Thursday, December 15, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1 can (10 oz) chunk white chicken, drained ( I used 1 pint of bottled chicken)
1/2 C buffalo sauce
1/2 C ranch dressing
2 Cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Tortilla Chips

Spread cream cheese into an ungreased shallow 1-qt. baking dish. Layer with chicken, buffalo sauce and ranch dressing. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake uncovered, at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatballs with Peppers and Pineapple

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/12/meatballs-with-peppers-and-pineapple/

Meatball Ingredients:
1 1/4 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, diced very finely
1 egg
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (or regular breadcrumbs)
1 tsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil, for frying

Sauce Ingredients:
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced roughly
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 cups beef stock or broth
2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup sherry or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Extra beef stock, if needed

Preparation Instructions:

Combine ground beef, diced onion, egg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and crushed red pepper. Mix with hands until combined. Roll meat mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze on the pan for 15 minutes to firm.
Mix together beef stock, soy sauce, sherry (or vinegar), sugar, and cornstarch.
Heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Roll meatballs in flour, then fry in two batches until nice and brown, about two minutes per batch. Remove meatballs and set aside on a separate plate.
Pour off oil from pan and return pan to medium high heat. When pan is hot, throw in the chopped green peppers and cook for one minute. Add pineapple to pan and cook for one minute, stirring gently. Pour in stock/soy sauce mixture, then add meatballs. Stir gently to combine and allow to cook and bubble for a few minutes, or until sauce is thickened. Add salt and crushed red peppers to taste. (Hint: this dish is yummy if it’s a little spicy.)
Serve over cooked brown or white rice.
*We used apple cider vinegar
*We took out meatballs and sauce for Miriam before adding crushed red pepper. We like spicy food.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Double Chocolate Muffins

printed from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: This recipe makes more than 24 muffins. Because I only have two regular-sized muffins pans and was impatient, I made the rest of the batter into 16 mini muffins. You could easily make all regular-sized muffins if you want. Also, I had some all-natural plum juice in the refrigerator and subbed that in for the water. The taste was unnoticeable but was a little boost in fruit and fiber. I think the water would work just as well, but if you have plum juice just sitting around, throw it in!

*Makes 24 regular sized muffins and 16 mini-muffins

Maria's note: I made about 29 regular sized muffins. We all really liked these muffins--not too sweet--definitely more on the dark chocolate side of chocolate.

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup light or regular sour cream
1/2 cup water or plum juice
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, chocolate chips and salt. Toss to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, water (or juice), milk, oil and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet mixture, stirring just until moistened (a few dry streaks and lumps are fine).

Line muffins cups with paper liners and fill the cups 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to let cool completely.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gingersnap Cookies

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
Additional sugar for rolling

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Beat shortening and sugar in mixer.  Add molasses and egg.  Gradually beat in flour mixture until dough forms.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in additional sugar.

Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350.

10 minutes for soft gingersnaps.
12 minutes for crunchy gingersnaps.

Key Lime Pie


1 gram cracker pie crust
4 egg yolks 
1 can condensed milk
1 tsp cream of tarter
3/4 c. key lime juice

Beat ingredients together until smooth.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake at 350 for 20 min.  Cool completely and freeze at least two hours.  Top with whip cream.  

If pie completely freezes (like over night) let it thaw in the fridge about 2 hours before serving.  You want it cold but not frozen.

Cheeseburger Soup (Kierstin's variation)

I love this soup. I think this soup is why I married Jason. The first time Jason took me to Idaho, this soup was sitting on the stove when we arrived late at night. Jason's mom offered us some and Jason said, "No thanks." I jumped in, the starving college student, and said, "I'd like some!" It is probably my favorite soup. However, I do not buy processed cheese. It just sounds disgusting and unhealthy. So when I got the recipe I made a slight change to accommodate the regular block cheddar cheese that I keep on hand. Here is my variation for others out there who might be opposed to "processed cheese."

Ingredients
½ lb ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
4 Tbsp butter (always use the real thing!), divided
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced peeled potatoes (1-3/4 lb)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
8 oz (about 2 c.) grated cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

Instructions
In a 3 qt. saucepan, brown beef; drain and set aside. In the same saucepan, saute onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 Tbsp butter until vegetables are tender, about 5 min. Add broth, potatoes and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 min or until potatoes are tender.
***Meanwhile, I make a cheese sauce in a small skillet by melting remaining butter. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly added milk stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Over low heat stir in grated cheese until melted.****
Add cheese sauce to soup, stirring until combined. Remove from heat and blend in sour cream.

