August 23, 2010

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

We're in Texas.  It's too hot.  Not in the mood to cook or bake.   

I say take this sinful recipe and make a double batch to enjoy while you watch your favorite chick flick indoors with the A/C cranked down.   You can thank me later!  Now go indulge!

1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 c peanut butter, smooth or chunky
3 c. quick cooking oats
1 tsp vanilla 
3/4 c brown sugar, packed
3/4 c unsalted butter
pinch salt

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat.  Add in the vanilla, salt, brown sugar and oats.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, press half of the mixture in the bottom of a buttered 8x8 dish.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips or chunks and peanut butter, stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate is melted.  Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture, reserving a little to drizzle over the top. 

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate and peanut butter, pressing down gently.  Drizzle the remaining chocolate and peanut butter over the top of the bars. 

Refrigerate for 3 hours before cutting and serving.   I cut into small bites so they last longer and they are very rich.   Enjoy!

August 22, 2010

Burgers, Beer and Rock Band

Happy Sunday!!  I've discovered a few new things over the weekend that I wanted to share with you.    #1:  I love lamb!  #2: Meeting new friends is underrated.  #3: My new friend, Christopher, is an awesome chef and host. #4: Rock Band is still fun!

Christopher works with my husband.  I met him only 2 weeks ago and I think he just may be my new male BFF.  He doesn't realize this yet so let's keep it on the DL so we don't scare him off.   He's amazing not only because he's an all around nice guy but this man can cook AND he knows how to throw a party.  We both look forward to learning more about his cooking skills.  He claims his specialty is whipping up sauces.  We can't wait for him to prove it.

Below are pictures of the sliders he made us.   They were full of flavor and so delicious. My favorite was the lamb.  The spices were just right and didn't overpower the flavor of the meat.  Everything meshed very well together.  

Starting at the left, smoked gouda infused ground beef burger wrapped in bacon served on a roasted garlic aioli and garnished with greens and tomato.  Middle: fennel crusted lamb burger on a creamy raita and topped with a red onion marmalade. Right: seared salmon steaks glazed with a ginger teriyaki and paired with sliced avocado and mango.


We really enjoyed the food, meeting new people and jamming out with the Band.   Will-I-Am can rock the mic surprisingly well.  Probably one of the most entertaining, yet good singers yet. You practice at home a lot don't you?!   Let's do this again very soon.

July 30, 2010

Healthy Greek Thin-Crust Pizza

Pizza is on the list of foods that I would eat everyday and be totally content.  I've always said it includes the 4 food groups that they beat into our brains growing up.  (Crust=Bread, Cheese=Dairy, Pepperoni or Sausage=Meat,  Mushrooms or Tomatoes from the sauce=Vegetable)

I bought the Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough to try.  I have tried the regular pizza dough and it's too thick and doughy in my opinion.   The thin-crust cooked perfectly.  It was crispy but not too thin or dry.   I had just a few ingredients on hand that I just threw on to see what it would taste like.  I didn't add a sauce because I didn't have any and really didn't think it needed much with all the flavor in the toppings.  Pizza is all about personalizing to make it your own and put whatever you like on it.   Here's my tasty creation.  I hope you enjoy!!

2 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg Pillsbury thin-crust pizza dough
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 c parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c feta cheese
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and roll dough out.   Drizzle dough with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, dried oregano or Italian seasoning, parmesan and mozzarellla cheese.  Bake for 5 minutes (I believe that is what is directed on package but double check.) 

Take the crust out of the oven and add the toppings.  Spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, minced garlic, feta cheese.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on top.  Bake for 8 minutes or whatever package says.  Slice sicilian-style (squares) and enjoy!

July 29, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese

Say cheese!! My husband has been begging me to make this for months now.  I finally snuck it in on the menu and he was so excited.   It turned out really tasty and creamy.   This is a perfect potluck dish to share.  To be honest, I had never made my own homemade mac and cheese until this.  I know!   I'm out of my mind.   And I LOVE cheese especially in macaroni and cheese.   I really need to stop being such a procrastinator.   This made so much we ate on it for 2 days (dinner & lunch) and had enough to share with two people at work for lunch.  They loved it! Beats eating Lean Cuisines for a day. 

I used Tabasco as that is what we had on hand.  **You can really use about any hot sauce but a thicker one you would use about 1/4-3/4 cup.  (or whatever amount to your taste)

2-3 c chicken, cooked and shredded
1 lb elbow macaroni or another fun shaped pasta (like corkscrews or rotini)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp Tabasco sauce**
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 c half n half
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed
8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded or cubed
2/3 c sour cream
1 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 c blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or use dried if you have that on hand)
7 tbsp butter, unsalted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Butter 9x13 baking dish.  Bring large pot of water to boil.   Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Then add the hot sauce and simmer an additional minute.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a 4 qt- saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half and stir about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses then whisk in the sour cream until smooth. 

