Sunday, March 6, 2016

Roasted Carrots

I saw these rainbow carrots at my local grocery store and HAD to have them. My kids love roasted carrots - but these make this simple side dish special...

Roasted Carrots
Carrots (cut into match sticks)
Kosher Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Cut carrots and drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Simple. Delicious.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Citrus Berry Salad

My sister told me about this salad she always gets at a restaurant called "Zupa's" and my mouth started watering! I HAD to make it tonight for dinner - it was so delicious - and even my kids and husband loved it!

The original has a house made dressing, pistachios instead of candied pecans and doesn't have chicken - I just went with what I had on hand.

Citrus Berry Salad
Mandarin oranges
Candied pecans
Goat cheese
Grilled chicken
Brianna's Blush Wine Vinaigrette

OMGee. My son also added pomegranate seeds to his.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

This was another dish I made for a brunch I hosted for 30 people. Everyone raved about it!!

I found a basic recipe and then completely changed it - it was better than I even imagined!

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole
Great Harvest Cinnamon Burst Loaf *if you don't have a GH near you - any cinnamon bread will work
3 large eggs
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 T vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg

Grease a 9 x 13 casserole pan. Cut the loaf into squares approx 1" x 1" and lay them on the bottom of the pan.

Whisk all other ingredients together and pour over the top of the bread.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Take out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you put it in the oven. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar - or both!!

Bayou Bend Brunch Casserole

  • My awesome foodie friend, Elizabeth, suggested this for a brunch I was hosting for about 30 people. It was a big hit!! I made a few changes to the original recipe - which was featured on Good Morning America. I will most definitely be making this many many more times!!

  • It's not the greatest picture - but…

  • Bayou Bend Brunch Casserole
  • 3/4 large loaf day old french bread, torn into small pieces
  • 6 tbs. butter, melted
  • 1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 lb. Genoa salami, julienned 
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (whole)
  • 3 large green onions, minced
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • In a well greased 9x13-inch casserole dish, spread bread pieces over bottom and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with Montery jack cheese and salami pieces.
    2. Beat together eggs,milk,wine,green onions,mustard and black and red pepper until mixture is frothy. Pour mixture over bread mixture. Cover casserole with foil and refrigerate overnight.
    3. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake covered, at 325 degrees for 1 hour.
    4. Uncover, spread with sour cream and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

  • Monday, February 1, 2016

    Monterey Chicken

    This is a recipe I got from my Mom - one of my favorites from when I grew up and casseroles were all the rage.

    Once again, I forgot to take a picture with all the craziness going on around here. It isn't that attractive anyway - but man oh man does it taste delicious!

    ALL my kids had seconds - ages 4 - 12 - rave reviews!!

    Monterey Chicken
    1/2 c cottage cheese
    1/2 c sour cream
    1/2 c cream cheese
    1 c Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I've also made it with Mozzarella)
    4 cooked chicken breasts (I use 2 large cans of chicken chunks)
    4 oz diced chilies
    3 c cooked rice
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 t garlic powder
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Tortilla chips, crushed

    Blend all ingredients except chips, adding chicken and rice last. Make sure to break up the chicken chunks. Transfer into a 9x13 casserole dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with tortilla chips.

    Monday, January 18, 2016

    Beef Stroganoff

    I knew I had to make dinner tonight with ground beef - and I've sorta over done all my go to ground beef recipes lately. Then I remembered that my Mom used to make us a ghetto beef stroganoff - so I looked up a bunch of recipes and came up with this based on what I like and what I had on hand.

    It's a weeknight (tons of running the kids to and from activities) and I was painting our family room - so we ate it all (in 2 shifts) so - as with most meals lately - I didn't take a picture and usually I forget to even blog the recipe - but tonight's recipe was just that good that I had to write it down!

    The 3 big kids had TWO servings and I kept sneaking back to the beef sauce for more samples. Hubs liked his plate clean. Baby even ate her big kid size portion! Definitely making this again and again!

    Beef Stroganoff(ish)
    1 1/2 lbs ground beef
    1 lg white onion big slices
    1 container mushrooms pre sliced
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 T flour
    12 oz stock (beef would be best - but I ALWAYS have chicken)
    1 cup sour cream
    Salt, Pepper & Garlic Powder
    Pasta (usually this recipe uses egg noodles - but we have an egg allergy - so I just used penne)

    Brown beef in skillet - drain on plate with paper towels. Sautee onion and mushrooms in butter and evoo until the onion is soft. Sprinkle flour over veg and stir to incorporate. Add beef back in, add cream of mushroom and stock, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir to incorporate. Cover and cook on low for 20-30 minutes - as long as it takes to boil the pasta water and cook the pasta.

    Drain the pasta - drizzle in a little evoo and cover the pot. To the meat mixture add the sour cream and turn off the heat. Put the lid back on for a minute or two - then stir to incorporate. Taste and re-season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

    In my house - we always serve the pasta separate from the sauce - because I have 4 kids. If I was serving adults - I would add the pasta in to the meat mixture and then serve.

