Hot Artichoke Dip

Hot Artichoke Dip | Pinky's Pantry
The first time I tried artichoke dip was at a restaurant in San Francisco. It was to die for. They served it with thin, crispy tortilla chips. The dip was warm, cheesy, gooey, in short, everything you want in a dip. One bite and I was a fan for life.

This dip is easy to prepare. If you have a food processor, you could throw everything except the artichoke hearts in there and get it all blended together. Then add the artichoke hearts last and pulse them a few times so they’re chopped but not mush. Scrape it all into your gratin dish and bake.

HOT ARTICHOKE DIP

  • 1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can (14 ozs.) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
  3. Beat in mayonnaise until well combined.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir together well.
  5. Transfer mixture to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish.
  6. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and top is golden brown.
  7. Serve hot with bread, crackers, tortilla chips, or veggies.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Pinky's Pantry
This dish is a Tex-Mex favorite. In fact, I hear you can’t go to a church social or potluck down in Texas without seeing one version or other of this dish on the table. It’s not surprising because not only is it delicious, but it can be made ahead of time and it travels well.

You can make a low-fat version of this dish by substituting reduced fat cream of mushroom soup, reduced fat cream of chicken soup, and reduced fat cheese. It turns out just as yummy.

I like to serve this dish with some sour cream and salsa on the side. I never have any leftovers when I make it. Try making this easy recipe for your next weeknight dinner or office potluck and you’ll see what I mean.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Pinky's Pantry

KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped (can substitute red bell pepper)
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 whole cooked chicken, deboned and shredded (about 3-4 cups chicken)
  • 1 can (10¾ oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (10¾ oz.) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (10 oz.) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 12 (6-­inch) corn tortillas
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or use your favorite – I like Mexican blend)
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped (optional for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  3. Sauté onion, bell pepper and poblano pepper until onions start to become translucent.
  4. Stir in chicken, soups, Rotel, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Remove skillet from heat.
  6. Tear 4 tortillas into 1-­inch pieces and scatter on bottom of prepared baking dish.
  7. Top with 1/3 of chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese.
    NOTE:  It’ll seem like you don’t have enough chicken mixture to fill the layer to the edges of the dish, but don’t worry. Just spread the filling really thin. It’s okay to have some empty spots. Once you bake it, it’ll all fill in and be just fine.
  8. Tear 4 more tortillas into pieces and make a second layer of tortillas, 1/3 chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese.
  9. Tear the last 4 tortillas to make a final layer with the last of the chicken mixture and top with 2 cups of cheese.
  10. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and cheese is browning at the edges.
  11. If desired, garnish with chopped green onion before serving.

NOTE:  This casserole can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. To cook from frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.

Totchos

Totchos | Pinky's PantryThis recipe is a play on traditional Nachos, except instead of tortilla chips, you use tater tots. It makes a hearty and delicious appetizer, or can be served for a yummy brunch dish. Try to have whatever toppings you’ve chosen all ready to go so that as soon as the cheese is melted over the tater tots, you can pile on your toppings and serve right away. The longer the tater tots sit with the toppings on them, the less crunchy they become. Not that that’s a bad thing. My family just prefers them crunchy.
Totchos | Pinky's Pantry

TOTCHOS

  • 1 bag (2 lbs.) frozen tater tots
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream, thinned with a little water or milk till pourable
  • fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Toppings:

  • chorizo, removed from casing, crumbled and cooked
  • refried beans or black beans
  • diced red onion
  • sliced black olives
  • whole kernel corn
  • sliced pickled jalapeños
  • pico de gallo, or your favorite salsa
  • guacamole
  1. Line a jellyroll pan with foil.
  2. Arrange tater tots in single layer on baking pan and bake according to package directions until brown and crispy.
  3. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese over tater tots.
  4. If necessary, return to oven and bake just until cheese is all melted.
  5. Remove from oven and top with any combination of the toppings listed above. You can use as much or as little as you like of the toppings.
  6. Drizzle sour cream over everything.
  7. Sprinkle with cilantro for garnish.
  8. Serve immediately.

Crescent Breakfast Wreath

Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
Everybody knows Pillsbury’s famous Taco Crescent Ring. Well, this is a play on that recipe but made into a yummy breakfast dish. I just love crescent roll dough, don’t you? It’s so versatile and you can do so much with it from sweet desserts to savory meals. This recipe is really easy to put together and is great for a breakfast or brunch shindig.

