Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Twists

I made this super yummy and super easy treat for my husband, for breakfast, Christmas morning (along with pumpkin spiced pancakes). If you love Nutella (who doesn't??) and hazelnuts, then you must make these very soon!

Chocolate Hazelnut Twists
(recipe adapted from

2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (or 2 cans of the Pillsbury seamless dough sheets)
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
Powdered sugar, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with baking spray (you'll use only 8 cups though).

Unroll one can of dough on a very lightly floured work surface. Firmly press together perforations if using regular crescent rolls. Press into a 13x7 rectangle.
Spread Nutella evenly over the dough, to 1/4 inch on the sides. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts on top of the Nutella.

Unroll remaining can of dough; seal perforations. Press into a 13x7 rectangle as well. Place over filling, and press together the edges firmly to seal.
Cut in eight (13 inch) strips. Twist each strip about 5 or 6 times. Shape into a tight coil and place one in each of the prepared muffin cups (muffin cups will be full).

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove immediately from pan to wire racks and let cool for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jen's Lasagna

My husband requests every year that I make my lasagna for our Christmas Eve dinner. I usually make it early in the morning so I can just pop it in the oven for dinner and not have to worry about making a huge mess in the kitchen. I prefer to spend my time with my family, watching Christmas movies and snuggling :) Here's my "healthier" lasagna, I hope you enjoy it!

Jen's Lasagna
Serves 8

1 lb lean ground beef*
1 lb Italian chicken sausage, casing removed, and crumbled*
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced (optional)
1- 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil (or about 1 T fresh, chopped)
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley, divided (or about 2 tsp fresh, chopped)
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 jar favorite pasta sauce (about 24 oz)
1 T granulated sugar
1- 16 oz container fat-free ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup reduced-fat grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2-4 cups 2 % reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles (about 13 oz)

* Can use 2 lbs of ground beef or 2 lbs of chicken sausage instead

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lean hamburger and chicken sausage and cook for about 5 minutes. Add diced onion and zucchini to the meat and continue to cook until meat is thoroughly cooked through. Drain if needed.

Add diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, 1/2 teaspoon of the parsley, about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or basically to taste), and fresh ground black pepper, to taste, if desired. Mix well and simmer on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.

Then add the jar of pasta sauce and the sugar. Stir and let simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat a large pasta pot with water to a boil. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Add lasagna noodles and cook for about half the amount of time recommended on the box (probably 5 minutes total). Drain.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, blend together the ricotta cheese, remaining 1 teaspoon parsley, egg, and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle in about a teaspoon of olive oil, and add salt to taste to the cheese; mix well.

To assemble: Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and lay 4 lasagna noodles lengthwise in the pan, overlapping the sides.
Next, use about a third of the ricotta mixture and spread evenly on the noodles. Then sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese on top of the ricotta. Then spoon about a third of the meat mixture on top of the mozzarella. Then sprinkle another 1/2 cup of the mozzarella on top of the meat (optional--add if you want the lasagna to be extra cheesy!).

Repeat layers two more times, ending with a good sprinkling of mozzarella on top of the meat and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and then allow to cook for another 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

(This lasagna can be made ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap, and replace with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove foil, and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or so until hot and bubbling.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tortilla Snowflakes and Andes Cookies

I spent a wonderful afternoon with my children baking and decorating cookies, sipping hot chocolate, and listening to Christmas music. I live for moments like these. We laugh, we joke, eat cookies (and frosting), and we sing along with the's just so heart warming and such a blessing.

This year, we also made tortilla snowflakes, inspired by a post from Our Best Bites. I thought this was SUCH a great idea. My kids loved it and they had a blast making and eating them. I highly recommend you make these with your kiddos!

I made a ton of different types of cookies this year for Christmas. I even tried a few new recipes, and everything has come out great. Last year, I found a great recipe on a blog using Andes baking chips, but for some reason, I never bookmarked the page, and never wrote the recipe down. I bought more Andes baking chips to use this year, so I tried to track down the recipe, but had no luck. I was bummed, but still wanted to make something using these chips. So, I did something I don't normally do....I made the recipe that was on the package. The cookies came out really good! My whole family loved them and so did my husband's employees. This recipe is definitely a winner and I will be making them again.

Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies
(slightly adapted from the back of the Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips package)

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 package (10 oz) Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs, until well mixed.
Stir in the Andes Baking Chips and then add the flour, mixing well.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position the oven rack to one level above the middle of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop out about one tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Slightly flatten (using fingers is fine). Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (try not to over-bake). Let cool on baking sheet for two minutes before removing to wire racks.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies--Egg, Dairy, and Nut Free

I made this cookie recipe for the first time last year, and I fell in love with it instantly. I vowed to make these cookies every Christmas from that moment on. They are so good, AND they are egg, dairy, and nut free!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies--Egg, Dairy, and Nut Free
(recipe slightly adapted from the Food Allergy Mama)
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil, sugar, applesauce, cocoa and vanilla; mix well. In a separate, medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, and mix well.

Scrape the cookie dough out of the bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and then place in the freezer for an hour (or refrigerate for at least 3 hours).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly "flour" your hands with confectioners' sugar and  then scoop out about a tablespoon of dough. Roll dough into a perfect ball, and then roll the ball in the confectioners' sugar until completely covered. Place at least an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes or until just set. Do not over-bake. Cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peppermint Bark

I love peppermint bark. It's a Christmas staple in our house. I make LOTS of this candy every year. It's so easy to make, and to give!
Here's my favorite recipe:

Peppermint Bark

16 ounces white chocolate chips (or bars/block white chocolate)
12 ounces dark chocolate chips (or chocolate bars)
2 tsp peppermint extract, or 1 tsp peppermint oil, divided.
12 peppermint flavored candy canes, crushed

Line a baking sheet, or jelly roll pan with nonstick foil or wax paper (I prefer the wax paper).

Using a double boiler, heat the water to a simmer and melt the dark chocolate, or in a microwavable bowl, heat the dark chocolate at 50% power in the microwave, until melted, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Briskly stir in 1 tsp of peppermint extract, and then spread the dark chocolate onto the prepared pan, in an even, thin layer (I recommend not spreading it all the way to the edges of the pan).
Place pan in the fridge until almost set, about 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, Use a double boiler to melt the white chocolate following the previous step, or in a microwavable bowl, melt the white chocolate, in the microwave, at 50% power until melted, stirring every 30 seconds or so. Then, while stirring, add remaining 1 tsp peppermint extract (the chocolate may thicken or "chunk" a little--just keep stirring until smooth again).
Remove the dark chocolate from the fridge, and quickly spread out the white chocolate in an even layer over the top of the dark chocolate.
Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top of the white chocolate (pressing down very gently, if needed, so the candy will stick).

Return the pan to the fridge, and chill until completely set (about 10 to 15 minutes). When ready, remove the pan from the freezer and break candy apart into pieces. Best if stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Date-Nut Filled Cookies

I would like to introduce you to my most favorite Christmas cookies of all filled cookies. They may not sound all that awesome, but seriously, they are the best ever.
My grandmother would make these cookies every year for our family Christmas gathering, and my mom would also make them for us, for a Christmas treat. I love them SO much. Whenever I bake these cookies, I am reminded of the many wonderful Christmas memories I have.....of my cousins and extended family....and all of the happy times of my childhood.
Here's my beloved recipe:

Date-Nut Filled Cookies
(Recipe adapted from an old Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Makes about 30 filled cookies.)

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 T milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Date-nut filling:

1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp all-purpose flour

To make the cookies:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Beat in the milk and vanilla; mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter/sugar mixture slowly, mixing well. (add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if needed, until dough isn't very sticky)

Divide the dough in half, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour (can be left overnight).

To make the filling:

In a small saucepan, combine the raisins, dates, walnuts, water, sugar, flour, and heat to just a boil over medium-high heat; stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and boil gently for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Let cool to room temperature (mixture will thicken more upon standing).

To assemble cookies:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper so the cookies won't stick.

Remove one half of the dough from the refrigerator (keep other half chilled until ready to use). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a round 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut out the cookies. Lay them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet; about an inch apart.

