Saturday, January 29, 2011

S'more on a stick


So easy and yummy and mess free, this might be one of my more brilliant food inventions.

You'll need:
popsicle sticks
giant marshmallows
melting chocolate
crushed up graham crackers

Put the marshmallows on the stick. Dip in melted chocoate. Coat in graham crackers.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hasselback Potatoes


So easy and yummy is this one.

All you need:
Russet potatoes, one per person
Garlic, at least one clove per potato
Butter, 1 tablespoon per potato
olive oil
coarse salt

Scrub your potatoes till they shine.
Thinly slice the potato into rings but DO NOT cut all the way through. The sliced need to stay hooked together.
Between each slice of potato stuff a thinly sliced piece of garlic.
Douse the potato in olive oil, salt and pepper and put a pat of butter on top.

Bake at 425 degrees for at least 55 minutes. You'll probably need to cook them longer than that though, because every 15 minutes or so you need to open the oven and baste the potatoes in the butter/olive oil that's floating around on the pan.  The recipe I first discovered said to cook these on a cookie sheet.  But, I think something deeper so that the butter and oil stays closer to the potato (a bread pan perhaps?) might be a better idea.

Once the potatoes are knife soft and thoroughly cooked, remove from the oven and tent with foil for 5-10 minutes. Add a little extra butter, salt and pepper and enjoy.

(Recipe adapted from

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Soft Tacos with Sautéed Onions and Apples

These tacos are so tangy and good. The onions and apples really bring great flavor to the chicken.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (about two apples)
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Add chicken to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until golden. Remove the chicken from pan; keep warm.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple; cook 6 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Return chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla.
4 servings (serving size: 2 tacos)

To make slaw to go with it, which I suggest, add one bag coleslaw mix, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, one tablespoon lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, and salt & pepper to taste. Serve in the taco or on the side. It is so tangy and delicious.

This recipe came from Cooking Light Magazine in 2004 or 2005.

Skillet Chicken & Dumplings


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks
½ cup all-purpose flour
Kosher or course salt, black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 stalks of celery, chopped into small cubes
1 medium onion
1 white potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 box of jiffy biscuit mix or Bisquick, prepared
according to directions on box
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 cans (14 ounces each) chicken broth
1 cup water

Spill handful or two of flour onto a dish with salt and pepper. Then coat the raw chicken chunks by tossing them through the flour and rolling them around. Discard extra flour and wash hands.

Divide ingredients between two separate pans just to give your dumplings room to cook. Heat a little oil in each of the large skillets over medium-high heat. Place the chicken pieces in hot pans and brown for 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pans and reduce heat to medium. Add chopped veggies and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, giving the pans a shake now and then.

While veggies cook, mix up the jiffy biscuit mix or the Bisquick dumpling recipe, adding a handful of parsley to the batter. Add 1 ½ cans of chicken broth and ½ cup of water to each pan. Add chicken back to pots. Bring liquids to a boil. Drop in biscuit mix a heaping tablespoon at a time, 5 or 6 dumplings per pan. Cover with foil or lids and simmer 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook and additional 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce thickens to desired consistency. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Feeds up to 6 people.

I love this dish because it isn’t soupy. The sauce is thick and rich tasting. It is seriously satisfying on a fall day. This is a Rachael Ray recipe.

Cashew Chicken Curry

This isn't a very accurate picture of the dish since I took the picture when I left the cashews out of the recipe when I was on a diet. But I promise that this is wonderful!!!
½ stick butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon dried ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (leave out to avoid spice)
3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), cubed
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¾ cup cashews (1/4 lb.)
3.4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

Accompaniment: cooked basmati or jasmine rice
Garnish: fresh, chopped cilantro

Heat butter in a large skillet over moderately low heat until foam subsides. Cook onions and garlic, stirring, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add curry powder, ginger, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer. Then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Just before serving, pulse cashews in a food processor until finely ground, then add to curry along with yogurt or sour cream and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring until sauce is thickened about 5 minutes.

I love, love, love this dish and so will you.

