Monday, August 31, 2009

Pizza Pasta

I can't remember where I saw this recipe - I am so bad at that. This recipe was very good - very family friendly. My sons favorite food is pizza. His least loved food group is protein. This dish combines the flavors he loves with the protein he really needs.
Pizza Pasta
8 ounces rotini pasta
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
4 ounces sliced pepperoni sausage
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef with onion until beef is brown. Drain. Combine beef mixture with spaghetti sauce, pepperoni and cooked pasta and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
*I had ground sausage (already cooked) in my fridge - so I added that as well.
This is a great 'inspiration' recipe. You can add whatever protein you want, as well as additional veggies if you'd like.

Cafe Rio Chicken

I added this picture 10/9/09 after making it again - I should've taken the pic with the final product (salad) but I didn't - just so you could see the basic ingredient and its potential in SO many dishes!!
Cafe Rio is one of my favorite Mexican joints. I have been making Cafe Rio Pork forever - it's one of our favorites - so when I saw this recipe for their chicken - I had to make it.

Saturday, I had a lot of errands to run and knew I would run out of time for dinner. So, I threw everything in the crock pot and went to run errands. When I got home, Sweetness and friends were in the garage brainstorming on one of our current projects. I walked into the house and this whiff of deliciousness filled the garage - lots of yummy noises and questions about what I was cooking... I went in and out of the garage several times (unloading groceries) and by the time I was done unloading, they had all planned a BBQ at our house b/c they couldn't resist! I had their mouths watering...

Everyone gobbled it up (kids included!) The adults had it as a salad and the kids had this as burritos or quesadillas. Yum. Super versitile - so impressive and the crock pot does all the work!I saw this recipe on 365 Days of Crock Pot Recipes.

Café Rio Chicken
5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thawed
8 oz Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
Mix all ingredients except the chicken in a bowl. Place chicken on bottom of a greased crockpot. Pour mixture in bowl over the top of chicken. Cook on high 5-7 hours. Shred chicken with a fork and reserve juice to pour over chicken when serving.

**As far as crock pot cooking goes, I like the marinade to cover the protein. With this recipe, I doubled the marinade/dressing so that the chicken would be covered. IT WAS GOOOOOD.

***I just remembered - I got this recipe from 365 Days Of Crock Pot Cooking (see our sidebar)

Friday, August 28, 2009

White Bread


I came across this recipe for basic White Bread a couple of years ago - I can't remember where. Anyway, since we moved from SLC to New Mexico - my kids constantly complain about the lack of white bread choices available. (In SLC - my kids fav white bread was Granny Sycamore's - I'm still looking for something comparable to that - if you have a recipe - I'd love to try it!)
In the meantime - this one keeps the kiddos happy...

White Bread
6 cups flour, more or less, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups very warm water, about 120°
2 tablespoons softened butter

In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Beating at low speed, add the water and butter. Continue beating at high speed for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour and beat 4 minutes longer. Stir in 3 cups flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes,, or until dough is smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour as necessary.

Place dough in a large buttered bowl, turning to butter top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place, free of drafts.

Punch dough down; knead until smooth. Cut dough in half, cover with the mixing bowl, and let stand for 15 minutes longer. Roll each half into a 12x9-inch rectangle. Starting with the narrow edge, roll up, turning ends under to make loaves to fit pans. Place rolls seam side down in greased loaf pans, 9x5x3-inches. Cover pans with clean towel and let rise in warm place until double, about 45 minutes.

Bake loaves at 400° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped with fingers. Remove from pans to racks; brush with butter for a soft, more flavorful crust, if desired.
Makes 2 loaves.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home Made Bagels!

This recipe deserves a Ferriss Beuller style "OOOOhhh Yeahhhh"

**I made these bagels again (b/c my picky eater ate them all in 3 days!) but this time I made them with BREAD FLOUR - as the recipe calls for - holy moly did that make a difference! Also, instead of spraying the baking sheet with Pam, I drizzled it with olive oil! You have to make these - for the love of Pete - make them right now!

In less than 90 minutes - I'm not lyin' folks! It's true. I have had the biggest craving for bagels lately - since (as I mention all the time) we live in the boonies. There just isn't a decent bagel place around - and that bread with a hole in the middle of it that they sell at the grocery stores - just doesn't cut it.

I searched online for an 'easy bagel recipe' and this is what I found - this awesome guy used to own a bagel shop - so he knows what he is talking about - and as far as sharing his knowledge (and 2am wake up call for who knows how many years) I think he rocks!!!

