Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey: Brine Baby

I am a little late in posting my Thanksgiving menu, but we have had some crazy holidays!!! We had the best Thanksgiving feast!! My parents were in town and we spared nothing!! I used this brine from Williams Sonoma for my turkey and it was A M A Z I N G!!! The best flavor and made the best gravy!! I have never brined a turkey before - but it is the way to go!!! The rest of our feast consisted of the following:
Roasted red pepper dip
Green bean bundles
Refrigerator Rolls
Ribbon Jello
Candied Walnut Salad with honey red wine viniagrette
Mashed potatoes
Honey Roasted butternut squash
Apple Squares
Pumpkin Pie Bites

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This is my new favorite appetizer! I found it on "Our Best Bites". Everyone who tries it loves it! I made it as our "snack" on Thanksgiving while we were waiting for the turkey to cook....YUM!!
7oz jar roasted red peppers (about 1C diced)
4 C grated pepper jack cheese (3/4 lb)
8oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 C mayonnaise
2 T minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350. Remove peppers from jar and blot excess water with paper towels. You want to make sure they are dry so they don't add moisture to the dip. Then dice 'em up. In a bowl mix cream cheese, mayo, onion, garlic and dijon. Stir to combine. Add in cheese and peppers and combine. place in an round dish (mine was about 9 inches around) and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Cooking time depends on the dish you use. You want the edges just golden and bubbly. Serve with sliced baguettes or crackers! So Good!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Candied Walnut Salad with Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

Nothing like a refreshing, fallish salad. This is the one I made for Thanksgiving this year. I found the recipe on my new favorite recipe blog: "Our best bites". (see link on the side of this blog)

Candied Walnut Salad
2 heads of leafy greens; 1 can be a bag of spinach (I like 1 bag of spinach and a head of Romaine or just 2 heads of Romaine)
3/4 c. Craisins
2 crisp apples, cut into cubes and tossed with OJ
Orange juice (enough to toss apples in to prevent browning and add a little flavor)
2 oz. blue cheese or Gorgonzola (I prefer Gorgonzola; it's milder, but harder to find and more expensive), cut into small chunks
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. sugar

Add the walnuts and the sugar to a small saute pan over medium low heat. Stir constantly until sugar melts and coats the nuts. (you know you are done when the sugar turns a light golden color. Transfer nuts to a plate lined with wax paper and let cool. Add all other ingredients to a salad bowl and toss lightly. cover with candied walnuts. Top with honey red wine viniagrette.

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. honey
1-2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (really, that's pretty optional; it all goes in the blender)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 c. canola oil

Mix together in blender and top salad just before serving.

Green Bean Bundles

This is an amazing side dish that I found on Soooo yummers! We love green beans at our house and I love to find different ways to make them. This was one of our Thanksgiving sides this year. You have got to try it!!!

1 lb. green beans, ends removed
8 slices bacon
3 T. real butter
1 T. rice vinegar
1 T. white sugar
1 T. minced red onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 t. Kosher salt

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. If you're using fresh green beans, wash and snip the ends off. When water is boiling, add the beans and blanch the beans for 2-3 minutes, or when the beans start turning bright green. Quickly drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process, until the beans have cooled.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a cookie sheet, divide the green beans evenly into 8 piles. Carefully bundle each pile of green beans with one slice of bacon and return to the baking sheet. When the oven is ready, place the pan in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and sizzling. While the bundles are in the oven, melt the butter over medium high heat in a small saucepan. When the butter is bubble, add in the onions and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are softened a fragrant. Reduce heat to low and add in vinegar, sugar, and salt. Remove from heat and set aside. When ready to serve, place bean bundles on a serving platter and drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.

Refrigerator Rolls

1 T. yeast

1 T. sugar

2 T. water

3 eggs

1/2 c. sugar

3/4 t. salt

1 c. scalded milk, slightly cooled

1/2 c. butter, softened

3 1/2-4 c. sifted flour

Dissolve yeast, sugar, and water; let stand. Beat eggs, sugar, and salt. Slowly pour in warm milk; mix well. Add butter and let melt in warm milk. When butter is dissolved, add to yeast and beat in flour. Dough should be soft and sticky. Store in fridge overnight. Cut in half the following day. Roll out like a pie crust. Brush lightly with butter. Cut with biscuit cutter, or other small round cutter and fold circles in half. Place on cookie sheet and let rise 4-6 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Apple Squares

My mom has been making these every year for Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. Its like apple pie, but SQUARE....haha. A lot of work, but definitely worth it!


