Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Go-to meals: Hawiian Chicken

This is SOOO yummy and takes no time to prepare in the crock-pot! My mom showed it to me while visiting for during the Christmas break.

Put some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a crock-pot.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (or slightly less) soy sauce
1 can of pinapple tidbits (8 oz)
Cook on High for about 3 hours

Serve over rice and some stir-fry veggies (I just buy a bag of my favorite frozen kind of stir fry veggies--cooking them in some of the juices from the crock pot when it's done cooking adds a little bit of extra flavor.) Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Request: Go-To Meals -- Here, here!

I'm a little late on the bandwagon, but I'd like to second the request for go-to meals. We could desperately use ideas around our house these days. I'd also love to get ideas for freezer meals that turn out well; I've had good luck turning a few of the recipes on here into freezer meals (doubling the recipe, freezing half for later) but I'd love pointers, tips, or even just links to your favorites for freezing.

My only contribution in the go-to meals department isn't so much a recipe as a technique I use a lot for chicken and pork chops. For chicken, we use bone-in, skin-on pieces; for pork chops, we usually go with bone-in center cuts. The bones and skin add a lot of flavor.

In a large skillet, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (don't use EVOO or butter; they'll burn) over medium-high heat until shimmering and just beginning to smoke. Pat meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add meat to skillet skin side down; cook until well browned (you'll know when it's ready because the meat will release easily from the skillet; if it sticks, it isn't finished cooking.) Turn meat over, cover pan with lid, and reduce heat to medium. Cook through. This usually takes no more than 10-15 minutes and can take a lot less, depending on how thick your meat is.

We love this because you can do a lot of things with it: sprinkle on any herb or spice mixture you like with the salt and pepper; top chicken with fresh tomatoes and basil, salsa, just about anything; or deglaze the pan after the meat is done and use the fond to make a quick pan sauce. If I pull a pack or two of meat out of the freezer once a week, I can whip up a couple of last-minute meals when I need them.

To go Meals: Southwest Chicken Casserole

This is the quickest, easiest casserole I've come across. It uses almost all pantry items and it's pretty tasty too! Hope you like it!

1 can chicken chunks, drained
1 can diced green chiles (approx 4oz)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheese (chedder or mexican blend)
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups instant rice

I just mix all of the ingredients in a microwave safe casserole dish, approx. 9X13", adding the rice last. The mixture is about the consistency of soupy pancake batter. Cover the dish and microwave for about 15 minutes. All done!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Request: Go-To Meals

Mandy (and Matt and Maddy) let me be the first to respond.  Here are a few of my go-to meals:

Zucchini and Corn Quesedillas (you can even eliminate the zucchini and they'd be delish!)
Quesedillas are a definite go-to meal for me - the possibilities are endless.  Just use whatever beans and veggies you have on-hand (fresh or frozen)

Spiced Lentil Tacos - letils are cheap and can be stored for a very long time. And, just use what toppings you have on had at the time.

I'm also a big fan of any type of pasta dish.  Its easy to keep dried pasta and even jarred sauce on hand.  You can jazz-up your sauce with additional veggies (fresh, frozen or canned) or even some meat. You can also do a variety of baked dishes - just mix your pasta, sauce and whatever cheese you have, toss in a greased casserole dish, top with more cheese and bake at 350 until bubbly and cheese is melted (I'm guessing around 20 mins)

Omelettes are also easy, fast and can be made with ingredients you have on hand.  Sautee some veggies in a little olive oil, add beaten eggs and cook until eggs are firm - top with cheese before serving.  Serve with toast and some fruit (fresh, frozen or canned) and you've got a great meal.

And, if all else fails microwave popcorn and cold cereal are acceptable meals in my book!  Hope this helps.

Request: Go-To Meals

Like everyone else, I'm super busy this time of year and am also trying to stretch out my trips to the grocery store to see if that saves me any money.  Put those together and you'll probably find me around 4pm wondering what on earth I'm going to make for dinner.  This is where you come in.  What are your go-to quick, easy, tasty meals that you can make at a moment's notice with ingredients you probably already have on hand?  Matt and Maddy thank you in advance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweet and Sour Hamburger

This is one of my favorite meals (as well as Josh's and Garet's). Mel requested the ingredients for it, but this is the actual recipe not the "I don't know 4 or 5 tablespoons" or "until it looks the right color".

Sweet and Sour Hamburger

1 lb. hamburger
1 c catsup
4 T. Worchestershire sauce
5 T. vinegar
5T. sugar
1/3 c. water

Brown hamburger, drain off grease. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grandma Z's Christmas Butter Cookies

These are super yummy and very rich. They freeze extremely well and can be made up a month ahead of time. They are, however, NOT a low-fat food. :)

1 cup sugar
1 pound butter
4 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar and butter together then gradually add the flour. When flour is incorporated, add vanilla. Roll out 1/4" thick and cut into desired shapes. You don't want the cookies too big -- keep it simple. I use a round cookie cutter, cut one circle and then overlap the cutter to form two crescents and an oval type shape in the middle. Place on a baking sheet close together (but not touching). Bake at 225 degrees for 1 hour. Immediately glaze hot cookies.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp cream

Cream together and apply with fingers to hot butter cookies.