The BEST Hot Fudge

This is the Livingston family (my mom's side) hot fudge recipe and I bet you can't find a better and easier hot fudge recipe any where! I've even had the hot fudge at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and I think this recipe is better. Now my mom and uncle can't agree on how my Nana makes it, so I will give you both variations and they're both good and very similar. And coincidentally, Our Best Bites hot fudge is very similar to our family's recipe, too, so I am including it.

My Mom's Ingredients
2 squares Baker's Brand unsweetened chocolate
1/4 c. (or half a stick) of REAL butter
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand recommended)

My Uncle's Ingredients
2 squares Baker's Brand semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 c. (or whole stick) of REAL butter
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand recommended)
(clearly more sugar and fat)

Instructions
Melt chocolate and butter in microwave (about 30 seconds). The butter will melt quicker, so you'll need to stir the chocolate squares until they dissolve. You can also do this on the stove top if you prefer. Then stir in the sweetened condensed milk until combined and microwave until hot (about another 30 seconds). Ladle generously over your best vanilla ice-cream!

Our Best Bites

Hot Fudge Sauce

Ingredients:
3oz semi-sweet chocolate*
(3 squares of baking chocolate, or about 1/2 C chocolate chips

1/4 C butter (that’s a half of a stick folks. Admit it, at least one of you didn’t know that)

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

*I wouldn’t use milk chocolate for this, it’s way too sweet, however both dark and bittersweet are awesome

Instructions:
1. If you’re using baking squares, chop them up into small pieces so they melt easier. I chop the butter up into small chunks too.

2. Okay, it’s not rocket science. Put it in a pan on medium heat and melt it all together till it’s smooth, creamy, and just looking at it gives you happy thoughts.

3. If you have leftovers (but let’s be honest, you’ll have to quadruple the recipe to have leftovers) then put it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will harden into a soft, gooey fudge like consistency. Then keep a spoon handy on the counter and dip it in every time you pass by. This serves the same purpose as the always-open bags of chocolate chips that Kate and I both have in our pantries. Don’t deny it Kate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jambalaya

I got this recipe from Our Best Bites
It is a really easy version of Jambalaya
It is also great the next day

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. white rice
5 c. water
2-3 Tbsp. butter
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
A lot of garlic (probably 5-6 cloves), minced
1/2 lb. high-quality smoked sausage(approximately; you can actually use a little less if you buy, say, a 14-oz. package of sausage)
1/2 lb. ham (you can also substitute leftover chicken, shrimp, or other shellfish; however, you’ll also need to compensate for the smokey flavor and the salt from the ham, so be prepared with liquid smoke and salt to taste. And you’ll want it to have a distinct smokey flavor.)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (you could use another Cajun or Creole seasoning, but this brand is widely accessible and cheap) to taste

Directions:

1. Combine rice and water in a medium-large saucepan and cover with lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove from heat and allow to stand an additional five minutes. (I just make some rice in my rice cooker)
2. While rice is cooking, finely chop sausage and ham (in your food processor if you have one) and set aside. Melt butter over medium heat in a very large skillet. When butter is hot and bubbly, add onion, green onions, green pepper, and celery and cook until tender. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add chopped meat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and then add cooked rice. Now start seasoning with the Cajun seasoning. It’s hot, I won’t lie, so if you find that it’s getting spicy enough for your taste but it’s still not salty enough, leave the Cajun seasoning alone and just finish seasoning it with Kosher salt. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. Combine with cooked rice and serve.

*I added the stuff in italics because she forgot to put it in her instructions, but added it later in her comment section.

Kansas City Sue's Chicken {Slow Cooker}

from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: The chicken cooks up with quite a lot of juicy sauce. I prefer lightly draining the sauce and serving it on the side so that it isn't so "soupy" as we are dishing it up over our rice. Serve it as you please!

Maria's note: This is a really good, mild chicken dish. We had leftovers, so I just shredded the chicken and reheated it with the juice on the stove top and it was still great.

*Serves 6-ish

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
In a large skillet, heat the butter/olive oil. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook them for 1-2 minutes on each side, until nicely browned but not cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken to the slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Whisk well. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with rice or noodles.

Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake

printed from melskitchencafe.com

Maria's note: I loved this! The cake is so moist. A couple of people thought the frosting was too much, but not me! It was dangerous to have this around the house.

