Snickerdoodle Blondies

Soft and cinnamon-y cookie bars – without the hassle of rolling dough!

20170502_135415

Snickerdoodles… A cookie staple in our house for sure and a favorite of one of my best friends.  I would always make a double batch and give half to her and her daughter whenever I made them to the chagrin of my family LOL.  But there are times when I’m just not in the mood to wait around for the dough to cool and then roll into balls and then roll the balls in the sugar/cinnamon coating…  I mean, the faster the cookie comes out of the oven the more I can eat, am I right!?

So that exact dilemma popped up at about 7:30pm this past Sunday night while my hubby, daughter and I were sitting around, all saying we were craving something sweet after the yummy dinner we just had.  It was too late to do something like a cake or pie, which I would totally prefer over cookies (don’t judge!) and no one wanted to leave the house during the deluge of rain we had to go grab ice cream.  Our daugther suggested Snickerdoodles and the hubby agreed… but I was left with a turned down mouth because I didn’t really feel like going thru the process of making them.

Hello Google!  After viewing a couple of recipes online for Snickerdoodles and Blondies and bar cookies, I decided on the Snickerdoodle Blondie.  A couple tweeks of my own and these guys were in the oven less than 20 minutes after our sweets craving hit, it helped to have everything needed to make these on hand… no special ingredients here!

So, if you’re like me and do love the occasional Snickerdoodle cookie but are lazy on a Sunday night, hit the kitchen, whip these up then share the recipe with your Snickerdoodle loving family and bestie in Georgia!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ⅔ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree, spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray or grease with butter.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl a couple times.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix until well combined and scrape the bowl down again.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cream of tartar.  Mix until combined.
  5. Spread in the prepared pan – the dough will be thick, use a spatula or back of a big metal spoon to tap down.
  6. Mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the top.
  7. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until the top springs back when you press it lightly.
  8. Cool in pan completely before cutting into 24 bars (if you can wait that long!)
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes:

  • To get quick, room temp butter, keep butter wrapped and pop in the microwave for 5 seconds.  Flip over and microwave 5 more seconds – viola!
  • eliminating the cream of tartar is no biggy if you don’t have it.
  • If you don’t let these cool completely before cutting, they may seem raw, they’re not… but they just aren’t set yet – if presentation isn’t your thing, dig in right away 🙂
  • Mmmm – reheated in the microwave – yes please!!
  • You can cut this recipe in half and bake in an 8×8 pan, same temp, same time.

Prep Time:  10 minutes     Total Time:  40 minutes     Servings:  24 bars

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 1 bar – 200.

Shredded Beef Enchiladas

Tender, shredded beef with homemade red enchilada sauce.

20170424_184827

When it comes to Mexican food, we usually stick with tacos… because they’re easy right!!  But, sometimes when we’re in the mood for something more “authentic” I gravitate towards enchiladas.  Sometimes ground beef or chicken with white sauce (I’ll post those soon!) or ground beef with red sauce… BUT, when I have a slab of meat in the freezer that needs to be used, I make these bad boys.

This red sauce… so easy and SO much better than the stuff in cans, can you say sodium city!  Even in restaurants, red enchilada sauce is pretty salty, which can overpower the rest of the dish… in my opinion, this sauce has the perfect balance of salt and spice, but, if you like it saltier, kick it up a notch with some salt-free seasoning and you’ll be good to go.  The amount of sauce this recipe makes is just enough to make the dish moist so you don’t have dry tortilla shells but not enough to be sloppy.  If you’re like my hubby, you can make half more or double more so you can slop up the extra sauce with tortilla chips.

Shredded Beef Enchiladas

For the shredded beef:

  • 1 ½ – 2 lb. bottom round cut of beef
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  1. Place beef in a crock pot.  In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, lime juice and spices and pour over meat.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  2. With 2 forks, shred the beef into small pieces and then stir to mix in the juices.
  3. Turn the heat off crock pot and cover.