This was affectionately named by my sister-in-law's family . . . . I would simply call it YUMMY! This is a great idea for holiday goodie baskets/plates!

1/2 Box Crispix Cereal (4 cups)
1/2 Box Golden Grahams (4 cups)
1 1/4 cup slivered almonds (I toast them, she doesn't. It all depends on your preference.)
1/2 Bag Pretzels
1 cup coconut (this is saved for the very last)

Boil the following for 2 minutes
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup

Pour over dry ingredients. Mix in coconut last.

You can also add M&M's, peanuts, etc. . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cranberry Crumb Bars

inspired by these.

For the crust:
3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix flour and powdered sugar.  Cut in butter, dough will form small crumbs.  Press into a buttered or parchment lined 9x13" pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 325.

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 T flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce* (or 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce; I used leftover from Thanksgiving dinner)
2 T corn starch
1 T brown sugar

Beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar, flour, egg, vanilla and salt and beat well.  Pour over crust.  Stir together cranberry sauce, corn starch and brown sugar.  Pour over cream cheese filling.

For topping:
1/3 cup butter, melted
5 T brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

Combine all ingredients and sprinkle over cranberries.  Bake at 325 for 30 to 40 minutes.  Edges will just begin to turn light brown and center will be almost set.  Cool completely, about 2 hours, cut into bars and enjoy.

*You could also use a variety of different fruits here.  I think any flavor of jam would be delish. (I'd cut down the amount used and eliminate the sugar due to the sweetness) Or fresh berries (just smash them a bit and you might need to add more sugar depending on how sweet they are). I think you could even use frozen (I'd thaw first and drain most of the liquid) or canned fruit (drained).  The possibilities are endless and you can definitely appeal to the tastes of your family, friends or guests.  Let me know what fun flavor combinations you use.

Cranberry Sauce

Image and recipe from Simply Recipes 

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 oz package of fresh cranberries
1 T minced fresh ginger, optional

Wash and pick over cranberries.  In medium sauce pan, bring water and sugar to boil.  Sitr to dissolve sugar.  Add cranberries and ginger, return to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.  Cool completely and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Skillet Chicken with Broccoli, Pasta & Parmesan

This is the closest thing to Macaroni Grill's Pasta Milano I've tried. The recipe makes it look more difficult than it actually is, I promise. It's really, really good right after you cook it and the leftovers are fantastic.

2-3 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 T olive oil
1 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
12 ounces penne {I used whole wheat}
4 1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
4-5 cups broccoli {I used 4 and didn't think it was enough}
{I think I'll add 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms next time}
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed & coarsely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 T lemon juice

Season the chicken with salt & pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir the chicken and continue to cook until most, but not all, of the pink color has disappeared, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the onion and 1/2 tsp salt to the skillet. Return to medium-high heat and cook until the onion is softened. Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the pasta, 3 cups of water and the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is very thick and almost completely absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is almost tender, 2-3 minutes.

Uncover and return the heat to medium-high. Stir in the cream, parmesan and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with more parmesan cheese.

I printed this recipe off a blog several months ago but have no idea which one. If I figure it out, I'll update this post to give credit where credit is due.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Great Harvest Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is as close as I have ever gotten to duplicating the Great Harvest Chocolate Chip Cookie!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups brown sugar (I used dark)
1 cup butter
2 cups rolled oats
2 eggs
2 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp milk
1 pkg chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking pwd, baking soda and salt. Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, molasses, and milk. Add oats and then the dry ingredients. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop dough and drop 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes (until they start to brown around the edges). Let them cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cheesecake Cookies

I got this recipe from the Dec/Jan 2010 issue of Cook's Country, and it's amazing. The filling might drip onto your cookie sheets as it bakes, so definitely use parchment paper. Otherwise they'll really stick. Oh, and I made half of these with cherry filling (which the recipe calls for) and the other half with raspberry, and they both worked really well. Enjoy!

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 (20-ounce) cans cherry pie filling, drained

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350*F; line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll each ball in graham cracker crumbs. Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Using a tablespoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. Place 3 cherries in center of each indentation. Bake until golden around edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on sheets, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: Approx 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mexican Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

This is SO yummy!! Defiantly going into the rotation!

2 ancho chili peppers, stemmed and seeded {i found a big bag of them at Wal-mart}
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound fresh chorizo {i used soyrizo - couldn't taste the difference at all - neither could Shayne and it's way healthier!}
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pasted (finely chopped then mashed with salt) or grated
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper
2 pinches cinnamon {i omited}
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer, such as Dos Equis {i used beef stock}
1 pound spaghetti or whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup grated queso asadero, cotija or Jack cheese, plus more to pass at table
Finely chopped scallions, cilantro or parsley, to garnish

Simmer peppers in stock for 15 minutes to reconstitute, then purée stock and softened peppers in a food processor.

