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Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

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I was challenged by a former co-worker years ago (five years ago, to be exact), to reproduce the Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie you could get at Long John Silvers.  He was slightly obsessed.

Although I didn’t duplicate it exactly, the crust is almost spot-on (it’s an unbaked graham cracker crust, unusual but so good), and it’s fairly close.  It has taken me this long to share the recipe because I couldn’t share the first one with you – I used wild strawberry essence in it, and not many people would have that on hand to use in a humble pie, such as this.  But I remembered how good it was and wanted to see if I could recreate my recreation of Mrs. Smith’s pie by concentrating the strawberry flavor in another way.  Then I made jam a few weeks ago, inspiration hit.  Jam, to me, is the essence of the fruit used to create it.

So I tried it, replacing the gelatin and fresh strawberries in my original recipe with the homemade jam, and it was perfect. It’s not as light as the original*, but so good in it’s own right. So thick and creamy, so cream cheese-y, so strawberry-y. And so perfect for summer because, unlike most of my recipes this summer, no part of it requires an oven. You’re welcome.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

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Crust
1 ½ envelopes graham crackers (13 1/2 sheets)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

Filling
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 heaping cup (13 oz jar) good quality strawberry jam
1 (14 oz) can (minus 2 tablespoons for the crust) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipped topping or homemade (sweetened) whipped cream

Garnish
Leftover whipped topping or 1-1 1/2 cups homemade sweetened whipped cream
Leftover crust crumbs

While still in the package, smash up the graham crackers a little bit, then empty into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse & process until fine crumbs. Add the butter, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar & water and process until thoroughly combined. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumbs and press the remaining crumbs into a 9” pie plate. Place in fridge.

Wipe out the food processor. Add the cream cheese, jam, and sweetened condensed milk, and process until smooth. Add the whipped topping or whipped cream and pulse until mixed. Pour into prepared pie plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Pipe whipped cream around the edge in stars or rosettes using Wilton tip 2110 (1M). Garnish with whipped cream & the remaining crumbs before serving.

Veronica’s notes: If you’d like a lighter pie, you could use 3 cups of whipped cream, or the entire carton of whipped topping, and use another cup or two for garnish. You will have too much pie filling, but I doubt you’ll complain about eating the extra. ;) Also, it’s important to use the best jam possible, as this is what gives the pie its strawberry flavor. If you buy cheap Walmart jam, it will taste like you bought a Great Value frozen pie, not made it yourself. I’ve actually tried this using Walmart strawberry jam, so I unfortunately speak from experience (it was bad).  Homemade is ideal, and Bonne Maman is the only brand I can put my own stamp of approval on if you go with store-bought.

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Easy White Chicken Chili


Nana D brought us a batch of her White Chicken Chili last winter when we were sleep-deprived new parents, and let me tell you, not having to cook and eating this chili was a big slice of heaven.  It’s now one of my favorite winter meals, it’s just so ridiculously over-the-top delicious.  The big bonus is that it’s so easy to make – the only prepwork is opening cans and chopping an onion. Can’t beat that!

Easy White Chicken Chili

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3 (10 oz) cans chicken chunks
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chilies, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 C. whipping cream
1/4 C. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

In large soup pot, combine all ingredients except sour cream, whipping cream and cheeses. Bring to a boil over medium high. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, whipping cream and cheeses. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Serves 6

*Veronica’s notes: I use bouillon cubes plus water for the broth, which adds a little more flavor. Donna’s recipe called for 2 teaspoons chili powder, which I omitted to keep the color white (hers has an orange hue), and the flavor didn’t suffer, but it’s really good with the chili powder too if you’d like to add it. If you like things spicy like we do, you can use all Pepper Jack cheese, and half an 8 oz block is plenty, so that you can have enough to make another batch, or a double batch. :)

Recipe source: Donna B.

I served this and the Curried Red Lentil Soup with Honey Beer Bread – so delish!

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Wow, that title is a mouthful!  Sometimes it’s hard to stick to a two or three-word recipe name when there’s so much goodness going on with it.  I had to tell you this was creamy, because that’s one of the best features of this dish.  I had to tell you it features green chiles, both straight up and in salsa verde, because the flavor profile this creates with the creamy & cheesy ingredients is rockin’.  And it’s a chicken enchilada casserole so I couldn’t exclude those words.  For your sake, I didn’t mention the beans in the title, though I was tempted to call this “Creamy Green Chile Chicken & White Bean Enchilada Casserole.”  You gotta draw the line somewhere, am I right?

Pretty much everything I eat right now seems like the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.  So maybe it’s not true that this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life, but it sure felt that way while I was eating it.  It’s filling (yay for protein, fat and fiber! hehe), which made me so sad because I wanted to eat the whole casserole, in one sitting, all by myself.  It seriously rocked my world.  I was so excited to serve it to my husband (we hardly ever eat dinner together, and on this occasion I actually ate before him, which is unusual since he usually gets off work before me) and I tried not to lean over his shoulder to gauge his reaction.  But I kinda did.  He never gets excited about food like I do, but he said it was “really good” and ate a huge plateful rather quickly, then went back for more.  I’d say that’s a big two thumbs up from the Den man!