For the enchilada sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 4 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  1. Heat the oil over medium-high and whisk in the flour, cooking for 1 minute.
  2. Add the spices and slowly pour in the chicken broth, whisking until smooth.
  3. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the enchilada filling:

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp. instant garlic
  • 3 cups shredded cheese
  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Shredded beef from above
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Stir in onion and bell pepper.
  2. Saute for 15 minutes, until veggies are tender.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the meat and juices from the crock pot to the pan and stir to combine.

Assemble the enchiladas:

  • Do an assembly line here… Tortillas in front, sauce behind to the left, meat to the right of the sauce, cheese to the right of meat and pan to the right of that….
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • On a sheet of paper towel, place one tortilla at a time.
  • Spread with 2 tbsp. of enchilada sauce, 1/8th of shredded beef and a big pinch of cheese.
  • Roll up tightly and place in the pan, rolled end side down.
  • Repeat with the remaining tortillas and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and cilantro, if using.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  • Bottom round is perfect for crock pot meals because it’s a tougher cut of meat so cooking it long tenderizes it – if you want to make the shredded beef quicker, use a different cut of meat, chuck steak would be good.  Cook, covered in a large stock pot for an hour and a half.
  • To get close to the same amount of filling for these, I spread the meat in the pan and pat it down.  Using a butter knife “slice” the meat into 8 “pie pieces”… nifty huh 🙂
  • Sometimes I like to add a small can of rinsed black beans to the meat mixture.
  • I love eating mine with my favorite guacamole and sour cream.
  • You can make this sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge for 3 days or freeze for 1 month.

Total Time:  4-8 hours     Servings:  8

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 8 servings – 590.

Pasta Alfredo

Creamy Alfredo sauce served over tender pasta.

wp-1491314600730.jpg

Pasta (insert your favorite pasta here!) Alfredo… Fettuccine Alfredo, etc… Equal to, if not better than what you get at your favorite Italian restaurant and less calories to boot, I’m sold!

The very first time I had Fettuccine Alfredo I was probably 18 and had it at a restaurant in a fancy hotel downtown.  It was so good but it also made me realize I probably just ate more than half the calories I should have for the day in one meal – yikes!  I told myself I’d only eat it once or twice a year since I was pretty lactose intolerant on top of that anyways!  Once I started cooking on my own and for my family, I vowed to make it just as good, with less calories and I would pop a Lactaid pill first 😉

When the kids were little we used to call this “fancy mac & cheese” because I would make it with smaller noodles like bow-tie or macaroni so it was easy for them to eat –  and it was cheap and quick to make when there were 8 mouths to feed – literally could get this to the table in about a half hour and I always had everything on hand to make it. Now that we’re all grown up, I make it a little “fancier” by adding chicken or shrimp and a veggie – usually peas or asparagus, or a side of broccoli.  However you serve it – I’m sure you’ll enjoy and you won’t feel like you just ate a cow afterwards 🙂

Pasta Alfredo 

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. instant garlic
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  1. Cook 1 lb. of your favorite pasta according to directions, drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Return pasta to pot and set aside.
  3. In a separate sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.
  4. Add instant garlic, cook for 30 seconds and whisk in flour until smooth.
  5. ¼ cup at a time, whisk in milk until each pour thickens and starts to bubble.  Once you have 1 cup in, pour in the remaining milk and continue cooking until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk in parmesan, pepper, garlic powder and chicken bouillon.  With heat on medium, continue to heat sauce until very thick, about 5 minutes, whisking a couple times every minute.
  7. Add the reserved pasta water, increase heat to high and whisk until sauce is smooth about 2 minutes.
  8. Pour sauce over your prepared pasta and toss over medium heat until pasta is coated and sauce thickens a little more, about 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

  • It’s important to use the pasta water – so don’t omit it!  The starch in the water and the fat from the butter and cheese emulsifies into the super smooth sauce you want that coats your pasta just right.
  • To save the pasta water, set your colander over a 2 or 4 cup liquid measuring cup while you drain.
  • We like our sauce pretty garlicky, adjust yours accordingly with the garlic powder.
  • I usually use 1% milk in this recipe, but fat-free actually works well too!