    Sunday, November 29, 2015

    Turkey Chowder

    We made our favorite Turkey once again this year *Alton Brown's Super-Tasty, No-Fuss, Time-Tested, Totally Fool Proof Bird*  if you scroll down to the bottom of the recipe it gives you Bobby Flay's carving tips - which we are die hard fans of and even when everyone balks at our method - one taste changes their minds! And we had left over turkey. We saved the breast meat for future stars of dinner - and used the pieces both white and dark meat for this delicious chowder.

    My husband searched recipes online and was craving something like this and set his mind to making it happen. We tweaked the recipe (of course) and it was AMAZING. What we came up with was (in his words) "the most delicious way I've ever eaten the pieces of turkey no one wants"

    Turkey Chowder
    2 T EVOO
    1 medium yellow onion
    1 1/2 c diced carrots
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    4 oz diced green chiles
    24 oz chicken broth
    1 1/2 c corn kernels
    1/4 c flour
    2 c half and half (or heavy cream)
    3 c turkey

    Heat EVOO in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and bell pepper until the veg begin to soften. Add green chiles and garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the corn and simmer for about 4 minutes.

    Put flour in a medium mixing bowl and slowly whisk half and half in - making sure there are no lumps. If you use half and half - don't over whisk - you will get whip cream! This is your roux.

    Add the half and half/flour mix slowly into the soup pot whisking to incorporate. Stir the pot often to encourage the roux to mix in with the soup while it thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Add the turkey last and cook just long enough to bring it up to temperature.

    Serve with rolls and garnish with shredded cheddar if desired.

    Tuesday, October 27, 2015

    Soup in a Bread Bowl

    Isn't this so cute? I picked up these pumpkin looking bread bowls at the grocery store and made a quick potato corn chowder for a festive fall dinner.

    I used scissors to cut the tops off the bread bowls, then hollowed out the delicious bread inside and set it aside to be shared and dunked at the dinner table, then filled the hollowed out bowls with delicious soup!!

    I made the soup in less than 30 minutes - and with these fun bowls - this is a meal the family will remember!

    The soup isn't really a recipe - it's just Bear Creek potato soup (dry mix) and then anything you have around. I fried up some southern style hash browns in it's own pan, then in the soup pot, sautéed some onions, followed the directions on the package then added the cooked hash browns, corn, ham and cheese that was left over from a party tray the night before and voila!

    My husband isn't really a soup enthusiast and he was the first one done! The kids thought it was so fun that you could eat the bowl… I'll definitely be doing this again.

    Monday, October 12, 2015

    Green Chili Frittata

    This could also be named "Kitchen Sink Frittata" because you can use any leftover ingredients you have in your kitchen. The main components in this dish are the eggs and the milk - add whatever else you have on hand and WAHOO!! No wasted food!

    I made Green Chili Enchiladas the other day and had leftovers of what went inside the enchiladas - minus the chicken - basically a bunch of veg… so I turned it into this!

    Green Chili Frittata
    1 onion, diced
    1 clove garlic, minced
    6 eggs
    1 c heavy cream or milk
    1 c frozen corn
    1 c diced tomatoes
    1 c black beans (drained)
    Roasted green chilis!!!!*
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Add the eggs and the milk together and whisk until incorporated.

    If you are starting from scratch - and not with leftovers: sautee onions until translucent. Add all other ingredients except cheese - bring to a simmer.

    Add the chili mixture to the egg mixture, add shredded cheese - stir until incorporated.

    Butter an oven safe skillet (I use a 10" cast iron skillet) - pour mixture in - add extra cheese on top if you are totally crazy for cheese like I am and bake it at 375 for 40-45 minutes. You want the edges to be nice and brown. Let it sit for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

    * HUGE TIP ALERT!! I lived in New Mexico for 7 years - yes - the home of the Hatch Green Chili. When I don't have freshly roasted Hatch Green Chili (or freshly roasted and flash frozen by yours truly) I either buy the Hatch brand OR a brand called "505 Southwestern" which is roasted green chili peppers with lime juice - oh. so. delicioso. We moved out of New Mexico state a few months ago and the ONE THING my husband insisted on was that I would buy a new (large bottle 2 pack) of 505 every time I went to Costco before we moved. We moved out of state 3 1/2 months ago and we are on our last of 10 bottles!!!! I actually did a post on our tradition of picking up a 25 lb box of chili's, having them roasted, peeling them and dividing them into serving sized baggies and also into homemade green chili sauce - but it was on my family blog that has been outdated forever.

    Reworking Leftovers

    …a personal on going battle for me. Why? Because… well… I don't do leftovers. I KNOW! Luckily my kids do - but an unfortunate side effect of my leftover snobbery is that after so many years together - my husband has also become somewhat of a leftover snob.

    So - I am going to make this weeks meals a personal challenge for me to see how inventive I can get with the leftovers I have from the last couple days…

    We recently had Cafe Rio Chicken, White Bean Chicken Chili, Green Chili Enchiladas (which you may notice I didn't follow that recipe exactly - but that's what cooking is all about!) and Sausage and Bow Ties in Vodka Sauce (which I make all the time but can't locate the recipe! I'll add it soon).

    I am going to take the veg that was leftover from my Green Chili Enchiladas and turn them into a Frittata for tonights dinner! Stay tuned...