Spoon about one teaspoon of the date-nut mixture on the center of each cookie. Then place a second cookie over on top of each, slightly pressing down along the edges. Using the tines of a fork, seal the edges of each filled cookie, and prick the centers. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for about 13-16 minutes or until light brown on the bottoms and the edges. Let cool, and then enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

M&M Party Cookies

The holiday season is now in full swing, and it's time for me to start planning my Christmas goodie bags that I send to my extended family each year. I usually mail cookies, candy and other yummy treats. My mom used to do something similar to this for her family every year. Giving homemade gifts is such a wonderful way to show love to each other during the holidays.
These M&M cookies are one of my absolute favorites. I've been baking them since I was little girl, and I still make them every year for Christmas. Everyone loves them.
When my father-in-law was serving in Iraq a few years ago, I mailed a HUGE box of these cookies to him to share with his fellow soldiers for Christmas. They all loved them and were so thankful for the homemade treat. Here's the recipe:

M&M Party Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate M&M's (or mini M&M baking bits)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat in the vanilla and eggs.
In a seperate medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well.
Add 3/4 cup M&M's (or 1 1/4 cups mini M&M baking bits) to the batter and mix well, using a spoon.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchement lined baking sheets. Use remaining M&M's to add to the tops of the unbaked cookies (I usually put 3 on each).
Bake for 10 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Individual Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecakes

I love, love, mini or individual sized desserts, and I also love cheesecake. Combine the two and well, I'm in heaven. There are so many different flavor cheesecake combinations out there, but I happen to love these little pumpkin spiced cakes. They are so good. If you prefer plain cheesecake, try this delicious recipe as well. Either recipe will be a wonderful addition to your holiday menu!

Individual Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecakes
(recipe adapted from the Can you stay for dinner? blog)

Makes 12

For the crust:

5 oz graham crackers (9 whole crackers sheets)
3 T granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
6 T unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

2- 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 T all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with double thickness paper liners.

To make the crust: grind the graham crackers finely, using a food processor. Then whisk in all of the spices until evenly combined. Stir in the melted butter and mix well. Scoop about a tablespoon of the crust mixture into each of the prepared muffin cups, pressing down firmly.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Do not remove from pan.

To make the filling: In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin, flour, spices, salt and vanilla; mix well. Add the eggs and egg yolk and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide the batter into the prepared crust cups, filling them to just below the top of the paper liner (you may have left over batter).

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is just set.
Remove to a wire rack and let cool in the pan.

Refrigerate (in the pan) for at least 4 hours or over-night (over-night is best!). To serve, remove the well chilled cheesecakes from the paper liners and place on serving plates. Top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wacky Cake

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mom would always make a wacky cake for my sister's birthday. It's my sister's favorite cake (and mine as well), so to carry on the tradition, I still make this cake for her every year. The cake itself is so incredibly moist, and has a delicate chocolate flavor. It's just so unbelievably good. My sister and I don't like this cake with frosting on it, but rather a big dollop of whipped cream. I have, in the past, made this cake into cupcakes (just adjusted the cooking time) and frosted them with my favorite chocolate frosting (recipe here), and they were very good, but I still prefer eating it with only the whipped cream.
Happy Birthday to my dear sister, Kate!

Wacky Cake
(recipe from my mom)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 T white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cocoa and baking soda. Add the water, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Mix well.
Pour cake batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center, comes out clean.
Let cool. Best served slightly warm, with whipped cream, or can frost with favorite chocolate frosting, if desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roasted Turkey

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I wanted to share with you my favorite, simple roasted turkey recipe. I've made this recipe for many years now and I always get perfect results. The flavor is so wonderful and the meat is always so moist and juicy. You will not be disappointed by this recipe, I promise!

Roasted Turkey
(adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse)

1- fresh or thawed turkey (about 10-12 lbs)
1 medium onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves, halved
Several sprigs of fresh herbs: thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage
2 bay leaves
8 T unsalted butter, divided
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Adjust a rack in the oven to the lowest position and remove other racks.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Remove fresh (or thawed) turkey from fridge. Place in a clean sink; remove packaging, and then remove the neck and giblets bag from inside the bird (discard or save to make gravy, etc.).

Rinse the bird with cold water and then pat dry well with paper towels, inside and out. Place bird onto a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. (I like to add a few cups of water and chopped onion to the bottom of the roasting pan for the gravy)

Season the bird liberally with kosher salt and black pepper on the outside and inside. Stuff the inside of the bird with the onion, garlic, herbs and bay leaves.

Melt 4 T of the unsalted butter and then brush generously all over the outside of the bird. (reserve remaining butter).
Tent the turkey with foil and roast in the oven for about 2 hours (or about 2/3 of the entire cooking time).

