Caramel Carrot Poke Cake

I found this recipe online, and made it to complement our Easter dinner - it was delicious! Very reminiscent of my Candy Bar Cake. (Adapted from Something Swanky.)

Caramel Carrot Poke Cake

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1 carrot cake mix, baked in a 9x13 pan and cooled
8-10 oz. of store-bought caramel sauce
6-8 oz. whipped cream cheese (in the tub)
2.5 Tbsp. sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
1/4 c. chopped pecans

Poke holes all over the cake using the bottom of a mixing spoon handle.
Pour the caramel sauce over the cake, aiming for the holes. 
Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours before serving.
Make the frosting before serving. Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the Cool Whip. 
Spread the frosting mixture over the top of the cake. 
Top with the crushed pecans and additional caramel drizzle, if desired.
Store cake in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is the pulled pork recipe I made for the pool party... we've really enjoyed the leftovers! (Adapted from here.)

Slow Cooker Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 3-lb. pork shoulder, butt roast, or pork tenderloin
1/2 c. brown sugar, plus 2 Tbsp. for rub
1 20-oz. can pineapple rings, juice reserved
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 c. + BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls for serving

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
Take 2 Tbsp. of brown sugar and rub on all sides of the roast; set roast in slow cooker.
In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 c. brown sugar, juice from can of pineapple rings, liquid smoke, and BBQ sauce. Pour over roast in slow cooker.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
Shred roast (it will literally fall apart)
Scoop shredded pork onto individual rolls, top with a pineapple ring if desired, and serve.

Serves 6-8.

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken

Made something new tonight, and it was a hit! Wanted to document it before I forgot... both that I cooked and that we loved it. LOL (I buy the chicken, pesto, and Parmesan cheese all at Costco.)
I adapted this recipe from here and she notes that it is "low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, low-glycemic, and South Beach Diet friendly."

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken
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2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 - 3/4 c. basil pesto
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Trim chicken and slice into 3-4 smaller pieces/strips.
Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread ¼ c. pesto over the bottom of the dish.
Lay chicken pieces over the pesto and spread the remaining pesto on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, just until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove from oven and take off foil.
Sprinkle cheese over chicken, and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
To lightly brown the cheese, turn on the broiler at this point and let it broil for 3-5 more minutes.
Serve hot. Juice in pan is tasty over rice and veggies.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Shells

This recipe combines Connor's favorite foods - chicken, pasta, cheese, and broccoli - and he LOVED it! (Recipe adapted from here.)

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Shells

8 oz. pasta shells
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12 oz. broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
1 lb. chicken breast, in bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot bring water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, sauté the chicken; set aside.
The broccoli - if fresh, add it to the boiling pasta the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain and set aside... - if frozen, microwave steam and set aside.
Drain pasta and set aside in colander.
In the same pasta pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute, creating a roux. Over medium-high heat, slowly whisk in the milk and cheese and bring to a boil, until it starts to thicken.
Add in pasta, broccoli, and chicken and toss to coat in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Ted's Montana Grill Creamy Ranch Onion Dip

Our FAVORITE appetizer at Ted's Montana Grill is their Chip & Dip. I found this knock-off recipe online, supplied by their corporate chef. So delicious!

Ted's Montana Grill Creamy Ranch Onion Dip

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2 c. reduced-fat mayo
2 c. reduced-fat sour cream
1 c. sliced green onions (1 bunch cut into 1/8" TINY pieces, save some for garnish)
2 Tbsp. ranch dressing mix (1 packet)
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Freshly ground black pepper (for garnish)

In a mixing bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, green onions, ranch mix and Tabasco.
Whisk until smooth.
Refrigerate until ready to use. May be made up to 2 days ahead.
When ready to serve, garnish with remaining green onion and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with veggies or potato chips (like Kettle brand chips).

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

I made this the other night... very tasty! We all enjoyed it for dinner and then lunch the next day. I served it with Rice-a-Roni and steamed veggies. I adapted this recipe from here.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

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Chicken: 
2 lbs. chicken (4 breasts, tenders, etc.)
1-1.5 sleeves Ritz crackers, crumbled
1/3 c. milk
2 c. cheddar cheese, grated
dried parsley, to taste

Sauce: 
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. butter
21-Seasoning Salute, to taste
milk (a little to thin, if necessary)

Cut each chicken breast into 3-4 large chunks (this step not necessary if using tenders).

Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into 3 separate containers.

Dip each piece of chicken into the milk, then the cheese, then the crackers. Press the cheese and crackers into the chicken with your fingers.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan. Add the remaining cheese and crackers to the top, if you want. Sprinkle dried parsley over the chicken.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 400°F for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are crispy, golden brown. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving.

While it’s baking, into a medium saucepan, combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk. Add a little 21-Seasoning Salute, and some milk to thin if you want (I did!). Stir it over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot. Serve over the chicken.
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