*Serves 10-12

INGREDIENTS:
Cake:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream, light or regular
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter
1 cup water

Frosting
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cups creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the cake, in a medium bowl combine the sugar and flour. In a largeM bowl mix eggs, baking soda, and sour cream well. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine peanut butter, butter, and water. Bring to a boil. Stir the boiled peanut butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add to the sour cream mixture. Mix well. Pour into a lightly greased 15×10 inch sheet/jellyroll pan.

Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the frosting, while the cake is baking, combine the butter, peanut butter, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Stir in the vanilla. The frosting will be thick. Mix well. Pour and spread over cake while both are still warm.
Let the cake and frosting cool completely. Cut into pieces and serve.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Smothered Pork Chops {Slow Cooker}

printed from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: I like to serve these smothered pork chops over rice or mashed potatoes. Also, if the gravy in the last step doesn't thicken well, mix another tablespoon of cornstarch to 2 tablespoons cold water and add it to the hot liquid. Let it come to a boil to ensure it thickens properly. Finally, I have doubled the pork in this recipe and kept all the other ingredients the same and there was plenty of gravy to smother the doubled pork.
*Serves 6


Maria's note: We loved these. My gravy turned out a little too thin, but that can be remedied with the cornstarch. I recommend serving the bacon on the side so that the bacon doesn't go limp in the gravy.

5 slices bacon, chopped
6 bone-in pork loin chops, about 3/4-inch thick
Salt and Pepper
2 yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch thick half moons
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. If you have more than 2 tablespoons drippings, drain the excess. If you don't have quite that much, supplement with canola oil. When the bacon is cool, transfer to a small bag or tupperware and refrigerate until later.
Heat the skillet with the drippings over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Meanwhile, pat pork chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until they are golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side, cooking them in batches in the skillet if your skillet isn't big enough to hold all six at a time in a single layer. When golden on each side, transfer the chops to the slow cooker and repeat with remaining pork.

Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the skillet; add onions, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water to empty skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from bottom of the pan and cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour onion mixture over chops in the slow cooker. Add broth, soy sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar to skillet, bring to a boil and add bay leaves. Pour mixture over onions in slow cooker.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low until pork is tender, about 8 hours (or cook on high for 4 hours).

When ready to serve, carefully transfer chops to serving platter with a large spoon and tent with foil. Discard bay leaves and pour liquid through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, reserving the solids. Transfer solids to a food processor or blender with 1 cup liquid and blend until smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into remaining liquid in the saucepan. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl and stir into sauce. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, season with salt and pepper, pour over chops and sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley. Serve.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chicken Lo Mein

1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 pound chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 sweet red pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1 small onion, cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ginger
4 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil. Add chicken pieces and cook through. Add vegetables.



Saute until vegetables are tender. Add garlic powder and crushed red pepper.



In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch, chicken broth, soy sauce, and ginger. Add to vegetables and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil for about two minutes until sauce is thickened.



Add spaghetti noodles. Serve.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I went searching for a chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe for Chase and Emmy's birthday cake yesterday. Here is what I ended up using. I thought it was pretty good, but am still open to suggestions if someone has something better. I took suggestions from several different posted recipes and the recipes were all over the place on the cream cheese, butter, sugar ratio. I ended up trying to stay close to Best Bites regular cream cheese frosting ratios.

Ingredients
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c. butter, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 c. coco powder
4 c. powdered sugar, approx.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and extract until light and fluffy. Add in cream, coco, and powder sugar and beat until smooth and fully mixed. Depending on desired stiffness add more or less powder sugar and frost away.

Apple Walnut Magic Muffins

The base recipe for these muffins comes from the Malt-o-Meal quick cooking how wheat cereal box. My mom would always make these muffins, but would add an apple and walnuts to make them extra moist and delicious. It is a great way to use up apples that aren't very good for whatever reason. I usually double this recipe and the muffins also freeze beautifully.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. Original Malt-o-Meal hot wheat cereal, dry
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Extra add ins:
1 grated apple (doesn't matter how gross plain)
1/2 c. (or so) chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and stir together until all ingredients are moistened. (I usually combine all dry ingredients and then add the wet stuff.) Then I stir in my grated apple and chopped walnuts. Pour batter into muffin pan, roughly 3/4 full per muffin and bake 18-20 minutes. ENJOY!

Yield: 12 muffins

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Source
slightly adapted


Dry Ingredients:
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream (I used plain yogurt)
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup raisins, optional
1/4 cup butter, melted

Tip: if you cannot find really ripe bananas, just nuke them in the microwave for about 15 seconds and they will become super soft for mashing.

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then fold in the mashed up bananas and the raisins. Stir in the melted butter.


Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter. Pour about 1/3 cup batter and cook pancakes
until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Pancakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot. Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top. (I just sprinkled them with a little powdered sugar and they were delicious.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake


Recipe by Our Best Bites
1/3 C pumpkin, canned 
1/4 – 1/2 C milk
1/4 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1/16 t cloves (just use a 1/8 t measure and fill it half way, or do a pinch)
1/16 t nutmeg
2 T brown sugar
2 C vanilla ice cream
1-2 graham crackers
Pop everything but graham crackers in a blender. Start with 1/4 C milk and then slowly add more if needed to make the blender process it all. I used somewhere between 1/4-1/2 C.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Red Chile Sauce Chicken Enchiladas

*Makes 12 enchiladas
INGREDIENTS:
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
2 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large chicken breasts)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn or flour tortillas (fajita-size for flour tortillas)
cooking spray
salt and ground black pepper
DIRECTIONS:
In a large saucepan, combine the onion, jalapeno, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions and peppers have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer.
Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts you are using. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside to cool. Continue to simmer the sauce over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Strain the sauce through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing the onion mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Season sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the leftover onion mixture from the strainer to a large bowl and set aside.
Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to the onion mixture in the large bowl. Also stir in 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese and the cilantro. Toss to combine.
Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40-60 seconds. Spread the tortillas on a clean work surface, and spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each. Tightly roll each tortilla and lay seam-side down in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
Heat oven to 400 F. Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through.
Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, additional cilantro, if desired.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Squash and Pepper Saute

Also, from the lady in my Elk Grove ward.

2 medium yellow squash, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium red pepper, julienned
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 envelope (.7 oz.) Italian salad dressing mix
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

In a skillet over medium-high, stir-fry the vegetables in oil until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salad dressing mix; toss. Stir in vinegar; mix well. Yield: 6 servings

Zucchini Santa Fe

This recipe came from a lady in my Elk Grove ward.

3 cups sliced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. cooking
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, drained
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt, optional
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini and onion in oil for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add chilies, tomato, salt if desired, pepper and garlic powder. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 6 servings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Pizza Sauce

I saw this recipe on Best Bites and have been wanting to try since we make a lot of homemade pizza at our house. It is so simple, and yet so fantastic. The kids all loved it. I really like the thickness and tangy flavor. It is a lot more zippy than using tomato sauce as a base. TRY IT!! The Garlic Bread seasoning is also great for, well, garlic bread!

Pizza Sauce

Recipe from OurBestBItes.com

Pizza Sauce

1 6-oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water (just use the empty tomato paste can)
3 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning*
1 Tbsp. sugar or honey (I usually use sugar because it's easier and hey, I think we've established here that if there's an easy road or a hard road, I usually take the easy road...)
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Empty tomato paste into a bowl and add water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly until combined. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and allow to stand until ready to use. Covers two average-sized pizza; freezes extremely well.


*Garlic Bread Seasoning:

combine the following ingredients

1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Corn Pasta

from Rachel Ray
Serves 4 as a main dish
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:
1 pound dry pasta
6 slices smoky bacon, chopped
6 ears of corn on the cob, shucked
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup half-and-half cream (whole milk or cream works too)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme leaves
A few dashes of hot sauce or 1-2 pinches of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup torn sweet basil leaves

Directions:

1. Bring
a large pot of water to boil over medium heat. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook to al dente.

2. Meanwhile,
heat a large skillet with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook a few minutes until rendered and crisp. Put a small bowl inverted into a large bowl, steady the corn cobs on the smaller bowl and scrape the ears. Add 3/4 of the scraped corn and any corn liquid to the pan with the bacon. Add the shallots and red pepper and liberally season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Add the rem
aining corn and half-and-half to a food processor and puree until smooth.

4. Pour
the stock or wine into the corn and vegetables, and simmer over low heat for a minute to reduce. Stir in the thyme and corn-cream mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, to thicken. Add the hot sauce or cayenne and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Drain
the pasta and add it to a large serving bowl. Pour in the sauce, add a couple of handfuls of cheese, about 1/2 cup and toss. Top with torn basil and pass the remaining cheese at the table.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Berry Pie



Berry Pie
1 No Fail Pie Crust
5 cups berries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour

Prepare pie crust and chill. Combine berries, sugar, and flour.

Divide pie crust in half. Roll one half into a circle large enough to fill pie pan. Transfer crust to pie pan. Add berry mixture Roll out second half. Place on top of berry mixture. Crimp edges. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

No Fail Pie Crust
4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold water 1 tbsp vinegar
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. In separate dish, mix water, vinegar, and egg. Combine mixtures. Chill 15 minutes.

