A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Tag: Food (Page 1 of 2)

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night

Are you trying to squeeze the last bit of family fun into the remaining days of summer?  Why not plan a family date night?  Our family headed out to Wild Blackberry Farms for the inaugural Blackberry Festival.   While it can be difficult (but oh so worth it!) to find a night that works in everyone’s schedule, this was so worth the planning of our Blackberry Festival family date night!

I’ve had many people ask me how we knew about this particular festival.  I agree that it is hard to know about every fun event around you, but it led me to look into festival informational sites.  Each state has many local resources, but I also found a couple of sites that you can search all 50 states….

Blackberry Festival Family Date Night Activities ~

U-Pick Blackberries ~

This particular festival was a smaller fare, but not short on fun family activities.  We started out with the U-pick blackberries.  I wasn’t sure how much the younger ones would enjoy this part, but they loved it!  We had a quick lesson on which berries were ready to pick and everyone headed out with their buckets.  They had so much fun searching the rows for the ripest berries!  Also important here is that it kept them entertained for quite a long time!

What was even better was they could pick down low on their own while also enjoying a little help up from the family members.

Face Painting ~

This is the part of the festival that the littles were looking forward to the most.  In fact, it was so much fun that kids AND adults got in on the fun.  Aunt Karleigh and Pappy had their faces painted to match the kids, which made them so happy!

Food Trucks, Family Games, Petting Zoo, Photo Opps ~

Whether you are on a diet or not, you HAVE to eat the festival food!  Am I right?   So many yummy choices from lemon shakeups to bbq sandwiches of all kinds!  Of course, if you look closely at this picture you will see that some blackberries were definitely enjoyed along the way as well!

Other Family Date Night Ideas ~

While I definitely recommend festivals for a fun family date night, don’t let that keep you from planning other fun activities.  Plan a family date night once a month.  This a routine that will defnitely help to forge strong family bonds.  **On these special nights, be sure to put those phones out of place and concentrate on the family unit!

Family Date Night Ideas ~
  • Park Hopping – take a bit of time to map out local parks and go to several of them in one day.  It’s so much fun to see what equipment each park has to offer and discover which is each child’s favorite.
  • Splash Party – Put those bathing suits on…you too parents…and have some good old water fun.  Have plenty of squirt guns, water balloons, maybe a slip and slide and a small kids pool (for both swimming and refilling those water guns) on hand.
  • Bowling – Have you done this in a while?  For some reason we had ventured away from bowling and recently got back to it….the kids LOVE to bowl!
  • Scavenger Hunt – You can plan a scavenger hunt in your own house or yard or better yet, break off into teams and run around the neighborhood looking for items.
  • Glow in the Dark Fun – Purchase some glow sticks and glow jewelry (they almost always have them at the Dollar Store) and turn out all the lights for some fun family glow in the dark fun!  Add in some dancing or hide and seek!
  • Backyard Movies – There is a large assortment of video projectors available.  I do suggest going ahead and purchasing one with a screen as well.  I tried the cheaper route at first and tried to use a white sheet…the image wasn’t sharp enough with that.  Check out this video projector with screen for outdoor family fun!

  • Family Cooking – Plan, Cook and Eat the meal together.  Be sure to let the little ones help with the cooking…they will love it.  For extra fun, add some fun candles and pick some flowers from the yard for a beautifully set table.
  • Dance Party – You guys, this is a win-win here!  Not only will there be lots of giggles, but it’s a good workout too!
  • Family Puzzle – My all-time favorite puzzles are the ones that have different size pieces so everyone can take part in the puzzle.  Check out this fun family puzzle with small, medium, and large sized pieces! 

  •  Family Room Sleepover – Gather ALL of the blankets and pillows and make a big living room fort…but you also ALL have to sleep in it!  Have fun!

These are just a few fun ideas to create family fun.  The most important part of all of it is that everyone engages, you add in some good munchies and put down those phones.  Have some laugh until your belly aches fun with those kids!

Back To Those Yummy Blackberries ~

The fun continues as we decide what yummy recipes we are going to make with our buckets of blackberries.  Of course, we head straight to Pinterest!  Wow!  Seriously, do a quick search on blackberry recipes!  How do you decide on what you want to make?  I think I may have to figure out how to succesfully plant our own blackberry patch because I want to make SO MANY of these recipes!

