Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Okay, Alisha made this soup for her family the other night and it was a huge hit! It is the same soup Aunt Kathleen made at our chocolate dipping party, and I remember everyone loved it. This recipe comes from Simply So Good. Enjoy!

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
3 corn tortillas (6-inch size), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (10.5) ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, shredded or cubed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt and pepper
Black bean Salsa
Sour Cream
Tortilla strips

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high; add onions and garlic, and saute 3 minutes. Stir in tortilla pieces and saute until they begin to soften. Add tomatoes, broth, and spices, and bring to a boil. Removed from heat; let cool 5 minutes, then puree soup base in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return soup to pot.

Add Turkey, corn and cream. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, or until beginning to thicken. Reduce heat to medium, sprinkle in cheese, and stir until melted. Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with salsa, sour cream and crispy tortilla strips.

Makes 8 cups. 267 calories per cup. Not including the salsa, sour cream or tortilla strips...Just so you know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lasagna Roll Ups

I've been meaning to try this idea for months! I don't know why it's taken me so long to make this. You know how I love pasta and this dish didn't disappoint. I really enjoyed it. Recipes like this are great, it's a new way to serve a family classic. There's no risk in trying it, because you already like lasagna! Here's how I made it, but you can put in whatever ingredients you like. I don't like ricotta, but you could definitely make a ricotta filling for the roll ups, make it how you like it!

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 lasagna noodles
1 jar pasta sauce
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
2 cups shredded mozzarella
garlic bread seasoning

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the minced onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once beef is cooked add diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, and 1 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning. Let sauce simmer. Boil lasagna noodles, drain, and lay out noodles on a piece of parchment paper. Don't let the noodles touch or they'll stick together. In a 9x13" baking dish, add some sauce to cover the bottom. Using a slotted spoon, get some meat and spread on a lasagna noodle. Top with a little cheese and proceed to roll up lasagna noodle and filling. Place roll up in the baking dish. Repeat for remaining noodles. Once finished, top the roll ups with remaining sauce mixture and cheese. Sprinkle some garlic bread seasoning over the cheese. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until cheese on top is nice and melted. Enjoy!

My cheese is a bit over done. It was in the oven nearly 30 minutes so I adjusted the time in the recipe to 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baked Chicken Chimi-Ritos

My handsome husband loves Mexican food. He could eat it several times a week if I made it that often. We couldn't decide what kind of Mexican we wanted to make for dinner last night (curse not having my menu planned for the week!) so we combined a couple ideas. That's how we came up with chimi-ritos, half chimichanga, half burrito. They turned out really yummy, so filling, I couldn't even finish one, but so good! Nate is really happy to have leftovers for lunch today. Enjoy!

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
4 large flour tortillas
refried beans
Mexican rice
shredded cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. oil

Heat tortillas to make them more pliable. Spoon some bean mixture onto tortillas and spread. Add some rice then chicken then cheese. Fold side of tortilla in and roll up. Melt butter and then combine with oil. Brush a small amount of butter/oil mixture onto a tin foil lined baking sheet. Place rolled chimi-ritos seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with a bit of the butter/oil mixture. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. Flip chimi-ritos, brush with butter/oil mixture and bake another 8 minutes. Serve warm at top with salsa, sour cream, etc.

Nate wanted to try a new seasoning on our chicken. I'm so glad we did, it was amazing! Here's the rub he used. Then I baked the chicken at 400 degrees for about 30-33 minutes, then let rest for 10 or so minutes before shredding.

2 tsp. chile powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of those really well. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on chicken breasts and then add some of the seasoning and cook your chicken.

Linked up at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes and Chef in Training.

Nate's Favorite Holiday Treat - Dipped Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

No holiday season would be complete without me making these pretzels for Nate. I've made them three times in the last two weeks. Nate wants them made for every party we go to, for neighbor gifts, I'm even making a batch tomorrow for Nate to take with him to work. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Nate does!

1 bag tiny twist pretzels
1 package vanilla flavored almond bark (or you could use white chocolate)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
5 Tbsp. butter

Chop all the almond bark into small pieces. Melt about a third of the bark over a double boiler, stirring frequently. Once melted and smooth dip 1/2 the pretzel into the bark and then set on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the pretzels are finished, adding more almond bark to double boiler as needed, and continue to stir frequently. I usually get about 5 trays worth of pretzels from one bag. While pretzels are drying combine cinnamon and sugar and mix well. Place one tray worth of dipped pretzels into a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Pour in 1 Tbsp. melted butter and then sprinkle 2 tsp. of cinnamon sugar mix over pretzels. Close up bag and shake to evenly coat pretzels. Once coated pour pretzels out onto some wax paper, spread out and let cool/dry. Repeat with remaining trays of pretzels. I let my pretzels sit for about an hour and then they can be packaged and put away.

I should mention that if you are short on time you can simply go straight to the cinnamon sugar and butter coating. Let those dry and then drizzle the melted bark over the coated pretzels. Much quicker, but I think the original method looks better.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Roast and Vegetables

Okay, this recipe is a rarity. I never make a traditional pork roast. I usually do a Mexican seasoned pork roast that I can shred or a simple pork tenderloin. When I saw this recipe, it seemed too easy not to try. It is one of those great crock pot recipes where you just throw everything in and set it. I found this idea over at Mommy's Kitchen and adapted it for our tastes. It is really good, both Nate and I enjoyed it.