5 C. flour

2 t. salt

1/4 c. sugar

Combine in a bowl and set aside.

2 c. shortening

2 slightly beaten egg yolks


In a liquid measuring cup, mix egg yolk and milk to add up to 1 1/3 cup. Add to dry ingredients. Add shortening and form into a soft ball handling as little as possible. Divide the dough in half. Roll out the 1st half of dough to fit into a cookie sheet with some up over the sides. (tip from my mom: If you roll the dough on a piece of saran wrap the size of your cookie sheet this keeps the dough from being handled too much.). Extend the dough up the sides of the pan and cut off the excess. Make the apple filling and spoon on top of dough in cookie sheet.

Apple filling:

2 quarts peeled sliced apples (8 cups)

1 1/3 c. sugar

5 T. cornstarch

1/4 t. salt

2 t. cinnamon

Mix together and place in cookie sheet on top of dough. "Dot" the top with about 2 T of cold butter.

Roll out 2nd half of dough and place over the top to cover filling, cutting the excess off of the sides. Brush the top with slightly beaten egg whites.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes and then 250 degrees for 10 minutes. Spread with glaze while warm.


2 c. powdered sugar

2/4 T. water

1/2 t. vanilla


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This is one of the best comfort, sit wrapped in a blanket, read a book, soups that I know how to make. It is a staple at our house on cold nights (and even an occasional summer night too!). I make up a batch of soup and some breadsticks and ENJOY! 4 cups cubed potatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 c. shredded carrots (I use a bag of preshredded carrots from the grocery store)
2 c. chopped celery
3 c. cut up broccoli

Boil all veggies but broccoli in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli and boil for 10 more minutes. DO NOT drain!

1/2 c. butter
3 T. flour
2 c. milk
1 pound velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. pepper
3 chicken bouillon cubes (or 3 t. granules)

In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Add cheese and other ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add to undrained veggies and heat together but do not boil.

Sweet Potato Fries

These fries are one of my favorite side dishes! They go with everything, are healthy, and the kids and hubby just gobble them up!!

3-4 sweet potato's, peeled, and cut into desired thickness (we like ours on the thicker side)
1-2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (I use my convection oven.) Cut the sweet potato's into "fry shape" and place in a large bowl. Pour in olive oil and salt and pepper, mix together. Place fries on a greased cookie sheet (I just spray mine with some Pam, or brush a little olive oil over it). Cook in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes until tops begin to brown slightly. Cooking time varies depending on size of fries. We like to dip ours in homemade "fry sauce", or a mixture of prepared horseradish, ketchup and mayo. Just plain ketchup works fine too!!

Brussel Sprouts: The underused Veggie.

My husband loves brussel sprouts. He is always begging me to make them. I have tried a lot of different ways and I finally fell in love with making them with bacon. They work really well together and even my kids will eat them this way!! (bonus!).

1/2 lb bacon, sliced into bite size pieces
1 bag brussel sprouts
1 c. chicken stock
salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste
Bring about 2 inches of water to boil in a large saute pan. When boiling add the brussel sprouts and boil for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse in cool water to stop cooking. Cook bacon in saute pan until crispy, drain off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the brussel sprouts into the same pan with the bacon over medium high heat. Add salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste. Add chicken stock and cook until stock cooks out, stirring frequently.

Teriyaki Sauce

This is a homemade teriyaki sauce/marinade that I found on It was really good! I made it with "Anniversary Chicken" and I can't wait to try it out with other things!!

2/3 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) - I found this in my regular grocery store in the asian section.
1 cup soy sauce
4 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup white sugar
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 dash red pepper flakes
black pepper to taste

Bring mirin to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Season with garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and black pepper; simmer an additional 5 minutes. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Anniversary Chicken

This was a recipe that I tried the other night. I modified it a little bit to my taste. The original can be found on I made my own teriyaki sauce, which made it even better...It is an interesting combination of flavors, but my family really liked it! Give it a try!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup teriyaki basting sauce
1/2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
6 slices bacon, cooked, drained and cut into bits
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and saute 4 to 5 minutes each side, until lightly browned.
Place browned chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Mix teriyaki sauce and ranch dressing, spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese, green onions and bacon bits.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Pumpkin Waffles with the most AMAZING buttercream syrup

We had this for breakfast over at a friends house a couple weeks ago and I couldn't stop eating it! Perfect combination of flavors for a warm, fall breakfast. Thanks for sharing Jamie! (The original recipe comes from Jen on her "Yummy Fun" blog).

