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Dine In: Ice Cream in a Bag


Ice Cream in a BagOne of my sons’ favorite things to do in school, mainly in the lower grades, was to make ice cream in a bag.

I know they did it in preschool, again in kindergarten and probably even in first grade since they both had the same wonderful, bubbly, creative teacher.

Ice cream in a bag sounds weird, but it’s super fun for kids (adults too!), and it is a tradition we repeat every summer on the back porch.

We’re going to do it again on Friday night after dinner.

Seriously, there’s nothing better than a good sit on the back patio with the dog chasing crickets around in the yard, the solar lights flickering and everyone I love gathered in one place.

You can add extra goodies to this recipe. Just be aware that it might alter the way it freezes a tiny bit. Each bag makes an individual serving.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ingredients:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs sugar
4 cups crushed ice
4 Tbs salt
2 quart-sized zipper-lock plastic bags
1 gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic freezer bag

Directions:
Mix the milk, vanilla and sugar together in one of the quart-sized bags.

Seal the bag tightly, pressing out excess air. If you leave too much air in the bag, you might have a mess on your hands during the shaking process.

Place the quart-sized bag inside another of the same size to help prevent ice or salt from leaking into your mixture. Place the double-bagged mixture into the gallon-sized bag and fill with ice. Then, sprinkle salt on top.

Press out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap the bag in a towel; shake the bag vigorously for 5 to 8 minutes or until the “ice cream” has formed.

Pour into a chilled bowl and eat immediately.

Serves 1

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 112, Calories from Fat: 23, Fat: 3 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 58 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 17 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Posted in: Cooking, Dine In, Kids


Shop the Sale: Rotisserie-Style Chicken


Rotisserie-Style ChickenIf I had a dime for every time I’ve made a recipe that calls for a rotisserie chicken, I’d have enough to buy a truckload of whole fryers and make rotisserie-style chicken myself.

Buying a whole fryer is one of the very best values I think you can get for feeding your family. You get white meat, dark meat, breast meat, legs, thighs, everything…because you get the whole shebang. This week, whole fryers are on sale, so take advantage and stock up. You can freeze them before you cook them, or you can freeze the meat after you prepare it rotisserie-style in your slow cooker, no actual rotisserie needed. The meat is great for tacos, enchiladas, casseroles, chicken salads and almost anything else you can imagine.

Even better, preparing rotisserie-style chicken is easy to do, and it won’t heat up your whole house. Goodness knows it’s hot enough in the South without turning on your oven.

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole fryer, about 5 lbs
2 Tbs butter, softened
2 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs garlic salt
1 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Rinse fryer and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken with butter. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, garlic salt, onion powder and pepper together. Sprinkle over the chicken, patting gently to help the spices adhere to the chicken.

Place chicken in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours, or on high for about 5 hours.

Serve as a whole rotisserie chicken, or shred the meat for use in other dishes.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 576, Calories from Fat: 217, Fat: 24 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 260 mg, Sodium: 266 mg, Carbohydrates: 3 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 83 g.

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Dine In: Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese


Cauliflower Mac and CheeseLast Friday night, I was craving a big, heaping bowl of mac and cheese like no one’s business. It was the only thing I could think about. I needed it. I wanted it. However, I didn’t want to go to the store and get macaroni (I’m lazy on Friday nights, what can I say?), so I had to find something else to use.

I had cauliflower.

I went online to find a recipe for cauliflower mac and cheese because I’d heard someone else doing it at some point, and I found that swapping noodles for cauliflower was pretty simple. Other than that, it’s simply the same recipe.

I had my heaping bowl of cheesy, creamy goodness and enough leftovers for several more meals!

Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese

Ingredients:
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup heavy cream
2 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F, and spray an 8 x 8 dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring a large stockpot of water to a rolling boil, and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook the cauliflower florets in boiling water until they are tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. They’ll continue cooking in the oven.

Drain the cauliflower, and pat dry with paper towels.