    Sausage & Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce

    Sausage & Bow Tie Pasta with Vodka Sauce
    1 - 1 1/2 lbs sausage
    3/4 - 1 lb pasta (I use bow ties a lot but anything will do)
    1 c heavy cream
    1 c tomato sauce (I've even used pre made marinara in it's place)
    1 T EVOO
    1 T Butter
    2 cloves garlic
    1/2 - 3/4 c chicken stock
    Parsley, basil, salt & pepper to taste* Fresh Parsley and basil are the best - use it if you can.

    In a deep pan (like my large Creuset) crumble and brown the sausage until it is no longer pink. When you are finished - set the sausage on a separate plate covered with a paper towel to soak up some of the grease.

    Using the same large pot you used for the sausage, fill with water and set to boil for the pasta.

    Meanwhile, dice your onion, garlic, parsley & basil.

    Sautee your onion and garlic in butter and EVOO. When the onion is nice and translucent, add the chicken stock. Now, it's probably time to add your pasta to the boiling water - do that.

    Then add tomato sauce and slowly add the heavy cream. When it is all incorporated add the cooked sausage to the sauce and incorporate that. The pasta should be ready to drain. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water just in case the sauce is too thick for your preference.

    After the pasta is drained, add the sauce (now including the sausage) into the large stock pot with the noodles. Add parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Serve!

    *I hope this recipe makes sense - I make it all the time so it might seem all over the place - and sorry about the picture! I grabbed my sons lunch bowl with some leftovers the next day for the pic.

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Game Nights II

    These are REAL cheats - which are easier to get away with when my husband is out of town…

    How does this sound for dinner tonight?
    Rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls? DELICIOUS right? Ready in under 10 minutes? Yep. Store bought chicken, Costco mashed potatoes, gravy from a jar and rolls in a bag. That doesn't sound as appealing - but it's GAME NIGHT!!!

    Once again - I should be compensated by Costco for this but...

    Have you ever tried Costco's Main Street Bistro Mashed Potatoes? A friend of mine told me about them a few years ago - they are great in a pinch!! Mashed potatoes ready in 7 minutes? Um yeah.

    I LOVE the chicken sausage they have in their refrigerated section. I will get the brand name ASAP. We've tried several flavors - artichoke and mozzarella ranks up there as one of our faves - the ones picture are our current favorite - pineapple and bacon!! Slice them up and pan fry them - dinner in less than 5 minutes!!

    Tonight we are having Cafe Rio Chicken - it's in the crock pot already! Going to serve it up with tortillas, cheese, sour cream, pico and creamy tomatillo dressing - EASY!

    Sunday, September 13, 2015

    "Game Nights"

    A couple more ideas for those crazy busy week nights - taken from this very site!

    Runnin' UTE Tailgate Chili - aside from browning the meat - it's another dump, dump, dump leave in the crock pot kinda meal. This recipe does make a lot though - so I use my 6.5 quart stock pot. If you don't have a huge crock pot - just cut the recipe in half.

    We had it the night I made it with shredded cheese and sour cream, another night we had it over quick microwaved hot dogs and yet another night we had it on top of tortilla chips with shredded cheese on top!!

    Mizithra and Brown Butter Pasta - this is one of my fav go to pasta recipes. Pasta in general is fast and easy. When I know I'm going to be short on time, I make the pasta al-dente before hand - drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and stick it in the fridge. When dinner time rolls around, the kids can choose whatever sauce they want (from a jar - alfredo, marinara, pesto) and heat the sauce and the pasta up in their own individual bowls. One of my kids favorite way to eat pasta is with a little pat of butter on top and reheated - so simple!!

    Microwave Salmon - stay with me here. I know it sounds crazy - BUT I learned this trick from my brother in law who LIVED in SEATTLE for over a decade. I buy the frozen salmon steaks at Costco - throw them in a sink of cold water for a few minutes to thaw and then microwave them. Nothing could be easier! I usually make 2 extra steaks to use for lunches or another dinner and make Tuna Puff Sandwiches just substituting the tuna with salmon.

    Cafe Rio Pork - so this is one of my favorite foods ever. I serve it as a salad, in tacos, in burritos, on hamburger buns… oh the possibilities!

    Stay tuned! I'll be trying a bunch of new "game night" recipes again this week!!

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken

    A "game night" recipe. I am going to try a bunch of recipes I've seen on Pinterest - I'm going to post them all - the good and the bad and I'll review each one starting with Hawaiian Chicken.

    This was a cinch to make - dump, dump, dump - turn the crock on. My kind of recipe. Mixed reviews here. My kids (ages 3-12) liked it. My husband said it was 'good', I ate it because I was starving. Personally, I didn't really like it - BUT I don't like sweets - and this is sweet - so take that with a grain of salt (haha - salt!)

    An awesome tip I've used forever - but haven't shared before (I don't think) is that when I use the crock pot and the recipe calls for chicken, I generally just throw frozen chicken in and make this one alteration - set the crock pot on HIGH for the first hour - then go by the directions in the recipe. GENIUS!!

    So… not the best picture - but because I was running around all day and would be coaching soccer while most of the family ate - I took a picture as I ran out the door - and not when it was served up nicely on a plate :)

    Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken
    BBQ sauce - your favorite - the whole bottle (20 oz)
    20 oz can pineapples (crushed, chunked or rings - I used chunked bc some of the kids like to eat the pineapple and some don't)
    4-6 chicken breasts

    Throw it all in the pot. Just make sure the chicken is covered by the sauce. Cook on low for 6 hours - or on high for 3 hours.