2 c. Flour
2 T. Baking Powder
1 T. Cinnamon
1 T. Sugar
1/2 t. Nutmeg
1/4 t. Salt

Combine above ingredients and set aside.

4 eggs - separated and reserve the egg whites
1/2 c. milk
1 c. Pumpkin
3/4 c. soft Butter
1 T. Vanilla

Blend the egg yolks with milk, butter, pumpkin and vanilla until creamy. Combine with dry ingredients until smooth and creamy. Whip the egg whites until peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter and mix lightly until just combined. Batter will be thick. Bake in preheated waffle iron. Serve with buttercream syrup. (recipe follows).

Buttercream Syrup:
*this is one of the MOST AMAZING syrups/sauces ever made. ever. You can literally eat spoonfuls of it at a time. It is so good on these waffles, and we used the leftovers to dip apples in later for a snack. SO GOOD.

1 c. Heavy Cream
1 c. White Sugar
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1 Stick Butter

Combine in a small sauce pan until bubbly. Refrigerate remaining and use again next time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken is one of my FAVORITE chinese dishes... I first experienced it at P.F. Changs years ago and fell in love on the spot. I have been looking for a good, easy recipe for it and stumbled upon this one. We were so excited to eat it that I forgot to put my chopped green onions on top for presentation, so just imagine them there for a little splash of green...This recipe is soooooo easy and has just enough heat for flavor, but it's not too overpowering. My kids loved it and they don't like spicy things. You obviously could up the HEAT to your own level, but we liked it just the way it was.

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast, diced into bite sized chunks
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp sesame oil
4 green onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don't want it really spicy)
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
White rice, prepared per instructions

Prepare rice. Combine chicken and cornstarch in a bowl and toss until evenly coated. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in another bowl and set aside for later. Heat a large skillet or wok with sesame oil over medium high heat. Once the pan is smoking hot add the chicken and stir fry for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper and green onions (leaving a few for garnishing) to the pan and stir fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar mixture to the pan along with the cooked chicken and peanuts. Coat the chicken and peanuts with sauce and heat thoroughly. Serve over rice and top with remaining green onions. Enjoy.

Microwave Apple Crisp

The funny thing about this recipe is that it's one that I learned in my "home-ec" class in like 8th grade. (do they still call it "home-ec"?). It is a recipe that is so quick and easy that I pull it out all the time when I am in a pinch, or when I am just craving something sweet and I don't feel like pulling out all the pans and mixing know those kind of days???
Microwave Apple Crisp
4 c. sliced, peeled apples (I use granny smith's and I don't always peel them - again depends on my mood).
2 T. lemon juice

Mix together in a 8x8 or 9x9 glass (or other microwave safe material) casserole dish. Microwave until apples are tender-crisp. (About 4 minutes). Set aside.

1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. uncooked old fashioned oats
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. butter
1 t. salt
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

Mix together in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave until hot and bubbly (2-3 minutes), stirring after half the time. Be careful! Mixture will be hot!!! (I know from personal experience because I like to eat the crumb topping plain, and usually can't wait for it to cool before I pop a bite into my mouth!)
Sprinkle mixture over apples and let cool slightly. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

There is not a lot of words to describe the deliciousness I am about to shar with you....Just look at the pictures, wipe the drool off of your face, and MAKE THESE CINNAMON ROLLS!!!! (Look at the caramel just dripping off of the Thank you "Pioneer Woman" for another keeper!!! These were very good reheated for breakfast the next morning....