In the meantime, bring the cream to a simmer in saucepan. Whisk in cream cheese and mustard; stir until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of cheese, remaining salt, pepper and garlic powder; whisk until the cheese melts. Add cauliflower to the pan; stir to coat. Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 171, Calories from Fat: 115, Fat: 28 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 44 mg, Sodium: 1021 mg, Carbohydrates: 6 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 10 g.

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Dine In: Pesto Salmon Packets


Pesto Salmon PacketsI love a delicious, fresh, easy dish.

I love it more when cleanup and prep-work are minimal.

This pesto salmon in foil packets fits all the criteria.

You bake this dish in foil, which seals in the flavor and moisture, and it also makes cleanup minimal.

Salmon, which is naturally high in (good) fats, is enhanced exponentially by olive oil and pesto (which contains olive oil). Even though it already contains good fats, the olive oil makes the salmon moist and flavorful, with an added kick from the aromatic pesto.

You can make these in advance, store in the refrigerator, and pop in the oven or on the grill on Friday nights.

Pesto Salmon Packets

Ingredients:
4 (6 oz) salmon fillets
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbs dried dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbs pesto, homemade or store-bought
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray 4 lengths of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Toss asparagus with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide into 4 portions onto foil, and layer in center of each piece. Season both sides of salmon with salt, pepper and dill. Layer salmon over asparagus, and then spread 1 tablespoon pesto on top. Drizzle 1 teaspoon lemon juice over each fillet. Toss tomatoes with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil; season lightly with salt. Spread over each salmon fillet. Wrap sides of foil in and roll, crimping edge to seal. Then, wrap ends upward to seal. Place foil packets on a baking sheet. Bake until salmon has cooked through, about 20 to 28 minutes. Open foil to vent and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 365, Calories from Fat: 188, Fat: 21 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 79 mg, Sodium: 179 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 38 g.

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Dine In: Barbacoa


BarbacoaWe went to a beautiful wedding this weekend. My friend and co-worker, Teresa, got married.

Teresa and her new husband, who are Hispanic, had a beautiful Catholic mass all in Spanish, followed by one of the best parties I’ve been to in a long time.

When we pulled up in the parking lot of the reception venue, we could smell dinner before we even tasted it.

On several large grills and pits, assorted meats were grilling and smoking. The smell was a celebratory, olfactory high-five to their new nuptials.

The taste didn’t disappoint either.

On a long table, set with assorted condiments like minced purple onion, shredded cabbage and chopped cilantro, were chafing dishes with steaming, freshly cut beef, a vat of simmering barbacoa and a chafer of seasoned ground beef. All the stuff taco dreams are made of.

The barbacoa was divine. Let’s be honest: true Mexican barbacoa is beef cheeks, but for this purpose, we used beef chuck roast. The result was still worthy of a celebration.

Barbacoa

Ingredients:
2 1/2 to 3 lbs beef chuck roast
1 cup white onions, sliced
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs garlic, minced
3 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup beef broth
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Spray the crockery of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together vinegar, garlic, chipotle peppers, lime juice, beef broth, cumin, oregano, cloves, salt and pepper. Pour half into slow cooker. Place chuck roast and onions in broth. Pour remaining half over chuck roast.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Shred with two forks. Place back in juices, and cook for 1 more hour.

Serve in tacos, enchiladas or any of your favorite dishes.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 716, Calories from Fat: 478, Fat: 53 g (21 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 195 mg, Sodium: 578 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 51 g.

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Dine In: Greek Slaw


Greek SlawI visited a new restaurant recently, and a side order of coleslaw came with my meal.

I’m pretty picky about my coleslaw. I like vinegar-based versions, but I don’t always like a lot of mayonnaise.

This Greek version alleviates that issue, and it will become my go-to recipe for a coleslaw. I love the crunchiness of the cabbage paired with the salty creaminess of the cheese. I think next time I make it, I’ll throw in a handful of chopped green or black olives.

We are fully into cookout and party season, so this is a wonderful addition to a backyard, back porch or back patio picnic or cookout. It would be wonderful with some grilled meats on a relaxed Friday night, under some fairy lights.