2 - 2 1/2 lb pork roast
1 (10 oz.) can cream of chicken soup (I also think cream of celery would be tasty)
2 packets pork gravy mix, {prepared according to packet directions}
3 carrots, cut
1 onion, quartered
4 potatoes, cut
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. montreal steak seasoning
salt & pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Add olive oil to a large frying pan. Heat the pan up nice and hot. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of the pork roast and rub. Place the roast in the pan and sear on each side before adding to the slow cooker. Add the carrots, onions, and potatoes to the bottom of the slow cooker and then place the roast on top. Pour cream of chicken soup over everything and add bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours or high for 3-4. The last 2 hours of cooking remove the bay leaf. Add the prepared gravy. Continue cooking until roast is tender and vegetables are cooked. Remove from slow cooker and serve.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Double Stack Tostadas

We needed a variation on tacos. Nate really loves double decker tacos, so keeping that in mind we made these tostadas. I used ground beef, but these would also be super good with some shredded chicken or pork. It's a good recipe for using up leftover meat.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 packet taco seasoning plus the water it requires
small flour tortillas, warmed
tostada shells, warmed
easy bean dip
pico de gallo
shredded lettuce
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced olives
sour cream

Brown cook the ground beef with the onion and green pepper. Once beef is cooked add the taco seasoning packet and the water it requires and cook per package directions.
We like our tortillas and tostadas warm, so we just pop them in the oven for a few minutes. To assemble top a flour tortilla with some of the bean dip, then top with a tostada, next add some ground beef. Once that's done add whatever toppings you like, I did lots of shredded lettuce, some pico de gallo, sliced olives, and shredded cheddar cheese. Make them just the way you like them and enjoy!

I linked this recipe over at Totally Tasty Tuesdays and Twisted Thursdays.

Sour Cream Potatoes aka Funeral Potatoes

One of the ladies that I visit teach is getting married tomorrow and I got a phone call last night that they need some funeral potatoes provided. Of course I'd love to help, just one problem. I've never made funeral potatoes before, and I can't remember ever having eaten them either! It's a good thing I have a mother-in-law. Lucky for me she just made these the other night and she totally came to the rescue and provided me with her recipe and she's letting me share it with you! Here is Katie's sour cream potatoes recipe-

6 russet potatoes, peeled (or 12 small red potatoes)
Boil in salted water until tender
While the potatoes are boiling:
Saute 1 chopped onion in a little olive oil
Then combine:
1-28 oz can cream of chicken soup (or 2 small cans)
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

shred the boiled potatoes and stir into the creamed mixture with the sauteed onions

Pour into greased casserole dish and sprinkle top with cheese or bread crumbs or smashed corn flakes.
Cook in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingerbread Truffles

Nate's cute Aunt Kathleen had all the girls over last Friday for the annual chocolate dipping party. One of the treats I brought to dip was gingerbread truffles. I found the idea over at Sing For Your Supper, and I followed her instructions exactly.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup boiling water
1 package almond bark or white candy coating
1 8-oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature
nutmeg, for garnish (I didn't garnish mine)

Mix together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molassess, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, soda and salt, then add to wet mixture. Stir to combine, then add the boiling water and mix. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until springy. Let cool completely.
When cake is completely cooled, crumble into the bowl of a stand mixer (you could also use a hand mixer for this; even your hands!) and add in the cream cheese. Mix until the cake and cream cheese is totally combined. Roll out into walnut-sized balls and place on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Chill for 1 hour.
Melt the almond bark in the microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring in between, until it is completely smooth. Dip the balls in one at a time (I use a toothpick for this) and coat with the almond bark. Set on a sheet of wax paper and sprinkle with nutmeg. Allow to harden completely. At this point you can serve immediately or freeze for later use.

Here are the links to the other two treats I made Oreo Truffles and Peanut Butter Balls.

Weekly Menu

Okay, here's the deal. I LOVE menu planning. I seriously love it. It helps in so many ways. I am better about using up what food I've purchased, I spend less because I have a list and don't eat out as much, we eat healthier, I get to try new recipes, the list goes on and on. I think I've mentioned it before, but I try and have quite a bit of variety throughout the week and I try not to have the same type of cuisine or protein two nights in a row. Anyway, if you want some help menu planning call me, I'd love to help you out!

Sunday: Super Easy Chicken Drumsticks with Garlic Bread and Salad

Monday: Beef Tostadas* with Pico de Gallo and Fresh Fruit

Tuesday: Nate works late so I'll just make a sandwich or eat leftovers

Wednesday: Stephanie coming to dinner, Do It All Marinated Chicken with Roasted Potatoes* and Green Beans

Thursday: Lasagna Roll Ups* with Salad

Friday: Ward Christmas Party, bringing dessert for 20 people

Saturday: Date Night

The starred recipes are new ones that I am trying out this week. I've also linked the recipes that you can find on our blog here. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thin Crust Pizza

We have Nate's little sister Stephanie over for dinner once a week. She likes to look at my weekly menu and pick what night she wants to come and eat. When she saw barbecue chicken pizza on the menu she got so excited. She has told me every day this week that she was excited for dinner. Thankfully she really enjoyed tonight's dinner, I was starting to feel the pressure! I got the crust recipe from Chef in Training. I like that there is only one short rise time for the dough making it a super easy meal. It was so good, and it's Stephanie approved!

2 cups warm water
1/2 Tbsp. yeast (I used Fleischmann's pizza yeast)
2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour
olive oil

Mix warm water and yeast, let sit 5 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and mix well in Kitchen Aid or with a dough hook, I used my Bosch. Add additional 1 1/4 cups flour and salt, knead. Let dough rest in a ball for 10 to 20 minutes. Spread a scant amount of olive oil on pizza pan, roll dough out very thin and place on greased pan. Also brush a small amount of oil on top of dough before adding sauce so that the sauce doesn't make the dough soggy. Top pizza with sauce and toppings and bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Nate's and Stephanie's portion was barbecue chicken pizza, you just replace the pizza sauce with barbecue sauce and top with mozzarella, green peppers, and onions. My portion was veggie pizza with normal sauce, I'm not a fan of barbecue.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

Even though we have church at 9 am and our afternoons are available, I really like to use my crock pot on Sundays. I like to be able to throw something in either in the morning or when we get home from church and just let it cook. It makes Sunday naps so relaxing when I don't have to stress about dinner when I get up. This recipe is one that I adapted for the slow cooker from an idea at Chef in Training. I halved this recipe for the two of us. I served this chicken with my garlic herb pasta.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 tsp. paprika
2 bay leaves
1-2 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
seasoned salt, to taste

Add water, tomato paste, onion, paprika, garlic bread seasoning, and salt to crock pot and whisk well to combine. Add chicken and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

I linked this recipe to Totally Tasty Tuesdays.

