Ads 468x60px

Pages

Featured Posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Corn Dogs

With all the sales and coupons going around right now, I have hot dogs coming out my ears! Made these bad boys tonight and decided they were a "must blog".


Batter:
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
Remaining Ingredients:
  • 48 oz. bottle of frying oil (peanut or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (for dredging)
  • 10 hot dogs (and 10 sticks)

Direction:
  • Empty your bottle of oil into a deep pot. A 3 qt. pot works perfectly. Turn your stove onto high to heat up your oil. *Once your oil is hot enough to begin frying (about 375°), you'll probably want to turn down the heat, but no lower than medium-high.
  • Mix together all your batter ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and set aside.
  • Dry the juice off your hot dogs by rolling them across a paper towel. Place the cornstarch in a shallow dish, then roll the hot dogs in it. Tap off any excess, then insert the sticks.
  • Pour your batter into a large drinking glass.
  • One at a time, dip your hot dogs into the batter, coat well, then slowly place in oil. Fry only a couple at a time, for up to 5 minutes, until your batter has turned into that beautiful golden color.
  • Place a cooling rack to dry/cool while you finish frying the rest.
  • *If you have leftovers, reheat them simply by baking them in the oven at 400° for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Emily's Famous Hash Browns


For an AWESOME and easy hash brown recipe, click here!
Recipe courtesy of www.allrecipes.com, my favorite recipe website.

My husband made these for our dinner tonight. I told him only to make enough for himself because I didn't really want any. I regretted that decision once I tasted them! He was kind enough to share, but we were both left wanting more...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cilantro-Avocado-Jalapeno Hummus

This is a delicious and zesty TAHINI-FREE hummus. I have a hard time finding Tahini, so I was happy to whip this up and see that it still tastes amazing!


  • 1 can of chick peas or garbanzo beans
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (maybe more)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
Throw everything into your food processor or blender and puree. If mixer is too thick, you can add more olive oil to loosen it up. Also, feel free to add more salt, cumin, garlic, or lime to suit your taste. *Makes about 1 cup.

Serve immediately, or let sit in the fridge to allow flavors to "marry" a little more. Serve with pita chips, pita bread, veggies, or tortilla chips (blue corn are a great choice!). EXCELLENT party dish!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

EASY Green Chile Chicken Tacos

Every time I go to Costco (every couple weeks), I purchase a rotisserie chicken for us to have for dinner that night. We eat the dark meat, then I save the chicken breasts to use in another meal. The following recipe is something I threw together in an attempt to use up some left over chicken breasts. It is fast, easy, and DELICIOUS!

Green Chile Chicken Tacos

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 bottle of 505 Green Chile Sauce (pictured so you know what to look for)

Mix your chicken and sauce and heat through. I like to add about a tablespoon of cumin and a tablespoon of chili powder or taco seasoning for an added punch of flavor.

This is it for your taco filling. It will look like this...

Now just assembly your tacos! I LOVE buying raw corn tortillas and cooking them myself. I've only seen them at Costco. If you can't find them, of course, use the regular precooked corn tortillas. Heat them through so they are more pliable and less likely to break. We like to top ours with cheese, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, salsa, and a squirt of lime juice.

The amount of chicken filling you'll end up with could easily feed a family of 4 twice. My babies don't really eat these with us, so it usually feed us 4 times.

We love using this chicken filling in omelets and on nachos too!!

On a side note, I have to give props to our new favorite salsa. El Sol Salsa from Costco. We go through about 2 of these babies a month in our house!
Mmmmm.... I'm totally craving it now.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whole Wheat Honey Pancakes


Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Everyone knows how to make pancakes right? Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk, then ladle onto a hot skillet.

Delicious with regular syrup, but if you're looking to keep them on the lighter side, try honey!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cream Puffs

I've never made Cream Puffs until today. I was surprised at how easy they were! Following the basic "puff" recipe, there are recipes for both sweet (vanilla cream) and savory (shrimp) fillings. These will absolutely be my new go-to dishes for any party or gathering.

Basic Puff Recipe
This recipe will yield approximately 40 puffs.

Ingredients:
1 cup shortening
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
2 cups flour
8 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine shortening, salt, and boiling water in a sauce pan and cook over high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Meanwhile, put your flour in a mixing bowl with the beater attachment*. Slowly pour the shortening/water mixture over the top of the flour as it is mixing. Continue to mix while adding 1 egg at a time and mixing thoroughly between eggs. Mix until dough is thick and shiny and breaks from a spoon.
**I have a Kitchen Aid mixer which works great. A hand mixer might have a hard time with the thickness of the dough. You could also mix by hand.**

Pipe or spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet (about the size of a golf ball). Try to keep the balls "tall" rather than wide as they will spread a little during baking. On my regular size baking sheet, I was able to drop them 3 across and 5 down (15 per sheet). Also, I did 2 sheets at a time in my oven, one over the top of the other. Bake the puffs for about 18 minutes at 450 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15-20 more minutes. They're done when they have a nice golden brown color, and sound hollow when tapped.

Cool, then fill! You can slice the puffs in half completely, or just half way (my preference).

Savory, Shrimp Filling
This will fill approximately 20 puffs.

Ingredients:
2 cans tiny shrimp
2 8 oz. bricks of softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 bunch sliced green onions
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Mix ingredients in a bowl, then spoon or pipe into puffs. Mixture can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. However, for best results when filling puffs, the mixture should be allowed to sit out and soften prior to filling.

(Thanks for the recipe, MOM!)