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

Put the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted.  Stir in the panko crumbs, blue cheese and parsley.  Sprinkle over the macaroni.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.  Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.   Serves a small army!

July 27, 2010

Beef Stroganoff & Mad Men

I wanted to make something special for the season premier of Mad Men on Sunday. I figured a comfort dish from the 60's would be a great fit.  I gave my husband an option between 2 of his favorite meal:  Meatloaf and Beef Stroganoff.  It was a tough decision but he chose Beef Stroganoff.  I was surprised because he usually goes for meatloaf without hesitating.  I went for the crockpot method so I could throw it on after we got back from the lake and relax the rest of the day while smelling the magic happen.

If you haven't seen an episode of Mad Men, you must do so now.  It's a great show and Don Draper is too cool for school and super hot.  End of story!

2 lbs round steak, cut into 1 inch cubes, fat removed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 c all purpose flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion, cut into half rounds
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c dry red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 c beef broth
1/4 c dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 c heavy cream
Noodles or long-grain rice for serving

Mix the salt, pepper, paprika and flour in a large plastic ziplock bag.  Add the meat, toss to coat and shake off the excess flour.  Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meat a few pieces at a time and brown all sides.

Transfer the browned meat to the insert of a 5-7 quart slow cooker.  Add the onions and cremini mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute over medium-high heat until the vegetables are softened and browned. (7-9 minutes)

Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow-cooker insert.  Deglaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire, and broth and heat.  Transfer the liquid to the slow-cooker inset and stir in the porcini mushrooms.

Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.  Stir in the cream, cover, and cook on low for an additional hour.

Serve with noodles or steamed long-grain rice.  Serves 8.

July 26, 2010

Cannoli Ice Cream

We were in the mood for something cool and sinful this weekend.  My husband suggested that he whip up a batch of ice cream.   I wasn't going to argue.  This is the first time he's made ice cream this summer.  He usually makes a few batches every year and we share the majority of it with friends.  In the past he's made flavors such as coffee, cheesecake, cinnamon oatmeal cookie dough, chocolate peanut butter swirl, honey ice cream and more that I can't recall.  My favorite has been the cinnamon oatmeal cookie dough so far.  It's very similar to the Ben & Jerry's version in my opinion.  It was not only my favorite due to the fact that I made the cookie dough but my husband is an amazing ice cream maker.  Also, oatmeal cookies are my fave as well as anything with cinnamon!   I'd love to hear your recipes & suggestions for a crazy concoction. What other ice cream should he make? 

He's not positive where he found the original recipe he adapted or else I'd give props.  If you love cannolis you'll love this. The recipe only makes a small batch so it's perfect for a sinful treat in a small dose or to double to share.  Some sort of cookie crumble over the top would be good in my opinion.

Cannoli Ice Cream
1 3/4 c whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp Grand Marnier (you can substitute with frozen orange juice concentrate)
zest of one small lemon
pinch of kosher or sea salt
1/4 c pistachios, chopped
1/4 c mini chocolate chips

In a food processor, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  With cover on and blade spinning, slowly pour in the heavy cream.  Add the Grand Marnier.  Place the mixture in a bowl, and place that bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water.  Set in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Churn in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.   Mix in pistachios and chocolate chips after ice cream has firmed up a bit.  Place in a container in freezer until firm.  Makes about 2 pints.  

July 21, 2010

Whoopie Pie Wednesday

Cakeballs are fabulous.  Cupcakes are fabulous.  Anything with frosting is fabulous.  Whoopie Pies have now been confirmed by me as fabulous!  I've been wanting to try these out for a while now.  I finally caved.  I made Red Velvet and Devil's Food. Ohh emm geeee!!   Babe, you're taking these to work for the guys to devour.  I've had one of each flavor and I'm going to have to let them go far away from me or I'm gonna have to call in sick tomorrow just so I can stay home to stuff my face with this sweetness in private!

1 Box Cake Mix (any flavor)
2 eggs
1/2 c butter (1 stick)

Beat ingredients in a mixer until combined.   Using cookie scoop, place them on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-11 minutes.  Let cool in pan about 5 minutes transfer to rack to cool completely while you make the filling.  Or you could just enjoy them as cookies.  They're very moist! But why wouldn't you want frosting?!

Cream Cheese Filling
1 pkg cream cheese, room temperature
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.   Add powdered sugar in increments of 1/2 c to thicken if needed.  Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling on the flat surface of cookies and sandwich together.  Makes 16 cookie sandwiches.

July 19, 2010

Hawaiian Pork Burgers

We really should use our grill more often. It's just too dang hot out there right now.   I love almost anything off the grill.  And it's sad to say but my husband just showed me how to use the grill for the first time. This is my first meal where I've been the grillmaster and not depended on him.  I'm very proud of myself but shame on me for waiting so long.  There are so many possibilities for tasty meals off the grill.  