My pictures show my 4 year old - yes 4 year old - helping with the bagels - this is how easy this is!!
Rolling them out (like snakes) then smooshing them under your hand... See how imperfect they are? That's why they call it home made - made with love - by a Mama and her 4 year old daughter...

Boiling them here. Don't freak out if yours sink to the bottom - mine did. I let them sink to the bottom and about 20 seconds later scooped them off the bottom - then they floated and all is well...


Homemade bagel recipe
4 cups bread flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated.
Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth.
Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.
Pre heat your oven to 425.

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a little snake on the counter. When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant rolling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a perfectly circular bagel-to-be! This is the only part of the process that can take a little practice before your bagels will look really professional. Don't get discouraged if they don't look perfect, it just takes practice!

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes, and meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable oil and rub it around.
After the 20 minute wait, your bagels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. Take them out a let dry for a minute and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.
Add the tray to the oven, and after 10 minutes, flip the bagels over, bake for another ten minutes; and they're done!
Let them cool for at least 20 minutes, get the cream cheese ready, and feast on what's got to be one of the best weekend brunch treats possible!
You can add any toppings you like to these. To make sesame, onions, poppy seed, caraway etc. etc. bagels just have a dry plate ready with the seed or spice topping spread out on it. After the bagels have come out of the boiling water, place them face down onto the seeds, and then place the seed side up onto the baking tray. Bake and flip as for plain bagels.

My hubs called me mid bageldrum - he asked what I was doing and when I told him he said "aren't bagels super tempermental and super difficult?" Well, yes, from everything I have heard - but not this recipe - believe me! If my 4 year old can do it - so can you:)


I called my hubs when they were done - just to brag (b/c I can with him, it's all good) he asked what 'kind' I made. I made plain this time b/c I honestly didn't know what to expect - this weekend, I'll get crazy. He also asked me to save him one - since he won't be home until Fri eve - I apologized in advanced and told him that our 6 year old (who eats like a bird and is the pickiest eater in the universe) ate 2 of them in a row - I had one, my 4 year old had one (she had to taste the fruits of her labor!) and my 18 month old snarfed one down. They'll be gone tomorrow. Luckily, they are so easy to make and they are made from stuff I already have on hand - these will take a permanent spot in my baking repertoir.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mahogany Chicken

My cute friend Jenny gave me this recipe. She made it as the directions say except that she used bone in chicken legs - not 'wings' as specified. Her 3 boys couldn't get enough of them! I was over at her house while her hubs and 2 sons were eating dinner and with all the yummy sounds, I asked her for this recipe. She did it the right way and served it with a little sauce on the side. This recipe is intended for chicken wings - next time I have wings, I will definitely try this marinade on them. I didn't have any on hand and I thought this sounded delish (right up my hubs alley) and as I have said I try to cater to him when he is in town (he has been travelling A TON lately and will be out of town all week this coming week - so - I'm a sucker)
I served this with one of our family fav's Roasted Carrots , if you haven't tried roasted carrots or roasted squash - you are missing out! Your kids will LOVE these veggies - and I can guarantee they won't be feeding them to the dog!

Since I wouldn't be baking the chicken in it's juices in the oven (hubs prefers grilled chicken) so I used boneless skinless chicken breasts and marinated them overnight in this sauce. It turned out very good - I can't wait to try this with wings! I think doing the sauce on the side as well (like Jenny did) is key - super delicious!

Mahogany Chicken
3 pounds chicken wings, split and tips discarded
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons chile sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


Place chicken in a shallow, medium dish. In a medium bowl, mix soy sauce, honey, molasses, chile sauce, ground ginger and garlic. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate approximately 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large baking dish, arrange chicken in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven approximately 50 minutes, brushing with remaining soy sauce mixture often and turning once, until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Yum. Nice and sticky, a little sweet and full of flavor - with the option of even more flavor if you add the sauce on the side.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

Challenge completed successfully! This is my 3rd and final recipe with ground beef and onion for the week.
Stuffed Peppers
1 1/4 pounds ground beef (I also added ground sausage b/c that is how I roll)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
6 red bell peppers (I used green)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the ground beef, and cook until brown and crumbly. Pour off excess grease, then stir in garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Cook and stir until the onions soften just a bit, about 3 minutes. Stir the cheese into the mixture, and set aside.
Cut the tops off of the peppers, and remove the veins and seeds. Fill each pepper with the ground beef mixture and pour in some of the chicken broth. Place into the cups of a muffin tin, and replace the tops. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes.

*I served this with Green Chili Cornbread - with a twist. I cheated. I used my favorite dry cornbread mix then just added green chilis, cheddar cheese and creamed corn. Yum.

