Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiana

I've always loved restaurant Eggplant Parmesan, but haven't ever been able to make a really good one at home. I figured out this is because in trying to be health conscious, I've always breaded and then baked the eggplant before assembling the dish. Which works fine, but of course it lacks the super-yum factor.

I found this recipe in the Martha Stewart Living magazine, and since eggplant was on sale this week I decided to try it. Simple, easy, and super-yum! Even my 15 month-old loved it. A really good (homemade if you can) marinara sauce is key.

Eggplant Parmigianafrom Martha Stewart Living, January 2011

For Breading and Frying
2 cups fine plain fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more if needed

For Assembling
Marinara Sauce
3 cups coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions1. Bread and fry the eggplant: Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Put flour, eggs, and breadcrumb mixture in 3 separate dishes. Dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, letting excess drip off. Dredge in breadcrumbs to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry eggplant until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. (If oil gets too dirty, discard, and heat an additional 1/4 cup.)

3. Assemble the dish: Preheat oven to 375. Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant on top, overlapping slightly. Top with 1 cup sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 Parmesan. Repeat twice to form layers with eggplant, sauce, then cheeses. Cover with foil. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes more.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Breakfast Pizza

We're always thinking of new ways to jazz up breakfast. Since we LOVE breakfast.

No recipe needed for this one...any pizza crust (or biscuit dough!) will do. Use some sausage gravy for the "sauce", then top with scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, onion, cheese, etc. Don't get yours as crispy as the one pictured here though :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Paula Deen Green Bean Casserole

As with the stuffing, I also decided to make two versions of green bean casserole - the standard one and one a little different. I decided to try Paula Deen's version, because she rarely steers me wrong! I was interested by how the addition of cheese on top would change the flavor, and of course everything is better with cheese!

Though the recipe calls for fresh mushrooms I didn't add any due to special request, and the only other (delicious) change I made was with the topping...instead of mixing them in, I ground up the french-fried onions and combined them with some panko bread crumbs, and sprinkled this lovely mixture on top of the cheese. Yum!


1/3 stick butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups sliced green beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (2.8-ounce) can French-fried onion rings
Pinch House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 cup grated Cheddar


1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter. Boil green beans in chicken broth for 10 minutes and drain. Add the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings, and House Seasoning, to taste, to the onion mixture. Stir well. Pour into a greased 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the Cheddar and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and cheese is melted.

Bacon Jalapeno Stuffing

I was in charge of stuffing for Thanksgiving this year, and I decided to try something new and different in addition to the usual. I found this recipe on the Food Network website and was definitely intrigued. Its definitely not for everyone due to the spice level, but those who enjoy a little heat gave it great reviews!

I doubled the recipe and it was the perfect amount for a large casserole dish. Also, I thought it was definitely on the spicy side even with the seeds removed from the jalapenos, but my husband said he would actually add another one if we make it again.


1/4 lb. diced bacon
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (I also removed the seeds)
1 Tbsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. chili powder
3 cups chicken broth
2 egss
1 cup diced pepper jack cheese (I shredded it)
8 cups toasted white bread cubes
6 cups crumbled cornbread ( I made cornbread muffins from a mix and crumbled)


1. In a large deep skillet, saute bacon in the butter for 5 minutes; transfer to paper towels.

2. To the same skilet, add onion, celery, jalapeno, thyme and chili powder; season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes.

3. Pour in 3 cups chicken broth. Simmer until step 5.

4. In a large bowl, mix eggs,pepper jack cheese and the bacon.

5. Add to the bowl 8 cups toasted white bread cubes, 6 cups crumbled cornbread and the hot broth mixture.

6. Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.

Sourdough Stuffing

I made this stuffing for the first time last year, after deciding to try a real, made-from-fresh-bread-cubes stuffing...previous to that our stuffings have always been based from boxed, dried bread cubes. Its a little more work of course, but the fresh bread is so much better! I like this recipe because its classic, simple, and tasty. I doubled the recipe this year so we could have lots of leftovers.

The only update I make to the recipe below is to add crumbled pork sausage, because, well, I like it :)

from Dave Lieberman, Food Network

1-pound loaf sourdough bread
8 Tbsp. butter
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick in both directions
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 to 4 stalks celery with leaves, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
About 10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
10 to 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

2. Cut or tear the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread it evenly on 2 baking sheets. Toast the bread in the oven until completely dry and beginning to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a few pinches of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add celery, onion, 2 tablespoons butter, and thyme. Once the butter has melted, cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add sage and remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add chicken broth to skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl. Pour the chicken broth mixture over the bread cubes and toss to combine until the bread cubes absorb the liquid. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish, and sprinkle with parsley. Bake in the center of the oven until heated through and the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove the stuffing from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa

The little brother requested chicken enchiladas for his birthday dinner, and although there are a few recipes that I really like, I decided to try something new.

I found this recipe by Tyler Florence on the Food Network website, and not only did it look good it had great reviews. As I was reading throguh the recipe it sounded a little familiar, and then I realized that Marci had posted it awhile back on her recipe blog, and gave it a rave review as well. I didn't need much more convincing that this was the way to go!

These were really delicious. The roasted tomatillo salsa had great flavor; I want to make some more just to eat with chips! I liked how the enchiladas were moist and saucy, without being "creamy". These are a bit time comsuming, but I would say its definitely worth it.


Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cups sour cream
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the salsa:
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.
*Note: I made the salsa the day before, and just refrigerated it until it was time to prepare the enchiladas. Definitely saved me some time!

Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa.
Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove).
Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.

*Notes: I tripled the recipe for the salsa, followed the remaining directions as listed, and ended up with enough filling/salsa to make 16-17 enchiladas, using the flour tortillas. I would suggest at least doubling the salsa recipe so you're sure to have some leftover to enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tilapia with Hash Browns

Two hash brown recipes in a row? Yes, because like I said, who doesn't love hash browns? :)

I came across this recipe in a Food Network Magazine and I was drawn in not only by how pretty it looked, but by the interesting combination of fish and potatoes.

