Sunday, December 30, 2012

White Chocolate Dipped Sugar Doodles

It's almost like these cookies were designed specifically for Nate. He loves white chocolate, cinnamon-sugar flavored things, and vanilla. I knew these cookies would be perfect for him. Nate says he'd even enjoy these cookies plain. I saw this recipe over at Sweet Treats and More. I followed her recipe almost exactly. So if you haven't had quite enough sugar this holiday season, give these a try. Enjoy!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
2 Tbsp. heavy cream (or milk)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (give or take. I almost always have to add more flour to my cookies to get the right texture because of where I live)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon (we love McCormick's Saigon cinnamon)
1/4 tsp. salt
white chocolate or almond bark

In a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugars and continue beating on medium-high speed until well combined and creamed together.
Scrape the sides of the bowl down, then add egg, heavy cream, and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
Stop, scrape down sides of the bowl again, beat on low speed and gradually add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix until just combined.
Chill dough for 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough into small balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Once cooled, melt white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on low heat and stirring every 30 seconds. Continue until completely melted. Dip one half of cookies in the white chocolate then place on waxed paper or foil until chocolate is set. Yields 18-24 cookies depending on size and if you need to add more flour.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Steak, Egg, and Bacon Breakfast Pizza

This may be our favorite breakfast ever! It was so so good. After we hosted the gift exchange party for Nate's family on Sunday night, Aaron, Yang, Amelia, and Jake slept over at our house. This is what we served them for breakfast on Christmas Eve morning. Everyone gobbled it right up. I was so glad I made two pizzas. It is definitely going to making many repeat appearances at our breakfast table. I used leftover steak and prepped a lot of the things ahead of time to make it so easy that morning. You'll definitely enjoy this pizza.

2 refrigerated pizza doughs (I cheated and used Pillsbury)
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
6-8 oz. leftover steak, thinly sliced
8 eggs, seasoned and scrambled
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper
shredded cheese

Roll out pizza dough onto prepared baking sheets. Par-bake your pizza crusts until they start to get a light golden brown and then remove from oven. You want the crusts mostly cooked before you top them or else your eggs will dry out. Ours took about 8 minutes (I think the temp was 400 F degrees). While crust is cooking, make your scrambled eggs and set aside. Also melt your butter over medium heat and then saute diced onion and green pepper, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and also add the sliced steak. Cook 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are a nice tender/crisp texture. After crusts have par-baked, top with pizza toppings. Put on scrambled eggs, steak, bacon, and veggies. Top with a bit of shredded cheese and return to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, another 6-8 minutes. Slice and serve immediately with some hot sauce or salsa to top if you'd like.

Slow Cooker Asian Pulled Pork

Okay, this is pork is so good! Nate rated it an 11 on a scale of 1-10. This is definitely a new crock pot favorite at our house. We love Asian food and I can think of lots of dishes to use this pork in. We ate ours over basmati rice. I am going to use some of our leftovers to make some pot stickers this week. It would also be great over some Asian noodles or even as a sandwich on a sesame seed hamburger bun with some Asian slaw. You will love this! I saw this recipe over at The Recipe Critic. I had never used oyster sauce before and was nervous it would taste fishy. There was no fishy taste, it seemed to really enhance the rest of the flavors and give the pork this great umami flavor. Really, make this soon!

2-3 pound pork roast (my roast was nearly 4 lbs. so I upped the water by a 1/3 cup and doubled the sauce portion)
1 cup water
1 tsp. Better Than Buillion chicken base
1 yellow onion, cut into large chunks
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce

Get crock pot heating on low. Boil the water. Add the chicken base and whisk well to incorporate. Boil for a couple minutes and then remove from heat. You could also substitute 1 cup chicken broth instead of making your own. I would use a low sodium kind though. I let my chicken base mixture cool while I chopped up the onion. Once the crock pot is warm add the chicken base mixture. Put in the pork roast. I rolled it around to coat in the chicken broth. Have the roast fat side up. Add the onions around the roast. Cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours. Remove and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Shred pork and return to crock pot. I left a bit of the chicken broth and some of the onions in the bottom. Combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and oyster sauce. Pour over the meat and stir. I doubled the sauce since I had a larger roast. Cook on low for another 30-60 minutes. Serve warm over some hot cooked rice. Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Brigadeiros - Brazilian Chocolate Balls