Creamed Corn

I needed creamed corn for this recipe. I have never even eaten creamed corn, but it sounded like a critical ingredient, so I looked it up online and found this recipe on Simply Recipes and it proved to be just that, simple and easy - and good.

Creamed Corn
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 cans of sweet corn or 8 ears corn, husks and silk removed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp of the butter on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook 2 to 3 minutes until translucent.
Add the corn to the onions and butter in the saucepan. Add 2/3 a cup of water and the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the corn is tender.
Add the sugar, nutmeg, and cream to the corn. Cook, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ground Beef and Ricotta Pie

On with the challenge... I compiled a family recipe book 2 years ago. I asked everyone in my family to contribute if they'd like. I got this recipe (stemming from that request) from my sister in laws Mother, Eleanor. Eleanor is a fantastic, gourmet cook. Anytime I see her I get to feast on her creations - and they are always so wonderful. This is one of her top 5.

I really like this. It's hard to think outside of the box with ground beef - but this is a good alternative to hambergers or Mexican food. I also love that it has so many veggies into it!

2T EVOO
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
14 oz can diced tomatos
2 T Worcestershire
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 c Ricotta
1 T oregano
1/3 c Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. heat large non-stick skillet over high heat. add oil onion and garlic and cook 1 minute. Add carrot and celery and cook 3-4 minutes. add meat, breaeking up and lumps with wooden spoon and cook 8-10 minutes or until browned. Add tomatoes, Wsauce, salt andpepper and simmer for 15 minutes or until the mix is thickened. Spoon mixture into an 8x8 casserole dish. Mix ricotta, mozzarella and oregano together and spoon over meat mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden.

*The original recipe adds 2 eggs to the cheese mixture - but I left it out because my kids have egg allergies.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Challenge and Enchilada Bake

My hubs has been out of town during the week for a few weeks in a row. With it being summer & considering that I have 3 kids under age 6 - I haven't done a lot of great meals lately. This week hubs is home all week - yahoo for us! And I have decided to issue a challenge to myself (it's really the best way to motivate me!) I will do Robin Miller (Quick Fix Meals on Food Network) style meals this week.

Tonight, I did all the leg work for what will be 3 home cooked meals this week. I cooked up 3 lbs of ground beef with 2 diced onions. Set 2 lbs aside for other meals this week - and used one to make one of our family favorites, the Enchilada Bake (similar to this dish) - We'll see what I come up with for the rest of the week! If you have any suggestions - I'd love to hear them!!

Enchilada Bake
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
15 oz can black beans
1 pkg Taco Seasoning (2 T)
1 pkg Zesty Italian Dressing (Good Seasons dry packet)
2 c salsa
1 c sour cream
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Flour tortillas

Cook meat and onion until browned. Drain the fat. Add salsa, black beans, Taco seasoning and Italian dressing. Mix well. Pam your 9x13" pan (or in my case 2 8x8 pans) layer - two tortillas, meat mixture, 1/2 the sour cream then 1/2 the cheese. Repeat the layers. Cover with aluminum foil (I Pam it first) and cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. We like ours served with fresh diced tomatos.

Chicken with Couscous and Spinach

Another one from my new favorite book "Cooking for Two"



Chicken with Couscous and Spinach

Serves 2

Note: Israeli couscous is larger than traditional couscous and therefore must be simmered. Orzo can be substituted.

¼ cup unbleached all purpose-flour
2 (6-8 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Table salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup Israeli couscous
1 shallot, minced (about 3 Tablespoons)
3 Garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon grated zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups) (we used frozen not fresh but either would be good)
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the flour n a shallow dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with one breast at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken breasts, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the thickest par of the breast registers 160-165 degrees, 6-8 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate, tent loosely with foil, and let rest in the warm oven while preparing the couscous.
Wipe out the skillet with wad of paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon more oil and the couscous to the skillet and toss over medium heat until light golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shallot, 2 teaspoons of the garlic, ¼ teaspoon of the lemon zest, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente, 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic, remaining ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper flakes together in a small bowl.
Stir the spinach, one handful at a time, into the skillet and cook until wilted, about 5 min. Off the heat, stir in the feta and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the couscous between two plates and top with the chicken. Drizzle with the lemon juice mixture and serve.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Buffalo Wings - 2 ways

We made wings 2 different ways for a tappas event this weekend. We made buffalo wings with Honey Chipotle Using the recipe here - These were my favorite - yummy - see by the time I realized that I should take a picture - there were only 2 left!!
We made these with the Hot Sauce I made the other day - they were good too:)

You can use both of these 'sauces/dressings' for pretty much any protein - yeah baby.

