Chicken Caesar Crostini

This is an easy and FABULOUS recipe that you can WHIP up for New Year's Eve. I'm a sucker for anything with Caesar dressing, but these really are WORTH trying! To top things off, they look REALLY pretty. :)

Chicken Caesar Crostini
6 to 8 chicken tenders
Olive oil
1/3 cup grated Asiago or Romano cheese, plus more to top
1/2 cup Caesar dressing, or to taste
1 French baguette, sliced in 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices
Romaine or green leaf lettuce, chiffonade (sliced in thin strips)

Saute the tenders in a frying pan coated with a touch of olive oil. (I seasoned mine with some Montreal Chicken Seasoning.) Let cool completely and then dice the chicken; preheat the broiler.

In a bowl, combine the chicken, cheese, and dressing just to coat. (I'm not exactly sure on the dressing measurement, so just add gradually until all is moist.) Place bread slices on a baking sheet and then top each piece with a spoonful of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle some cheese over top and then broil in the oven until bread is looking toasty and the chicken mixture is sizzling—about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in my oven. Top with a pinch of the lettuce strips and serve!

TIP: I tossed my lettuce with just a touch of the dressing, but not too much as I didn't want it to get soggy. Also, be careful not to cut the bread slices too thin—the topping is pretty heavy and you want them to hold up. You could brush them with olive oil and toast in the oven to make them a little more firm before topping and broiling. Also, another ingredient that would be a fantastic addition—bacon!


Banana Streusel Muffins

If you have some extra ripe BANANAS around, make these easy muffins a part of your CHRISTMAS breakfast!  I sometimes get tired of regular banana BREAD (why do I always have overripe bananas?), so sometimes I make these instead. YUM!

Banana Streusel Muffins
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 extra ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and then add all of the wet ingredients; mix well. Spoon batter in greased muffin tins, about 2/3 full; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the streusel ingredients until crumbly. Divide evenly over the muffin batter in the pan and then bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

TIP: If you don't like the hassle of cleaning the muffin pan when all is said and done, just use the little paper liners instead! Also, a good addition to this recipe would be some chopped nuts or chocolate chips.  If you add some, let me know how they turn out!


All Day Salsa Chicken

I've had several VERSIONS of this recipe, and actually LIKE them all. I made this one for dinner a week or two ago. It was the perfect WARM dish on a very snowy NIGHT. Hope you like it!

All Day Salsa Chicken
10 to 12 chicken tenders
8 to 12 ounces chunky salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 heaping cup frozen corn
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

Spray a Crockpot with nonstick spray. Place the chicken tenders inside. Pour the salsa over the chicken. Cook on low heat for about 7 to 8 hours. Stir the chicken and salsa around a bit to break up the chicken. Pour in the beans and corn and then stir in the cream cheese. Let cook on high heat for about 30 minutes and give it all a good stir. Serve over rice or wrapped up in a warm tortilla.

TIP: I like to stir in more salsa after the cream cheese is all melted so the taste has a little more zip to it. This version is fairly thick, so the extra salsa also loosens it up a bit more. If it is too thick for you, try stirring in half a can of cream of chicken soup, or a 1/2 cup of sour cream. It changes the taste a little bit, but is still yummy. You can also double the cream cheese if you want, just for fun!

BONUS TIP: This recipe is also great served as a dip with tortilla chips!


Favorite Pot Roast

This is a super EASY Crockpot recipe that I love love love! The gravy is so FLAVORFUL and the roast always turns out TENDER. I have a hard time not licking my plate CLEAN, or the Crockpot for that matter!

Favorite Pot Roast
1 (2- to 3-pound) beef roast
1 envelope brown gravy mix
1/2 envelope Italian dressing mix
1/3 cup water, plus more if necessary
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Brown the roast on all sides and then place in your Crockpot. Combine the dry mixes with 1/3 cup water and pour over top. Cook on low heat about 8 hours. When done, remove the roast to a serving platter and slice; set aside. Combine the cornstarch and cold water and pour into the Crockpot to thicken the gravy; stir until smooth and thick. Add more water to the gravy if necessary. (Like if it tastes too strong or seems too thick, or if you just want more of it!) Serve with mashed potatoes and a favorite veggie.