Garlic Herb Pasta

Nate and I plan on serving an LDS mission together one day. I would really love to serve in Italy. The culture, the history, the food would all be amazing. I seriously love Italian food. I have finally converted Nate to liking pasta and this dish tonight was really good. This dish is flavorful enough to stand on it's own as a side dish, or you could top it with some parmesan cheese or a simple marinara sauce. Yum! We will definitely be making this again and again. I adapted this dish from an idea over at Armstrong Family Fare.

8 oz. pasta, cooked and drained (I used thin spaghetti)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
seasoned salt, to taste
seasoned pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta per package instructions. While pasta is cooking place butter and olive oil into a pan, stir to mix together while butter is melting. Add chopped garlic, onion, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook until onions are transparent. Add cooked pasta and toss to combine. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do It All Marinade

I saw this idea over at Real Mom Kitchen and adapted the marinade to our tastes and to what ingredients I had on hand. It was so yummy on our chicken breasts. I also think it would taste fantastic on pork chops. Enjoy.

*my measurements were to marinate 2 chicken breasts, so you may need to double if you are cooking for more than two people

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (I always use low sodium)
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard (but I bet Dijon would be great too)
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 Tbsp. dry parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. seasoned pepper (or more depending on your tastes)

Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Pour marinade into gallon size ziploc bag. Add your two chicken breasts and make sure they get coated well. Put ziploc bag in a large dish and refrigerate. The dish helps prevents any leaks in the fridge. Marinate for 5 or so hours, turning chicken every so often so that it marinates evenly. Once finished marinating, cook chicken as desired.

Picture updated 06/19/13.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cheesy Mexican Rice

I have finally found it! The perfect Mexican rice recipe. This is the only recipe I'll use from now on. It was amazing. We had another couple over for dinner last night and everyone had a second helping of rice. I LOVE when that happens! This recipe is adapted from one I saw over at Let's Dish. The rice has a tiny bit of heat to it, but I'm not a big fan or spice and it is mild enough for me. I am seriously so excited for leftovers!

2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice (I use basmati rice)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped jalapeno (or you could do a 1/2 cup chopped green pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 oz.) can mild Rotel
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/3 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (your preference)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice, onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook until the rice is browned and vegetables are tender. Stir in the water, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove rice from heat, keeping the lid on, let rice stand for 5 or so minutes then fluff and stir in shredded cheese. Serve hot.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein

I really love Chinese food, I could eat it all the time. This recipe was just a few ideas I had to make something healthy and flavorful. Both Nate and I really enjoyed it and the leftovers were good too!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, julienned
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, julienned
2-3 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce (I always use low-sodium)
8 oz. Chinese noodles (or you could substitute spaghetti noodles)
olive oil

Mix water and cornstarch together in a small bowl, add brown sugar, ginger, chili powder, garlic powder, pepper, and soy sauce and set aside. In a large skillet heat 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil and cook chicken. Once finished, remove chicken from the skillet and set aside. Add another 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil and saute vegetables. Cook vegetables until tender but still have some bite to them. Pour some sauce into the skillet, you want enough to cover the bottom of the skillet, but you don't want to drown the vegetables and mix well. Boil noodles and remove them from pot a few minutes before they hit al dente. Saute vegetables in the sauce until the sauce starts to thicken. Add partially cooked noodles and stir well. Continue to saute until noodles are finished cooking and sauce has thickened. Serve hot!

I linked this recipe up to Totally Tasty Tuesdays.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baked Chicken and Rice

Oh man, talk about good comfort food for a cold night! This recipe is reasonably healthy and so so flavorful. We loved it. I'm so glad we have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. This is definitely a new family favorite of ours. I found this idea at Cooking with K.

1 1/2 cups long grain rice
6 boneless chicken thighs or 4 boneless skinless breasts, rinsed and pat dry (I used the chicken breasts)
1/2-1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cajun seasoning (optional)
1 15 oz. can chicken broth (I always use fat-free, low sodium broth)
1 15 oz. can vegetable broth
1 pkg. Knorr classic vegetable soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread rice in the bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish that has been lightly greased. Arrange chicken evenly only top of the rice; sprinkle with salt and cajun seasoning. Pour chicken broth over each piece of chicken. Sprinkle vegetable soup mix evenly over the the chicken. Pour chicken broth over each piece of chicken. Using and fork, separate the chicken to let the broths run evenly around the chicken. Cover and seal tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Once finished, let it stand for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy hot!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hamburger Soup

This recipe is similar to one my mom would make when we were growing up. It was a favorite of my little sister Kelley's. I hadn't thought about this soup in years until a week or so ago. I called my mom for the recipe and she told me she didn't have one. She told me the basic idea and this is what I came up with. Instead of potatoes you could add pasta, but it has to be wagon wheel pasta, that's my mom always used.

4 cups beef broth
4 cups V8 juice
1 cup water
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 large potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces (or you can add wagon wheel pasta)
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 can cut green beans, drained
1 bay leaf
seasoning salt
seasoned pepper

Add beef broth, V8 juice, and water to pot and bring to boil. Add bay leaf, cut potatoes, carrots, and celery, reduce to simmer and cover, stirring occasionally. Brown and cook ground beef with diced onion, seasoning with salt and pepper. Drain any grease from beef mixture and add to soup. Continue to simmer until vegetables are fork tender. Then add drained green beans and any additional salt and pepper that the soup requires. Simmer until beans are warm and then serve.