    I usually shred the chicken - to make it go a little further and to avoid left overs - about 20 minutes before serving - then put the shredded chicken back in the sauce until we're ready. This fed all 6 of us.

    Serve with Sweet Jasmine Rice (if you're really in a time crunch - I've heard those microwaveable rice packets aren't too bad…)

    Breakfast Bake

    Boy howdy do I love a good breakfast. My husband it the breakfast KING - when he is home he spoils us with omelets, waffles, pancakes, fried eggs, scrambled eggs - THE WORKS!

    BUT - when he's not home we usually settle for cereal and once in a while I'll bust something delicious out - like this little number… I didn't have a recipe just whipped it up and DANG!

    Breakfast Bake
    1/2 - 3/4 bag frozen hash browns (diced or shredded)
    Deli ham diced in bite sized pieces
    7 Eggs
    1 c Milk
    1/2 t mustard powder
    Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
    Cheese - I used shredded cheddar

    Mix eggs, milk and seasonings together - set aside.

    In a 9x13" casserole dish, spray with PAM and line with hash browns. Sprinkle with ham and cheese then pour egg mixture over the top.

    Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

    Back to School Breakfast Ideas

    I took a loooooong break from blogging - I've been busy moving out of state - living with my in laws while waiting to find and close on a new house - and now that we are finally here and mostly unpacked - I'm BACK!

    3 of my kids started school, dance, soccer, scouts, tennis, etc. a couple of weeks ago and we are BUSY!! I am going to do a few posts on "game nights" those nights that you are running all over the place and you don't have time to make a meal at dinner time - and everyone needs to eat - but not all at the same time - you know those nights? Stay tuned...

    I have found a couple of solutions to having your kids eat a hearty breakfast THEMSELVES without making a mess!!

    1. Einstein Bros. Bagels has a deal running right now where you can get a bakers dozen of bagels for $6 every Monday. Six dollars people!! I buy a big tub of plain cream cheese at Costco (which I also use in many dinners and appetizers) and make sure not to buy any "gourmet" bagels so I can stick to $6 flat.

    2. Green Monster Smoothies!! These are super delicious - the kids AND the parents love them! I make a big batch and freeze them in single servings.

    3. Make ahead Breakfast Burritos!!! These are sheer genius. I can get 10-12 per batch!

    Breakfast Burritos
    12 tortillas
    10 eggs
    1/2 - 3/4 bag frozen shredded hash browns
    16 oz package Jimmy Dean sausage 
    1 medium onion, diced
    Shredded cheddar cheese
    Salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste

    Cook the sausage (with the onion) and the hash browns according to the package directions - don't forget to season the hash browns. So far, I have just used scrambled my eggs. I add a splash of milk, salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. 

    I put the ingredients into an "assembly line" and have my kids make their own. I stand at the end of the assembly line listening to them ooh and aaah over just how delicious breakfast will be every morning and then I fold the burritos and wrap them in saran wrap. They mark the burritos with their initials and stick them in a designated section in the refrigerator.

    In the morning, they remove the saran wrap and wrap it in a paper towel. Microwave for 60 seconds! They eat them with ketchup, salsa, sriracha or tabasco, my daughter even eats hers with sour cream.

    You can also freeze these - but since these have run out before Friday every week - we're sticking with the fridge.

    *Make these your own!! Ham, bacon, spicy sausage, chicken sausage, pepper jack cheese - tons of options! 

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    Asian Crunch Salad

    There are many variations of this salad - the common factor is ramen noodles and cabbage. I like all the variations I've ever tried for as long as I can remember. Tonight, I was craving it but didn't have what I needed to make my old stand by - and boy howdy I'm so glad!!

    I'll be sticking with this version! The only addition I would make is add grilled chicken next time. I made this in-between my "bus driver" duties for the kids - so I didn't have time to defrost and grill the chicken.

    Asian Crunch Salad
    1/2 c evoo (I love Kirkland's Mediterranean blend oil)
    1/2 c sugar
    1/3 c rice vinegar
    1 - 2 T Ponzu (citrus seasoned soy sauce)
    salt and pepper to taste

    16 oz bag shredded coleslaw (or 1 head napa cabbage, shredded)
    2 bags Top Ramen, crumbled (any variety)
    Mandarin oranges (as many as you like - I like a lot)

    NUTS! Cashew pieces were awesome but slivered almonds, peanuts or sunflower seeds would also be good

    Combine all ingredients for dressing, incorporate well and pour over the salad ingredients. Toss and refrigerate for at least an hour.

    Top with nuts and thank yourself for this delicious bit of heaven!

    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Pressure Cooker Pork Loin

    We were having friends over for dinner and I've been craving Cafe Rio Pork Salad like crazy for a few weeks. I really wanted to put my pressure cooker to the test and see what it could do - and today was the day.

    THIS is the usual method and recipe I use - it takes 16 hours - NOT including time it takes to thaw the tenderloin. So it's a plan way ahead overnighter meal. Will my new toy be up to the test??

    I'll be posting more PRESSURE COOKER recipes - so I'll first tell you which one I got The Instant Pot  it is a pressure cooker, crock pot, rice cooker, sautee pot and on and on and on and on and on...