Nate ate these at Christmastime while living in Brazil. He tells me they make these brigadeiros all the time for holidays. To keep the festive spirit I decided it was high time I made them! Nate loved them. He already wants another batch made for New Year's Eve. I saw this recipe at Mmm...Cafe but I found this video to be really helpful for the technique of making these treats. Add these to your holiday dessert table.

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
chocolate sprinkles (I had a 10 oz. container and used the majority of it)

Bring butter, cream, and milk to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. It's important to use this size of pan. You want a nice large surface area of heat. If you use a smaller saucepan your mixture will take forever to get to the right consistency. Add chocolate and cocoa powder, and reduce heat to a low/medium-low; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is the consistency of thick thick batter. This is where watching the video comes in handy. You want to be able to drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan and have the chocolate take a sec to fill in. You want to be able to get a scoop on your spatula, turn it upside down in the air and have it take a sec to fall of the spatula. This will take at least 15 minutes, perhaps longer. Be sure and stir constantly, taking care to scrape the sides and bottom of your sauce pan. Nate and I took turns stirring. Once it's at the right consistency, transfer to a bowl and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator until set. I let mine set in the bottom of a 9x13" glass dish for a bit over an hour. When you're ready to shape, take a little bit of butter and rub on the palm of your hands. Using a tablespoon, portion out fudge and roll into balls. Roll each ball in chocolate sprinkles until evenly coated. Chill until ready to serve.

This made about 50 brigadeiros.

Easy Blender Salsa

Okay, salsa has to be one of the greatest inventions ever! I don't know anyone who doesn't like salsa. Cute Brittany made this and I told her we had to put it on the recipe blog. Aunt Kathleen is one of the best hostesses/cooks I know and it looks like Brittany is following right in her footsteps. Enjoy!

1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1- 10 oz can original Rotel
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed (or minced from the bottle if you're lazy like me)
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded (depends on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime

Put it all in the food processor (or blender) and blend until desired consistancy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Enchilada Cups

This is such a fun variation on enchiladas. Nate loved it and was really excited to have leftovers for lunch today. We've been so unbelievably busy the last few weeks, last night we didn't even eat dinner until 10 pm (as you can probably tell by the horrible picture). These enchilada cups really hit the spot. You can fill these with any enchilada filling you like. You could use beef, chicken, or pork, or even go vegetarian. Nate really wants to try them filled with chile colorado. Use whatever you like! Enjoy.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been cooked and shredded (I use this rub on my chicken and it is so so good!)
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 - 1 cup green enchilada sauce
9 small flour tortillas
hot, cooked refried beans
shredded cheese
broken tortilla chips, optional (you want them crumbled but not powder fine)

Spray a muffin tin with some non-stick cooking spray. This recipe makes 9 enchilada cups. Now cut some circles out of your tortillas. I used the top of one of those hospital mugs and just cut around it with a knife. You want your tortilla circles to line the muffin tin like a baking cup, so it lines the bottom and the sides, but if they are really over sized you might get some burnt tortillas. I left just a little bit of overhang so it would hold all the filling. I hope that makes sense. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Once hot add the diced onion and green pepper. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and saute until veggies are tender, 4-5 minutes. Once veggies are cooked, add in shredded chicken and enchilada sauce. I don't like my filling super saucy, you feel free to add as much or as little as you like. Cook until chicken and sauce are hot, taste and adjust seasoning as you need. If you like, you can even add some shredded cheese to the filling mixture. Spoon a small amount of refried beans into the bottom of each tortilla cup. Then spoon in some of the chicken mixture on top of that. Next, sprinkle some of the broken tortilla chips on top of each enchilada cup. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Remove enchilada cups and top each one with some shredded cheese. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted. My enchilada cups popped right out of the muffin tins no problem. Serve hot and enjoy!