Remove the foil, and baste the bird with the remaining 4 T of melted unsalted butter. Place back into the oven, uncovered, and continue to roast for the remaining cooking time; about an hour or so. (cooking times will vary depending on the size of the turkey)

When turkey is done, remove from the oven and let sit for about 30 minutes before carving. Use the pan drippings to make gravy, if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Southern Chess Pie and Pecan Pie

My southern husband's two most favorite pies are: pecan and chess. I'll agree that pecan pie has always been one of my favorites as well, but being a "yankee", I had never heard of a chess pie until I met my husband. His Aunt Mary sent me her chess pie recipe shortly after Michael and I were married, and I was amazed the first time I made it. It was SO good. Now it's a staple dessert at our Thanksgiving meal every year, along with a pecan pie.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Aunt Mary's Chess Pie

1- 9 inch unbaked pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 T cornmeal
2 eggs
4 T milk (whole or 2 %)
1 T white vinegar
1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a pie plate with the unbaked pie crust.
Whisk together the butter, sugar, cornmeal, eggs, milk, vinegar and vanilla. Pour into the unbaked pie crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes until set. Cool completely and then serve with homemade whipped cream! Enjoy!

Southern Pecan Pie
(adapted from a recipe by Guy Fieri)

1- 9 inch unbaked pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
2 cups toasted pecans, chopped*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a pie plate with the unbaked pie crust, flute the edges.

In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, butter and vanilla.
In a small, separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Then whisk the eggs into the sugar mixture.
Fold the chopped, toasted pecans in to the egg mixture.

(* I highly recommend toasting the pecans for the best flavor, but it's optional. Here's how to toast the pecans: For every 1 cup of pecan halves: melt 1 T butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the pecans and toss to coat. Spread pecans onto a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool. )

Pour pecan mixture into pie crust. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the center is set. Let cool completely (or overnight) before slicing. Serve with homemade whipped cream! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins (With Cream Cheese Frosting)

With Thanksgiving coming up very soon, I thought I would throw out a few of my favorite Thanksgiving dessert recipes. My entire Thanksgiving menu changes from year to year, but usually includes: an herb roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, green bean casserole, a sweet potato casserole, sausage-sage stuffing, homemade dinner rolls and bread, olives, pickles, and cranberry sauce. But because dessert is the best part, I always make a few different pies and/or treats for dessert to make everyone happy. I traditionally make this apple pie, a pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pie, and a chess pie (recipes to come!). I also like to make cupcakes or fun thanksgiving themed cookies for the kids (and adults).
This muffin recipe is sooooo good and when combined with the frosting, it transforms into an amazingly good cupcake. My kids love these and so do I. I like to make them as mini versions, but they are just as good regular sized. Hope you enjoy these! Stay tuned for more recipes!

Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins (With Cream Cheese Frosting)
(recipe adapted from the pioneer woman--makes 12 regular sized or 24 mini muffins)

For the muffins:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
4 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup pumpkin puree (heaping)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

For the frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 pound confectioners' sugar (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp vanilla

To make the muffins:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a 12-cup muffin or 24 cup mini muffin tin with baking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two forks, until it is fully incorporated.

In a seperate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and gently fold until just combined.

Evenly pour the muffin batter into the greased muffin cups--about 1/2 full in each.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes if using a 12-cup pan or about 15-20 minutes if using a mini muffin pan.
Remove from the pan and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: combine all of the frosting ingredients and mix on high speed until fluffy and soft. Frost the cupcakes per desired technique and then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Awesome Caramel Corn

My family and I LOVE caramel corn. I've made a few different recipes over the years, but we think this particular recipe is the BEST. I make this a lot during the holidays and send it to most of our extended family as part of their gifts. I like to make the caramel corn even more awesome by adding a few special touches, like drizzling colored chocolate over it, adding candy or chocolate bars, or candied nuts. You must try this recipe!

caramel corn mixed with chopped Twix bars and drizzled with melted chocolate
 Carol's Caramel Corn
(recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

15 cups popped corn
2 T molasses
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I use light)
1/2 cup salted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil.
Pour the popped corn into a large bowl (at least 6 quart).

In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the molasses, brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently, for 5 full minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda. Stir well as the mixture turns foamy.

