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February Recipes

Cracker Toffee

Nonstick Cooking Spray 

4       to 5 Dozen Saltine Crackers

1       Cup Unsalted Butter (cut into chunks)

1       Cup Light or Dark Brown Sugar (packed)

1       tsp. Salt

1       tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips (milk, semi sweet or bittersweet)

1       Cup Toasted Pecans (chopped)

Flaky Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15x10 inch baking pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray. Arrange crackers snugly in rows to cover the entire pan, breaking crackers in half if necessary to fill the pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour the mixture over crackers and smooth quickly and evenly using an offset spatula. Bake until toffee darkens and bubbles, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over toffee; let stand 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Using a clean spatula, smooth chocolate over the toffee. If desired, sprinkle with nuts and lightly sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Cool completely. Break into pieces. Yields 48 pieces.


Chili Pecans

2  Cups Pecan Halves

2  Tbsp. Coffee Liqueur or Maple Syrup  

4  tsp. Vegetable Oil   

2  Tbsp. Sugar

2  Tbsp. Ground Chimayo Chile Pepper (or other medium-hot ground chile pepper, such as Ancho or Pasilla)

Line a 13x9x2 inch baking pan with foil; set aside. In a medium bowl combine pecan halves, liqueur or maple syrup and oil. Stir in sugar and ground chile. Spread in prepared pan. Bake, uncovered in a 250 degree F. oven for 45 minutes, stirring twice. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month. Makes 2 1/2 cups.


Tomato-Basil

Chicken and Rice

2    Tbsp. Olive Oil 

1/2 Cup Onion (diced)

2    Cloves Garlic (minced) 

1/4 Cup Tomato Paste

2    Medium Tomatoes (cored, diced)

2    Cups Long-grain Brown Rice

3/4 tsp. Salt (plus more to season)

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper (plus more to season)

4    Cups Chicken Broth (low sodium) 

6    Chicken Thighs (bone-in, skin-on)

1/3 Cup Fresh Basil (lightly packed)

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. 

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and saute for 1 minute more. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Transfer the rice mixture to the prepared baking dish. Pour the broth over the rice mixture. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides and place them skin-side up on the rice. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake until the rice absorbs all the liquid and the chicken is cooked through. About 30 to 40 minutes longer. Serves 6


Festive Chicken Salad

2    Cups Chicken (cooked, cubed)

1/2 Cup Mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. Paprika 

3/4 Cup Dried Cranberries

1/2 Cup Celery (chopped)

1    Green Onion (chopped)

1/4 Cup Green Bell Pepper (minced)

1/2 Cup Pecans (chopped)

1/2 tsp. Seasoning Salt

Black Pepper (to taste)

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise with the paprika and seasoned salt. Blend in the dried cranberries, celery, bell pepper, onion and nuts. Add the chopped chicken and mix well. Season with black pepper to taste. Chill 1 hour. Serve in lettuce cups or on your choice of bread. Serves 6


Strawberry Balsamic Salad

Dressing:

1/4    Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard 

1       Tbsp.  Honey

1       Small Shallot (peeled, chopped)

2       Cloves Garlic (peeled)

1/2    tsp. Salt

1/4    tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/2    Cup Olive Oil 

Salad:

1    Head Red Lettuce (rinsed, dried, torn)

1/2 Small Red Onion (peeled, sliced into 1/2 inch slivers)

1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds (lightly toasted)

1    Pint Fresh Strawberries (rinsed, sliced)

1/2 Cup Feta Cheese (crumbled)

To make dressing: Place the balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until blended. Slowly pour in the olive oil and pulse again until thoroughly blended. Set aside or refrigerate until needed.

Salad: Divide the lettuce between 6 serving plates and top with the onion slices, almonds, strawberries and feta cheese. Serve the dressing on the side. Makes 6 servings.


Creamy Parmesan Rice

with Chicken & Tomatoes

1   Tbsp. Butter

1   lb. Chicken Breasts 

     (boneless, skinless, cut into thin strips)  

1   Cup Cherry 

     Tomatoes (cut in half)   

2   Cups Water

1   Pkg. Zatarain’s Creamy Parmesan Rice Mix

1   Cup Baby Spinach Leaves

Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add tomatoes; cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from skillet. Set aside. Stir water and rice mix into the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and tomatoes; cover and simmer 5 minutes longer or until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat. Stir in the spinach. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 5.


Mexican Shepherds Pie

      lb. Lean Ground Beef (at least 93%)

1/2    Cup Green Onions (sliced)

      Cup Thick n’ Chunky Salsa

1 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder

3/4    tsp. Cumin

      Can (11 oz.) Corn (drained)

      Pouch (4.7 oz.) Betty Crocker Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Water, Milk and Butter (as called for on the potatoes pouch)

1/2    Cup Cheddar Cheese (shredded)

      Medium Tomato (sliced into thin wedges)

Tortilla Chips (if desired for garnish)

In a 10 inch skillet, cook the ground beef and 1/4 cup of the green onions over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in the salsa, chili powder and cumin. Spoon corn evenly over beef mixture in skillet. Cover and cook over low heat until mixture is thoroughly heated.

Meanwhile, make the potatoes as directed on the pouch, using water, milk and butter.

Spoon the prepared mashed potatoes over the corn in the skillet; spread evenly. Sprinkle with cheese and remaining 1/4 cup green onions. Cover; cook over low heat until cheese is melted. Arrange the tomatoes wedges in a spoke fashion over the potatoes. Garnish with tortilla chips around the outside edge of the skillet. Serves 4.


Tasty Ways to Use Tortilla Chips

1.   Use crushed tortilla chips in place of bread crumbs in hamburgers and meatballs.

2.   Use crumbles of tortilla chips as a topping for mac and cheese.

3.   Use crushed tortilla chips as a replacement for breading for fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, pork chops or other fried foods.

4.   Use broken tortilla chips instead of crackers with your favorite soup.

5.   Use broken tortilla chips to top your favorite salad instead of croutons.