Chicken Noodle Soup



2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cans chicken broth
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped celery
1/2 - 3/4 cup chhopped onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cooked diced chicken
8 oz home style egg noodles, cooked (Country Pasta Homemade Style)
salt and pepper, to taste



Heat chicken broth and bouillon together. Add carrots, celery, and onions. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Add cream of chicken soup and milk. Add cooked chicken and noodles. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicken and Rice Soup

10 C chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 C sliced celery
1 C sliced carrot
1/4 C snipped parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 C cooked, cubed chicken
2 C cooked rice
2 T lime juice

Combine broth, onion, celery, carrots, parsley, pepper, thyme and bay leaf in pot. Bring to a boil; stir once or twice. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Add chicken; simmer, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in rice and lime juice just before serving.

Melanie was looking for this recipe. I didn't see it on the blog so I added it. I'm pretty sure I got this recipe from Cherise.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Homemade Syrups

Coconut Syrup
(From the Sisters Cafe)

7-8 T. butter
¾ c. buttermilk
1 c. sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp coconut extract

Place butter, buttermilk and sugar in a pot. Then turn stove on medium and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil one minute. Remove from heat and add soda and flavoring. It will bubble up; just continue to stir and give it a few minutes for the ‘fizz’ to reduce before serving.

Buttermilk Carmel Syrup

3/4 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. sugar (I've used brown too and it works great)
1 stick (1/2 c.) real butter
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine buttermilk, sugar, butter, corn syrup, and baking soda in a LARGE pot. Like one you’d make soup in. Yes, you’ll have way more pot than ingredients (and I’m not referring to the green leafy stuff), but this will boil all over your newly-cleaned stove if you put it in a smaller saucepan.

Bring ingredients to a boil and reduce heat to low (as long as it’s still bubbling, you’re okay). Cook, stirring very frequently, for 8-9 minutes. You’re basically making candy here and candy-making requires constant vigilance.

When it’s done, it should take on this luscious golden-brown color. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

There will be foam on top. It tastes just as good, but it’s not super pretty. If you’re into aesthetics, you can skim it off; otherwise, just give it a good stir.

Monday, July 11, 2011

French Bread (from Hayley)

My sister uses this recipe a lot and I made it for the first time yesterday by hand since I don't have a mixer or bread pans this month. It turned out great.

In a small bowl combined:
1/2 c. warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. yeast

In a large bowl combined:
2 c. very hot water
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1/3 c. oil

Then add:
3 c. flour
and small bowl ingredients

Mix together and then add:
3 more cups flour or until correct consistency.

Need dough about every 10 minutes for an hour.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Aunt Katie’s Oatmeal Pancakes

Aunt Katie’s Oatmeal Pancakes
submitted by Erin ~ The Sisters Cafe

2 c. quick oats
½ c. flour
3 T. sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 ½ c. buttermilk
2 large eggs (slightly beaten)
¼ c. butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
add cinnamon, optional

Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and let sit for 20-30 minutes, covered. Cook slowly on a griddle at 325°, or a little lower. The pancakes are easier to flip if they are not very big. Spray griddle before each batch. Let the pancake cook through on one side and then flip.


***My mom introduced me to this recipe and I love it. It is almost like eating a bowl of oatmeal. Check out the ratio of flour to oats. I will have to post some of the fantastic homemade syrups that can also go with it.*****

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara

Michael says this is his favorite pasta dish that I make. It is really easy and fast.

1 pound spaghetti
8 ounces (8 slices) bacon, cut 1 inch thick crosswise
Coarse slat and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup half-and-half

Directions:

1. Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8-12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
2. Salt boiling water generously; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.
4. Working quickly and using a fork or pasta serving utensil, add hot pasta to egg mixture. You want to leave some water clinging to the pasta. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine (heat from pasta will cook the eggs). Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese.

Chewy Brownie Cookies

I found this recipes on allrecipes.com. They were a really good mix between a brownie (which I happen to love) and a cookie. I want to make them again very soon.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl cream shortening, sugar, water and vanilla. Beat in eggs.
4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on un-greased baking sheets. Bake for 7-9 minutes; DO NOT OVER BAKE. Cool 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

Serves 6-8

Potatoes:
3 T butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 C flour
1 1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 C milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
26-oz bag frozen shredded hash browns
1/2 C light sour cream

Topping:
3 C cornflakes, lightly crushed
2 T butter, melted

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is softened and translucent about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Combine the chicken broth and milk in a liquid measuring cup and slowly whisk in the mixture. Add the salt, pepper and thyme. Stir to combine. bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cheese until smooth. Mix in the frozen hash browns, lifting and folding the mixture until well combined. Finally, stir in the sour cream.