    It's brilliant. So far so good. So - with the above information (16+ hours of cooking - always starting dinner before I went to bed the night before) this ABSOLUTELY KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF!!

    I had 2 frozen (in the same package) pork tenderloins (from Costco) about 6 lbs. I cut the wrapper off the FROZEN tenderloins - stuck that in the pressure cooker - added the rest of the ingredients - locked it up and set it for 2 hours just to see where we would be in that amount of time. 

    Would it be thawed? Would it be awful? How much longer will I need to cook it??

    Well, IT WAS DONE!!!! Fall apart, moist, delicious, amazing PERFECT!! Do you believe it??

    5-6 lbs FROZEN pork tenderloin
    2 liter of Coke a Cola (or Dr. Pepper) 
    2 12 oz La Victoria Red Taco Sauce
    1 c brown sugar
    1 T cumin 

    People were going back for seconds - INCREDIBLE. Can't wait to see what else this baby can do!!

    Saturday, January 17, 2015

    Brussels Sprouts That Your Kids WIll Devour!!

    I had the amazing opportunity to go to High School In Brussels, Belgium. My entire family moved there and man o man did we have the experience of our lives. 

    I went to the International School of Brussels. English was the primary language but other languages were taught and many cultures were incorporated into our education.

    I had the rare opportunity to have dinner with one of my awesome friends from ISB last month in Santa Fe while she was here on business. She looks more amazing than ever and told me that she is in the midst of a brussels sprout obsession.

    Tonight at the grocery store I tapped into that obsession and texted her for her fav reciepe and she came through...
    Tonight we had grilled pork tenderloin, brussels sprouts and rice - pork tenderloin and rice are faves amongst our children in this house.

    We had a bigger crowd than usual last night - the usual 6 of us + my 10 year old had a friend over. They were a hit with EVERYONE adults and kids from 11 - 2. The Brussels sprouts were gone first - and I made a TON of them. Delicious recipe - one we'll eat again and again!!

    Sautéed Brussels Sprouts & Bacon via Christina Fiorenza Davis
    1 lb bacon - cut into small strips fried
    5 lb brussels sprouts
    Fresh cracked black pepper
    Kosher salt

    Once bacon is fried - use a slotted spoon to drain the bacon on paper towels

    Add thinly sliced brussels sprouts into the bacon fat and sauté until tender. Course salt and fresh black pepper as needed.

    Garnish with bacon and toasted pine nuts!


    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

    Christmas Prep

    I should've done this earlier - but better late than never - right??

    Bell peppers
    Cucumber slices
    Black olives
    Blue cheese stuffed green olives
    Artichoke dip & chips
    *We usually also do asparagus wrapped in ham - but I dropped the ball

    Sweet Broccoli Salad
    My Mom's Famous Rolls
    Ham Sauce 
    Decadent Mashed Potatoes (usually we have Funeral Potatoes but we just had them last week & the kids are craving my mash)

    December 23

    Sweet Salad Dressing for the Broccoli Salad: My dressing is usually pink by the time I dress the salad bc of the purple onion in it - but I didn't feel like cutting onions today. This dressing just gets better the longer it sits - no brainer!
     Ham Sauce: Game changer people. So glad I found this. Also gets better the longer it sits.
    Artichoke Dip: add all ingredients and combine thoroughly, put in a 9x13" casserole dish, cover w plastic wrap and put in your refrigerator. Christmas Day, bring it out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it (I generally take it out after breakfast so we can munch on it in the afternoon) then bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, bread chunks, celery sticks, carrots - whatever!!

    December 24
    Decadent Mashed Potatoes make and refrigerate instead of putting in the oven. Pull out after breakfast so it has time to come up to room temperature before putting it in the oven.
    Sweet Broccoli Salad - make and dress

    December 25
    Mis en place (cutting/prep) for apps


    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    Dill Pickles

    Dill Pickles
    2 large cucumbers (or 4-6 pickling cucumbers), cut into spears or sliced

    16 sprigs fresh dill, divided

    4 garlic cloves, smashed, divided

    4 tsp black peppercorns, divided

    4 pinches red pepper flakes, divided

    For the Brine:
4 cups water
8 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons kosher salt

    Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, 1 pinch of red pepper flakes and 2 springs of dill to the bottom of four pint-size canning jars.

    Add the cut cucumbers to the jars, packing them tightly and adding as many as you can without forcing them into the jars.

    In a 4-cup measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the water, vinegar and salt until the salt has completely dissolved. Pour the brine mixture into each jar, completely covering the cucumbers. Add 2 additional sprigs of dill to each jar and affix the lids.

    Refrigerate for at least 12 hours, but preferably up to 2 days before eating (this allows the flavors to fully absorb). If you remember, give the jars a gentle shake every now and then during this initial chilling time. The pickles will last up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Bread and Butter Pickles

    I decided that I wanted to show my girls how to make pickles - but I've never made them before. I did a little research and came up with these - and man o man are they delicious!!