Another fun idea on the savory side would be chicken salad (I have a recipe on the next post).

Vanilla Cream Filling
Yield - Approximately 20 puffs

Ingredients:
2 3.4 oz packages of instant vanilla pudding
3 cups heavy whipping cream*

*This will give you a super thick mixture, almost custard like, which will keep the cream from oozing out of the puff when you bite into it. However, if you prefer smoother filling, use 2 cups cream and 1 cup milk.

Directions:
Combine pudding and cream and allow to set up. It will only take a few minutes. Spoon or pipe into your puff shells, plate, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. If you've got the time, you could dip the top half of the cream puff into a dipping chocolate. Mmmm...


Piping tip - if you don't have a piping bag, simply use a ziplock bag! Fill the bag with your mixture, then cut a small piece off the bottom corner. Voila! I HIGHLY recommend piping the filling into the puffs. MUCH easier, cleaner, and faster than spooning...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go-to Chicken Salad

Whenever I have some leftover chicken breasts needing to be used, this is one of my favorite salads to whip up. It's quick, easy, and delicious. AND, I love that I can make it ahead of time for a quick fix later on.

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed chicken (cooked)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups Craisans
1 cup chopped celery
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
1 cup chopped pecans (candied pecans are a DELICIOUS choice)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
black pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a large bowl, adding the chicken last. Chill for about an hour, then serve on bread, croissant rolls, or in pita pockets.

Monday, November 29, 2010

KARLI'S Chicken Enchiladas

I've been making these bad boys for about 15 years. In my family, they're famous. Just sayin.



4 cups shredded chicken *shredded over chopped is more authentic
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can diced green chiles
1 packet of taco seasoning
32 oz. shredded cheese (I like Colby Jack or a taco blend)
2 bunches green onions, sliced
8 burrito size flour tortillas
2 cans of enchilada sauce (I like to do 1 red and 1 green and mix them together)


In a large pot, combine the first 6 ingredients (chicken, chicken soup, sour cream, garlic, green chiles, and taco seasoning). Mix well and cook over medium heat until hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is your filling.

Now begins the assembly line. You'll place your enchiladas in a 9x13 casserole dish. Take a tortilla and fill it with about 1/2 cup of filling. Spread it down the middle of the tortilla, from top to bottom. Now top with a sprinkle of green onions and a small handful of cheese. Next, you are going to roll up the tortilla (hopefully it's not too full to roll up!) and place it in your casserole dish. Repeat until you've filled up your dish. You may not get 8 enchiladas in your dish. If this is the case, and you still have filling left, you could place a couple in a bread loaf pan. OR, my brother's favorite, use the leftover filling as chip dip.

Once you've assembled all your enchiladas, pour your enchilada sauce over the top, then top with your remaining shredded cheese and green onions. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Allow the enchiladas to cool for 15 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and salsa, and enjoy!

**A special thanks to my sister in law, Jenn, who requested this recipe today. I've been meaning to get it up on the blog for a very long time!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

I've never been a big fan of Pumpkin Pie... that is until I tried this one!! It's slightly different than your traditional pumpkin pie with the addition of cream cheese. Mmmm... Rich and delicious, and easy to make too!

Pumpkin Pie - Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
  • 1 piece pre-made pie dough
  • Whipped cream, for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, if using, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

Pecan Pie

This was the first Pecan Pie I ever made, and it was (and is every time) such a hit, that it's my go to pie every time.
This recipe is for 1 9" pie.

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla and nuts.
  3. Pour into an unbaked 9" pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done. The easiest way for me to usually tell if the pie is done or not is to gently shake the pie. If the center is jiggling, then it probably needs more time. It's ok if it's a little jiggly, as it will set up as it cools.
  4. Allow the pie atleast an hour to cool before serving.
  5. Serve with your favorite pie topping. For this one, my favorite is a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

If you've never tried spaghetti squash before, NOW IS THE TIME PEOPLE! Not only is it in season, most stores are offering squash at great sale prices.

Before the recipe, let me tell you a little bit about spaghetti sqash.
The taste is mild, and will take on lots of flavor from whatever you add to it. It looks like this -
To prepare, you simply cut it in half lenghtwise, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and roast it flesh down on a non-stick pan (350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your squash).
Allow it to cool slightly until it's easy to handle, then using a fork, "scrape" out the flesh. It comes out stringy, like, uh, SPAGHETTI!
This is what you end up with, then you will add to it whatever your recipe calls for. So, on to my recipe!

1 spaghetti squash, roasted and scraped from skin
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup of feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Prepare your squash.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan and saute onions until tender. Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and just heat through. Toss this mixture with your spaghetti squash. Plate it and top with olives, feta cheese, and fresh basil.

EASY?? Heck ya!! And it was absolutely delicious! My first experience with spaghetti squash was outstanding, and I can't wait to try it in some other recipes.

Learn more about the nutritional content of spaghetti squash HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Salad




4 sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. each of salt, pepper, and thyme
2 small apples (red or green)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup toasted or glazed pecans
1 cup mayonnaise (I like the Kraft Olive Oil Mayonnaise)

Toss the cubed sweet potatoes in the olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, then spread on a flat baking sheet (use a good non-stick pan). Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

Combine remaining ingredients, mix thoroughly, and add cooled sweet potatoes last. They will probably be soft, so be careful not to stir too vigorously or they will end up mashed. My potatoes got a little caramelized on the bottom side which added a nice little crunch to them and also helped keep them from falling apart.

Chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spinach & Raspberry Salad




Raspberry Vinaigrette

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp raspberry jam
1/4 tsp of each of the following - salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, minced garlic

Put everything in your blender and go. Don't forget the lid! Double the recipe for servings of 4 or more.

Salad

Spinach leaves
Red onion
Raspberries
Toasted almonds or pecans
Feta or blue cheese
Croutons

DELISH!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crockpot Pinto Beans, BBQ Style



I've never been a fan of baked beans... But as of late, they've been growing on me. I decided to try my own version this morning, and I am so excited to share the recipe with you! They turned out GREAT!!

Mix the following in your crockpot (turned on to low):
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used 2 Hatch chile peppers for a little more heat)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes (I like Rotel brand because they have green chiles in them)
(Here's the diet kicker) 1 package of uncooked bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. McCormick Grill Mates Pork Rub or Mesquite Seasoning
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups of sorted and rinsed pinto beans
Approximately 5 cups of water

Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours, or until the beans are tender to your liking.

Once they are finished, place a large pot in your sink and put your strainer over it. Pour the beans into the strainer so that all the liquid strains into the pot. Place the beans back in your crockpot (you can turn the crockpot off), and put the pot with the liquid on the stove over high heat. Boil the liquid until it is reduced atleast by half. You'll want it to be a thick glaze-like mixture. You can also add more seasoning, brown sugar, or salt at this point until you are happy with the flavor. Once it's reduced, mix it back in with your beans and serve!!

A couple notes -

1. Yes, I am aware that there is a lot of oil in the liquid that has cooked out of the bacon. I left all of that in mine. So it is pretty unfriendly to my diet. Next time I'll try to skim the oil off the top of the liquid before I render it down for fat and calorie purposes only. It tastes great with it, but I know it will taste great without it too.

2. In my opinion, beans like this taste better the 2nd day and on. I made these for our dinner tomorrow night so that they'd be 2nd day beans...

These were really easy and I am so excited to have a new way to cook pinto beans. They are so cheap!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easy Black Beans & Rice



This is a quick, easy, and tasty side to any Mexican meal. Serve it with enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, tamales, etc.

1/2 onion (color of your choice), chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 can of black beans
1/2 cup "Taco Sauce" (La Victoria, Ortega, etc.)
1/4 - 1/2 cup water, depending on how much "sauce" you want to cover your rice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onion and bell pepper in a little bit of oil for about 5 minutes, then add garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Turn heat down to simmer and add remaining ingredients. Serve immediately over white rice, or continue simmering until you are ready to serve.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shrimp Ceviche



1 lb. raw shrimp (devained, tail-off), small rough chop
6 limes
1 red onion
1/2 cucumber
4 tomatoes
1 jalapeno, 2 for more spice
1/2 - 1 cup chopped cilantro, depending on how much you like it
1 cup Clamato juice
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Place your chopped shrimp in a large bowl, then juice your limes over the top of it. You need enough lime juice to cover the shrimp. For those of you who are wondering, this is how your shrimp gets cooked - by marinating in the lime juice. And the onions, and let the mixture sit for 1 hour. Then add the remaining ingredients and let set for another hour. Serve with tostadas or tortilla chips!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summertime Macaroni Salad

I can't say where I've had this salad before, but I made it tonight and realized it is one that I LOVE!! I made the dressing while my noodles were cooking, and I thought it tasted too sweet. But as I added the other ingredients, like the onions and bell pepper, the flavors all came together and mellowed out the sweetness. Also, for a mayonnaise based dressing, it was surprisingly light. This recipe will fill a large salad bowl...



INGREDIENTS:

* 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni or shell noodles
* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* 2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
* 1 tsp. celery salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 onion, chopped
* 4 stalks celery, chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 1 16 oz. brick of cheese, diced into small cubes

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook. While the noodles are cooking, mix together all the remaining ingredients. You'll notice that the dressing becomes quite runny. This next step is optional, but I highly recommend it.

Once your noodles are tender and ready to be drained, first drain the dressing from the veggies and cheese. I just poured mine out of the bowl and through my strainer into another bowl. Then I drained my noodles (don't rinse as the starchy water is good to help the sauce stick) and put the hot noodles into the bowl with the dressing. By adding hot noodles to the dressing, it allows the noodles to soak up more of the dressing as they cool. Leave them out for about a half hour, stirring occasionally, and you'll notice the sauce get soaked up almost entirely into the noodles. This helps them to take on more of the flavor of your sauce, instead of just tasting like a noodle. Now mix the veggies and cheese (which have been chilling in the fridge) in with your noodles, cover, and chill for a few hours before serving.

If you choose to not drain the dressing from your veggies to pour over the hot noodles, then just allow your noodles to cool before mixing them in to your dressing/veggies/cheese bowl. You don't want your cheese to melt...

Goes great with anything!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Here's a fun one - Coffee Can Ice Cream!!

Erik and I made coffee can ice cream the other night. It was easy, surprisingly fast, tasty, and a great way to kill time when you are locked indoors from the summer heat!!



Here's what you need (per person):



1 pint size jar with seal and metal twist on lid.

1 3 lb. coffee can, again with twist on lid. OR, get creative - we used a large glass pickle jar that had a metal twist on lid, and a large plastic container that once had jalapenos in it (also had a twist on lid).

**We liked the idea of the twist on lids for everything because it was that much less likely that anything was going to leak out.

Rock salt (found with the other salts at the grocery store)

Lots of ice (our ice maker in the freezer was full, and we used all of it)

Recipe for homemade ice cream (my version is below, but it is basic)

Directions:

Fill your pint jars with your cream mixture (recipe below, or use your own) and tightly fasten the lids.