When the subject of grilling comes up, I think of grilled cheesy dogs, asparagus,  zucchini, squash, pineapple, peaches, beer can chicken, kabobs and burgers.  (In that order too.)  I have a weak spot in my heart for almost burnt cheesy dogs.  Other than that, I only eat hot dogs at baseball stadiums.  Is that weird??  Oh well. 

I've never had a pork burger until now.  I thought this would make a tasty version.  At first it was weird since I'm use to medium well meat.  So when I look down and saw the light color of the pork, it grossed me out at first.  I kept thinking it was undercooked.  I got over it.  It was delicious!!  Enjoy!

1 lb ground pork
2 tbsp pineapple juice
1/3 c red bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 c yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 c green bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, all bell peppers, salt and pepper. Add pork and gently bring all the ingredients together with your hands; do not over-work the meat. With dampened hands, form pork mixture into 4 patties of even thickness, or make 6 smaller patties, if desired. Transfer patties to a lined baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Light the grill or preheat the broiler. Cook patties, turning each carefully with a spatula once, for about 6 minutes per side, or until just cooked through.

I served on a whole wheat bun with spicy mustard and lettuce.  The spicy mustard went really nice with the flavor.

July 6, 2010

Healthy Hummus Wraps

It's too dang hot to cook or bake.   The less meals I have to slave over a hot stove for, the better.  I threw this light and healthy meal together because I was just plain exhausted and didn't want to be near more heat.  Texas, you're brutal this year.  I've never been a fan of you during the summer months but I'll manage to get along fine.

This is actually a very healthy, light and colorful meal.  Step away from that stove and enjoy this for lunch or dinner.

4 wheat or flour tortillas
4 tbsp hummus (any flavor you wish, I used roasted red pepper)
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 c shredded lettuce
1 medium roma tomato, diced
4 tbsp feta cheese
2 tsp capers

Spread about 1 tbsp evenly on each tortilla.  Place about 3-4 slices of cucumber down the middle of each wrap.  Sprinkle remaining ingredients on each wrap evenly.  (lettuce, tomato, feta and capers) Fold and enjoy.   If you want more protein or more filling, add grilled chicken.  I used a leftover breast from the Tuscan Chicken recipe.  It added a lot of flavor!!

July 5, 2010

4th of July & Berry Cobbler

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July.   Thankfully the rain subsided and we were able to enjoy fireworks last night.  We brought Daxter along with us as well.   He was excited at first and we were having second thoughts but after we settled in, he relaxed and was more calm.   He even watched the beautiful fireworks with us and it was almost as entertaining to watch him than the show.   I'm sharing a cobbler recipe that I made that turned out wonderful.  It had a perfect berry flavor and crispy, buttery crust.  Thanks for the idea Pioneer Woman!

1 c self-rising flour
1 c milk
1 stick of butter, melted
1 c sugar + 1/4 c, separated
1 c raspberries
1 c blueberries
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a microwavable dish.  Set aside to let cool.  Pour 1 c of sugar and all the flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk.  Mix well.  Then, pour in the melted butter and vanilla and whisk it all well together.  Butter a baking dish.

Rinse and pat dry the berries.  Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish.  Sprinkle the berries over the top of the batter, distributing evenly.  Sprinkle the 1/4 c sugar over the top.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden and bubbly.  Serve with ice cream or cool whip.

July 3, 2010

Citrus Lunch

It's been a few months since the girls and I have had a chance to get together over delicious homemade food and girl talk.  Our fabulous friend, Lesley, finally took the lead and scheduled a lunch at her place with the theme being Citrus.  This was a perfect idea for the sweltering summer in Texas.  I was really excited about it and went through several recipes and ideas in my head of what I would make.  Everything we made went so well together and we really explored the spectrum of citrus more than I expected. Citrus flavors such as lemon, lime, orange and tangerine were featured.  I loved everything but I think my new friend, Alice, has a special place in my heart with this round.  She made the dish that leaves something delectable and memorable on my tastebuds.  Her lemon crepes were so amazing!  You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The lemon sauce is not too tart or too sweet.  It's just right.  Alice, I'm still waiting on that recipe.  ;p

Pictured in order below starting top left:
Stephanie - Margarita Shrimp Tacos
Lesley - Tomato Zucchini Augratin
Elisabeth - Tangerine Sorbet
Alice - Lemon Crepes
Chrystal - White Wine Sangria & Caribbean Chicken Salad w/Jerk Lime Dressing (see my recipes below)

White Citrus Sangria

1/2 c sugar
3/4 c orange-flavored liquer or orange juice (I used Contrieu)
3/4 c vodka or lemon-lime carbonated beverage (I used vodka)
2 medium nectarines, thinly slices
1 medium orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 bottle dry white wine or white grape juice, chilled (I used wine)
1 liter club soda chilled

In a half gallon pitcher, stir sugar, orange liqueur and vodka until sugar is dissolved.   Add the fruit and wine.  Refrigerate until serving.  Just before serving, pour the club soda into pitcher and stir gently to mix.  Serve over ice if desired. 