See how pretty?

I'm also always looking for new ways to use tilapia, because its cheap and everyone likes it because it doesn't have a strong fishy flavor. This recipe turned out to be a little more time comsuming than I thought it would be, but the flavors were great - love the salty spanish olives - and even my 1 year-old enjoyed it.

Tilapia with Hash Browns


1 20-ounce bag frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
4 cloves garlic, smashed and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, roughly chopped
3/4 pound tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 pounds skinless tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried rosemary
Freshly ground pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the hash browns with the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the hash browns, flatten with a spatula and cook until the bottom is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Flip the potato cake and pat it back into shape. Cook until crisp and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix the olives, tomatoes, roasted peppers, scallions and parsley in a bowl. Cut the fish into 12 pieces and season with the dried herbs, salt and pepper.

3. Scatter half of the olive mixture over the potato cake and top with the fish. Scatter the remaining olive mixture on top and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the fish is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Serve from the skillet.

*I didn't have a big enough oven-proof skillet handy, so I cooked the hash browns in two separate small skillets, then transferred them to a 9x13 baking pan to finish the process.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cheesy Hash Brown Chili

I'm not usually one to make/eat chili, but I actually like this version...and I give the credit for that to the hash browns for providing a nice crispy texture. Seriously, who doesn't love hash browns?

I adapted this from a recipe by Rachael Ray, see it here. I went with the basic format but changed it up according to what I hand on hand. The result was a super easy and filling dinner that we all enjoyed - with some cornbread, of course!


1 can turkey chili
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Mexicorn (sweet corn with red and green bell peppers)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. taco seasoning
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
3 cups shredded hash browns (the frozen ones will work, or I used some dehydrated ones I had)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

*Since my baby would be eating this, I kept it pretty bland. If I were making it just for myself and Adam, I would have added some hot sauce or crushed red pepper to add some extra heat.


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine chili, beans, corn, and tomatoes. Add taco seasoning, cumin, and garlic powder. Heat over medium and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 baking pan.

3. In a large bowl combine hash browns and cheese. Spread on top of chili. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the hash browns are crispy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ultimate Potato Salad

Thanks to Tyler Florence I now have a fantastic go-to recipe for potato salad! I changed his just little bit and its always been very well-received. Warning: use a large bowl because this recipe makes a LOT!

Potato Salad
adapted from this recipe by Tyler Florence

5 lbs. red potatoes
3 large eggs
Kosher salt
1/2 bunch sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles with 1/4 cup juice, about 2 pickles
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1 Tbsp. dried parsley)
1/2 bunch dill, chopped (or 1 tsp. dill weed)
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the potatoes and eggs into a big saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to a simmer. After 12 minutes remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and let cool. Continue cooking the potatoes until a paring knife poked into them goes in without resistance, about 3 minutes longer. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool.

Reserve some scallion greens for garnish. Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, pickles and their juice, onion, remaining scallions, parsley, dill, and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes. Peel the cool eggs and grate them into the bowl. Stick a fork into the potatoes and lift them 1 at a time out of the colander. Break up the potatoes by hand into rough chunks, add them to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce

Who doesn't love a good chicken enchilada? There are so many recipes out there, each one just a little varied in its own way...but honestly, you can't go wrong with any form of creamy, cheesy goodness!

I've hesitated to post any chicken enchilada recipes because I haven't felt like any of the ones I've some across thus far are anything spectacular. My mom has made this version, courtesy of Paula Deen, a couple times now though, and I really think they are worth recommending. Its the yummy sauce made with tomatillos and heavy cream (no scrimping here - you gotta use the real thing...Paula would have it no other way!) that puts these over the top.

Warning: This recipe makes a LOT, but be prepared to not wanna share :)

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce
from Cooking with Paula Deen


3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Tomatillo Cream Sauce ( recipe follows)
1 (8-ounce) package Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend, shredded
Sliced green onions (optional)

Tomatillo Cream Sauce

1 (28 oz.) can of tomatillos, drained
1 (14 oz.) can chicken brotj
1 (4 oz) can of chopped green chiles
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large skillet, combine tomatillos, chicken broth, chilies, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor, and pulse mixture several times until smooth. Return to skillet; stir in cream and cook over low heat for two more minutes.


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 13x9-inch baking dishes.

2. In a large bowl, combine chicken and next 8 ingredients. Spoon 2 tablespoons chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Fold sides over, enclosing filling. Place filled tortillas, in a single layer, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.

3. Spoon Tomatillo Cream Sauce evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pork Salad - Cafe Rio Style

I served up these salads at Mady's first birthday party, for the adults of course. They were a big hit! A little something different from typical party food, and a good idea for a crowd, because you just prep all the ingredients and everyone can put theirs together how they want.

In searching for a recipe, I found that there are sooo many copy-cat recipes out there for these salads! Not surprising, considering most anyone who has spent anytime in Utah is obsessed with Cafe Rio. A lot of the recipes I found were pretty similar, and of course all claimed to be "oh so close!" to the real thing. I must admit, however, that I've never actually had a pork salad from Cafe Rio though...I'm a "vegetarian burrito, black beans, hot sauce, enchilada style" kind of girl.

The recipe I went with came from the blog Favorite Family Recipes. The cooking of the pork was a bit more involved than most other recipes I found, but that's actually what pulled me towards this one. All that marinating/cooking time = has to be good, right?

Now, as I mentioned I've never had a Cafe Rio pork salad (although I have tried the pork and the yummy tomatillo ranch dressing), so I can't speak as to how close to the "real thing" this is. What I can say is that everyone LOVED these salads - they were delicious! They are a bit time-consuming to prep everything, but luckily I was able to do a lot of it ahead of time, and then for the party we just laid all the ingredients out buffet-style and let everyone have at it.