Immediately (and carefully!) pour the very hot caramel syrup over the popped corn and stir until the corn is well coated.

Spread the hot caramel corn onto the parchment lined pan. Bake in the preheated 200 degree oven for one hour. Stir the corn every 15 minutes during this time.

Remove caramel corn from the oven and let cool. Break apart and put into air tight containers. If desired, mix in choice of candy, nuts or drizzle with melted chocolate before storing. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mom's Best Apple Pie

The title for this pie is courtesy of my mother describing her mother's apple pie recipe. It's very fitting because this pie is the best apple pie, not only in my mom's opinion, but also mine as well. My grandmother was an amazing baker and an excellent cook. She was also French-Canadian and most of her recipes are French inspired and/or came from her mother. The streusel-type topping on this pie, instead of the traditional double pie crust, is French-style. It's very sweet and full of buttery goodness, another French quality. My grandmother definitely loved her butter! Here's her beloved recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Mom's Best Apple Pie
(recipe from Alene Judd)

For the topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

For the filling:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
6-7 medium-sized tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 crust, pie crust
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To begin, make the pie crust (my favorite recipe here) or use your favorite recipe or one store bought pie crust.

Then make the topping: Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Place in the fridge while making the rest of the pie.

For the filling: Combine the sugar, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the sliced apples and toss to coat evenly.

To assemble: Line the bottom of a deep pie dish with the single pie crust; flute the edges. Fill the pie shell with the apple mixture. Dot with the 2 T of butter. Remove the topping from the fridge and scatter in chunky pieces over the apples.

Bake for 30 minutes or so, until the apples are tender and the topping is dark golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving. Wonderful served with vanilla bean ice cream, homemade whipped cream, a slice of cheese or all three, if desired :) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Creamy Corn Chowder

I'm really not a big fan of corn chowder (chowda?), especially if it's canned or made with creamed corn. But, I really, really like this recipe. It's fairly basic, but the ingredients are fresh and the flavor is wonderful. It's creamy, hearty and even better (I think) the second day!

Creamy Corn Chowder
(generously adapted from a recipe by rainy day gal)

6 slices thick bacon, chopped (yes, six!)
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 medium-large sweet onion, diced
4-6 medium sized yukon potatoes, diced, unpeeled
6 cups corn (fresh off the cob or can use frozen--thaw first)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth (low sodium is better)
2 cups water
2 cups half and half
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until just crisp. Once done, remove to a paper towel lined bowl, using a slotted spoon. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pot (this is the good stuff!).

Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion to the bacon grease and cook for about 4 minutes until almost tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn.

Immediately add the chicken broth, making sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom. Then add the water, potatoes, corn, celery and bacon. Season with salt and pepper (I usually add about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper to start). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the half and half and bring back to a boil. Check seasonings and then simmer over low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes until thickened slightly. Serves 8. Great served with crusty bread! Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

M&M's Candy Corn Macadamia Nut Cookies

I love M&M's. I also love how they are always coming out with new color and flavor combinations. When I first saw that they released a white chocolate candy corn version, I was super excited and immediately started searching all of our stores in hopes that someone might carry them in our small town. I didn't have any luck though. Since hurricane Irene devastated our area and flooded 90% of our shopping plazas, causing most of the stores to close indefinitely, our store options have been extremely limited.
But thanks to a couple of good friends of mine that happen to live near stores that do carry the candy corn M&M's, I was soon supplied with multiple bags and I was very happy!

I came across this recipe right after my search for the M&M's started. These cookies are really good. My husband and kids loved them. I'm not the biggest fan of white chocolate, but I also loved the cookies. They are super cute for fall or Halloween. I highly recommend making this recipe if you can find the candy corn M&M's!

M&M's Candy Corn Macadamia Nut Cookies
(recipe adapted from Mom Endeavors)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 full cup M&M's Candy Corn white chocolate candies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Then stir in the vanilla.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Fold in the macadamia nuts and M&M's.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden on the edges. Let cool and the enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Hand Pies

I know, I'm obsessed with apples right now, but I can't help it. We picked a LOT this year and I'm scrambling to find ways to use them up!