Summery Succotash

2 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 celery stalks including leaves, finely chopped
1 small red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups corn kernels (if frozen, thaw; if fresh 3 – 4 ears)
1 cup fresh or frozen baby lima beans, cooked
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped

In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat margarine or butter over medium heat. Add celery and red onion, and cook stirring, 10 minutes or until onion and celery are tender. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute. (I like to add a little more garlic)

Add corn, lima beans, parsley, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes or until heated through. Stir in chopped tomato. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes about 4 cups or 6 accompaniment servings.

This is really a fantastic side dish and works as beautifully for Thanksgiving dinner as it does for a summer meal. I have been asked for this recipe several times. People like it who didn't think they liked Lima Beans. Our family loves it (except Trey.)

Magic Rise Whole Wheat Bread- EASY!!!

Makes 2 small loaves and one large loaf or two very large loaves (I have adapted the size of the batch to fit in my smaller Kitchen Aid Mixer.)

3 ¾ cup hot water
½ cup cooking oil
½ cup of either honey, molasses, brown sugar, or raw sugar
3 teaspoons salt
4 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
7 ½ cups whole wheat flour

In the mixer, blend the water, oil, sugar, and salt. Add 4 ½ cups of whole wheat flour, then add yeast and blend again. Add three cups flour and change to the dough hook on the mixer. Allow the mixer to kneed for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease the pans. I use Pam. The dough should not be stiff. It should be somewhere between cake batter and bread dough, so don’t be alarmed. But you can add more flour if you want to make it a little stiffer. This is a very flexible recipe.

Pour the bread dough into the bread pans. Turn off the oven and place loaves in warm oven for 20 minutes to rise. They should rise to just above the rim of the pans. After rising, turn oven on to 350 degrees and bake loaves for 45 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and place on rack to cool. Brush tops with butter and cover with a towel to cool.

This is a recipe that I got from my mother-in-law, Chris Cobb. She has been making it for years. We love it because it makes a hearty, dense, crumbly bread, and all of the ingredients can be found in your food storage. I also love it because I hardly even have to touch the bread. You mix it and stick it in the oven. There is no kneading or waiting for it to rise for an hour.

Key Lime Cheesecake

I love, love, love the Keylime Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. I found the recipe several years ago and have made it as much as my waist can afford to ever since.
Key Lime Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sugar3
8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
3 eggs
Whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with the butter in a medium bowl. Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter. Keep it crumbly. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about one half of the way up the sides of an 8-inch spring form pan. You don't want the crust to form all the way up the back of each slice of cheesecake. Bake the crust for 5 minutes, then set it aside until you are ready to fill it.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the lime juice and eggs and continue to beat until smooth and creamy. Pour the filling into the pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. If the top of the cheesecake is turning light brown, it's done. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator. When the cheesecake has chilled, remove the pan sides and cut the cake into 8 equal pieces. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. YUM!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Homemade Wheat Bread by Richelle

In small bowl and 1 T yeast to 1/4 c warm water. Set aside.

In mixer bowl add 2 1/2 c warm water to 3 c whole wheat flour. Add 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/3 c applesauce, and 1 T salt.

Slowly add 2-3 cups white flour. Knead 4-10 minutes. Place in greased bread pans. Raise til double. Bake 38 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 2 small loaves.

*My kitchen-aid doesn't hold a large amount of flour. If you double the recipe, it will make 3 large loaves.

Caramel Popcorn by Richelle

3 bags microwave popcorn
1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 c corn syrup
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

Pop popcorn and place in bowl. I sift through my popcorn first to avoid biting into a kernel. Melt butter in saucepan. Add corn syrup, brown sugar and sugar. When boiling begins, boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk. Mix.

White Chicken Chili by Richelle

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 small yellow onions chopped
1 -7 oz can diced green chilis
2- 15 oz cans great northern beans
3 -15 oz cans white beans
2 lbs ground turkey

Boil chicken breasts in water flavored with chicken bouillon, salt and pepper to taste. Remove chicken, shred or finely chop and place back in broth. Saute chopped onions in oil til tender. (I use a small amount of the broth instead to save on fat and calories.) Add ground turkey and cook til no longer pink. Add to broth. Add diced green chilies. Drain and rinse all beans. Add to broth. Mix and cook til warm. Serve topped with grated cheese and sour cream (optional).

*This recipe is a great suggestion for dinner the day after having a turkey thus turning it into White Turkey Chili.