I shared this over at High Heels and Grills.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Salsa Rice

I made this rice as a side dish to these crock pot chicken fajitas. It was part of a dinner taken to Nate's cute aunt who recently had a baby. I know she's a big fan of Mexican food and it doesn't seem like you can go to most Mexican restaurants without getting a side of rice. I saw this recipe over at Life as a Lofthouse. This is a really easy and tasty rice recipe. If you use mild salsa, it makes a nice mild rice dish which is nice for spice wimps like me. Try this out next time you have Mexican night. Enjoy!

1 cup uncooked long grain rice (I always use basmati rice)
2 cups chicken broth (I make my own low sodium broth using Better Than Bullion brand chicken base)
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup salsa
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Add broth, butter, salsa, garlic salt, and cumin to pot. Stir and then add rice. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer the rice for 25 minutes. Remove from heat (keep lid on) and let stand for 5-10 minutes. After standing, fluff rice and serve as a side to your favorite Mexican dish!

Photo updated 06/13/13.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beef Burgundy

This dinner is one of my all-time favorites. Seriously, it is so good, it's on my top ten list. I wish you could smell the picture, it's pure comfort food for me. It's perfect for a cold winter's night. The title is a bit of a misnomer I guess, I don't use any burgundy wine in the dish. My mom made this dish on occasion growing up. I wrote down her recipe but tweaked several things. This was the first time I'd ever made it and I have to admit, it was the best beef burgundy I've ever had. The sauce is rich and the beef just falls apart in your mouth. I'm really proud of this dish. The seasonings are my best guestimate, taste the broth as it simmers and adjust accordingly. You must make this dish!

2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
8 slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces
3-4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth (I like to use the Better Than Bullion brand beef base. You generally use 1 tsp. per cup of water, for this recipe I did 1 1/2 cups water and 2 tsp. of the beef base)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. pepper (we love Lawry's brand seasoned pepper)
1/2 - 1 tsp. steak rub (we love the rub found in Weber's Real Grilling book, we just omit the cinnamon)
1 large yellow onion, sliced into half moons
2 Tbsp. butter
hot, cooked egg noodles to serve beef burgundy over

Cook and crisp bacon pieces in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove bacon, drain on paper towels, and reserve in the refrigerator. In a gallon size ziploc bag add beef pieces and flour. Coat the beef well, you want it all coated but not caked on. Sear the beef in the hot bacon fat until you get a nice little crust on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple batches depending on the size of your dutch oven. Once all the beef is browned, drain the excess fat from the dutch oven. Add the beef back in and pour in the beef broth to de-glaze the bottom of the dutch oven. Use a wooden spoon and scrape up all those brown bits on the bottom, that's where you get tons of flavor! You want the liquid to come about 2/3 - 3/4 up the beef. You will probably need to add a bit of water. I added about 2/3 cup of water. You don't want the beef completely submerged, but you want most of it covered. Stir in your minced garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, marjoram, and steak rub, mixing well. Heat to a boil, stir well and reduce heat to a gently simmer. Cover and let simmer until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. I peeked at the beef and stirred it just 2 or 3 times. After the hour and a half, melt the 2 Tbsp. of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 4 or so minutes. Add the cooked onions and half of the reserved bacon to the beef mixture. Taste the beef mixture and adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Once finished cooking, remove bay leaf and serve. Serve beef burgundy over some hot, cooked egg noodles and garnish with the remaining reserved bacon. It's great with some french bread too so you can mop up the sauce. I love this dinner!

Snowflake Rolls

This is such a fun and festive way to dress up regular old dinner rolls. Anything holiday makes me happy! I love being to make an everyday dinner just a bit more special. I saw the idea online today at Plain Chicken just in time to get my rolls defrosting for dinner. I was so glad! I got better at the snowflakes the more I made them, I think next time I make them they'll look a lot better. Enjoy!