Caramel Apple Sticky Buns
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Heaping 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Caramel Topping:
1 stick regular/salted butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown corn syrup
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons apple brandy OR apple juice (optional)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced.
To make the dough: heat milk, oil, and sugar until warm (do not boil.) Allow to cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle in yeast and 4 cups flour. Stir gently and cover with a tea towel, allowing it to rise for 1 hour. After 1 hour, add remaining flour and dry ingredients. Set aside.
To make the caramel topping: add 1 stick butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, and optional apple brandy or apple juice. Allow to melt over low heat until totally combined. Allow to boil for a few seconds, then remove from heat. Set aside.
To make the rolls: roll out half the dough into a large rectangle. Pour on half the melted butter, half the sugar, and half the cinnamon. Roll into a long roll, then slice into rolls.
To assemble: Spray 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Pour in half the caramel topping. Sprinkle dice apple over the top, then arrange sliced rolls all over the pan. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, covered in foil for the first 25 minutes.
(Repeat with other half of dough if desired, or save dough in the fridge for another use.)
Invert on a cake pedestal or serving plate. Rolls will be very hot at first; allow to cool slightly before serving.

Uncle Craig's Rattlesnake Chile

This has been a long, long love affair. My husband and I have been in love with this chile since we first tasted it a little over 5 years ago. My Uncle Craig made it for us one Halloween night and we have been dying for the recipe ever since. He finally handed it over, and I literally ran to the store for all the indredients. It is the perfect recipe to kick off the fall/winter season. We had it with some navajo fry bread and followed up the meal with caramel apple cinnamon rolls. So turn on the fireplace, grab a good book and a warm blanket and serve yourself up a bowl. It won't disappoint!!

Look at the steam rising up...This will warm you down to your bones!!

We were at first coaxed into believing that this was made with real rattlesnake meat, (hence the name), and we try to keep the joke going. So make this for Halloween and let your guests in on the "secret ingredient".... :)

1 six foot rattler, skinned, boned, and de-rattled (Or for those without de-rattling skills: substitue 1 lb. lean pork shoulder, cut into bite size pieces)
1 15 oz can mild roasted green chiles
4 c. onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound bacon
2 T. corn meal
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
4 T. mild chile powder
5 jalepeno peppers
1 T. cumin
1 t. oregano
1 T. smooth peanut butter (yes, I'm serious.)
1/3 oz semi sweet chocolate (again, trust me.)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 15 oz. can pinto beans
1 15 oz can black beans
optional: 1/2 c. tequila

Fry the bacon until crisp, and set aside to cool. In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in about 2 T of the bacon drippings until transparent. Add the corn meal and chopped tomatoes with their juice, the chopped green chiles, cumin, chile powder, oregano, and 1 cup of water, simmer for half an hour.
Meanwhile, seed and chop the jalapeno peppers (avoid touching the seeds and any part of your face or body while doing will burn if you do!) Add the chopped pepper and 1/2 c of water to a blender and puree. Add about half of the water/pepper mix to the pan saving the rest to be added to taste later. Continue to simmer the chile base for another 15 minutes.
Drain the beans and stir them into the pot. Remove about 1/2 c of the chile and puree in a blender with the peanut butter and chocolate (these ingredients mellow the acidity of the chiles and allow the flavors to come thorugh, without imparting any of their own flavor). Return the blended mixture to the pan.
Using another tablespoon or so of the bacon drippings, saute the diced rattlesnake (or pork) until done. Chop the cooled bacon and add all of the meat to the chile. Simmer for another 1/2 hour, or until the meat is tender. Add more water if necessary, and add more of the blended jalapeno's if the chile needs more kick. Salt to taste. If using tequila, add at the end.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions if desired.

*Side note: we may try ground pork next time because we weren't sure about the big chunks of meat. Or maybe cut the pork into smaller pieces.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cheesy, Creamy Pasta with Summer Veggies

I love summer veggies!!! Especially fresh from the garden...yum, yum!! This casserole from "Pioneer Woman" uses a lot of my favorite veggies and then adds cheese and pasta! What could be better????? Kids loved it, husband loved it...Try it and you will love it!

