Recipes for March Madness

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

March Madness is in full swing. My husband, Scott, proclaimed March as "the most wonderful time of the year." He has NCAA basketball tournament brackets spread all over the TV area, marking them with wins and losses as each game passes. Game after game goes by, and my losses keep piling up. Oh well, I'm in it for the fun. But for my son's sake, I do have to say, "Go Gators!"

I thought the first recipe would be great to serve the night of the big game. The national championship falls on Scott's birthday, so he thinks North Carolina should win it all for him. We will see.

Jalapeno Chicken Wraps

These easy appetizers are always a hit at parties. Zesty strips of chicken and bits of onion sit in jalapeno halves wrapped in bacon and grilled. Serve them with blue cheese or ranch salad dressing for dipping.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon pepper

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 small onion, cut into strips

15 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded (when cutting or seeding hot peppers, use rubber or plastic gloves to protect your hands, avoid touching your face.)

1 pound sliced bacon, halved widthwise

Blue cheese or ranch salad dressing

Cut chicken into 2-by-1 1/2-inch strips. In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, seasoned salt and paprika; add chicken and shake to coat. Place a chicken and onion strip in each jalapeno half. Wrap each with a piece of bacon and secure with toothpicks. Grill, uncovered, over indirect medium heat for 18 to 20 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear and bacon is crisp, turning once. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Makes 30.

Sage and Cheddar Potato Gratin

2 teaspoons rubbed sage or 2 teaspoons sage leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 (8-ounce) package grated Cheddar cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sage, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Layer of the potatoes and 1/2 of the onion in a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the sage mixture and of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with potatoes, sage mixture and cheese. Stir broth and cream in medium bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Pour evenly over potatoes. Bake 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and top is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Who doesn't love waking up to a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll? Surprise your family with a batch of these easy-to-make breakfast treats.

4 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 1/2 cups buttermilk baking mix

cup milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup raisins

1 recipe Glaze (below)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Stir together 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon; reserve. Stir baking mix, milk and 2 tablespoons sugar until dough forms. If dough is too sticky, gradually mix in enough baking mix (up to 1/4 cup) to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto surface well dusted with baking mix; gently roll in baking mix to coat. Shape into ball; knead 10 times. Roll into rectangle, 15-by-9 inches; spread with butter. Sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture and raisins. Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side. Seal well by pinching edge of dough into roll. Cut into 1 1/4-inch slices; place cut sides down in pan. Bake 23 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan. Spread Glaze over warm rolls. Makes 12 rolls.


1 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Stir together powdered sugar and milk until smooth.

Substitution: Replace raisins with dried sweetened cranberries or blueberries for a twist on these classic breakfast rolls. Use dental floss to easily cut the dough into slices. Place a 12-inch piece of floss under the roll where you want to make the cut. Then pull the floss ends up so they crisscross at the top and continue pulling the floss to cut through the dough.

Pasta-Filled Peppers

Pretty bell peppers provide a rainbow of colorful "cups" for this fresh-tasting tomato-herb pasta dish. Spaghetti noodles are the unusual stuffing ingredient in the recipe.

6 medium sweet red, green or yellow pepper

6 ounces uncooked spaghetti

3/4 cup diced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 3/4 cups diced fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Place whole peppers on a broiler pan; broil 6 inches from the heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until skins are blistered and blackened, turning often. Immediately place peppers in a bowl; cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Peel off and discard charred skins. Carefully cut tops off peppers and discard; remove seeds. Set peppers aside. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. In a bowl, combine flour, salt and broth until smooth. Stir into tomato mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Drain spaghetti; add to tomato mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, basil and Parmesan; toss. Spoon into peppers. Place in a 3-quart microwave-safe baking dish. Cover and microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Broccoli Rice Hot Dish

With green broccoli, golden cheese and sweet red peppers, this bountiful bake has plenty of eye appeal, and it makes a tasty and satisfying meatless entree or side dish.

2 cups hot cooked rice

1 3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided

1 1/2 cup egg substitute, divided

3/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

4 ounces chopped fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a bowl, combine the rice, 3/4 cup cheese, 1 cup egg substitute and garlic salt. Press firmly into a 2-quart baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the broccoli, mushrooms, red pepper and onion in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

In a bowl, combine remaining egg substitute, milk, onion salt and pepper; stir in vegetables. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Makes 6 servings.

Ravioli Supper Soup

1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey to lighten the recipe)

6 cups hot water

1 package Hamburger Helper ravioli & cheese

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

2 tablespoons instant minced onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup small curd creamed cottage cheese (light or fat-free to lighten the recipe)

Shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired

Cook beef in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain. Stir in hot water, uncooked pasta, sauce mix, frozen vegetables, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender (sauce will thicken as it stands). Remove from heat; stir in cottage cheese and topping mix (dry). Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy the tournament and may your favorite team come out on top. Have a great week and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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