Friday, December 30, 2011

Pepper Jack Potato Soup

Thanks to Marci for sharing another great recipe! I really liked this one, so much that I didn't mind having it as leftovers the following night - and I rarely go for leftovers! Like Marci, I was pleasantly surprised at how creamy it turned out despite using fat-free evaporated milk. And the pepper jack added a little twist to the traditional potato soup, making this a perfect cold winter's night soup.

Recipe posted here as my adaptation (see the link to Marci's blog above for the original)


 3 strips of bacon (plus extra for garnish, so I used about 7)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced 1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth 2 cups cubed russet potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized)
1/4 cup butter
 1/4 cup flour
 1 (12 oz) can fat-free evaporated milk
 8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt


 1. Fry the bacon, crumble and set aside.

 2. Heat the oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and the bell peppers; cook and stir just until the onions are soft. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer about 20 minutes, or until carrots are cooked.

 3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a medium saucepan until they are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the soup with bacon (reserving some to crumble on top). Wipe out the pan if necessary and use if for the next step.

 4. Melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and turn the heat up slightly and whisk until the mixture is bubbly. Add the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Add to the soup.

 5. Stir in the cheese and continue to cook until the cheese melts. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with additional bacon garnish.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lasagna Roll-ups

A little less time-consuming than a traditional lasagna, with all the same taste! I went with a spinach and mushroom combination for these, but you can use any filling you time I'm going with a chicken and alfredo mix!


8 lasagna noodles
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
10 oz. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
2 oz. (1/4 block) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (26 oz) jar marinara sauce


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain.

3. In a medium skillet,combine olive oil and Worcestershire sauce over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

4. In a large bowl, combine spinach, Ricotta, cream cheese, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Mix well and season with basil, salt and pepper. Stir in mushroom mixture.

5. Lay out lasagna noodles on parchment paper or foil. Spread about 2-3 Tbsp. filling across each noodle, leaving about 1" free on one end. Roll up noodle over filling, then place seam side down in a square baking dish. Top with marinara sauce and remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted and golden, about 25 minutes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

I'd neither had nor even heard of pork tenderloin sandwiches until I went to Iowa for the first time several years ago. They are a big Midwest thing, and its a little sad they haven't made their way out West because they are DE-licious! I mean, its fried pork on a bun, how could it not be good?

I finally tried my hand at making these at home, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy they are AND how fantastic they taste. Yes, its like a chicken sandwich, but why can't the other white meat get in on the game? One plus to the pork is that you can pound it so much thinner, which I like, and that it literally takes just a few minutes of frying to come out golden and crispy and perfectly cooked through. So glad I don't have to go all the way to Iowa for my fix!


1 pound pork tenderloin*
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Additional onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder (if bread crumbs are not pre-seasoned)
Canola oil, for frying
4 large hamburger buns, split and toasted
Optional toppings:
Sliced onion
Dill pickle slices
Mustard, Mayo, BBQ Sauce

*Note: I used a pre-packaged pork tenderloin that was 1 1/2 lbs, and for 4 sandwiches I only used less than half of it. So, depending on how many mouths you have to feed, 1 lb. of tenderloin may actually be too much or just right. I chopped up the rest of mine and stewed it for some shredded pork that I was able to get 2 full meals out of it!


1. Slice pork tenderloin crosswise into 4 pieces, each about 1 " thick. Place one piece cut side up on between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with a meat mallet until about 1/4" thick. Repeat with remaining 3 slices.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs and additional onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder (optional).

3. Pour oil into a large frying pan, enough to cover the bottom. Heat over medium-high.

4. Dredge a piece of pork in the flour until well-coated. Shake off any excess. Dip in egg and coat both sides. Transfer to the bread crumbs and coat both sides. Shake off any excess, then add to the hot oil. Repeat with remaining pork slices. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately on toasted buns with desired toppings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday "Baking"

I love holiday baking that doesn't actually involve an oven, so these two recipes are perfect for me! Peppermint bark and a 3-minute fudge means a pretty platter of goodies that I can whip up in less than 20 minutes!

Peppermint Bark

2 pounds white chocolate
1 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (you can also use a microwave, just check and stir often!). Stir in crushed candy canes. Spread onto a sheet pan lined with foil or waxed paper. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour or until set. Break apart into pieces and enjoy!

3-Minute Fudge

This is so easy, and you can use any combination of "chips" that you want! See here for the recipe I used.

I have two suggestions below to make either a chocolate/butterscotch fudge with toffee bits, or a dark chocolate/mint fudge with peppermint sprinkles.

 2 bags "chips", any flavor*
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Toppings and Mix-ins, optional

Basic recipe: Combine chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Microwave on high 3 minutes, stirring about every 30-45 seconds. Stir in mix-ins (optional). Pour into a square baking dish lined with foil. Top with additional mix-ins or toppings (also optional). Chill in refrigerator until hardened and cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

*Some recommended combinations:
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips + 1 bag butterscotch chips (with Heath Toffee Bits mixed-in and sprinkled on top)
1 bag dark chocolate & mint chips (a seasonal find) + 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (with crushed candy canes on top)
Also...a chocolate and peanut butter chip combination would be fantastic!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pork and Noodle Stir Fry

This recipe from Food & Wine was a great way to use up some cheap pork tenderloin I picked up a while back. Simple ingredients and flavors, but it was pretty good and actually tasted great re-heated the next day too. The only change I would make is in the type of noodles I used, which were dry udon noodles. I think ramen or fresh udon would work better, so I'll be changing it up next time.