Meanwhile, heat EVOO in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and chorizo, brown 12-15 minutes then add onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and cook 8-10 more. Sprinkle in a little cinnamon then add tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring.
Add beer {stock}, stir a minute more then add the stock and pepper purée. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

While sauce simmers, bring water to boil for spaghetti. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Heads up: save a cup of starchy cooking water just before draining. {i didn't need this, my sauce was the right thickness for us}

Toss pasta with reserved water, half of the sauce and a couple of handfuls of grated cheese.
Serve in bowls with extra sauce on top, garnished with more cheese, scallions and cilantro or parsley.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

The cinnamon flavor in these muffins is very subtle. If you're a big fan of cinnamon, I'd recommend doubling the amount of cinnamon, or using even more than that.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup apple juice
1 egg
1 cup (about 1 large) apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced

Preheat oven to 400*F. Grease or line a muffin tin with baking cups.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together the vegetable oil, apple juice, and egg. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture; fold until dry ingredients are just moistened but batter is still lumpy. Gently stir in apple chunks. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into one or two of the muffins comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These are super yummy. I never would have thought of doing pumpkin cupcakes. These aren't as pumpkin-y as pumpkin pie or pumpkin bars, so even non-pumpkin-lovers (like my sister-in-law) will love them!

1 yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
2 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
24 pieces candy corn

Heat oven to 350*. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Combine cake mix, eggs, oil, pumpkin pie spice and puree. Mix well. Divide the batter among prepared muffin tins and bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool. Using an electric mixer, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla until creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top each with one piece candy corn. Yields 24 cupcakes. {My batch only made about 20 cupcakes.}

Recipe (with slight changes) and picture from Real Simple.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pork Chops with Roasted Red Pepper Cream

I serve this over rice to soak up all the cream sauce.

4 bone-in rib or center-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 (8 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering and just smoking. Add chops and cook until well-browned and meat registers 145* on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Add onion to empty skillet and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes; add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, cream, roasted peppers, and sugar, and simmer, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add any accumulated pork juices back to the pan and stir in basil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chops.

*If you don't have fresh basil, substitute a couple teaspoons dried, adding to the pan with the broth. It won't look as pretty, but it will taste as good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fusilli alla Caprese

Another great recipe from Giada. I love how fresh everything is!

Fusilli alla Caprese
  • 1 pound fusilli pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pints)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. Serve.

*picture from here

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mexican Rice

I love the rice you get at Mexican restaurant and finally found a make-at-home recipe that rivals them. It was really easy and turned out perfectly, even though I'm afraid of making rice on the stove and usually use my trusty rice cooker. 

Mexican Rice

3 T vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked rice (not instant)
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden. While rice is cooking, sprinkle with salt and cumin.  Stir in onions and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Trust me on this one. So chocolatey, and soooo good.

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (3 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder*
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350*F and line muffin tin with baking cups.

Melt butter, chocolate, and cocoa together in a bowl in the microwave, stirring often, and allow to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla together by hand until uniform. Slowly whisk in the sugar until combined, and then slowly whisk in cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Sift about 1/3 of the flour mixture over the batter and whisk in. Whisk in sour cream, then sift remaining flour mixture over batter and whisk until completely incorporated. Stir to make sure batter is fully combined.

Place a level ¼ cup of batter into each muffin tin (I actually use a measuring cup for this and level it off; if you don’t, the cupcakes will run over and the edges will bake together.)

Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Rotate tins halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

NOTE: You can also bake this in a 13”x9” baking pan for 30-35 minutes.

*Heaven knows why, but I have a devil of a time finding Dutch-processed cocoa around here. I substituted Hershey’s Special Dark with good results.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cool Cucumber Salad

Easy, easy, easy!

3 cukes, sliced in thin rounds
1 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Heat all ingredients, except cukes, until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour over sliced cukes and refrigerate.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chicken and Rice Burritos

This is really simple but we all love it. Use leftover chicken and leftover rice and it only takes 10 minutes!

2 1/2 c. shredded chicken
1-2 c. cooked rice
1 3/4 c. water
1 package taco seasoning
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 large tomato diced
1/3 c. sliced green onions
8 burrito size tortillas

Optional extras
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

Heat chicken, rice, water, taco seasoning, and tomato sauce until warm and thick. Add tomato and green onions. Spread desired amount and filling and extras on tortilla, roll up burrito style.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Idaho Cookie Salad-YUM YUM YUM!!!!!

Large instant vanilla pudding
2 C buttermilk

16 oz cool whip

1 large can pineapple tidbits

2 cans of mandarin oranges

3-4 bananas

fudge stripe cookies

Mix pudding and buttermilk together

Stir in cool whip

Mix in the pineapple and mandarin oranges

Mix in bananas and cookies before serving

This makes a lot you may want to cut it in half!!

I also like to add more fruit even though my husband hates it.

