Hot Eats and Cool Reads: May 2012

May 31, 2012

Balsamic Chicken and Gravy with Baby Bellas Recipe

I've had a huge craving for mashed potatoes and gravy lately. Not the typical kind, something extremely different. I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but I ended up loving it! Balsamic is one of my favorites, but I've only used it with pasta or bruschetta, so experimenting with it is new to me. I also love fresh basil and I really needed to use some up. The leaves on my plant are huge as you can see in the pic below!

 My daughter loved this meal just as much as I did. She even asked for the leftovers the next day for lunch. I hope you enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken and Gravy with Baby Bellas (print recipe)

What you need:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, cut into four portions
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces baby bellas, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter, and start to brown chicken breasts. After a few minutes when breasts are browned on each side, add garlic and baby bellas and continue to saute over medium heat. After 5 minutes, add balsamic and continue to saute for another 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. (Reserve some of the broth/wine mixture to mix cornstarch). When it starts boiling, mix cornstarch with reserved liquid until smooth and add to broth mixture along with the basil and oregano. (you keep the chicken breasts in the pan the entire cooking time.) When broth thickens to gravy, remove from heat and serve over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta!

This recipe was shared at:
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Thursdays Treasures at Recipes For My Boys
Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday at DJ's Sugar Shack
Creative Thursday at  Michelle's Tasty Creations
Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds
Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training
Mix it up Monday at Flour me with Love
Foodie Friday at Simple Living
Fabulous Friday at My Crowded Kitchen
Weekend Potluck at Sunflower Supper Club

May 29, 2012

Vanilla Pudding Fruit Salad Recipe

Fruit salad is something I could eat all the time, and it is such a healthy alternative to typical baked desserts. My step mom, Monica, made something similar to this for a holiday brunch not too long ago and I just loved it! It is so simple and quick to put together making it a great salad to bring to a picnic or barbeque. You can also change up what fruit you'd like to put in it depending on what you have, or what's in season. Enjoy, this is a great recipe!

Vanilla Pudding Fruit Salad (print recipe)

What you need:
2- 11 ounce cans of mandarian oranges with juice
1- 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks with juice
1- 3.4 ounce box of instant vanilla pudding
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
2 bunches of grapes, halved


May 28, 2012

Book Review: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Description from Goodreads:
It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight-the fight to stay alive.

My thoughts:
This is a great historical young adult novel. I never really knew much about the fever of 1793, and this story told of what people may have gone through, with some true facts about the fever at the end of the book. The cover is beautiful and eerie and draws you in right off the bat. Mattie is a courageous main character who goes through great strides to survive the fever and reach out to others who need help. She endures alot of heartache from people close to her dying, but never gives up. Overall, it is a great book that can be enjoyed by both teens and adults. 

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars 

May 27, 2012

Gold'n Plump Recipe and Product Review: Reuben Chicken Brats in a Bun

Chicken is something we cook with alot at my house, and Gold'n Plump is the brand we use most often because I like to support local companies and the quality is always great. They also offer such great coupons through their website, email, and newspaper. I was so excited when I received an email from Gold'n Plump asking if I would like to try their new line of Chicken Brats, Sausages, and Breakfast Sausages. I jumped at the chance to try and review them!

First I decided to try the brats. I saw this recipe posted on their Facebook page, and I knew I had to try it! The chicken brats had such a great flavor, were juicy, and they grilled perfectly. I would substitute them for pork brats anytime. They are so much healthier and they go really well with the sauerkraut, thousand island and swiss in this recipe. Another great thing about these brats, is they are gluten and nitrate free. I would definitely recommend them to anyone, especially if you are looking for a healthier alternative. You can find them in the cooler or freezer section of your local grocery store, in a 19 ounce package with 5 brats.

If you are a traditional Reuben lover, you will really like this tasty alternative. I am mostly German, so sauerkraut is a favorite in my family. It's nice to have it with another type of meat, instead of pork. Enjoy!!