8 ounces Japanese curly noodles or instant ramen
3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large eggs, beaten
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (I used cremini)
2 heads baby bok choy, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick


1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain and rinse under cold water. In a measuring cup, mix the stock with the soy sauce, Shaoxing, sesame oil and crushed red pepper. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the water.

2. In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a plate. Add the eggs to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until set, about 1 minute. Transfer the eggs to the plate. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the skillet and stir-fry over moderately high heat until browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pork to the plate with the garlic and egg.

3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the bok choy and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the noodles and soy sauce and cornstarch mixtures and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, egg, pork and any accumulated juices and cook, tossing until the pork is heated through, 1 minute. Transfer to bowls and serve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

We've been eating a lot of pumpkin bread around here lately, because a) we still have a lot of pumpkin puree in the freezer, from cooking and pureeing our Halloween pumpkins, b) because its just so darn easy to make, and c) because its delicious!

My go-to recipe is below, super simple and it really does come out practically perfect every time.

Pumpkin Bread


3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup water


1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs. Add pumpkin and mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to the pumpkin mixture alternately with water.

2. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack; cool completely.

Note: Homemade pumpkin puree works great in this recipe in place of canned pumpkin. After Halloween, I cut up and roasted our pumpkins, then scooped out the flesh and pureed it until smooth. I then put the puree into a muffin pan and froze, each muffin cup holds about 1/2 cup puree. Once frozen, remove from the muffin pan and put the little purees in a freezer bag, and defrost as needed for pumpkin recipes! Much better and cheaper than the canned stuff!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spinach-stuffed Eggplant Rollatini

A little sad that the best picture I could get of this was on my 2 year-olds plate - I should have taken some pictures before they baked - but the consolation to that is that she liked it so much she ate it all!

I originally was going to make this dish with chicken, but after finding some lovely-looking eggplant on sale, I decided to go the vegetarian route instead. Luckily that turned out to be a good choice! And after searching for some inspiration for the filling, I decided to come up with my own based on what I had on hand. The final product was fabulous! I think the eggplant was a perfect "wrapper" (but honestly, when is fried eggplant not good?), and the filling was creamy and cheesy and it all worked together perfectly. I really like cooking with eggplant, so I'm glad to have another option (especially a meatless one) to add to the rotation!


1 eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices (I had 8 total slices)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Canola oil, for frying
1 (8 ounce) package low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 (24 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (8 ounce) package angel hair pasta


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

*Optional step, to reduce the possibility of bitterness: Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 15 minutes to "sweat" - you'll see beads of moisture appear on the slices. Rinse eggplant and pat dry.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl. Dip the eggplant slices in egg, then coat with bread crumbs. Fry the eggplant on each side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine cream cheese, spinach, mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well.

4. Spread a few tablespoons of the spinach mixture onto each slice of eggplant. Roll up tightly, and place seam-side down in a 2 qt. baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over the rolls, and top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.

5. While the eggplant is baking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the angel hair pasta and cook about 4 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

6. Serve eggplant rolls and sauce over the pasta.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Perfect Fish Batter

I came across the recipe for this basic batter, and decided to try it on some cod I had been planning to make. I wasn't expecting it to be so good, but for me this really was the perfect fish batter! It coats the fish just right, and when you fry it comes out super light and very crispy.

The cod started like this...

...turned out like this...

...and was practically perfect in the fish tacos we enjoyed last night. My husband and I kept raving to each other how good our dinner was!

*That slaw you see on the taco was my husband's creation, and it was a-mazing! Too bad he cooks like me and just adds a little of this and that and doesn't keep track of how he makes something...I told him he must try to re-create it so I can share it!

But back to the batter, it would work great on any type of fish, or shrimp, and I'm going to try onion rings next...the possibilities are endless!

Basic Fish Batter

3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water

Sift together the dry ingredients. Add water and stir to combine.

*Notes: The consistency should be a little thinner than cake batter. I added more than 3/4 cup water to get it this way, so just add a little at a time to get it perfect.

I also added some garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder to the batter as well, but the spices really didn't come through much, which was perfect for making tacos since the yummy slaw we had on top packed lots of flavor. If I was going to enjoy the fish on its own though I would probably experiment a little more with some seasonings to give it a little extra flavor.

Biscuit Taco Cups - No Recipe Needed

These cute little guys are something I came up with as a fun alternative to a traditional taco. The best part is - no recipe needed!

Press biscuit dough (I use the large, Pillsbury "Grands" biscuits) into muffin tin, pushing into the bottom and up around the sides of each muffin cup.

Fill each biscuit cup with some prepared taco meat (the meat will help to hold the biscuit in shape). I like to add some salsa to the meat as well for a little extra flavor. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake until the biscuits are puffed up and golden. Pop out of the muffin tins, and top with shredded lettuce, black olives, sour cream, more salsa and cheese, etc.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lemon Chicken Puff

I'd seen this recipe on Marci's blog and had always been curious about it (exactly how does that puff work?), but never got around to trying it until now. This dish is like two of my favorites...a chicken pot pie with just a bottom crust...or the chicken divan that I like to serve with biscuits or puff pustry cups on the side, but here the biscuit is built right in! I liked all the veggies and the filling had good flavor, just a hint of lemon. My curiosity about the puff was also solved, it just puffs right up as it bakes - wow :) This one is also so easy to put together, and I'm going to be on the hunt for more fillings for this fun puff!

From On My Menu


*Popover Puff:
3 T. butter, divided
1 c. milk
6 eggs
1 c. flour
1/2 t. salt

*Chicken and Veggie Filling:
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper (or more)
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt 2 T. butter in microwave and whisk together with milk and eggs. Put 1 T. butter in bottom of baking dish and place in oven until melted.