Spicy Black Bean Soup by Tanjie

I made this for dinner last night and I thought it was delicious. Hubby thought it was a little bland but he thinks everything is bland. It came from "Everyday Food" by Martha Stewart cookbook.

(If you are using canned beans skip step 1)

1 lb black beans, soaked overnight and drained (or 3 cans black beans with 3 cups of water)
2 lrg yellow onions, diced small
2 jalapenos, minced
1 tbls olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and ground pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1-3/4 cups low sodium veg. broth
1 tbls cornstarch
2 tbls fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
diced avocado, diced onion, cilantro, low fat plain yogurt or sour cream, and tortilla strips for serving.

1. In med. saucepan, cover beans with cold water by 2 inches Ad one quarter each of onions and jalapenos and bring to a bl over night. Reduce to a rapid simmer; cook until beans are tender, 45 to 50 min.
2. In a large heavy pot, heat oil over med. high. Add garlic and remaining onions, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown, 10min. Stir in remaining jalapenos, cumin, beans and their cooking liquid, and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are soft, 20 min.
3. Transfer 2 cups soup to a blender and add cornstarch. Puree until smooth. Return to pot. Cook, stirring, until soup thickens, 1 to 2 min. Add lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top with avocado, diced onion, cilantro, yogurt or sour cream and tortilla strips.

For tortillas strips just cut corn tortillas in strips, toss with some olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 min. or until crispy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Easy Taco Salad (frito pie) By Tanjie

2 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained or 1 cup dry beans, cooked tender (about 3 cups of cooked beans)
1/2 to 1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon dry onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon pepper
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups corn tortilla chips (fritos, doritos are good)
1-2 cups shredded cheese
start the kidney beans in the morning, bringing them to a boil in a quart of water, and then letting them rest for an hour. Then simmer them until they are tender and refrigerate them until suppertime. If you didn't want to cook your beans from scratch, you could use canned beans.
Cook your hamburger. Drain excess fat. Put the beans, seasonings, and tomato sauce in the skillet with the meat. Stir it all up and simmer it for a few min. to blend the flavors. If necessary you may add a little water, but remember you want it thick.
When the mixture is hot, turn it into a 9x13pan. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and tehn catter teh corn chips over all. Jab the mixture with a fork or spoon to coat some of the chips into the meat mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for about 20min. When the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, the dish is done.
To serve, place a handful of lettuce in a bowl. Top it with a big scoop of the tortilla chip meat mixture. Then add chopped tomato, onion and sour cream. Some like it with ranch dressing and a dash of red pepper flakes too.
*you can substitute a packet of taco seasoning for the spices, but it tastes way better with the spices.

Fluffy Dinner Rolls

I have never made these rolls. JJ makes them and they are so good. I could eat like 86 in a sitting. They are almost like a pastry they are so good. But if you have questions about them, I am not the one to ask. JJ is the baker at my house.

America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
Makes 15 Rolls, double for 30

It is important to keep the pieces of dough covered while rounding them into rolls or they will quickly dry out and develop a "skin."

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup honey
4 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt

1- Microwave the milk, honey, shortening, and butter together in a large liquid measuring cup until the butter and shortening are mostly melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk to melt any remaining pieces of butter or shortening, then set aside to cool until just warm (about 110 degrees). Whisk in the egg.

2- Combine 5 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the milk mixtures and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

3- Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If after 4 minutes more flour is needed add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.

4- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5- Spray Pam on a cookie sheet. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and, using your hands, stretch into an even 15-inch log. Following the photos. Cut the log into 15 equal pieces and cover with greased plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining pieces covered), round the dough into smooth, taut rolls and arrange them in the prepared baking dish.

6- Lightly press on the rolls so they just touch each other. Mist the rolls with Pam, cover loosely withe plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 - 75 minutes.

7- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray rolls lightly with water. Bake the rolls until ddep gold brown, 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the rolls cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then removed them from the pan.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pioneer Woman Restaurant Style Salsa

I LOVE this salsa. It is so delicious. I crave is most every day. You can see the original recipe here with step by step pictures.

* 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
* 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
* ¼ cups Chopped Onion
* 1 clove Garlic, Minced
* 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
* ¼ teaspoons Sugar
* ¼ teaspoons Salt
* ¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
* ½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
* ½ whole Lime Juice

Preparation Instructions

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

White Bean Chili

This is delicious.