Caribbean Chicken Salad
Feel free to add 1 diced, peeled mango if you want. I also believe pineapple chunks and/or shredded coconut would make this a true Caribbean recipe.  Try it out and let me know!  I am going to try those additions next time.

2 containers (6oz each) fat free Pina Colada Yogurt
1 1/2 tsp Jerk Seasoning
juice of 2 limes

3 c shredded romaine lettuce (1 large bunch)
2 c shredded cooked chicken
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed & drained
1-2 medium chopped and seeded tomatoes
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c cashews
2 c shredded colby-jack cheese, divided

In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate while preparing the salad.

In a 4 qt clear glass trifle or serving bowl, layer the salad ingredients.  Lettuce, chicken, black beans, 1 c cheese, tomatoes, remaining 1 cheese and green onions.  Pour half of the dressing evenly over salad then sprinkle cashews on top.  Serve the remaining dressing on the side with the salad.  Makes 6 healthy servings.

June 25, 2010

Food Friday

Happy Friday!!  As some of you know, I'm a HUGE fan of Pioneer Woman.   If you don't know who that is, you have to check out her blog.  I was reading her daily post today which was talking about Brownies and Bars and noticed a picture looked familiar on her blog.  So I kept reading and come to find out it's my picture and link to my recipe for  Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies I posted on Tasty Kitchen.  It's a community where we all share recipes and photos that we've made.

I'm so excited to be featured on there with so many other delicious looking treats.   Check it out!!

May 26, 2010

Chicken Breasts with Mustard Sauce

I thought my husband was working late so didn't really plan dinner.  Out of the blue, he sent me a message and said he would be heading home shortly.  So I went to the kitchen to see what I could throw together within 30 minutes and this is what I came up with.  The sauce turned out very nicely.  I don't usually get a big head about my own food but goodness.  I was glad he made it home when he did because I couldn't stop sipping on the sauce. I mean, I had to make sure it was worthy of sharing.  Thankfully, he agreed it was really good as well.  And even though it was meant for another meal this week, he had the idea to tear off chunks of french bread to sop up the remaining sauce at the end. MMmmmm so good!  Great idea babe!

1 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.   Add olive oil to pan.  Then add chicken and saute until browned on both sides, 5-7 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan.  Add shallots and saute for 2 minutes.  Then add the garlic and saute for a minute stirring frequently.

Then add chicken broth and stir the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the butter, mustard seeds and dijon.  Stir until mixed together.  Bring to a boil.  Add chicken back to pan and sprinkle the chicken with thyme and pepper. Then cover and turn heat down to medium-low to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add cream to pan and stir until combined.  Taste test sauce to check flavor and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve chicken with a spoonful (or 4) of sauce over cooked egg noodles, rice or with just steamed veggies on the side. Enjoy!

May 25, 2010

Adobo Chicken

This is another recipe that brings me back to my childhood.  I swear that grandma Millie made this on the regular for us.  The flavors were so familiar and it's so freakin' good!  I love sweet and tangy dishes and this is definitely in that category.  I need to make this for grandma and my family when I am home visiting next time. I can't imagine it's much different than her recipe.  Look at her in the cute hat she knitted.  Kisses to you grandma!

I found out at the last minute my husband had to work late so he missed out!  (Sorry babe!)  More for me. ;p  I guess I have leftovers for lunch today.  Yay!

8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
1 medium onion,diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 c hot cooked long-grain rice

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken to pan; saute 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove chicken from pan.  Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes.  Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Return chicken to pan.  Add soy sauce and remaining ingredients except the rice; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 10-12 minutes.  Uncover and cook 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done and sauce thickens.  If sauce is too runny, add more honey.  If sauce is too thick, add water. Discard bay leaf.  Serve over rice.  Makes 4 servings. (2 thighs each and sauce)

May 10, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

I have always enjoyed Red Beans and Rice.  I realized that I actually have never ordered it at a restaurant or made it at home myself.  I have taken a few bites of my husband's when he orders it.  So I thought I'd give it a whirl and boy it was tasty!  I am sad that it took so long for me to make it.  It's really easy and really REALLY good.  This has been added to our favorites to have more often.  I used smoked sausage because we had it on hand.  From my research of other recipes, some people use ham hocks or bacon for flavor.   I also had a bone from a pork shoulder left from a batch of Carnitas I made the day or 2 before.  I added it in to simmer with everything.