I'll post the recipes as they are listed on Favorite Family Recipes, and you can also visit the link to see more info and commentary. Oh, and if you are going to make these (you are going to make them, right?), don't forget the aluminum pans - those are a must for authenticity :)

Cafe Rio-style Pork Salads

6 large Tortillas (the uncooked flour tortillas from Costco are the best!)
Shredded cheese, Mexican blend
Cafe Rio Rice - recipe follows
Cafe Rio Black Beans - recipe follows
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork - recipe follows
Lettuce (NOT iceberg, use leafy green or Romaine)
Diced tomato, onion, and cilantro (pico de gallo)
Sour cream
Tortilla Strips
Cotija cheese, crumbled (or you can use Parmesan)
Cafe Rio Tomatillo Ranch - recipe follows

To assemble: Lay a tortilla in the bottom of the pan (if you are using the uncooked tortillas, you need to heat them up first - about 30 seconds per side, just so they are cooked through), sprinkle cheese on it, and put in the oven at 375 for about 5 min or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, add beans, rice, pork, then lettuce and a little scoop of pico de gallo). Add guacamole and sour cream. Add crushed tortilla chips, a shake of Parmesan cheese, and top with a few cilantro leaves. Serve with the tomatillo ranch.

2 pounds pork (i.e. boneless pork ribs)
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 can RED enchilada sauce
1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy duty Ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight.

Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO dry). Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork.

In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little.

Put shredded pork and sauce in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours.

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro.

1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (Not buttermilk)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced (I used canned ones)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (remove seeds, if desired)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender. Yum!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wild Rice and Green Bean Casserole

This is one of my favorite side dishes to make, because it combines your starch and vegetable all into one! I like to think of it as an enhanced green bean casserole (which I love).

You could even add some shredded chicken to this and for an easy, complete meal.

1 box long-grain and wild rice, prepared and cooled ( even more time by getting the Uncle Ben's ready rice in the pouch! no cooking required)
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 - 14.5 oz. cans cut green beans
1 - 6.5 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 small canister french fried onions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cream of celery soup, milk, mayo, lemon juice, marjoran, onion powder, thyme and pepper. Stir in prepared rice, green beans, mushrooms, and half the french fried onions. Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, then top with remaining french fried onions and bake an additional 8-10 minutes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Italian Nachos

There is a restaurant in Colorado called "Old Chicago". I know its lots of other places too. But you know where its not? California, of course.

I can't speak to the rest of their menu except for one incredibly fantastic item:
The Italian Nachos.

They are a-mazingly delicious. Being a lover of all things "nacho", there is no way for me to not be in love with this treat. This version is just a little twist on the traditional and it works. Works quite well, actually.

Since I currently don't have access to an Old Chicago, I finally tried to re-create this delectable appetizer on my own. The Old Chicago website describes Italian Nachos as "Golden pasta chips piled high with Mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage and pepperoncinis. Served with our signature pizza sauce."

Easy enough, right? Except that in a quick search for copycat recipes I found people using tortilla chips, pita chips, basically anything but pasta chips. Really?
I got mad at these people.

So I just used the listed ingredients, substituting some crispy "chips" made from wonton wrapper for the pasta chips...and ended up with a pretty. dang. good copycat.

I suggest trying these at home. No recipe needed - just fry up some wonton wrappers (cut each wrapper in half first), then place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with pepperoni, Italian sausage, pepperoncinis, and lots of mozzarella cheese. Broil for a few minutes in the oven until the cheese melt and ENJOY.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Macaroni Mambo

I found this recipe on Eating Well, and although it seemed like a glorified hamburger helper, it had lots of good ingredients and was something even Baby Madyson could eat, so I went for it.

The only issue was that it was originally called "Hamburger Buddy". Seriously. How unappetizing is that name? It sounds like a toy from a happy meal or something, not dinner. So I decided that if I were going to take a chance with this one, it would have to be called something different. And that is how we came to enjoy Macaroni Mambo.

Its pretty good, and I think I'll be making it again because you can disguise lots of veggies in it (I added in some fresh spinach) and the overall flavor is mild enough for picky eaters.

adapted from Eating Well
3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounces white mushrooms, large ones cut in half
1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 cups beef broth, divided
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles, (2 cups)
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley, or chives for garnish


1.Fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and process until minced, then add carrots and mushrooms and process until finely chopped. Turn it off, add onion, and pulse until roughly chopped.

2.Cook beef in a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.

3.Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles, spinach and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

4.Whisk tomato paste with the remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour until smooth. Stir into the hamburger mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley (or chives), if desired.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes

I baked.
It rarely happens, so I definitely had to document it.

See, I'm not really a fan of baking because I feel like it tries my patience and limits my creativity. You know, with all those exact measurements being necessary and such. And since I don't bake much I feel like I have to follow recipes exactly so I don't mess them up. Summary: My "a little of this, a little of that" attitude towards cooking doesn't translate well to the baking world.

Anyway, I found this recipe, and it sounded wonderful - especially with the marshmallow cream frosting. Because marshmallow cream is awesome.

Unfortunately they weren't the little bundle of deliciousness I had hoped for...they came out more of a dense, muffin consistency as opposed to a light and fluffy cupcake, and the frosting was really a disappointment because the cream cheese totally overwhelmed the marshmallow cream.

But, the cupcakes themselves were yummy; you really got both the peanut butter and the banana flavor which is a fantastic combination. So, I may make them again (and you should try them too), I just may forget the frosting and just call them muffins.

Peanut Butter and Banana Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. creamy natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup finely mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup milk
For the frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup marshmallow cream

1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with wrappers (I ended being able to make about 16).

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together peanut butter, butter and brown sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla, eggs and banana until well combined, about 1 minute. Beat in flour mixture gradually, alternating with milk, until well combined.

4. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool for 15 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the frosting: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in butter until well combined. Beat in marshmallow cream until well combined. Spread frosting on cupcakes. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spicy Honey Chicken

Another stolen recipe from Marci's menu blog...I had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs chillin my freezer, and I was just wondering what to do with them when I came across this recipe. It sounded good, and I love anything I can hand over to Adam and let him cook on the grill.

Two things: First, let me say the flavor of this was really good. It was definitely spicy, but not too spicy, probably balanced out by the honey. However, despite the note on Marci's blog (from the person who sent it to her) that its better with thighs rather than breasts...I wish I had used breasts. I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed it more, which is weird because I usually do prefer dark meat. I just kept questioning whether the thighs were cooked all the way through (despite Adam's insistence that they most definitely were cooked perfectly)...but I picked through my piece and didn't really end up eating much of it. Mostly just a texture thing I guess, and due to the color of the glaze I kept thinking the meat was still pink. So, I definitely want to make this again - mostly because I bought coriander and chipotle chili powder just for this recipe - but I'll be using breasts for sure.

Spicy Honey Chicken


8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp. vegetable oil

For the rub:
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder

For the glaze:
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar


1. Combine the spices for hte rub in small bowl.

2. Use kitchen shears to trim off any excess fat from the chicken (another downside to thighs, lots of little fat pockets you need to trim off!). Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and run in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well.

3. Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

4. While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave about 30 seconds to thin slightly. Add the vinegar and combine well. Brush the glaze on the chicken (reserve a little if you want more to dip it in later) in the final moments of grilling.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pasta Taco Salad

I was looking for a different sort of side dish to bring to a family BBQ this past weekend, and I found this pasta salad on a blog called Cara's Cravings (her picture is definitely better than mine, I was only able to capture the leftovers). There were rave reviews, and I just happened to have some leftover wagon wheel pasta, so I gave it a go.

My review: It was a nice change from the usual pasta salad, and the flavors were good. I used a very mild salsa and limited chili powder to cater to some picky palates, and I definitely think it needed more spice. In fact, we kicked up the leftovers with some spicy picante-style salsa later on, and I liked it much better. Also, I don't think the "vinaigrette" is necessary - do we really need to be adding a 1/2 cup of oil to this otherwise pretty healthy salad? I used a lot less, and I think it would be fine omitting it completely and just mixing in the lime juice and spices right into the pasta. But, I'll post the recipe as-is and you can judge for yourself!


1 lb. wagon wheel pasta
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10 oz. package frozen corn (if you are going to make this at least several hours ahead, no need to defrost first)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 oz. shredded Mexican-blend cheese (I didn't add this)
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. cumin
1-2 tsp. chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced


1. Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. Add the cooled pasta and mix well.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Pour over the pasta salad, add the cilantro, and mix well. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

4. Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mexican Beef Stew

I started out with an entirely different plan for this meal, but when I pulled out the recipe for what I had intended to make, I decided it really didn't sound good and changed direction. I did a little search for something that would include all the ingredients I had planned on using, as well as a few other things I had on hand, and came up with the idea for this "stew".

I ended up straining off most of the liquid at the end and serving the meat and vegetables over rice with some homemade guacamole and baked tortilla chips (yes, at the risk of carb overload), and it was delicious. You could just as easily thicken up the broth a little more and enjoy it as a more traditional stew with some fresh tortilla or cornbread...yum!


1 lb. beef stew meat
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 mediun onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups beef broth
2 large red potatoes, diced


1. In a large bowl, combine stew meat, red pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic. In a separate bowl, combine flour, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, salt, thyme, and cayenne. Mix well, then add to the meat and vegetable mixture and stir to coat.

2. Transfer meat and vegetable to a slow cooker and pour beef broth to cover. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add potatoes and cook 2 hours more or until potatoes are tender (can turn up to high at this point to speed the cooking of the potatoes).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I decided to make this dip for our Memorial Day BBQ, and it was a hit! Tasted just like buffalo wings. Everyone loved it - it was gone so fast. I got the recipe from Marci's recipe blog (she raved about it as well).

Although I'd had a similar dip before I remembered it being really greasy, and I thought that may have been due to the cheese, so I changed that up a little. I also adjusted the amounts of some of the ingredients, so I'll post my recipe here but you can always visit Marci's blog to see the original.

Oh, and just typing this here right now makes me crave this stuff! Its sooooo good!

Buffalo Chicken Dip


2 (10 oz) cans chuck chicken, drained
1 1/2 cups Frank's Red Hot sauce
2.5 packages (20 oz. total) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups ranch dressing
1 cup Tostitos Chili Con Queso dip
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. Combine chicken and hot sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir occasionally until heated through. Mix in cream cheese, ranch dressing, and Queso dip, stirring until well-blended. Transfer to slow cooker.

2. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, cover, and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly. Keep warm in slow cooker to serve.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Beef and Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

I'm starting to like anything that ends with "Stroganoff". It means you can mix up some broth and a little reduced-fat sour cream and you get a nice, light cream sauce that you enjoy without feeling guilty!

This one, also from Jillian Michaels, was really good. I know a meal is a hit when my husband says "I'd have that again". We both agreed that this would be just as good meatless - all those portobellos certainly hold up enough on their own!


2 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. beek flank steak, trimmed
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 large onion, sliced
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
14 oz. (1 can) reduced-sodium beef broth
2 Tbsp. liqueur, cognac or brandy (I didn't add this)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (didn't add this either)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
4 Tbsp. fresh chives

1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add steak and cook until browned on both sides, 3-4 minutes per side. The meat will be rare but will continue to cook as it rests. (I had a pretty thick piece, so I needed about 6-7 minutes on each side). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut lenghtwise into 2 long pieces, then crosswise across the grain into 1/4" thick slices.

2. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in the pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, thyme, salt and pepper adn cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 8-12 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables; stir to coat.

3. Stir in broth, cognac and vinegar (if using) and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mxture is thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in sour cream, chives, the sliced steak and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until heated through.

I served over brown rice.

4 servings
Each serving has 404 calories, 19g fat, 14g carbs, 37g protein

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mexican Pizza

Another one from the Jillian Michaels website (as I suspect a lot of my future posts will be!). It was really good, has lots of possibilities for variation, and well, I could probably eat this every day if I wanted to!

The recipe is for 1 (and yeah, Adam had 3), and made as-is has 364 calories and 12 grams of fat.


1 whole-wheat, low-carb tortilla, 6 1/2 "
3 oz. chicken breast
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 Tbsp. diced green chiles
1 cup spinach
2 Tbsp. low-sodium mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used a low-fat Mexican blend)
1/4 cup avocado, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.* Spray skillet with non-stick spray and heat over medium. Add bell pepper, green chiles and spinach to the pan, and cook until spinach is wilted.

2. Spread salsa on tortilla and top with chicken and spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese melts. Top with avocado.

* I pre-baked the tortilla a little bit (about 6-7 minutes)before adding the toppings and baking again, to make sure it would be crispy.

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps and Red Chili Linguine

A nice little plate of food for under 500 calories, eh? About 457, to be exact.

The Shrimp Lettuce Wraps are my own last-minute creation, super easy and so many different ways to change it up.

Here's the basics:

* Medium shrimp, raw (6-7 pieces will equal about a 3 oz. serving)
* 1 can stir-fry vegetables (I went with the canned variety for convenience and texture), plus some extra chopped water chestnuts for crunch and sliced mushrooms for substance

Cook the shrimp in a little olive oil. When almost cooked through, add in the vegetables, some soy sauce, chili sauce, and whatever else you like. Heat through, then place in lettuce cups to serve.

The Red Chili Linguine is a ridiculously quick recipe from the Jillian Michaels website...I used half the amount of pasta and only 1 Tbsp olive oil but the full amount of garlic:


1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cups linguine pasta, cooked and drained
1/4 cups chopped parsley
1 lime, juiced


Heat olive oil in skillet. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add red pepper and saute 30 seconds. Add linguine, stir well and cook until hot and well-coated. Add parsely and lime juice. Toss well and serve.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spaghetti Bruschetta

I stole this idea from Picky Palate, and when I first found the recipe I totally thought it was can't eat spaghetti without garlic bread, so why not put the spaghetti on the garlic bread!

This is another "No Recipe Needed" creation too...just make up some spaghetti (I cut up the pasta into small pieces before cooking so it would be easier to eat on the bread), put it on garlic bread, top with mozzarella cheese and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You'll need a knife and fork for it, but its delish!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Recipe Needed - Breakfast Tacos

1. Cook up some hashbrowns (tator tots work great, just smash them up in the pan)
2. Mix in cooked pork sausage
3. Scramble in a few eggs and shredded cheese
4. Season with fresh cilantro and whatever spices you like
5. Place on warm corn tortillas and top with more cheese, sour cream and salsa

Of course you could also wrap it up for a breakfast burrito or even put it on tortilla chips for some morning delight nachos (Adam's favorite).

This is what Adam's first plate looked like last night, he tops them with everything:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Craisins Salad and dressing

1 head red leaf lettuce
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 (8oz) package shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (8oz) package shredded Parmesan cheese
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (8oz) package craisins

Break red and green lettuce into pieces. Shred iceberg lettuce. Toss together with remaining ingredients just before serving. Pass the dressing with the salad, not recommended to toss with dressing.

Salad Dressing
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 onion chopped
1 1/2 teas salt
2 teas mustard
1 cup salad oil.

Mix everything BUT the oil in a blender. Add oil and then blend again.

BLT Strudel

Oh, Paula Deen. You had me at Puff Pastry. You can never go wrong with puff pastry right?

Even though we had this for dinner, its definitely better suited as a brunch item. Adam liked it, and I though it was good, but I'd like to make it again with a few changes...I decided that although I love bacon on its own, I'm not a fan of it mixed in with other stuff, so I might swap that out for some good sausage. Kind of changes the BLT name, but oh well.

The recipe as-is makes 2 strudels, but I cut it in half and only made one.

BLT Strudel
from Paula Deen


12 large eggs, divided
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lb. bacon, chopped
1 (6 oz) package fresh baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (I used an Italian blend and some Parm since I had it on hand)
1 cup seeded and chopped tomato
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed


1. In a large bowl, whisk together 11 eggs and mayonnaise until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 tbsp. bacon drippings in skillet; heat over medium heat. Add spinach and garlic; cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionaly, or until spinach is wilted. Add egg mixture, and cook until eggs are set, but not dry, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, tomato, salt, and reserved bacon. Spoon mixture into a medium bowl; cover and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 sheet of puff pastry into a 12x10 rectangle, trimming edges as necessary. Spoon half of egg mixture down center of pastry, leaving a 3" margin on sides and a 1" margin on top and bottom. Cut pastry on side margins into 1" strips. Crisscross strips over filling. Carefully transfer strudel to one side of prepared baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry and egg mixture.

5. In a small bowl, whisk remaining egg until smooth. Brush egg evenly over strudels. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cut into slices and serve.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Alotta Muffuletta

Fact: I'm not a sandwich person. They aren't something I typically enjoy. And therefore, before I tried this super-fun-to-say delight made by a super authentic Louisianan at a super fun Mardi Gras celebration, I was fully prepared to hate it.

But I didn't hate it. I LOVED it. I brought one home and Adam loved it too. So much so that we decided to try to make some ourselves. The result is what is pictured above - not the prettiest looking thing, but just as delicious as the first one I had.

The meat and cheese combo is delicious, but the olive salad is what makes this so good. Its briny and oily and just delish. We cheated and used a store bought kind rather than attempting to make that from scratch, and I didn't feel bad about that at all. Yum, yum, yum.

Now, our concotion isn't totally authentic, so I'll post a general recipe and include my changes.


1 10" round loaf Italian bread with sesame seeds (I couldn't find anything resembling this, so we used a rectangular-shaped Ciabatta loaf and it worked great)
1 Recipe Olive Salad (Found this at the deli counter at the grocery store - good enough for me!)
1/4 lb Genoa Salami
1/4 lb Capicola Ham
1/4 lb Mortadella (all these meats should be available at your local deli counter...I didn't even know what Mortadella was, but fyi, its an Italian cured sausage that kind of looks like bologna)
1/4 lb sliced Mozzarella
1/4 lb sliced Provolone

To create: Cut bread in half length-wise. Remove some of the insides to make room for all the goodness. Spread olive salad on both sides of the bread. Layer meats and cheeses on one half of the bread, top with the other half, and ENJOY.

You can make this a few hours ahead of time, but I wouldn't do much more than that because you don't want the olive salad making the bread soggy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Portobello Pizzas

Continuing with the low-carb trend we seem to have going on...I made these last night and I'll definitely be making them again. They were fun and easy, hearty enough for my meat-loving husband, and can be altered in so many different ways. The mushrooms are a good serving vessel and provide texture rather than altering the flavor of the toppings. A vegetarian version would be fantastic with some grilled or sauteed eggplant in place of the sausage.

Portobello Pizzas
adapted from Rachael Ray

4 large portobello mushroom tops, stems removed and gills scraped
Extra-virign olive oil, for drizzling plus 1 tsp.
Salt and black pepper
3/4 lb. Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 Tbsp. half-and-half (fat free works just fine)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

1. Preheat broiler. Drizzle olive oil liberally over the mushroom caps and season with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes on each side until tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add sausage; cook and crumble until browned. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook 3-4 minutes until tomatoes are softened. Reduce heat to low, add half-and-half and stir to combine, then fold in the basil. Remove from heat.

3. Fill the mushroom caps with the sausage mixture. Top with cheese and broil 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

My sister shared this recipe, and I decided to make these last night to go with grilled steaks since I wasn't really feeling the baked potatoes that everyone else was having. They were really good and everyone liked them...I think they would make a great and easy (and low-carb!) appetizer.

Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

4 Plum Tomatoes
1/2 cup of Mozzarella Cheese
2 Tbsp. of Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
Salt/Pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 400*. Cut the tomatoes length-wise and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet.

2. Combine the pulp with the remaining ingredients. Fill the tomatoes to the top with the mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese appears to be melted (I broiled on high for the last 2-3 minutes to make the cheese extra bubbly).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cracker Candy

I tried these at Christmas time. Delight. I've not made this recipe yet, but I am excited to since they were awesome!!

40 single saltine cracker squares
1 c butter (real butter)
1 12 ounce pgk milk chocolate chips
1 c brown sugar

Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Lay crackers side by side on cookie sheet (should cover cookie sheet). Melt brown sugar and butter in heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Boil exactly 3 minutes (stir continually).

Spread over crackers evenly. Bake at 400 for exactly 5 minutes. Take out and let cool for just a minute, then sprinkle chips over the top. Allow chips to melt for a moment, then spread over entire area.
Put in refrigerator to harden. Take out and break into bite-size pieces

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Penne with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Italian Sausage

Adam: "I like this better than that other pasta you made with asparagus"

And there you have it.


12 oz. penne pasta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1 - 14 oz. can tomato puree
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, cooked, crumbled into large pieces and drained
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper


1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, then add the asparagus and cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomato puree, season with salt and pepper, and let simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and the Italian sausage and simmer 10 minutes more. Season again with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Stir the mozzarella and the pasta into the sauce and heat through.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Asian Salmon

I really liked the marinade/sauce on this one, it was a nice way to prepare salmon. You can click the link below to see the original recipe; I'm posting here with my changes. If I were to make this again I would definitely make more marinade (and I even doubled it from the original recipe already) to have even more to pour over the rice.

Asian Salmon
adapted from


3/4 lb. salmon filets, with skin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tsp. dried dill weed
2 cups water


1. Make several shallow slashes in the skinless side of the salmon filets. Place filets skin-side down in a glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, pepper, onion and ginger. Pour the liquid over the salmon, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium saucepan combine the rice, water and dill weed. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium low heat until rice is tender and water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove cover from salmon, and bake in the marinating dish for 15 minutes. Change oven heat setting to low broil, and cook 5 minutes more to allow for some caramelization. Serve salmon over the rice, and pour sauce over.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tomato Sauce with onion and butter

No picture for this one. I wasn't even going to attempt it. I realized that I should probably stop taking pictures of my food until I a) Get better at it and more importantly, b) Get a really good camera. Not sure when either one of those things are going to we might be picture-free for a while.

Luckily though, there is an easy way around this - in this case, I'll just direct you to where I got the recipe from because I know the pictures there are a million times better than anything I could produce.

So, if you want to see what this looks like, head on over to Smitten Kitchen and I'll just thank her for during the work for me.

But on to this recipe...can I just say YUM! I was very intrigued by this recipe because of all the rave reviews, and yet it seemed too simple to be true! The title lists all the ingredients: tomatos, onion, butter. That's it. A perfect, 3 ingredient tomato sauce? Can it be?

I have to add my name to the list of believers (if you go to the Smitten Kitchen link, you'll see that there are over 500 comments on this recipe, and ALL are good) because this sauce was fantastic! I've never been a big fan of any sort of jarred spaghetti sauce, and so I'm glad I have discovered this little gem that I can use instead.

The end result is a sauce thats fresh and sweet, and the butter adds that little extra something that takes it up a notch. Oh, and don't just throw away that onion once you remove it - that thing tasted darn good too!

Last night I served it over plain spaghetti noodles with some cheesy garlic bread on the side, of course. I wish there were leftovers that I could be eating right now, but alas, this stuff was too good to last long!

Tomato Sauce with onion and butter


28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano are the recommended brand, and those are what I used. A little more pricey than the others, but apparently its worth it. I found them at my local Albertson's)
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste


1. Place tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon (I don't mind a slightly chunky sauce, so I didn't smash them up too much). Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste (I didn't add any) and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Garden Vegetable Soup

Its been cold and rainy and I really wanted something warm and yummy. I made this last night and we enjoyed it along with some grilled cheese sandwiches (courtesy of Adam).


2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can cut green beans, drained
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the olive oil in large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat, stirring often, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the broth, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the green beans, tomatoes with their juice, and kidney beans. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monterey Spaghetti


6 oz. spaghetti, cut into 2" pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 (10 oz)package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms
1 (2.8 oz) can french fried onions


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.

3. In a small bowl beat egg. Add Parmesan, sour cream, and garlic. Add spaghetti, Monterey Jack cheese, spinach, mushrooms and 1/2 the onions. Pour into greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onions and bake 5 minutes more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Tator Tot Casserole

Sometimes you just want something comforting and not necessarily healthy...and for us tator tot casserole usually does the trick. I make a few different variations but I like this one because even though its extra cheesy, all that broccoli makes up for it, right?

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Tator Tot Casserole

1 - 26 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup nacho cheese sauce (I like Tostito's brand Salsa con Queso)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
6 cups ( 2 -12 oz. bags) frozen broccoli cuts
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 bag frozen tator tots


1. In a large pot, combine cream of chicken soup, queso, milk, hot sauce and spices over medium heat. Bring to a low simmer and add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese; continue stirring until melted. Add broccoli, stir to combine, and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chicken.

2. Pour broccoli mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Place tator tots in a single layer on top of the broccoli mixture (you probably will only use about 3/4 of the bag). Top with remaining 1 cup shredded cheddar. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.

*Notes: I made this last night, and even with the salsa con queso, hot sauce and chili powder, it wasn't spicy at all. But I've made it before and it had a little kick, so feel free to adjust those items to taste. Also, this works just as well if you mix the tator tots in with the broccoli, but I like putting them on top because they get crisper and hold their shape better.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sausage Hash Brown Bake

Another one from looked interesting and it called for red pepper which I was excited to use (see previous post).

I followed the advice of one reviewer and added in some eggs and mixed everything together instead of layering, to make it more of a comprehensive breakfast casserole. It was good, and I liked the basic ingredients, but if I were to try this again I might change it up - mostly not sure if the soup and all that sour cream is really necessary, especially with the addition of eggs.


2 pounds bulk pork sausage
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup sour cream
1 (8 ounce) package French onion dip (I used another 8 oz sour cream with a packet of dry onion dip mixed in)
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper (I had red so I doubled up on that)
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 eggs, lightly beaten (my addition)
1 (30 ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed


1. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain on paper towels. In a large bowl, combine 1-3/4 cups cheese and the next eight ingredients; fold in potatoes.

2. Spread half into a greased shallow 3-qt. baking dish. Top with sausage and remaining potato mixture (like I mentioned, I skipped the layers and just mixed everything together and poured it into the baking dish). Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until heated through.

Red Pepper Sale

A local farmers market-type grocery store here had red peppers on sale last week for $ .19 each.
$ . 19!

That's unheard of. We definitely stocked up, especially since they can go for as much as $1.50 each in the grocery store! It still makes me happy just thinking about it.

You'll notice that a lot of my recently posted recipes included red peppers (even when they weren't called for), and we've even just been slicing and enjoying them with ranch dip. Totally my new favorite vegetable.

Kielbasa and Kidney Beans

Adam and I both liked this, its certainly nothing spectacular but it was so quick and easy that it still makes the blog :)

Kielbasa and Kidney Beans
from Allrecipes - I made some changes so I'll indicate what I did differently


1 pound fully cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup chopped green pepper ( I only had red, so I just doubled up on that)
2 small russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (my addition)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons steak sauce ( I didn't have this, instead I added about 1 tbsp ketchup and 2 tsp adobo sauce)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (15 ounce) can white kidney or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained (I used red kidney beans)


1. In a skillet, cook sausage for 2-3 minutes. Stir in onion, peppers and potatoes. Cook and stir until sausage is lightly browned and vegetables are tender; drain.

2. Combine brown sugar, steak sauce, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce; stir into skillet. Add beans. Cook and stir until heated through.

I served over plain white rice, and because of that I felt it was lacking in the sauce department. If I make it again I will definitely double up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chile Relleno

Chile relleno = ooey gooey cheesy goodness
The possibilities are endless, so I'll just provide the general details.

Poblano/pasilla chile peppers
Cheese of your choice (we like pepper jack)
Other stuffing ingredients of your choice, if desired (perhaps a shredded meat and rice mixture or a sauteed veggie combo)
1 large egg for every 2 peppers
Oil for frying
Sauce (A good, homemade ancho chile sauce is the best, but to save time I like to use this sauce, with a little hot sauce added for extra heat)

1. Seed, roast and peel peppers:
* I like to seed the peppers before roasting them; I find that its just easier that way. I
cut a slit across the top of the pepper about 1/2" down from the stem (almost cutting all the
way through, but not quite), and then flip the top up and pull the seeds out. Then you can
also use that opening in the top to slide in the cheese/stuffing.
* Set the oven to low broil and place the peppers on a baking sheet. Broil for 10-15 minutes,
turning frequently as they start to blister and brown, almost looking like they are getting
burnt. Once the peppers are browned on all sides, remove from the oven and place in a
resealable plastic bag or in a large bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit and steam
for 20-25 minutes.
* Remove the peppers from the bag or bowl and place on a large plate or cutting board. Peel
the outer layer from the peppers.

2. Stuff the peppers. I like mine with just cheese (any good, melty cheese will work), but you can pretty much add in whatever you want! Last time we made these I did a few with leftover carnitas, spanish rice, and pepper jack and they were really good. You may need to use a few toothpicks to hold the chile together after its stuffed, just remember to pull them out before eating!

3. Prepare the egg batter. Separate the egg(s): place the whites in a large shallow bowl and the yolks in another, smaller bowl. Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer (you can do this by hand, but it takes forever) until frothy and stiff peaks start to form. Lightly beat the yolks, then fold the yolks carefully into the whites and stir just until combined.

4. Fry the chiles. Heat several inches of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (or use a deep fryer). When oil is hot, dip chiles one at a time into the egg batter, and turn to coat. Fry in hot oil 2-3 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with yummy sauce and more cheese on top!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mizithra in Browned Butter Pasta

1 Box Pasta of your choice (I'm personally in love with Rozoni Smart Taste Penne)
1 Stick of Butter
Mizithra Cheese to taste (Kind of hard to find sometimes, usually in the deli)
Another super easy and good "recipe" from me.
Cook pasta according to directions on box. Remember to salt the water.
Drain pasta.
In large frying pan, melt butter over low heat stirring constantly until it starts to turn brown.
Sprinkle in cheese and coat all noodles well.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Potato Pancakes


4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 egg
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. minced dried onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Butter or canola oil
1. Rinse potatoes in cold water; drain well.
2. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add potatoes and stir to combine. Add flour, onion, salt and pepper and mix well.
3. In a large skillet, heat butter or oil over medium heat. Drop potatoes by 1/4 cupfuls onto the hot skillet and flatten to form a pancake. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining potatoes, adding a little more oil or butter to the skillet before each new batch (should make about 12 pancakes, depending on size). Serve warm.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Slow Cooker Carnitas

This is one of my favorite recipe for carnitas, because the possibilities for the final result are endless! It cooks up perfectly but the spices don't completely overwhelm the meat, so you really can use it in a variety of different meals. This time around we started with these:

Pork tacos, in crispy corn shells and topped with sour cream and the sauce from Pioneer Woman's Perfect Enchiladas (which is another versatile item that we use a lot!). These tacos are reminiscent of my favorite ones from Qdoba - a place we used to frequent in Denver and I'm sad we don't have one here in San Diego :(

Of course there is a lot of meat leftover so we'll be adding it in to meals throughout the next week!

Slow Cooker Carnitas


2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (3-4 pound) pack "carnitas" (I can buy pork packaged as "carnitas" already at a local grocery store we have here, but if you can't find that a boneless pork shoulder roast is what to look for)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups chicken broth


1. In a small bowl, combine salt, garlic powder, cumin, and ground cinnamon. Coat pork with the spice mixture, and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Sprinkle cilantro on and around the pork, then pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.

2. Cook on low 7-8 hours, turning meat halfway through cooking time.

No Recipe Needed - Cheesy Garlic Bread

You want to know the secret to fantastic garlic bread? A perfectly seasoned herb butter (we like garlic and dill), with a little bit of mayonnaise mixed in. Trust me, it makes a difference. Top with your favorite cheese, broil, and enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mascarpone and Mushroom Ravioli with Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Cream Sauce

I have a few things to say about this recipe:

1. The filling is fantastic, and the mascarpone is the reason. It is GOOD stuff. I'm never using ricotta or regular cream cheese in ravioli ever again.

2. You don't need to adjust the color on your monitor - that sauce really is that lovely, bright shade of orange! I'm glad it tasted good, because there was something just a little too unnatural about the color (even though its from the roasted peppers). Wonder how it can be toned down?

Overall though, I'm going to give myself a pat on the back for coming up with this one - it was delish!

Mascarpone and Mushroom Ravioli with Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Cream Sauce


1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. minced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp. green onions, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
1 cup roughly chopped baby spinach
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
Won ton wrappers (I used round ones)
1 egg, slightly beaten

Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Puree
3 red bell peppers, roasted, seeded, peeled, and sliced (or 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers)
3 garlic cloves, roasted

2 cups half-and-half (I used fat-free)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup Parmesan Romano cheese (or just Parmesan if you can't find the blend)
Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Puree


1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, and green onion, cook 5-7 minutes longer, until mushrooms are tender. Turn off heat and stir in thyme and spinach. Continue stirring until spinach is wilted and combined with the mushrooms. Remove mixture to a bowl and set aside. Once cooled, stir in the mascarpone cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste (I did this step the day before and let it sit in the fridge over night).

2. Meanwhile, prepare the roasted garlic and red pepper puree: Combine roasted red peppers and roasted garlic in a food processor or blendor (I used our magic bullet!); puree until smooth. Makes about 1 cup of puree.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the half-and-half over medium heat. When it starts to bubble slightly (do not let boil), whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once butter is combined, slowly add the cheese, stirring constantly. Continue stirring (very important, otherwise your sauce might "break" like mine started too), and once the cheese is all melted in add the red pepper puree and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm over low heat.

4. On a large work surface, lay out the desired amount of won ton wrappers (recipe should make at least 16-20, depending on how much filling you add in). Brush a little of the beaten egg onto the edges of the wrappers. Place a small spoonful of the mascarpone mixture onto the center of each wrapper, then place a second wrapper over the top and press the edges together to seal well.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli a few at a time and cook until they float to the top, about 3-4 minutes.

6. Serve the ravioli topped with the red pepper cream sauce and extra Parmesan cheese, and of course some yummy, cheesy garlic bread.


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