There’s pepper in this dish, but the black flecks come mainly from the roasted salsa verde, linked to in the recipe.

I based the recipe off of my favorite Creamy Chicken Enchiladas, and maybe it’s just that I haven’t had them in over a year (so many recipes, so little time), but I do believe this green casserole version is even better than the original enchiladas.  All I know is it’s good, and I would definitely make it for company!

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

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1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chiles
½ cup salsa verde (I used Walmart’s World Table Roasted Salsa Verde, which I highly recommend)
1 (15.5 oz) can white beans (such as navy or Great Northern), drained and rinsed
1 cup light sour cream
1 (10.5 oz) can light cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups Monterrey Jack, divided
1 ½ cups Cheddar, divided
*OR 3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend substituted for both cheeses
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8-10 white corn tortillas, quartered
Butter for pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 pan with butter and set aside.

Salt your chicken breasts and cook them in a skillet or grill (I use my George Foreman). Allow to cool enough that they won’t burn your hands, then chop them up; set aside.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and chop up your onion. Melt the butter in the heated skillet and add the onions, sautéing until softened. Stir in the green chiles and salsa verde and cook for 3-5 more minutes to cook off some of the liquid. Add the chicken, white beans, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, 2 cups of the cheese (reserve the rest for the top), garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir together until well blended and cheese is melted.

Spread a small amount of the chicken mixture over the bottom of your prepared pan, then put a layer of the quartered tortillas over it, slightly overlapping. Spread half of the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas, then another layer of tortillas, and finish with the remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top, then cover with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray to keep the cheese from sticking (or use the nonstick foil). Bake for 15 minutes, remove foil, and bake another 5 minutes or until bubbling around the edges. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Veronica’s notes: I highly recommend shredding your own cheese, as the preshredded kind doesn’t melt as well and IMHO, does not taste as good. You will need ¾ of an 8 ounce block of both cheddar and Monterrey Jack for this recipe (every 8 oz block makes 2 cups of shredded cheese). The tortillas are super simple to cut into quarters if you layer five tortillas and use a pizza cutter on them, or a chef’s knife. Also, this would make an excellent meatless meal if you just replace the chicken with another 2-3 cans of white beans.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia original, with help for transforming it into a casserole from 4 Little Fergusons

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

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I went through a comfort food phase last month  where, despite the heat, all I wanted were piping hot casseroles and soups.  Plain Chicken to the rescue, yet again!  This is one of the things which satisfied my craving for comfort food.  I resisted every temptation to change the recipe, except for using reduced fat cream cheese in place of regular, and while I will say there are some things I’d do different next time (as noted below), this was just so stinkin’ good.  Creamy pasta, topped with an easy meat sauce and Parmesan cheese. Just. so. good.

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

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12 oz spaghetti
1 (28 oz) jar prepared spaghetti sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

In a skillet, brown the ground beef until cooked through; drain fat and stir in spaghetti sauce. Set aside.

Cook spaghetti according to directions on packet. Drain and place cooked spaghetti in bowl. Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning and minced garlic. Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated.

Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan. Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish. Put spaghetti on top of sauce and top with remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

*Veronica’s note: I would suggest covering your dish with foil while baking to prevent the cheese and spaghetti drying out like mine did. Also, you might reserve some pasta water to add in when you mix in the cream cheese – it is quite thick and dry and I think some extra moisture would make it creamier. I also plan to use more sauce next time – maybe up to even two jars.  What can I say, I like the sauce. :)

Recipe source: Plain Chicken

Creamy Mushroom-Parmesan Chicken

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Would you like to know the recipe I use from my blog more than any other?  You might be surprised.  It’s Breadless Breading, a gluten-free alternative to breading for meats.  It has such incredible flavor (click the link to check out the recipe and you’ll see why it’s so flavorful) that I use it all the time, usually coating tilapia with it before cooking it in olive oil on the stove top for a 5-minute dinner alongside some microwaved veggies.  This coating is also fabulous on chicken!

This is a super simple recipe but oh so delicious!  The breading does all the flavoring for you–when you have a batch of it in the fridge, you can use it in so many ways and you will always have a delicious meal.  I’m also going to give the “recipe” for the corn in the photo that is my husband’s creation, which is only two ingredients and so incredible!  The heat and flavor of the sriracha is a nice contrast to the sweetness in the corn.

Creamy Mushroom-Parmesan Chicken

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Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
Breadless Breading
Olive oil
1 can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet, enough to coat the bottom. Lightly coat the chicken chunks with Breadless Breading and add to the heated pan, cooking on all sides until cooked through. Add the cream of mushroom soup, stir, then stir in enough Breadless Breading to thicken and flavor the sauce. Serve hot.

For the Sriracha Corn: add a touch of sriracha (start with a little and add more to taste) to a can of corn and stir together in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until hot and serve immediately.