This time around we are going with the Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler.  I prefer the cobblers where you cook the berries like this recipe from Saving Room for Dessert…Old Fasioned Blackberry Cobbler by Saving Room for Dessert.  I will be sure to let you know how it turns out!

Cheeres to each of you enjoying the rest of your summer and some good family fun!

From Our Family to Yours ~

~Mimi

 

 

Chipotle Cheesesteak Sandwich

The addition of the new griddle grill has been VERY fun so far!  Brad is having so much fun creating…and we are having so much fun indulging!  Our family loves cheesesteak sandwiches so of course he got to work on this new family favorite.   I hated to have him cook on Father’s Day, but it’s what he loves.  His chipotle cheesesteak sandwich has been added to the growing list of family favorites!

Ingredients for Sandwich ~

  • Beef shaved steak
  • Onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Provolone cheese
  • McCormick’s steak seasoning
  • Sub buns

Pretty simple ingredients for such an awesome sandwich.   I sometimes feel if it is that delicious, it has to be difficult to make…right?  (Kind of like rice krispie treats🤣)   These of course can be done on in indoor griddle as well, but I’m telling you, you HAVE to consider getting an outdoor griddle grill.  They are simply so much fun!

Prepping for the Chipotle Cheesesteak Sandwich ~

The amounts of the ingredients are obviously going to depend on the number of people you are serving.  We were cooking for 8 for this occasion.  I bought the beef shaved steak at Kroger in the packaged meat section.  Sometimes I can find it at the meat counter of other groceries and get the exact amount I want.  However, it is often hard to find (at least where we live).  You can also sometimes find it frozen.

(Four of these packages were used for our party of 8.)

We used red, green and yellow bell peppers.  You can certainly use just green, but we prefer the beauty of all the colors.  Five bell peppers were sliced and placed in a bowl for cooking time.  Slice 1-2 onions depending on the size and the flavoring you wish.  There is a package of sliced peppers and onions in the frozen section that you can use as well to save on prep time.  It is usually called the 3 Pepper Blend (depending on brand).

Griddle Time ~

The steak was liberally seasoned with McCormick’s Steak Seasoning.  For those of you who have been following me for a while, you already know Brad is what we would consider a “heavy seasoner.”  Believe me, it always tastes amazing!  After placing the meat on the grill, he chopped it while grilling.  His preferred method was cooking the meat in one sandwich proportion at a time.  It was then smothered with peppers and onions and topped with provolone cheese.

The buns were placed on the grill right before serving to give them a crispness.  You can choose to skip this step if you prefer, but I would highly recommend it crispy.  It keeps the bread from getting soggy and just tastes better!  There are many types of sub buns in the bread aisle at the grocery store, but we prefer the ones found in the deli.

The above pictue is Italian Beef (which will be coming soon!).  I have included this picture for you to see the bun.  As you can tell, we love these buns for so many different recipes….too bad they aren’t Keto-friendly!  Oh well, they are too good to pass up!

Chipotle Mayo Recipe ~

You guys, this sauce is a must to top off these delicious sandwiches.  I made a large bowl of this sauce and poured half of it into a squeezy bottle for easy application.  I was going to use the remaining for refills when needed, however, it ended up being a “dip” for chips and veggies.  Everyone loved it that much!

You can of course scale the sizing down if you do not wish to make as much.  I would go ahead and make more if I were you though.  Seriously, the kids all wanted a small bowl of it to take home with them for lunches the next day.

  • 2 cups Hellman’s Mayonnaise
  • 1 can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
  • 2 tsp. Adobo All Purpose Seasoning

Place all of these ingredients in a small blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.  I have discussed it before, but I LOVE our personal Ninja for blending sauces.  Check out the Ninja Personal Blender…it’s good for sauces as well as smoothies!

Those Squirt Bottles I mentioned ~

I use squirt bottles for so many things in the kitchen, so I love to have several.  They can be used for baking or for cooking reasons.  Squirt bottle set is a MUST in my book for many cooking needs!

This is a set I am getting ready to purchase as I love the labels.  I have a simpler set that I started out with and I tape on labels.  For instance, on Lauren’s birthday, she wanted a hot dog bar.  We made several fun sauces so each one needed to be labeled.

I also have special squirt bottles for cookie decorating.   Who knew there were so many types of squirt bottles out there, right?  These have metal tips for more intricate designs, which we use a lot when decorating cookies.   Squirt bottles for cookie decorating…makes precise decorating so much easier!

It seems crazy to write so much about sqeezy bottles, but I truly find SO many uses for them!  Do you use them in your kitchen?

