Jalapeno Popper Dip

{ya know, like those popper thingies from Chili's}
You may or may not know this about me, but I really want to be a socialite. It's on my bucket list. Since my natural charm is masked by coyness, the only way to wiggle my way into the socialite life is through people's stomachs. I like to throw parties and I like to cook for large crowds, I don't know what it is, but I like it. My itty bitty ghetto kitchen makes it difficult but that's half the fun! I'm pretty much excited for this recipe (and so was Tressa, she called this morning for the recipe even before I had it posted). Are you wondering whether or not it was deliciously divine? Let me answer that with another question- why don't I have a picture of the dish without a spoonful missing? People started eating it before I was able to even get a picture!
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 8oz (250 ml) jar sliced Jalapeno peppers
1 4oz can chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup Corn Flake crumbs (or bread crumbs)
Parmesan cheese
Jalapeno slices for garnish

Preheat oven to 375F, spray a round or square 9x9 or 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl mix together cream cheese, mayo, chilies, Jalapeno's, red pepper and shredded cheese together until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and corn flake crumbs/bread crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and melted through. Let cool for 10 minutes and garnish with slices of Jalapenos, serve warm with Baguettes, veggies, crackers, etc. There ya go!

Source: Annie's Eats via My Baking Addiction


Coconut Chicken with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

{something new for dinner}
When I was a kid, I used to get into my grandma's freezer, open up the old Pringle's can and eat the frozen coconut. She always kept it on the shelve on the inside of the door. I remember it well. She would walk in, see me eating said coconut and proceed to chase me out of the kitchen removing the can from my hands. Coconut always brings back memories from my grandma's for that exact reason. When I read this recipe, the coconut first caught my eye, and then whole mango-pineapple salsa sealed the deal. It was so good, can I just say that right off the bat? This will definitely be making another appearance in our household.
3 chicken breasts- trimmed and cut into small strips
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 mango- peeled and cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cup canned or fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons lime juice
cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to degrees 400F, and line a baking sheet with foil- spray with cooking spray .In shallow bowl add the egg, salt, and cayenne pepper. In a second shallow bowl add coconut. Dip strips of chicken in egg mixture and allow excess to drip off- then dip in coconut, pressing down so more coconut sticks. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with each piece of chicken. 

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and coconut is lightly browned. Meanwhile, combine mango, pineapple, lime juice and cilantro together in a bowl and mix slightly. And there ya go!
*You can use any type of coconut that you'd like- I used the really fine stuff, unsweetened. 
Source: Better Homes and Garden's Cookbook


Chicken Cordon Bleu (Reposted)

{crock pot style, baby!}
In case you hadn't heard from my family blog, my oven has sort of... died. So most of my postings are going to be things that need little to no use of an oven. This is actually a re-post from one of my early posts. I just updated it and took a nicer picture. I can't get over how good this cordon bleu recipe is. I crave it some days! We like ours served over rice, but the original recipe says to serve it over penne pasta. I guess the world is your oyster in that field!
2-3 chicken breasts (depending on size of course) butterflied
8-12 slices of deli honey ham (2 per each piece of chicken)
4-6 slices of Swiss cheese
1 can condenced Cream of Chicken Soup
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large crock pot, combine soup and milk and whisk together. Arrange chicken in crock pot laying them as flat as possible. Place 2 slices of ham on each chicken breast, then place a slice of cheese on top of the ham. Sprinkle garlic powder and pepper over top of everything. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve over rice or your favorite pasta, or with a side of veggies!


Quick Caramels

{quick... and easy}
Well, I'm on this candy making kick. However, I wanted something simple and quick and somewhat fool proof. Also I learned something cool (well most people probably know this but I obviously was not paying attention in class) but water boils at a different temperature depending on your altitude. Which would explain why my last candy making endeavor was just that, an endeavor. The way you can test your thermometer- boil water and see what temperature your thermometer levels off at once the water comes to a rolling boil. Easy. The boiling point at sea level is 100C (212F) so depending on what temperature your water boils at, you will either add or subtract that number from the boiling point at sea level. I wasn't very good at word problems in math class so if this doesn't make sense you can blame it on that fact. This little fact can either make or break your candy making (or teeth...).
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk (16oz can)
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line 8x8 inch square or circle baking dish with foil, and spray generously with cooking spray. In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup, stir till sugar is dissolved. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Insert candy thermometer, and reduce heat to medium and continue boiling at a moderate rate stirring frequently until the thermometer registers 248F (about 30-45 minutes).
Remove from heat and add vanilla, then quickly pour caramel into baking dish and let cool completely. Cut into pieces and wrap all cute like! Ta-da!

Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 15th Edition


Apple Cider Caramels

{christmas and candy wrapped up together in one simple bite}
So I saw these, and thought "um, yum." I could not form words other than "those would look good on my blog." Thus, I had to make them. This was my first time making candy without my mom's supervision. I remember when I was a kid coming over to my grandma's and seeing rows and rows and pans spread out all over the house full of home made candy. The only thing I was allowed to do was stir the sugary syrup. Making these caramels brought back a lot of good memories. It's too bad all my hard work and hours of effort turned rock solid almost immediately the minute it left the hot burner. I was so upset and disappointed- yet determined so the next day I got right back up and started again. So without further adieu, I would like to present my first ever batch of caramels!
I've got a lot of pictures of these babies... fair warning!
2 cups Simply Apple, apple juice (found next to the Simply Orange in your grocery store's juice department)
1 cup whipping cream, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (or white sugar)
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter

Other things you will need:
candy thermometer
large stock pot and a medium sauce pan
cooking spray
glass measuring cup (or one that can stand up against high heat)

Pour apple cider into medium sauce pan, boil on high until it reduces to 1/3 cup- about 20 minutes, this is where the glass measuring up comes in handy. Once it's reduced, set aside to cool, but not too cool or else it will turn into a jelly (I found that out the hard way). If that does happen, put it back on the heat and stir.
Line an 8x8 inch square baking dish with wax paper leaving about an inch over the top for easy removal, and spray generously with cooking spray and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup whipping cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
In large stock pot, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/3 cup whipping cream plus enough water to reach the 1/2 cup mark. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, insert the candy thermometer and simmer until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit. This took about 45 minutes for me, and because of the altitude my candy never reached that exact temperature- you can tell when it should be removed. The candy will turn dark in color and begin to thicken, the bubbles will look differently as well. Don't over cook.
Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream and cider mixture- might splatter a little, be careful. Add butter a little at a time in cubes or spoonfuls and mix until well incorporated. Return to low heat and re-insert candy thermometer and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture reaches 248F, about another 30(ish) minutes. Again, mine never quite got that hot- you can tell by the texture and color etc. Again, don't over cook. You'll end up with toffee instead of a caramel. Trust me!
Remove from heat and pour into prepared baking dish. Let cool completely before removing from pan (with the wax paper). Cut horizontally... (I used a pizza cutter)
Then cut again vertically...
You can kind of make whatever size caramels you'd like... I ended up cutting these in half again to about the size of a Tootsie Roll. Cut wax paper into 2x4 inch squares, and wrap each individual caramel, and twist the ends, also like a Tootsie Roll.
Wrapping them is very tedious, I wont lie. If your caramels stick to the wax paper as you are trying to remove each little square, don't worry mine did that, too. Just go slow and use a knife to scrap them off... patience young Padawan.
Makes about 80 Tootsie Roll size pieces, and 40 average caramel size pieces.  
Source: Our Best Bites   

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