Fill your large jar with 1 or 2 cups of ice then sprinkle rock salt over that. My ratio was 1/2 cup of salt per 2 cups of ice. That might be too much, but too much is better than not enough! Set your smaller ice cream jar in the center of the large jar on top of the ice, then add another 1 or 2 cups of ice around that to hold it in place in the center. Again, sprinkle with another 1/2 cup or so of salt. Do as many layers as you need to until your large jar is completely full of ice, and your small jar is completely covered. Tighten the lid on your large jar.

**If you've used a lid that just snaps on, rather than twists on, you may want to take extra precautions to keep the lid from popping off and spilling salty water all over the place. Tape it up, or whatever else you can think of...

Now go sit on the ground somewhere and start rolling the jar around. Fast agitation is best. It isn't necessary to have someone else to roll your jar or can back and forth. Erik and I each did our own. This would be fun for kids however to roll their jars around to each other.

We rolled our jars for a total of 30 minutes, and got about 1-inch solid around the ice cream jars. The rest was slushy but thick like a milkshake. So we put the jars in the freezer for another 30 minutes, and they froze up beautifully! Next time, I might allow an hour in the freezer, but that's just because I like hard ice cream. Erik likes soft serve, so he was happy with how his turned out. Either way, I wouldn't freeze for any more than 1 hour. Without the additives that are in your store bought ice cream, this version will probably freeze up solid as a rock if you left it in the freezer for too long.

This is the recipe I used (again, this is per jar):
* 1 3/4 cups of heavy cream or half and half (depends on how thick and creamy you want it, and how calorie-conscious you are)
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla

I put my egg in the blender so it was good and beaten, then added everything else. I mixed it up good in the blender, then poured it into my jar.

OPTIONS -

You can use milk instead of the cream or half and half. It won't be as creamy, but it will be lower in fat and calories.

The egg is optional. Erik didn't exactly like that he was eating raw egg in his ice cream, but I wasn't going to go through the extra trouble to cook the cream first. I don't know what the difference will be without the egg, but the recipe said optional.

I don't like the taste of vanilla extract, and it gave our ice cream a bit of that funny flavor. I will be using vanilla bean pods next time. I saw them at Costco recently. You just boil the pods to soften them up, then split them open and scrape out the brown vanilla bean mush in the center.

Any other additives or flavorings would go in at your preference. You could add in chocolate syrup or other sunday syrups, fresh berries, substitute vanilla extract for coconut or other flavor, candy bar pieces, etc. Just remember - your 1 pint jar equals 2 cups, and the cream will take up most of that room. So leave out some of the cream if you plan on adding other ingredients.


ENJOY, and HAVE FUN!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fruit of Your Choice Cobbler

I meant to blog about this one the first I tried it, but forgot. I am making it again "as we speak" and can't let you guys miss out on it anymore! Read on... you'll be surprised at how easy and delicious this is!

You can use just about any fruit in this cobbler from frozen or fresh berries of any kind to fresh or canned peaches. The first time I made this, I used half bottled peaches and half frozen blueberries (which was an AMAZING combination). Tonight, it's just blueberries because I'm out of peaches. Wish I had some raspberries!!

Fruit of Your Choice Cobbler



INGREDIENTS:
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup milk
* 2 cups of sliced fresh peaches or nectarines, or whole blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or a combination of fruits
* 1 tablespoon sugar


DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put butter in an 8-inch square pan; set in oven to melt. When butter has melted, remove pan from oven.
3. Whisk flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Add milk; whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour batter into pan over melted butter, then scatter fruit over batter. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tb. of sugar followed by crumb topping (see below) if using.
4. Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.


OPTIONAL CRUMB TOPPING:
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 3 tablespoons softened butter

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon, then add butter and blend all together using a fork. Place mixture in the fridge for about 10 minutes so butter can stiffen up and the mixture can become "crumby".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili

This was supposed to be a soup, but it was so thick and chunky, I decided to add a few choice ingredients and officially make it a chili. It's different, and FANTASTIC!! And for those of you watching your waistlines, it's low-fat and high in protein (careful with those toppings though!!).

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili



Servings - Alot. This is going to fill your BIG crockpot.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 (20 ounce) can pinto or chili beans
* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
* 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
* 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce or for extra spicy chili, use a can of Mexican tomato sauce, called Salsa de Chili Fresco
* 2 cups chicken broth
* 1 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
* 1 package taco seasoning
* 3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup crushed tortilla chips

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS/GARNISH

* shredded Cheddar cheese
* sour cream
* crushed tortilla chips
* green onions
* avocado
* chopped cilantro
* lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the onion, beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Shred or chop the chicken (your preference), then stir the chicken back into the soup. Add the brown sugar and cup of crushed tortilla chips, stir, and continue cooking for 2 hours. If your chili isn't as thick as you'd like, add more crushed tortilla chips. Serve with your choice of toppings!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Crab and Clam Stuffed Avocados



Ingredients:

* ½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
* ½ green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
* ½ red onion, peeled quartered and thinly sliced
* ¼ fresh lime juice
* 1 tsp. ground cumin
* ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
* ½ cup mayonnaise
* 1 25 oz. can chopped sea clams, well drained
* 10 oz. jumbo lump crab meat, well drained, OR Imitation Crab, flaked
* 4 ripe avocados, pitted and halved
* 3 limes, quartered for garnish

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mix first 7 ingredients together well.
2. Gently fold in the chopped clams and crab meat.
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
4. Scoop ½ cup of crab and clam salad into avocado half.
5. Serve with lime wedge.