We love apple pie in our house. I make a few different versions of it for my family throughout the fall. This version is one of our favorites because it's so fun to eat. My kids think it's so cool that they each get their own little pie for dessert. I personally like to eat mine with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a little drizzle of caramel sauce :)

Apple Hand Pies
(The filling is a Jen original and the pie crust recipe is from King Arthur Flour)

For the pie crusts (recipe makes 2- 9 inch pie crusts):*

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold shortening
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:

4-5 baking apples, cored and diced (I like to use gala apples)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (scant)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 T flour

Egg wash
Cinnamon/sugar (1/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

To begin, first make the pie crusts. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening, using forks or a pastry cutter. Then, once the shortening is incorporated, cut in all of the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time and mix using a fork. Continue to add water until the dough is moistened and just sticks together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and flatten the balls into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
* You can skip this step and used store bought pie crusts if you prefer

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the filling: Peel, core, and dice the apples into very small pieces. Place into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Mix well using a spatula. Set aside.

Remove one pie dough disc from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about a 1/6 inch thickness. Using a 5 inch diameter round cookie/biscuit cutter, cup, or bowl, (whatever you can find--can be slightly smaller too) cut circles out of the dough. Then continue to re-roll out the dough until you use it up.
Transfer the circles to a parchment lined baking sheet. I recommend placing the dough circles back into the fridge for about 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn't get too warm. Repeat with the remaining pie dough disc.
You should get 10-15 total dough circles.

Remove the dough circles from the fridge and let sit for a couple of minutes on the counter to warm up a bit. Then place a small scoop of apple filling (about a tablespoon or so) onto one half of each of the pie dough circles. Lightly brush around the edges of the circle with water. Then fold the dough over the top of the apples to create a half-moon shape. Using a fork, press around the edges to seal.

Repeat until all of the hand pies are assembled. Place back into the fridge for about 10 minutes (can skip this step, especially if using store bought pie dough).

Remove pies and lightly brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown and smell heavenly :)
Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jen's Apple Crisp

Apple crisp comes in many different forms. This is my perfected version. It's my families favorite fall dessert and I think you will love it too.

Here's the recipe:

Jen's Apple Crisp

For the filling:

6 baking apples, peeled and sliced  (I like to use a mixture of Gala and Honeycrisp)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 T granulated sugar
1-2 T water

For the topping:

1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, slightly softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To begin, make the topping: Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your hands, cut the butter into the mixture until we incorporated and mixture resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Place mixture in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

For the filling: Peel and slice apples and place directly into a 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and water. Stir to combine.

Scatter the topping over the entire top of the apples. Do not pack it down.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the apples are tender and bubbling, and the topping is golden brown. Best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top or homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cream Cheese Apple Dip

Apples, apples, everywhere! Autumn has arrived in full swing at our house!

This is a wonderful dip that goes perfectly with fresh, sliced apples. It's great as a dessert or a snack. It's so super quick and easy to throw together. This is one of our family favorites and I think you will enjoy it too!

Cream Cheese Apple Dip
(recipe from Tammy's Recipes)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fresh, sliced apples for serving (about 6 apples)

Combine all the ingredients (except for the apples) in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix until no lumps remain and is smooth. Serve with sliced apples and enjoy!
(Dip may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two days)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tortellini Pasta Salad

Summer is quickly fading to fall here in New England. I love the fall. I love the colors, the cool air, watching football games, but most of all, I love fall cooking and baking....

BUT, it's not quite fall yet, so I have one last summer recipe to share. I have made lots of different styles of pasta salads in my lifetime. Some are great, some are just so-so, but this recipe I came across is really good. The ingredients of the salad itself are very simple, but the dressing that goes on it is what makes it so great. This got big thumbs up in my house, even from my picky husband!

Tortellini Pasta Salad
(recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)

20-24oz fresh or frozen mixed cheese tortellini
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium sized cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 cup whole, pitted black olives, halved
1 cup Ground Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

First, make the Ground Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 green onions, firm white parts only (remove hairy ends)
4-5 medium sized cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp honey (I used more because I like it sweeter--can also use sugar)
1-2 T coarse grain mustard, to your taste (or dijon, but the coarse grain mustard tastes better)
1 cup canola oil

Using a blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Blend on high until thoroughly mixed and then, while the blender is running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream.
I suggest allowing the dressing to refrigerate for an hour or so before adding it to the salad. (the dressing is also great on leafy green salads)

For the salad:

Prepare tortellini as directed on package. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and pasta in a large bowl. Add the prepared dressing and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving and then add more dressing if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pecan Brownie Muffins

For my birthday recently, a good friend of mine gave me a brownie cookbook for a gift. The book has a ton of great, new and intriguing brownie recipes.
Among all of the recipes, I felt the need to make the Pecan Brownie Muffins first. Although I was a little skeptical of the ingredient measurements and didn't have high hopes of a great finished product, the muffins came out awesome! They have a light chocolate brownie flavor and the pecans give it a slightly nutty taste and texture. The recipe said it makes 12 muffins, but I actually got 16 instead. I loved these and recommend that you make them soon!