3-4 chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 T. oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 small cans green chilies
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. whipping cream

Combine chicken, garlic, oil and onion in skillet and heat until chicken is cooked. Add beans, chilies, spices and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes. Add sour cream and whipping cream and heat through.

Alterations: You can use canned chicken and any other kind of beans that you have on hand.

Baked Sun Dried Tomato Chicken by Lindsee Thomas

I made this for dinner tonight and was reminded how simple and delicious it is.
1/2 bottle kraft sundried tomato vinegeratte
2-3 chicken breasts, thawed and cut in half
1/2 box bowtie/farfalle pasta
2-3 oz feta cheese
Bake chicken breasts in marinade in covered casserole approx. 30 min. at 350 degrees.
Great with green salad, cucumbers, tomatoes.

Wassail by Sarah Scherbel


  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 slice crystallized ginger root
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • 8 cups apple juice
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves


  1. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, and ginger. Cover and let stand in warm place for 1 hour.
  2. Strain liquid into a large pot. Just before serving, add juices and cider and quickly bring to boil. Remove from heat and serve.

No Fail Chocolate Chip Cake by Kaye Robison

1 cup sour cream

1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup water

4 eggs

1 (18.25-ounce) package chocolate cake mix

1 (3-ounce) instant chocolate pudding mix

1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

Powdered sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix sour cream, oil, water, eggs, cake mix and pudding mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a well-greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan. Bake 50 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick iserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of cake, if desired. Serves 10-12

Orzo with Basil Lemon Parmesan Vinaigrette by Tanjie

1 package orzo pasta

6 med. size bell peppers(yellow, red and orange)cut into bite size pieces

1 large purple onions, cut into bite size pieces

4cloves garlic, minced

4 large heirloom tomatoes

olive oil

salt and pepper

opt. 1 package baby portabello mushrooms, chopped

1. cook pasta according to directions and set aside to cool

2 preheat oven to 425. On a large cookie sheet toss together the peppers, onion, garlic and mushrooms with olive oil and salt and pepper.

3. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 30-40 min. just until the edges are charred a little.

4. When the veggies are cooked to perfection take them out and let them cool a bit, when they have cooled toss the pasta and cooked veggies all together in large bowl and toss with vinaigrette. And when this is all tossed together I cut the heirloom tomatoes in wedges and top the orzo with these beauties.

Lemon Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette-

2/3 c. olive oil

2/3 c. fresh lemon juice, also the zest of those lemons

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/3c. chopped fresh basil

1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

1. mix olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper, garlic and basil in a container with a lid. Place the lid on container and shake. Add the cheese just before tossing over the pasta and veggies.

Mexican Caviar by Janene Hansen

3 Ripe avocados

3 Limes

1 pkg Good Seasons Italian dressing dry mix

1 can White corn

1 can Black beans

1 bunch Cilantro

Green onions

Mix Good Seasons Italian dressing dry mix with the juice of 3 limes and set aside. Drain and rinse corn and black beans. Peel and remove seed of the avocados and chop in small pieces (do not mash them). Slice green onions and chop cilantro. Depending on how well you like cilantro, you can use ½ cup or more. I use about ¼ of a cup so its flavor isn’t predominant. Mix all the ingredients together and fold in dressing. I also use grated onions for those who do not like the crunch of raw onions but like the flavor.

You can also use some chopped tomatoes if you choose. I would use Roma tomatoes and extract the seeds and juicy part so it doesn’t make the dish too runny.

Cake Mix Cookies

I learned from the mom of a friend about 9 years ago how to make cookies out of a cake mix.  it was a revolutionary food concept to me, and probably because it produces some of the tastiest cookies around, became an addiction for me as well.

Cake mix cookies are so yummy, so fast, and so easy it's a wonder I don't literally make and devour them every single day.

All you need to do is:
1- select the cake mix of your choice.
2 - open said cake mix and dump it into a bowl.  Add one egg and a stick of melted butter.  Stir.
3 - add your extras of choice - I tend to always use chocolate chips.  Mix and taste the dough.

Bake these cookies in a 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.  Do not over cook them.  You want them to still be super squishy and soft when you take them out of the oven.  They will stay soft for days - though they won't last that long.