I linked up this recipe over at Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box.

Shredded Cuban Pork

For Nate and Brandon's birthday dinner I made this shredded pork recipe. I slightly adapted this from my favorite recipe blog, Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I really enjoyed it, tons of flavor, but not hot. You could use this for salads, nachos, tacos, tostadas, etc. Enjoy!

4-pound boneless pork butt or boneless pork top loin roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeƱo, minced
1 onion, quartered
juice of 1 lime

Rub the pieces of pork all over with salt. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the pork and sear each piece on all sides, working in batches, if needed. Once browned, remove the pork to the slow cooker. Into the same pot used to sear the pork, pour in the water and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged spatula or wooden spoon to get up all the delicious brown bits from the bottom. Add pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, jalapenos, onion, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the pork is very tender.

Remove the bay leaves and onion from the pot and discard. Remove the pork and place in a bowl and set aside. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot on the stove and over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Let the mixture boil until it reduces and is thickened slightly, about 10 -15 minutes. Add pork and sauce back to crock pot, mixing well, and keep on warm until ready to serve.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pizza Crust

We really enjoy pizza at our house and I've been on the search for the perfect pizza crust. This recipe turned out really well and made for a fun dinner. I found the recipe over at Oopsey Daisy.

3 ½ cups flour
1 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp. salt

Pour warm water into a bowl. Add honey and salt. Mix until well blended. Add the yeast and mix. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour and the olive oil. Mix until well blended. Add the rest of the flour and mix well.
The dough should turn into a ball. If it is too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Once the dough is balled up, place on a floured surfaced and knead for 1 minute. Place in a covered bowl and store in a warm, dry area to rise.
After about 45 minutes, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down. Let it rise for another hour. The dough is now ready to be rolled out.
Roll out the dough on a clean, dry surface. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out to about ¼ inch thick. Place on a pizza pan. Take a fork and puncture holes all over the dough to prevent bubbling.
Brush with olive oil and Italian seasoning (I used garlic bread seasoning, and I also added a sprinkle to the top of the pizza toppings, so good!). Add your sauce, cheese, and toppings.
Bake pizza at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy!

Super Soft Sugar Cookies

Can you believe I've never made sugar cookies the whole time I've been married? I know! Shame on me. To be honest, I didn't know that Nate liked them. Anyway, on Halloween night we made some sugar cookies. They turned out really well and are indeed super soft. I forgot to roll mine in sugar, but they were great anyway. I found this recipe over at Oopsey Daisy.

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
3 eggs
3 tsp. baking powder
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Chill 1 hour. Roll and cut. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.

The picture is awful, we didn't start baking the cookies until almost 9 pm, so the lighting was non-existant.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatball Eyes with Breadstick Bones

If you know my husband pretty well, you know he loves Halloween. I've seen several festive dishes around blog land and this is a fun and easy dinner. I saw this idea over at one of my favorite recipe blogs, Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatball Eyes
Simply use some sliced olives on top of your meatballs to make the eyeballs. I just used some frozen meatballs and this dinner was so easy!

Breadstick Bones
1 ½ cups warm water
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter, melted (for the baking sheet)

Mix all ingredients (except melted butter) in a large bowl or electric mixer and knead for three minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread melted butter onto an 11X17-inch baking sheet. Roll out the breadstick dough about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Fold strips in half and tie knots at both ends and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with garlic salt, herbs of choice (I used my most favorite garlic bread seasoning) and parmesan cheese. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Nate loves my sloppy joe recipe and he loves biscuits, so this combination popped in my head one day. When I suggested it to Nate, he was all over it. So try it we did. Nate was really happy with it and definitely wants it made again. I hope you enjoy!

1 tube refrigerated biscuits
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced (optional)
1 green pepper, finely diced (optional)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1-2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
seasoning salt
seasoned pepper
shredded cheese

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Halfway through cooking, add the diced onion and pepper and finish cooking. Drain any fat/grease. Turn down the heat and add the chili powder, taco seasoning, mustard, and ketchup. Mix well to combine. Keep heat low and simmer beef mixture for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (or temp indicated on biscuit tube). Spread beef mixture evenly into bottom of an 8x8" baking dish. Top with biscuits. Bake for 20 minutes or until biscuits are fully cooked. Serve hot with a little shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Copy Cat Cracker Barrel's Grilled Chicken Salad

Have you ever eaten at Cracker Barrel? I've only ever ordered one thing, their grilled chicken salad. It is so good! I love the taste of their grilled chicken, so much flavor you don't feel like you're missing out on anything by ordering a salad. I saw a recipe for their chicken on Mommy's Kitchen. She braises and cooks her chicken stove top, but I didn't want to take that long so I baked mine. But definitely check out her method too. Enjoy!

6 chicken tenderloins (I used two breasts)
1/2 cup italian dressing (I used fat free)
1 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. honey

Combine all the wet ingredients and mix well. Add chicken and marinate for an hour or so. Cook chicken until internal temp reaches at least 165. Like I said, I baked mine, but it would be great grilled or stove top.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

I always love a good crock pot dish. I've made tacos a hundred times, but never with chicken so I figured it was high time. We really enjoyed these. Nate's little sister Stephanie came over for dinner and she said they were excellent too! I saw the recipe at

1 can Green chiles, diced
1 (12 oz.) jar salsa (I used my homemade salsa)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 whole onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used chicken breasts)

Place chicken in the slow cooker. Top with salsa, diced green chiles, cumin, onion and garlic. Cover and set on low. Cook for 4-6 hours. Remove chicken from pot, shred, and return to juices. Spoon chicken into taco shells, with whatever toppings your family likes. Or use the meat to make burritos, tostadas or as a filling for enchiladas.