12 Rhodes frozen bread roll dough
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp hot water
1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Lightly spray a round 9" cake pan with cooking spray. Arrange 12 rolls in the pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size. Mine usually take 3.5-4 hours. Combine flour, butter, hot water and garlic powder. Transfer to piping bag fitted with #4 tip. I don't have a piping bag so I just used a sandwich sized ziploc bag and snipped the corner. Pipe snowflake design on top of each roll. One finished piping, put the rolls in the fridge while the oven heats to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the rolls are a nice golden brown and cooked through.

Next time I will pipe the snowflakes a little thinner so they turn out a bit better looking.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Roasted Smashed Red Potatoes

So good! I've been meaning to make these for a long long time. I'm bummed I waited so long to do it, we could have been enjoying these potatoes for a while now! They have this great crispness on the outside and are yet still soft on the inside. This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen, which always has awesome recipes. They only need a couple of ingredients too, which is always great in my book. Potatoes are such comfort food for me, I'm sure you will enjoy these as much as we did.

2 lbs. small red potatoes (try and get ones all about the same size)
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt or seasoning salt
freshly ground black pepper

Put your oven rack at the top and bottom positions. Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Place your potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure your potatoes are all right around the same size. I had a mix of small and big so I cut the big ones in half to match the size of the smaller potatoes. Pour 3/4 cup of water into the baking sheet and then tightly wrap the sheet with tin foil. Cook the potatoes on the bottom rack until fork tender, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and let cool for about 10 minutes. If you have any remaining water, blot it dry. I didn't have any water left. Drizzle 3 Tbsp. of olive oil over the potatoes and then roll to coat. Use another baking sheet (or a potato masher) and press down firmly to flatten potatoes to about 1/3 - 1/2 inch thick. Generously season potatoes with salt and pepper and then drizzle the remaining 3 Tbsp of olive oil over the top. Bake potatoes on the top rack for 15 minutes or until they get a nice crisp crust and then transfer to the bottom rack for another 10-15 minutes to crisp up and brown the bottoms. Serve immediately. ATK instructs you to remove the potatoes from the baking sheet as soon as they are done browning—they will toughen if left too long.

This picture is from the America's Test Kitchen site.

Rolo Cupcakes

Again, chocolate and caramel are a favorite combination of Nate's. He really enjoyed these cupcakes and requested to have them again. It's a super simple variation on a boxed cake mix, can't get easier than that! Enjoy!

1 boxed yellow cake mix, plus the water, oil, and eggs it requires
ice cream topping caramel topping (Nate prefers Mrs. Richardson's brand)
chocolate frosting
mini rolos

Prepare the cake batter as instructed. Once your cupcake liners are filled, top with a teaspoon or so of caramel. It's easiest if you warm the caramel a bit first. Take a butter knife and swirl the caramel around in the cupcake batter, like you would if you were making a marble cake. Bake the cupcakes as instructed on the box. Once cooled, frost with chocolate frosting. Warm some more caramel and drizzle over top of the frosted cupcakes and then top each cupcake with a rolo candy.


You really need to make this dough. It is honestly the best homemade pizza dough I've ever had. Everyone I make it for loves it too and wants the recipe. I always make a double batch of dough, which yields 4 balls of dough, and have some in my freezer. It's perfect for busy days, especially during this holiday season! The frozen, thawed dough tastes as good as fresh too. I've used the dough for pizza, breadsticks, pizza bread, ham and cheese roll ups, and calzones. The options are really endless!

1 ball amazing pizza dough (makes 4 good sized calzones)
pizza sauce
freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
garlic bread seasoning
pizza toppings of choice, we love Hormel's turkey pepperoni, green peppers, onions etc.

Cut your pizza dough into 4 even sized pieces. Roll and stretch each piece of dough out into a thin circle. Spoon some pizza sauce into the middle of the circle, being sure to leave a nice perimeter of plain dough. Add pizza toppings of your choice and some cheese on top of the sauce. Don't go too overboard, you want your cheese to melt nicely. Fold the dough in half and seal tightly, make sure the entire thing is pinched tightly together so your filling doesn't ooze out. Make a couple small slits in the top of your dough to allow the steam to escape while baking. Sprinkle some garlic bread seasoning on top of each calzone and some mozzarella if you like. Bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and the dough is cooked through. I recommend using a pizza stone or a metal pizza pan that has the holes in it. I also like sprinkling a tiny bit of cornmeal on your stone or pan so the calzones don't stick. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rotel Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love soup, Nate, not so much. I suggested trying a chicken tortilla soup since he loves Mexican food so much. I sent Nate a couple of links to recipes and this is the one he picked. I adapted this recipe from Food Network and it comes from Rotel. He really loved this soup. We'll definitely be making it again.