2. Add flour and salt to egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into dish (on the melted butter) and bake 20 min. (I take out the top rack in my oven - it's gets pretty "puffed")

3. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 10-15 more minutes until puffed and golden brown.

4. While the shell is baking, melt 1 T. butter in large sauce pan and stir in carrots, broccoli, potatoes and onion. Cook until veggies are tender. Add lemon juice, chicken and cream of chicken soup. Stir in spices and continue stirring until heated through. Stir in cheese keep warm until the puff is ready.

5. Remove puff from oven and allow to cool and middle to fall, forming a shell.
Spoon filling into center of puff and enjoy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Turkey Suiza Tamale Pie

As always, you'll have to excuse the less-than-stellar pictures. This time I not only blame my lack of photography skills, but also the fact that this one was just not very photogenic. It lookedp pretty in the pan but not so much served up on the plate. Luckily it made up for it in taste! I actually saw this recipe on an episode of Rachael Ray's talk show, and it sounded interesting and looked really good as she made it, so I had to look up the recipe and try it. I had never cooked with polenta before, and this was a good introduction to it. I'm definitely a fan...Must find more polenta recipes!

The final product has almost a shepherd's pie feel...meat mixture on the bottom, polenta subbing for the mashed potatoes, and lots (lots!) of cheese on top. It reheated very well the next day too. I definitely want to make this one again!

Note: I followed the recipe almost exactly as-is, but only used 1 lb. ground turkey. I would suggest using the 2 lbs. as written, because with one I did have to drain off some of the sauce so it wouldn't be so runny.

From Rachael Ray


3 poblano chili peppers
2 large jalapeƱo peppers
6 tomatillos, husks peeled
1 quart chicken stock, divided
A small handful cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cumin, 1/3 palmful
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey breast or dark meat, patted dry
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 bottle of lager beer
1/2 cup sour cream or heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking polenta or cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup Chihuahua cheese, queso Asadero or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Red onion rings, for garnish


1. Heat broiler to high with the rack in the upper third of oven. Char peppers and tomatillos, turning peppers occasionally to char evenly all over. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool. Peel and seed peppers.

2. Place charred peppers, tomatillos, 2 cups stock, cilantro, salt, pepper, honey and cumin in food processor and process until smooth.

3. Meanwhile, heat a large, cast-iron or other heavy pan over medium-high heat with oil, 2 turns of the pan. When oil smokes, brown and crumble meat then add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook to soften onions, 5 minutes. Deglaze with beer and stir in salsa. Bring to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Stir in sour or heavy cream.

4. In a saucepot, heat remaining 2 cups stock and milk. Whisk in polenta or cornmeal and let thicken 2-3 minutes until very thick but still pourable. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in butter. Spread the corn topping over the turkey filling, place under the broiler and char to set polenta. Top with cheese then melt cheese under broiler. Serve directly from skillet, topped with red onion rings.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

I love Fall because of all the great new recipe options it brings - especially for pumpkin! I was a little skeptical about this recipe at first, despite reading all the great reviews, just because I wasn't sure how the pumpkin/sausage combination would come together, especially with the cinnamon and nutmeg...but I'm glad I decided to try it because it is a definite winner! The final dish is a yummy, creamy pasta with a subtle pumpkin flavor that is just perfect. And sprinkled with some extra sage (which I LOVE) this dish just says "Fall" to me. I better stock up on canned pumpkin now so I can make this one all year long!

From Rachael Ray


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade,about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating (I used Parmesan)
Pumpernickel or whole grain bread, as an accompaniment


1. Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

2. Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

3. Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas

I found this recipe on Everyday Food, and Marci had also posted an adaptation on her blog, so I decided to stray from our usual Perfect Enchiladas and try this...and I was glad I did! I used elements from both versions to make mine. I love chipotle flavor and was already planning on doing my favorite Mexican Chicken Lime Soup this week, so this was a great way to get more use out of the chipotles I was going to buy anyway. The only thing I worry about with chipotles is that they can be too overwhelming, but this sauce used just the right amount where the flavor comes through without too much heat. I'm already trying to think of more ways I can use this sauce!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from can
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8-10 corn tortillas (6-inch)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


1. Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add flour and cook, whisking occasionally, 1 minute. Add broth, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, chipotle and adobo sauce, and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat, stir in 1/4 cup cilantro and simmer until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

2. Make filling: In a nonstick skillet, add onion, garlic, and beef; season with salt, pepper, and some cumin (optional). Cook, stirring, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 450°. Spoon 1/4 cup sauce in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside. Make enchiladas: Heat tortillas about 30-45 seconds in the microwave to soften. Fill each with a heaping 1/4 cup beef mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese; tightly roll up.

4. Arrange enchiladas, seam side down, in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with additional cilantro.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Turkey and Roasted Red Pepper Panini - No Recipe Needed

I've never been a sandwich person, so I blame my recent interest in them on this pregnancy. The flavors of this one all work really well together, and the ciabatta is the perfect bread to use because it gets nice and crispy once cooked. And, you can definitely change it up according to what you have on hand!

Here's the basics:

Ciabatta roll (I got individual sized ones from the bakery section)

Wholly Guacamole (or mix some fresh avocado with a little mayo)

Sliced turkey breast

Roasted red peppers

Baby spinach

Pepperjack cheese

Cut the ciabatta roll in half and spread both sides with guacamole. Top one side with turkey, red peppers strips, spinach and cheese, then top with the other side of the roll. I don't have a panini maker, so I put a little olive oil on the outside of the roll and then cooked in a pan, weighing it down with some heavy pans, a few minutes on each side until the cheese melts and the bread crisps. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chicken Tamale Casserole

I didn't take a picture of this one, but trust me when I say you need to make this! Its definitely going to be added in to our regular rotation. Easy to put together and its simply delicious...even my almost 2 year-old willingly cleaned her plate.