1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 15oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 lb smoked sausage (or other sausage/meat of your choice)
1/2 c water
1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 c cooked rice

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute sausage, onion and bell pepper until sausage is browned about 5-7 minutes.  Then add everything but the rice.  Bring to a boil.  Then turn down to medium-low, cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste test for flavor and add more seasoning and spice as preferred.   Serve over the rice.   Makes 6 servings.  Cornbread goes really nice on the side as well.   Enjoy! 

May 7, 2010

Pork Stir Fry

Stir-fry is so easy and you can put just about anything you want in it.  I had a few ingredients on hand and decided to throw this together to see what happened.  It turned out really good and made a lot. You can play with this recipe and add your own favorite veggies.  Marinating the meat for at least 15 minutes adds flavor to the dish. You can use shrimp, chicken or beef in the place of pork.   There are so many possibilities.  Enjoy!!

1 lb boneless pork chops, sliced in strips
2 c fresh cabbage, chopped
1 c frozen or fresh asparagus, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp dark sesame seed oil
2 c white rice, prepared

In a medium bowl, combine the ginger, rice wine vinegar and 2 tbsp of soy sauce and then add the pork. Set aside to marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Add peanut oil and heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add pork along with the marinade and cook until pork is no longer pink and liquid is gone.  About 5-7 minutes.    Remove pork from pan to a bowl and set aside.  Add cabbage to pan and cook until it starts to soften.  Then add asparagus and garlic, cook until cabbage is cooked down but still has some crunch to it.  Add pork back to pan with veggies and add remaining soy sauce and dark sesame see oil.  Cook until heated through.  Serve over rice.   Makes 4 healthy servings.

May 6, 2010

Cinco de Mayo en Mi Cocina

I wanted to celebrate Cinco de Drinko er Mayo at home with the hubby so I planned to have something festive for dinner.  Oh and cheap as well.  So I created a Taco Mac, paired with chips and salsa as well as a margarita and boom!  You have a tasty full course meal.  Dessert was a Mango Cake with lime glaze which reminded me of this margarita cake I use to make.  It's so fluffy like a spongecake and sooooo good!  It's semi-homemade but still delicious.  I hope you enjoy it all as much as we did.


1 lb ground beef
1 (15oz) can of dice tomatoes (I used Italian style for more flavor)
1 c frozen corn
1 packet taco seasoning
2 c uncooked pasta (I used Campanelle but any will do)
2 1/4 c hot water
2 c Taco or Mexican flavored cheese

Cook ground beef in big skillet over medium-high heat until browned.  Drain if necessary.  Add tomatoes, corn, taco seasoning, pasta and water.  Stir together and bring to a boil.  Stir once more, cover and turn down to medium-low heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

Turn off heat and add 1 cup cheese and stir.   Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.   Enjoy!


1 box french vanilla cake make
1/2 c rum
1/3 c water
3 eggs
1 c peeled mango, cubed
1/4 c butter, melted
1/4 c finely chopped mango

1 1/2 c powder sugar
2-3 tsp milk (or water if no milk on hand)
1 1/2 tsp lime juice

Spray bundt cake pan or 9x9 baking dish with vegetable spray.  Place cubed mango on the bottom of the pan.   Blend cake mix, rum, water, eggs and finely chopped mango in a large mixer bowl and mix at low speed until moistened.  Then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. (scraping down sides of bowl if needed)

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes our clean.  Cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes.  While cooling, start the glaze.

Mix together all ingredients until smooth.  Add more milk or water for thinner consistency or more powdered sugar for thicker glaze.  Taste test to see if it has the right amount of lime and add more as you wish.

Loosen edges and put cake onto serving platter.   Pour glaze over whole cake. Slice and enjoy!!

May 4, 2010

Spice Advice

Variety really is the spice of life!  However, don't be ashamed if you don't know what a certain spice is or what to use it in.   Not too long ago, I didn't use any spices other than garlic powder, salt and pepper.   I'm not kidding!  Some of you cooks are probably like "WTF?  Really? How?"   I know!  It's crazy how I went so long in life without exploring the world spices.   My taste buds have since forgiven me.  I think.  .  .

For those of you who aren't exploring or cooking as much, you really should experiment and try spices out.  (Since you're here, check out some of my recipes. hehe)   I'm sure the majority of you have a spice rack in your kitchen filled with items you don't use and probably have no idea what to use them in.   Keep in mind that if they've been sitting in your kitchen for years and have accumulated dust, it's time to go buy a new spice rack or start with a few jars at a time.  Spices that are old are no bueno and believe me, it makes a huge difference in the flavor.   On the same website as the reference guide you'll find out how to tell if they are fresh or not.

I came across Spice Advice while surfing food blogs and websites one day.  It's a handy chart to show what you can use spices in and breaks it down by type of meats and stuff.  Really cool!!
So print it out and/or save it so you can use it as a reference next time you're hesitant about a recipe.  You can start off by just following a recipe.  After you become more comfortable with what spices you enjoy and how much to use, you can start substituting spices the recipe calls for with something you like more.   Have fun with it!  You are very welcome!