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas

*photo and recipe (adapted) from here

3-4T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, diced
1-2 medium zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
1 can sweet corn (if you have fresh, I think it would be so much better)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 t cumin
lots of chopped cilantro (depending on your tastes)
salt & pepper
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese (I used pepper jack, but any cheese you love would work)

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add zucchini (and corn if you're using fresh) and cook until it begin to soften, about 5 minutes more. Add corn and beans and cook until heated through. Season with cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro.

Spread one side of tortillas with olive oil. On a cookie sheet place one tortilla, oil side down, fill with zucchini mixture and top with cheese (more or less depending on your tastes). Place remaining tortillas on top, oiled side up. Bake until cheese is melted and the tortillas begin to get crispy, about 10 minutes (you can also place under the broiler if you want it even crispier). Cut into wedges and serve immediately. I served mine with raspberry-chipotle salsa and it was fantastic.

**Only make the number of quesadillas you need for the meal. Save remaining filling to make additional quesadillas for lunch the next day. Or, just eat the yummy filling alone (like I did)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cherry Chipolte Chili: Gluten Free and Vegetarian

My friend Lori had a cooking night the other night where she made some fabulous recipes for us. This one sounds strange but was oh so yummy! She is mainly vegetarian and gluten free.

2 c vegetable broth
1 c dried cherries (our grocery has them by the raisins)
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 T crushed fresh garlic
1 bottle roasted red pepper chopped, or one fresh red pepper chopped
4 t chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t dried oregano
4 c petite canned chopped tomatoes
1 16 oz can black beans
1/4 c chopped cilantro
avacado to taste

For chips:
Spelt Flour tortillas
Coconut oil


Heat 1 cup of broth in microwave. Place cherries in small bowl and add hot broth and set aside.Heat olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion (and red bell pepper if not using bottled roasted bell pepper); sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add chopped bottled red pepper (if not using fresh), chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and remaining broth, bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered about 5 minutes. Stir in beans, cilantro, and cherry mixture. Continue cooking until thoroughly heated. I cut one tortilla into wedges and fry in coconut oil and stick the triangles in one side of the bowl and then chop a half of avocado and put on top of the chili. If you can find spelt tortillas, they don't have gluten, have only 100 calories and are yummy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Asian Steak Tacos with Spicy Mushroom Salsa

When I saw these in my bon appetit magazine I seriously drooled onto the page... I kid you not. I made them, and they totally lived up to each salivatory drop. Only next time I'll make a few changes to appease mine and my husband's taste buds.

6 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon lemon peel
1 teaspoon Sicilian sea salt
2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
8 flour tortillas (6 inch)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound shiitake or crimini mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
2 large shallots, sliced into rings
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper {I'll use 1/2 t. next time, too spicy for me}
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil {I'll use 1/2 T. next time, it overpowered the natural shroom taste}
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed
1/4 teaspoon Sicilian sea salt

Mix oil, soy sauce, honey, lime juice, garlic, ginger, lemon peel and sea salt in a small bowl until well blended. Place steak in a glass dish. Rub seasoning mixture all over steak. Cover. Refrigerate 1 hour, or longer for extra flavor.

Meanwhile, for the Salsa, heat oil in large skillet on high heat. Add mushrooms; cook and stir 4 minutes or until golden brown. Add shallots and chipotle chile pepper; cook and stir 3 minutes or until shallots begin to brown. Spoon mushroom mixture into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients; toss lightly. Set aside.

Grill steak on medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes per side or until medium-rare doneness. Remove steak to cutting board. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

To serve, slice steak across the grain into thin slices. Serve in warmed flour tortillas topped with Spicy Mushroom Salsa.


It's actually a Cat Cora recipe, promoting McCormick Gourmet spices...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chili's Salsa

Out of all the restaurant salsa's out there - Chili's and Uncle Julio's are my favorites... This taste's just like Chili's, so I thought I'd share. Sidenote: Why does Chili's have better salsa then On the Border? Same company - you'd think they'd give the better salsa recipe to the Mexican restaurant. Next challenge is to find a match for Uncle Julio's salsa.

I got this off of recipezaar and made a couple adjustments for a fresher taste (the cilantro and lime). It's been a hit every time I've made it... which has been quite a bit lately.

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes and green chilies

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can whole canned tomatoes (plus the juice)

4 teaspoons jalapenos (canned,diced, not pickled)

1/4 cup yellow onion (diced)

1/2-3/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/2 c. cilantro, chopped

1 t. lime juice

1. In food processor place jalapenos and onions.

2. Process for just a few seconds.

3. Add both cans of tomatoes, salt, sugar, cumin, cilantro and lime juice.

4. Pulse all ingredients until well blended but do not puree.

5. Place in covered container and chill.

A couple hours of chilling helps blend the flavors, and gets better tasting each hour it sits.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tamale Pie

I use to make this all the time when I first started cooking. It was when I thought that casseroles was the only form of cooking I could handle. Why I stopped making it, I'll never know because it is goood! But it's for sure going back into the rotation.