I wanted leftovers, so I sort-of doubled the corn bread mixture but left everything else the same and I actually think it turned out perfect that way. I posted my version here, but you can see the original recipe from Cooking Light here.


1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
2/3 cup fat-free milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
2 (8.5-ounce) boxes corn muffin mix
1 (7-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I cooked a breast, then shredded it and simmered it a while in some water with taco seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin)
1/2 cup sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into pieces; top each serving with sour cream.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fettucine Carbonara

Pasta. Cream. BACON.

It doesn't get any better than that.


2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
12 oz. bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fettucine
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup half-and-half, at room temperature
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, at room temperature
1 - 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until the onions are translucent and the bacon is beginning to crisp. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the fettucine according to package directions until al dente, about 11-12 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and return to pan. Add in the bacon and onion mixture. Stir over high heat until pasta is coated with the pancetta mixture.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and half-and-half and add to the pasta, along with the Parmesan and mushrooms. Remove the pot from the heat and toss the pasta until it is well-coated and the egg has had time to cook. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shrimp Rolls

I've been craving seafood lately, especially shellfish. And since it seems as though we only enjoy shrimp two ways - in tacos or in pasta - I decided to come up with something a little different this week. These sandwiches, loosely based on a lobster roll, were fabulous. For never having made something like this before, I was surprised at how great the shrimp mixture turned out(it would be great on crackers as an appetizer too!), and these were a perfect meal to be enjoyed on a hot summer evening.


1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt (or Old Bay)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh crab meat (optional)
4 sandwich rolls
A few pinches of dried dill weed


1. In a small bowl, combine shrimp, seasoned salt, chili powder, and paprika. Mix well. heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until pink and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the shrimp from pan and reserve any remaining liquid/butter from the pan. Cut shrimp in half and let cool slightly.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, celery salt, green onion and crab meat (I had some snow crab that I removed from the shell and used for this; not necessary but I love crab and it did add great flavor!). Stir in cooled shrimp. Let rest in the refirgerator at least 30 minutes.

3. Preheat broiler. Cut a v-shaped slit in the top of each sandwich roll and remove the top. Scrape out any excess bread from the center. Brush the inside of the rolls with the reserved shrimp butter, and sprinkle with dill weed. Broil 2-3 minutes until butter melts and bread begins to crisp.

4. To serve, stuff rolls with the shrimp mixture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chile Rellenos...the best ones I've made so far!

Just thinking about the yumminess above makes me crave them...and I would probably make these at least once a week if they weren't so time consuming! I know I've posted a recipe for these before but this one does things a little differently, with fabulous results. The batter is perfect and the sauce has the a great flavor to complement the chiles. Of course its much easier to just order these at a restaurant and have someone else make them, but when I am feeling ambitious this is going to be my new go-to recipe for making these.

Chile Rellenosadapted from

4 large poblano peppers
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour for dredging

1 (14.5 ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Cholula®)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 egg whites at room temperature
1 egg yolk, beaten

1/4 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
1 cup oil for frying, or as needed
sour cream for garnish


1.Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack at about 6 inches from the heat source. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place the peppers onto the prepared baking sheet.

2.Cook under the preheated broiler until the skin of the peppers has blackened and blistered, 8 to 10 minutes per side. When the peppers are about 80 percent blackened, place them a plastic bag, seal, and allow the peppers to steam as they cool, about 20 minutes. Once cool, remove the skins and discard. Cut a slit lengthwise into the side of each pepper, and remove seeds and veins. To reduce spiciness, rinse out any remaining seeds with water. Pat the peppers dry with paper towels.

3.Mix together the shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and Cheddar cheese in a bowl until thoroughly blended. Divide the cheese into 4 portions, and squeeze each portion lightly in your hands to make a cone shape. Insert a cone into the slit in each pepper, and pin the openings closed with toothpicks. Dredge each pepper in flour, dust off the excess, and place on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. Place the peppers in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

4.To make sauce, blend the stewed tomatoes in a blender until pureed, and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook and stir the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook and stir for about 30 seconds, and pour in the pureed tomatoes, chicken broth, vinegar, oregano, cumin, black pepper, hot pepper sauce, and cinnamon. Reduce to medium-low, and simmer the sauce until reduced by half and thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring often.

5.Preheat an oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C), and warm a platter in the oven.

6.To make batter and finish the chiles rellenos, mix 1/3 cup flour with salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until the whites form stiff peaks. Lightly mix the egg yolk and flour-salt mixture into the egg whites to make a fluffy batter. Remove peppers from freezer and coat them in flour again; shake off excess flour, and dip each pepper into the egg batter, using a spoon to gently but completely coat each pepper with batter.

7.Heat frying oil in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Gently lay the coated peppers into the hot oil, and fry on both sides until the batter is golden brown and the cheese filling is hot, about 5 minutes per side. Remove peppers to warmed platter while you finish frying. To serve, ladle a generous spoonful of sauce onto plate, and place pepper on sauce. Serve peppers hot with a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Eggs in Purgatory with Salami

* Photo and recipe from Food Network

A little something different for dinner...I like throwing an egg dish in there every so often because then it feels like breakfast, and I can do breakfast all day every day :)

The salami isn't crucial so you could leave that out to make it more vegetarian-friendly - but definitely don't omit the crusty bread to eat it with!