May 3, 2010

S'mores Brownies

I've been on a chocolate kick so I made brownies... again.  I can't help myself!  ;p  But at least I don't mind sharing with others.  I even made a batch to give away to a friend and her kids.  Yes, the whole batch!  Okay, I'll lay it all out there... she let me have 1 while I was at her house drinking wine.  They went so well together.  I used my previous brownie recipe from the Peanut Butter & Nutella Brownies as the base and then made it into S'mores brownies.  I left out the peanut butter and nutella and then just added more cocoa along with some chocolate chips then topped with marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs.  mmmm So good!!

1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/2 c plus 1/4 c separated, semi sweet chocolate chips
6 large marshmallows, cut or torn into small pieces
2 tbsp graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.  

Measure the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and whisk to combine. 

Stir the sugar into the melted butter.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.   Stir in 1/2 c of chocolate chips.

Pour mix into the prepared pan.   Top with marshmallow pieces, remaining chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs and bake for 20-25 minutes or until top forms a crust. 
** I baked for 20 minutes and kept checking every 5 minutes after that with a toothpick to make sure it came out clean.  I think it was done at 30 minutes but every oven is different.

April 22, 2010

Vegetable Fried Rice

I could eat rice all the time. It is so versatile.  I love that you can just throw almost anything along with it and it works.  Growing up I rice a lot.   Fried Rice, Steamed Rice, Stir Fry on top of rice, etc.  Grandma Millie made steamed rice with almost every meal. Sometimes I miss being a kid and just having someone else do all the work in the kitchen.  Other times I am so glad I'm responsible and creative enough to make my own delicious meals. I thank my family for providing those childhood meals that I still think about sometimes miss.  I think my mom gets annoyed when I find out I don't really like certain things she cooks anymore and when I cook it, the dish turns out better. ha ha But it's their turn to sit back and relax while I whip up something tasty.  I love you Mom & Lola! (You can still make me fried chicken w/mashed potatoes and gravy anytime Mom!)

This is actually a healthy dish so I have a feeling this will be a part of the regular menu rotation.  I just have to watch the portions or it could get outta hand real quick!  I could probably manage to keep that up if I continue to go to kickboxing.  ;p

2 c steamed long grain white rice (prepared according to package)
1/3 c vegetable broth (I used chicken broth since that is what I had on hand)
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp canola oil, divided
Cooking spray
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 c thinly sliced green onions (2-3)
2 c mixed frozen veggies, thawed (carrots, peas, corn, green beans or your own personal favorites)

**I have found that if I cook my rice in advance enough it has time to cool down and not turn so sticky when I add to the pan with the other ingredients. I usually give it about 30-45 minutes to sit before I start prepping the other stuff.

Combine broth and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Set aside

Heat 1 tsp canola oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add beaten eggs; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until scrambled.  Remove egg from pan.

Heat remaining 1 tsp canola oil in pan.  Add rice; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Add vegetables, broth mixture, garlic and green onions; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.  Then add scrambled eggs and heat through. Enjoy!!

April 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Nutella Brownies

Since I have some free time on my hands, I decided to bake something that my husband would enjoy.  He's a huge fan of Peanut Butter and Nutella.  What do you get when you mix the two things together??  Greatness dancing in your mouth!  I watched them closely so they didn't overbake as I had not tried this recipe before.  It was worth it as they came out perfectly moist.  He came home with dinner and dessert waiting on him. 

1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp (1/4 c) peanut butter
4 tbsp (1/4 c) Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.  

Measure the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and whisk to combine. 

Stir the sugar into the melted butter.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. 

Put the Nutella and peanut butter in a small bowl and microwave until runny. (about 30 seconds)  Fold into brownie mix.  If you barely mix it you will have delicious ribbons of the sauce throughout.  

Pour mix into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until top forms a crust. 
** I baked for 20 minutes and kept checking every 5 minutes after that with a toothpick to make sure it came out clean.  I think it was done at 30 minutes but every oven is different. 

April 20, 2010

Japanese-Style Crispy Pork

First of all, my picture doesn't do this meal justice so I apologize. Thanks to the May edition of Food Network Magazine, I found this delicious creation.   It's basically schnitzel with a Japanese-style side. Now all I need to do is learn to make the "out of this world" creamy sauces like Jorg's Cafe Vienna and I'll have my own Award Winning Crème Schnitzel.  If you don't know what I'm talking about you must let me know and we will go immediately!  Wow, now I'm craving the Jager Schnitzel. Mmmm. But I'm so serious, if you haven't been there let me know and I will introduce you to heaven in your mouth x10.