1 lb. ground beef

1 c. chopped onion

1 c. chopped green pepper

1 (16 oz.) can stewed tomatoes

1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 c. sliced black olives {i omit, not a fan}

I clove garlic, minced

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ c. grated sharp cheddar cheese {i use 1/2 c., and it's plenty}


¾ c. yellow cornmeal

½ tsp. salt

2 c. cold water

1 T. butter

- Preheat oven to 375.

- Cook ground beef, onion and green pepper in skillet until beef is browned. Pour off excess fat.

- Add tomatoes, corn, olives, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt.

- Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

- Add cheese, stir until it melts.

- Meanwhile, stir cornmeal and salt into cold water in saucepan. Cook stirring constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

- Turn meat mixture into greased 9x9 casserole dish {or I'm assuming a pie dish would work, hence the name}. Top with cornmeal mush.

- Bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Green Chili Chicken

I made this on Sunday in the crockpot and it was really good. It was super easy to throw together in the morning and was ready when Matt got home. I'm sure you could cook it in the oven for an hour or so, too, if you prefer.

3-4 large chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic herb blend seasoning (or plain garlic salt would work, too)

6 cups steamed rice
blue corn tortilla chips

Place chicken, soup, chiles, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic blend in crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. When done, shred chicken with two forks. Spoon over bowls of rice and garnish with crumbled blue corn tortilla chips.

4 servings

from Picky Palate

Monday, June 29, 2009

veggie gnocchi

I love, love, love gnocchi and order it whenever I go somewhere that serves it. I tried making homemade gnocchi one time and it wasn't really worth the effort. Then, hallelujah, I found it in the pasta aisle at Wal-Mart. Happy day. This recipe was the perfect dish to make with it. Light, easy, summery and with tasty leftovers. Enjoy.

1 T olive oil
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
1 summer squash, quartered lengthwise, and sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 lb. gnocchi
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 T grated Romano cheese
1 T butter
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add squash and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until juicy, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid, drain gnocchi and transfer to skillet. Toss gnocchi, adding enough cooking liquid to create sauce. Remove from heat and stir in basil, cheese, butter, and lemon juice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Coconut Macaroons

1/3 C plus 3TBS flour

3 3/4 C coconut
1/8tsp salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk or use the alternative
1tsp vanilla

Mix together in a bowl with a large spoon. Drop onto a well-greased or parchment covered cookie sheet. Very important as there is no oil in them!!!

Bake at 350 degrees
8 min for little cookies
20 min for large
Bake until bottoms are just barely brown

Alternative to Sweetened Condensed Milk

I got this recipe from a friend that is really good at using things that are in her food storage and is an amazing cook.

3/4 C powdered milk
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C HOT tap water

Put hot water in blender. With blender going, add sugar and dry milk. Blend until smooth. Makes about 1 can of Sweetened condensed milk.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Bites

If you need an appetizer, try these. Pick your favorite dip, (like Melissa's Spicy Artichoke Dip) and make them into individual bites. The shells are wonton wraps placed in a mini muffin pan. Use just under a tablespoon in each cup. Bake for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blueberry {and Strawberry} Shortcakes with Lemon and Thyme Biscuits

This is from my bon appetit magazine and are super amazing. Puts a whole new spin on the normal shortcakes. I made them for Mother's Day {yes, I love cooking that much} and none of us were saying a word other then, Mmmmmm...., because they were so good. I added some strawberries too, because I can't do a shortcake without them.

4 cups fresh blueberries (21 to 22 ounces), rinsed, drained well
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 tablespoon raw sugar

Vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream

Berries: Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until berries are slightly softened and syrup coats spoon, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium glass bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Biscuits: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with silicone baking mat, smooth side up, or parchment paper. Mix buttermilk, lemon peel, and thyme in small bowl. Whisk next 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend, breaking up any large clumps of brown sugar with fingertips. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk mixture and stir with fork just until blended (dough will be sticky). Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Knead gently just until dough comes together, 4 to 5 turns (do not overwork dough or shortcakes will be tough). Pat dough out to 3/4-inch-thick round. Using 3-inch-diameter cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut out dough rounds. Gently gather dough scraps and pat out to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out additional rounds, for 6 rounds total. Transfer dough rounds to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Sprinkle dough rounds with raw sugar.

Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool slightly. Using serrated knife, carefully cut biscuits horizontally in half. Place bottom half of each biscuit on each of 6 plates. Spoon blueberries and syrup over, dividing equally. Cover with biscuit tops. Place scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream alongside each and serve.

Sloppy Veg-Head Joe

This is from Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book that I got for Mother's Day... this is the first recipe I've tried and it's yummy! I made whole wheat hamburger buns with it {good buns, but use half the salt - they were way too salty for us}. Made it nice and cheap being meatless and with homemade buns and all... and when you borrow the yeast from your neighbor, it makes 'em even cheaper! ;) thanks Dude

1 T. canola or vegetable oil
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 (21-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can diced fire-roasted or chunky-style crushed tomatoes
1 rounded T. brown sugar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce (see Note below) or vinegar of any kind
1 lime
4 crusty rolls, split and lightly toasted
A handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. To the hot oil, add the jalapenos, bell peppers, onions, and garlic and cook until tender, 7 to 8 minutes.