CRESCENT BREAKFAST WREATH

  • 1 can (8-ozs.) crescent roll dough
  • breakfast meat:  ½ lb. bulk breakfast sausage, browned; or ½ lb. ham, chopped; or 8 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1 cup frozen hash browns
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, monterey jack, or any kind you like)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. (I didn’t have any so I used waxed paper.)
  2. Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into eight triangles.
  3. Arrange triangles in a circle on prepared cookie sheet with the short ends of the triangles towards the center and overlapping a little, and the long ends pointing outwards to form a sun shape.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  4. Fry the onions, bell pepper, and hash browns in a large frying pan until potatoes begin to brown.
  5. Remove from heat, add cooked meat to hash brown mixture and stir together well.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  6. Scramble the eggs in a skillet until eggs are almost cooked but still moist.
  7. Stir scrambled eggs into hash brown mixture.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  8. Spoon filling over overlapping portion of crescent rolls, using your hands to help press and shape the filling into a ring.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  9. Pull points of triangles up over filling and tuck under dough in center to form a ring.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  10. Carefully sprinkle cheese over top of ring.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  11. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crescent rolls are golden brown.
  12. Cool slightly to allow filling to set.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry
  13. Slice into wedges and serve.
    Crescent Breakfast Wreath | Pinky's Pantry

NOTE:  To transfer the wreath to a serving platter, carefully run a spatula between the ring and the parchment paper to separate them, then slide the wreath onto the platter.

Funeral Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name.
Funeral Potatoes | Pinky's Pantry
It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.

FUNERAL POTATOES

  • 1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • ¼ – ½ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
  3. Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
  4. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
  6. Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
  7. Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  8. Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.

TOPPING VARIATIONS:  Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu | Pinky's Pantry
Tiramisu is a very popular Italian dessert. It’s not a very old recipe. In fact, it’s said to have been created in the 1960s. These days, you can find it offered in practically every Italian restaurant all over the world. Tiramisu is typically made with mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, and ladyfingers that have been dipped in espresso. It’s rich and creamy and so delicious that you’ll be tempted to have a second and a third piece!

Mascarpone cheese is pretty easy to find nowadays, but if you can’t get it in your local grocery store, you can substitute 1 box (8 ozs.) of cream cheese, blended with ¼ cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons butter. (You would have to double that for this recipe.)
Tiramisu | Pinky's Pantry

TIRAMISU

  • 2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 3 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. coffee liqueur, like Tia Maria or Kahlua
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 16 ozs. mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 24 to 46 ladyfingers or savoiardi cookies (depending on how big your cookies are)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Stir together water, espresso powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, and coffee liqueur in a  shallow bowl or pie plate until sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool.
  2. Using a wire whisk or hand mixer, beat egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a double boiler set over gently simmering water until tripled in volume, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the mascarpone and beat until well incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Cover and place in refrigerator while you prepare the vanilla cream.
  6. In another bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form, then beat in vanilla.
  7. Gently fold one-third vanilla cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten it.
  8. Then gently fold in remaining cream until thoroughly combined, taking care not to deflate the cream. Mixture will look lumpy. I have no idea why it does that. Don’t worry about it. It’ll still taste good.
  9. Quickly dunk each ladyfinger in the cooled coffee until the coffee soaks about halfway through, leaving the center of the cookie dry (you can break one in half to check). Don’t get the ladyfingers completely saturated or you’ll end up with a layer of unrecognizable, soggy mush. Gently shake off excess coffee and lay soaked ladyfingers in 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish, lining them up to completely cover the bottom. If you need to, you can break some of the ladyfingers to create a snug fit.
  10. Spread half of mascarpone filling on top of the ladyfinger layer.
  11. Dip remaining ladyfingers one by one in coffee and arrange in second layer over mascarpone cream.
  12. Spread remaining mascarpone cream evenly on top of second layer of ladyfingers.
  13. Cover and chill in refrigerator until set, at least 4-6 hours.
  14. Before serving, dust top generously with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh sieve.

NOTE:

  • You can substitute 2 cups freshly brewed espresso or double-strength drip coffee for the water and instant espresso powder.
  • Tiramisu can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving.
  • If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make one by setting a heatproof glass bowl on top of a pan of gently simmering water, as pictured below.
    Homemade Double Boiler | Pinky's Pantry

Italian Beef Sandwiches with Coleslaw

Italian Beef Sandwich | Pinky's Pantry
It’s Super Bowl Sunday again. I saw Valerie Bertinelli make Italian Beef sandwiches on TV last week and decided that that’s what I wanted to do for our Super Bowl Sunday lunch. She made her sandwiches with a giardiniera aioli but I don’t particularly care for giardiniera. At least not the ones I’ve tried so far. I do think these sandwiches would be great with a garlic aioli though.

One thing she did do was serve her sandwiches with coleslaw and that was definitely the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Delicious! The coleslaw added a sweet crunch to the tender, savory beef that made it the perfect well-rounded meal.

ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES WITH COLESLAW

Make Italian Beef the Night Before:

Italian Beef | Pinky's Pantry

  • 4 lbs. boneless beef chuck or rump roast, cut into large chunks
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 can (15 ozs.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients together in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low setting for 10-14 hours.
  3. Skim some of the excess fat from the surface using a ladle or cooking spoon.
  4. Shred the beef coarsely with two forks.