Coconut Oil Coffee


Growing up, my Mom used to go through “nervous break downs” in the summer when we were home from school and one summer, her breakdown took on a whole new level of crazy when she went entirely mental for raw garlic.  This was obsession, I tell you.  You couldn’t get her to shut up about the garlic, and she’d be talking to you about the benefits of raw garlic while rubbing a clove that had been cut in half on the soles of her feet.  It was definitely an aromatic summer as she seemed to be convinced that rubbing her entire body in garlic cloves 24/7 was the cure to all her ills.

I love this photo of Mom! The huge glasses! The t-shirt without pants! The totally rad high top tennis shoes with neon orange laces! Caught her in all her glory, and as you can tell, she was thrilled.

That’s kinda how I feel about coconut oil.  I’m obsessed with it in an eat it, drink it, rub it all over my body kind of way.  It started with my first jar of extra-virgin organic coconut oil.  Oh mah goodness, have you ever tasted pure unadulterated extra-virgin organic coconut oil?!  You can just eat a spoonful of it straight and the delicate & pure coconut flavor is heaven and the solid oil melts instantly in your mouth–it’s like candy to me.  But I only allow myself half a spoonful a day and unlike real candy, it’s not addictive so I don’t have to keep going back for more.

I also have been using a teensy bit on the dry parts of my face and it works better than any moisturizer and it absorbs without leaving a greasy shine behind.  I’ve also taken to rubbing it into my hair and sleeping in a shower cap from time to time and my hair is always so soft and silky after washing it the next day.  And I know it sounds so weird, but I use it to scramble my eggs.  I know coconut and eggs sound so wrong together, but my Grandpa cooked them that way for us when he visited last summer and although weird, I loved it and now don’t use any other oil to cook my eggs.

Grandpa cooked us eggs to show off his porcelain skillet. He says nothing sticks to it, and it’s safer than regular non-stick pans.

Needless to say, when I ran across this recipe for coconut oil coffee, I knew I had to  have it immediately!  Whose ever heard of putting coconut oil in their coffee, right?  So weird! But hello, I have a family obligation to be a freak!  Is being weird going to stop the woman whose mother once rubbed her entire body with raw garlic for a week? I think not!

So try it I did.  Love!  Blending the coconut oil into the hot coffee makes it so creamy…without any cream!  I mean look at that cup up there, that was black coffee, and look how creamy it is with the coconut oil blended in.  Love the frothy top & the coconut flavor too.  :)  With a little stevia, this was so much better than any Starbucks $$$ cuppa, IMHO.  So good, you guys.  I hope you try it!  Just don’t use refined coconut oil, that stuff doesn’t have the health benefits of extra-virgin, nor the flavor (you can read the original post where I found this recipe to learn all about the health benefits).

Coconut Oil Coffee

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1/4 cup Cold-Brewed Coffee + 3/4 cup hot hot water or 1 cup hot brewed coffee
1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin coconut oil
Stevia or another sweetener, if desired

Place all ingredients in blender and blend!

Recipe source: The Veggie Nook

I love my CW! Thanks for teaching me all the best ways to embrace the crazy. :)

Creamy Chocolate-Mint Pie

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I know, I know.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.  What am I doing blogging, right?  Thanks to the miracle of scheduled posting, I wrote this blog last week and scheduled it to publish today.  I’m so tech-savvy!  (And I’m a big liar because I can barely even text, but I’m glad I at least have this one thing figured out.  It helps me a lot!)

So last month our friend, Joe, came over with a tractor to help us level out our back yard so the water wouldn’t collect in the middle and run up against our house and under the back door, flooding the basement.  Yay for no more basement flooding!!!

Like my husband, Joe loves mint desserts, and as part of my thanks for his help, I made him a creamy chocolate-mint pie.  Actually, I made two, because my husband deserved a “thank you” too. :)  Also, you deserved the recipe, and how could I share it without cutting up a pie to show you the inside?  And how could I do that to Joe’s pie?  I could not.  So I made Dennis a pie and butchered his pie up for you.  And for me, because I ate this piece.

This pie is creamy, fudgy, smooth, and minty.  I don’t know why, but mint desserts just aren’t my number one choice, and I’d probably never make them if it weren’t for Dennis and Joe (Joe is also responsible for these peppermint patties I posted a while back), but I thoroughly enjoyed my half of this pie.  Yes, my husband let me have half the pie!  I will not overshare how fast I ate that half, however.  That would be my version of TMI. Hey, a girl has to have some secrets.

Creamy Chocolate-Mint Pie

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1 1/4 cups milk
1 package (4-serving size) chocolate pudding and pie filling mix (not instant)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-2 drops green food color
2 cups frozen (thawed) whipped topping, divided
1 Oreo cookie crust
2-4 thin rectangular chocolate and green mints, unwrapped

In 2-quart saucepan, stir together milk and pudding mix; cook as directed on package. Continue cooking over low heat while adding chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Set aside.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peppermint extract and green food color until smooth. Gently fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping.  Spread cream cheese mixture in the Oreo crust, then top with chocolate mixture, spreading it smooth. Spread remaining 1 cup whipped topping over the top, then either chop mints or use a vegetable peeler to shave off curls, and sprinkle over whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Recipe source: tweaked from Pillsbury.com

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