Spicy Cornbread

Doesn't this TIME of year always make you feel like eating some WARM cornbread? Well, we love the stuff at our HOUSE! This variation makes an appearance in my NEWEST book, 101 Things to do with Cheese. Let me tell ya, it is definitely SPICY and sooo gooooood!

Spicy Cornbread
1 (8.5-ounce) box Jiffy cornbread mix
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 ounces diced jalapeños (this is half of the 4 oz can, so feel free to make two batches!)
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Use a fork to combine the cornbread mix, milk, and egg. Stir in the jalapeños and cheese. (No need to drain the jalapeños.) Pour batter into a sprayed 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Makes about 6 wedges.

TIP: This is definitely spicy, so if you want to tone it down, use green chiles instead of jalapeños. And take it a step further and use cheddar cheese instead of the pepper jack. You could also stir in a 1/2 cup or so of corn too. Also, I like to sprinkle a little bit more cheese over the top of the batter before I stick it in the oven. :)


Creamy Cauliflower Soup

It's COLD outside! Well, it is at my house anyway. The time of YEAR when I have to face the fact that I won't be WARM again until June. Oh well, though—the CHANGE in the weather is nice. It puts me in the mood for SOUP, and this easy recipe is a total winner.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups chopped cauliflower
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup dice onion
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
4 1/2 cups whole milk (or half-and-half is good too!)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a saucepan, combine the broth and veggies and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes; remove from heat. In a large soup pan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in the milk, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add the veggies and broth and then stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings.

TIP: Since I'm a cheese lover, I usually add closer to 2 cups cheese, as well as sprinkle some on top for a garnish. It's just so yummy that way! Also, you can use all sorts of potatoes in this recipe. I did fingerling for this batch, but Yukon golds are super yummy, as well as reds.


Garlic Naan Pizzas

I think there are very FEW people out there that don't like PIZZA. Even the ones that don't like it may actually go for this VERSION though. As always, super easy, SUPER good!

Garlic Naan Pizzas
1 package premade garlic naan (2 packs at most Target and Walmart bakeries)
Marinara sauce
Pepperoni, diced
Canadian bacon, diced
Red onion, diced
Grated mozzarella cheese
Sliced green olives
Sliced green bell pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Remove the naan from it's packaging and place on a pizza pan or stone. Spread desired amount of marinara sauce over the top, just inside the edges. Top with a little of the diced meats and onion. Sprinkle the cheese over top. Add more of the diced meats over the cheese, along with olives and bell pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until done according to desire. Serve with a yummy salad and enjoy the easy cleanup!

TIP: The naan is amazing and brings a great flavor to these pizzas. What's even better is that most bakeries offer several different kinds of naan. You can get original, wheat, garlic, and a bunch more. Mix it up and try them all to find your favorite. Oh, and obviously you can use whatever pizza toppings you want!

BONUS TIP: I also wanted to add that adding the meat and onion to the sauce just bumps up the pizza to another level of taste. Even better is to simmer the onions and diced meat in the sauce for awhile before putting it on the pizza. Wow!


Enchilada Casserole

This is a FAMILY favorite recipe that makes an appearance in my newest book, 101 Things to do with Cheese. My husband raves about this EVERY time I make it. This totally makes me laugh because these are about the EASIEST enchiladas to make in the world. I really should make them MORE often . . .

Enchilada Casserole
1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion
Salt and pepper
3 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
10 to 12 flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups grated Mexican blend or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown meat in a large skillet and drain the fat. Stir in onion and saute a few minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato sauce and chili powder and let simmer a few minutes. Spread a spoonful of sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan; set aside.

Evenly spread cream cheese down the center of each tortilla, and then top with small spoonful of meat sauce. Roll up and then place seam side down in prepared pan. Pour remaining meat sauce over top and then sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until casserole is warmed through and cheese is bubbly. Serves 6 or so.

TIP: This is great served with lettuce, avocados, salsa, olives, etc. You can do all of them or just a couple. And honestly, it's yummy just by itself. 


Fresh Apple Pear Cake

I think this is my last PEAR recipe, so I hope you've enjoyed them all! I'd been wanting some sort of CAKE that would be good with cream cheese FROSTING, so when I saw something similar on allrecipes.com, I thought I'd try my own variation.

Fresh Apple Pear Cake
2 cups peeled and chopped apples
2 cups peeled and chopped pears
2 cups white sugar
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 to 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar

Combine the fruit with the sugar and let sit in a bowl for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a Bundt pan with nonstick spray.