Back to those YUMMY Chipotle Cheesesteak Sandwiches ~

The chipotle mayo recipe does not have to be used.  The sandwiches are delicious on their own.  Maybe you have a favorite condiment you love to use on sandwiches?  Many places slather plain mayo on the bread, which is good as well.  Also, you may be saying, “I just don’t like spicy!”  I promise you, this recipe is not spicy….it is just really flavorful!

I would love to hear any variations you may have cooked up!  Let me know in the comments below!

Happy grilling –

Mimi

 

 

Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bites

Finding snacks that are just as much fun to make as they are to eat can be challenging.  While our frozen fruit yogurt bites did not turn out exactly as anticipated, Addi, Max and Mimi had lots of fun in the kitchen and still enjoyed the end result.  This post is a tad different as I will fill you in on the right way to make these….and the wrong way! 🤣

I am notorious for just “winging it” in the kitchen.   The kids used to sit and watch at the kitchen island and marvel at how I just added a little of this and a little of that.  They have now learned that as you get more comfortable in the kitchen, it becomes easy to guesstimate while cooking.  However, sometimes one should really follow the directions.

Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bites Ingredients ~

  • 1 Cup Plain Greek yogurt
  • Handful of Frozen fruit of choice
  • 1 tsp. Honey (or more to taste)
  • Spinach (let’s get real sneaky!)

Directions ~

  • Place frozen fruit and honey (and spinach if you choose to add) in blender to puree.  We love our Ninja Personal Smoothie Blender… it makes smoothies so much easier to make.  By using the personal size, each person can choose their own fruit flavors.  Check it out here➡➡➡ Ninja Personal Smoothie blender – we LOVE it!

  • Scoop the puree into a bowl and add 1 cup greek yogurt.  Stir until well mixed.
  • Pour the yogurt mixture into a baggie (or a piping bag if you have one).  I definitely suggest a zip type baggie to alleviate any future messes.

Of course, even with a zip type baggie you can still get leakage out of the top if it isn’t sealed well.  Oh well, at least this is a recipe that is safe to eat even before you freeze!⬇⬇

  • Put in freezer for 3 to 4 hours or until solid.  These will melt fairly fast, so be sure to have them completely frozen before enjoying.

Very Important Tips ~

***Do not add water when making the puree.  This is the first step I messed up on.  I told Addi to add water to her cup to make the puree process easier.  Instead, we should have let the frozen fruit thaw a bit and NOT add water.  By adding water, the mixture came out runnier than it should have been! 

***Puree completely as small chunks will create a hole in your bag later….which you do NOT want!

***Greek yogurt helps with the consistency.  

***Let the kids use a whisk to blend.  They enjoy that so much more than a spoon and it blends better.  We started out with a spoon and switched once we realized it wasn’t mxing well.

***When letting kids help, as I highly recommend that you do, be prepared for the fact that you may not get “dots” as you originally intended.  That is ok!

***Add that spinach….it will make a very fun green color frozen yogurt bite and yet the kids won’t realize it’s coming from spinach.  Unless of course, you let them take part in the puree step as the spinach should be pureed with the fruit and honey.

End Result ~

Ok, so ours did NOT end up in the cute little button style.   I realized very early on that this step was not going as planned.  So, I put on my big girl panties and said to myself, “That’s ok!”  Afterall, isn’t learning in the kitchen part of this whole process?

Seriously, look at that determination in his face.  Who cares that they weren’t perfectly formed.  They still taste the same.  It was time for a little improvision.

We smeared that stuff around and decided to cut little squares instead.   This way, they got to use Addi’s new kid-safe kitchen knife that I talked about for her birthday post.  Did you catch that post?  If not, check it out here as I showed several great kitchen tools for kids….Great ideas for kids in the kitchen!

Does it look like she cared that her yogurt bites weren’t in the button shape?  Who can resist the happiness in that face?

Quick and Easy Version ~

While it is so much fun to create your own flavors, there is an easier version.   Using store bought Go-Gurts , snip off a small corner as mentioned earlier(do not use the precut pull tab they provide).  Proceed to squeeze small dots on wax paper and freeze until solid.  This is quick and easy!

These frozen fruit yogurt bites are a big hit with the kids and adults alike.  Everyone chooses their favorite flavors.  You can get creative and mix different fruits to make new fun flavors.  Have fun and enjoy!