My favorite cake mixes?
Cherry Chip
Milk chocolate or German chocolate

Pasta Dinner for four....or more

I enjoy cooking for other people.  It's not something that I've always been able to say that I enjoy.  In my life right now however, I like it.  Cooking, baking. Food means a lot to me and so does sharing it with family and friends.

About a year ago I found a great baked pasta recipe.  After dozens of times making it, I dare say I've perfected it.  We had it for dinner the other night - and shared the batch with my sister's family.  If you ever need to fix dinner for someone else, but need dinner for yourself as well, this recipe is for you.  Or, if you just want to be a tad bit lazy - cook the recipe and eat one for dinner and freeze the other.  A second nights dinner for next week is already in the freezer.

Warning:  From start to finish, before baking, it takes about an hour.  A labor of love I tell you.

Here are your instructions:
1- Boil 1 lb. of penne pasta.  Leave it al dente so cook it a few minutes less than the instructions say.
2 - While your pasta is boiling, cook some bacon in a big skillet.  4-6 slices will do, depending on how much bacon you like.  Before cooking it, cut it into small pieces.  This will speed up the process and then you don't have to cut cooked bacon.
3 - Remove the bacon from the grease and cook 10-12 chicken tenders or 4 chicken breasts about 90% in your bacon grease.  (I never said that this recipe was perfectly healthy now did I?)  You don't want your chicken pink anymore, but don't cook it all the way or they'll dry up in the oven.
3 - While your bacon and chicken are cooking, cut up some sun dried tomatoes.  I use about 12 but that's because I like them.
4 - Once the bacon and chicken are cooked set the bacon aside with the tomatoes and slice the chicken into small chunks.  Set it aside as well.

5 - Now, in a really big, tall pan your going to make the sauce.  You start by making a rue (a fancy French sauce base).  For your rue, you'll need (gulp) 6 tablespoons of butter.  Melt the butter in your pan.  Once the butter is melted add 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons of flour and 2-3 teaspoons of minced garlic.  Mix all this together with a whisk.
6 - Once your rue looks like a paste, start adding milk.  You will add a total of 6 cups of milk (whole, 2% or 1%.  NOT SKIM!), one cup at a time.  You'll need to constantly whisk this so that the rue paste breaks up in the milk.
7 - After adding all the milk, continue whisking until your sauce comes to a simmer.  Once it's simmering add your bacon and sun dried tomatoes.  Cook for one minute, stirring with a wooden spoon.
8 - Next, turn off the heat and add the cheese.  1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and provolone.  Stir until the cheese melts.
9 - The final step is to add the chicken pieces and the pasta (remember I told you that you needed a really big tall pot?) and stir until all the pasta is coated with the sauce AND the tomatoes and bacon appear to be evenly distributed.  Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese

Pour the pasta mixture into to baking dishes, each smaller and deeper than a traditional 9x13 cake pan.  Dare I say a good casserole dish?

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown.

If you are cooking from the freezer, bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

Serve with brushetta and crusty bread.  Which by the way, is great for a leftover lunch the next day.  Especially when you ate all your pasta at dinner the night before.

Beef Empanadas


Another yummy recipe from the Mad Hungry cookbook.  Seriously, go and buy it today.  You'll thank your self later.

This recipe was really pretty easy, but much more time consuming than I normally would go for on a week night.  But, since my husband is a work-a-holic and we've been eating dinner an hour later than normal, I had the time.

Anyway - for the first time, it took me two hours from start to finished and on the table.  Was it worth it?  Oh yes.  So worth it that I might make them again next week - but actually figure out how to make a side dish, too.  Not that these babies need anything else.

First, you need to make the pastry.  At a minimum, the pastry needs to chill for thirty minutes.  Mine chilled for about 8 hours and then needed to sit on the counter for a good 15-30 before it was ready to roll out.

Cream Cheese Pastry
8 tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
4 oz cream cheese at room temp
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 and 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt

cream the butter, cheese, and cream with an electric mixer.  Add the flour and salt until incorporated.  Split the dough into two equal sections, form into two disks and wrap each one separately in plastic wrap.  Place dough in the fridge.

