March 1, 2015

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Macaroni

I loved this pasta.  It is so thick and creamy with a deep, hearty, flavor.

These pictures are actually of the leftovers on day two (on day one, it will look extra creamy).  I ate the leftovers for lunch three days in a row and it tastes just as good as on day one.   

To help make this an easy, any day of the week dish, I used a jar of roasted red peppers.  If you prefer, feel free to roast your own.  

I love adding brown sugar to tomato-base dishes.  I learned that trick from this Cheesy Chili Mac and I have been doing that ever since.  I also add it to homemade pizza sauce.  It adds a perfect richness to the sauce and helps balance out the flavors.   

To complete this outstanding pasta, serve with a side of garlic bread.

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Macaroni
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

16 oz. elbow macaroni
1/2 Lb. lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
2 c. spinach, roughly chopped
1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 (30 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 Tbl. brown sugar
3 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. Sriracha, opt.
a few dashes Worcestershire sauce, opt.
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
salt and pepper
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion and spinach and saute for 2 minutes.  Add the chopped roasted red peppers, tomato sauce, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, cream cheese and grated Parmesan cheese.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir until cream cheese is completely dissolved into sauce.  Cover with a lid and simmer while you wait for the pasta to finish cooking.  Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain and add to the red pepper sauce.  Stir to combine.  Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese and serve.  Serves: 5-6  

base sauce recipe slightly adapted from: Creme de la Crumb

February 25, 2015

Strawberry, Banana and Pineapple Smoothie

I don't have any problems eating my veggies, but I don't eat a lot of fruit in the Fall, Winter and Spring months (unless Diet Mountain Dew with Strawberry Puree from my favorite drink stop counts as my daily serving of fruit).  I do drink a lot of those ;)  

So, a smoothie is the perfect way for me to get a lot of fruit in a single serving.  This recipe makes a thick and creamy smoothie.  If you want it to be a little less thick, you could always cut back and add only one frozen banana.  The banana flavor does stand out, but this does have a slight strawberry flavor and a hint of pineapple.

I used my food processor to blend this all together, but I think a powerful blender would work as well.  Some day I need to get me one of those.  

What ingredients do you like to add to smoothies???  

Strawberry, Banana and Pineapple Smoothie
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

2 frozen sliced ripe bananas
1 1/2 c. frozen sliced strawberries
1/2 c. pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 c. vanilla almond milk, more or less to reach desired consistency
2 scoops vanilla protein powder

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or powerful blender.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  If mixture is too thick, add more almond milk.  Divide between 2 - 3 cups.  Serve.    

February 21, 2015

Banana Bread with Crunchy Streusel Topping

I have been buying bananas at the grocery store each and every week for the past few months.  I have been waiting for some extra bananas to be sitting on the counter at the end of the week, but they have been getting eaten up . . . so, last week I bought extra bananas on purpose.  I had no intention of eating these bananas.  All I wanted was some warm banana bread. 
I used one of my favorite Banana Muffin Recipes and adapted it slightly with the ingredients I had in my fridge.  I love this recipe because it makes a light and tender bread and who doesn't love a buttery sweet streusel topping.  Plus, it has some wheat flour in it, less butter and slightly less sugar (even with the streusel topping) than a lot of banana bread recipes.  You could even cut back on the sugar in the streusel topping if you would like.  

If you have any ripe bananas sitting on your counter, you should make this for Breakfast tomorrow morning.  
Banana Bread with Crunchy Streusel Topping
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable Recipe)

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. mashed bananas (2 1/2 - 3 bananas)
5 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/3 c. buttermilk

Streusel Topping
1/3 c. light brown sugar
2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbl. cold unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, melted butter, sugar, egg and buttermilk until smooth.  Add wet ingredients to dry and stir together until just combined.

Pour batter into a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.  For the topping: Combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Add the cold butter and using your clean hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles wet sand.  Sprinkle topping over loaf.  Bake for 42-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If the top begins to get too brown, tent a piece of foil over the top while it finishes baking.   