Reuben Chicken Brats in a Bun (print recipe)

What you need:
5 Gold'n Plump Chicken Brats
3 ounces sliced or shredded swiss cheese
5 brat buns or hoagie rolls, split
2 cups sauerkraut
1/3 cup thousand island dressing or spicy brown mustard

Grill chicken brats according to package directions. Sprinkle or lay swiss inside of each roll, toast on grill until cheese is melted and bun is lightly browned. Fill roll with the bratwurst, sauerkraut and thousand island.

Recipe Source: Gold'n Plump
For other chicken brat recipes, visit Gold'n Plump's website here!

May 24, 2012

Crispy Baked Chicken Coated with Potato Flakes Recipe

I've always been a huge fan of fried chicken, but I don't really like frying foods at home. This recipe is a great substitute and turns out nice and crispy. The prep is fast, which is great too. You can make any side dish to go with it. We love mashed potatoes, brown sugar glazed carrots, or rice. It's a total comfort food. The leftovers are great too for chicken sandwiches or salads. Enjoy!!

Crispy Baked Chicken Coated with Potato Flakes (print recipe)

What you need:
chicken legs or thighs, skin on
instant mashed potato flakes
season salt
nature's seasoning
black pepper


May 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Broccoli Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This Crock Pot Mac and Cheese with broccoli and bacon is easy and uses cheddar, velveeta and cream cheese! The best family comfort food dinner!

scoop of mac and cheese with slow cooker in the background.

May 20, 2012

Ham and Eggs Baked in Crispy Hashbrown Cups Recipe

These are such little bites of goodness! Great for freezing or reheating for a quick breakfast.

These are such little bites of goodness! Great for freezing or reheating for a quick breakfast. Ham and Eggs Baked in Crispy Hashbrown Cups Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads!

I am all for eating breakfast at dinnertime. I don't usually have time to make it in the mornings on weekdays, and like to sleep in on the weekend, so we do something quick most mornings, and periodically make it for dinner instead!

May 18, 2012

Rhubarb Shortbread Bars Recipe

These amazing spring or summer rhubarb bars are a great potluck or party dessert! The buttery shortbread and tart rhubarb are a perfect pair and you'll find yourself wanting more than just one! 

Rhubarb Shortbread Bars

These amazing spring or summer rhubarb bars are a great potluck or party dessert! The buttery shortbread and tart rhubarb are a perfect pair and you'll find yourself wanting more than just one! Top them with whipped cream, sprinkled powdered sugar or ice cream for a wonderful, sweet treat!

This post contains affiliate links. Hot Eats and Cool Reads may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no cost to you! Thanks for the support!

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May 16, 2012

Save Your Scraps! How to Make Homemade Vegetable Stock

This idea is completely genius! I believe I saw it browsing around on Facebook or Pinterest a couple months back and knew I had to start saving all of my veggie scraps, or veggies that were starting to pass their peak. I started saving them in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag. 

A few weeks passed, and before I knew it, the bag was full and it was time to make me some homemade stock! All of the veggies I froze did well being frozen, except the carrots. They turned brown, so maybe blanching them previously to freezing helps, or just adding them fresh at the time of cooking. After the stock was finished, I froze it in glass jars. Thawing is easy that way and they fit right in the door of the freezer. 

This method of making your own stock, out of stuff you'd normally throw in the garbage, is a great money saver! It's also a great way to cut canned stock, or bouillon out of your diet. 

Veggie ideas:
celery (throw it in the bag when it starts getting droopy!)
fresh parsley
fresh basil
green onions
salt and pepper to taste if you like more seasoning

Thaw veggies. In a large stock pot, cover veggies with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and continue simmering for 1-2 hours or until veggies have cooked down. Strain with a wire mesh strainer and discard veggie pulp mixture. Freeze broth in ziploc bags, or jars!