Apple Dumplings

This recipe is from a "Cooking for Two" cookbook that I LOVE. It's a really quick and eash dessert. I made them last night and my husband LOVED them.




Apple dumplings:



Makes 2



1/2 (9 inch square) sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut in half widthwise to make two squres
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and halved crosswise
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
water for brushing the dough
1/2 cup apple cider (I used juice)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the overn to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper
2. Roll each piece of pastry dough into 6-inch square on lightly floured counter. Carefully transfer the dough squares to the prepared baking sheet.
3. Place an apple half, cut-side down, in the center of each dough square and place a piece of butter in the center of each apple. Toss 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples. Working with one dumpling at a time, bruch the deges of the dough lightly with water. Pull the dough up over the apple, twisting ends to form a knot at the top. Pinch the edges of the 4 seams of the dough together, using more water if necessary, to create a tight seal.
4. Bake until crust is golden brown and the apples are tender but not mushy, 18-22 min, rotating halway through baking.
5. While the dumplings bake, simmer the apple cider and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the sauce is slightly thickened and measures 1/4 cup, 10-12 min.
6. Immediately transfer the baked dumplings to individual serving plates or shallow bowls. Pour 2 tablespoons of cider sauce over each dumpling.









Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yummy Gummy In Your Tummy

I made home made Gummy candy today - check my blog to see how to make them - they are super easy and fun!
www.viettiview.blogspot.com

Friday, August 14, 2009

Home Made Hot Sauce

I have a cayenne plant in my back yard that is on fire - pun totally intended. When we planted the garden - my husband insisted we plant cayenne and jalapeno peppers. Now that they are ready to pick - I had no idea what to do with the cayennes - especially that many of them!
I decided to make hot sauce. It was really easy and the hot sauce turned out great - and I am not a hot sauce kinda girl. I found the recipe here.

Home Made Hot Sauce
1 or two handfuls of cayenne peppers
Apple cider vinegar
Tomato paste
Lemon juice (optional)
Kosher or Sea Salt

Remove stems and caps from peppers and chop into 1 inch lengths
Place into a saucepan and add enough vinegar to just cover the peppers
Simmer covered for 30 minutes, until the peppers are extremely tender
Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Place peppers and vinegar into a food processor and process until smooth (I LOVE my immersion blender!!)
Taste on a starchy carb (corn chip, bread, rice) or a cucumber slice
Add salt to taste
Add tomato paste for sweetness as well as to temper the heat to your desired taste
Add lemon juice if desired

Tomorrow at the store, I'm going to pick up some buffalo wings - and we'll whip us up some hot sauce n' wings!! Stay tuned...

*I am chicken, so I added 1/2 can of tomato paste before tasting it. I ended up using the whole can of tomato paste and about 1 T of lemon juice. It has good heat - but isn't scorching hot.
**Have a glass of cold milk nearby just in case. If you are like me - you'll need it. It has been scientifically proven that milk is the best thing to curb heat:)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Meat Loaf and Mashers

My husband has been out of town since Monday. He travels a lot - but every once in a while he will call on short notice to say he'll be home for dinner:) I love that. I didn't expect him home until tomorrow night. When the phone rang at 5:00pm he said "hey - I am going from one end of the state to the other - so I am going to come home for dinner (it's on his way) - any chance you can make meatloaf and roasted garlic mashers for me? I'll be home in 30 minutes - and I can only stay 1 hour before heading out again" Hmmmm... I really wanted to make him what he wanted but my meatloaf and roasted garlic mashers take an hour to make.
I figured I could do it in half an hour if I made a few adjustments - basically just cutting the cooking time in half. I made the same recipes I always do (except for the roasted garlic of course). I'll let you in on my 'quick method' after I list the recipes.

I got this meatloaf recipe from my hubs Mom - who doesn't cook much - and who didn't give me measurements so bear with me.

Grandma's Meatloaf (modified slightly)
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
3 squirts mustard (I use yellow and I know how vague 'squirt' is but you can do it)
3 squirts ketchup
1/2 pack of saltine crackers (crumble them in your hands)
Salt
Pepper
Onion salt (I use chopped onions b/c I am an onion FREAK!)
Garlic Powder
Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs (which I eliminate b/c of the egg allergies in my house)

All seasonings are to taste. Mix all ingredients together, form into a 9x13 pan. bake at 350 degrees for 45 min - 1 hour.