Fold in the black beans, cumin, and coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the tomatoes, brown sugar, and Worcestershire or vinegar and simmer the mixture for a few minutes to combine the flavors.

Squeeze the lime juice into the pan and stir. Serve the joe mixture on buns with cilantro to top.


NOTE Worcestershire sauce contains everything but the kitchen sink, including anchovies. I love it, but if you follow a strict vegetarian diet you might prefer to substitute vinegar.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows

2 oz. unflavored gelatin
2 cups cold water, divided
2 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 t vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
3 T cornstarch

Mix powdered sugar and cornstarch. Liberally coat a 9x13" pan with sugar/cornstarch mixture. Reserve remaining for later.

Place 1/2 cup cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top and stir to dissolve. In a medium sauce pan, combine remaining water (1 1/2 cups) and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved.

While sugar and water are boiling, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. While mixer is running (at about medium) slowly pour in sugar mixture. Whip for about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and mix for another minute or two. Mixture should be glossy and shinny and will begin to thicken. Pour into prepared pan and cover with more powdered sugar mixture. Let rest and set-up for a minimum of 4 hours and up to overnight.

Remove marshmallow from pan and place on a cutting board. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1" squares. Coat marshmallows in powdered sugar mixture. Store in an air tight container.

*Marshmallow can be colored with liquid food coloring. You will need to add the food coloring at the beginning of the mixing time.

**You can also make marshmallow eggs for Easter. Fill a 9x13" pan with flour. Using plastic (or real) eggs, make indentations for the mold. When marshmallow mixture is whipped, use two large spoons to spoon marshmallow into the mold. Eggs can then be chocolate covered.

I used these to make "gourmet" s'mores at a "faux campout" over the weekend. We used organic graham crackers and high quality chocolate. They were quite the hit!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime-Mint Dressing

We made this for a work meeting and everyone was freaking out over how good the fruit tasted, not realizing it was the yummy dressing doing it. You can also make it without the mint and it's still awesome.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 3-pound cantaloupe, halved, seeded, chopped
1 12-ounce basket strawberries, hulled, halved
4 kiwis, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Whisk lime juice, honey and mint in large bowl to blend. Add all fruit to syrup in large bowl and toss. Let stand at least 15 minutes to let the fruit absorb the dressing. You can make it up to 3 hours ahead if you want, just cover and chill. Spoon fruit into cute bowls or goblets if you're feeling ambitious.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sweet Potato Pancakes with honey-cinnamon butter

For the honey-cinnamon butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the sweet potato pancakes
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, plus more if necessary
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup store-bough pancake mix
1 small pinch ground nutmeg
1 small sweet potato, broiled, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

Beat together the butter, honey, and cinnamon until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Stir in the pancake mix and nutmeg until just combined. Fold in the sweet potato. If the batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk until it reaches the desired consistency (it should be thick but still pourable).

Place a large, greased griddle or pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, spoon the batter onto it and cook until the surface of the pancake is covered with bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Serve, topped with the honey-cinnamon butter and a little maple syrup. YUM!

from cookie magazine

Monday, May 4, 2009

North Texas Student Union Coffee Cake

I made some of this coffee cake for Mom last night to see if it was like the "real thing" that she my grandmother's old Bridgeport Methodist Cookbook, we now have the also helps that Imust have guessed right on a few of the vague instructions, like add vanilla....didn't say how much, just to add it!

So, here is the recipe for one and all....

North Texas Student Union Coffee Cake

Cake Ingredients:
4 cups flour
4 Tablespoons of Dry Milk
4 teaspoons of backing powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/3 cup of sugar
12-14 Tablespoons of shortening (I used the butter shortening because I had it open)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla (I used the real vanilla, not imitation)
1 1/2 cups of water

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1 Tablespoon of cinnamon

Combine flour, milk, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Add shortening and cut in as you would a pie crust.

Add eggs, water, vanilla, and beat (I used my paddle attachment on my kitchen aid and barely had to mix it, just mix until it is incorporated nicely.) The mixture will be fairly thick.

Pour into a greased (I greased my glass 13X9 baking dish with butter because I was out of Pam) baking dish.

Melt butter and pour or brush it on the top. Mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon for the topping and layer on top and pat down a little. You can top with chopped pecans if you like.

Bake for about 55 minutes until a toothpick in the middle comes out fairly clean. This puffs up pretty tall, so it take a while. My instructions said to cook for 35 minutes but I found it needed a lot more, so just keep an eye on it.

This is a great cake for breakfast or a brunch. I am sure it is good with coffee as well but I don't drink coffee so I had it with milk!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Crock Pot Ham and Potatoes

Do anyone else have leftover Easter ham? This is so easy and good.

