1/2 cup oil and 1/2 c rice vinegar.Print Friendly and PDF


Product Review Says: Thumbs Down *Updated July 3, 2010

La Terra Fina Chunky Artichoke and Jalapeno Dip

On my last three trips to Costco I've looked at this dip in the refrigerator section and my mouth would almost water with the thought of jalapeno's and artichokes in my favorite cream cheese dip base. Yum! I finally gave in and parted with the $8 to buy the dip.

What a mistake. I think when this dip is originally made and brand new at the factory it probably tastes fine because the onions they use haven't permeated through the recipe yet. As the containers are sealed, shipped and sent to the stores and then sitting to sell, the onions grow stronger and stronger until there is little else left to taste.

I am a HUGE fan of onions. Truly. Onion dip and potato chips can't even be brought into my house because I will devour them. I love everything onion from rings to sautee'd to soup to even eating a whole can of French's French Fried Onions as a snack! But I could not stomach this dip.

I tried it cold.
I tried it hot.
I tried it with numerous different chips and crackers.
The overpowering strong onion was a bitter shock that left an aftertaste for hours.

Thumbs down.

*Updated with a new review July 3, 2010 - it was the first time in 3 years I could stomach buying this product again as it was THAT bad. I suspect now that it was rotten onions used in that batch OR the product had gotten hot in the truck during delivery or perhaps in the store and it was refrigerated after the bacteria levels had gotten high as it really smelled and tasted like garbage.

I'm very happy to report that once I could look at it in the store without my stomach lurching and making me nauseous, I purchased it... and enjoyed a DELICIOUS lunch of pita chips and la Terra Fina dip today. Thumbs UP!!!!Print Friendly and PDF


Delicious Crumb Pound Cake

Last February I posted a coffee cake recipe and tried to convince all of you to make it. I've been craving it all week and just had to make it... and as I sat here and munched on it I decided I had to post it again just in case any of my readers missed it the first time around.

It's similar to a very popular grocery store brand that starts with an "E" in their name. I make it as a pound cake and the crumb topping is just divine.

Almost like Entemann's Pound Cake

3 3/4 c flour
1 3/4 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt

Mix in a large mixing bowl and then remove 2 cups of the dry mix to reserve for later.

Now to the rest of the flour in the mixing bowl add;

1 stick butter (not margarine)
2 eggs
2/3 milk
1 t vanilla extract

The batter will be thick, spread this into a greased and floured loaf pan (I use a little of the reserved flour topping mix to flour the pan).

Now, to the reserved flour mixture add;

1 stick butter
1/4 c brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
dash of salt

Mix this together with your finger tips until it forms pea sized crumbles. You will only use half the topping. Freeze the rest in a baggy to use on muffins at a later date! Spread the crumb topping over the top of the entire cake.

Bake at 350 degrees - For a loaf pan it will have to bake at least 60 minutes. I bake mine about 1 hour and 15 minutes until a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan to cool completely on a rack or foil.Print Friendly and PDF


Olive Salad Dressing

Have you ever looked through your recipe box or folder and found a recipe that you can't remember where in the world you found it, got it or who gave it to you? That would be this one! It sounded so good I just couldn't wait to try it, but there it sat... and sat... and sat... while life got busy and hectic.

Just tonight I saw it again and like I have perhaps four or five times before, said to myself, 'Oh! I have GOT to make this!'. This time I am copying it here. This time I won't put it aside, and won't forget. I love the flavors of all these ingredients so putting them together can only be fabulous!

Olive Salad Dressing

1/2 cup green or black olives, pitted, chopped
1 cup oil packed black olives, pitted, chopped
3-4 sweet cherry peppers or pepperoncini, seeded, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 anchovies, crushed (optional)
3/4 cup red onions, sliced
1/4 cup roasted pimientos, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon each oregano and fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate in a covered container overnight before using.
Use with salad greens, sliced pickling cucumbers and wedged fresh ripe garden tomatoes; or use as a drizzle in Italian subs.Print Friendly and PDF


Delicious Balsamic Vinaigrette

Last night I was going to go out for coffee with a friend but she remembered she hadn't ate dinner yet so we went to a diner instead (a 50's diner!) and she ordered a garden salad with chicken and a balsamic dressing. It looked so good it's all I could think about having today for lunch. Luckily I keep all the ingredients on hand so I whipped some up. Yum! So good that as soon as I was finished eating I wanted another salad!