Garlic Steak

Have you ever been to the Brazilian restaurant Tucano's? It is Nate's favorite. His favorite dish is their garlic steak, and I have to admit, it's my favorite too. Nate found a garlic steak recipe online and we modified it and came up with this. Enjoy!

2 lbs. sirloin steaks
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt

Mix the oil, garlic, and salt and combine well. Add steaks and make sure they are well coated. Marinate for 6-8 hours. Grill to desired doneness.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Korean Barbecue Beef Kabobs

These were so good! We really really enjoyed them. I am going to be making these again soon, they were that good! I got this recipe from Our Best Bites and just adapted it ever so slightly. I have to confess, Nate made this whole dinner. Since I am now in a big ugly ankle boot while I heal, he has really tried to make life easy for me. Love that man!

1 1/2 lb. sirloin steak, cut against the grain into thin (about 1/4″) slices, (I only used a pound and it was perfect)
1/2 cup pear juice (a 4 oz. bottle of pear juice from the baby food aisle is perfect and cheap)
1/2 c. low-sodium soy sauce (regular soy sauce makes it taste vaguely like beef jerky)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

Combine pear juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, chili sauce, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Add sliced steak. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator (we marinated ours for 5 1/2 hours and I loved the amount of flavoring it gave). Thirty minutes before cooking, soak your bamboo skewers in water. Preheat the grill. While the grill is heating, thread the steak pieces onto bamboo skewers. Cook over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side, being careful not to let the meat get too cooked. Serve immediately; serves 4-6.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chicken and Veggie Taquitos

Nate is crazy for taquitos. He seriously could eat them once a week and not get tired of them. We tried this variation last night. I still think these taquitos are my all time favorite, but these were really good too. It's a super easy idea and leftover chicken would work great in this dish.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
8 small flour tortillas
1/2 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
shredded cheddar cheese
olive oil

In a large skillet heat a Tbsp. or two of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add the veggies and a little salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Once the vegetables are done, add the shredded chicken, mix well to combine, and cook until chicken is heated through. Warm up the tortillas slightly so they are more pliable and easier to work with. Spoon some of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla and then top with some cheese (if you keep it on the bottom third of the tortilla, they are easier to roll) and roll up. Place filled tortillas on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Cook at 375 for about 15 minutes or until the tortillas crisp up a bit. Serve warm with whatever toppings you'd like, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, etc. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lasagna Soup

I've had this recipe bookmarked since Spring, just waiting for the weather to cool down. Now that we are well into October, bring on soup season! I tweaked Paula Deen's recipe to suit our tastes. FYI- if you are planning on eating leftover soup just know that the noodles absorb a most of the broth over night, but it is still so delicious!

1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32 oz.) box chicken broth (I used fat-free, low sodium broth)
2 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
2 cups broken lasagna noodles (I used garden rotini)
1 (5 oz.) package grated parmesan cheese (I forgot to buy parmesan, so I omitted it)
shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large pot, combine ground beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well.
Stir in garlic bread seasoning, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in armesan cheese.
I just sprinkled a little mozzarella on top of my soup to save on calories. Paula covers her soup with the mozzarella and then pops it under the broiler for a couple minutes. Serve hot!

Again, sorry about the picture, it was really late when we had dinner.

Twisty Breadsticks

I love love love breadsticks, I could eat them several times a week no problem. However so many carbs is definitely not good for my diabetes, so I don't bake bread products too ofter. I just had to have breadsticks with my soup tonight. This recipe is loosely based on one I found over at Six Sister's Stuff.

1½ cups warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
3½ cups flour (give or take a little)
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, divided
garlic bread seasoning
powdered parmesan cheese

Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in your mixer (I always use my Bosch) and let sit for five minutes. Then add salt and flour. You want the dough to be smooth and pull away cleanly from the sides of your mixing bowl, so adjust flour accordingly. 3 1/2 cups ended up being perfect for me. Mix dough until smooth, then cover and let raise for 10 minutes. Next roll out your dough into a large square on a floured surface (or you can spray your counter with pam). Melt 4 Tbsp. of butter and add 1 Tbsp. of garlic bread seasoning. Brush that mixture all over the dough. Fold dough in half and use a pizza cutter to cut into 1 inch strips. Twist each strip and place on a prepared baking sheet. Let the breadsticks raise for 20 minutes. Then bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Right after baking brush tops of breadsticks with the remaining 2 Tbsp. melted butter and sprinkle on a bit of parmesan cheese. Enjoy warm!

Sorry about the photo, it was already dark outside when we ate dinner.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sizzling Chicken and Cheese

I've seen this recipe on multiple blogs. It's a copy cat recipe of a TGI Friday's dish. To be honest, I don't even know how many years it's been since I've been to a TGI Fridays. I used a recipe from The Daily Smash as a guide, but I adapted it to our tastes. I also used instant mashed potatoes and it was a super easy meal. Enjoy!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced (I forgot to buy a red one so it was left out)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. pepper
seasoning salt
olive oil
shredded cheese
mashed potatoes (we used instant, Nate actually prefers instant to homemade)

Prepare marinade with the following ingredients: minced garlic, parsley flakes, red pepper flakes, pepper, 1/4 tsp. seasoning salt, and 4 Tbsp. olive oil. Add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
Once the chicken is marinated, cook it. Bake, grill, pan fry, your choice. I baked my chicken at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and it was perfect. While chicken is cooking saute your sliced peppers and onions in a little bit of olive oil and season with a bit of seasoning salt. Cook until tender, but not limp and mushy.
To serve take the hot mashed potatoes, top with peppers and onions, then place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

I ate mine without any cheese and it was still delicious!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


We had Nate's parents and four of his siblings staying at our place for a couple days over General Conference. Sunday morning I made pancakes as part of our breakfast and I got rave reviews. My brother-in-law Aaron said these were the best pancakes he's ever had. I saw this recipe over at Allrecipes.