    Bread and Butter Pickles
    5½ c (about 1½ pounds) thinly sliced pickling cucumbers

    1½ T kosher salt

    1 c thinly sliced sweet onion

    1 c granulated sugar

    1 c white vinegar

    ½ c apple cider vinegar

    ¼ c light brown sugar

    2 tsp Ball mixed pickling spice

    Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1½ hours. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl and toss with the cucumbers.

    Combine the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and Ball mixed pickling spice in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Hamburger Soup

    Mr. Man is getting so big. I have encouraged my kids to cook and experiment since they were old enough to dump cans of beans into a crock pot. He has really taken an interest in cooking and for the last year or so has talked about being a chef and having his own restaurant. 

    He is in our local Boy Scout program and a friend of mine organized a way for the Scouts to earn their cooking badge in 4 classes this summer - love that I have such amazing friends!! 

    One of the things the Scouts made in one of their classes was Hamburger Soup. They sent homework home with him and he had to meal plan for 3 meals a day for 3 days. One of the dinners he wrote down was Hamburger Soup. 

    We turned the page after he had completed the menu plans and DOH! Read that he had to make a breakfast, lunch and dinner from the menu plan he just created. SOOOOO… Hamburger soup...

    Hamburger Soup
    2 1/2 lbs lean ground hamburger
    1 onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic
    14 oz can diced tomatoes
    3 c beef broth
    4 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
    5 whole red potatoes, chunked
    3 T tomato paste
    1/2 t kosher salt
    1/2 t black pepper
    2 t dried parsley flakes
    1/2 t ground oregano
    1/4 t cayenne pepper

    Brown hamburger, onion, and garlic. Add the rest. Stir all together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

    *My family bumped up the salt and pepper quite a bit. My husband, daughter and I also added a little hot sauce to ours. A great meal to feed a large group - and mild enough for all palettes. That's where the extra seasoning comes in if you're so inclined...

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Freeze Extra Zucchini

    You may have noticed that I'm posting a lot about summer squash, zucchini, etc. My garden this year is EXPLODING!! My husband & his friends are a little bugged about it taking over our horse shoe pit :)

    We have pumpkins, watermelon, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and another squash that I haven't figured out what type it is. 

    In this box we did herbs, peppers and tomatoes. 9 herbs, peppers, jalapeño and 6 different types of heirloom tomatoes. So my posts will continue to revolve around these ingredients for a few more months. I'll be sure to pepper in other recipes - but if you have a garden - check here often for different ideas and preparations.

    Which brings me to this: what do you do when you have squash coming out of your ears? We really try to eat most of what we grow. The kids really enjoy going out into the garden to get the ingredients, herbs, etc and then also love washing, prep work and cooking. It's a source of pride for all of us! 

    This year is the first time that I am going to try to freeze zucchini (or any kind of squash you have) - to be used in Sept/Oct.

    Then we give it away to neighbors, friends.

    Get your zucchini, squash, pumpkin, whatever and dice them into rustic chunks. I did it in batches for a couple hours one day. I separated the zucchini from the squash, since I have a few different squashes - I separate them from each other too.

    When the water comes to a boil, add your cut vegetables to the pot and begin timing. You're going for crunchy al dente. For small wedges like those shown here, test them after a minute. For larger rounds, it will take more like 1-2 minutes.

    Scoop the vegetables out of the water and transfer them immediately to the water bath to stop the cooking and then drain. 

    Put them in a freeze tight bag - label the front with what it is "Zucchini 8.01"

    Then when we get a little fall snap - you know that you've got all that delicious stuff just waiting to comfort you!!

    Summer Squash Gratin

    I asked for recipes for squash and zucchini from friends on fb and this is one response I got. It's from HERE She calls it "Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde" Having lived in New Mexico for the last 6 years, I have been SCHOOLED in the ways and of the importance of Salsa Verde. Salsa Verde - this is not - not even close. 

    I've made a few changes and liked what I came up with! 

    Summer Squash Gratin
    2 pounds summer squash (or zucchini - whatever you have!)
    1 1/2 c panko
    3 Tbsp butter
    3/4 c thinly sliced shallots
    1 c grated gruyere cheese (I always add more cheese)
    1/4 c dressing (below)
    Salt & pepper

    1 T thyme leaves
    1 t oregano leaves
    1/4 c coarsely chopped mint leaves
    1 c coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    2 small cloves garlic
    1 salt-packed anchovy, rinsed and bones removed (or 2 t anchovy paste)
    1 T capers, drained
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 lemon, or more to taste

    Heat your oven to 400°F. 

    Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl. In a small skillet or saucepan, melt butter and keep cooking it over medium heat until it browns and smells nutty. Carefully pour (in a small drizzle at first) over breadcrumbs and be sure to scrape out any brown bits from the pot. Toss crumbs to evenly coat.

    Make the dressing by blending the herbs in a food processor or blender with garlic, anchovy and capers until it forms a paste, scraping down as needed. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil in a drizzle. Season with salt and black pepper. Add lemon juice to taste.

    Add shallots, gruyere, half the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup dressing and some freshly ground black pepper to the bowl with the summer squash and toss. Transfer to a 9×9-inch baking dish. Scatter remaining breadcrumbs over the top and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the crumbs are crisp.

    Garlic Herbed Butter

    Flavored butter!! Yum! I eat this on toast, on salmon, with ciabatta and I just read that one of my culinary idols, Tom Colicchio, uses herbed butter on his turkey!! Give it a whirl!

