Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats

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I had an open box of yellow cake mix in the pantry, so when I ran across this recipe I knew I had to try it out. I love crispy treats and this easy addition makes them even more fun.

Cake Batter Rice Crispy Treats
(from Gimme Some Oven)

3 T. butter
1 (10 oz.) bag of mini-marshmallows
1/2 c. yellow cake mix
6 c. crispy rice cereal
Rainbow sprinkles

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add marshmallows. Stir until they begin to melt, adding in cake mix one spoonful at a time so its combined. Stir in cereal so it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and mix. Press into a 9×11″ baking dish and top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for about 30 minutes before cutting. I find spraying a knife with nonstick spray helps to cut them.


Macadamia Stuffed Chicken

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Two years ago, Mark and I were on our way home from our fantastic Hawaii honeymoon. One of the souvenirs we brought home was a Hawaiian cookbook and it gets pulled out much more often during the summer. There’s something about the warm weather that makes me want to relive our time there – even if it’s just through food.

This chicken involves very little prep and is really quick to make. I really loved the crunch of the nuts and the celery and served alongside roasted baby potatoes it was an easy weeknight dinner.

Macadamia Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(from Best of the Best from Hawai’i Cookbook)
Serves 2

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 T. finely chopped celery
1 t. finely chopped onion
1 T. soft butter
Salt & Pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 T. flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 T. butter

Mix nuts, celery, onion, 1 T. butter and salt and pepper to taste. Cut pockets into chicken breasts and stuff each with half of the nut mixture.

Dip into egg and then flour. Fry until brown and cooked through in a medium hot skillet.


Grilled Ham with a Wine Pineapple Honey Glaze

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Mark and I always end up spending enough to get a free ham or turkey when the supermarkets run the holiday promotions – but a whole of either is a lot for us so we end up saving them for entertaining. Around Easter I picked up a free ham, but after a few months I was itching to get it out of the freezer. As I searching for 4th of July ideas, I ran across this recipe and knew it would be a perfect way to use the ham without having the oven on for hours heating up the house.

It seemed a little intimidating to cook something so big on the grill but this worked out great. I put down foil under the ham to keep as much of the glaze from dripping into the grill as possible – it also made clean up extremely easy.

The ham came out perfect – moist and just a touch of sweetness from the glaze. Everyone loved it!

Grilled Ham with a Wine Pineapple Honey Glaze
(from Grillin Fools)

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 bottle white zinfendel or other sweet wine
1/4 c. honey
1 T. dijon mustard
Large bone-in ham (ours was about 12 lbs.)

Combine all the glaze ingredients.

Prepare grill for indirect grilling and med to med-low heat – approximately 300F degrees.  Place a sheet of foil over the grill grates. Place the ham on the foil, face-down. Spoon glaze over and cover.

Cook the ham 2-3 hours, spooning more glaze over every 30 minutes until done.


Classic Strawberry Jam

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My Mom has a strawberry patch in her yard so for a few weeks in the early summer they’re completely inundated with strawberries. This year, they ended up being really busy during strawberry season so when I stopped in one day she passed off several pounds of strawberries to “do something with” - so I decided to make up some jam.

This was my first time making jam – and only my second time canning – but it went incredibly well. I recently picked up Put ‘em Up! and it’s an excellent guide for anyone learning to can. This took a bit of time to make, but it was very much worth it – I’ve been loving having the fresh jam on toast for breakfast!

Classic Strawberry Jam
(from Put ‘em Up!)
Makes 7 half-pint jars

8 c. strawberries, hulled and halfed if large
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. bottled lemon juice

Toss the strawberries and sugar in a large bowl and let sit in the refrigerator overnight to coax out the fruit’s juice.

Transfer the mixture to a large nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring and crushing to release the juice. Stir in the lemon juice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the jam reaches the desired gel, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release air bubbles. Skim off any foam.

Use the boiling water method to can: Ladle into clean, hot half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on the jar bands. Process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.


Asian Style Pulled Pork

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Most people equate slow cookers with winter cooking but they’re also great for summer because you can make a hot meal without heating up the house with the oven. Barbcue pulled pork seems like a natural choice for summer and this recipe is a nice twist on what you’d normally think of.

The Asian flavors pair nicely with fresh cucumbers and cabbage giving it an even more summery feel. This was totally worth making the full six servings for the two of us – we’ve really been enjoying the leftovers!

Asian Style Pulled Pork
(from Branny Boils Over)
Serves 6

1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. plum sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1 T. chili garlic sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 t. sesame oil
2 lbs. pork roast

Mix together first seven items in a small bowl. Place pork roast in slow cooker and pour sauce over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred pork and return to slow cooker for 15 minutes more. Serve on rolls with sliced cucumber and cabbage.