*Quick method. Recipe above - divide into 6. I use a Texas sized muffin pan - spray with Pam then put the 6 portions in the 6 muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Roasted Garlic Mashers
Potatoes (any kind you like)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
Salt
Pepper
3 heads of roasted garlic
Milk

Peel and cut potatoes. Boil until fork tender. Drain potatoes and add all other ingredients and blend with your hand mixer until it's the consistency you like.

*Quickify - I used small red potatoes washed them, but didn't peel them. I quartered them (so they would cook faster) then followed the rest of the directions and instead of roasted garlic I used garlic powder. Start to finish 25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lessons Learned Lately

I have been trying a lot of different recipes lately. I have also used a few ingredients that weren't previously in my repertoire (like chipotle sauce and lots of lime juice). Most of what I have tried was good or great. A few disppointments though. I already posted about the Crock Pot Garlic Lime Chicken, and tonights side dish wasn't good either. I made the recipe listed below - only I halved the amount of onions and added small red potatoes (halved or quartered - depending on the size).

I have learned this about myself. If I don't think a particular combination of ingredients sounds appealing - odds are that I won't like the finished product. Like the recipe below. I thought - lemon and mustard on roasted veggies? What the heck. My intuition was right - the lemon was over powering and wasn't complimentary to the veggies. Basically - I learned to follow my instincts.
Herb Roasted Onions – Ina Garten
2 red onions
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.


*I have another roasted potato recipe that I am going to try (this time with ingredients that I love!)

Sweet Potato Fries

I made these the other night (shown with the Key lime Chicken). These are really easy and delicious! This served 5 of us (including 1 baby) and I went back for seconds!
Slice 2 large sweet potatoes into steak fry size. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 - 3o minutes. Salt right out of the oven - to bring out the sweetness.

I also made Brown sugar butter as a dip. Softened butter, brown sugar - mix:) You could also make butter and cinnamon sugar too! Yummmm

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Immersion Blender

I have always wanted an immersion blender - always. But, I wanted to get a good quality one for dirt cheap - thus the years of waiting. I finally found one that met my requirements! You can get details here. I got it a few weeks ago and I have used it like crazy!

I would definitely recommend buying one. I love mine:)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicken CHALLENGE

I have been trying several new recipes lately - trying to incorporate the local flare (New Mexican style/ingredients) into my cooking a couple of times a week. I love to try new cuisine, new flavor combinations and new ingredients.

With that said, I have tried 3 - count them 3 - chicken recipes that all had similar ingredients. One has lime juice and garlic, one has lime juice and honey, etc. SO - I decided to do a taste test with all the similar chicken marinades I've made lately:

CONTESANTS:
Key Lime Chicken
Crock Pot Garlic Lime Chicken
Margarita Chicken

My family was happy to eat every single one of these meals - but the ingredients are slightly different in each - and prepared/marinated differently.

Since recieving a bad review on the CPGLC - I was so curious... maybe my taste buds don't discern small nuances in flavor as I had thought all along? And maybe my husband really will eat anything I set in front of him?? What was the world coming to?? I had to find out.

We did a blind taste test. Yes. I blind folded my 3 kiddos, hubs and myself to see which flavor, texture and composition we liked best (and I was sure to give small portions so they couldn't guess which one was the thigh and which was bscb).

The results?
Unanimous voting on all 5 counts.
LEAST FAVORITE: Crock Pot Garlic Lime Chicken.
4 year old said 'this tastes slimy'; 6 year old said 'it's really slippery - like gross' hubs put it best 'it is way to oily and fatty and the flavors are lacking' I said 'agreed - but why did we all like this when I made it the first time?' Hmmmm - pondering, pondering... later that night my husband asked 'what are you thinking about - you look so serious' I said that I was still thinking about the first time I made the CPGLC and how we all liked it - and with the same person, same family, same ingredients, same crock pot for crying out loud - how we could all feel so opposite? He went back into his office to finish up some work and I tried to put it out of my head. 20 minutes later he comes in triumphantly and says: I know the answer to your quandry. You DO? Matching dates that he has been in town with receipts (he must meticulously keep) he picked up "dry mustard and sudafed" in the same shopping trip. THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT ALL 5 OF US HAD HORRENDOUS COLDS! Then, I remembered thinking while eating the CPGLC - that I could finally breathe (thanks to the garlic I am sure). Mystery solved. Note to self. Do not post a new recipe if you have a cold, or the flu for that matter. I am sad to say, however, that this recipe will not be made in my house again - I guess it's about different strokes for different folks...