Mix the dry ingredients together and then stir in the eggs, oil, and fruit mixture. Stir in the nuts. Pour or scoop mixture into the prepared pan and then bake for 50 to 60 minutes. (Make sure to check with wooden skewer at minimum cook time to avoid over baking.) When done, let cool in pan for a few minutes and then invert on a wire rack to cool.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add a dash of salt, some powdered sugar, and a tablespoon of milk and beat again. Keep adding powdered sugar and milk by the tablespoon to reach desired taste and consistency. Frost cake and store in the refrigerator.

TIP: You can make this cake with all pears or all apples. I ran out of pears and decided to make up for it in apples. And, I actually think this cake is better the next day. If you can stand to wait a day to eat it, do it! Or just have a slice both days like me. :)


Pear Pancakes

So pear SEASON has hit at our house (we have 2 pear trees!), and I'm LOVING it. I love trying out new recipes, and this one was a HIT, especially with my 1 year old. PANCAKES are always super easy, but these taste extra SPECIAL—definitely different from your regular old pancakes.

Pear Pancakes
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 pear, peeled and diced

Preheat a griddle over medium.

In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Stir in the pears. Pour or spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Serve with butter and maple syrup. Makes enough pancakes for 2 to 4.

TIP: Make sure to spray your griddle with nonstick spray so the pancakes don't stick. Also, I think this recipe would be great with peaches instead of pears!


Apple-Pear Salad

This salad is from my book 101 Things to do with Salad and is the perfect recipe for FALL. Apples, pears, and a LIGHT lemony dressing make the perfect combination. And BELIEVE me, you'll want seconds for sure!

Apple-Pear Salad
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup light olive oil
1 tablespoon poppyseeds

2 pears, peeled and diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cashew halves

Combine dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Add pears and apples to keep from browning; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine remaining salad ingredients. When ready to serve, pour dressing over top and toss until completely covered. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

TIP: I do lots of variations of this recipe. For example, sometimes I just grab a bag of the already prepared romaine lettuce and combine it with a bag of spring mix salad. It's a good combo! Also, I don't usually peel the fruit just because it saves me time, and I think the color looks pretty. Finally, I like to try different cheeses (my obsession again!), so in the photo above, I used a nice extra sharp white cheddar that I cut into cubes. It was so yummy! Another favorite of mine in this salad is bacon . . .


Chocolate Banana Bread

OK, so I have to admit this bread is more CHOCOLATE than banana, but if BANANA is in the recipe title, it sounds a little BETTER for you, right? Anyway, we love this BREAD straight from the oven with butter, to make it even better!

P.S. This is actually a variation of a recipe from my friend, Stephanie Ashcraft. Thanks Steph!

Chocolate Banana Bread
2 to 3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 banana or spice cake mix
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup water
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (if using the banana cake mix)
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until almost smooth. Divide batter into two greased bread pans and then bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

TIP: You can leave out the cocoa to make it less chocolatey, but I'm not sure why you'd want to do that! Also, if you're not loving the whole chocolate idea and don't want the cocoa, you might as well switch the pudding mix to banana flavor too!


Baked Spaghetti (Squash) Casserole

I love this recipe because the SPAGHETTI squash actually takes place of spaghetti NOODLES. I think it tastes PHENOMENAL and ranks right up there on the pretty HEALTHY list. Yum!

Baked Spaghetti (Squash) Casserole
1 medium spaghetti squash
12 to 16 oz bulk Italian sausage (Italian turkey sausage also works well and makes it even healthier!)
1 package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Halve the squash crosswise and then remove the seeds. Place cut sides down in 2-quart rectangular baking dish; add 1/4 cup water and then cover with vented plastic wrap.  Microwave for 13 to 15 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork; set aside.

In a large skillet cook the sausage, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and garlic over medium heat until the sausage is no longer pink; drain off fat.

Scrape the pulp from squash (about 3 cups).  Wipe out baking dish and then coat with nonstick cooking spray. Spread half the squash in the dish. Add half the sausage mixture. Top with half the sauce and half the cheese. Top with remaining squash, sausage, and sauce.  Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly bubbly around the edges.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and then bake for 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted.  Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

TIP: A great addition to this recipe is sliced olives, and you can also try sprinkling in some dried Italian seasoning as well. Oh, and if you want to make it even healthier, use Italian turkey sausage instead!