Serves 4

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cuban Sandwich

Sunday lunches have to be quick and easy. We usually miss breakfast, so when we get home from church at noon, we are HUNGRY. This sandwich was perfect for time and appetite. I admit, I don't know what makes this a Cuban sandwich, but nevertheless, that is what it is called, it is good. This recipe yields 4 sandwiches.

Cuban Sandwich



INGREDIENTS

* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 5 tablespoons Italian dressing
* 4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
* 4 tablespoons prepared mustard
* 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli turkey meat
* 1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked ham
* 1/2 pound thinly sliced Swiss or Provolone cheese
* 1 cup dill pickle slices
* 1/2 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and Italian dressing. Spread mixture on hoagie rolls. Spread each roll with mustard. On each roll, arrange layers of turkey, ham, and cheese. Top each with dill pickle slices. Close sandwiches, and brush tops and bottoms with olive oil.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Place sandwiches in skillet. Cook sandwiches for 2 minutes, pressing down with a plate to make them flat. Flip, and cook for 2 more minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat, place on plates, and cut in half diagonally.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Layered Chicken Enchilada Bake

I got this recipe from Stacy Nance, who was a neighbor and friend of our in Colorado. She brought this casserole over for us when I was just out of the hospital with AJ. It is one of our favorites!!

Layered Chicken Enchilada Bake



Serves: 6 - 8

Ingredients:

6 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1 26 oz. family size can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 16oz. bottle of 505 Southwestern Green Chile Sauce or similar sauce
1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
3 cups shredded colby jack cheese
20 - 25 corn tortillas

Directions:

Prepare the sauce by combining the cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, green chile sauce, and green chiles.

Prepare the corn tortillas by placing 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a sauce pan, then slightly heating the tortillas. This will soften them up. Then tear each tortilla into quarters.

Using a deep 9x13 casserole dish, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom, then begin layering your casserole. The layers (you are shooting for 3) begin with 2 layers of tortillas randomly placed on top of each other to keep them from seeming too dense, next chicken, then sauce (you should have enough sauce left to do about 2 cups on each layer), and end with cheese. Start over with your 2 layers of tortillas and do 2 more complete layers, if your dish is deep enough.

It will look like this:

Sauce

Tortilla
Tortilla
Chicken
Sauce
Cheese

Tortilla
Tortilla
Chicken
Sauce
Cheese

Tortilla
Tortilla
Chicken
Sauce
Cheese

Hopefully you'll end on a perfect note of 3 perfect layers with no ingredients leftover. But we all know, it's not a perfect world. So just do your best. :-)

Bake the casserole in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then allow ATLEAST 10 minutes for your casserole to cool and set up. 15 - 20 minutes is ideal, but sometimes we are just too impatient. Trust me - it is worth the wait. Everything will come together and firm up and you won't have sauce running all over the place when you dish it up.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thin Crust Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil




Thin Crust Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

Serves: 4

Ingredients

* 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
* 2 (8-ounce) pieces of homemade pizza dough, recipe follows
* 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 1/3 cups, grated pasteurized mozzarella
* 2 Roma tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
* 1 large garlic clove, minced, optional
* 6 fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


Pizza Dough:

* 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
* 2 teaspoons dry yeast
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons olive oil


Directions
Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl to blend. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor to blend. Blend in the oil. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture and blend just until the dough forms. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the down dough and divide into 2 equal balls. (The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.)

Position 1 oven rack in the center and the second rack on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Sprinkle the cornmeal over 2 rimless baking sheets. Roll out each piece of pizza dough into a 10 to 11-inch-diameter round. Transfer 1 dough to each prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle 2 teaspoons of oil over each pizza dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the pizza dough, dividing equaling and leaving a 1-inch border around each pizza. Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer over the cheese. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Arrange basil leaves on top, drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle garlic all over. Bake the pizzas until the crusts are crisp and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted on top, about 15 minutes. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of oil over each pizza. Sprinkle with basil for garnish and salt. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve immediately.


**Here are the things I did that are a little different...

1. After I divided my dough into the two balls, I wrapped each ball in Saran Wrap and put them in the fridge for about an hour. This allowed the dough to come together and rise again just a tad.
2. I chopped my garlic, then put it in my Olive Oil and microwaved it for 20 seconds 2 times (if you did 40 seconds all at once it would start to spatter). This gave my olive oil the garlic flavor without the hassle of trying to sprinkle raw garlic evenly onto the pizza. Also, I used about a half a cup of olive oil. LOTS more than the recipe calls for, but it keep the pizza nice and moist. I "basted" the pizza again, especially the crispy edges, when it came out of the oven.
3. I used Hot House tomatoes, and I used 2 per pizza, and still wish I had more. So, I would recommend using atleast double what she calls for. I probably did the same with the cheese. It seems like I used a lot more than what the recipe says. I also used A LOT more basil that what the recipe called for.
4. Speaking of basil, on our first pizza, the basil got crunchy. So on the second pizza, I put the basil under the tomatoes and it was much better. It retained more basil flavor that way.
5. I salted and peppered the pizzas before they baked.


REALLY easy and really delicious!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I've never been a fan of peanut sauce in Asian cooking, but I tried this one and loved it! Udon Noodles are a thick noodle used in Japanese cooking. They are unique and I highly recommend them for this dish. HOWEVER, if you can't find them with the Asian foods at your local grocery store (I had to get mine at Whole Foods Market), spaghetti or fettuccine noodles would be a suitable substitute. Also, if you go easy on the hot chili sauce or completely omit it, this is a great dish for kids. Serve it along side some teriyaki chicken or pork loin.

Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce



Ingredients:

1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter (chunky if you have it)
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. Sriracha or other hot chili sauce (optional)
3 cloves minced garlic
10 ounces Udon noodles
Garnish:
1/4 cup chopped green onions (green end)
1/4 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add noodles and cook until tender, then drain.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce by simply combining chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, hot chili sauce, and garlic in a pan (large enough that the noodles will fit once they are done). Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. Add noodles and toss to coat. Plate, then garnish with green onions, peanuts, and cilantro.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spicy Chicken Pasta

This is a combination of Johnny Carino's Spicy Shrimp and Chicken Pasta and Chili's Spicy Chicken Alfredo. SO delicious!!

Spicy Chicken Pasta



Ingredients:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled
1/2 cube of butter
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned w/ oil
1 bunch of green onions, sliced
1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 large gloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
16 ounces penne pasta

Directions:

Grill, or otherwise, cook your chicken, let it cool, then thinly slice it on the diagonal (chopping it is fine also). Melt the butter in a large sauce pan, then add your chicken, tomatoes, green onions, and bell peppers. Cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Then add cream, cheese, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium high heat (the mixture should have a gentle boil) until it thickens down by about half (approximately 10 - 15 minutes). Stir frequently. Meanwhile, cook your pasta, then drain and salt. Once sauce and pasta are ready, toss all together and serve.

**You can add grilled shrimp to this dish in addition to the chicken or as a replacement for the chicken.

A note about the following two recipes...

This was too funny not to share...

The night we made the salmon (below), I tried to give AJ a piece of it and he spit it out. HOWEVER, when I shared mine with him that had the relish on it, he loved it! We shared the last piece for lunch yesterday.

I also tried to give him some hard boiled egg from the night we had egg salad sandwiches. He wasn't real thrilled about it. BUT, when I shared my egg salad with him that had the Green Chile Mayonnaise in it (recipe below), again, he loved it.

By the way, for those of you out there reading this who may not be familiar with my family, AJ is my 11-month old baby. He eats thing like pepperoncini's, pickled garlic, pickles, and now apparently isn't even phased by spicy green chile mayonnaise (rather, he prefers it!!). This is going to make things a lot easier as he is able to eat more of the things that we eat. He'll be asking for the hot sauce!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Salmon with Tomato Caper Relish

This is Erik's recipe. He's only made it a few times over the past 4 years, and this last time, I finally wrote it down so I could make it too.

The relish is rich, fresh, and slightly tangy from the capers. It would taste great over chicken or pasta as well as salmon.

Salmon with Tomato Caper Relish



Ingredients:
1/2 cube of butter
2 lbs. of Salmon, cut into 4 fillets
4 tomatoes
4 oz. jar of capers, drained
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. While the butter is melting, salt and pepper both sides of your salmon fillets. Add salmon to the skillet and cook each side for 6 - 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. **Note - you'll begin preparing your tomatoes while the salmon is cooking.** Don't disturb the fish too much - just for the one flip and then to take it out. You'll know they're done when they are slightly firm to the touch. When they are finished, remove the fillets, place them on a plate, and cover them with foil while you prepare the relish.

Remove the juice and seeds from the tomatoes, then chop them all. When your fish has been removed from the pan, add the tomatoes to the pan with the remaining butter, then add the capers, and lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until the relish has thickened and come together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Plate your salmon, then top with the relish, and serve with a side salad and piece of corn or other veggie. Fresh, light, and delicious!!

Green Chile Mayonnaise

BLT's were on the menu for last night's dinner. Often times, we add a fire roasted green chile to our BLT's (we try to keep a bag of them on hand from the local Mexican market). I didn't have any last night, so I decided to try adding a can of diced green chiles to some mayonnaise and see what I came up with.

I LOVED IT!! So much so, that I am using up the leftover bacon and green chile mayonnaise in egg salad sandwiches for tonight.

Green Chile and spice make this mayonnaise a tasty and kickin' addition to sandwiches, or anything else you would add mayonnaise too!

Green Chile Mayonnaise



Makes: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then pour into the blender and puree.
2. Taste. More cayenne pepper or cumin can be added if you'd like more spice.
3. Note - This mix will not be as thick as your plain mayonnaise.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Banana Crumb Muffins

I got this recipe from one of my favorite sites, allrecipes.com. It has one of the highest ratings I have seen with almost 3,500 people giving it thumbs up (5 stars). They are fast and easy to make, and are the perfect way to use up your "can't go another day" bananas. Oh, and FYI, I doubled the crumb topping. I love that stuff...



Banana Crumb Muffins

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 35 Minutes
Servings: 12

"A basic banana muffin is made extraordinary with a cinnamon-and-brown-sugar streusel topping."

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rachel Ray Show's Greek Baked Ziti

My... I haven't posted any recipes for quite some time! Not that I haven't been trying anything new, but I guess there just hasn't been anything quite blogworthy... until now!!