Pecan Brownie Muffins
(recipe adapted from the brownies-easy and delicious cookbook)

Makes 12 muffins

1 cup pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (generous)
1/4 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken (or a full 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, which is what I used)
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Coarsely chop the pecans and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a small sauce pan over low heat, stirring frequently.

Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir to mix evenly.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and a when a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No-Bake Chocolate Cookies

My husband grew up in Clarksville, TN, where he spent a lot of time visiting with his Grandparents that lived close by. His Granny used to make him these special cookies all the time and they are still, today, his favorite.

I love making these cookies for my family, especially during the summer. They don't require baking so they are the perfect treats to make on a hot day.

No-Bake Chocolate Cookies
(recipe from Granny Devers)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy can be used)
3 cups quick-cooking oats

In a small saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, cocoa and milk to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly.
Boil for just over 1 minute and then remove from the heat.
Stir in the vanilla and peanut butter, until the peanut butter is melted.
Pour chocolate mixture over the oats in a large bowl. Mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto wax paper. Let sit until cookies are set and hardened. I usually make my cookies a little on the large size so I get about 24.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jen's Fresh Tomato Salsa

My husband, my oldest son, and I love fresh salsa. A lot of salsas are made with canned or cooked tomatoes, but we love it made fresh from the garden.
I like to make this salsa the day before I'm going to serve it so the flavor has time to set up, but it can be served the same day. It will stay fresh for a few days in the refrigerator if kept in an air tight container.

Here's my simple and delicious recipe:

Jen's Fresh Tomato Salsa

3 medium to large sized fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 of a red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced (can use more, if desired)
2 whole canned green chilies, chopped
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Mix together all of the salsa ingredients in a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper according to your preference. I like to start with about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper and go from there. (if you are not into "chunky" style salsa, you can puree this in a food processor for a minute or so to get a smooth, thin consistency).

Serve with your favorite chips, on top of burgers and hot dogs, with tacos, on top of grilled steak....the possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grilled Jalapeno and Bacon Burgers

I decided to grow jalapenos in my garden this year, so I planted ONE plant and got over 12 jalapenos! Thankfully, my husband and I really like spicy food so using up all the jalapenos wasn't going to be a problem.

This burger is a favorite of ours and is sooo good. You can control the amount of heat according to your preference. I like to use one jalapeno (with minimal seeds) per one pound of hamburger (to make four 1/4 pound patties). You can use less or more if you want.

Grilled Jalapeno and Bacon Burgers
(generously adapted from Rachael Ray)

Serves 4

1 lb lean ground beef
1 jalapeno pepper
8 slices of bacon, divided
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
4- Slices cheddar cheese
Avocado slices, optional
Onion slices, optional

Spray the grill with non-stick spray and then preheat to medium-high heat.

Cook bacon (not too crispy) and drain on a paper towel. Chop 4 slices of the bacon into small pieces. Reserve the remaining 4 slices.
Remove the seeds from the jalapeno and then finely chop.

Mix together the ground beef, chopped bacon, jalapeno, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Press the beef mixture into 4 equal sized patties.
Grill the patties for about 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the patties). Melt a slice of cheddar cheese on the top of each burger a couple of minutes before the burgers are done.

Serve burgers on toasted buns with one slice each of reserved bacon. I like to add slices of avocado and a few thinly sliced onions on top of mine as well. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Garlic-Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken

Summer is almost over for us (our kids will be back to school in just over a week) so I decided to share with you a couple of our favorite, easy summer recipes.