2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 oz. deli-sliced salami, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Italian green frying pepper, thinly sliced (I couldn't find this, so I used an Anaheim pepper)
1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup tomato puree or marinara sauce
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
8 large eggs
2 Tbsp. grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
Crusty bread, for serving


1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. Increase the heat to high and add the salami, onion, peppers and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until the salami starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and 1/2 cup water and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Reduce the heat to medium. Scatter the parsley leaves into the skillet. Make 4 indentations in the pepper mixture for the eggs. Break 2 eggs into a small bowl, then pour both into one of the indentations. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Cover and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are cooked to desired doneness. Serve with the bread.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Linguine with Eggplant Ragout

From Rachael Ray magazine. A yummy, light summer supper!


2 eggplants (about 2 lbs)
1 lb. linguine pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (my addition)
1 - 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh basil


1. Preheat oven to 350. Pierce the eggplants all over, place on a baking sheet and cook until very soft, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly, then cut each eggplant in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl; discard the skin.

2. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook the linguine until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and cook until the liquid has reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the eggplant; heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add the pasta and basil; toss to coat. Add the reserved pasta and cooking water as needed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup

The story behind this soup is that I saw a recipe for something similar in a magazine in the Orlando airport and it looked so good...but I didn't buy the magazine and by the time I got home I had totally forgotten which one it was, and I couldn't stop thinking about that soup! I therefore decided to come up with my own version and see if it turned out how I was hoping it would - and luckily it did! I am a definite soup lover, but I've never been a big fan of homemade chicken noodle soup (okay I'll confess that I did consume an insane amount of the Campbell's condensed variety in college, though!), but the "Asian-style" twist turns this into something I'll be making again and again.


1/2 lb. (1/2 box) linguine or other noodle-type pasta
6 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. Sriracha
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (or more, if desired)
1/4 cup cilantro, cilantro
4 green onions, chopped
Crispy wonton skins, for garnish


1. Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large pot, combine chicken broth and the next 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in bok choy and chicken, and cook 3-4 minutes, until bok choy is slightly wilted. Turn off heat and add in linguine, cilantro, and green onions. Serve piping hot, garnished with crispy wonton skins.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Salmon Burgers

This is a fantastic alternative to a traditional burger, and one that you can easily make year-round since you don't need a grill. The salmon gets flavored nicely so that it's not too fishy tasting, and the bacon adds just the perfect amount of crunch.

original recipe from Rachael Ray magazine (listed with my changes)

1 (14.7 oz) can salmon, drained and picked over
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley, divided
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oi
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lemon, halved, plus grated peel
4 hamburger buns
4 slices cooked bacon


1. In a large bowl, combine the salmon, breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp. parsley, the egg and mustard. Shape into 4 patties.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the patties and cook, turning once, until golden, about 4 minutes on each side.

3. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon peel, and remaining 2 Tbsp. parsley. Spread the mayo on the bottom half of each hamburger bun. Top each with a salmon patty, a bacon slice, and the top half of the bun.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

Every so often, I get a craving for buffalo wing sauce. Not the actual wings themselves, just the sauce. Weird, I know. The cravings got really bad when I was pregnant with my first child. And you can't very well just chug the sauce out of the bottle, that would be even weirder.

So to satisfy this craving, I usually end up going with some sort of boneless "wing", since I'm not a huge fan of the messy traditional ones. These little nuggets definitely satisfied a craving tonight, and what I liked most about them is that you just get the subtle wing flavor without it being too overpowering (or messy!), and the sauce adds the perfect kick to a plain nugget. This just might be how I satisfy my cravings from now on.


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1/3 cup Frank's Red Hot
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
Vegetable oil, for frying (about 1/4 cup)
Ranch or blue cheese, for dipping


1. Combine chicken and Frank's in a large bowl. Refrigerate at least an hour (preferably a few hours).

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt, and paprika. Remove chicken from sauce and toss in flour to coat, then place in skillet. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Serve with ranch or blue cheese.

Note: You can also pound the chicken out and cut into large patties, and prepare using the same directions, then place on hamburger buns to make buffalo chicken sandwiches.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Slow Cooker Latin Chicken

I realize the picture above looks like a funky pile of beans, but let me assure you that the flavors of this one were great. It was a little change from the usual chicken crockpot meal, and I think we'll be making this one again (posted recipe includes my changes).

Slow Cooker Latin Chicken
from Allrecipes Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. chicken thighs salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, divided
1 large sweet potato, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup hot salsa
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
lime wedges, for garnish


1.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet; season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cilantro over the chicken thighs; brown the chicken in the frying pan, 3 to 5 minutes each side.

2. Arrange the chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, and black beans on top of the chicken. Mix together the chicken broth, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, salsa, cumin, allspice, and garlic together in a bowl; pour into the slow cooker. Set slow cooker to LOW and cook for 4 hours. Garnish with lime wedges to serve (we put it all over plain rice, with some corn tortillas on the side).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No Recipe Needed - Tortilla Pizza

Top a large flour (or whole wheat) tortilla with some salsa verde, cilantro, cheese, taco meat, black olives and whatever else you like...bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese is melted...yum!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baked Chicken Linguine

A little different way to serve up a chicken pasta...creamy and hearty and the french fried onion topping adds a perfect little bit of crunch.