February 15, 2015

Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Hot Pockets

 Did you guys have a good Valentine's Day yesterday?  I ate SO much sugar.  My sweetie surprised me with Sweet Arleen's Cupcakes.  I have been dying to try her cupcakes ever since I saw her win Cupcake Wars THREE different times and they just opened up a bakery here in Utah.  They were really really good cupcakes.  The Red Velvet was my favorite and that cream cheese frosting was DIVINE.

I also made my Dad this chocolate cake for his birthday, so I had to sample the filling and frosting to make sure they tasted good.  Quality control, right?  

So, today, I need something savory. 

Did you grow up eating Hot Pockets?  I did.  My favorites were the Pepperoni Pizza and the Chicken, Broccoli and Cheddar.   Well, my homemade Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Hot Pockets are WAY BETTER than store-bought and they are so simple to make.  I use frozen roll dough that has been thawed for the crust (my favorite calzone shortcut trick).  The outside gets nice and brown and crisp and the filling is hearty and creamy.   

 Check out this post, if you want to see an example of how to roll out and fill the pockets.  
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Hot Pockets
From: Jenn@eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

8 Rhodes dinner rolls, thawed 
  (two rolls per hot pocket)
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 - 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 c. frozen broccoli florets, thawed and chopped
3/4 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper
1/2 - 3/4 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 beaten egg
1 1/2 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Johnny's Garlic Seasoning (or garlic powder)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, cream cheese, chopped bell pepper, chopped broccoli, onion powder, salt, pepper and Cheddar cheese.  Stir until well combined; set aside.  Combine two thawed rolls and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Add 1/4 of the filling to one side of the dough circle, trying to leave a small border around the outside and fold over the other half of the dough.  Use a fork and crimp the edges to seal.  Cut a few slits on the top.  

Repeat with remaining rolls and filling and place each pocket onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Brush tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Johnny's Garlic Seasoning.  Bake for 15 minutes or until browned.  Makes 4 hot pockets.   

Jenn's Notes:  I seasoned my chicken breasts with lemon pepper, Italian seasoning and Johnny's Garlic Seasoning before baking.  It will seem like a lot of filling per pocket, but it ends up being just the right amount once they are baked. 

February 11, 2015

3-Ingredient Brownies

Valentine's Day is this Saturday and I consider it mandatory to eat chocolate on that day. 

When craving chocolate, a rich and decadent brownie always does the trick.

These brownies blew my mind.  I imagined they would be good, but I thought these were REALLY GOOD.  They are super chewy and fudgy.  The top gets slightly flaky like box mix brownies and the flavor and texture are exactly what I want in a brownie.  They stay fresh tasting for several days.   

I cut up the leftovers and served with some chopped strawberries and fresh whipped cream.  SO YUMMY.

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Get the mouthwatering recipe HERE on THE RECIPE CRITIC'S SITE.

February 8, 2015

Strawberry Brownies {aka Pink Valentine Brownies}

I am calling these brownies, because. . . 1.  That is what they were called on this site and 2.  The word "brownies" truly describes the texture of these bars.  If I was to call them a cake bar, you would think of them as cake, but oh no . . . these are dense and chewy like a brownie or a chewy cookie bar and they are so dang good, dangerously good to be precise.  The whole pan was gone in one day.  Oops :)   
My cute little 5 year old niece kept saying, "These are soooooo GOOD!"

Since these are made with a cake mix, you can make so many different flavors, but of course I chose Strawberry for Valentine's Day.  I will be making these all year long and YOU need to make these ASAP.   

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Strawberry Brownies
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)
1 box strawberry cake mix
2 large eggs
1/3 c. vegetable or canola oil
1/2 - 3/4 c. white chocolate chips

1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbl. milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used clear vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang for easy removal and spray with cooking spray; set aside.  Combine dry cake mix, eggs and oil and stir together until smooth and well combined.  Stir in white chocolate chips.  Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish.  Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs.  Do not overbake.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove and top with glaze.  Cool completely, cut into bars and serve.

To make the Glaze: Combine powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon of milk and vanilla and stir together until smooth.  If mixture is too thick, add a little more milk until it reaches a glaze consistency.  

slightly adapted from: Family Savvy