Roasted Grape Tomatoes

If you love tomatoes as much as I do you will love this delicious way to eat them. Roasting them brings out their sweetness. Enjoy!

1/2 c cider vinegar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 lb. grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
Assorted crackers and Gouda Cheese

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, brown sugar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 15×10 baking pan. Sprinkle with parsley.
Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 12-14 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Serve with crackers and cheese.

Buttermilk Corn Bread

I don’t normally like most corn breads; it seems that most are very dry. This corn bread, which I make often, is moist with a hint of sweetness. I like to serve it with spaghetti, BBQ or fish, but it is definitely good anytime. If the corn bread starts to burn around the edges while baking just lay a piece of tin foil across the top.

1 1/4 C cornmeal
1 C all-purpose flour
2/3 C packed brown sugar
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 C buttermilk
3/4 C. vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour into a greased 9 inch round or square baking pan (pan will be full). Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Red Pepper & Feta Dip

Simple and delicious! This can be thrown together very quickly, but needs to chill a few hours for the flavors to come together.

1 pkg. (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 C. chopped roasted sweet red peppers
1/2 C. crumbled feta cheese

Beat cream cheese and milk in a large bowl until smooth; gently stir in red peppers and feta cheese. Serve with vegetables or your favorite crackers.

Spicy Sausage Penne

If you love sausage and peppers you’re going to love this recipe. It’s a quick and delicious sausage and pasta dinner that will become a favorite for you. Use whatever pasta you would like; I think the penne works best in this dish. If you don’t have plum tomatoes use what you have on hand just make sure you take the seeds and pulp out if you are using a larger tomato so the sauce is not too runny. Also before I add the tomatoes and the cream I like to deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. This is to “get all the good stuff” off the bottom of the pan and to add alittle more flavor to the dish. Enjoy!

8 oz. uncooked penne
1 lb Italian sausage links,
cut into 1/2 in. slices
1 med. onion, chopped
1/2 med. sweet red pepper,
cut into thin strips
1/2 med. green pepper,
cut into thin strips
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion, red and green peppers over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender; drain. Add the garlic, fennel, salt, pepper flakes and pepper; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes and cream; heat through. Drain pasta; add to sausage and onions. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

Haricots verts. Have you heard of them? They are French green beans; longer and thinner than the green beans we are used to here in the US. This recipe calls for haricots verts, but if you can’t find them in your grocery store don’t worry you can use the thinnest green beans available. They will just require a longer cooking time. Enjoy!

2 lbs. haricots verts, trimmed
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. shallots, halved lengthwise
and peeled
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Cook green beans in boiling salted water to cover 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain. Melt butter and brown sugar with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add shallots, and saute 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add vinegar, and saute 10 minutes or until shallots are golden brown and tender. Increase heat to medium-high; add green beans, and saute 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Sweet ‘n’ Tangy Chicken

Okay, dig out your crock pot from the back of the cabinet to make this delicious recipe! If you don’t own one you don’t know how much of a help this appliance can be.
The aroma from this dish while cooking will make you excited for dinner again. Most of the ingredients you probably already have on hand, so it will be a cinch to put together. You can replace one of your boring weekly chicken dinners with this one. I serve this with white rice, but it would go nicely with mashed potatoes, or egg noodles. Enjoy.

1 med. onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3lbs boneless, skinless chicken
2/3 c. ketchup
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. cold water

In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine onion and garlic; top with chicken. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, chili powder, basil, salt, pepper and hot sauce; pour over chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours or until chicken juices run clear. Remove chicken and keep warm. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over chicken.

Green Velvet Cupcakes

This one is for St. Patty’s Day, and they are delicious. The recipe is from the Cooking Channel’s website swapping red food coloring used at Christmas time for green. I don’t normally make the red, but thought this would be fun and different. For this recipe they used a food processor to mix the batter. This was a first for me, and it worked great.

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons green food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, mix the sugar with the eggs, oil, yogurt, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Blend until just incorporated.

Place paper cupcake liners into a muffin pan, and divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, pouring only halfway so the batter doesn’t overflow. Bake, rotating halfway through, for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and let cool before frosting.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and butter and beat until completely combined. On low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, then beat at highest speed until thick and creamy. Add the vanilla to the mixture and beat until combined.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits

Grits. Never thought I would be eating grits. Here in the south, shrimp and grits are very popular, and the grits are made with cheese. Ahhhh! Put cheese on anything and I will eat it! I’m not sure I would like plain grits though; I need flavor with my food. If you love cheese and haven’t tried grits yet, give these a try and you will be a fan.

4 Tbsp. butter
4 1/2 c. milk
4 1/2 c. water
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. uncooked quick cooking grits
1 (8 oz) block sharp white cheddar
cheese, grated

Bring 2 Tbsp. butter, and next 5 ingredients to a boil in a medium size Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter until melted. Serve immediately.
Yields – 8 1/2 cups

Chicken Marinara with Pasta

Have you ever looked at a recipe and thought it looked complicated so you didn’t try it? This was one of those, so I changed a few things and it came together easier. The first time I make a recipe I make it as it is written and make changes from there. I need to see where the author is coming from. Not all changes work, but after trying a few things you tend to figure out what ingredients are good additions to most dishes. Sometimes it may just be a preference like in this recipe, it called for a can of chopped tomatoes, but we preferred the crushed tomatoes. Not every recipe is one you will like, but if there is something you can add or change feel free to.

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried basil, divided
2 tsp. dried oregano, divided
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can(28oz) crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
8 oz. fusilli or rotini pasta
1(lb) boneless, skinless chicken
breast, cut into 1/4″ wide strips
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Mix 1 tsp. basil and 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper; sprinkle over chicken. In a pot heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook stirring, until no longer pink in the center, 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add last 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan. Add onion, garlic, and the rest of the basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir and cook for about a minute. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to the pan and toss with pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving.
4 servings

Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup

I watched Giada DeLaurentiis make this on the Food Network a few years ago, and I have been making it since. It is quick and delicious. Perfect for a cold night with a slice of fresh baked bread, or a grilled cheese sandwich. Sprinkle Parmesan or feta cheese over a bowl full…..Yum! If you don’t plan to eat this right away add the pasta 10 minutes before you do which will prevent the pasta from swelling so much. Remember to adjust the amount of pepper flakes to your family’s taste for heat.

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26oz) jar marinara sauce
2 (14oz) cans chicken broth
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 C. pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.