Hugs ~

Mimi

 

 

Cooking Fun with Grandkids

I got the best phone call the other day!  Picking up my cell phone, I expected to hear my daughter on the other line.  To my surprise, it was my sassy six year old granddaughter, Addi.  Excitedly, she says, “Mimi, I’m making dinner tonight.  Would you like to join us?”  Are you kidding me?  Of course I do!  I’m not missing out on a night of cooking fun with the grandkids!

What was on the menu you ask?  We were served mini pot pies/shepherd’s pies and a strawberry rhubarb tart.  Wow!  It was delicious!

       

Let’s back up to Addi’s birthday earlier this year.  We always like to find one special “big” gift to get for the kids.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be big in size, but it needs to be extra special!  A lot of time is spent thinking and shopping for that perfect gift.  Addi has recently become fascinated with the kid’s cooking shows so ideas started formulating around that.

The Birthday Gift Idea ~

I have enjoyed watching various bakeoff shows with the grandkids.  Have you ever watched them?  Let me tell you, that they are nothing short of amazing.  I truly would have never realized that kids can cook as “professionally” as they do…even better than a lot of us adults!  Through this the birthday idea came to life!  Addi needed all of her own kitchen tools.

We have already done some cooking with Addi over the past couple of years, so I knew her passion for time in the kitchen wasn’t going anywhere.  After watching the different episodes of Chopped Junior and MasterChef Junior, we realized Addi was ready to step up her game a bit.

Now, first of all my thoughts went  to purchasing  Addi her very own kitchen prep and storage rolling cart.  I will admit that I spent time shopping for the best one.  I then realized I should probably chat with my daughter about this.  Afterall, this would take up a lot of space in the kitchen, and I had to admit to myself that it is her kitchen and not mine.  So I scaled my gift idea down a bit so that Lauren could keep her kitchen in tact.

Cooking Basket Gift Items ~

These are a win/win…Addi was able to cut food by herself and we felt safe with her doing so!

 One thing Lauren and I noticed, having the tongue out while cooking is a MUST for any great chef! 🤣

Cooking Fun with Grandkids ~

As you can see, we tried a variety of different kitchen gadgets.  This will definitely be a gift that we can add on to in the years to come.  Fostering a love of cooking in kids has so many benefits…to the kids as well as the adults.  The important thing to remember is it’s going to get messy…and that’s ok!  If kids become afraid to mess up they will lose the passion to learn.

In an earlier post, I wrote about a great recipe book software.  You create your own cookbook…family, church, neighborhood.. or whatever you choose.  The first book I created was Pappy on the Penarve…Check out my fun cookbook here!  My intention was to make an “Addi” cookbook next…epic fail!  However, I am still going to make it and include new recipes for her to try plus old ones that she has made with the family.  What fun memories!

Make time to have some cooking fun with the grandkids….you will be glad you did!

Enjoy!

Mimi

 

 

 

 

Guys! I Made a Cookbook…And You Can Too!

You heard me….little ole me made a cookbook!  I am so excited!!!   What’s even better is that it was so fun and easy to do with FamilyCookbookProject.com.  My mind is now racing with so many great ideas for gift giving, fund raisers, church or family projects, or even for the neighborhood.   Now, I keep walking around the house saying, “I made a cookbook!”   What’s even better is that you can too!

This cookbook is a compilation of recipes I have blogged about.  As a bonus, there are a few extra recipes that have yet to be added to my blog.   You will be able to save it to your computer and print out recipes as needed…or you can print the whole book.

The Family Cookbook Project ~

In a nutshell, this is a software program that lets you bring your recipes to life in a shareable form through print or save online.  I have been truly amazed at just how easy it was to put this together.  Now we have a keepsake of the beginning of our recipe blogging journey.  I have no doubt that there will be much more time spent on creating a much more indepth Pappy on the Penarve Cookbook – Version 2!

What about you?  Have you considered putting a cookbook together with all of your family favorites?  Are there treasured recipes that have been passed down through the generations?  Maybe there have been some church potlucks that everyone brings copies to share of the recipe they made.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to hop online and let each of those people type in their famous recipes?  That’s right…you can set this up so that each person can be considered a “contributor.”

How It Works ~

  1. Create an account.
  2. Give your cookbook a title (that can be changed anytime throughout the process)
  3. Invite friends and family to contribute – optional!  You can also create the recipes by yourself.
  4. Follow along with the simple layout to enter your recipes…you can even copy and paste or import if you have them saved somewhere else on your computer.
  5. Select your cover, dividers and layouts to your personal preference.
  6. The table of contents, recipe index and list of contributors (optional) is automatically created for you.
  7. Order your cookbook.  They have a calculator to make the final setup and purchase process so easy.
  8. You can go back and add recipes to your online version at any point.