16 ounces medium pasta shells (or other short pasta)

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (avoid tough parts)

1/2 pound broccoli, cut into small florettes

1/2 pound zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini), diced

1/2 cup frozen peas

3 green onions, sliced (white and light green parts)

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

20 to 22 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Extra olive oil, for drizzling

Cook pasta until extremely al dente—with still quite a bit of bite.Melt butter with the olive oil over medium-low to medium heat, then add in the garlic.Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for five minutes. Sprinkle in a little salt. Add the broccoli and cook for one minute, then add the zucchini and cook for one or two more minutes. Add the frozen peas, stir together, then turn off the heat. Set aside.In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, salt, and pepper until well combined.To assemble, butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Add half the pasta, then spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the surface. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmesan over the ricotta, then 1/2 of the vegetables. Repeat with the rest of the pasta, the rest of the ricotta, and another 1/3 of the Parmesan. End with the rest of the vegetables and the rest of the Parmesan.Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons olive oil, then bake for 25 minutes on 350 degrees or until nice and hot.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

This is my kid's new favorite sandwich!! They gobbled them up one after another!!! PErfect to serve with soup or a green salad for a light dinner! Another gem from "The Recipe Club"! I am going to try it with different meat and cheese combinations.... The poppyseed sauce is TO DIE FOR!!!

24 good white rolls
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices swiss cheese
1/3 mayo
1/3 cup miracle whip
{poppy seed sauce}
1 1/2 TBSP poppy seeds
1 1/2 TBSP yellow mustard
1 stick butter, melted
1 TBSP minced onion
1/2 tsp. worschestershire sauce
in a small bowl, mix together mayo & miracle whip. spread into both sides of the center of each roll. place a slice of ham & a slice of swiss inside of each roll. close rolls & place into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. place very close together.
in a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. let sit 10 minutes, or until butter sets slightly. cover with foil & bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. uncover & cook for 2 additional minutes. serve warm.
** sandwiches can me assembled a day ahead & kept in the fridge ready to bake.

Aloha Salad with Pina Colada Dressing

I HEART salads and love to try new ideas! This was a perfect, refreshing treat, that took me to a tropical island somewhere!! I found this salad on "The Recipe club" blog and will be making it again for sure!!! Would be a great BBQ salad!!

Found the pina colada mix in my regular grocery store by other drink mixes...easy easy!

3 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
2 large cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 large can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups tortilla strips
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled & cubed
toasted coconut, optional
Toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl or layer on a platter. Serve with Pina Colada Vinaigrette dressing.

1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
1/3 cup mr. & mrs. T's pina colada drink mix
1/3 cup rice or apple cider vinegar- rice will make it more mild or
apple cider will make it stronger tasting
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
In a blender combine all ingredients except the oil. Blend well until light & frothy. With the blender still on, slowly add oil in a steady stream. Keep blending until the dressing is emulsified & thickened.

Going Greek!! I was feeling a little greek the other night and searched the web high and low and found some gems!!!! I found a recipe for "homemade flatbread" that I used to make pita like coverings from "My Kitchen Cafe", I used Ina Garten's greek panzanella recipe, which was TO DIE FOR!!! A meal in itself! I couldn't stop snacking on it! And then for the star, I made Greek chicken with creamy cucumber yogurt sauce also from "My Kitchen Cafe" ( you have to check out this cooking blog - it is so fun, with great ideas! I am a regular!) . SOOOOO amazing!! The only thing missing was some lemon rice.....the search is on!!!

Greek Panzanella from Ina Garten:
Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Soft Wrap Bread

3-31/4 c. flour

1 1/2 c. boiling water

1/2 c. potato flakes or buds

1 1/4 t. salt

2 T. vegetable oil

1 t. instant yeast

Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl. Pour boiling water over flour, stir until smooth, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, wisk together potato flakes and 1 cup of remaining flour. with the salt, oil, and yeast. Add to cooled flour/water mixture. Knead together for several minutes to form a soft dough. ( I just used the kneading hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer for about 5 minutes). Let the dough rise, covered for 1 hour (or 2 if you have the time). Divide the dough into 8 pieces, cover and let rise for 15-30 minutes. (the longer it rises the fluffier it will be after you cook it...) Roll each piece into a 7-8 inch circle and DRY fry them about 1-2 minutes per side in a medium hot saute pan. Stack on a wire rack to keep soft and warm.