I'll admit - Rachel Ray drives me nuts. I used to dislike watching her because of all those dumb things she would say. But, I have become a fan of her talk show, and have realized that her recipes rock! I saw her make Greek Baked Ziti a couple weeks ago and it looked worth trying. For the record - I LOVE IT!! That is used in present tense rather than past tense because I am still eating it. The recipe made a full 9x13 dish, and there is only Erik and I. So I have been eating it for leftovers, for lunch right now as a matter of fact... It is so good!! It kind of reminds me of a lasagna because it is a layered dish with pasta, meat sauce, and a creamy cheese sauce. What makes it Greek is that the meat that is used is ground lamb, rather than ground beef, and a couple other minor things like cheese choices and using a Pita bread crumb topping rather than regular bread crumbs.

This dish is like nothing you've had before, and would be great to serve if you had company over... The recipe says it yields 4 servings, but like I said before, I ended up filling up a 9x13 casserole dish. That's what I get for not measuring!



Greek Baked Ziti
Rachael's Daytime Talk Show
Ingredients

* Salt
* 1 pound ziti
* 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 pound ground lamb
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
* 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
* 2 pinches ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon (about 1/3 palmful) allspice
* Ground black pepper
* 1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
* 6 tablespoons butter, divided
* 4 tablespoons flour
* 3 cups milk
* A few grates fresh nutmeg
* 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or kefalotyri cheese, divided
* 2 pitas, toasted or 1 1/2 cups pita chips
* 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Yields: 4 servings

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta. When the water is boiling, add some salt and drop the pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve.

Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the ground lamb to the pot and cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon and allspice to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies are tender, 4-5 minutes.

Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and gently break them up with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Simmer the sauce until lightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.

While the sauce is working, place another medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk and nutmeg into the butter-flour mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the grated cheese (about 2 handfuls, just eyeball it) into the sauce.

In the bowl of a food processor, crush up the toasted pita or pita chips to make coarse breadcrumbs. (You can also do make the breadcrumbs in a large plastic food bag using a rolling pin or frying pan to smash them up.) Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and toss with the remaining cheese and parsley. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and add it to the breadcrumb-cheese mixture.

Toss the cooked pasta with half of the white sauce. Transfer half of the pasta to a casserole dish and ladle the red sauce over top. Cover the red sauce with the remaining pasta and ladle the remaining white sauce over the top of the dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb-cheese mixture over everything and bake until light golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

I love the addition of potatoes to this classic dish. It makes it a little heartier and satisfying to the appetite.



Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

INGREDIENTS

* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 cup chopped carrots
* 1 cup chopped celery
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cube of butter
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
* 6 cups chicken broth (I prefer to make my own, see below for instructions)
* 4 cups diced peeled potatoes
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 2 cups diced chicken
* 24 oz. bag frozen egg noodles

DIRECTIONS

1. In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, saute the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in butter for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the flour, oregano, thyme and poultry seasoning until blended; saute 1 minute longer. Gradually add broth, potatoes and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. Stir in the chicken and noodles; cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes or until noodles are tender.

Want to serve it with a fresh loaf of homemade bread?? Use Rhode's Frozen Bread Loaves.



I made this bread the other night when I made my chicken noodle soup. Erik couldn't believe what a great job I had done on the bread. I have to admit, I let him believe... heck I might have even told him... that it was homemade. I'll take credit until he sees this blog.

Now, for the homemade chicken stock.



Begin by placing a whole chicken (rinsed and the inside junk removed) in a large pot. Roughly chop an onion (large pieces are just fine), 6 stalks of celery, a handful of baby carrots, and a couple cloves of garlic and throw in around the chicken. Season the chicken and vegetables with about 2 tbsp. of salt, 1 tbsp. pepper, 1 bay leave, and 1 tbsp. poultry seasoning, if you have it. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken, then cover, and place on the stove on high heat. Once the water begins to boil, you'll probably have to turn your stove down to medium heat so it doesn't boil over. Keep covered and cook for a couple hours.

After the 2 hours, turn your stove off, and try your best to remove the chicken without it falling apart. Place on a plate and set aside to cool. Next, place a strainer in another large pot. Pour your broth through the strainer into the other pot so that your vegetables are all separated from the broth. Discard the vegetables, and allow the broth to cool slightly before storing it. I recommend you let your broth chill completely before using it. A layer of fat will collect at the top and you'll want to remove that before you use the broth.

You can use the chicken you just cooked for your chicken noodle soup. It will need to cool enough that you don't burn your fingers while handling it. Once it is cool enough, remove the skin and begin removing all the meat from the bones. It will be so tender from boiling that the meat will practically fall off the bones. Store your chicken in a ziplock or tupperware in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Erik and I LOVE P.F. Chang's. Our favorite on their menu, which I think is EVERYONE'S favorite, is their Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I've always wanted to try making them... Tonight I finally did! They were AWESOME! I made enough for us to eat tonight and for Erik to take some to work for lunch tomorrow. However, Erik couldn't stop himself until they were all gone. I think these are going to make it on my menu every week. They are cheap, low cal, and filling.




Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Special Sauce

* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons ketchup
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon sesame oil
* 1 tablespoon hot mustard
* 2 teaspoons water
* 1-2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil. Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve.

Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.

Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.

Filling

* 3 tablespoons oil
* 8 chicken thighs
* 1 cup water chestnut
* 1 cup shitake mushroom
* 6 chopped green onions
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
* 1 head of lettuce (butter lettuce works great)
* Crispy Chinese rice noodles


Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Saute chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done. Remove chicken from the pan and cool.

As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.

Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.

When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are.

With the pan on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes.

Serve in "lettuce cups" and top with your special sauce and rice noodles.