This recipe yields about 6 pancakes. I quintupled this recipe for eight hungry people.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine all your dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl beat together your wet ingredients and then add that mixture to the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, pour batter using a 1/4 cup measuring cup for each pancake. Once the pancake starts to bubble on the edges it is ready to flip and then brown the second side. Serve hot!

Sorry, no pictures, my guests were hungry!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fluffy Dinner Rolls

We had these rolls last night with my potato soup and it was so good! These rolls are so easy and they are nice and quick too. I'll be making these again and again! This recipe is from Jamie Cooks It Up.

3/4 cup milk
4 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup hot water
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 - 4 1/2 cups flour
1 heaping Tbsp. yeast

Pour your milk into a microwave safe container. Add your butter to the milk and put it in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. While the milk is getting nice and toasty, turn on the tap to get your hot water. Temperature is important to making these rolls rise quickly.
Put your milk/butter and hot water in the bottom of your Kitchen Aid Mixer. Add the sugar and salt. Then add 2 C of the flour...let it mix for 1 minute.
Add the yeast. Turn the mixer on and add the rest of the flour 1 C at a time.
You have enough flour when the dough scrapes the side of the bowl clean. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes. You need the plastic wrap to trap the heat.
Coat the inside of a 9x13 pan with some butter.
Spray your counter, or a cutting board with cooking spray. Lay your dough on top of it.
Take a sharp knife, spray it with cooking spray and cut your dough into 12 pieces. Make them as equal as you can.
Gently round them into balls, and put them in your buttered 9x13 pan.
Put the pan into your warm 170 degree oven. Let them rise for about 20 minutes or until they have risen about 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
Leave your pan in the oven and turn the heat up to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. This time includes the time it takes the oven to increase in temperature. If your oven takes a long old will of course need to increase the time baking. Bake until golden brown.
Brush with a little softened butter and serve warm. Yah- I don't do this, I don't feel a need for the extra butter.

Tuscan Pasta

I had seen this pasta on a couple different blogs and really wanted to make it. When I went to make it for dinner tonight I noticed that it called for 1/2 cup olive oil! How is it a light pasta dish when there is 1/2 cup oil? So I decided to come up with my own version. I hope you like it!

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into cubes
1 lb. penne pasta
1 (14.5 oz.) can of petite diced tomatoes
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
2 Tbsp. olive oil
grated mozzarella cheese for garnish

Cook pasta until al dente, rinse, drain, and set aside. In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat, once hot add onion and cook until translucent. Add diced tomatoes, garlic bread seasoning, and chicken. Bring everything to a simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add penne pasta and stir to combine everything. Cook everything for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until everything is hot. Top with mozzarella cheese if desired and serve immediately.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Butterfinger Cookie Bars

I usually make a treat once a week for Nate. This was our treat this week. I saw the idea over at Kaitlin in the Kitchen.

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 8-10 fun size butterfinger candy bars, chopped (or any candy bar of your liking)

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add baking soda and salt, then mix. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. Add flour and mix until well blended. Pour batter into an even layer in a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Bake in at pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (they should be a dark golden brown). As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips over top and let set for about a minute or two. The chocolate chips should be melted and easily spreadable. Spread them in a even layer over the bars, then quickly before the chocolate sets, sprinkle on your chopped candy bars. Let cool before cutting into bars.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Savory Chicken Wings

This was the other appetizer I served during the football game tonight. Nate loves the hot wings I make and so I knew wings would be on the menu. The other night I found this idea on a recipe blog, Kaitlin in the Kitchen, and knew I wanted to try these. I don't like spicy things, so I figured these wings I would actually try. They were really good! Both Nate and I really enjoyed them and they will be a definite game day food at our house.

1 bag frozen chicken wings (they are usually about 2.5 lbs.)
1 cup bottled Italian dressing (I used fat free)
1/2 cup soy sauce

Lay your chicken wings evenly in a pan with high sides and bake in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes without any sauce on them. Whisk together soy and Italian dressing. After the 20 minutes, remove them from the oven, and pour half of the sauce on them and return to the oven for another 15 minutes, then remove, flip them with a pair of tongs and pour the rest of the sauce on and return to the oven for 10-15 more minutes or until they are brown and cooked all the way through.

Pizza Bites

It's game day! While Nate is busy cheering on BYU he will be snacking on chicken wings and these pizza bites. I've had these bookmarked for so long and I thought today was the perfect day for them. The recipe is from Our Best Bites.

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough (or you can use homemade dough)
pizza sauce
melted butter
garlic bread seasoning
shredded mozzarella cheese
pizza toppings of your choice (I used turkey pepperoni, green peppers, and onions)

Preheat oven to heat specified on pizza dough package. Usually it's 400 degrees.
Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it's about 12" by 8". You're going to want to cut it into 24 squares, so just eyeball it if you need to. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 squares.
Place cheese and desired toppings on each square. Just eyeball how much. You just need to be able to enclose the toppings in the dough so keep that in mind.
When all of your dough squares have cheese and toppings on them, carefully lift up each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. Pinch to make sure each ball is sealed shut and then place them seam side down in a lightly sprayed pie pan (or similar sized dish).
Brush the tops of the dough balls with melted butter and then sprinkle with the garlic bread seasoning.
Cook them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Keep an eye on them! Doughs vary, so I'd check them after even 10 minutes.
Serve warm with warmed pizza sauce on the side for dipping.

These were so fun and they are perfect football food!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cajun Pork Roast

Such an easy and yummy recipe! Seriously, so easy. The original calls for the roast to cook on low for 12-15 hours. I didn't have that kind of time, so I just cooked it on high for 4 hours and then on low for another 2 and it still turned out really well! This recipe comes from Lovely Little Snippets.

3 lb. pork roast
6 cups water
4 chicken bullion cubes
4 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning

Dump all of the ingredients on the slow cooker, and set on low for 12-15 hours. Shred and serve.