6-8 slices of ham cut into cubes
8-10 potatoes thinly sliced (I don't even peel them but you can)
2 onions thinly sliced
1 c. grated cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Put half of potatoes, ham and onion in crockpot. Add half of cheese and soup. Add remaining ham, potatoes and onions. Top with remaining cheese and soup. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. (High 4-5 hours).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spiced Lentil Tacos

Don't be scared by this recipe. This is a great, cheap alternative to traditional tacos and lentils are definitely healthier than hamburger meat. A 1lb. bag of lentils is about $1.50 and will make 2 recipes. It's quite delish; even my Dad enjoyed these!

1 T olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 pkg taco seasoning
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce finely chopped (can be omitted if you don't want it too spicy)
tortillas, warmed
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce or cabbage
diced tomatoes
sliced avocado or guacamole

Heat oil in large skillet or sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add lentils and taco seasoning. Cook until spices are frgrant and lentils are dry, about 1 minute. Add broth and chipotle chilies; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tneder, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with cheese, lettuce (I prefer cabbage on these), tomatoes, avocado--whatever fixings you like on your tacos.

When I make these, I 1.5 the lentil portion. It's great as leftovers and makes a fabulous lunch at work the next day. You can also make a yummy taco salad.

Monday, April 6, 2009

enchilada bake

Here's another blog-stalked recipe. It's going on my regular meals list!

8 small flour tortillas, torn into quarters
1 Tbsp. olive oil
6 large leaves of kale, finely chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 soup can of milk
2 cups salsa, divided
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Saute onion and kale together with olive oil. Add corn and cook until no longer frozen. In large bowl, combine rice, beans, soup, milk, cumin and 1 cup salsa. Add kale/onion/corn mixture to bowl and mix well. Spray 9x13 pan with Pam and line with half of tortilla quarters. Spoon filling into pan and then top with remaining tortillas. Spread remaining 1 cup salsa on top {cover the entire thing - this keeps the tortillas from getting crispy while cooking} and sprinkle with shredded cheddar. Cook for 25 minutes at 375*.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Black Bean Fajitas

I've started blog-stalking the recipe blog of a girl in my ward. She has some great, healthy meals. This one was really tasty.

2 green bell peppers, cut into strips
1 onion, cut into strips
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 fajita seasoning packet + 1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked brown rice
salsa, sour cream, and cheese if desired

Cook brown rice as directed. In a large skillet heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and saute vegetables until tender crisp. Add black beans. Combine fajita seasoning mix with 1/4 cup of water. Add to cooked vegetables. Stir and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Assemble however you like on the tortillas and enjoy! I think the next time I make these I might even just opt to eat them as a burrito bowl with a bit of extra rice!

Italian Sausage Rotini

I got this recipe from the Kraft website, but ended up changing a few things. It actually tastes a lot like Michelle's cavatini recipe, but wasn't as time-intensive. This is how I made it, and we both loved it. I'm definitely making it again.

3 1/2 cups uncooked wheat rotini {any pasta will really work}
1 lb. bulk sweet italian sausage
2 green peppers, cut into chunks
2 cups spaghetti sauce {plain old traditional Ragu works great}
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta as directed. While that's cooking, brown sausage with green peppers on medium-high heat. Drain excess fat and then add spaghetti sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until heated through. Drain pasta and then add to the skillet. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Serve with steamed veggies and garlic pull-aparts.

**Next time, I'm going to throw in a bunch of sliced mushrooms to cook with the sausage & peppers. Yum!***

Shredded Chicken Pitas

I've been struggling to come up with meal plans the past few weeks and decided to update my recipe list. There are a few recipes I haven't posted here that are going into our regular rotation, so I thought I'd share the wealth!

First up? A great, light, summery meal from here.

2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T sun-dried tomato oil
1 T chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
6 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
3 cups mixed baby greens

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in chicken, tomato, cheese, and basil. Line each pita half with 1/4 cup greens. Divide chicken mixture evenly among pita halves.

Monday, March 30, 2009

strawberry cheesecake bowl

I made this for Amy's celebratory dessert on Saturday night. It was fantastic and so pretty!

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 T. sugar
2 pkg. Neufchatel Cream Cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 pkg {3.4 oz} vanilla instant pudding
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Lite, divided
2 cups frozen pound cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 square Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate {I just used a handful of chocolate chips}

Combine berries and sugar and refrigerate until needed. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Add milk and vanilla pudding; blend until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip until well blended. Spoon half into 2 1/2 quart bowl or trifle dish. Top with cake cubes, then strawberries, then remaining cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate 4 hours. Top with remaining Cool Whip. Melt chocolate in bowl and drizzle over the top. If you want to get fancy, you can even chocolate-coat a strawberry for the top. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

a Giada recipe, ya really can't go wrong with her!