 

 

 

 

*Sample of Family Cookbook Project final copy

 

 

 

 

Have You Ever Misplaced a Special Recipe? ~

Isn’t this the worst?!?!  Ugh!  If only I had a nickel for every time I went frantically searching for that special recipe!  Another problem I encounter quite often…does your recipe card look like it’s been to h*ll and back?  Stains and tears all over it.  I always say you can tell those are the most loved!  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to have them in a nice little cookbook (luckily you can choose to have any pages/covers you want laminated!)

Maybe you are not as scatter brained as I am and your recipes are already nicely organized.  (Oh, how I try to be that person!)  This is still such a timeless treasure to create and gift to others!

Better yet, maybe you have some very special recipes you won’t share because they become even more special when you bring them to the party!  I have a VERY loved sister-in-law that does just this!  We give her grief over it all the time.  I’m thinking this would be such a great idea to make and have back for gifts when the right time comes along!  (You know who you are sweet See the source image…you know I love ya!)

Dedication Page ~

Below is the picture and dedication words I chose for Pappy on the Penarve.  It’s been so much fun deciding how I wanted to display everything from the pictures to the wording…

Welcome to Pappy on the Penarve! The love of family is our number one priority. We have discovered that good food keeps family members coming back for more. Thus we are lucky to have lots of family gatherings!

This is our first edition of a compilation of recipes we have shared on Mimiblog.org (plus a few bonus extras!). Our hope is that you and your family and friends will enjoy these wonderful recipes as much as us.

The main focus is on Pappy’s amazing grilling with a few appetizers, appetizers/sides and desserts to compliment the savory dishes that come off of Pappy’s magical grill!

Enjoy!

We dedicate this first edition to Lauren, Karleigh and Eli…our amazing children and all who are a part of their world!

*********

To see the above picture and dedication in book layout is a dream come true for me!  As stated earlier, you get to create the cover and dividers, choose from multiple recipe layouts, add your own dedication and introduction…the list goes on and on!

Drumroll Please ~

So without further adieu, I bring you the final version of Pappy on the Penarve.  Click on the link below to view or to download and print a free copy yourself.  I will be making a laminated binder version for our family.  If you are interested in purchasing one, email me at mamashellatino@gmail.com and I will give you the details.

See the finished version of Pappy on the Penarve Cookbook here!!! Check it out!

Guys!  I Made a Cookbook…AND YOU CAN TOO!

Are you excited about getting started on your own personal cookbook?  I haven’t seen an easier way to create such a special family treasure!  Get started on your personal cookbook right here!

Happy Cooking!

Mimi (Shelly)

Smoked Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

Several years ago while vacationing down south, I discovered the delicious dish called burnt ends.  I honestly don’t remember what type of meat they were made from, I just remember LOVING them.  Since then, Brad has made several attempts (all of which were delicious!) to recreate the exact dish that I enjoyed so much.  Just recently, we have discovered Smoked Poor Man’s Burnt Ends…and WOW!!!

Burnt ends traditionally are made from beef brisket.  It is indeed a very delicious meal, but is a more expensive cut of meat.  Thankfully, we can still get that AMAZING flavor with chuck roast.  While the cost is less for this cut of meat, the resulting flavor of smoked poor man’s burnt ends is seriously out of this world!!!

Yes folks, Pappy on the Penarve is at it again!  This recipe was a definite WIN!!!  The end result was a very tender piece of beef with a full-bodied and sticky BBQ flavor.  The crispy burnt edges complete the perfect flavor!  You MUST try this recipe…soon!

Steps ~

For this recipe, we used two nice cuts of chuck roast, each weighing about 3 1/2 pounds.  Generously season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper.  Preheat smoker to 275 degrees.  We used hickory chips to smoke the chuck roast.  Place your seasoned meat on the grill and plan on total smoking time to be about 5 hours.

After smoking for 4.25 hours, remove roast from grill and wrap in foil.  Below is a picture of how the meat should “look” when removing it to wrap.

Return to grill and continue smoking an additional 45 minutes.  Remove from grill and let wrapped meat rest for 15-20 minutes.  After resting, hold wrapped meat over disposable foil pan to unwrap, letting the juices flow into the pan.  Set cooked meat on cutting board.  Slice and then cut each roast into 3/4-inch chunks.  Place cut chunks in disposable foil pan.

