Posts Tagged 'Pampered Chef'

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip

The holidays are about get-togethers, and get-togethers often include dip. Today’s recipe – Pampered Chef’s Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip – is one of my favorites. I first made it waaaay back when (2002?  Eek!), and I decided to pull the recipe out for last month’s game day-themed gourmet club meeting.  As always, it was a hit!

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of dip
Prep time: 15 min. | Chill time: 3 hours

Ingredients:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced (about 3/4 cup)
6 bacon slices, crisply cooked, drained and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon sugar
Lettuce leaves
Bread or crackers for serving

Method:
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Gradually stir in dressing; mix well

Remove seeds from tomato and dice it.  Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish.  Finely chop bacon, celery, and onion.  Add tomato, bacon, celery, onion, and sugar to cream cheese mixture; mix well.  Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours to allow flavors to blend.

To serve, line a bowl with lettuce leaves.  Fill with dip.  Garnish with reserved tomato.  Serve with bread, crackers, or crudités.

Source: Pampered Chef’s Celebrate!

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip

I didn't have any lettuce on hand, so I supposed this is technically Bacon and Tomato Dip. It's delicious nonetheless!

Bacon flavor and general creamy goodness is enough to bring this to the top of my list, but I especially love it because it’s easy, it can be made ahead, and it can be made with light ingredients.  (I used real bacon – although turkey bacon would work – with light ranch and light cream cheese.)  So.  So.  Good.  Try it for your next holiday gathering or game day party!

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Southwestern Two-Bean Salad

As promised, here’s the recipe for Southwestern Two-Bean Salad that completes my grilling menu from the other weekend.  I chose this salad to go with the Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken and the Hill Country Coleslaw because it’s hearty, generally crowd-pleasing, and it contained the one ingredient that tied all three dishes together: cilantro.  Its fresh summer flavor would make it right at home on just about any picnic or barbecue buffet, though; I’ve served it with pulled pork sandwiches and burgers as well.

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad
Serves 12

Dressing ingredients:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad ingredients:
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (1/4 – 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro

Method:
For the dressing, whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

For the salad, drain and rinse beans.  Place beans in a large bowl.  Drain corn. Chop bell pepper and add corn and bell pepper to beans.

Chop onion and jalapeno peppers.  Snip cilantro using kitchen shears (or chop it). Add onion, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and dressing to bean mixture.  Mix gently. Cover and refrigerate 2 – 3 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Source: Pampered Chef’s Casual Cooking

Southwestern Two-Bean Salad

I just love this salad.  It’s light and fresh, and I like the way the tender texture of the beans contrasts with the crunch of the peppers and the corn.  Plus, it’s inexpensive to make, it keeps wonderfully, and it adapts well for a variety of menus. Give it a try!

TIPS:  Since it’s summer and fresh corn is readily available, I substituted fresh corn for the canned.  I cut the kernels off of two cobs, placed the corn in a colander, poured boiling water over it, and drained it before adding it to the salad.

Also, since my mom recently fell victim to “jalapeno eyes,” a note about working with jalapenos: After handling jalapenos, always (!) make sure you wash your hands (or wear gloves).  If you have jalapeno oil on your hands and you touch your skin (or heaven forbid, your eyes), it will burn.  I accidentally touched the corner of my mouth recently with jalapeno hands, and while it wasn’t excruciating, I could definitely feel the heat.  If you’re generally cautious about spicy food, though, don’t let this scare you out of using jalapenos in the salad.  Removing the seeds and membranes tones them down considerably.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food, and I could barely taste them.

Creamy Lemon Supreme

Ready for more dessert?

I very rarely experiment with recipes for larger organized gatherings.  When it comes to serving a group, I really enjoy the safety of knowing that I’ve made something before; the methods and outcome are familiar.  No surprises, please.

For better or for worse, though, I’m getting comfortable serving my Denver family “first try” recipes.  The pros are that they get to try a greater variety of foods (desserts, mostly) and that I get to learn something without spending twice the time cooking and twice the money on ingredients.  The obvious con is that the results aren’t always terrific.  For instance, I took a peach crisp to my cousin Lisa’s a few weeks ago that wasn’t *bad*, but it certainly wasn’t spectacular.

I got lucky last week when I served them Creamy Lemon Supreme from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! cookbook…  I was looking for a light, fresh-tasting summer dessert that would compliment a fish dinner, and I found a definite winner.

To start, I buttered a 9-inch springform pan.  (The recipe said to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, but I prefer to use butter when baking.)  The crust can be made of either lemon or vanilla creme-filled cookies; I chose golden Oreos.  The recipe suggested that 12 cookies would yield the 1 1/2 cups of crumbs I needed for the crust, but I needed closer to 17 cookies for that amount.  I stirred the crumbs together with 3 tablespoons of melted butter and pressed the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.