MIDDLE OF THE PACK Margarita Chicken
That is a good name for it. When I posted the recipe I posted "this is what I am going to make tonight - I am excited to try it" (After all it was a finalist on THIS blog's recipe contest) I should've gotten back on and updated it with a review. It was okay - nothing special - but not unedible. Everyone in the family ate their portions and didn't whine. That's right about middle for me.

THE WINNER Key Lime Chicken
I just posted it - I made it last week - but was afraid to post it until our little 'Chicken Challenge' was over. It has very subtle flavor - but enough flavor to please your palette. Also the combination of flavors works well together.

This is why your feedback is so crucial!!! You are only benefitting every single person who has or who ever will look at this blog. Share your feedback - and don't be shy - I am so glad my sister told me that she didn't like one of my recipes - how else would I have known??

Those are the standings SO FAR... Until the next CHALLENGE...

Key Lime Chicken

This recipe was featured on the front page of All Recipes submitted by Tina B.
Key Lime Chicken
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
In a shallow container, blend soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic. Place chicken breast halves into the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Discard marinade, and grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Comments and Feedback

Krystal and I started this blog to share our ideas with eachother - and it's taken on a life of it's own. I have made all the food I post - and thought it was good enough to post. But since we all have different tastes and preferences - give us feedback! All comments are welcome - the good, bad and the ugly.

I will try to give better feed back as well:)

Eggs Benedict

I am going to try to be better about posting pictures with my posts - it is so helpful to know what it's supposed to look like and whether or not you want to eat it... I'll try...

On to the food... My hubs has been out of town for the last 2 weeks M-F so on the weekends, I've been trying to cater to his tastes. His favorite breakfast is Eggs Benedict. I've NEVER made it before. Poached eggs are totally intimidating (or so I thought). But, with my little theme lately - I gave it a shot - and totally used 'cheats' to help me through my first try.
Eggs Benedict
Canadian Bacon (store bought)
Hollandaise Sauce (bought a dry packet)
Eggs
White Vinegar
English Muffins

3 pans!!! I know - but it was leaps and bounds easier than I thought it would be. Follow the tutorial for poached eggs (below). Follow directions on the Hollandaise package. Put the Canadian bacon in a skillet and heat them up. Put your English muffins in the toaster then butter them lightly.

Assembly: English muffin, Canadian Bacon, Poached Egg, Hollandaise Sauce - delicious!

I found this tutorial on Poached Eggs here. Following these steps - I was amazed that I successfully poached 2 eggs to perfection my first try.

Perfect Poached Eggs Tutorial
Use a sauce epan that is at least 3-inches deep so there is enough water to cover the eggs, and they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Also make sure your pan is wide enough to hold all the eggs you will be poaching. You don't want them to stick together. Working with the eggs one by one, break or crack each egg onto a saucer, ramekin, small cups, or bowls. Place all cups of eggs so that they are convenient to the stove.

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer before cooking. Add a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar (this will help the egg stay together).

Slip eggs carefully into slowly simmering water by lowering the lip of each egg cup 1/2-inch below the surface of the water. Let the eggs flow out. Don't put too many in the pot at one time. Immediately cover with a lid and turn off the heat. Don't disturb the egg once you have put it in the water!

Set a timer for exactly 3 minutes for medium-firm yolks. Adjust the time up or down for runnier or firmer yolks. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on firmness desired. You can test for softness/firmness by lifting an egg on a spoon and gently pressing a finger on the yolk.

Remove from water with slotted spoon. Remove each egg in succession after they have each cooked for the doneness you want. Lift each perfectly poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon, but hold it over the skillet briefly to let any water clinging to the egg drain off. Drain well before serving.

Ranch and Bacon Pasta

We had friends over for a BBQ last night - we decided to have people over at the last minute. I decided to make my cheater kid friendly pasta. I call it a 'cheater' because it comes from a box - then I just throw in a few fresh ingredients to up the yum factor... 1 Box of Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad Ranch & Bacon pasta 1 box of cherry tomatoes Cubed cheddar cheese Bacon Crumbles Cook pasta and make dressing according to package directions. Throw in all other ingredients - mix well and chill for at least an hour before serving. *I do this with all the Suddenly Salad varieties. They have another one we really like "Creamy Italian" to this one I add mozzerella chunks, diced pepperoni and cherry tomatoes. Mmmmm.

Emily's Super Easy Skillet Bread

Don’t ask me how I found this blog. I don’t remember – but I found it – it’s called Food for Thought

This looked worth trying...

