Warm Up, Fill Up Recipes

What better way to warm up your kitchen than to fire up the oven or stovetop? Here are a few recipes to warm up and fill up with.

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Loaded Barbecue Chicken Nachos


Level: Easy

Total: 45 min

Active: 15 min

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Chicken and Salsa:

1 (17 oz.) box breaded barbecue-flavored chicken nuggets w/flavor packet (if included)

1 c. frozen roasted corn kernels, thawed

1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

2 T. fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

1 T. chopped pickled jalapeno plus 1 T. brine

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil

2 small plum tomatoes, diced (about 1 c.)

1 ripe avocado, diced

1/4 small red onion, chopped (about 1/4 c.)

Kosher salt



1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed & drained

2 T. adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

10 c. tortilla chips (about 8 oz.)

4 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend (about 16 oz.)

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 c. pickled jalapeno slices


For the chicken and salsa: Position an oven rack in the top of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

Bake the chicken nuggets according to the oven method on the package directions. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the salsa. Toss together the corn, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno with brine, olive oil, tomatoes, avocado, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

For the nachos: Combine the beans, adobo sauce and olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread the tortilla chips in an 11-by-15-inch baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Top with the shredded cheese and the bean mixture. Bake on the top rack until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the beans are heated through, about 10 minutes.

While the nachos bake, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and toss in a medium bowl with the contents of the flavor packet if included.

Top the baked nachos with the salsa and chicken bites. Dollop the sour cream over the top and sprinkle with the cilantro leaves and jalapeno slices. Serve with lime wedges.


Bleu Cheese-Crusted Sirloin Steaks


Prep/Total Time: 30 min.

Yield: 4 servings


2 T. butter, divided

1 med. onion, chopped

1/3 c. crumbled bleu cheese

2 T. soft bread crumbs

1 beef top sirloin steak (1” thick & 1-1/2 lbs.)

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper


Preheat broiler. In a large broil-safe skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat; saute onion until tender. Transfer to a bowl; stir in cheese and bread crumbs.

Cut steak into 4 pieces; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In same pan, heat remaining butter over medium heat; cook steaks until desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°), 4-5 minutes per side.

Spread onion mixture over steaks. Broil 4-6 in. from heat until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.


Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia


Prep/Total Time: 25 min.

Yield: 4 servings


1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 lg. egg, beaten

1/2 c. crushed Ritz® crackers (about 10 crackers)

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tilapia fillets (5 oz. each)

2 T. olive oil

Lemon wedges


Place flour and egg in separate shallow bowls. In another shallow bowl, combine the crackers, cheese and salt. Dip fillets in the flour, then egg, then cracker mixture; turn until coated.

In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, cook fillets in oil over medium heat until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.


Tortellini with Sausage and Mascarpone


Total Time: 20 min.

Yield: 6 servings


1 pkg. (20 oz.) refrigerated cheese tortellini

8 oz. bulk Italian sausage

1 jar (24 oz.) pasta sauce with mushrooms

1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

1 carton (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese

Crushed red pepper flakes, optional  


Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes, breaking into crumbles; drain. Stir in pasta sauce; heat through.

Drain tortellini, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Add tortellini to sauce with enough reserved cooking water to reach desired consistency; toss to coat. Stir in Parmesan cheese; dollop with mascarpone cheese. If desired, sprinkle with red pepper flakes.


Triple-Layer Cracker Toffee Bars


Prep Time: 25 min

Total Time: 1 hr 25 min

Yield: 48 bars


90 buttery rectangular crackers (from 13.7-oz box)

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

1 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. butter

1/4 c. milk

1 bag (11.5 oz.) milk chocolate chips (2 c.)


Line 13x9-inch pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray. Place 30 of the crackers in bottom of pan.

In 2-quart saucepan, mix condensed milk, brown sugar, butter and milk. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high; heat to boiling. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour one-third of the caramel mixture over crackers in pan. Arrange 30 of the crackers over caramel. Top with one-third of the remaining caramel mixture. Repeat with remaining crackers and caramel.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Pour over caramel; spread evenly. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until set. Cut into 6 rows by 8 rows. Store covered up to 4 days.


Chocolate Strawberry Cake


Level: Easy

Total: 2 hr 30 min

(includes cooling time)

Active: 30 min

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Nonstick cooking spray

1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour*

1-1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 lg. egg plus 1 lg. egg yolk

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 lb. strawberries (about 4 c.), hulled & thinly sliced, plus 5 whole strawberries, for decorating

1 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Store-bought whipped cream, for decorating


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg, egg yolk, sour cream, oil, vanilla and 1/2 cup hot water and whisk until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Scatter the sliced strawberries on top and gently press them into the batter. 

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a wire rack. Flip the cake back over and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Once the cake has cooled, put the semisweet chocolate and the white chocolate in separate small microwave-safe bowls. Microwave the semisweet chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring well with a rubber spatula between each, until completely melted and smooth, about 1 minute. Drizzle the cake with the melted chocolate. Repeat the melting and drizzling process with the white chocolate.

Garnish the top edge of the cake with the whipped cream. Cut the remaining 5 whole strawberries in half lengthwise and place the pieces cut-side down around the edge of the cake. 

*Cook’s Note: When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)


Coconut Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars


 Prep Time: 5 min

 Cook Time: 35 min

 Total Time: 40 min

 Yield: 24 bars



1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. old-fashioned oats

2 c. flaked coconut

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. brown sugar

1 c. butter softened

1 egg lightly beaten

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips



14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

1/4 c. Light Corn Syrup

8 oz. toffee bits


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Crust: Combine flour, oats, coconut, and brown sugar in a large bowl of electric mixer and mix at low speed. Add butter and continue mixing until a crumbly dough forms. Add egg and continue mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of dough for topping. Press remaining dough into bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Bake 10 minutes.

Filling: Combine sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup in a small bowl and mix until combined. Pour evenly over hot crust. Sprinkle with toffee bits. Top evenly with reserved crust mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars.


Quote of the Week:

“The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” 

~ President George Washington



The Drummer and The Wright County Journal Press

PO Box 159
108 Central Ave.
Buffalo MN 55313


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