*These were so good with just butter or butter and honey.... I ate a LOT of them plain.. Next time I will double the recipe to have some leftover to snack on... :)

Chicken and Yogurt Sauce:


4 cloves garlic, smashed

Juice of 1 lemon

2 t. red wine vinegar

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 heaping T of plain greek yogurt (found in the grocery store)

1 T dried oregano

salt and pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper. Wisk until mixed well. Add chicken, cover, and refridgerate for at least an hour. Cook the chicken as desired (grilled, skillet, or broiler), until cooked through. Slice and serve on pitas with yogurt sauce (recipe to follow), diced tomato's, and diced red onions.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:

16 oz. plain greek yogurt

1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled and seeded

2-3 cloves garlic finely minced

1 t. red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

splash of extra virgin olive oil

Shred cucumber and squeeze in paper towels to get out all of the moisture that you can. Mix together with all of the rest of the ingredients and drizzle lightly with olive oil. refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.

*start with 1 clove of garlic and work up from there to taste.

Peanut butter cup Cake

The title says it all!! Chocolate+peanut butter = heaven. You can't go wrong!! It is very rich, so pour a big glass of milk to wash it down!!! I got this recipe from Aunt Sharon, who is the cake goddess. You can't go wrong with any of her cake recipes!! Just make sure that there are others around to share.... Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Make 2 batches of your favorite chocolate cake in 9” pans. Use only three of the layers. Fill and top with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. Cover sides with fudge frosting. Top with chopped Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups. Refrigerate.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:

½ cup peanut butter
¼ c. shipping cream
1tsp. vanilla
1 8 oz. cream cheese softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
Mix until fluffy and spreadable

Fudge Frosting

¾ c. melted semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c. melted butter
Mix together and beat in 2 c. powdered sugar and 1-2 TB milk. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Salad with Teriyaki dressing

This salad is AMAZING! You can add a grilled chicken breast for protein, and to make it into a meal. A delicious twist on an asian style dressing using bottled teriyaki sauce. I had seconds and thirds!!! Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law for sharing this one with me!!!

16 0z bow tie pasta
1 bag baby spinach
3 cans mand oranges
1/2 c chopped parsley
1/4 c sesame seeds
3 c cooked chicken
1 6oz bag of craisons
1 bunch green onions chopped
1 cup honey roasted peanuts

1 c oil
2/3 c white vinegar
2/3 c teriyaki sauce (Kikkoman)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 tbs sugar

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Arroz Con Pollo

I have been searching for a good "Arroz con pollo" recipe for quite some time. I found this one on the "For the Love of Cooking" blog. (see link on the right). It looked sooooooo good, so I decided to try it. It didn't disappoint.... I could barely wait to eat it! While it was simmering on the stove, I kept sneaking tastes. TRY THIS RECIPE, if you have any love of food at all, TRY THIS RECIPE!!! It is a new family favorite that we will be making again and again.

4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 chicken thighs with skin and bones
Paprika, to taste
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
4 bell peppers, diced ( I used red and green)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 c. chicken broth
1 pinch of saffron
1 cup rice
3 T cilantro chopped
1 c frozen peas, thawed.

Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven/saute pan. Once the bacon is cooked, drain on a paper towel and then crumble; set aside. Season the chicken thighs with a bit of each kind of seasoning, to taste. Cook the chicken thighs, skin side down first for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.

Add the olive oil to the Dutch oven over medium heat, once hot, add the onion, bell peppers and a bit of each seasonings to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic then cook, stirring constantly, for 60 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, saffron, rice, crumbled bacon and half of the cilantro. Stir until mixed thoroughly, taste the broth and re-season if needed. Add the chicken in an even layer and simmer over medium low heat, partially covered for 25 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally so the rice doesn't' stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the finished dish with the thawed peas and the remaining cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mac and Cheese topped with Breaded Chicken Parmesan

A couple of months ago, I asked for anyone who wanted to share some recipes for me and my family to try to email them to me. My friend Stacey immediately sent a couple over my way and I am finally getting around to posting about them!! Thanks for sharing Stace! Keep em coming!
"Martha Stewarts homemade Mac and Cheese". I don't know if my kids will ever enjoy mac and cheese out of the box again! I also added some breaded parmesan chicken strips for some protein.

Martha Stewarts Mac and Cheese

(from Stacey T.)

Her notes: "I am going to write out the recipe as Martha has it, BUT we found it to be too thick done that way. We prefer to cut the recipe in HALF and still put it in a 9x13 pan. Try it both ways and see what works for you".