Mix 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup BBQ sauce in small bowl until thoroughly combined.  Pour BBQ mixture over burnt ends.  Stir meat until completely covered in the BBQ mixture.  Place pan of meat back on grill, uncovered, and smoke for an additional 20 minutes.

Serving Smoked Poor Man’s Burnt Ends ~

As anyone who has tasted Pappy’s recipes knows, everything he makes is made to perfection.  I will say, this recipe is now at the top of my list of favorites.  It is truly finger-licking good.  Therefore, I now have to find the perfect serving platter and accessories, right?  So I have set out on my small business shopping…

This BBQ tray from Etsy will be a perfect fit for this dish (even though the meat is beef 🤣)  This is manly enough for Pappy to use for his grilling yet cute enough for me to use at the table setting.  LOVE!

This Personalized Grill Master Platter would be perfect too!  I LOVE that you can personalize this and it still looks “woodsy.”  This will look perfect with Pappy, The Grill Master…don’t you agree?  What would you personalize it with?

BBQ journal is perfect for logging notes or any changes made while grilling!

I have always believed that cooking and grilling good home cooked meals keeps the family coming back.  What we have discovered is not only do we get to share a lot of time with our grown children over prepared meals, but we have been lucky enough to share many meals with all of their friends as well.  Let’s not forget the gatherings with neighbors too!  Food and drink are the basics for all of the good times!

Don’t forget to add this one to your list of recipes….you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

Caramelized Onions and Provolone Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

It’s December and it’s cold outside so I ask you, “Do you still grill during the winter months?”  We do!  Brad is an avid grill master all…year…long!  I love that he enjoys grilling so much!  However, whether you grill in the cold or you prefer to cook inside when it’s cold, everyone can enjoy this wonderful recipe of caramelized onions and provolone cheese stuffed chicken breasts.

Bone In or Boneless??? ~

We used bone in chicken breasts, however, I believe the process of assembling is easier if you use the boneless chicken breasts.   Brad prefers to grill meats with bone in to enhance the flavor.  I do not disagree.  However, with the robust flavor of the caramelized onions, it will taste just as wonderful using boneless for this recipe.

Begin with preparing the onions.  To create the rich flavor needed, this process will take 30 to 45 minutes.  The full recipe for caramelized onions and provolone cheese stuffed chicken breasts is included below, but I have also included some tips.

Caramelizing Onions ~

Oh how I love the smell of onions cooking.  The wonderful aroma conjures up good memories of family gatherings and food being prepared in the kitchen.  Caramelized onions are so easy to make.  The trick is to cook them slow and on low heat.  You will be rewarded with a robust flavor that enhances the flavor of so many dishes.

Slice the onions thin and set aside.  Heat your skillet with butter or oil.  The amount of oil you will use depends upon the number of onions you are caramelizing.  The general rule is one tablespoon per one medium onion.  Once your oil is heated, add the onions and stir until they are completely coated.  Add a pinch of salt and stir every 3 to 4 minutes.  Add a couple of tablespoons of broth (chicken, beef or vegetable) or water as you are cooking to deglaze the pan and rehydrate the onions.   Continue this process for 30 to 45 minutes, depending upon the amount of browning you prefer.

Many recipes call for a small amount of sugar, however, you do not need to add sugar if you follow the method above.  They will sweeten naturally as they cook.

Preparing Chicken Breasts ~

Cut chicken breasts lengthwise almost completely through to the other side.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, thyme and parsley flakes.  Layer inside of chicken with your choice of cheese, a layer of caramelized onions and top with another layer of cheese.

I prefer to use different cheeses for each layer, creating a an array of flavors, however, it is just as wonderful using the same type of cheese for each layer.  If you are baking the chicken, you can then secure it with toothpicks.  When grilling, Brad prefers to use cooking twine to better hold the stuffed meat together.  This is a grilling must in his book!

Use this link to order twine for cooking:  Stock up on twine for all of your cooking needs here!

Caramelized Onion Broth ~

After you have stuffed the chicken breasts and started the cooking process, place the remaining onions on the stove and add beef broth, extra parsley flakes and thyme.  Cook on low heat until thickened.  When the meat is fully cooked, use this broth to spoon over the top of the chicken.  Of course, take this opportunity to add a little extra cheese on top….both for presentation and to enhance the flavor.

