Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Old El Paso Frozen Dinners...#platefullcoop

Chances are that if you are reading this, you are the main cook and bottle washer in your family. Isn't it tiring sometimes? Don't get me wrong, I love to cook. Experimenting while I'm cooking is one of my favorite things to do. Tonight, though, I just wanted a plate of food to appear in front of me. I wanted to set my butt in the comfy chair, turn on the TV, and stuff my face with food that someone else had made. Well, cue the trumpets...I had a frozen Old El Paso Fajita Dinner in my freezer! Woot, woot! Dinner had practically made itself!

All I had to do was add the tortillas...voila...Fajitas!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get a few coupons in the mail so that I could give the Old El Paso Frozen entrees a try. I started with the Beef Burritos and I have to tell you that those babies were tasty! The husband and I ate them before any pictures could be taken. The same thing happened when I brought the Steak Fajitas home. As soon as they hit the pan, they were gone. Again, no pics. So, I spent the last of my coupons on another bag of Fajitas and a pack of Steak Quesadillas. It's not only that they are quick and easy to make---all of the entrees really taste good. There's a little spicy kick to them and the beef and veggies actually taste fresh. Plus, I didn't have the hassle of chopping veggies and cutting up meat.

Just open a bag of chips and pour some salsa in a bowl....

Dump the fajitas in a non-stick skillet.....

Fill up some warm tortillas and in 10 minutes you have meal!

I actually had enough to make myself some Fajita Nachos.

So now that we've polished off another Old El Paso entree, I'll have to get some more in time for Cinco de Mayo. I can't wait to actually savor these with a frosty margarita....

If you're looking for any of the entrees (there are 8 different flavors of fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, and quesadillas) you will find them in the freezer section of the grocery store. 

Visit the Old El Paso website for more information and don't forget to like Old El Paso on Facebook!

Disclosure: I was given coupons for free product in order to try the Old El Paso Frozen Entrees. All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cornbread Waffles

A few weeks ago, I was the lucky recipient of a box of cornbread mix. Not just any cornbread mix, mind you....this was an advanced, preview box of Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Cornbread Mix. I was kind of excited about it, which is not unusual for me considering how I feel about food.

I've really never had good luck with making my own cornbread, so I was happy to give this mix a try. Of course, I can't just follow the recipe on the box...or even the recipes that were sent along with the box. Perfectly good and easy recipes, I might add. No, I was in the mood for waffles on Sunday and the first thing I thought of was that box of cornbread mix. Let's see how I did....

First, I added about a tablespoon of orange zest to the mix. Orange zest is one of my favorite adds a little something, no? Then I simply beat two eggs into a cup of buttermilk and added 1/3 cup melted butter and a teaspoon of vanilla. I folded the buttermilk mixture into the cornbread mix just until it was combined. Then I made my waffles. Easy stuff!

I use a Belgian waffle maker and this recipe made 8 large waffles. 

A little butter, warm syrup, and fruit...perfect combination.

The best part of making waffles out of cornbread mix is the crunchiness of it all. It's not always easy to get the right texture, but this version even froze beautifully. Go ahead and make up a batch in advance...they are great to pop in the toaster for a quick breakfast before work or school.

Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Cornbread Mix has just rolled into your local Walmart stores for a mere $1.78 per box. Plus, you can find all sorts of recipes on their website, Simply Homemade.  It looks like they have all sorts of I want to try the Pretzel mix. How fun!

So, tell me. Would you make a basic batch of cornbread or would you mix it up?

Disclosure: I was given a box of cornbread mix to try. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dark Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt....#improv

It's the third Thursday of the month...this can only mean that it's an Improv day! Improv is a monthly blogger challenge put forth by the lovely Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Each month Kristen gives us two seasonal ingredients with which we are to create something wonderful. This month our theme is Ebony and Ivory!

Of course I went for the chocolate....why wouldn't I? Actually, a few months ago I had created a Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Cookie. I loved them, but I forgot to write the recipe down and I couldn't remember where I got the inspiration. So, I Googled. What I found was a pretty good sounding cookie from a certain Martha Stewart. You can find her recipe here ------ >  XXX  Of course I had to put my spin on things (not to mention make it an Ebony and Ivory themed cookie), so I changed it up. Here's what I made:

Dark Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt

1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (60% Cacao), melted
2 teaspoons espresso powder or instant coffee
1/2 cup good quality white chocolate chips
2 oz good quality white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and the coconut oil for several minutes or until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir the espresso powder into the melted chocolate and add to the sugar mixture. Fold in the flour/cocoa mixture just until completely blended; stir in the white chocolate chips and chopped white chocolate. 

The coconut oil can make the cookies spread, so be sure to chill the dough for a few minutes after you've dropped them on the cookie sheet. 

Drop the dough by tablespoons (I use a cookie scoop) onto the prepared pan. Sprinkle each mound of cookie dough with a little sea salt. Chill the dough for a few minutes before baking (so the cookies don't spread too much), then bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

It might be worth your while to pour a glass of milk before you dig in....

Perfectly fudge-y in the middle.

Okay--wipe the crumbs off and let's take a look at what everyone else is making---

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Orange-Vanilla Muffins

I can hardly believe that Spring (notice I had to capitalize it) is finally here. After such a long winter, I'm ready for something a little sunny. Sunny? What I mean to say is fresh, light, and...well..citrus-y. Not to worry--chocolate is never very far away from me--let's just change things up a little for now.

Just look at how refreshing this orange looks! I used one large orange for this recipe.

I'm a little schizophrenic eclectic when it comes to food. One minute I'm all about healthy and the next I'm stuffing my face with muffins. Seriously, though, look at all of the vitamin C going into this batch of Orange-Vanilla Muffins...... 

A little yogurt and coconut oil makes these even healthier. Believe it. Negates the sugar and white flour. Still feel guilty? Swap 1 cup of  white whole-wheat flour for 1 of the cups of all purpose flour.

My inspiration for these citrus-y muffins came from a new flavor of yogurt that I found while I was at the grocery store....Orange Vanilla. I love that flavor combination. It reminds me of creamsicles. I couldn't wait to try it in a recipe. Feel free to sub plain or vanilla yogurt if you can't find this one.

Orange-Vanilla Muffins

1-2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (5-6 oz) container Orange-Vanilla Greek yogurt (sub plain or vanilla, if desired)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons orange zest and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Place the yogurt, egg, orange juice, and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl or large measuring cup. Use a fork to blend the mixture. Microwave on high for 30-40 seconds, or until the mixture is at room temperature (and the coconut oil stays melted). Stir in the vanilla and the remaining orange zest. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir with a rubber spatula until just blended--batter will be lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the sugar/orange mixture over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

How would you like to wake up to these??!!

The orange infused sugar on top gives these muffins a nice crunch...

Soft and orange-y--just like I wanted them to be!

What's your favorite spring food?