    Garlic Herbed Butter
    2 cloves garlic
    2 Tbsp fresh parsley
    2 Tbsp fresh chives
    1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    1/2 c butter, softened

    Combine ingredients in food processor and pulse. Place onto a piece of wax paper and form into a log. Wrap in wax paper and twist ends. Refrigerate.

    Green Goddess Mayonnaise

    I saw a recipe for a Green Goddess Sandwich on Pinterest here. I plan to make a sandwich very similar to that one this week - but tonight - I already planned to have hamburgers - so I decided to make Green Goddess hamburgers!!

    They were so delicious. I used our family's favorite beef patty, cheddar, havarti, avocado and tomato - so good!

    Green Goddess Mayonnaise
    1 c mayonnaise
    1/3 c chopped chives
    1/3 c chopped fresh basil leaves
    1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 tsp minced garlic
    2 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets
    2 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

    Combine all ingredients with your immersion blender. Chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Fried Zucchini and Dipping Sauce

    We planted a garden this year - we have zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, calabacita squash, pumpkins, watermelons, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños and herbs coming out of our ears.

    I've come up with some pretty creative ways to eat these items - and yesterday I broke down and bought a deep fryer. A deep fryer. I know. When my husband saw it he said "uh. We really don't eat deep fried food - what are you going to use that for?" hahaha. We'll see how this kitchen accessory fares here.

    Most of my recipes are a combination of at least 2 recipes or have been inspired by something I read or saw. I saw this recipe on the Food Network "Neely's Fried Zucchini"but had to make changes bc of our egg and peanut allergies. I also make the dipping sauce - which was good but not fantastic - still on the search for a perfect compliment to this fried zucchini...

    Fried Zucchini
    Canola oil, for frying
    3 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
    1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 c milk
    1/2 c sour cream

    Dipping Sauce
    Ranch dressing
    1 cup sour cream
    1 medium shallot, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon chopped chives
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

    Measure flour into a pie plate. In another pie plate combine panko, Parmesan, parsley, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, to taste. In a third plate add sour cream and milk. Whisk the sour cream and milk together to get a good consistency (this is where you would normally use eggs). Dredge the zucchini in the flour, followed by the milk and finally in the panko.

    Working in batches, place the breaded zucchini slices in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined sheet tray and immediately season with salt and pepper.

    For the sauce:

    Add all the ingredients into a serving bowl and mix until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let flavors marinate for at least 1 hour.

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Watermelon and Halloumi

    I have been LOVING watermelon salads this summer. I found this recipe in the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine - it's a good one from Michael Symon.

    He uses Halloumi (a Mediterranean/ Greek cheese) and I couldn't find that here at my local grocery - but I did find Queso Panaela (a Mexican cheese) here and that is a good substitute. They both can be heated to high temperatures without melting…

    Watermelon and Halloumi
    1 tsp minced shallot
    1 tsp minced garlic
    Kosher salt
    1/4 c red wine vinegar
    1 T honey
    1/2 c plus 1 T evoo
    2 T sliced almonds, toasted
    2 T chopped fresh mint
    8 small wedges seedless watermelon (I did big steaks)
    8 oz Halloumi or Queso Panela cheese, cut into 8 slices

    Place shallot and garlic in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Add the vinegar and honey and whisk. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil, then add the almonds and mint.

    Place the watermelon in a shallow dish. Pour the dressing on top, cover and let marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator.

    Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining oil. Sear the cheese 1 minute per side, them remove from the pan. Top each with a piece of marinated watermelon.

    *I didn't add the almonds to the marinade - I like them crunchy. I also put the cheese on top - super delicious!!

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Jack's Pizza Pie

    I could talk non stop for years about my only son's redeeming qualities, talents, funny quips, ideas, etc. See I'm already on a roll! We make pizza quite often around here - the kids love when we do pizza night - they love the freedom they have in making their own mini pizzas THEIR own way.

    A few weeks ago on pizza night, I was making strawberry pie for dessert while the kids were assembling their pizzas. I saw Jack's face light up. "Mom - what if we made a 'pizza pie'!" I told him that was a great idea - and they do make pizza pies - but they are called calzones. We talked about the ingredients he'd like to have in his and asked when we could make those marvelous pizza pies.

    A few days later - I took him shopping with me and let him decide on the ingredients he wanted to include. While we have made pizza dough, my fall back is our local pizzeria. They sell dough for a large pizza for $3. We take it home, cut it into 4 pieces and let the kids go nuts.

    You can brush the top of the calzones with a little egg wash to make them nice and brown - I don't do that bc of food allergies in our house...

    Jack's Pizza Pie
    Pizza dough
    Ricotta cheese
    Mozzarella cheese
    Ground sausage, cooked
    Pepperoni slices
    Green peppers
    Salt, pepper, garlic powder
    Corn meal

    No measurements - bc you can do it to your liking - the sky is the limit! Put your filling toward one side of a rectangular piece of pizza dough. Try to keep in in a nice circular pile. Fold the rectangular side without the filling over the top and pinch the envelope closed.

    Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes - delicious!!