1/2 lb. (1/2 box) linguine
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped onion
1 - 8 oz. pkg white mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped (about 3 loosely-packed cups)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 small can (2.8 oz) french fried onions


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook linguine according to package directions; drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat olive oil and Worcestershire over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, combine soups, mayo, milk, and lemon juice. Stir in chicken and spinach mixture, then stir in linguine. Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 baking dish.

4. Bake 25 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Top with french fried onions and cook 5 minutes more.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chinese 5-Spice Oven Fried Chicken

I took this one from Marci's blog (she got it from Family Circle), because I'm always looking for new, easy ways to make chicken the whole family will like. This recipe did not disappoint...the panko make for a crispy coating and the Chinese 5-Spice was a nice flavor that differed from our usual offerings. The only thing I would add for this is a dipping sauce, so I'll work on that for next time.


1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 broiler-fryer chicken (about 3-1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces, skin removed (I used 2 really big chicken breasts)

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit a large rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack. Coat rack with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a shallow dish, whisk together panko, Chinese five spice and salt. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together honey, 1 tablespoon warm water and lemon juice.

3. Dip each piece of chicken into the honey mixture, shaking off excess. Roll in the panko mixture, pressing to adhere and place on the prepared rack.

4. Bake chicken pieces at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes. Spritz chicken with nonstick cooking spray and bake an additional 30 minutes or until internal temperature registers 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (I only baked mine an additional 15 minutes and the chicken was done)

5. Remove chicken from oven and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

I enjoy a good bowl of French Onion soup any way its prepared, but that extra time in the crock pot really does make a difference in both mellowing and enhancing the flavor of the onions. There is still a little prep time required at the beginning for this one, but luckily it isn't one you will "set it and forget it" because of the yummy smell throughout the house all day :)


3 Tbsp. butter
4 large onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups beef broth
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
Sliced crusty bread, lightly toasted
Sliced cheese (Swiss, Mozzarella, or Gruyere)


1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat until onions and soft and lightly caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.

2. Transfer onion and garlic to slow cooker. Add broth, Worcestershire, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

3. To serve, place soup in oven-safe bowls and put bowls on a large cookie sheet. Top soup with bread, then a few slices of cheese. Place cookie sheet on top rack of oven, and broil 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Baked Herb Tilapia

An easy way to cook tilapia (or any other flaky white fish), using ingredients you probably all have on hand. Feel free to play around with the herbs and spices to suit your tastes.


3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 tilapia filets


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fit a baking rack on a large cookie sheet.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well.

3. Place melted butter in another shallow bowl. One at a time, dip tilapia filets into the butter to cover, and then place in the bread crumbs. Turn to coat both sides. Place on the baking rack. Top fish with any remaining butter.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn fish over. Change oven setting to broil, and broil for another 5-6 minutes or until bread crumbs are toasted and crisp and fish is cooked through.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blackened Tilapia Tacos with Cool Jalapeno Slaw

Since we no longer live in the land of fish tacos, I now have to make my own. The tilapia is really good served on its own as well, but that crispy slaw adds the perfect touch for a taco.

Blackened Tilapia Tacos


1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 1/4 tsp. ground thyme)
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 tilapia fillets
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Corn tortillas


1. In a small bowl, combine all the herbs and spices. Mix well.

2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip tilapia in melted butter, then sprinkle both sides with the spice mix and place in the pan. Cook 7-8 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

To serve: Break up the tilapia into small pieces and place in corn tortillas (I fry them lightly first because we like them crispy).

Top with Cool Jalapeno Slaw (recipe follows).

Cool Jalapeno Slaw


1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. lime juice
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely sliced red onion
1 jalapeno, diced (2 jalapenos if you like spicy!)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
5 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a medium-sized head)


1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the cabbage. Mix well. Stir in cabbage until and stir until lightly coated.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pizza Pasta

A pasta with an identity crisis. Luckily this crisis involves tasting like pizza, so there is nothing to do but enjoy it.


12 oz. rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 small onion, diced
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
1 (3 oz) package sliced pepperoni, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced (I like black olives a LOT, so I use a large can...half of them probably end up in my mouth rather than the pasta anyway)
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


1. In a large skillet, combine onion and Italian sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally to crumble sausage, until cooked through and onion is tender.

2. Place sausage mixture in a large bowl. Add pepperoni, olives, spaghetti sauce, and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine. Pour into a lighty greased 9x13 baking pan. Top with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and pasta is heated through.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saucy Mozzarella Chicken

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Allrecipes, where it was called "Mozzarella Parmesan Chicken". I decided to change the name for mine, because I felt like it was misleading...calling something Parmesan Chicken to me implies its breaded, fried or baked, then covered in a pasta sauce...and this is not that. So now its "Saucy Mozzarella Chicken", which I think is much more descriptive of the actual dish.

This chicken had good flavor, and covering anything with creamy sauce and cheese usually means a winner in my book. I think I might make a few more changes when I make this again, but it really is quite delish just as it is. I served this with the Orzo and Fresh Tomatoes (recipe in the preceding post).

Saucy Mozzarella Chicken
adapted from Allrecipes

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (pounded out)
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of celery soup (99% fat-free works fine)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices low-fat mozzarella cheese


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, in a single layer. Cover with the celery soup (I put it into a bowl first and stir to loosen it up) and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven.

3.Combine the mushroom soup, water, onion, garlic, mushrooms and Parmesan in a medium bowl. Pour mixture over chicken, and stir slightly to combine with the celery soup. Top each breast with a mozzarella cheese slice, pushing the cheese down into the sauce. Bake for 20 minutes more until bubbly and golden brown.