Prep Time:  10 minutes     Total Time:  30 minutes     Servings:  8

Estimated Calories per Servings – based on 8 servings – 400.  Based on 1% milk, regular grated Parmesan cheese and 2 oz. pasta per serving.

 

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Creamy soup with chicken, vegetables and wild rice.

wp-1490828927558.jpg

Soup is always the cure when someone in the house is sick isn’t it??  Or if it’s cold outside (STILL!) or when you have leftover chicken and Half & Half that has to be used 😉  I don’t make soup all that often to be honest, but when I do this is a staple and beside my Italian Wedding soup, which I’ll be posting soon, this is the most requested.  It’s simple and not over done with crazy flavor – just enough to be yummy, especially when someone is sick and can’t taste it anyway!

To make this job even quicker – I use the slicing blade on my food processor for the veggies – I can literally get this to the table in about a half hour – bonus in my book!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 box long grain & wild rice with seasoning packet
  • 2 cups Fat free Half & Half
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground thyme
  1. Melt butter in a large stock pot until foamy.
  2. Add carrots, celery and onion, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Saute veggies on medium heat until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in cooked chicken and chicken broth, increase heat to high and bring to boil.
  5. Once boiling, add rice and seasoning packet.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high.  Stir in Half & Half, salt, pepper and thyme and bring back to boil to heat Half & Half.

Recipe Notes:

  • This is a great recipe to use some leftover chicken or even turkey – or from a store bought rotisserie chicken.  Or, you can boil a large chicken breast until cooked thru and chop or shred.
  • I use the original Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice.  If you sub with the fast cook version, reduce cooking time from 20 minutes to 10 minutes.  They now have other flavors too – I bet the Roasted Garlic & Herb would be delicious!
  • This soup isn’t overly brothy (is that even a word?) Add more chicken broth or Half & Half if you like it thinner.

Prep Time:  10 minutes     Total Time:  50 minutes     Servings:  6

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 6 servings – 260.

General Tso-ish Chicken

Tender chicken in a Chinese sweet and spicy sauce.

wp-1490562081581.jpg

As our hankering for Chinese food continues, so does my desire to recreate healthier versions of our favorite meals at home.  The easiest way to do that is to skip the fried meat and replace it with sauteed instead – don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fried food – but I also like to eat healthy and save my calories for a nice glass of wine or craft beer… So I compromise and skip the Chinese food that has fried chicken – like General Tso chicken has.  But believe me, the swap is still tasty and the calories you’ll save might get you two glasses of wine 🙂

This recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes so you can get a warm meal on your table on those busy evenings!  Serve this chicken with a side of white rice or my Fried Rice, and it’s even great with quinoa.  I also like to throw in some steamed broccoli or water chestnuts when we’re in the mood.

General Tso-ish Chicken

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant garlic
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ tbsp. corn starch
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  1. In a medium saute pan, heat oil over medium-high and saute chicken until no longer pink, about 5 minutes
  2. While chicken is cooking whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, pepper flakes, ginger, water and corn starch.
  3. Pour into chicken and cook on medium heat until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes, string occasionally.
  4. Just before serving, toss in the green onion.

Recipe Notes:

  • Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to suit your taste.
  • You can easily sub the same amount of shrimp or pork for the chicken, beef would work well too I’m sure.

Prep Time:  5 minutes     Total Time:  20 minutes     Servings:  4

Estimated Calories per Serving – based on 4 servings – 260.