Stuffed chicken breasts are a delicious and appealing recipe when looking for “that special recipe to impress.”  The addition of fragrant and delicious caramelized onions is the perfect choice for a wonderful meal.  There is no doubt that you won’t LOVE these caramelized onions and provolone cheese stuffed chicken breasts!

A Perfect Dessert Pairing ~

Looking for a great dessert recipe to compliment this amazing chicken?  Look no further….this decadent apple strudel recipe pairs wonderfully with your meal.

You can find this amazing recipe in my link here:  Get the recipe for a DELICIOUS apple strudel here!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Grilled Caramelized Onion, Apple and Canadian Bacon Flatbread

When it comes to pizza and flatbread, Pappy and I definitely have different opinions on which ingredients make a great pizza.  Traditional toppings are wonderful, but sometimes I like to get adventurous.  Sunday was a perfect day for grilling pizzas with Pappy on the Penarve.  The weather was crisp, the tv was roaring with football games and fun ideas were rolling through our heads of our upcoming creations.  My final outcome was grilled caramelized onion, apple and Canadian bacon flatbread…..AHHHmazing!!!!

The wonderful thing about flatbread pizza is that everyone can create their own masterpiece.  They are just the right size for one…or two if you decide to share.  However, the only one I was sharing my grilled caramelized onion flatbread with was a nice glass of Chardonnay!

THIS RECIPE IS SO VERSATILE!!!

Caramelizing onions is a must for this yummy recipe.  However, you may wish to alter the recipe a bit after you prepare the onions.  Maybe you wish to use only onions and no fruit.  Apples were used in this recipe, but peaches or pears would be just as delicious.  The trick is that whatever you choose to add in, you must cook them over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes to get the caramelizing to take place.

The flavors mixed very well with Canadian bacon, but maybe you prefer no meat….it would still be fantastic!

While the onion mixture is cooking, you will need to prepare your flatbread. Brush it with a thin layer of olive oil then layer fig spread over the top of the oil.  Add the caramelized onion mixture on top of the fig glaze.  Top with fresh spinach or other greens of your choice.  Next will be your choice of cheese.  We prepared this with blue cheese.  Goat cheese, brie or feta would work wonderfully as well.  Lastly, top it off with some toasted walnuts and dried cherries.

IT’S TIME TO GRILL ~

Slide a pizza board or pizza peel under the flatbread to transfer to the grill.  If you do not have a pizza peel, it’s a good idea to add it to your cooking arsenal….once you taste these babies you are definitely going to be making more.  Here is a link to one of my favorites.   I absolutely love this pizza peel with a foldable handle for easy storage!

Once you have transferred the flatbread to the grill, close the cover and grill for 8 to 10 minutes.  Check on it after 5 minutes to decide the correct amount of time for the level of crispiness you prefer.  Then top it off with balsamic glaze….perfection!

KID FRIENDLY~

Now you are looking at me like I am crazy!  Kid friendly you ask?  What child likes blue cheese?  Well, I know there are some kids out there that do eat different cheeses, but if they don’t, substitute mozzarella.  Easy peasy!

The really cool thing about flatbread pizzas, is you can have a small layout of different toppings and let everyone make their own.  Psst…..kids are more apt to eat their dinner when they take part in the process of preparation.  So let them dig in and have fun!!!!

 

Veggie Filled Stuffed Peppers

As a child, when I would ask, “What’s for dinner mom?”  and I would receive the answer, “stuffed peppers,” I was a happy girl.  Stuffed bell peppers were considered a “comfort food” in my household.  (Although mom referred to bell peppers used any other way as mangos…did anyone else’s parents call them mangos??   I think it is a definite Midwest thing.)   My mom made them quite regularly following the traditional recipe with ground beef and tomatoes.

However, in our household now, Pappy usually prepares the meat on the grill while I cook side dishes to complement.  Wow, these veggie filled stuffed peppers are an amazing complement to chicken, beef or pork!

This past weekend, I wanted to create something new.  Something different.  Something fun!  This is what I came up with and they were delicious!

Veggie Filled Stuffed Peppers~

Dice all of your vegetables.  You are going to want to dice them pretty small.

Sautee your vegetables in olive oil.  Season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Add your chopped spinach in and cook until wilted.

Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions.

While both of these are cooking, slice your bell peppers in half and remove the seeds

Place the bell pepper halves on a foil lined cooking sheet (I did not line my cooking sheet with foil and regretted it).   Add one slice of monterey jack cheese to the bottom of each pepper.