4 T. butter, plus more for the baking dish

Salt and Pepper

3 c. Elbow Macaroni

Two 12 oz cans evaporated milk

1/3 c. skim milk

2 large eggs

1/2 t. seasoned salt

1/4 t. garlic powder

Two 8 oz packages extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

One 8 oz package Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Paprika for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a 9x13 glass baking dish; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil; add salt and macaroni. Cook until Al Dente according to package instructions. Drain, and return to pot. Add butter, and toss until pasta is coated and butter has melted; Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whick together evaporated milk, skim milk, and eggs. Add seasonings; set aside. In another medium bowl, combine cheeses; set aside.

3. Place 1/3 macaroni in an even layer in the bottom of prepared baking dish; cover evenly with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat with remaining macaroni then cheese mixture. Pour milk mixture evenly over contents of baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake until the top layer is lightly browned, 35-45 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

**I had to use penne pasta because I didn't have macaroni at the time and it worked fine.**

Breaded Parmesan Chicken

boneless, skinless chicken strips

1-2 c. bread crumbs (depending on how much chicken you are making)

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

1 T lemon zest

1 T lemon juice

3 egg whites

1 T. corn starch

Mix egg whites and lemon juice. and corn starch and wisk to combine; set aside. Mix bread crumbs, parm cheese, lemon zest. Season with salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste; set aside.

Dip chicken first in egg mixture and then into crumb mixture to coat. Saute in a medium high saute pan in about 1 T olive oil until browned and chicken is cooked through. Serve over macaroni if you wish. (Or to make a different meal, serve over spaghetti with tomato sauce and cover with melted mozzarella cheese).

Blueberry Cobbler

Gage had his plate clean and was licking the rest of it in about 30 seconds. Do I need to say more? This is the time of year for blueberries... I love them. I hope you do too. Enjoy.
4 cups fresh blueberries
4 tablespoons white sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
In a 9x13 baking dish, mix blueberries, 4 tablespoons sugar, and lemon juice. Set aside. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring just until ingredients are combined. Drop batter by rounded tablespoons over blueberry mixture. Try to cover as much of filling as possible.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Chicken Dumpling Casserole

A while ago, I asked for people to email some family favorites to me so that I could try them. I am finally getting around to posting about a few of them. This casserole is from my friend Stacey T. Another comfort food casserole for ya. Kid and tummy pleasers for sure!! Thanks, Stace!!!

Chicken Dumpling Casserole

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 c. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces

1/2 c. water

2 packages crescent rolls

2-3 c cheddar cheese, grated

Mix together soup and water. Pour enough to cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan ( save the rest ). Roll out rolls and fill each one with cooked chicken and some cheese. Roll up starting with the pointed end and place in pan right next to each other. Pour rest of soup on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

**Some changes to try, if you want:

I added 2 chopped green onions and an 8 oz package of cream cheese to the chicken before I rolled up the rolls. I also used milk instead of water to keep the soup creamy for the gravy.**

Creamy Peas, Potatoes, and Carrots. Can you say "Summertime"???

This is a summer favorite for soon as the peas, new potatoe's and carrots start coming out of the garden, this is on the table almost every night!! Creamy, fresh, comfort food at it's finest!

8-10 new potatoes, cubed

2 cups fresh (can use frozen) peas

2 cups carrots, chopped

Add potatoes and carrots to a large sauce pan and just cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil, cook for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. Add the peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain.

6 T. butter

6 T. flour

3 c. milk

1 T. dill

1 chicken boullion cube

salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste

In a small saucepan, stir butter and flour together on low heat until combined and creamy. Add milk, dill, and chicken boullion cube and cook until thickened. Season to taste. Add to potatoes, peas, and carrots and gently combine. Serve immediately.

*Can use fresh dill if available*.

Ravioli with Checca Sauce

I love italian food!! I crave it all the time! One of my favorite italian chefs is Giada De Laurentiis. I have all of her books and love to try the different combinations of pasta's and sauce. This is her recipe for "Checca sauce". It is fresh and delicious! It is a fresh tomato sauce that you don't cook (perfect for summer when it is too hot to be turning on the oven...). Best when tomatoes are fresh and in season... I paired it with ravioli's this time, but have also done it with angel hair pasta as well. Try it for a fun twist on tomato sauce! Add a green salad and you have a fresh, summer meal!