French Bread Rolls

Nate is a huge fan of rolls. I don't make rolls or bread too often because carbs aren't the best thing for my diabetes. However, Nate had been asking for them for a while so I figured it was time to give in. I saw this recipe over at The Skillet Sisters.

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead* until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12-14 equal pieces, and form into round balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth (or greased saran wrap), and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Makes about 16 rolls.

*I just used my bosch mixer with the dough hook.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steak Stir-Fry

So good! I really, really enjoyed this recipe. This tasted much better than some of the dishes I've had at restaurants. I loved this dish! I am going to be making this again soon! I adapted this idea from one over at The Daily Smash. Enjoy!

1- 1 1/2 lbs. steak, sliced into thin strips
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
olive oil
vegetables of choice (I used broccoli, green pepper, onion, and carrots)
hot cooked rice

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil, once hot, cook the beef. Be careful not to over cook your beef, you don't want it to be tough. If sliced thin it should take just a few minutes. Once done, remove from pan and set aside. Empty any grease from pan. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil and saute vegetables until they become crisp-tender. In a bowl, combine cornstarch with water and mix well, then add brown sugar, ginger, chili powder, garlic powder, pepper, and soy sauce. Pour that mixture into the skillet with the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes or until thickened. Add beef back to the skillet and heat through. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Homemade Slurpees

I saw these over at Taste and Tell and knew we had to try them! Such a fun hot weather treat and I like that you can make them any flavor you want!

makes 2 slurpees
2 cups ice
about 1 cup carbonated beverage (I used sprite)
1 Tbsp. pre-sweetened Kool-Aid*

Put the ice in a blender. Add enough carbonated beverage to just make the ice float. Add in the pre-sweetened Kool-Aid. Blend until slushy. Serve at once.

*all I had was unsweetened Kool-Aid so I just mixed the flavor packet and 1 cup sugar, and then added a Tbsp. of that

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Taco Stuffed Shells

This is a recipe from my childhood. I got a kid's cookbook that I think was published by Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens, I can't seem to find it anywhere online or I would show you. It had a lot of fun and yummy recipes. Two of the recipes I remember making were mini cinnamon sugar soft pretzels and these taco stuffed shells. I looked everywhere online for the recipe, but couldn't find it so I just had to wing it. I think they turned out really well and they were even good left over. Enjoy!

1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. jumbo pasta shells
1 small onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
1 envelope taco seasoning plus the water it requires
1 recipe of Zesty Mexican Tomato Sauce
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips, crumbled for garnish (optional)

Brown the ground beef. Halfway through cooking time add the chopped pepper and onion. Add the taco seasoning plus the water it requires and finish cooking the meat. While the beef is cooking, boil the pasta shells until they are just shy al dente, they will finish cooking in the oven. Rinse and drain the shells and let cool for a few minutes. Prep sauce. Pour enough sauce into a 9x13" glass baking dish to cover the bottom. Once the beef is finished and the shells are cool, gently spoon beef into the shells and place finished shells in the baking dish. Once finished, pour remaining sauce over the stuffed shells. Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. After 30 minutes uncover the stuffed shells and top with shredded cheese. Return to oven and bake another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Just before serving top shells with some crushed tortilla chips and sliced olives. Enjoy warm.

*updated 04/06/13*

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Honey Glazed Chicken

When I showed this recipe to Nate, he had to have it! So I added to our menu and made him help me cook it today. The chicken turned out so moist and tender, it was really good! The glaze was a bit sweet for me, but as long as I pulled the skin off I was fine. I may switch up the flavors next time, but I will definitely use this method for roasting chicken again. I adapted this recipe from one found at Mel's Kitchen Cafe, one of my favorite recipe blogs.

1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds, giblets discarded
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven. In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper and paprika. Pat the chickens dry with paper towels and rub the spice mixture under the skin and over the outside of each chicken. Tuck the wings behind the back and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

Arrange the chickens, breast side down, on a V-rack set inside a roasting pan. Roast until the chickens are golden, about 35 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully with a wad of paper towels, flip the chickens so that they are breast side up. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Pour 1 cup water and the broth into the roasting pan. Return the roasting pan to the oven and roast until the thigh meat registers 165 to 170 degrees, about 35-45 minutes.

Stir the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water together in a small bowl until no lumps remain; set aside. In a small saucepan bring the honey and 4 tablespoons vinegar to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture is reduced to about 1/2 cup, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the glaze. Return to a simmer and cook for one minute.

Brush the chickens evenly with a layer of the glaze. Continue to roast until the glaze is golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes (this is important – if the chicken is cut too quickly, all the delicious juices will escape and the meat will be dry).

I didn't notice until after the pictures were taken that my chicken was upside down! Sorry!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homemade AuGratin Potatoes

I finally used my mandoline slicer that I got for my birthday (in February)! It made this recipe really easy. I was surprised that the recipe was so simple. I saw the idea over at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, but I adapted it for us.

3 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices (love using my mandoline for this!)
3 tbsp. butter, plus more for buttering baking dish
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Butter an 8x8" baking dish and layer 1/2 potatoes into the bottom. Season with some salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in flour and salt; stir constantly with a whisk for a minute and then add milk. Cook until thickened. Stir in cheese and continue stirring until it is fully melted.
Pour half the sauce over the potatoes. Add other half of the potatoes on top, season with salt and pepper and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle paprika over the top.
Cover and bake for 90 minutes.

Again, not an amazing photo, but the potatoes taste really good.

Meatloaf Muffins

1 lb. ground beef
1/2-1 package dry onion soup mix (depends on how much seasoning you like)
1/4 cup crushed saltines
1 egg

Combine ground beef, soup mix, crackers, and egg. Don't over-mix or meat will be tough. Spray a cupcake tin really well with non-stick spray. Evenly spoon meat into cupcake tin. I got about 9 cupcakes, but next time I am going to make them bigger, so aim for 6. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Enjoy!