Beef filling
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small green pepper, chopped fine
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 cup olives, chopped (green or black)
3/4 cup raisins (I didn't use these)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
dashes of hot sauce to taste
2 eggs, separated

Chop the onion and the green pepper and start to saute them in a very hot pan, in the olive oil.  When the onions are starting to get translucent, add the beef.  When the beef is almost 100 % cooked, add the olives and raisins (if you like), the honey, the cumin (I didn't have cumin so I just used a whole butt load of different seasoning salts), the honey, salt, pepper,  and hot sauce.  Let cook until the beef is completely finished and turn off the heat.

The beef needs to cool completely in the fridge.  After it has cooled completely, stir in the egg whites from your two eggs.

While the beef is cooking, get out your cream cheese pastry so it can warm up a bit.  Once the beef is in the fridge to cool, it's time to roll out the dough.

Work with one disk at a time and roll it out like you would for sugar cookies.  Make sure you have a clean, well floured work surface and a good rolling pin.  Roll the dough pretty thin and then use a medium bowl (about 5 inches across) as your dough cutter.  Place the bowl on the dough and with a knife, cut around the edges.  Repeat the process, only re-rolling each piece of dough once.

If you do it right, you should end up with 10-12 circles of dough.

To assemble the empanadas, place a couple small spoonfuls of meat filling onto one half of a dough circle.  Wet the outer edge of dough with some water and fold it over, pressing each edge together gently.  Then with a fork, crimp the edges together.  Do this for all of your dough circles, making little half moon pies.

Once all are finished, place them on a cookie sheet and stick them back in the fridge while the oven heats up to 375 degrees.

Once the oven is hot, take the empanadas out of the fridge and poke some holes in them with a fork.  Then, take the two egg yolks, mix them with 1 tbsp of water and give each empanada a quick egg wash.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Let them rest for about 7 minutes before you devour them.  They will still be super dooper hot.

So yummy, so yummy.


Vietnamese Steak Sandwich

We've had these a couple of times in the last few weeks.  These sandwiches might be one of our most favorite dinners.

I've followed the recipe exactly except that I've marinated the steak all day instead of just 30 minutes and both times I've forgotten the cilantro.  It's still yummy though.

Vietnamese Steak Sandwiches

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 carrots, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
4 hero rolls
1 pound sliced Flank Steak with Lime Marinade

In a small bowl, stir together garlic, sugar, red-pepper flakes, vinegar, and water.
In another bowl, toss together carrots, scallions, and cilantro leaves. Toss with half the vinegar mixture.
Split and lightly toast hero rolls; dividing evenly, layer with carrot mixture and sliced flank steak. Drizzle with remaining vinegar mixture, if desired.

Lime Marinade:
1/3 cup (about 4 limes) freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions (about 1/3 cup), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Vegetable oil, for grates
Coarse salt and ground black pepper

In a resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and red-pepper flakes. Add steak, and seal bag (place in a dish to catch any leaks); marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, up to 1 hour.

Heat grill to high; lightly oil grates. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off (discard marinade); season with salt and black pepper. Place on grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until meat reaches desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Chilaquiles by Tanjie

This is so yummy and healthy...
4 eggs
2 tortillas(you can use organic or multigrain)
1 jar canned tomatoes or 32oz crushed tomatoes
1-2 chipotles in adobe sauce (found in the mexican food isle) poor the rest of the can into a ziplock bag and freeze it.
Half a medium yellow onion cut into rounds and cut in half again
olive oil
salt and pepper

toffuti sour cream or regular sour cream
cheese (opt)
hot sauce (opt)
1. simmer the tomatoes over med. heat, when they begin to simmer add salt and pepper. Chop up chipotles and toss into simmering tomatoes. Turn down to low and let simmer while you work on other ingredients.
2. Preheat oven to 350 and line cooke sheet with foil. Take 2 tortillas and cut in half and them half again. And then cut the four in half again. Drizzle a little olive oil and bake for 10-15min. until crispy and browned.
3. Get 2 bowls ready for serving. Cook eggs in frying pan with a little olive oil. Cook to your likeing. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Just before the eggs are done add the half moon onion slices to the tomato mixture and stir in.
When warmed spoon 1/2 cup of tomato mixture into each bowl. Top with the eggs.
5. Now top with what you like. Sour cream, avacado, cheese etc. Place baked tortilla pieces around the edge of the bowl.
It might not sound yummy but I promise it is SO good.