Emily’s Super Easy Skillet Bread
2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2-4 T. butter
optional mix ins: cheese, bacon bits, green chilis, cornmeal, taco seasoning...use your imagination

Stir together the dry ingredients, then stir in the milk until a smooth batter forms. Place an oven proof skillet in the oven while it's heating up and put the butter in. Once the butter is nicely melted and bubbly, pour the batter into the skillet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown. You may either slice it into wedges to serve, or simply tear off hunks.

For this mornings breakfast, we divided the batter in half and made 2 small skillets. Skillet #1 we added bacon and cheddar. Skillet #2 we added bacon, cheddar and green chilis.

I thought this recipe looked similar to the No Time For Breakfast recipe I posted last week. The batter came out like a biscuit. But the skillet bread turned out a lot more moist - I think because of the milk - and the butter added that extra layer of complimentary flavor.

When I made breakfast biscuits again - this is the recipe I'll use - hands down!

We loved them both! The kids loved them too – and all of my kids could eat this delicious breakfast because the recipe does not have eggsJ We will definitely make these again! I want to try one with green chilis, cheese and taco seasoning for a savory dinner bread… yum!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chipotle Grilled Chicken

Hubs has been on a ‘chipotle’ kick lately. When he is in town – I try to make dinners extra special and cater to his preferences. I found this recipe on AllRecipes – they give you the option to type in any ingredients you want – any ingredients you don’t want and even use ‘key’ words. I searched ‘chipotle’ ‘chicken’ and used the key word ‘grilled’ and I ffound this at the top of the list.

I used this exact recipe for 2 bs chicken breasts. On the other 2 bscb – I did this recipe except that I left the chipotle out (was worried that it may be too spicy for the kiddos). I tried both with and without chipotle. Without was okay – the kids liked it. With Chipotle was very good. The chipotle didn’t add any heat (I hate when the heat/spice overpowers all the other ingredients) what it did was add another layer of flavor – I kept commenting on that. So even if you don’t like spicy food – try this – and just don’t baste the chicken while grilling.

Chipotle Grilled Chicken
Marinade:
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I actually used Tabasco brand Chipotle sauce – a few good dabs will do ya)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste

Chicken (original recipe calls for drumsticks – but as I said – I used bscb)

Place the chipotle peppers, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, cumin, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, honey, vinegar, and olive oil into a blender. Puree until no pieces of garlic remain. Pour 1/4 of the marinade into a small dish and set aside. Rub a pinch of kosher salt into each chicken drumstick and place into a resealable plastic bag. Pour in the marinade, shake, and seal. Marinade at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate. Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade.
Cook the chicken legs on the preheated grill until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 8 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Once the legs are completely cooked, baste well with the remaining marinade, cover the grill, and cook and additional 2 minutes per side to glaze.

*I used this strictly as a marinade – we didn’t use it to baste the chicken while grilling.

Croutons

I have made croutons a few times - and not been totally happy with any that I've made... until today. What made the difference? THE BREAD! This is so easy it's crazy. I had some ciabatta that was going to go bad soon (I bought the bag of individual sized ciabatta rolls from Costco - but any ciabatta loaf will do).

Ciabatta bread

EVOO

Fresh cracked pepper

Kosher salt

Garlic powder


Cut the bread into 1"cubes(ish). I got a large bowl out and put all the spices in with the EVOO and mixed it around a bit. Then I threw the bread in (right before I was ready to put them in the oven) and tossed them in the dressing (with my hands) then put them on my baking pan (covered with aluminum for easy cleaning). Bake them at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes - or until they satisfy your personal crunch factor.


You can store them in an air tight container for up to 1 week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Margaret Rose's Pasta Creation

My kids love to cook with me. Once or twice a month I will have each of them cook dinner for us. It has been really great for their self confidence and it has helped them be a little more independent. Something really easy - like my Chicken Tacos or my Mexican Lasagna or my Spinach Lasagna.

Anyway... I had my hands full this afternoon when she asked for lunch. I suggested she try to make something herself (I'm thinking 2 slices of bread with cheese in the middle). That is not what she was thinking. She held the refridgerator door open for a while hemming and hawing. Then she started retrieving ingredients. She moved a chair up to the island and starting creating. When she took her first bite - she said "Oh. My. Gooosh. This. Is. Good." and then asked if I would share her first 'creation recipe' on my Food Blog. So - this is just a proud Mama and excited 4 year old post. I didn't try it - so???