Balsamic Vinaigrette
*amounts are approximate

2 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 t mustard
1 t brown sugar twin (use brown sugar if you don't mind the real stuff)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t salt
1/4 fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 c olive oil

Whisk together and serve over salads.Print Friendly and PDF


Sweet and Sour Shrimp (with store bought seasoning)

I've posted about my love of Sun Bird products in previous blog entries. As much as love Chinese food, I am in the majority of everyone I've spoken with at least that we hate to 'make' it. It takes a lot of ingredients, cooked at a high heat, very quickly. When you are fixing dinner while talking on the phone to the local PTA, signing school field trip permission forms, answering your husband on where his blue t-shirt is, telling another child to go feed the cats and watching your cellphone ring at the same time... well, many times your mind isn't on the preparation of the Chinese food! I've forgotten to add an ingredient (sugar), I've accidently almost burned the sauce, I've forgotten to put pea's in the fried rice... multi-tasking and Chinese food preparation don't really go hand in hand.

So! My love of Sun Bird products was born. A packaged seasoning mix you'll find in your grocery store in either the ethnic food section or where they have the rest of the packaged mixes. I can personally vouch for the Beef and Broccoli, the Orange Beef (which we only make with chicken!) and the Fried Rice is my all-time-favorite and the ONLY kind of homemade fried rice I will eat. This week I tried the Sweet N Sour Pork - but since I'm not a huge fan of pork I decided to adapt it to shrimp.

We also don't care for pineapple in our family so my second 'tweak' was that I used the juice from a can of mandarin oranges in place of the pineapple. It was a hit! Our pineapple hating family loved it.

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

1 package Sun Bird sweet and sour pork seasoning
1 onion
1 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1 carrot
1 lbs. raw peeled and deveined shrimp
2 t soy sauce
2 T oil
*substitute the juice from 1-2 small cans of mandarin oranges for the pineapple

Follow the directions on the package for mixing the sauce. Follow directions but substitute 1 lb. shrimp for the pork and only cook it for about 1-2 minutes or it will get tough. When you add the shrimp back in to the vegetables (per package directions) only cook it for another 2-3 minutes until the shrimp is just cooked. Again, it will be tough and chewy if over cooked.

Cooking the vegetables

This is what the package looks like
and when the sauce is mixed using mandarin
orange juice instead of pineapple pieces

Sweet and Sour Shrimp
using a 'pork' seasoning mix

I serve with brown rice and fried rice.

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Another Birthday... Another Cake! A Ho Ho Chocolate Cake with White Filling

Last year for my sons birthday I made him a Ho Ho Cake that was incredibly delicious (and I know 2 readers also made it and let me know how much they loved it!). Well this year I made a similar cake, but used a different filling. I LOVE this filling. Bookmark it. Print it. Copy it down.

It's a fun cake and tastes so much like Hostess snack cake - only more moist!

My schedule was so crazy this week that I used a box mix for the 2 chocolate cakes. Don't feel guilty if you do - they were wonderful!

2 - 8" chocolate cakes, cooked and cooled

White Filling:

1 c Crisco
1 c butter
4 c powdered sugar
4 t vanilla
3/4 c marshmallow creme (in the little glass jars or plastic tubs)

Cream the Crisco and butter. Add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla and marshmallow. Beat well until it looks like whipped cream (up to 7-10 minutes!)

Spoon and spread filling between the layers and microwave a tub of chocolate frosting until it's just warm - not liquid like water, but more like lava from a volcano. You want it to slowly run down the sides of the cake and harden at mid-level, not run all the way down and pool at the bottom!