In a medium bowl, toss the lgithly crushed cornflakes with the butter util evenly combined. Scoop out the potato mixture into a 9X13 inch baking dish and top with the buttered cornflakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly around the edges. Let the potatoes rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Honey-Lime-Ginger Chicken

Serves 2-4 entrees (I think this is about right)

Ingredients
2 tsp butter, divided
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 breast halves), tenderized

1/4 cup liquid (chicken stock, water, fruit juice, herb tea, white wine, etc.)
1 heaping Tbs honey
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
juice and zest of half a lime (or more)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat medium, (oven-safe) saute pan on medium high. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt. Add 1 teaspoon butter and oil and when oil is hot, brown chicken in pan, turning once after 2 minutes.

Add all other ingredients to pan, stirring liquids with a whisk. Pan will steam and bubble vigorously. Take pan off heat and cover loosely with foil.

Bake in oven until chicken is cooked through, approximately 7-10 more minutes. Carefully take pan out of oven and transfer chicken to a plate (pan handle is HOT). Do not clean pan. Return same pan with cooking juices to the stove. Reduce sauce by boiling down liquids until thickened and shiny, about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove sauce from stove and whisk remaining 1 tsp butter (to give sauce body, flavor, and shine). Serve chicken, spooning sauce over top. Garnish with lime wedge and cilantro sprig if desired.

She suggests serving it with a green salad, sliced pineapple, and steamed quinoa for an easy, healthy meal. We ate it with the quinoa which was delicious. It has a great texture and an almost earthy or nutty taste. We cooked the chicken in the crockpot ahead of time, so I don't think we got as much sauce out of it as I was expecting, but it still tasted excellent. We debated whether or not we even needed to stick the chicken in the oven the way we made it. I used chicken broth and dried, ground ginger. I used the juice of one lime but no zest, and the flavor was subtle and not overpowering.

From Miracle Pill, by Tres Prier Hatch


Beef & Broccoli with Black Bean & Garlic Sauce

Serves 2-4 (I think it easily serves 2-3 adults and 2-3 children)

Marinade
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbs fresh ginger, minced fine, or 1 tsp dried ground ginger
2 tsp dry sherry or rice wine
1 Tbs cornstarch

Stir Fry Ingredients
3 Tbs peanut oil
1/2 lb beef, thinly sliced--use any cut of beef because the marinade will tenderize meat
2 lb broccoli, washed, florets separated from stalks and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 green pepper, cut into pieces
1/2 yellow onion, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
2 Tbs black bean and garlic sauce (found in Asian section at grocery store)
1 Tbs oyster sauce (available in most markets)

In a small bowl combine beef with marinade ingredients. Allow meat mixture to rest at room temperature at least 10 minutes and up to 1/2 hour.

Heat oil in wok. Add beef, and chow (stir) until seared, but not cooked all the way through. Remove meat to a bowl and set aside. Without wiping out wok, add broccoli florets, green pepper, onion, and Black Bean and Garlic Sauce, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. (I added oyster sauce at this point, too. I thought she forgot about it?) Add 1 cup water and cover with lid. Simmer covered one minute or until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender. Return beef to wok. Add bean sprouts. Stir until beef is cooked to desired doneness, mixture is shiny, and sauce is slightly thickened. Serve with rice.

From Miracle Pill, by Tres Prier Hatch

Cauliflower Soup with Chicken, Corn, & Cumin

Serves 6

1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs cumin seeds, finely ground in spice mill or with mortar and pestle
2 lb cauliflower, trimmed into 1 inch florets
1 tsp white pepper
3 cans low-sodium chicken broth (14 oz each), or vegetable broth
1 can whole kernel corn with liquid (15.25 ounce)
28 oz canned cooked chicken chunks with liquid

Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat, until it sizzles when a cumin seed or bread crumb is dropped in it. Add ground cumin and stir 10 seconds until fragrant. Add prepared cauliflower and stir 1 minute more. Add all other ingredients and simmer on low heat until cauliflower is tender and flavors are combined, about 20 minutes. Serve with rye bread and butter.

From Miracle Pill, by Tres Prier Hatch

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Liquid Laundry Detergent

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated
1/2 C Washing Soda
1/2 C Borax Powder

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.

Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.

Remove from heat.

Pout 4 cups hot water into a bucket or very large pan.