Orzo with Fresh Tomatoes

I love orzo as a side dish, probably because I usually prefer rice over pasta, and since its a rice-like pasta it works out great! This is a really easy, fresh, and light side dish to put together (and its pretty!). I served it with chicken but it would go great with fish too.

Orzo with Fresh Tomatoes


1 1/2 cups orzo
4 cups water or chicken broth (or a combination)
1 cup diced fresh tomato (about one large)
2 green onions, diced
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Dash garlic powder
2 Tbsp. butter
Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. In a large saucepan, bring water or broth to a boil. Add orzo and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-9 minutes or until tender.

2. Meanwhile, combine tomato, green onion, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.

3. Drain orzo and return to the saucepan over medium heat. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese (if using) until melted and combined with the orzo. Remove from heat and stir in the tomato mixture.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Poblanos with Chorizo, Shrimp, and Rice

Being sick lately my tasting abilities have not been working at their full capacity, and when I first made these all I got was the heat from the poblanos. However, my husband assured me they were all-around delicious, and I can confirm that statement after enjoying the leftovers a few days later. Stuffed peppers don't usually let me down (and chorizo is a new love), so this version will definitely be made again in my house.

Poblanos with Chorizo, Shrimp, and Rice
from Guy Fieri


1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound Mexican-style chorizo
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup short-grain rice
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
6 large, fresh poblano chiles
1 pound shrimp, shelled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup Cheddar, shredded
3/4 cup Jack cheese, shredded


1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil and chorizo, cook for 3 minutes. Add peppers, jalapeno, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, then add rice and cook until all the grains of the rice are coated with oil. Add all liquids and stir over high heat for 3minutes, cover and reduce heat to low. Check rice for doneness after 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Place poblano chiles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, cut top 1/4 of chile off and remove ribs and seeds.

4. When rice is finished cooking, fluff with fork and stir in shrimp. Stuff chiles with 1/6 of the rice mixture. Place all the chiles on baking sheet and place into oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, mix cheeses together and cover pepper with cheese. Broil for 3minutes to melt and brown the cheese.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Country Breakfast Casserole

An easy casserole to put together and serve a crowd.


1 (16 oz) pkg pork sausage
1 green onion, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 pkg. country gravy mix
1/2 bag frozen shredded hash browns, defrosted
2 Tbsp. melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.

2. In a large skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain the grease.

3. Combine the sausage and green onion and spread on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. *You can do this step the night before, saving time in the morning!*

4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, water, milk and gravy mix. Pour over top of cheese. Combine hashbrowns and melted butter. Spread on top of casserole. (Note: You can also brown the hashbrowns slightly in a skillet first, and then add to the top halfway through the baking time)

5. Bake for 40 minutes, until eggs are set.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wonton Soup

I don't think I've ever ordered Wonton Soup at a restaurant, and now I don't see any need to because this at-home version is delightful. A little time-consuming to assemble all the wontons, but the end result is worth it. You can always make extra wontons and freeze them too!

Wonton Soup
adapted from "The Soup Bible"


1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup peeled raw shrimp, finely chopped
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. finely chopped green onion
1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger root
1 egg
3 Tbsp. plain bread crumbs
30 (3.5 inch square) wonton wrappers
5 cups chicken stock (I used a mix of chicken and beef)
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1/8 cup finely chopped green onion


1. In a large bowl, combine pork, shrimp, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1 tsp. chopped green onion, ginger, egg and bread crumbs. Blend well, and let stand for 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine the stock and 2 Tbsp. soy sauce in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 30 minutes.

3.For the wontons: Place about one teaspoon of the filling at the center of each wonton skin. Moisten all 4 edges of wonton wrapper with water, then pull the top corner down to the bottom, folding the wrapper over the filling to make a triangle. Press edges firmly to make a seal. Bring left and right corners together above the filling. Overlap the tips of these corners, moisten with water and press together. Continue until all wrappers are used.

4. Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Working in batches, drop in wontons and boil 5 minutes, until wontons float and the filling is cooked through.

5. To serve, place cooked wontons in the bottom of serving bowls. Pour hot stock over the top, and garnish with chopped green onion.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Polish Hash

This is something I don't have an exact recipe for, but I don't think one is needed for something like this...and besides, its much more fun to just wing it and adjust everything to taste.

Directions for the one pictured above:

Saute thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 a large one) in a large skillet with some butter until tender. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add 4-5 peeled, thinly sliced russet potatoes to the same skillet with some more butter and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and golden brown. Stir back in the onion as well as 1 pound sliced polish sausage, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, and season with salt and pepper. To serve, top with some crispy sage leaves (saute leaves in some browned butter until crispy, then crumble over the top of the hash) and a fried or poached egg.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Southwest Turkey Soup

Back around Thanksgiving time, we bought a few extra turkeys and put them in the freezer, because I don't think its fair that you can only get turkeys cheap once a year! I roasted one a couple weeks ago (Thanksgiving in January!) and packed up the leftover meat to use in future meals...a big turkey sure goes a long way! I think we'll end up getting at least 6 meals out of that one turkey - and considering it only cost about $6, that's much cheaper than using chicken and a great way to stretch a budget.

This was one of the leftover recipes I came up with for the turkey meat. A delicious, no-fuss way to get some different flavors once you are all Thanksgivinged-out.

Southwest Turkey Soup


2 cups shredded cooked turkey
3 cups chicken stock
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can corn
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper
Dash hot sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


1. Combine all ingredients except lime juice and cilantro in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. Stir in lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Garnish with fresh sliced avocado, shredded cheese and sour cream, and serve with homemade tortilla chips.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Savory Herb Rice

No more boxed rice mix! Make this tasty side dish using ingredients you already have on hand, which allows you to control the flavors and the sodium content. I've found that this recipe works well with both chicken and fish, but you can easily substitute different broths such as beef or vegetable, and different herbs to complement any main dish.