TIP: Once I have the gravy to my liking, I usually put the sliced pieces of roast back in and let them soak up some of that gravy goodness before I serve it. Oh, and since my husband loves onions, I better say that adding some onion slices to the Crockpot while cooking the roast would be good too! :)


Creamy Carrot Bisque

Every year, my MOM gives me a big bag of carrots from her GARDEN. And, every year, I make this SUPER yummy soup. It's pretty healthy, but so creamy and GOOD that my 1-year-old daughter downs the stuff!

Creamy Carrot Bisque
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 pounds peeled carrots, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Dash of nutmeg
4 to 5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable for vegetarians)
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Cooked and crumbled bacon, optional
Sour cream, optional

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the carrots, vinegar, nutmeg, and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the carrots are very soft. Blend cooked mixture in the blender until smooth and creamy; with the blender still running, slowly pour in the cream. Pour back into saucepan and then warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with bacon and sour cream on top.

TIP: I use my mom's garden carrots, but you can buy the 2-pound bag of already peeled baby carrots at the grocery store and they work just as well. And, they will actually save you time because you don't have to peel them! Also, if you want to cut calories, try using milk instead of the cream.


Blue Cheese and Pear Pizza

This is another PIZZA recipe, but it is obviously not your TYPICAL pizza. I've had something like this similar at a local RESTAURANT, but I think my version is just as good! If you like GORGONZOLA, you're gonna love this!

Blue Cheese and Caramelized Pear Pizza
1 Boboli pizza crust
Blue cheese dressing (use your favorite kind! I actually used light)
1 large pear, thinly sliced (like 1/4 inch or less)
1/4 cup sugar
Gorgonzola or other favorite blue cheese, crumbled
Candied pecans
Shredded Jarlsberg (or a good-quality) Swiss cheese
Shredded or torn lettuce, like Romaine or leafy green

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the crust on a pizza pan and then spread a very thin, light layer of blue cheese dressing; set aside.

Press both sides of each slice of pear into the sugar (spread out on a plate) and cook a large frying pan until tender or slightly browned. (This takes about 7 or 8 minutes total, so try and flip the pear slices somewhere in the middle.) Lay the cooked pears over the dressing on the crust. Sprinkle a generous layer of gorgonzola crumbles over the top, followed by the candied pecans. Finally, finish off with the Jarlsberg cheese and then bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.

Toss the lettuce with some blue cheese dressing and top each individual slice with the mixture. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: The great thing about this recipe is that you don't need to use ripe pears! They can be green and still turn out sweet and flavorful due to the caramelization process. Other great additions include cooked and crumbled bacon, or even some shredded rotisserie chicken.


Easy Christmas Cut-Up Cakes for Kids

I think it's time for me to plug my cute little book, Easy Christmas Cut-Up Cakes for Kids. It has around 25 holiday/wintery cakes that you can make with your kids (or without!) and they are all super cute, if I do say so myself. Here are a couple more of the cakes you can make:


Mexican Pizza

We love MEXICAN food at our house as well as pizza, so that's how this recipe came to be! I usually make it with LEFTOVERS from tacos or burritos, but I've portioned things out for you. We didn't have tomatoes when I made the PIZZA below, but it was still delicious. We just used more SALSA on top!

Mexican Pizza
1 can (15 ounces) refried beans
1/2 to 3/4 cup chunky salsa
1 Boboli pizza crust
1/2 pound hamburger, browned and drained
2 to 3 tablespoons taco seasoning, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/2 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 1/2 cups grated Mexican-blend cheese
Shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a saucepan, warm the beans and salsa together, stirring occasionally. Spread half of the bean mixture over the pizza crust (and reserve the rest for another use or a 2nd pizza!).

In a frying pan, season the hamburger with the taco seasoning and water. Sprinkle meat over beans on crust. Sprinkle the tomatoes and green chiles over the meat. Top with the cheese and then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Top individual slices with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: Instead of using half of the beans and half a can of tomatoes and chiles, try using 2 Boboli crusts and make 2 pizzas! You'll want leftovers for lunch the next day anyway. Other great additions to this pizza include black beans, diced bell peppers, sliced jalapeƱos or olives, and yummy avocado or even fresh tomatoes instead of canned.