BUDGET SAVER NOTE - Chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breasts. For this particular recipe, you could use either, but the thighs are a much better choice. They are more tender and easier to chop into small pieces. Almost any recipe that calls for chicken breasts can use thighs instead. We buy the large bag from the freezer section at Costco. The thigh bag is about $4 cheaper than the breast bag, and it lasts longer. Give it a try sometime!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Classic Guacamole Dip



We LOVE guacamole dip... I pick up a bag of avocados every time I go to Costco, so we are eating guacamole every couple of weeks. I've found this simple recipe is easy and delicious!! Here's a little tip that I learned on the Today Show - save the avocado pit after you've removed it from the avocado. When you are finished making the dip, throw a pit or two in and it helps stop the browning process. I've tried it and found that is does help. It doesn't stop it completely, but it will keep that pretty green color alive an extra couple days.


INGREDIENTS

* 3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
* 1 lime, juiced
* 1 teaspoon salt, more if desired for taste
* 1/2 cup diced onion (I prefer red for guacamole)
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 chopped tomatoes
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Super easy Toasted Garlic Dipping Oil

Have you been to Johnny Carino's? Or Carraba's? They serve you warm focaccia bread with a seasoned olive oil for dipping. I LOVE the toasted garlic that they add to the oil. I decided to give it a go tonight...

My take on Toasted Garlic Dipping Oil:

Chopped up about 2 tablespoons of garlic, salt it, then place it on a piece of foil that's been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. You can use a baking sheet, but I used the foil just because I could toss it when I was done (I'm a no-fuss kind of gal). Stick the piece of foil in a 400 degree oven for 5 - 8 minutes, until the garlic has a nice golden color. Stir it around once in the middle of that time so pieces aren't browned too much on the bottom.

Remove the foil o' garlic from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. In that time, mix in a small bowl 1/2 cup olive oil, and a 1/4 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and thyme. Stir together with a fork, then add your garlic. Done!

I LOVE Rosemary Focaccia as a dipping bread, but you can use any kind of bread you want. If you aren't sure what to get, ask someone at the bakery in the store. They'll know. Also, when you find your bread, if it isn't already slice, ask them to do it for you! They'll be happy to...

I must go now - the smell of garlic is calling my name.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Southwestern Egg Rolls w/ Cilantro Cream Dip


I made these on Tuesday night for a Halloween party we went to. They were a hit! I'll be honest - they were easy, but there is a lot of preparation work involved. Worth every bit of effort as far as I'm concerned...

These recipes came from one of my favorite websites, allrecipes.com. I jazzed up the egg rolls a bit, and my changes are the "or"'s.

Southwestern Egg Rolls
5 Servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers OR 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley OR 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese OR Taco flavored shredded cheese
  • 5 (6 inch) flour tortillas (I used the raw tortillas found with the Mexican cheeses and cream cheese at Walmart. They are very easy to roll. It's like using a egg roll wrapper.)
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rub 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over chicken breast. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook chicken approximately 5 minutes per side, until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in green onion and red pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Dice chicken and mix into the pan with onion and red pepper. Mix in corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno or chile peppers, parsley or cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until well blended and tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese so that it melts.
  4. Wrap tortillas with a clean, lightly moist cloth. Microwave on high approximately 1 minute, or until hot and pliable. **Not necessary if you are using the raw tortillas.
  5. Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each tortilla. Fold ends of tortillas, then roll tightly around mixture. Secure with toothpicks.
  6. In a large, deep skillet, heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Deep fry tortillas until dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.
Serve with Cilantro Cream Dip (below).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 (7 ounce) can tomatillo salsa
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, pepper, celery salt, cumin, garlic powder, cilantro and lime juice in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place in a serving bowl.

You've gotta try these!!


So I saw these Crockpot liners at Wal-mart last week. I debated for a minute, then thought, "You know, I do hate cleaning my crockpot, and I do use it about once a week, so why not..."

I just cooked chicken in my crockpot and used a liner, and it was fabulous!! When my chicken was done, I just removed the bag and poked a hole in it to drain all the juice I didn't want, then put my chicken in a dish. My crockpot is clean as a whistle! I'll still wash it out because you can never be too careful with chicken... But I am hooked! I will use these bags from here on out in my crockpot. I also read that you can use the oven bags as well - same material, same temperature resistance.

Anything to make my job a little easier...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is funny...


No, it's not Ciabatta Bread... I love to cook, but I don't BAKE. This bread proves it. So sad.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole



I made this for breakfast this morning. It was SO easy and SO delicious!!

2 7 oz. cans of diced green chiles (or 3 can if you really like green chiles like we do)
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (colby jack or pepperjack)
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 bunch diced green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Thoroughly coat an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Drain the green chiles well, reserving the liquid. Spread the green chiles evenly in your baking dish and top with the grated cheese.

Beat together your eggs, milk, reserved green chile juice, and salt and pepper as if you were making scrambled eggs. Pour the mixture over the chiles and cheese.

Top with the green onions.

Bake for 50 - 60 minutes. You'll know it's done if you shake the pan and the center doesn't wiggle. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream and hot sauce.

Did you know?


How to prevent tears while cutting onions?

Erik and I watch a show on the Food Network called "Food Detectives". It is kind of like a Myth Busters for food. This week, they tried different ways to cut an onion so you wouldn't cry. The winner - keeping your onions in the fridge. A chilled onion won't release as much of the sulfur odors that cause your eyes to water.

I've tried it, just this morning in fact, and I didn't shed one single tear. That same bag of onions has caused me some serious weepage in times before.

They also said a very sharp knife will help. A dull knife will rip apart more of the cells that cause the odor.


So quit 'yer crying!