Now, add your soap mixture and stir.

Add 1 gallon (16 cups) plus 6 cups of water and stir.

Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.

Shake or mix before use.

Use 1/2 cup per load.

The finished soap will not be a solid gel. It will be more of a watery gel that can be described as an "egg noodle soup" look. This is a low sudsing soap.

Melanie J. gave me a powder version of this recipe that I have used for a long time. I decided to try the liquid version because occasionally I would find some powdered soap that didn't dissolve since I have a low water use washing machine. I've used the liquid version several times now and I like it and it saves me a lot of money on laundry detergent. It's VERY easy to make.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Best Chicken Fajitas

*Serves 4-5

*Note: liquid smoke may seem like an unnecessary, optional ingredient but I promise it adds an irreplaceable flavor and smokiness - I keep a bottle of liquid smoke on hand in the refrigerator just to make these fajitas.

Marinade:
¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 3-4 limes)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
2 easpoons soy sauce
½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Fajitas:
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (about 3 large chicken breasts)
1 yellow onion, cut into thin strips
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red (or orange) pepper, cut into thin strips
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice (a quick squeeze of a cut lime)
dash of salt and pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the marinade ingredients over the top. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator and let marinate for 2-3 hours.

After marinading, take chicken out of the bag and discard the marinade. Grill or broil the chicken 4-5 minutes per side (I use my indoor grill pan usually). Remove from pan and tent with foil to keep warm.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat and add the onion, mushrooms and peppers. Stir fry until softened but still crisp tender. Add soy sauce, water, lime juice and salt and pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Slice chicken thinly on the diagonal and toss with the vegetables in the skillet. Serve immediately with flour tortillas and top with tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, sour cream...the options are endless!

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
*Notes: Keep the corn tortillas wrapped in plastic or covered with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use – they will dry out quickly. The casserole can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To bake, cover tightly with foil. Bake about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until cheese has browned, about 10 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes.

*Serves 6

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped with 2 teaspoons sauce (decrease the amount of sauce to 1 teaspoon if you want it less spicy)
2 (15.5 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
18 (6-inch) round corn tortillas
Vegetable cooking spray
6 ounces cheddar cheese shredded (about 2 cups)
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese shredded (about 2 cups)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell peppers, cumin, chili powder, and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer, whisking often. Add the chipotles with adobo sauce, beans, and tomatoes; simmer until the flavors have blended about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup cilantro, the lime juice and pepper.

Place a damp paper towel on the bottom and top of the corn tortilla stack. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute until they are soft and pliable.

Toss the cheeses together in a medium bowl. Spread 1/3 of the chicken mixture in a lightly greased 9X13 inch dish. Layer 6 tortillas on top of the filling, overlapping as needed, and sprinkle with 1 ½ cups of the cheese. Repeat the process to form a second layer.

Spread the remaining filling in the baking dish. Cut the remaining 6 tortillas into quarters and arrange over the top and finish off with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro before serving. Serve with additional accompaniments, such as salsa, diced avocado, sour cream or sliced green onions. The casserole can be made and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To bake, cover tightly with foil. Bake about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until cheese has browned, about 10 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes.

Italian Cream Cake

5 eggs, separated
1/2 C butter or margarine
1/2 C shortening
1 3/4 C sugar
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 C coconut
1 C chopped pecans

Place egg whites in mixer bowl. Whip for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Place egg whites in another bowl.

Place butter, shortening, and sugar in mixer bowl. Mix about 2 1/2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time mixing after each. Scrape bowl.

Mix flour and baking soda. Add half to sugar mixture in bowl. Mix about 30 seconds. Add buttermilk, vanilla, and remaining flour mixture. Mix about one minute.

Add coconut and pecans. Mix just until blended. Remove bowl from mixer. Gently fold in beaten egg whites with spatula just until blended. Pour batter in greased and floured 13X9X2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool competely on wire rack. Spread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

NOTE: For best flavor, chill cake in refrigerator several hours or overnight.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 C powdered sugar
1 package (8 oz) light cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl. Beat abouit 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spread on cooled cake.

Mexican Lasagna

from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: this lasagna isn't super heavy on the sauce, just enough to plump up the pasta noodles perfectly and help everything hold their shape (not dry...just not overly saucy). I split all the ingredients (sauce, cheese, noodles) into three layers but feel free to simplify and just halve everything and do two layers only. Less noodles, more sauce. It's up to you. Also, the ingredient list looks long, but it comes together quickly, especially with the no-boil lasagna noodles.