1 (12 oz) bag of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 scallions, white and green parts, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 (1 oz) piece of Parmesan cheese, coarsely chopped
8 fresh basil leaves
3 T. olive oil
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cherry tomatoes, scallions, garlic, Parmesan, basil, and oil ust until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (DON'T PUREE!). Transfer the sauce to a large bowl. Stir in the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 tsp each of the salt and pepper. Season the sacue with more salt and pepper to taste. Toss the sauce immediately with your choice of freshly cooked pasta.

Chicken Florentine Salad

This is supposed to be a close second to the original Macaroni grill salad. I couldn't get enough of it!! I got the recipe from one of my new favorite cookbooks called: "Salads, dressings, and vinaigrettes." by Angela Hextell. This has the most amazing dressings and salads that you can even imagine!!! This one is my close favorite. I think number one will have to got to the salad with the olive garden dressing. IT IS AMAZING. I 'll have to share that another time.
Chicken florentine salad

Orzo pasta, cooked and cooled
Sund dried tomatoes
Pine nuts (toasted)
shredded parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh spinach
Lemon juice ( about 1/2 T).
salt and pepper
Marinated chicken breasts thinly sliced (marinate in bernstiens dressing before grilling)
Marinated artichoke hearts

Toss above ingredients with the "favorite mustard champagne vinaigrette. (recipe follows). Splash with balsalmic if desired and sliced parmesan cheese.

Cover salad with thinly sliced grillled chicked breasts and enjoy!

The favorite Mustard Champagne vinaigrette:

3 T champagne vinegar
1/2 t. dijon mustard
1/2 t fresh garlic, crushed
1 extra large egg yolk at room temp
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 c olive oil

Wisk all together until everything is playing nice and then poor over salad.

Steak Diane with Garlic Carrots and Green Beans.

This was a fun, kind of fancy meal that we all enjoyed the other night. We had eaten Steak Diane at Cheesecake Factory and loved it, so I searched the web and found the following recipe. The carrots and green beans are my creation. We love green beans and have them A LOT for a sidedish, so I experiment with them to come up with new ways to serve them. This is a keeper for sure! (and really fast and easy!)

2 (6 oz) Filet Mignons
salt and pepper
2 T butter
3 t Dijon mustard
2 T Shallots, minced
2 T Butter
2 T Lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Fresh chives, minced
3-4 t Cognac
1 T Fresh parsley, minced

Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Melt 2 TB butter in a heavy skillet; add steaks and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare; about 2 minutes longer per side for medium. Remove steaks to serving plate and keep warm. Add into pan drippings, mustard and shallots. Sauté over medium heat 1 minute. Then 2 TB butter, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and chives. Cook for 2 minutes. Add brandy; pour sauce over steaks. Sprinkle parsley over the top.

**I doubled the recipe because I was serving 5, not 2, and I used red wine instead of Cognac because that's what I had on hand. It was very melt in your mouth good!!!

Garlic Carrots and Green Beans

A couple of cups of baby carrots
A couple handfuls of fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
(I just use however much I think my family will eat, exact measurements not needed!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, then add green beans. Boil for about 3-4 more minutes and drain. Add butter and olive oil to saute pan at medium high heat. When butter is melted, add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add carrots and green beans back to the pan and saute for a couple more minutes until they are tendercrisp. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. (I also added some parsley this time because I had some extra already chopped from making the steaks).

Cowboy Pancakes

We call this a cowboy pancake because that's what Matt told us his mom called them. I have also heard them called Hootenanny pancakes, german pancakes, etc, etc, Call them what you like, they are fluffy, fun, and delicious. The kids love to watch the batter "grow" while its cooking in the oven. You can top them with whatever floats your boat at the time: The picture is giving the idea of a nice stawberry jam with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. (My personal fave). My kids like, maple syrup, berries and whipped cream, just to name a few.
Cowboy pancakes

6 eggs

1 c flour

1 c. milk

1/2 t salt

1/2 c. butter

powdered sugar

fresh berries sliced

Any other toppings you may find amusing.

Beat together eggs, flour, milk, and salt for 5 minutes. We do this in a blender and let it get nice and frothy.Meanwhile heat oven to 425 degrees. Place 1/2 c. of butter in a 9x13 baking dish. Put in hot oven just long enough to melt butter ( but not brown it). remove from oven and pour egg mixture in to hot butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Pancake with "grow" up the sides of the pan. Cut into slices and cover with the toppings of your choice.


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