Cincinnati Style 3-Ways

Cincinnati chili over warm spaghetti noodles piled sky high with shredded cheddar cheese.

wp-1490315464565.jpg

My hubby grew up in Cincinnati… and EVERYTHING is better in Cincinnati, and everything comes from or is made in Cincinnati, so he says 🙂  When we go back to visit family in Cincy there are a few places we have to eat every. single. time.  La Rosa’s Pizza is one and so is Skyline or Goldstar Chili – both are Cincinnati style chili – which is not your typical chili – it’s an acquired taste for sure, and the ingredients are strange, BUT it works and it’s so good!

The first time I had Cincinnati style chili was on a Coney Dog, which is a short, skinless hot dog with chili, onion, mustard and tons of shredded cheddar.  I remember asking for pickles on mine and that was a big no-n0, and I guess a Michigan thing LOL!  I reluctantly tried one and was hooked… then I was given a 3-Way… warm spaghetti noodles with chili and cheese… SO GOOD!  Of course I had to figure out a way to make this at home since we couldn’t drive 6 hours every time we had a craving.  You can buy Skyline chili in a can, but it smells like cat food and has a ton of preservatives in it so making it from scratch was the answer.  Yes, there’s chocolate in it and yes, its kinda runny, but that’s what makes it unique and from Cincinnati 🙂

Cincinnati Style 3-Ways

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 ½ cups beef broth
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ½ tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. instant garlic
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp. allspice
  1. In a large pot brown ground beef with onion until no longer pink and drain.
  2. Add beef broth and simmer on medium heat, uncovered for 10 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
  4. Serve with 1 lb. of cooked spaghetti noodles and shredded cheddar cheese.

Recipe Notes:

  • For Coney Dogs, serve the chili over hot dogs with diced onion, mustard and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • You can make a 4-Way by adding diced onion or a 5-Way by adding diced onion and warm kidney beans.
  • Serve with oyster crackers like they do at the restaurant.

Prep Time:  5 minutes     Total Time:  1 hour, 15 minutes     Servings: 8

Estimated Calories Per Serving – based on 8 servings – 450.  Based on 2 oz. of spaghetti and 1 oz. shredded cheese.

Chicken Vegetable Dumpling Soup

Thick and creamy chicken vegetable soup with tender, chewy dumplings.

wp-1489535506849.jpg

Winter is still hanging on here in Michigan and it’s mid-March.  We were lucky enough a couple weeks ago to hit 70 degrees a day or two… but it’s Michigan and winter is back 😦  On cold days, or the day after your husband has oral surgery, the best thing to eat is a hearty soup that will warm you up from the inside out and is easy to eat!

This soup has everything that my heart desires, a thick base, fresh veggies, tender chicken and perfect dumplings.  If you’re not a dumpling fan, you haven’t had the right ones… These dumplings are chewy and not overly “bready” like some can be – the outsides are a bit like pasta and the inside is just the right consistency to soak up some extra broth… Total comfort food for a cold night, or for someone that can’t chew very well 🙂

Chicken Vegetable Dumpling Soup

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup cold water + 2 tbsp. cornstarch

For the Dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground thyme
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  1. Melt butter in large stock pot and add carrots, celery and onion.  Saute on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken and season with pepper, garlic powder thyme and salt.  Saute until chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes
  3. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. While soup is simmering, make the dumplings by mixing together all the ingredients, set aside.
  5. Mix the ¼ cup cold water and 2 tbsp. cornstarch together and pour into soup.  Turn heat to medium-high and bring back to boil.
  6. When soup is boiling, drop dumpling mixture by the spoonful on top of soup.
  7. Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes WITHOUT removing top.

Recipe Notes:

  • We like our veggies and chicken cut pretty small, but chop them to your liking, add additional cooking time if needed.
  • The dumpling mixture is quite sticky, don’t worry, they turn out perfect – as long as you don’t lift the top while they are cooking!  Drop them from a standard spoon and if you need to, push them around to fit them all in.
  • This is a totally a meal in itself, or serve with a small side salad.

Prep Time:  10 minutes     Total Time:  1 hour     Servings:  4

Estimated Calories Per Serving – based on 4 servings – 250.  Based on 1% milk in the dumplings.