Chill or freeze and serve!Print Friendly and PDF

Chocolate Nanaimo Bars

Growing up in the midwest of the US I had never heard of Nanaimo bars. I first learned of them when I became friends with someone from Canada in 1999. She loved them and said they were especially popular around Christmas time. I searched for a few recipes to do comparisons (I never follow recipes to a tee, I always use about 3 or 4 similar and then make my own versions by tweaking them.) My friend then surprised me by sending me a box mix from Canada. They were delicious! Even from a box! Thus, started my love of Nanaimo Bars.

This version is a chocolate mint version - not an official traditional Nanaimo, but good never-the-less!

Chocolate Mint Nanaimo Bars
From: Company’s Coming; 150 Delicious Squares

Bottom Layer
½ cup butter or margarine
5 Tbsp cocoa
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2 cups graham wafer crumbs (about 24 wafers)
½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup unsweetened coconut

Combine butter, cocoa and sugar in saucepan; bring slowly to boil. Stir in egg, just to thicken; remove pan from heat. Add crumbs, nuts and coconut and pack very firmly into greased 9” x 9” pan. Chill.

Second Layer
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
3 Tbsp milk or cream
1 tsp peppermint flavoring
2 cups icing sugar
green food coloring.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, adding a few drops more liquid if needed for easy spreading. Tint a light green. Spread over first layer. Chill.

Third Layer
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over low heat or over hot water.
Cool to lukewarm, beating occasionally.
Spread over second layer. Cut into squares before chocolate glaze hardens.
Chill and store in frig.

NOTE: These keep well and freeze well.Print Friendly and PDF


Bacon Wrapped Porkchops

A lot of people don't eat pork chops anymore because they say they have little flavor and the meat is a dried out piece of shoe rubber. Part of that reason is that we struggle to use the recipes we know and loved as a child that were handed down by our mothers or grandmothers. However we can't! Why? Because pork is very different today than it was then. It's bred to be leaner, so less fat means less flavor, but also, the meat cooks much faster. The recipes that called for your chop to be cooked for 40 minutes now can be cooked in almost half that time, 40 minutes for a boneless chop will result in a dried out piece of leather.

This bacon wrapped pork chop not only adds moisture and protection to the meat but imparts a delicious flavor!

4-6 pork chops (boneless)
8-12 strips of bacon
Fresh cracked Pepper
Any herb mixture you like (Emeril, Montreal, Penzey's, a BBQ rub, etc. whatever your family likes!)

Wrap the bacon around the pork chop to cover.  If they are thinner you can use 1 slice, but nice big thick chops might take 2 to cover. Grill or bake. When you bake them at 400 it takes about 30 minutes but then you'll want to broil the chops about 4 inches from the broiler until the crisp and turn golden. If you grill them they will be done when your bacon is done!

Thanks to reader "Nick" for his comments on this recipe;

"The pork chops were spectacular! I was extremely excited to see that they were not dried out as per the norm when I cook. The kids loved them too!"

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon -  An American Housewife at Amazon

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Multi Colored Cole Slaw

Such a wonderful summer side dish! I had both green and purple cabbage in the refrigerator that I wanted to use up and also happened to have some carrots leftover from my Dads garden that he had brought me (along with the green cabbage!). Perfect for cole slaw!

When it sets overnight it turns a crazy shade of purple... might be a perfect side dish for those hosting a football or basketball party for a purple colored team such as the Vikings or Lakers!

Multi Colored Cole Slaw
1/2 batch makes about 6 servings

2 c fine chopped green cabbage
2 c fine chopped purple cabbage
1 shredded carrot
1/6 c sugar
1/8 c buttermilk
1/4 t salt
1/4 c mayonnaise
3/4 T vinegar
1 1/2 T lemon juice
dash of pepper
1/8 c milk

Combine the cabbage and carrots in a bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Mix and chill at least 2 hours before serving. Will be dry at first but will turn creamy as it sets.Print Friendly and PDF