Greek Slaw

Ingredients:
1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp dried dill
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Chop cabbage; toss with feta cheese and green onions. In a small bowl, whisk red wine vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil together. Add salt, pepper and dill; mix well. Pour over cabbage mixture, and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving to let flavors blend.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 208, Calories from Fat: 165, Fat: 18 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 20 mg, Sodium: 270 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 2.5 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 5 g.

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Posted in: Dine In, Produce


Dine In: Jalapeño Sausage Balls


Jalapeño Sausage BallsI tend to get stuck in a pattern for Friday night meals. When I lived overseas in Germany, my best friend Susan and I walked down to our favorite Greek restaurant every single Friday night.

When I had kids, I continued a tradition that my mom started by serving pizza on Friday nights.

Now, I tend to use the smoker for Friday night festivities. I run home at lunchtime to put dinner on to smoke (or prep it in the morning, depending on what we’re smoking), and it’s done by the time we’re home from work and relaxing on the back porch.

I saw a smoked dish on Instagram that I wanted to try, and it only takes about two hours on the smoker. Even if you don’t have time to run home at lunch on a Friday, you can still enjoy this on your porch on Friday evening.

You can switch up the fillings, too. I have one person in my family who doesn’t like cream cheese, so he just gets cheddar. I have another who doesn’t like jalapeños, so he just gets cheese pressed into the middle of the sausage ball. I like bleu cheese, so I’ll mix that in with mine. The sky is the limit.

Jalapeño Sausage Balls

Ingredients:
12 jalapeño peppers, tops removed, seeded and pithed
6 Tbs whipped cream cheese
6 Tbs sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tbs white onion, finely minced
2 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 lbs Owens Pork Breakfast Sausage
12 strips bacon, uncooked

Directions:
Remove the tops from the jalapeño peppers. Slice a slit through lengthwise, not cutting all the way through. Remove pith and seeds.

Mix cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onions and cooked bacon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stuff each pepper with a heaping tablespoon full of the cream cheese mixture.

Using your hands, mold sausage around pepper, forming a ball and completely covering the pepper. Wrap sausage ball with two strips of bacon; secure with toothpicks.

Prepare smoker. Place sausage balls on rack, and smoke for about 2 hours or until cooked through. Alternately, place on the grill over indirect heat (the bacon will cause flare-ups if it’s not indirect) and cook through, several minutes on each side.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 460, Calories from Fat: 330, Fat: 36 g (12 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 104 mg, Sodium: 1576 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 0 g, Protein: 29 g.

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Dine In: Cheeseburger Hand Pies


Cheeseburger Hand PiesOne of our favorite family activities is to go to the drive-in movies on a Friday night.

We get there early, spread out a few picnic blankets, set up camping chairs and unpack the cooler. We have dinner there in the fading light and pack extra snacks for the movie, of course!

Having dinner at the drive-in is the best. I’ve often said food tastes the most delicious outdoors, and on a picnic blanket in front of a huge screen is no exception. After we eat, we usually kick around a soccer ball or throw a tennis ball until the sun sinks over the horizon and the big screen crackles to life.

One of the best parts is that we’re so busy enjoying each other, that phones and other electronics get left inside the car!

When the movie starts, we pile blankets in the trunk and settle in under the stars. It’s really a perfect Friday night.

I found that I can make these Cheeseburger Hand Pies ahead of time and heat them up before we go, storing them in an insulated bag to keep them warm until we’re ready to eat.

Cheeseburger Hand Pies

Ingredients:
1 lb 80/20 ground beef
1 Tbs Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1/2 cup dill pickles, finely chopped
1 (8 ct) pkg refrigerated biscuits
8 slices American cheese
mustard and ketchup, to taste
olive oil

Directions:
Mix ground beef with seasoned salt and pickles. Form 8 burger patties. Grill or pan-fry until cooked through to desired doneness.

Preheat oven to 350° F, and spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Remove the biscuits from the package. Place on baking sheet, carefully separating biscuits into two pieces horizontally.