1 lb thin-cut boneless pork chops or cutlets, trimmed
kosher salt
2 tbs rice wine, sake or sherry
1 1/2 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
2 medium cucumbers
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 large eggs
2 c panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3/4 c cornstarch
Peanut oil, for frying
1/4 c tonkatsu sauce ( a sweet-spicy Japanese dipping sauce, sold near the soy sauce; or follow my recipe below to make your own)

If your pork is a little thicker than 1/4 inch, pound it thin with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer.  Season the pork with salt.  Mix the rice wine and1 tsp ginger and spread onto the pork.  Set aside.

Peel, quarter and seed the cucumbers; cut into 4-inch spears.  Toss with the sugar and vinegar.  Then toast the pepper flakes with 1 tbsp salt in a skillet over medium heat, about 4 minutes.  Set aside.

Beat the eggs with 1/2 c water in a shallow bowl.  PUt the panko and cornstarch in 2 separate plates or shallow bowls.  Dredge each piece of pork in cornstarch, dip in egg, then coat with the panko.  Heat 1/4 inch of peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Fry the pork in batches until golden, 3-4 minutes each side.  Place on papertowel-lined plate.

Sprinkle the cucumbers with some of the pepper flake salt. 

Tonkatsu Sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
remaining 1/2 tsp ginger

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl.

Serve the sauce with the pork and cucumbers. 

March 26, 2010

White Russian Cupcakes

It was a co-workers birthday Tuesday and I decided to make something different.  I hope Paul had a great birthday!  I didn't have time or energy to make anything other than what ingredients I had in my house.   As I was going through some cookbooks to get ideas I came across "White Russian Cupcakes".  I love to drink one once in a while as well as some people I know.  It's one of those drinks that just 1 or 2 will do the trick.  Plus, the Dude loves them!! :-) So I had to try this out.  I think the batter and/or frosting could use more chocolate or Kahlua.   But this is the recipe I used so feel free to adjust as you see fit.  

1 plain yellow cake mix
1 pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
1 c vegetable oil
3/4 c whole milk
4 large eggs
1/4 c vodka
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp Kahlua
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Kahlua Whipped Cream:
1 c heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp confectioners sugar (powdered)
1 tbsp Kahlua
2 tbsp semisweet chocolate shavings for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.  Set the pans aside.
Prepare the cupcake batter: place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, vodka, 1/4 c Kahlua and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a wooden or rubber spatula.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed.  Spoon 1/3 c batter into each lined cupcake cup or use a cookie scoop, filling three quarters of the way full. I put 2 scoops in each and it came out perfect for 24 cupcakes.  Remove any empty liners and place pans in the oven.  

Bake until they are golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 15-20 minutes.  Remove the pans from oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.   Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the remaining 2 tbsp of Kahlua.  Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes to cool before frosting. 

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.  Place a large, clean mixing bowl and electric mixer beaters in the freezer to chill for 1-2 minutes.  Remove them from the freezer.  Pour the cream into the bowl and beat with mixer on high speed until the cream has thickened, 1 1/2 minutes.  Stop the machine and add the sugar and Kahlua.  Beat the cream on high speed until stiff peaks form 1-2 minutes more.  

Place a heaping tablespoon of the whipped cream on each cupcake and swirl to spread it out with a spatula or spoon.  Garnish with chocolate shavings.    Store in a cake saver or covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

February 21, 2010

Butter Chicken


My husband and I are huge fans of Indian food.   I mainly lean more towards curry dishes the majority of the time but we both really love Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani).  My friend, Asad wished me luck in making this dish as his mother has been trying to make it for years and it hasn't come out right.   I'm sure our levels of approval to what it SHOULD taste like are very different.   In our opinion, we came pretty close to the same flavor as our favorite Indian restaurant, Cafe Iravat.  So that it what we used as a comparison to how it should taste.  I was so excited that it turned out to taste so good.   Sorry, I couldn't share with Asad because we pigged out and ate all of it.  Maybe next time.  It was very simple and delicious!!  We also stopped by the Spice Rack market around the corner from our house on the way home to pick up Naan to go along with our meal.  They make it fresh while you wait.  Wow!!!  We also got a serving of their butter chicken to try it out.  We snacked on that while I had everything simmering.  Their version was really spicy but very flavorful.   Maybe everyone's idea of Butter Chicken is different.  But now that I have my own I'm sure I'll be making it often. 

2 lbs chicken thighs, fat trimmed off
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (**If you want it spicy, you may use 1 tsp or more.)
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cardamom
Juice of 1 whole lime

1 onion, diced
1 c butter
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 c half and half
basmati rice or naan

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate covered overnight. 

Saute the onion in the butter until soft in a dutch oven.  Add marinated chicken and cook to brown on all sides.  Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Simmer  covered for at least 30 minutes over medium-low heat.  I think the longer you simmer the better it will be as all the flavors have time to marry and become better and better.  I simmered for 30 minutes stirred and then simmered another 20 minutes.  Add the half and half just before serving. Serve over basmati rice or scoop up with naan.   Enjoy!