Next, I thinly sliced a lemon and then cut the slices in half.  I placed the most uniform slices around the inside edge of the pan (cut side touching the crust).  This is another spot where I found a discrepancy between the recipe and my experience; I think I needed 7 lemon slices (instead of the suggested 6) plus a half-slice to make it all the way around.  Naturally, the number of slices you’ll need will depend on the diameter of your lemon.  Once I had the lemon slices in place, I put the pan in the refrigerator to chill.

The cake has two layers of filling; I started with the top one, which is basically cook and serve lemon pudding with a few extras.  First, I needed lemon zest and juice, so I used my microplane zester to yield 1 1/2 teaspoons of zest and then squeezed the lemon (plus a second lemon) to yield 1/4 cup of juice.  In a small saucepan, I combined 1 package (2.9 ounces) of lemon cook and serve pudding and pie filling (*not* instant!), 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 2 egg yolks.  I stirred the mixture until it was well combined and then stirred in another 1 3/4 cups of water.  I cooked the pudding over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it came to a full boil.  (It felt like this took forever, but when it starts spurting, you’ll know!)  Once it hit the boiling point, I removed the pudding from the heat, reserved 1/2 cup of it for the cream cheese layer, and allowed it to cool slightly.  Next, I whisked in 1 tablespoon of butter and the reserved 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  (The ingredients go into the pudding in the saucepan, not the reserved pudding.)  I let the pudding cool for 15 minutes, stirring at the 5- and 10-minute marks.

While the pudding in the saucepan cooled, I used my stand mixer to make the cream cheese layer.  (I was being lazy; you could easily complete this recipe with a whisk and some elbow grease.)  In the bowl of my mixer, I combined 2 packages (8 ounces each) of room-temperature cream cheese with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.  Once those ingredients were well mixed, I added the reserved 1/2 cup of lemon pudding and 1 teaspoon of the reserved lemon zest.  When everything was thoroughly combined, I turned the mixer off and used a spatula to fold in 2 cups of whipped topping.  I pulled the prepared springform pan out of the refrigerator and spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust.

The lemon pudding was cool at this point, so I gave it one last stir and spooned it evenly over the cream cheese layer.  The cake *has* to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours; I think mine was in for 8 hours.  When it was time to serve the cake, I cut slices by using the lemon slices on the side as dividers.

I didn’t actually take the time to garnish my cake at the family dinner party (it was dark outside and no one cared, really), but I went ahead and dressed it up with whipped topping and sliced lemon zest for the photos.

Creamy Lemon Supreme

Mmmmm.  I know this dessert isn’t “light” in terms of calories, but the light, fluffy texture of the cream cheese layer and the refreshing sweet-tart flavor of the lemon layer makes this the perfect ending to a fresh summer meal.  Dr. O demonstrated the “lightness” of the dessert by having three servings.  (At least I *think* that was the point he was trying to make. 😉 )  Maybe he was just doing his part to make sure this cake wouldn’t be calling my name from the refrigerator all week, because this is just one of those flavor combinations that really does it for me.  I’ll definitely be making this one again.

TIPS:  My only complaint is a half complaint because those lemon slices on the side are so beautiful…  You might want to warn your guests that they’re there (especially if you’re serving dessert in low-lit conditions) because no one really wants to EAT the lemon.  (Or maybe they do.  I don’t.)

Recipe link: Creamy Lemon Supreme

High Altitude Update: Chicken Lasagna Alfredo

I made what may be my very favorite dish *ever* – Chicken Lasagna Alfredo from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! – last night as a test for an upcoming dinner party.  It did require some minor adjustments (mostly on cooking time), so I thought I’d share for the benefit of any high-altitude readers.

I’ve pretty much abandoned the no-boil noodles since they burned me a few times with inconsistent results.  Last night, I used Barilla lasagna noodles and boiled them for 10 minutes.  (The package directions said 8 – 9 minutes and the recipe said to use the shortest cooking time, but it seems like my noodles have been needing an extra 2 – 3 minutes to cook since the boiling point of water is lower up here.)

I assembled the lasagna according to recipe directions, baked it initially (covered with foil) for 50 minutes instead of 45, and then browned it (uncovered) for 20 minutes instead of 15.  I probably could have actually browned it for 25 minutes (it didn’t actually get very brown), but I didn’t want to push my luck.  I let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting into it so the sauce could set a bit.

It turned out beautifully, almost better than it ever had before.  It was a bit saucier than usual, probably because I used pre-cooked noodles instead of no-boil noodles.  (The no-boil noodles would have absorbed some of the sauce to “cook.”)  It wasn’t runny, though, and it was so, so delicious.