    Yocum's Italian Pasta Salad

    My husbands cousin brought over this life changing pasta salad for a family party several years ago. We couldn't stop eating it. I've made it several times since - but just recently realized I'd never posted the recipe! Shame on me :)

    I made it again for a 4th of July BBQ we had - and as usual - it was a hit!

    Yocum's Italian Pasta Salad
    16 oz pasta (I like the tricolored spirals)
    Italian dressing (your favorite - mine is Paul Newman Garlic Italian Parmesan)
    Sun dried tomatoes (+some of the oil from the jar), diced
    Tomato and basil feta, crumbled
    Salami or summer sausage, diced
    Bell peppers (all 4 colors), diced
    Italian herb seasoning (I get the blend from Costco)
    Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste

    Cook pasta as directed on package. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until serving - the longer the better!!

    Friday, July 4, 2014

    Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

    These are AMAZING!!! My husband picked up some stuffed mushrooms at our local grocery store a few days ago. They were so good - they were the first thing gone - and the favorite of the night. Considering we had both chicken and steak kabobs with onions and assorted peppers along side roasted potatoes - that is really saying something.

    I made these a few days later and the kids couldn't get enough. Next time I am going to use big portabella mushrooms and serve them like steaks… drooling…

    Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

    1 medium prepackaged container of baby bella mushrooms
    Fresh spinach, roughly chopped
    Mozzarella cheese, shredded
    Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

    Wipe mushrooms with a damp towel. Add spinach to each mushroom. Top with mozzarella, sprinkle with salt, pepper & garlic powder. Grill on medium heat for about 15 minutes - until the cheese is all melty and the mushroom gives when you pick it up with tongs.

    *You can also cook these in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Aunt Leah's Zucchini Bread

    I didn't grow up eating zucchini bread. I didn't grow up with a garden - my thumb was BLACK until just a few years ago when I did the research and figured things out through trial and error.

    My Mother In Law grew up gardening. Her father taught ALL THIRTEEN of his children the art of gardening, planting flowers - the whole she-bang. Now - if I had 13 kids - you better believe we would be living on a farm just to feed all those kids!

    My husbands Grandpa passed away before he was born so he never had the chance to get to know him (obviously neither did I) but his traditions have been passed down and that is something I really love.

    My husbands Aunt Leah makes the most AMAZING zucchini bread on the planet. She shared her simple recipe with me and I've been making it for the last 17+ years. 
    Aunt Leah's Zucchini Bread
    3 eggs
    1 c nuts
    3 c flour
    1 c sugar
    1 t salt
    1 c oil
    2 t cinnamon
    2 c grated zucchini
    1 t baking soda
    1/4 t baking powder
    1 T vanilla extract

    Grease the inside of 2 pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Beat eggs with electric mixer, then stir in sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Add to wet mixture and mis well. stir in nuts. Bake for about 1 hour.

    * I just throw everything willy nilly into my mixer and let it do the work for me. Also, bc I have a child that has a peanut and tree nut allergy - so I eliminate the nuts. Serve with a pat of cold butter and you'll be in heaven.

    Eggless Zucchini Bread

    We planted a garden this year - it has been so fun watching everything grow! I'll post pictures of it soon. We planted a few varieties of squash, zucchini and pumpkins. Lots of herbs and of course tomatoes.

    The first to grow were the zucchinis!! Some of them great big! One of my kids is allergic to eggs, so I searched for a recipe that didn't include eggs - found one!

    Eggless Zucchini Bread
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 cup vegetable oil
    2 cups granulated white sugar
    2 cups shredded zucchini (peeled or unpeeled)
    1 Tbsp vanilla extract
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda, and salt
    1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

    Combine all ingredients in order in large mixing bowl. (If desired, add in 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips coated with flour to prevent sinking.) Pour into 2 large greased loaf pans. Bake 45 to 50 minutes in 375 degree oven. Cool 10 minutes in pan then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

    I saw this on Pinterest - of course - I've made a few variations of quinoa salad many times - we love it. See my regulars HERE & HERE but I haven't tried it this way yet!

    Just before I took this picture - this raggedy little 6 year old said "Mom - I luuuuv quinoa!"

    Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
    3 cups cooked quinoa
    1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
    1 cup corn kernels
    1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
    1/2 cup petite diced tomatoes
    1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    6 bell peppers, tops cut, stemmed and seeded

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
    In a large bowl, combine quinoa, green chiles, corn, beans, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, cumin, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
    Spoon the filling each each bell pepper cavity. Place on prepared baking dish, cavity side up, and bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

    Kid Friendly Pasta Salad

    I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond and only changed it a bit. I didn't have tomatoes on hand and I actually ran out of Cheddar cheese (GASP!) so I used Colby Jack - really any cheese will do - this would be good with mozzarella or swiss too.

    Kid Friendly Pasta Salad
    12 ounces fun-shaped pasta, such as radiator
    8 slices thin bacon
    3/4 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
    4 tablespoons white vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup sugar
    10 ounces grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
    1/2 pound Cheddar, cut into small cubes
    3 green onions, thinly sliced
    Ground black pepper

    Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Then drain and rinse in cold water until cool. Set aside.

    Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and throw into a large skillet. Saute until slightly crisp, and then remove to a paper-towel-lined-plate.

    For the dressing, mix the mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.

    Stir together the pasta, dressing, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and green onions in a large mixing bowl. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.


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