February 20, 2010

Best Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I'm in love with my crockpot.  Most of you already know this from hearing my tales full of excitement of what I've already made and what I'm planning to throw together for next time. I've tried various recipes for beef stew.   Quick recipes, slow cooker, healthy, not so healthy... I found the best one by far in my opinion.  I prepped all the veggies the night before and cut them up and put in the fridge in a sealed container.   The next morning before work I finished prepping the meat and added everything to the slow cooker.  It took about 10-15 minutes to get everything into the crockpot.   I smelled of seared meat all day so next time I'll brown the meat the previous night as well. 

6 medium red potatoes, quartered
4 medium carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
3 medium onions, quartered
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c all purpose flour
2-3 lbs beef chuck, fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 c beef broth
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 c frozen petite peas, defrosted
1 c frozen corn, defrosted

Combine the potatoes, carrots, onions, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in the insert of a 5-7 quart slow cooker and toss the veggies to distribute seasonings.

Add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and the flour to a large plastic bag and stir to combine.  Add the meat to the flour, toss to coat and shake off any excess flour. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meat and brown on all sides.  Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker insert. 

Deglaze the skillet with the broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Tranfer the contents of the skillet to the slow-cooker insert.  Then add the thyme.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until meat is tender. 

Add the peas and corn and cook for an additional hour.  Season with salt and pepper before serving.  We served with sliced french bread and butter.  Serves 8.

January 27, 2010

Cheese Part 5 - Dessert

It's not a complete dinner unless it ends with dessert.  Thanks to Carole, we finished the night on a sweet, silky, cheesy note.    Mmmmm wow!  I'll take this dessert of your hands anytime lady. 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

1/4 cup caramel topping
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1 21-ounce can apple pie filling
12 pecan halves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the apple filling; set aside. Spoon the remaining filling into the crust. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs and mix well. Pour this over the pie filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set. Cool to room temperature.

Mix the reserved pie filling and caramel topping in a small saucepan and heat for about 1 minute, or until spreadable. Spoon the apple-caramel mixture over the top of the cheesecake and spread evenly. Decorate the edge of the cake with pecan halves and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.


Cheese Part 4 - Vegetable Dish

We had at least one vegetable dish thanks to Lesley.   She's getting really good at whipping up some tasty veggies.   It's simple and tasty!  And Lesley, like we told you... you didn't over cook because the cauliflower still had a crunch.   We look forward to more tasty dishes from you. (with or without being wrapped in your infamous pastry shells)  

1 cauliflower cut to medium roses
3-4 potatoes thinly sliced and halved (like chips)
1 1/2 - 2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c milk
6 tbsp butter, chilled
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder or to taste

Arrange potatoes and cauliflower in 9x9 baking dish (preferably ceramic or glass).  In a medium bowl, stir cream and milk together then add salt, pepper, coriander and garlic. Pour cream mix over veggies. (if using butter, put a pat over veggies throughout out dish) Cover with aluminum foil and cook in a preheated oven at 425. The time is tricky original dish says an hour but I checked mine at 30 minutes and it was done, almost too done, so I'd check it every 20 minutes until veggies are soft.  Sprinkle cheese over and bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted. 

January 25, 2010

Cheese Part 3 - Second Main Course

This is one of those recipes that doesn't sound appealing when you are describing it.  It's a classic southern Italian dish from Palermo.  Rice, cheese, sopressata salami, more cheese.  I wasn't sure about it as I was putting it all together but once it was in the crockpot and all layered and pretty, I thought for sure it would be tasty.   The smell of it cooking all day drove me crazy!  I kept my fingers crossed that it would taste as wonderful as it smelled.    It made enough for me to take to work and share the next day.   Not that I'm biased but this is a perfect side dish for a potluck.

Arancini Casserole

4 c cooked white rice
2 c mascarpone cheese
1 c chicken broth
2 c finely grated pecorino romano cheese
6 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2 in thick slices
6 slices Genoa salami or sopressata, cut into cubes (about 1/3 c when cut)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

Coat the insert of the 5-7 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Put the rice, mascarpone, broth and 1 cup of the pecorino in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Put half the rice mixture in the slow-cooker insert.  Layer half the mozzarella and all salami over the rice.  Put the garlic, parsley, oil and the remaining 1 cup pecorino in another small bowl and stir to combine.  Spread half the garlic mixture over the salami.  Layer with the remaining rice mixture, the mozzarella, and the remaining garlic mixture.  Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours until the casserole is heated through.  Remove the cover and cook until liquid in the casserole has been absorbed, an additional 30-45 minutes.  Serve from the cooker set on warm or off.  Serve 6-8.