Press bottom biscuit to flatten. Top with a burger, cheese, mustard and/or ketchup, if desired. Press the other half of the biscuit on top; fold edges of the bottom biscuit piece up to seal.

Repeat with all burgers and biscuits.

Brush with olive oil. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until biscuits are golden-brown and burgers are heated through.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 392, Calories from Fat: 187, Fat: 21 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 68 mg, Sodium: 1527 mg, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 24 g.

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Dine In: Steak and Cheddar Quiche


Steak and Cheddar QuicheSunday is Mother’s Day and while perusing recipes for this blog post, I came to realize one consistent truth: Mother’s Day is about brunch.

I love brunch. I seriously love brunch. The combination of breakfast and lunch is glorious.

This mama wants a steak for Mother’s Day though.

Then, I got to thinking. How can I have steak at brunch?

Well, I could just grill one and serve it aside fluffy scrambled eggs, or grill a steak and slap a fried egg on top and let the golden yolk smother the steak in velvety goodness.

Or, I could embrace the Mother’s Day brunch and make a breakfast full of steak, eggs and cheese, pretty much all my favorite things!

The beauty of this recipe is that you can grill a HUGE steak on Friday or Saturday night, enjoy it as a meal, and then use the leftovers for this quiche. Or, when you’re grilling your Friday night steak, throw an extra cut on the flames in preparation for this recipe.

You can never have too much steak. Just don’t tell my cardiologist.

Steak and Cheddar Quiche

Ingredients:
1 lb grilled steak, diced
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 medium white onion, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs butter
8 oz Cabot Sharp Cheddar, shredded
16 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs dry mustard
sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 single-crust, deep-dish pie crusts

Directions:
Separate pie crusts, and defrost while oven preheats to 375° F. Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet. Sauté onions, garlic and mushrooms until softened. Add spinach, and heat until the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Whisk eggs and heavy cream together in a large bowl. Season with mustard, salt and pepper; thoroughly combine. Spread half of the grated cheese in the bottom of each pie crust, and then top with the vegetables. Layer the steak on top of the vegetables in each pie pan. Pour the egg mixture on top of the steak, dividing by half.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown and the filling is set.

Serves 16
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 254, Calories from Fat: 136, Fat: 15 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 206 mg, Sodium: 238 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 21 g.

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Dine In: S’mores Oreo Ice Cream Pie


S’mores Oreo Ice Cream PieI was in the mood to make an ice cream pie last weekend. I envisioned a S’mores Ice Cream pie, but when I mentioned it to my son, he said, “Oh, with Oreo ice cream?”

Why not with Oreo ice cream? We made a combination S’mores Oreo pie, and it was delicious.

The great thing about ice cream pies is that you can make any flavor combination you want. This particular pie borrows a technique from a famous ice cream dessert, the Baked Alaska. Make sure the pie is super frozen when you put it under the broiler, or it will quickly turn to ice cream soup.

Ice cream pie on Friday nights reminds me of growing up, when a bowl of our favorite frozen flavor was a weekend treat. Start it a day ahead if need be, so it has enough time in the freezer.

S’mores Oreo Ice Cream Pie

Ingredients:
1 prepared graham cracker crust
1 pint Oreo (or cookies and cream) ice cream
1 (8 oz) jar hot fudge
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup Oreo cookies, crushed

Directions:
Let ice cream soften, and stir in 1 cup mini marshmallows. Spread into the bottom of the prepared graham cracker crust; freeze until firm. Remove from freezer, and spread a layer of hot fudge over the ice cream. Put back into the freezer until fudge is firm. Preheat broiler in oven to high. Remove pie from freezer; spread with marshmallow fluff. Place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until marshmallow fluff is lightly golden-brown. Sprinkle with crushed Oreos. Either serve immediately or place back in freezer until ready to serve.

Serves 10

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 354, Calories from Fat: 123, Fat: 15 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 13 mg, Sodium: 288 mg, Carbohydrates: 56 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 37 g, Protein: 4 g.

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Posted in: Dine In, Kids


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