1 lb. italian sausage {I added this}
1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes
2 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

{Cook sausage.} Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using a pair of kitchen shears or your finger tips. Add the zucchini, mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the other vegetables. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mix to combine. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully transfer the orzo stuffed pepper to a serving plate.

Crockpot Babyback Ribs

I've been using this method (scroll down), which a friend introduced to me, for a few years. It's good, but I always felt like there was something missing, and I wanted to get the ribs even more tender. I came up with this tonight, and it turned out wonderfully. It's already my husband's favorite way to have ribs!

1 rack of baby back ribs
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Kansas City-style smokey barbecue sauce (I used a jar of Trader Joe's brand)

Rinse ribs under cold running water, and then pat dry on both sides with paper towels. Cut rack in half. Season liberally with salt and pepper all over. In a large skillet, heat approximately 2 tablespoons vegetable oil until very hot -- oil should shimmer and just begin to smoke. Brown ribs on both sides for 1-2 minutes; when done, meat will release easily from the pan. (If it sticks, your pan isn't hot enough; increase the heat and wait until the ribs release without tearing meat.)

Place browned ribs in the bottom of crock pot, meaty side down. Add enough water to achieve about a 1/2 inch depth. Whisk vinegar and honey together; add to crock pot. Cover and cook on high for approx. 3 hours or on low for 6 hours. (I actually did mine for two hours on high and then two hours on low.)

Preheat oven to broil. Place ribs meaty side down on a wire rack inside a shallow baking dish (for easier cleanup, line dish with foil.) Slather top with barbecue sauce and broil about 4-5 inches from heat for 3-4 minutes. Flip ribs and repeat on meaty side.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

This recipe is from a family friend...who is the healthiest eater that I know. Sounds like a crazy combination, but they're awesome together and amazingly healthy... which makes them even better to me. I added some cheese on top before I baked them. And then topped with some guacamole.

3 cup peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 ½ cup diced onions
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh green chile
4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoon ground coriander

4 ½ cup cooked black beans (3 - 15oz cans)
2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
8 tortillas
Fresh Salsa
{I topped with 1/4 c. pepper jack cheese before I baked them}
Guacamole/Avocado {I did this instead of the salsa}

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sweet potatoes in medium saucepan with the salt and water to cover. Cover & bring to boil, simmer till tender, roughly 10 minutes. Drain, set aside.

While these cook, warm the oil in a skillet and add onions, garlic, and chile. Cover, cook on med-low, stirring a bit, for about 5-8 minutes. Add cumin, coriander and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

In food processor add black beans, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and cooked sweet potatoes; puree until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and mix in cooked onions and spices.

Put your burritos together, and then put them seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish or tray, and cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes. Serve with Salsa.

{Pictured with Rachael Ray's Tex-Mex Fried Rice... yummy!}

Cinnamon Rolls

I got this recipe from my mother, and we love it. Everyone I know who's ever tried it loves it.

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (more or less as needed)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick-acting active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract*
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract*
4 teaspoons milk (more as needed)

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast. Heat milk , vanilla, sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon until just warm and butter is just beginning to melt (approx 110*-115*F), stirring constantly. Add milk mixture to flour and stir. Add eggs and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can (dough will be soft). Knead in enough flour to make a moderately soft dough (approx.3-5 minutes). Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half. Shape each half into a smooth ball and then cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each half into a 12x8" rectangle. Spread each with 3 tablespoons of the softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over each rectangle. Roll up from the short side. Seal edges; using a sharp, serrated knife, slice each roll into 8 pieces. Arrange slices evenly in a greased 13x9" baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350*F for 25-30 minutes until browned. Invert at once onto a wire rack and then invert again. Cool slightly.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, adding more milk as necessary to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over rolls.

*The point of the clear vanilla is, obviously, color. If you don't have clear, I'm sure regular vanilla extract would work just as well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sweet and Sour Pork (or Chicken)

Dip chunks of pork (or chicken) in egg, then in a mixture of 1c. flour and 1 tsp. baking powder. Cook in oil.

2 c Ketchup
1/4 c vinegar
3/4 c sugar
chopped onion
2 chopped green peppers
1 can pineapple tidbits w/ juice

Steam until vegetables are tender. In needed thicken with cornstarch (I never do). Serve over rice.

*I never do the egg, flour step. I just brown the meat in oil. It saves a little time, and still is REALLY good!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Melt-in-your-mouth Caramels

3/4 cup butter
1 cup light corn syrup
2 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Butter the inside of an 8x8 disposable aluminum pan (they come in sets of 3).
In a large pot over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients except the vanilla. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat to medium and simmer. Stir occasionally. Cook until it is between 135 degrees and 140 degrees on a candy thermometer. (I like them soft but not gooey).
Remove from heat and pour in vanilla. It will bubble up, so make sure you have it in a large enough pot.
Carefully pour into the prepared pan. Chill for a few hours.
Remove from pan and cut into bite sized pieces. Wrap in wax paper or candy cellophane.
These stay good in the fridge for several weeks- but put them in an airtight container.