Monday, February 29

Basil Parmesan Crisps

Seriously simple to make, even easier to eat, these Parmesan crisps are perfect for snacking or dipping. Did I mention this is done with just three ingredients? Get ready for you new favorite snack!

Full time 45 minutes
Makes 4 portions

The needs-

4 large flour tortillas
2-3 tbsp basil oil
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

The know-

Preheat oven to 350'

Lay tortillas out on two baking sheets, two tortilla per sheet.

Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with basil oil.

Sprinkle Parmesan over just the top side of tortillas.

Slice into 6 wedges each, separating as you slice.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until edges begin to golden.

Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets five minutes before serving.


Saturday, February 27

MAKE IT: Basil Herb Oil

Infused oils are great for salads, mashed potatoes, marinades, and so much more. Here is a simple infused oil which is perfect drizzled over fresh tomatoes or perfect for white pizzas.

Full time 45 minutes (includes resting time)
Makes 1 pint oil

The needs-

1 pint olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil
1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

The know-

In a small sauce pot place basil leaves.

Add in garlic, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.

Add in oil.

Use a spoon or spatula to gently submerse basil into oil.

Bring to low boil over medium high heat and then turn off heat.

Give a gentle stir and let sit 30 minutes to cool.

Strain into container olive oil came in.

Store for up to a month, cheers!

Wednesday, February 24

TEA TIME: Hint of Mint Tea

I love tea, I drink it year round and usually a few times a day. This simple to make tea can be served either hot or cold and is perfect for those rushed mornings to just grab and go.

Full time 1 1/2 hours (includes 1 hour steeping/cooling time)
Makes 1 gallon tea

The needs-

1 bunch mint
8 tea bags or equivalent loose tea
8 cups water
2/3 cup sugar (or to taste)

The know-

In a small pot place mint leaves.

Add in 1 cup water.

Bring water to high boil over high heat and boil 10 minutes. Set aside.

Bring remaining water to boil in a seperate vessel. 

While these boil let us work on making tea base.

Place tea bags or loose tea in metal or heat proof bowl, yes the metal will become very hot, but it holds it at a good brew temperature longer.

Add in sugar.

Add in boiled water, not mint water.

Let steep ten minutes.

Remove tea bags.

Add mint water.

Allow to completely cool before removing mint.

Place in air tight container and enjoy up to 1 week. Cheers!

Monday, February 22

MAKE IT: Nacho Cheese Chips

I love the occasional snack of nacho cheese chips, most people do, I just hate the slowly growing price and shrinking bag size. So recently I decided to figure out how to make them myself. Now if I could just figure out how to stop eating them!

Full time 30 minutes (plus cooling)
Makes 4 portions

The needs-

4 flour tortillas (large for a nice size chip)
8 corn tortillas (small, for now tradition flavor)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt

The know-

Preheat oven to 350'.

Lay out tortillas and brush with vegetable oil to evenly coat.

Slice tortillas into 6 wedges each (if you pile them back up it goes faster).

Move wedged into a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl combine cheese, chilli powder, paprika, and salt. Make sure there are no clumps of cheese.

Add 3/4 of seasoning blend into bowl with tortillas, reserving the remaining seasoning blend.

Gently finger toss tortillas to coat evenly (a gloved hand works much better for clean up).

Lay coated tortillas out on baking sheet.

Are you wondering about that reserved seasoning? As you lay them out make sure to check both sides for bald spots, they sometimes like to stick together, like this...

Use the reserve to dust over the bald spots before moving them to baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nice and crisp.

Let them cool on baking sheet at least five minutes before eating.


Friday, February 19

HOW TO: Slow Cooker Dump Cake

This past year gave rise to the ever popular dump cake trend. Most dump cakes originate from cast iron camping cakes and contain the same base ingredients: cake mix, filling, butter, and water. You can use any combination to create a wide variety of delightful desserts. I will list a few at the end of the directions, but here are the basics to get you started.

Full time for 4qt slow cooker 5 hours low, 3 1/2 hours high
Full time for 6qt slow cooker 3 1/2 hours low, 2 hours high
Servings 6-8

The needs-

1 box cake mix
1lg can or 2 small cans (28oz total) fruit filling
1 stick butter, melted
1-2 tbsp water

The know-

Lightly spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

Pour fruit filling into slow cooker making sure it covers the bottom evenly.