*Serves 6-8

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
dash of ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cup frozen corn kernels, white or yellow
1 (6 ounce) can olives, chopped
9-12 no-boil lasagna noodles (I love the Barilla brand), or boil and drain regular lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream, light or regular
8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan and set aside.

In a large 12-inch skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste. Stir to combine well and cook for about a minute. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano and salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Add the black beans, corn and olives. Mix well and heat through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer three (or four, depending on the brand of noodles you use) noodles over the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the sour cream and 1/3 of the cream cheese (just pinch off chunks and toss them on top) across the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat the layers two more times until all the ingredients are used.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes more, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

Chicken Pot Pie Crumble

from melskitchencafe.com

*Serves 6-8

Chicken and Sauce:
1 ½ pounds chicken (about three medium-size chicken breasts)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
2-3 stalks celery, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
½ cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen peas


Crumble Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream


To prepare the chicken, place the chicken and broth in a large Dutch oven or pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the chicken until it is just done (don't overcook or it will dry out) - about 10-12 minutes. Alternately, if you are planning in advance, you can place the chicken and broth in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Transfer the cooked chicken to a medium bowl. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup and reserve. Return the pot to the stovetop (no need to wash if you used it to cook the chicken).


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over the top of the flour. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cream and stir until just combined. Crumble the mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crumble topping until fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside.


For the filling, heat the olive oil in the now-empty pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken into small bite-size pieces. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken; set aside.


Over medium heat melt the butter in the empty pot. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the bottom. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and stir the chicken, vegetables and peas into the sauce.


Pour the mixture into a 9x13 pan. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the filling. Place the 9X13-inch pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the topping is well browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguini

I have made this three or four times and EVERYONE loves it which is amazing in and of itself!

**This recipe requires marinating the chicken for 3-12 hours so plan ahead!**

1 lb. linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Marinade:
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed (smashed with the back of a large knife or saucepan)
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (cut this down to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you want less heat but don’t omit entirely or you will lose great flavor)
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 chicken breasts, sliced

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly before pouring into a ziploc plastic bag. Pat chicken dry and toss in marinade to coat. Refrigerate 3-12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat skillet over medium heat and pour contents of plastic bag (both marinade and chicken) into the skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked.

Combine juice of one lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, green onions and fresh parsley together in a small bowl. Set aside.

While the chicken is sauteing, cook linguine in boiling salted water until done; drain and return to warm pot. Pour lemon juice/olive oil/green onion mixture over pasta and mix lightly. When chicken is finished cooking, add hot pasta mixture to the skillet with the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss in parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buttermilk Cloverleaf Rolls

3 cups buttermilk at room temperature
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water (let it proof for 2-3 minute)
½ cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups flour, more or less
½ cup oil
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix the buttermilk, flour and yeast/water mixture together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Let stand at room temperature until double in size, about 2 hours. Add sugar, eggs, salt, flour, oil, and baking soda. Mix well and knead for 7-10 minutes. Roll out the amount of dough you want and place the rest in the refrigerator, covered. The next time you want fresh baked rolls, take from the bowl what you want and again put the rest back in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to seven days.

Shape the dough into cloverleafs by rolling dough into small balls about 3/4-inch in diameter and place three balls in each cup of a greased muffin tin.

Let rolls rise until double in size, 1-2 hours. Dough taken from the refrigerator will take longer because the dough is cold. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
from My Kitchen Cafe (www.melskitchencafe.com)

*Makes about 4-5 dozen

1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups smooth or chunky peanut butter
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoons milk
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or a combination of peanut butter and chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the butter and peanut butter and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy (you can do this with a hand mixer or with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Add the brown and white sugars and mix until well combined. Add the eggs and mix for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is well combined and light in color. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix just briefly. While there are still large spots of flour, add the chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips or both) and mix until the flour is completely mixed in and the mixture is well combined. Let the cookie dough sit for 15 minutes before scooping onto the baking sheets. It will firm up as it sits.

When ready to bake, scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets leaving about 1 to 2 inches in between the cookies to allow for spreading as they bake. Bake for 10-11 minutes, taking care not to overbake in the slightest! Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes after baking before removing them to a cooling rack. This will help them set up and be firm enough to transfer without having them overbake in the oven. The cookies may look slightly underbaked but they will firm up as they cool. Resist the urge to eat them warm as they taste much better cooled.

I pop baked and cooled cookies into the freezer (in a large tupperware or freezer-safe ziploc bag) and they taste great out of the freezer, especially if they are left to sit at room temperature for a few minutes.