I’m “high-altitude confident” on this one now. 🙂

NOTE:  You can actually assemble the lasagna 1 day ahead.  (So convenient!)  At sea level, increase the initial (covered) baking time from 45 minutes to 55 minutes for a refrigerated lasagna.  At approximately 5500 feet, I’ll increase the baking time from 50 minutes to 60 – 65 minutes.  The browning and setting times should be the same.

Original post: Chicken Lasagna Alfredo

Recipe link (slightly modified by poster): Chicken Lasagna Alfredo

Sloppy Joes

Before I started telecommuting (and before I developed an absolute addiction to trying new recipes), I had a few favorite dishes that I tended to make over and over. Sloppy Joe’s Pocket Sandwiches from Pampered Chef’s Casual Cooking was one of my all-time favorites. It might lack sophistication, but it’s actually pretty tasty. Plus, I can have it on the table in 15 minutes flat.

This recipe isn’t posted online, so here’s what you’ll need:

1 pound lean (90%) ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
4 sandwich buns
4 slices American cheese

In a 12-inch skillet, I cooked the ground beef over medium heat, breaking it into crumbles, until it was no longer pink (10 minutes). I drained it, returned it to the skillet (still over medium heat), and added the onion and garlic. I sprinkled the mixture with the salt and pepper and cooked it until the onion was tender (3 minutes).

Next, I stirred in the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. I served the meat on whole-wheat buns with the American cheese slices.

There’s just something about this recipe… It’s warm and comforting, and I just love the ketchup-mustard-brown sugar combination in the sauce. I can’t say I’d serve it for company – hehe – but it’s perfect for those nights when you just don’t have much time to put dinner together. Kids love it, too!

TIPS: The original recipe calls for the meat to be served in pita pockets with (optional) green bell pepper rings. I found that when the pita pockets got wet from the meat juices, they tended to fall apart. Buns work for me!

Also, sometimes I skip the onion because (a) I don’t want to deal with it, or (b) I want the dish to cook even faster than usual. It’s delicious either way.

Update: Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! cookbook are still THE BEST SNACKS EVER. EVER! I made them again last night for the ladies in Dr. O’s office and I had to have one myself, of course. They’re just gooey caramel-chocolate-brown-sugar-oatmeal perfection. Mmmm.

I wanted to post new pictures, though, because the photos from my last Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews post are comically bad. Dr. O and I seriously laughed out loud when we compared them. Practice makes perfect! 🙂

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Recipe link: Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews

Strawberry Spinach Salad

For the number of times I’ve made Strawberry Spinach Salad from Pampered Chef’s Casual Cooking, it’s hard to believe I haven’t posted it yet. It’s my favorite salad, hands down, and I serve it often for company. Plus, it’s strawberry season, so the timing on this one is just right.

To make the dressing, I combined 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds in a small Tupperware container. I put the lid on, shook the heck out of the dressing, and refrigerated it until I was ready to dress the salad.

The salad is topped with 1/4 cup of toasted sliced almonds, so I toasted them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350F while I prepped the rest of the salad ingredients. (Remove the almonds from the oven when they’re light brown and fragrant; this will probably take 5 – 10 minutes.)

The salad itself is made up of spinach, strawberries, cucumber, and red onion. I hulled and quartered 8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of strawberries. Next, I scored the cucumber lengthwise with a zester tool in about 6 places. (This just means to peel away strips of the cucumber skin for decorative purposes. You can skip this step if you want. I use the large notch in my zester to accomplish this.) Once it was scored, I cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, removed the seeds with a spoon, and cut half of the cucumber into thin slices. (You only need half of the cucumber for this recipe, so save the other half for another use.) I also took 1/4 of a small red onion and sliced it into thin wedges (1/4 cup).

I put 1 package (5 – 6 ounces) of baby spinach in a serving bowl and topped it with the strawberries, cucumber, and red onion. I shook the dressing well, poured it over the salad, and tossed everything to coat. I finished things off with the toasted almonds.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This salad is amazing, truly. I’m not much of a salad eater and I think I could eat this one every day. (Or at least every other day. 🙂 ) The dressing is zesty and slightly sweet, and the flavor combination of the strawberries, cucumber, and red onion is wonderful. This one will stay in rotation for years to come, I’m sure.

TIPS: I often make the dressing, toast the almonds, and prep the vegetables several hours before I serve the salad. Just refrigerate all of the ingredients (except the almonds – no refrigeration necessary) in airtight containers until you’re ready to eat. Always dress salads *immediately* before serving; otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy mess.

Recipe link: Strawberry Spinach Salad




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