*You can use whatever meatloaf recipe you like and just make them into muffins.

Okay, this is not the prettiest picture, but it gives you an idea.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage Sauce

The first few years of our marriage I barely made any Italian food. Nate claimed he didn't like pasta very much so I didn't make it. Once in a blue moon we would have pasta because I love pasta. However since I've really gotten into becoming a better cook and trying new recipes these past 9 or so months, we've tried several pasta dishes. Nate now likes pasta and I put in on our menu every other week or so. I saw this recipe over at Better than Burgers. I used mild sausage and it was just right, I'm a spice wimp. It's a super easy recipe and nice variation on pasta.

1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, removed from casings (you can use hot if you want)*
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 (16 oz.) can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
hot cooked pasta

In a large skillet, heat sausage, garlic, and onion until meat is browned. Drain any excess fat. Pour in tomatoes and tomato sauce; mix in parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot pasta.

*The original recipe calls for a full pound of sausage. I found that to be too much meat for my preference. I like more sauce to meat ratio, so from now on I'll just use a half pound.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Easy Baked Chicken and Red Potatoes

Since Nate was so sad that he didn't get any potatoes last night, I thought I would make him some tonight. The fact that I had a couple leftover potatoes didn't hurt either! I wanted something simple and comforting, and this is what I came up with. We both enjoyed it and Nate is looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

After dinner we decided that this recipe is so easy even Nate could make it. We are slowly building up his repertoire of meals.

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1.5 lbs. red potatoes (you could use russets also)
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
1 envelope Italian dressing mix
4-5 Tbsp. olive oil

Wash and pat dry chicken. Rinse potatoes. Cut potatoes into evenly sized bite sized pieces. Add both chicken and potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Pour olive oil and both dressing envelopes over the chicken and potatoes, mixing really well. Spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray. Add chicken breasts to baking dish and then potatoes. Bake at 400 for approximately 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are fork tender.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roasted Italian Potatoes

I took these to a church function tonight (I doubled the recipe) and I totally forgot to take a picture! Sorry. They were pretty tasty though, the whole dish was gone pretty quickly. This is a super easy recipe that Nate wants me to make again really soon. I saw this idea over at Miranda's Recipes.

1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes
1 envelope Italian seasoning mix
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese (optional)

Wash the potatoes. Chop potatoes into evenly sized pieces. In a mixing bowl drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and add the Italian seasoning. Mix well. Spray a 9x13" baking dish with pam and add the potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until fork tender. Stir potatoes halfway through cooking time so they don't stick. Sprinkle cheese over top of the potatoes during the last few minutes of cooking. Serve hot.

Monday, August 15, 2011


For some reason salsa has always seemed so intimidating to make. If I had known it was this easy, I would have started making my own long ago! This recipe was really good. I blended it into a really fine consistency, we're not huge fans of chunky salsa. I kept it on the mild side, but feel free to heat it up if that's what you like. The only thing I would change is to halve the cilantro, other than that, I thought this recipe was amazing. I saw this recipe over at My Kind of Cooking.

2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeds and veins removed (I added 2, and it was nice and mild)
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (the original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. but I think it would be better with just one, unless you really love cilantro)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

In blender container, combine jalapeno peppers, onion, cilantro, and 1/2 of tomatoes. Cover. Blend well. Add remaining ingredients. Cover. Pulse until blended.

P.S. Have you tried the new Tostitos chips that have a hint of pepper jack? If not, you really should, so good!

Nate is such a good taste tester!

Taco Casserole

The best way to describe this recipe is a mix between nachos and taco salad. Both Nate and I really enjoyed it and I will definitely make it again. I saw the idea over at Better Than Burgers. I adapted it for our tastes.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 small can enchilada sauce (I used a little bit of Taco Bell sauce and plain tomato sauce)
2 cups broken tortilla chips (you could use Doritos too)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I left these out)
shredded cheddar cheese

shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced olives, sour cream, avocado, salsa, etc.

Brown the ground beef. Once cooked through add the taco seasoning and mix well. Add just enough enchilada sauce to the meat to get the consistency of a thick sloppy joe mix, you don't want it soupy. Spray the bottom of an 8x8" baking dish with cooking spray. Place chips into the bottom of the baking dish, add black beans, and then top with the meat. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with your favorite taco toppings. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cinnamon Twists

As you've probably learned by now, my husband Nate LOVES cinnamon rolls and all the variations thereof. I knew these cinnamon twists would be a big hit, and they were! These were so easy, and so quick too. This is one dessert I don't mind making. I hope you like these as much as we did. I saw the idea over at Recipe Shoebox.

1-1/2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. yeast

3 Tbsp. melted butter
Cinnamon-sugar mixture (1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbs. cinnamon)

1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4-5 Tbsp. milk

In a large bowl, add hot water, egg, 1 cup flour, sugar,salt, butter, then yeast. Mix for 2-3 minutes, then add remaining flour. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. *I did this all in my bosch mixer with the dough hook.

Divide dough into 2 roughly equal portions. Pat dough (since it's a soft dough, I found I didn't need a rolling pin) to about 1/4-inch thickness in a rectangular shape. With a pizza cutter, cut dough down the middle then into strips (about 1-1/2-inches wide). Brush with butter and then sprinkle generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Take each strip, fold it in half and then twist up. Set twists on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and sprayed with pam. Allow to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. *I just set them on top of my preheated oven. Bake at 400° for about 12 minutes or until very lightly golden brown.

While twists are baking, in a large bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth. Heat in the microwave until nice and runny and a good drizzling consistency. Drizzle over hot cinnamon twists.

This recipe made 18 twists.

This is what it looks like when I allow Nate to add the amount of frosting he wants.