Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

I was first treated to this delightful treats at a friend's wedding reception back in the 1990's. It wasn't a typical Utah wedding reception and an another friend ate the whole tray before the guests showed up. I couldn't get over the delicious taste of these little appetizers. I finally, a few years ago, asked at the local restaurant who catered her reception all those years ago about the recipe. Well they wouldn't give it to me but did tell me there were only five ingredients in the dish. I played with it for years until I finally noticed a recipe in a Taste of Home Treasury of Christmas Recipes book. I was able to tweak that recipe into the taste I remember from years ago. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. The flavor is hard to describe but it's sort of a sweet salty picture with a crunch. You need the good thick bacon from the butcher area of the store to make these taste right. If you use the bacon from cello packs it won't work as well. Oh and low fat or fat free mayo will not work, nor will Miracle Whip.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
adapted from Taste of Home Treasury of Christmas

1 1/2 pounds thick sliced bacon
3 cans (8 oz each) whole water chestnuts, drained and halved (or leave them whole and just use a big slice of bacon)
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup Chili Sauce (near the ketchup in the grocery stores)
3/4 cup mayo

Cut bacon strips into thirds. Wrap each strip around a water chestnut and secure with a toothpick. Place in a pan, I use a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, it may take longer and it may take less time, watch for the bacon to get crispy all over. Turning at least once. Drain the grease once fully done.

Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the water chestnuts. Bake another 6-8 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Beefy Nacho Soup

I'll be honest here I usually snub any recipes I find on websites that are the makers of processed foods. The goal in my house is to not eat much, if any, processed food. However I was "gifted" a can of nacho cheese soup and since we were running really low on grocery money last month I googled looking for decent recipes calling for the nacho cheese soup. I ended up choosing this one and to be honest we loved it. It was a perfect blend of flavors. I topped the soup with some cubed avocado, green onions, and fresh tomatoes. This would have been even better with some freshly made tortilla strips. Overall this was a winner in our family and I guess I'll be buying more of the nacho cheese soup in the future. This was a very simple and really quick to make dish. Perfect for those nights when time is low and yet money is too tight for take out. Also I should point out this barely fed 3 adults with no extras. Two of the adults complained about needing more. You would need to double or triple this recipe for large families.

Beefy Nacho Soup

1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix (from 1 oz package) or make your own like I do
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed nacho cheese soup
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (1 oz)

In 2-quart saucepan, cook ground beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain.

Reduce heat to medium. Stir in remaining ingredients except shredded cheese. Cook 8 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Top individual servings with shredded cheese.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pear Pie with Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce

This turned out to be a really yummy tasting pie. It was simple to make and since it uses refrigerator dough it easy for even those who haven't made a pie before. My streusel had a few problems relating to three little boys who were helping so trust me there is streusel on the pie you just can't see much in the picture. Also I used two eight inch frozen pie shells so my pie wasn't as thick as the recipe calls for. I used the frozen cause it was what I had on hand. Overall everyone who tasted the pie loved it. It's a nice change from the typical pumpkin or apple pie that dominates the holiday season. It's also perfect when you have oodles of pears on hand like I did when I made this pie.

Pear Pie with Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce
Cooking Light Magazine Nov. 2008

3 ounces all purpose flour, divided (about 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 medium firm pears, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick wedges
1/2 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie dough
cooking spray
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To prepare pie, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 1/2 ounces (about 1/3 cup) flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a larger bowl. Add juice, and pears to flour mixture; toss gently to coat. Roll dough into an 11 inch circle; fit dough into a 9 inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under and flute. Arrange pear mixture in an even layer in prepared crust.
Combine remaining 1 1/2 ounce (about 1/3 cup) flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons cold butter to brown sugar mixture; cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle butter mixture evenly over pears. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.
To prepare sauce, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, cream, and 2 tablespoons softened butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook one minute or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in 2 teaspoons water. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed with pie.

Yield 12 servings, serving size 1 wedge pie and about 1 1/2 teaspoon sauce. 287 calories in a slice, 11 grams of fat (sat. 5.5 g, mono 1.7 g., poly 0.35 g.), carb. 47.5 g.

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