Adapted from


2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme


1.In a large saucepan, combine broth and the butter. Bring to a boil. Add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Taco Meat Loaf

I used to be scared of meat loaf but once I found that it didn't have to be a dry lump of meat served with ketchup, and that you can change it up with any variety of flavors you want, I'm becoming more of a fan. This yummy version smelled soooo good while it was cooking I couldn't wait to eat it, and it didn't disappoint.

Taco Meat Loaf
from Cooking with Paula Deen, Sep/Oct 2009


2 lbs. ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 (1 oz) pkg. taco seasoning mix
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 large egg
1 cup crushed tortilla chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, onion, cilantro, and taco seasoning mix. Add tomato sauce and egg, stirring to combine. using hands, work in crushed tortilla chips until mixture is combined. Shape into a 10" loaf on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until meat loaf is cooked through. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Mushrooms

This was my first experience with spaghetti squash and I have to say I'm a fan! You really can use it in place of noodles to create endless low-carb dishes. This recipe is a combination of a few I found, was super easy to prepare, and worked great on a night we wanted a light, simple meal.

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Mushrooms


1 spaghetti squash (about 3.5 lbs)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper
1 lb. hot Italian sausage (turkey sausage works too)
1 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped


1. Halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down on a large baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Use a fork to comb the squash into strands, and place in a large bowl. Toss squash strands with parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage until no longer pink. Remove from the pan, and add olive oil to the sausage drippings. Add mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and heat until just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper, then stir in sausage. Serve the sausage mixture on top of the squash.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bloody Mary Breakfast Bake

Although I think the "Bloody Mary" reference is a little bit of a stretch, this little brunch treat could be called anything and it would still be delicious! The eggs bake up light and fluffy, the cheese adds some gooey goodness, and you can pick your favorite salsa to add the perfect amount of spice. Plus, its super easy to put together. We'll definitely be having this again.

Bloody Mary Breakfast Bake
from Everyday with Rachael Ray


8 slices soft white sandwich bread, crusts removed
3 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
9 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 jar (16 oz) salsa


1. Grease a 1.5 quart square baking pan and arrange 2 1/2 slices of bread in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle 1/3 cup shredded cheese on top and cover with another 2 1/2 slices bread. Layer on another 1/3 cup shredded cheese and top with the final 3 pieces of bread.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk and celery salt, then pour over the bread layer; let stand. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, then cover with salsa, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 5 minutess more. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Warning: This recipe uses almost a whole stick of butter. And half-and-half. And 3 different cheeses. Its not light or healthy or any of that boring stuff - it is straight up a plate of amazing cheesy goodness. So don't say I didn't warn you...but also don't let that stop you from enjoying it!
The "buffalo" flavor is very subtle, but it adds just that little something special that takes a plain macaroni and cheese to a new level. And with the cheese combo and the panko topping, this is a delicious, comforting guilty pleasure.
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese


7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, then add the remaining 1/4 cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.

Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chili Lime Fish Fry

I have a freezer full of tilapia from a stock-up sale, and although I've had issues with this fish in the past, I'm now finding all kinds of great recipes to use it in, and this one was particularly good. The coating was super crispy and flavorful - make sure to top with some extra lime! We enjoyed it with some sweet potato fries and chipotle mayo for dipping.

Chili Lime Fish Fry
from Rachael Ray


4 tilapia fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons chili powder, a couple of palmfuls
2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2/3 palmful
2 teaspoons onion powder, 2/3 palmful
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
1/4 cup vegetable, canola or safflower oil


Season the fish with salt and pepper. Arrange 3 shallow dishes. Put the flour in 1 dish and add the eggs to the second dish. Combine the bread crumbs in the third dish and season with 1tablespoon of lime zest, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, the garlic powder, onion powder and thyme. Coat the fish in the flour, then the egg and then the bread crumbs.

Heat the oil, about 1/4 cup, in large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. If your pan is not large enough to fry 4 fillets, in a single layer, heat the oven to 275 degrees F and put a cooling rack on a baking sheet. As you fry the fish, transfer them to the rack in the oven to keep warm. Fry the fish until deeply golden and crispy and transfer to a serving platter. Season with a little extra salt, top with lots of lime juice and serve.

Chipotle Mayo

1 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Dash salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add more or less chipotles/sauce to adjust the heat to your liking.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cantonese Chicken and Mushrooms

I found this recipe in the December 2010 Food Network Magazine, and decided to give it a try since it seemed easy enough and I am always looking for new Asian recipes (mostly because I love to use my wok!).

I give this one a thumbs up because although it tastes like it came from a take-out carton, its actually quite low in calories - score!

1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1.5" pieces
1/2 cup oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
6 scallions, cut into 1" pieces
8 thin slices peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
8-10 oz. sliced mushrooms, such as cremini or shiitake
12 oz. baby bok choy, cut crosswise into 1.5" pieces
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)


1. Toss the chicken with the oyster sauce in a bowl. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons cold water in another bowl. Place both bowls near the stove with the remaining ingredients.

2. Heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat until hot. Add the peanut oil, then the scallions, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry about 20 seconds. Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry until the meat is no longer pink on the outside, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and bok choy.

3. Add the broth and sesame oil to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture, return to a boil and cook, tossing, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice, if desired.

Per serving: Calories 303; Fat 12 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 90 mg; Sodium 415 mg; Carbohydrate 12 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 38 g


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