Add cake mix in even later across top of fruit.

Add in butter and let sit a moment.

Add only enough water to full moisten the surface.

Cover with lid and walk away.

Cake is ready when slightly firm to touch.

Scoop and serve with ice cream or whipped cream, cheers!

Here are some great combinations to try:

Chocolate covered Cherry Cake-
Chocolate Cake Mix
Cherry Pie Filling

Apple Crumb Cake (in photos)-
Yellow Cake Mix
Apple Pie Filling

Berry Delight Cake-
White Cake Mix
Small can Blueberry Pie Filling
Small can Cherry Pie Filling

Peach Cobbler Cake-
Yellow Cake Mix
Sliced Peaches in Syrup

Sunday, February 14

HOW TO: Turn Boxed Mac and Cheese into Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Gourmet Mac and Cheese restaurants are one of the hottest new trends, I myself have visited them. Honestly I really enjoy them too. But a family of four can easily spend $40-$50 for dinner at these establishments in my area and I just cannot see spending that on one of the easiest dinners to do. 

With a few simple items from the grocery store you could have a gourmet dinner at home in under 40 minutes. And the best part is everyone could have their favorite version by just changing a few staple ingredients you probably have in your refrigerator right now.

Here are three gourmet Mac and cheese dinners all made at the same time for less the the price of one serving at a restaurant. At the end of this post I will give you a few extra ideas for more fan favorites.

Full time 40 minutes or less
Serves 3 larger meals

To start grab a box of Deluxe Mac and Cheese, the type that comes with the cheese sauce already made. I also recommend grabbing a store prepared rotisserie chicken* this will come in handy  for several types of Mac and cheese.

Get your oven heating to 375' and place 3 personal size baking dishes (24oz) on a baking sheet.

Follow the cooking instructions on the package to create your base Mac and cheese. From here you can either make three of the same or three different Mac and cheese dishes.

For Cheese Lovers Mac and Cheese-

1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
3 tbsp shredded cheese blend
1 tbsp shredded cheddar
1 tbsp shredded mozzarella 
1 tbsp shredded Monterey Jack

Place Mac and cheese into baking dish filling 2/3 of the way.

Top with shredded cheese.

For Buffalo Mac and Cheese-

1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked Shredded chicken*
1 tbsp buffalo sauce
1 tbsp blue cheese crumbles

Place Mac and cheese in baking dish filling 1/2 way.

Combine buffalo sauce and chicken.

Top Mac and cheese with mixture.

Top with blue cheese crumbles.

For BBQ Pulled Chicken-

1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken*
2 tbsp BBQ sauce

Place Mac and cheese in baking dish filling 1/2 way.

Combine chicken and BBQ sauce.

Top Mac and cheese with chicken.

For all bake in oven for fifteen minutes or until nice and steamy. Starting with a hot rotisserie chicken*, bake for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve immediately- here is a nice before and after for visual ease...

Some additional ideas for flavors:

Philly Cheese Steak-
1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked Shredded steak
1 tbsp caramelized onions
1 tbsp shredded cheddar
-mix onion and steak into Mac and cheese top with shredded cheddar

Lobster Mac-
1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked Shredded lobster
1 butter cracker (Ritz), crumbled
-mix lobster into Mac and cheese top with crumbled cracker

Taco Mac-
1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked Shredded chicken*
tbsp salsa
3 tbsp shredded cheese blend
3 tbsp shredded Jack cheese
- mix chicken with salsa layer on top of Mac and cheese (same as buffalo) top with shredded cheese.

Broccoli Mac-
1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked broccoli, chopped 
2 tbsp shredded cheddar 
1 butter cracker (Ritz), crumbled 
- mix broccoli with Mac top with crumbled cracker then top with shredded cheese

Cheeseburger Mac-
1/3 box prepared Deluxe Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup cooked ground beef
2 tbsp shredded cheddar
1 tbsp real bacon bits
-mix ground beef with Mac top with bacon then top with shredded cheddar