Watermelon Salad

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This is another recipe I made in an effort to use up our watermelon a little faster. I was sick of eating plain watermelon so I was hoping dressing it up a little would make it more appealing – and this totally did the trick.

The flavors here work really well together and make a great dish – it was something I was looking forward to eating again, despite being watermelon-ed out. The recipe below is sized to serve one because I felt this dish was best fresh. You can multiply it as needed.

Watermelon Salad
(adapted from Cooking Weekends)
Serves 1

2 c. watermelon, cubed
1/4 c. crumbled feta
1/4 c. kalamata olives, halved
2 T. chopped red onion

Toss together. Serve immediately.


Mini Key Lime Pies

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The latest recipe swap is highlighting desserts. I received a very summery recipe for Key Lime Pie from Krystal at Mrs. Reguerio’s Plate. Since it’s just Mark and I and we had no entertaining plans this week, I knew we’d never eat a whole pie so I scaled this down to make a few mini pies.

I used store-bought mini graham cracker crusts but you could use the crust recipe in Krystal’s recipe in cupcake tins if you wanted to do it yourself.

These were a great, fun summer dessert.

Mini Key Lime Pies
(adapted from Mrs. Reguerio’s Plate)
Makes 6 mini pies

6 mini graham cracker pie crusts
1 (14-oz.) can condensed milk
1/2 c. key lime or regular lime juice
1 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. powdered sugar
1 t. lime zest

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Combine the condensed milk, lime juice and eggs. Whisk until well blended and divide the filling between the pie shells. Place all on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. Sprinkle the lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.


Watermelon Agua Fresca

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A few weeks ago, we had a housewarming party to finally show off our now one-year-old house.  I had planned a slew of food, including watermelon with dessert. My plan was to cut up the watermelon right before dessert but in the hubbub of everything I completely forgot about it.

When we remembered it later we thought, oh well, we’ll just eat it ourselves. Clearly, we didn’t realize how much watermelon we had. After a few days of eating it with breakfast or lunch we were getting sick of it so I decided I needed to jazz things up a bit. 

Mark’s a big fan of juice so I knew this would go over well. It was light and refreshing – really a perfect summer drink. In the mood for a summer cocktail? It’s great with vodka.

Watermelon Agua Fresca
(slightly adapted from Chef In You)
Makes approx. 1 liter

1/2 large watermelon, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 c. water
3 T. agave nectar

In batches, use a blender or food processor to blend the watermelon and water. Filter using a fine strainer to remove any watermelon pulp. Stir in agave nectar. Serve well chilled.


Baked Chicken Chimichangas

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The latest recipe swap I participated in was Mexican-themed. As much as we love Mexican food, I don’t seem to cook it at home much so I was super excited to try out this Chicken Chimichangas recipe recommended by Jenna at A journey through trying new things.

The original recipe calls for these to be deep-fried. In the interest of making them a little healthier, I sprayed them with cooking spray and baked them instead – it gave them a nice crunch without all of the calories.

Baked Chicken Chimichangas
(adapted from All Recipes)
Serves 2 generously

1 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. uncooked brown rice
3 T. red enchilada sauce
1/2 onion, diced, divided
2 (12 inch) flour tortillas (This makes for very large chimichangas – dividing between 3 or 4 tortillas gives a more reasonable portion size.)
1-1/3 c. shredded cooked chicken breast, divided
5 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives
1-1/3 c. refried beans, divided
guacamole, sour cream and cheddar cheese for topping.

In a medium saucepan combine the broth, rice, sauce, and 1/2 diced onion. Mix and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, heat tortillas in a large skillet (so that they are soft enough to fold).

When rice mixture is ready, spoon equal amounts of the following onto each tortilla:  chicken, shredded Jack cheese, diced onion, olives, rice mixture and beans. Roll tortillas, tucking in sides to prevent filling from spilling over.

Place rolled chimichangas on a baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 350F degrees until tortillas begin to crisp up.

Serve chimichangas topped with guacamole, sour cream and shredded Cheddar cheese.

Linked up with Eat at Home’s Ingredient Spotlight: Tortillas 2013


Slow Cooker Baked Beans

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There’s something about baked beans that scream summer grilling to me – but I almost never make them because I hate having both the grill and the stove going at the same time. Using the slow cooker to make the beans is a great way to be able to focus on just the grill. I made these for a barbecue a few weeks ago and everyone loved them – and I loved them because they were really hands-off to make.

If you have trouble finding Navy Beans, check in your ethnic/international section. My local stores had them shelved there instead of by the other canned beans.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans
(from Eat at Home)

4 cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
1 bottle chili sauce
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled

Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  If your beans seem too soupy, remove the lid for 15-20 minutes to let it thicken up.