Add cooked veggies and rice together in mixing bowl.  Add shredded parmesan cheese and mix well.

Fill each pepper with the vegetable and cheese mixture.  Top with shaved parmesan.

Cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until browned.

Definitely a different twist on the traditional bell peppers, however, still a “comfort” food!  Enjoy!

 

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake – Family Recipe

 

I am sharing with you our family recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  It’s not much different than many recipes I have seen over the years.  However, there are a couple of different ingredients that make this cake FANTASTIC!  Seriously, loved by everyone who eats it!  My own son always states, “How is it that I don’t really care for pineapple, yet I LOVE this cake?!”

Step by Step Instructions~With pictures:

The directions in recipe format are included below, but I wanted to share step by step pictures.  I think making a pineapple upside down cake for the first time (or if you don’t make it very often) can be a very intimidating recipe.  It actually is much easier than most people think!

Start out preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Put a stick of butter in your 9 X 13 pan.  Put in oven (you can do this while preheating) to melt.

While the butter is melting, I open the can of pineapple slices and strain over a bowl to reserve the juice for later.  Let that sit while you are completing the next steps so it has time to drain sufficiently.

When the butter is completely melted, remove it from the oven.

Next, pour the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter.  The recipe calls for about 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar.  I play with this a little.  I tend to use a bit more to make a thicker topping.

                                                                                                       

Now you will add the pineapple slices on top of the brown sugar mixture.  If you want the cake to look more uniform, I would suggest using six pineapple slices.  When making it just for my family I go ahead and cut the other slices in half to add them to the cake as well (this just doesn’t look as pretty if you do this, but gives your more pineapple.)

After placing the pineapple rings on the mixture, open the can of crushed pineapples and strain them over the same bowl.  Once again, you are reserving this juice for later in the recipe.

While the crushed pineapple is draining, you will want to place cherries in the middle of the rings.  ***Remember to place the cherries upside down so that when you turn the cake over it will look prettier to see the tops of the cherries.

Now it is time to add the crushed pineapple in all of the areas that are still exposed with the brown sugar and butter mixture.

Next you will blend the cake mix.  (you can start this step earlier if you wish to have it blending while you are working on the topping.  This will just depend on what method you use for mixing.)  When I first started making this recipe (which was handed down by mom–which was handed down by her mom….you get the picture), I did not have a mixer.  Thus, when I first began I followed the recipe directions in this order.

I use a yellow cake mix.  You can make it from scratch, but seriously, you do not need to.  If you follow these next steps, you will have a very moist cake that tastes delicious!

Follow the instructions on the back of the cake box  ***EXCEPT***, substitute the reserved pineapple juice in place of the water.  I laugh at this point, because my first time making pineapple upside down cake was a disaster.  My mother told me to substitute the pineapple juice … so I did.  However, I substituted it for the oil….not a good turnout!   You still need oil!!!

                                                                             

After blending according to the directions on the box, you will layer the cake mix over the topping mixture.

Once you have poured all of the cake batter over the topping, you will bake at 350 degrees for 35-50 minutes.  I understand that this is a very large amount of a time gap for baking.  I initially set the timer for 35 minutes.  This cake always takes longer than a simple cake mix.  I then check it at 35 minutes (with the toothpick test) and then reset the timer at 5 minute intervals.  PLEASE DON’T FORGET TO SET YOUR TIME EACH TIME YOU RESET!  You have put a lot of work into this cake, so be careful to continue setting the timer.

Once the cake is done baking, remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.  While it is cooling, you need to get a long cake plate, cookie sheet or large tray in which to invert the cake on.  In my example today, I covered mine in foil, as I was traveling with it and wanted to be able to secure it well for travel.  I prefer to not use a foil liner as it is not as pretty.

When you are ready to turn the cake over, place your large tray over the top of the cake.

Carefully turn the cake over, while holding on to the tray underneath to flip.

 

Next, you will carefully lift the cake dish from the top of the cake  You may need to let it sit for a minute for all of the topping to drop from the cake pan to the serving dish.  I then use a butter knife to place gently under one edge of the cake pan to help lift the cake pan up and away from the cake.

                                         

And there you have it!!!  A wonderful cake that has been a family favorite for years.  It even makes it onto the birthday list many times!

Once you have tried this recipe, let me know how yours turns out!

 

 

 

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