Assemble Sandwiches:

  • 4 loaves (12-14 inches each) Italian or French bread
  • Italian Beef, warm or at room temperature
  • coleslaw, ready-made or make your own (recipe here)
  1. Cut each loaf of bread into 4 to 6-inch lengths depending on how big you want your sandwiches.
  2. Split each sandwich in half lengthwise and toast lightly.
  3. Fill sandwiches with the shredded beef.
  4. Top beef with coleslaw.

NOTE:  Serve sliced pepperoncinis on the side for those who might want them.
You can also top the beef with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese before piling on the coleslaw, if desired.

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots

Cheesy Bacon Tater Tots | Pinky's Pantry
Did you know that February 2nd is National Tater Tot Day? It’s an easy day for me to remember because it’s also my only brother’s birthday. Tater tots are an iconic American food that was created in the early 1950’s. The founders of Ore-Ida were trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover pieces of potato that they had tons of everyday. They chopped up the potato pieces, mixed them with flour and seasonings, then forced the mixture through the barrel of an extruder, slicing off little one-inch pieces as the mixture came through. And so the tater tot was born.

Actually, when the little potato nuggets were first created, they didn’t have a name for them so the owners of Ore-Ida decided to have a name-the-product contest among their employees. The name “Tater Tots” was submitted by a young mother named Clora Lay Orton. Everyone loved the name and she won the contest.

It’s hard to believe that when the inexpensive tater tots were first sold in stores in 1956, they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of them per year! It’s safe to say the lowly tater tot has finally found its place in society, from school cafeterias to the ever popular food truck. It’s certainly found its way to our dinner table!

CHEESY BACON TATER TOTS

  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  1. Bake tater tots according to package directions.
  2. While tots are baking, combine sour cream and ranch dressing in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle sour cream mixture over baked tater tots.
  4. Sprinkle cheeses over the top.
  5. Place under broiler until cheese is completely melted.
  6. Remove from broiler and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.
  7. Return to broiler for 2-5 minutes to warm up the bacon.
  8. Serve hot.

Peaches and Cream Cake

Peaches and Cream Cake | Pinky's Pantry
This recipe is one of those that’s been around forever under one name or another. It was given to me by one of the nurses at work. She’s been making it for years and she said it’s always a hit at her house. I’m glad I got the recipe from her because it was a hit with my family, too, though I did tweak it a little (as always). I increased the peaches, cut down on the sugar, and added vanilla extract. I can tell it’s going to become a favorite at our family get-togethers and at potlucks, too. This one is a definite keeper!
Peaches and Cream Cake | Pinky's Pantry

PEACHES AND CREAM CAKE

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 pkgs. (3.4 oz. each) cook & serve vanilla pudding (do not use instant)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large (29 oz. each) cans sliced peaches
  • 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. peach syrup from can
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • cinnamon-sugar, for sprinkling on top (recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
  2. Drain both cans of peaches, reserving 6 tablespoons of syrup for later.
  3. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla puddings together.
  4. Add milk, butter, and eggs.
  5. Beat together with an electric mixer, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Spread in prepared baking dish.
  7. Arrange peach slices to cover top of batter.
  8. Beat cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.
  9. Add sugar, peach syrup, and vanilla, and beat until well-combined.
  10. Spoon over peaches, then smooth with a spatula.
  11. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over cream cheese mixture.
  12. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
NOTE:  To make cinnamon sugar, the ratio is 1/4 cup sugar to 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Store in an airtight container. For this recipe, you’ll probably only sprinkle about a couple of tablespoons or so over the top.

Santa Fe Chopped Salad with Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette

Santa Fe Chopped Salad | Pinky's Pantry
This is a healthy and delicious salad. The dressing has very little oil which makes it less fattening than other dressings, albeit rather thin. If you want a thicker, creamier dressing, try adding a half cup of plain greek yogurt.

Sometimes I add crumbled bacon to this salad which makes it really yummy. After all, everything is better with bacon, right? For a heartier, more filling salad, you could toss in some chopped grilled chicken.

This salad makes a great accompaniment to barbecued meat or chicken. It’s delicious alongside a pot of pulled pork or a smoked beef brisket. And it’s perfect to take to a potluck or a picnic.
Santa Fe Chopped Salad | Pinky's Pantry

SANTA FE CHOPPED SALAD

  • 1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 romaine hearts, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 small (2.25 oz.) cans sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1½ cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla strips
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • half of a small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  1. Place chopped lettuce in a bowl.
  2. Arrange remaining ingredients in rows on top of lettuce.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle with Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette.
  4. Toss and serve.

Cilantro Citrus Vinaigrette | Pinky's Pantry

CILANTRO CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • juice from 2 limes (about 3½ – 4 Tbsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil (can substitute canola oil)
  1. Place cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl of food processor or blender and pulse until well-combined.
  2. Then gradually stream in the oil while processing until oil is completely incorporated. Dressing is thin and light.