Margaret Rose's Pasta Creation
Cooked pasta (I always have this on hand for quick snacks or meals)
Bacon crumbles
Shredded cheddar (again - always have)
Diced cucumber (again...)
Ranch dressing

Mix it up, serve cold. You'll have to let me know if you try it - and what you think.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kara's Cupcakes

I just wanted to share another fun site I can't wait to try things from. I was blog stalking on my sister's blog and found one of her cute friends blog. Her name is Kara and she has a cupcake blog. I personally can't wait to try the raspberry lemonade and the Key lime pie cupcakes. MMMM! My mouth is watering just reading the recipe. Once I get out of the house to get the ingredients (two week old baby and grocery stores just aren't a mix), I will share all about them. In the mean time... Check her out here: http://karascupcakes.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 2, 2009

No Time For Breakfast Biscuits

As I stated in the previous post - I never watch day time tv - but this was the same day (cleaning - tv on in the background) - so forgive me.

Rachel Ray said they had a pot luck at her studio - and this was the fav of the day.

No Time For Breakfast Biscuits – Rachel Ray
1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 strips bacon, chopped
5 eggs, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
2 1/4 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
1 cup milk for mix
1 cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO, about 1 tablespoon. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Beat 4 eggs in a small mixing bowl. Add the eggs to the pan that the bacon was cooked in, season with salt and pepper, and scramble them lightly. Transfer the eggs to a plate and reserve.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, milk and remaining egg to make the batter. Gently stir in the crispy bacon, reserved scrambled eggs and shredded cheese.
Deposit dollops of the batter onto a greased baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

I made these for breakfast this morning. When I make these again - I think I will add a little more milk - the biscuits were a tad dry. We just added butter to them to help with the moist factor.

* See my newer post on Emily's Super Easy Skillet Bread it blows this recipe out of the water!

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

I rarely watch tv during the day - but I was cleaning and had Oprah on in the background. She had on 3 celebrity chefs - Tyler Florence, Cat Cora and Curtis Stone. They were giving their best, easy, inexpensive recipes to the audience. When I heard "Chipotle Shrimp Tacos" I dropped everything, ran to the TV and started drooling...


Chipotle Shrimp Tacos – Curtis Stone
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 dried chipotle chilis, seeded and chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup lime juice to taste
Cilantro
Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and sweat onions in 1 tablespoon of oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and chipotle peppers, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, season lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute before removing from heat.Blend mixture well in small batches until smooth, adding a little water if needed, and reserve. In a large heavy-bottom pot, heat remaining oil over high heat. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes stirring occasionally, allowing the shrimp to lightly color. Remove shrimp from the pan to a plate and add the tomato mixture to the remaining oil in the pan, being careful, as it will splatter slightly.Cook sauce for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, and add shrimp back to pot. Once shrimp are cooked through and coated with the sauce, remove from heat and season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Finish with the chopped cilantro and serve with corn tortillas.


I made these last night for dinner and boy oh boy are they good! I ended up adding a good amount of lime juice and used the Tabasco brand "Chipotle Sauce" in lieu of the actual dried chipotle peppers (hard to find!)


I served them in flour tortillas with mexican rice (to soak up that great sauce!) and lettuce. Super delish.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Easiest, Yummiest Chicken EVER!

Since I have been a major blog slacker and never once posted on this fabulous site, I thought I'd post one of my husband's favorite chicken recipes. I married a gourmet. He is definitely not a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so most of our cooking has lots of dicing, slicing, sauteing and savory sauces. It's not plain jane cooking.

But this recipe is, and it tastes fab! When you are in a pinch and dinner is an hour away and all you have on hand is frozen chicken breasts, which are still as hard as a rock since you didn't even think to thaw them, this is the recipe for you! You'll fool everyone with the flavor and they'll all think you slaved away.

Here it is:

Frozen chicken breast
Mayonaise (we use Best Foods Lite)
Season Salt
Foil

That is it for ingredients, and we can't even count two of those items as ingredients! Wouldn't season salt be...a seasoning? Anyway...

Take a nice big square of foil, slap the frozen chicken breast down in the middle (do this for as many as you need to make). After the chicken is laying stiff as a board and cold as ice on the foil, take a tablespoon and drop a plop of mayo on each breast, being careful not to actually touch the spoon to the chicken. When all mayo is plopped, use the spoon to spread it across the frozen breast, then sprinkle each with a healthy dash of season salt.

Bring the corners of the foil up and pinch them together, forming an airtight tent around the chicken, but leaving air around the chicken itself. Place each bundle on a jelly roll pan and bake at around 350 or 375 for an hour or so (check for pinkness before serving. If I'm in a hurry, I'll bake at 400). Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes, then de-tent the chicken and place on a platter. Be sure and save the juices in the foil and pour those over the chicken.

Now, quick! Steam some broccoli and make a 5-minute box of couscous and you've got a yummy, easy meal ready with very little effort!

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