My husband and I love grilled food, so we use our grill throughout the year, even when there is four feet of snow on the ground. Grilling in the summer is our favorite though because we can grill almost every night. My husband considers himself to be a master griller because he claims to be able to grill almost anything, and strives to achieve perfect grill marks every time. I'm not sure about the master griller part, but he does cook some of the nicest looking meat I've ever seen! :)

Here's one of my go-to marinated grilled chicken recipes. It's easy to throw together and has a really nice, subtle, but noticeable flavor. You can alter any of the ingredients to your liking or add more/different herbs to change the flavor a bit.

Garlic-Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken

For every 4 boneless chicken breasts:

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves fresh, minced garlic (small to medium in size)
2 T water
1 1/2 T lemon juice (fresh is best)
1/4-1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all of the marinade ingredients.
Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag or glass dish with a cover. Pour marinade over chicken, coating each piece well. I like to pierce the meat a few times with a knife so the marinade soaks up better.
Marinate in the refrigerator for a least an hour, but I think the best flavor is achieved after the chicken has been marinating for most of the day (6 hours or so).

When ready to cook, spray grill with non-stick grilling spray (if desired) and the preheat to medium-high heat.
Remove chicken from the fridge and place on paper towels. Gently dab off any excess marinade.
Grill chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes or so (6-8 minutes on each side).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie Parfaits

I made this special Peanut Butter Pie Parfait dessert in memory of a fellow food blogger's husband, Mikey, who recently passed away unexpectedly (read more, here). I've never met either of them, but the love and support that was showed to them throughout the blog world over the past week was just amazing. I couldn't wait to make my own special peanut butter pie dessert to share with my family, in their families honor.

This is a very decadent dessert that is very easy to put together. I hope you enjoy it!

Peanut Butter Pie Parfaits
(adapted from Inside BruCrew Life and The Pioneer Woman)

Here's the ingredients you'll need:

Oreos (regular or chocolate creme)
Unsalted butter
Creamy peanut butter
Cream cheese
Confectioners' sugar 
Cool-Whip, thawed
Chocolate Chips
Heavy whipping cream
Mini Reese's peanut butter cups, cut in half (or regular sized peanut butter cups, chopped)

Let's make it!

Oreo Crust Layer:
10-12 Oreos, finely crushed (I used my food processor)
1 T unsalted butter, melted

-Mix Oreo crumbs and melted butter together. Set aside.

Peanut Butter Pie Layer:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 T confectioners' sugar
4 oz Cool-Whip, thawed (half of the container)

-Using an electric mixer, cream together the peanut butter and cream cheese. Then mix in the confectioners' sugar. Gently fold in the Cool-Whip with a rubber spatula. Set aside.

Chocolate Ganache Layer:
1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

-Heat the heavy cream over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Let cool for a few minutes on the stove top.

Homemade Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T sugar

-Using an electric mixer, whip the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Once all of your "layers" are ready, it's time for assembly! If you make 3 layers of each like I did. then you should get 4 big servings (the bigger, the better, right?). If you only do two layers of each, then you should be able to get about 8 servings.

Here's how I put mine together, starting from the bottom:

About 2 tablespoons of Oreos, pressed into the bottom of each parfait cup.

Then add these layers in this order:
1 generous tablespoon of peanut butter pie filling
1 generous tablespoon of chocolate ganache
4- half pieces of Reese's mini peanut butter cups (or about half a tablespoon of chopped regular size)

-Repeat the above three layers, two more times (or once more if making smaller desserts)

Finish with homemade whipped cream on top and a few more Reese's mini peanut butter cups for garnish.
Enjoy!! :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicken Florentine Bowtie Pasta

I'm always on the search for great pasta dishes, especially quick, week-night type dishes that can be thrown together in less then 30 minutes.

Here's another great recipe from one of my favorite blogs. Jenny from Picky Palate is always creating the best dishes that are kid (and adult) friendly. I often look to her recipes for inspiration in my own kitchen. This recipe was yet another winner in my house and I think you will enjoy it too!

Chicken Florentine Bowtie Pasta
(adapted from Picky Palate)

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 cups fresh baby spinach, washed
2 cups cooked boneless chicken, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 containers of Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 box bowtie pasta
1 1/2  cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used reduced-fat 2% milk)
Grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Cook pasta to al-dente according to package directions. Drain.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken, salt, and pepper and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the Cooking Creme. Stir well.
Add the pasta to the chicken mixture and mix well. Spread into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve with desired amount of sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy!