Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spicy Albondigas

Meatballs = Totally not my thing

I don't make them. I don't eat them. They've never appealed to me.

And then I found this recipe and was very intrigued, but I almost passed on it because of the whole meatball thing.

Oh. But these aren't meatballs. No, no.
They're albondigas.

It was the name that convinced me. Its too fun to say. I pranced around the house chanting "albondigas" while they were cooking. True story.

I'm glad I didn't pass on this one because it was delicious. The meatballs totally take on the great flavor of the spicy broth (instead of tasting like, well, balls of meat) and had such a nice, soft texture too. It will definitely be added into our dinner rotation - and I'm enjoying the leftovers for lunch today!

Spicy Albondigas
original recipe from (I reduced it down, so I'm posting a version with my changes)


1 lb. lean ground beef (could also use turkey)
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt

5 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, sliced (I used about 2 handfuls of baby carrots)
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers (such as RO*TEL®)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (I used a spicy Mexican tomato sauce)
1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles, drained (I didn't use this because of the spicy tomato sauce, and I didn't miss them)
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin


1. Combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, rice, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.

2. Bring chicken broth to a boil over medium heat in a large kettle.

3. Form the beef mixture into 1 inch meatballs, using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat for each. Turn the heat down under the chicken broth to a simmer and drop the meatballs into the broth. Simmer the meatballs in the broth for 20 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.

4. Stir in the carrots, onion, celery, canned diced tomatoes with green chiles, tomato sauce, canned chiles, cilantro, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. Simmer the soup for 1 hour to cook the vegetables and blend the flavors. (I let mine cook for over an hour and a half, and it reduced down to a more stew-like consistency)

We topped ours with some fresh avocado and served with fresh, homemade tortilla chips.

A Week of Newbies

In planning our meals for this week, I decided to change it up a little and compose my list solely of brand new recipes that we have never tried before. I started by going through my fridge and cupboards to see what basic items I already had, and then searched for new ideas based on that. Here is what we'll be eating this week:

Sunday: Spicy Albondigas
Monday: California Chicken
Tuesday: Tilapia Tacos with chipotle cream
Wednesday: Sweet Thai Stir-Fry
Thursday: Corn and Kielbasa Chowder

I'll be posting the recipes and pictures as well as my reviews as the week goes on!

No Recipe Needed - Pita Pizzas

Whole wheat pitas spread with a little olive oil and any toppings you choose... quick, easy, and everyone gets to make their own!

Thursday, January 28, 2010



Which in Spanish means "delight". Okay fine, not really, but that's what it should mean.

I googled "chilaquiles recipe" and got about a thousand variations. They are like snowflakes - the basic structure of each one is the same (fried tortilla strips cooked in sauce and topped with cheese and protein) but everyone seems to have their own little twist. You also get a thousand different descriptions...anything from a "poor man's dish" to "true Mexican comfort food" to "best hangover cure ever".

However they're made and whatever they're called, man they are good!

I made this recipe last night for dinner, which is based on the kind served at a cute little taco shop down the road from where we live. We stopped in one morning for breakfast and ordered these and enjoyed
every. last. bite.
I adapted the recipe I made from a few different ones I found and used canned enchilada sauce to save time...which may not be traditional but as much as I would love to make my own ancho chile-tomato sauce from scratch, I just don't have the time for that anymore! We topped ours with fried eggs (like they did at the taco shop) but I've also made a variation using green salsa and scrambling the eggs, and a lot of recipes use shredded chicken instead of eggs. But like I said...however they're made, they are good!

Yes, I know I need to work on my photography skills. Let's not state the obvious.



1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 28oz. can red enchilada sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
12-14 corn tortillas (stale ones work best)
Cheese for garnish (monterey jack, cheddar, cotija)
4 -6 large eggs (1-2 per serving)
Cilantro and sour cream, for garnish


1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in enchilada sauce and all seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 30-45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in another large skillet, add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom. Cut tortillas into strips or triangles, and fry in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels and lightly season with salt.

3. Add fried tortilla srips to enchilada sauce. Stir to coat all chips, and let simmer 5 minutes to soften.

4. In a medium skillet, fry eggs to desired doneness. To assemble chilaquiles, place a spoonful of tortillas and sauce on a plate, sprinkle with cheese, and top with eggs. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

I made this last night and served it over buttered noodles. Super easy and good.
4 Chicken Breasts (I pounded them out)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp Italian bread crumbs (I didn't have these, just plain ones so I mixed in some Mrs. Dash garlic and herb and some garlic salt)
Mix cheese and mayo. Spread on top of chicken. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake at 425 25 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We had this for dinner last night, and I was thinking that we should add it into our rotation more often because its so quick and easy to throw together...gotta love those one-pot meals! It also makes a ton, so I'll be enjoying the leftovers for lunch today!

This is my own recipe, adapted and adjusted to our own tastes. Since I usually wing it in the kitchen and don't cook directly off of recipes, I'm trying to be better at writing down the ingredients as I go so I'll have more recipes to post here.

Also note: Most jamabalaya recipes also include chicken (or chicken instead of shrimp), but I don't - mostly because we seem to eat so much chicken that its nice to have something without it every once in a while. But feel free to add it if you'd like - just dice some chicken breasts and cook along with the vegetables.



1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. hot sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 lb. kielbasa or smoked sausage, sliced (can also use turkey sausage)
1/2 lb. raw, medium shrimp, peeled and deveined


1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomato paste and hot sauce to the vegetable and stir to combine. Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes (and their liquid) and all remaining ingredients except the shrimp. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed, about 25 - 30 minutes. Stir in shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blueberry Boy Bait

I saw that blueberries are on sale this week, which reminded me of this delightful little treat I made quite often last spring. Add a little lite whipped topping and yuuummmm :)

Blueberry Boy Bait
from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cookie Dough Brownies

Yep, you heard right.

I said Cookie. Dough. Brownies.

To be more specific I should say Cookie Dough-frosted Brownies.

Do I have your attention yet? Can it be that such a thing exists?

Well, if you are thinking these have got to be fantastic, you are correct.

And no worries about "raw" cookie dough here - it uses a little milk as a binder in place of the eggs. Delightful + not gonna kill you = Hurray!

Cookie Dough Brownies


1 pkg. brownie mix
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening

*Note: The original recipe I found called for making the brownies from scratch - which of course you are welcome to do. But for ease and convenience (and to get these in my mouth as soon as possible), I found that using a prepared brownie mix works just as well.


1. Prepare brownies according to package directions. Cool completely.

2. In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugars. Add milk and vanilla; mix well. Beat in flour.
Spread cookie dough over the brownies. Chill until firm.

3. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and the shortening. Drizzle over the top of the brownies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Zuppa Toscana

This is my favorite soup at Olive Garden, and I was so happy to finally find a pretty-darn-good copy cat recipe!
Its hearty and satisfying - perfect during this great winter weather we've been having.

Zuppa Toscana
based on a version from Allrecipes. com, with some of my own changes


1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I like to use hot Italian sausage or even hot turkey Italian sausage, if I can find it)
1 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth
6 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup fat free half-and-half
1/2 bunch fresh kale, tough stems removed and leaves chopped
*The original recipe calls for heavy cream (I substituted fat free half-and-half ) and spinach (I use kale, which is what I think they use in the actual restaurant soup)


1. Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Add kale about halfway through the potato cooking time. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the half-and-half and the cooked sausage; heat through and serve.

My Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan is one of those things that everyone seems to have their own recipe/variation for. This is my version (technically my mom's I guess) - nothing fancy, just a plate of creamy goodness. My roommates loved when I made this in college, or rather, they loved fighting over the leftovers.

Note: This is the no-holds-barred/guilty pleasure/in no way diet-friendly/full-fat version. While its super easy to lighten up (using light soups and cheese), if you are really going to enjoy it this is the way to go :)

Chicken Divan


1 lb. fresh broccoli, chopped and steamed til fork-tender
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4 oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups hot cooked rice


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish.

2. Spread broccoli onto bottom of pan. Top with chicken.

3. In a medium bowl, combine soups, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and milk. Whisk to combine. Pour over the top of chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle cheese on top.

4. Bake 35-40 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Serve over prepared rice.

* There are lots of different ways to serve this...sometimes I actually include the cooked rice in the casserole, adding it as a layer between the broccoli and chicken, just for convenience. Its also delicious with some dried bread crumbs (mixed with a little melted butter) sprinkled over the top of the cheese. And, if you really want to go all out, serve the casserole in prepared puff pastry shells. DE-lightful.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baked Angel Hair with Eggplant

Holy Goodness.

This is another recipe that we have Giada De Laurentiis to thank for.

I must admit to serious skepticism before trying it out though. I mean:

Puff Pastry...Heaven.

But all together in one dish? Not sure how that was going to work out (especially with the puff pastry on both the top and the bottom), and I was bummed that there wasn't a picture posted to go along with it (and sorry, I forgot to take one as well)...but it definitely did not disappoint! Its like a fantastic little spaghetti pie that you just want to keep eating and eating and eating :)

Baked Angel Hair with Eggplant
from Giada De Laurentiis


1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 Japanese eggplants (about 2 lbs total), cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 lb. mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1/3 cup dry red wine
3 cups marinara sauce
1 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz. angel hair pasta
1 lb. mozzarella, diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 (17.25 oz) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed


1. Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the eggplant and toss to coat in the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute the eggplant until it is golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium. Add half of the garlic and saute until it is tender, about 2 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant mixture to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the remaining eggplant and garlic.

2. Add the sausage and wine to the same frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the wine evaporates and the sausage is brown, breaking the sausage into pieces with the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Add the sausage, marinara sauce, and crushed red pepper to the eggplant mixture, and toss to combine.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the angel hair and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until pasta is still slightly crunchy and undercooked. Drain. Toss the angel hair with the eggplant mixture. Cool completely. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan and toss to combine.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

5. Roll out 1 pastry sheet on a floured surface to a 13 1/2-inch square. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the rim. Spoon the pasta mixture into the pan. Place the second pastry sheet atop the pasta filling. Pinch the edges of the pastry sheets together to seal. Trim the overhanging pastry edges to about 1-inch. Fold the pastry edges in to form a decorative border. Cut a slit in the center of the top pastry to allow the steam to escape.

6. Bake until the pastry is brown and puffed on top, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes. Remove the pan sides and serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

I have to thank Marci for sharing this recipe on her recipe blog. I remember trying Tilapia once years ago and not liking it, and so avoided it ever since. But after reading her rave review on this recipe, I decided to give it another try and I'm glad I did! The fish cooks perfectly but the sauce is what it makes it fantastic!

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan
from Marci, who jazzed it up a bit from an version

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 pounds tilapia fillets (I don't know how much 2 lbs. is, I just use 4 fillets for Adam and I)


1. Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add spices: dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt (and garlic powder and red pepper flakes). Mix well and set aside.

3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes.

4. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Taquitos are one of my favorite "Mexican" foods, probably because they are a cousin to my most favorite food, nachos. This recipe (not sure where it came from) lightens things up a bit because they are baked not fried, but still delicious...especially when topped with lots of homemade guacamole!

Creamy Chicken Taquitos


1/3 cup (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 cup green salsa
1Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup grated pepperjack cheese
small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. Warm the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine, and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.
*You can prepare up to this step ahead of time; just refrigerate!

3. Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. Place 2-3 Tbsp. of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges, and then roll it up as tight as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Spray the tops of the tortilas lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

4. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

This is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe that I had to try because I recently discovered that I love its two main ingredients: yellow peppers and orzo. I've made this twice now, and the first time it was fantastic and I ate the leftover filling for days...but the second time it let me down a little bit and I wasn't as enamored. The only thing I did different was use a different kind of Italian sausage (which isn't even called for in the recipe, I just thought it would be a good addition), so maybe that's what made the difference. Guess I'll have to make it a third time to decide if its going to be a keeper!

*Photo from

Orzo Stuffed Peppers
from Giada De Laurentiis


1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes
2 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (I used basil instead of mint)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling (I used Parmesan)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
6 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)
*My addition - 1 lb. hot Italian sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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

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

4. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.

5. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully transfer the orzo stuffed pepper to a serving plate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Chowders

I like the New England white. Adam likes the Manhattan red. Instead of having to compromise, Chowder Night in our house often just features both.

Kirsten's Clam Chowder


2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 cups cubed red potatoes
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cans minced clams
1 bottle clam juice
2 cans chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half (can also use fat-free)


1. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and celery and saute 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Drain the juice from the minced clams over the vegetables and set the clams aside. Add clam juice, chicken broth, water, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until vegetables are tender.

2. In a large saucepan, melt 3/4 cup butter. Whisk in flour until smooth. Add half-and-half gradually, stirring constantly until thick.

3. Add hlaf-and-half mixture to the soup. Whisk to combine and heat through until thickened, but do not boil. Stir in clams just before serving.

* * *
Fire-Roasted Manhattan Clam Chowder
from Everyday with Rachael Ray


6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery with leafy greens, stalks and leaves finely chopped separately
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped
One 28-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
One 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
Two 10-ounce cans baby clams or chopped clams packed in water, liquid reserved
Salt and pepper


1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders, about 6 minutes; discard the fat. Add the olive oil and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and celery stalks and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the potato, the tomatoes and their juice and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the clams with their liquid and cook to warm through. Stir in the chopped celery leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Texas Trash Snack Mix

Every time we make this, Adam and I thank our good friend Heather for sharing the recipe with us! Its Chex Mix, but better. We always make a double or even a triple batch, because it never lasts long!

Texas Trash Snack Mix


1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups rice Chex
2 cups wheat Chex
4 oz. shoestring potatoes
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup salted nuts


1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Mix in Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt and garlic powder. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

2. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cajun Ham and Grits Pie

Grits for dinner? I was skeptical too, because the only time I'd ever tried grits was at Cracker Barrel (since they come with practically everything there), and even though I'd only sweetened them up with some butter and sugar. So I was hesitant as to how this recipe would turn out, but we really liked it!

Cajun Ham and Grits Pie
from Everyday with Rachael Ray


1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 1/4 cups shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (I used regular sharp cheddar)
4 Tbsp. butter
8 scallions, coarsely chopped
Two 8-ounce packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped smoked ham (I used smoked sausage)
1 1/2 cups store-bought chunky tomato or marinara sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a deep 10-inch pie pan. In a saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Stir in the grits, 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning, and 1/2 tsp. salt; cover, lower the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cooked, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup cheddar, 2 Tbsp. butter, 3 Tbsp. scallions and salt to taste. Pour into the prepared pie pan; spread evenly.

2. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and remaining scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the ham, tomato sauce and remaining 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

3. Pour the mushroom mixture over the grits. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar and bake until heated through and lightly browned, about 20 -25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Mexican Chicken

When Adam was growing up, his mom always made him and his brother suggest one thing they would like to have for dinner every week. Apparently, without fail, his brother would ask for this every single week.

Cheesy Mexican Chicken


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 oz) pkg shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 packet taco seasoning mix
3 cups corn chips


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish.

2. In a small bowl, combine soup, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, milk and taco seasoning. Spoon over chicken. Top with chips.

3. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Mini Cinnis

I got this recipe from They are heaven in a pan!!! So good and soo super easy!

2 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated Pillsbury crescent creation dough
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon milk (or more to make consistency to drizzle)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Unroll crescent dough, and cut each roll of dough down the center creating 2 rectangles (4 total).

Stir together butter and next 4 ingredients; it will be the consistency of frosting. Spread evenly over 1 side of each rectangle using the back side of a spoon. Roll up jellyroll fashion, starting at long end. Gently cut each log into 6 slices, using a serrated knife. Place rolls, 1/4 inch apart, into 2 (8-inch) greased cake pans. (8 on the outside edge and 3 in the center)

Bake at 375° for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. Cool for 10 minutes.

Stir together powdered sugar and remaining ingredients. Drizzle over warm rolls.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rice-a-Roni Chicken Salad

This salad can be found at every family BBQ. Its super easy and a nice side-dish variation from the typical potato or macaroni salads.

Rice-a-Roni Chicken Salad


2 boxes chicken flavor Rice-a-Roni
1 cup cooked chicken
½ cup onion, finely chopped
¾ cup celery, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. seasoned salt


1. Prepare Rice-a-Roni according to package directions. Place in a large bowl and chill in fridge for 2-3 hours or until completely cooled.

2. Remove cooled rice from fridge. Mix in remaining ingredients; use more or less mayonnaise depending on dryness. Cover and refrigerate until just before serving.

Veggie Pizza

I'm posting this recipe not because I love it, but because everyone else always seems to! Something about all those fresh veggies doesn't appeal to me and I end up picking half the toppings off :)

Veggie Pizza


2 cans crescent rolls
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. dill weed
¼ cup each: diced green pepper, diced red onion, diced cucumber, sliced black olives, chopped mushrooms, diced tomato, alfalfa sprouts, and cheddar cheese (or anything else you would like!)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread rolls onto a pizza pan. Bake 10 min. Cool completely.

2. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, cream cheese, and dill. Spread over crescent rolls.

3. Sprinkle veggies and cheese on top and serve.

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

This is a fantastic recipe for rotisserie chicken - just like the kind you can pick up at the grocery store or Costco, but better and cheaper! Due to the long, slow roasting time, this is a favorite Sunday night dinner at our house, and I like being able to use the leftovers in other meals throughout the week. Note that you are supposed to prepare the chicken and refrigerate it for at least 4-6 hours before baking, but I always get it ready the day before and let it sit overnight, and it always comes out perfect!

Roast Sticky Chicken - Rotisserie Style

Recipe from


4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 onions, quartered
2 (4 pound) whole chickens
*My note: The recipe says its for 2 chickens, however I always do the full recipe of the spice mixture but only make 1 chicken (and use 1 onion), and I think its the perfect amount of seasoning...I would suggest doubling the spice mixture if you were actually going to make 2 chickens


1. In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub each chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Place 1 onion into the cavity of each chicken. Place chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

3. Place chickens in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let the chickens stand for 10 minutes before carving.

*Another note: I like the chicken to cook evenly all the way around, and since we don't have a rotisserie, I cover an empty tin can (i.e. a green beans can) with foil, stand it up in the middle of the roasting pan and place the chicken on it, so the chicken is upright in the oven.

Pudding Dessert

Its kind of sad that this dessert has been a staple at our family functions for years and years, and yet we've never been able to come up with a more creative title for it! But don't be fooled - though it has a simple name and simple ingredients, its delightful!

Pudding Dessert


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick margarine, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 (12 oz.) containers whipped topping
2 pkgs. chocolate instant pudding
3 cups milk
Topping of your choice (chocolate chips or shaved Heath bar are two favorites)


1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs together with the butter and press into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 1 container whipped topping. Blend until smooth. Spread over the graham crackers.

3. In another bowl, combine the pudding and milk. Spread over the whipped topping.

4. Frost with the remaining whipped topping and top with a chocolate delight of your choice!

Orange Chicken

As is my recipe! I've had this one for so long I'm not even sure where it came from. A bit time-consuming with frying up all the chicken (especially if you are cooking for a crowd - even using our deep fryer doesn't save much time), but worth it!

Orange Chicken


2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2” pieces
1 egg
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. pepper
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
½ cup flour

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1 Tbsp. minced ginger root
1 tsp. minced garlic
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil

1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce
1 ½ Tbsp. water
5 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
Grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup orange juice


1. In large bowl, combine the egg, salt, and pepper. Mix together the cornstarch and flour in another bowl; add to egg mixture. Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat.

2. Heat oil in deep fryer (or large frying pan). Add chicken and fry for 3-4 min. or until golden. Remove chicken, drain, and set aside.

3. In wok, heat 1 Tbsp. oil, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add and stir-fry onions. Add rice wine vinegar and stir for 3 seconds.

4. In small bowl, combine soy sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, zest, and orange juice. Add to wok and bring to a boil. Add chicken and stir until mixed. Stir in sesame oil. Simmer until heated through.

Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

Cheesy potatoes? Yes, please! And its no secret that Cracker Barrel makes the best ones. Since there isn't one close by though, we make do with this pretty good copy-cat recipe!


1 26 oz. bag frozen shredded hash browns
2 cups shredded Colby cheese
½ cup minced onion
1 cup milk
½ cup beef broth
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
dash garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In large bowl, combine hash browns, cheese, and onion.

3. Combine milk, broth, half the melted butter, and seasonings in another bowl. Mix until well blended, then pour over hash browns and mix well.

4. Heat remaining butter in a skillet. Spoon in hash browns. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.

5. Place in a lightly greased baking dish and bake 45-60 min. or until surface is golden brown.

Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Oh, Breakfast. How I love thee. If I could only have one meal every day, I would choose breakfast. Yuuummm.

I made this casserole for Christmas Brunch and it was a hit. I put it together the day before, so all I had to do on Christmas morning was pop it in the oven. The croutons bake up nice and fluffy and light, so its a nice change from heavier, potato-based breakfast casseroles.

I couldn't find a good picture, but the recipe is from

Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole


2 1/2 cups seasoned croutons (I didn't bother measuring and just used a whole box)
1 lb. spicy pork sausage
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach - thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained and chopped
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish


1. Spread croutons on bottom of greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Crumble sausage into medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally. Drain off any drippings. Spread sausage over croutons.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended. Stir in soup, spinach, mushrooms, cheeses and mustard. Pour egg mixture over sausage and croutons. Refrigerate overnight.

3. The next morning, preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until set and lightly browned on top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve hot.

Blackened Shrimp Stroganoff

I've been making this pasta for a while, and I'm not sure but I think I got the recipe from (and that's where I got the picture from). Super simple and easy to throw together. I love the flavor that the roasted red pepper adds, and even though its a "creamy" pasta you can make it pretty guilt-free by using light butter and reduced-fat/fat-free sour cream.

Blackened Shrimp Stroganoff


1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
6 oz. fettuccini pasta
1 Tbsp. butter
3 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped shallots
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers (I usually just get 1 or 2 fresh red peppers, and roast/peel/chop it up myself)
1 Tbsp. drained capers (I've never added these...)


1. Combine peeled shrimp, oil, and Cajun seasoning in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. Cook and stir mushrooms and shallot in butter until tender. Remove from pan. Add shrimp cook until shrimp turn pink about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Add 2/3 cup chicken broth to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until reduced to 1/4 cup (2 to 3 minutes).

4. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and cornstarch; mix in 1 cup chicken broth. Stir into reduced chicken broth in the frying pan. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Cook 1 minute more. Stir in shrimp, mushroom mixture, roasted red peppers, and capers. Heat through, and season to taste. Serve over pasta.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

I LOVE soup. I could eat it for every meal.

This is one of my favorites because it is super easy to put together, light and fresh, and has just the right amount of sass and spice! We like to enjoy it with lots of avocado and fresh, homemade tortilla chips.

*Photo from

Mexican Chicken Lime Soup
From the Sept 2009 edition of Everyday with Rachael Ray


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
*I usually add a little more because we like things pretty spicy, but if you aren't a fan of heat, I would suggest either only adding one chopped chile or adding no chiles and just the adobo sauce
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper
1 hass avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
Crushed tortilla chips


1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, lower the heat to medium and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes.

2. Increase the heat to high, push the vegetables to the side of the pan, add the chicken and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chipotles and adobo sauce, then stir in the chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.

3. Place 2 avocado slices in each of 6 soup bowls and pour in the soup. Top with the tortilla chips.

Perfect Enchiladas

My new favorite recipe for enchiladas comes from Pioneer Woman. The sauce is so good we eat it just with chips and have used it on other things like pork tacos....yuuummm!

*Picture from PW

They are a bit time consuming, but you can get the sauce and meat prepared ahead of time to cut down on the prep time.


1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
1 can (28 Ounce) Enchilada Or Red Sauce
2 cups Chicken Broth
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
1-½ pounds Ground Beef
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
½ teaspoons Seasoned Salt
10 whole (to 14) Corn Tortillas
½ cups Canola Oil
3 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ cup Chopped Black Olives
1 cup Chopped Green Onions
½ cup Chopped Cilantro

Preparation Instructions

Step #1 – The Sauce.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

* My note: I find the sauce is still pretty runny after the suggested cooking time, which is fine for the enchiladas...but when we used it for pork tacos, I let it simmer for several hours and it thickened up really nicely.

Step #2 – The Meat.
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas.
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.


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