This recipe was shared at:

May 14, 2012

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp Recipe

One dessert I always looked forward to when I was a child was my Mom's apple crisp. I just love the buttery, sugary topping. I decided to use the same recipe but instead of apples, I used rhubarb and strawberries instead. This fruit combo always works great together and of course this dessert was phenomenal! I never get tired of rhubarb! It's always been so plentiful here in Minnesota and there's more than enough to go around. It freezes well too, so if you have more than you need, bag it up to use later! Enjoy!!

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp (print recipe)

What you need:

3 c. strawberries, sliced
3 c. rhubarb, sliced
3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8x10 baking dish. Put rhubarb and strawberries in the bottom of the dish and cover evenly with sugar.

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and butter with your fingers until mixed. Top fruit with the crisp mixture, covering the majority of the fruit. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until crisp is lightly browned. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or eat it plain!

This recipe was shared at:
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Church Supper at Everyday Mom's meals
Scrumptious Sunday Link Party at Addicted to Recipes
Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters Stuff
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
Fabulous Friday at My Crowded Kitchen
Weekend Potluck at The Better Baker
Thursdays Treasures at Recipes for my Boys
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds
Look What I Made at A Thrifty Mom
Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training

May 8, 2012

Buttered Avocado Toast Recipe

This toast is a hearty, easy and delicious breakfast or snack idea! Try sourdough bread!

This toast is a hearty, easy and delicious breakfast or snack idea! Try sourdough bread! Buttered Avocado Toast Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads

This is one of those food combinations that makes you wonder, why didn't I think of this?? Thanks to my brother, Shaun and his fiance (soon to be wife!), Tonya for telling me about this amazing breakfast idea! 

May 6, 2012

Savory Rhubarb Cherry Sauce Recipe for Pork Chops or Ham

You can sure tell it's spring in Minnesota this week. This is my second blog post with rhubarb and there will be more coming within the next couple weeks! First I stared off with something sweet, Rhubarb Dump Cake. This recipe for Rhubarb Cherry Sauce is actually savory and is a great topping for a ham steak or pork chops. Maybe even chicken breasts? It is actually very easy to make and has great flavor. I would recommend trying this if you are a rhubarb lover. It's a great change from the typical desserts that I associate with rhubarb. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cherry Sauce (print recipe)

What you need:
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine cherries, balsamic and hot water. Let stand 10 minutes to soften. 

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over over medium heat and add onion. Saute onion for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add cherry mixture, rhubarb, sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb has softened, about 5-10 minutes. Serve with grilled ham steaks or pork chops. 

May 4, 2012

Pesto Pasta Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

My local grocery store, Coborn's, had some great vine on tomatoes this week. Even better, they were only 99 cents a pound as a manager's special. I had the perfect recipe in mind.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing through the used cookbook section of my Mom's store and stumbled across one called "Light Cooking: Pasta". My daughter and I are huge pasta lovers, so I took a quick peek and this recipe caught my eye. I brought it home so I could try it out asap.

I really love how these Pesto Pasta Stuffed Tomatoes turned out. I am a huge basil fan. This recipe gave me a great excuse to buy a basil plant for my patio, and use some right away to make this. It all came together quickly and would be a great side for so many meats. What could go wrong with tomatoes, garlic and pasta?? Nothing, in this case! Enjoy!!

 Pesto Pasta Stuffed Tomatoes (print recipe)

What you need:
3 ounces uncooked star or other small pasta (I found the star pasta in the Mexican foods section)
4 large tomatoes
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons mayo
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup zucchini, shredded 
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Cut tops from tomatoes. Scoop out and discard all but 1/2 cup tomato pulp. Chop and add to pasta. Place tomatoes, cut side down, on paper towels and let drain for 5 minutes.

Place basil and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add mayo and pepper, process until smooth. Combine pasta mixture, zucchini, parmesan, and basil mixture until mixed. Place tomatoes in a baking dish and fill each tomato with the pasta mixture, mounding slightly.

May 2, 2012

Rhubarb Dump Cake Recipe

A gorgeous spring time dessert with tons of rhubarb and a hint of strawberry! This rhubarb cake is so easy to make, affordable, delicious and an old time family favorite!

Rhubarb Dump Cake

Cake on a white plate

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