2 (10 oz.) cans mild Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, undrained (it was a bit spicy for me so next I'll do one can of Rotel and one can plain diced tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans (I used fat free)
1 - 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I made my chicken using this rub, so good!)
shredded cheese
tortilla strips or chips

Combine tomatoes and broth in medium saucepan. Stir in beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken and corn and cook until they're heated through. I cooked my soup an additional 30 minutes stirring occasionally, just so the flavors could marry. Serve topped with tortilla strips and cheese, if desired.

Garlic Soy Broccoli

Nate only enjoys broccoli two ways; covered in alfredo sauce, or tasting like soy-such as in a stir-fry. That's it. Otherwise, he is not interested. I however really love broccoli. I'm not a huge fan of it raw, but I love it cooked to a nice tender crisp so it's not soggy and still has a little bite to it. I was craving some broccoli and figured this recipe might work for the both of us. It was a success. I saw the idea over at Recipes We Love, they also have the option for doing a foil packet of broccoli on the grill. We will definitely be trying that! I didn't make tons of broccoli for just the two of us, so you will need to adjust accordingly if you are making more broccoli. Enjoy!

3 small heads of broccoli
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 - 1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

Wash and cut your broccoli into bite sized pieces. In a pan melt butter over medium heat. I go just barely above medium heat. Add broccoli, pepper, and garlic powder making sure everything gets evenly coated. Pour a small amount of water over broccoli. Pop the lid on your pan and let the broccoli cook/steam for a few minutes until it's near the done-ness you like, stirring frequently. Add the soy sauce and finish the last minute or so of cooking. Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Italian Chicken, Potato, and Green Bean Bake

Talk about comfort food! This totally hit the spot tonight. It it so simple takes just minutes to throw together too. This would be perfect for a cold winter weeknight meal. I found the idea on Pinterest. I tried to find the original site this came from, but I couldn't, sorry, I'd love to give credit where credit is due. Nate is super excited to have leftovers for work this week. We will definitely be making this again and again!

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
6 red potatoes
1 can green beans, drained
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 packet Italian dressing mix

Lightly spray a 9x13" glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place chicken breasts down the middle of the dish. Drain the green beans and pour them on one side of the chicken. Chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces and put them on the other side of the chicken. Sprinkle the whole dish with a little salt and pepper, then pour the melted butter over the top. Finally sprinkle the Italian dressing mix over everything. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until chicken is done and potatoes are tender. I stirred my vegetables halfway through the cooking time to to make sure things were evenly seasoned. Once finished cooking, let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

I shared this over at High Heels and Grills.

We're hoping to adopt, check our profile out at and feel free to pass it along!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Make-Ahead Cheesy Bacon Mini Meatloaves

Katie emailed me this recipe yesterday. She said it was a big hit with everyone at her house! That's always a sure sign of a winner recipe. It's also a recipe you can make ahead and freeze, bonus! Katie adapted this recipe from one over at Kraft Foods. She told me she thought Nate would really enjoy it. Bacon, Stove Top stuffing, barbecue sauce, three of his most favorite foods. I'm sure once he sees this he'll be asking for it to be put on the menu. This also seems like a recipe that would be great to take over to someone who's just had a baby or surgery, I'm sure they would enjoy it.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground turkey
1 (6 oz.) package chicken flavored Stove Top stuffing
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
3 green onions, sliced
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
8 slices of bacon

Whisk the eggs and milk in large bowl until blended. Add all remaining ingredients (except bacon); mix lightly. Shape into 8 one inch thick patties and then wrap the bacon slice around the edge of each patty.

I doubled the recipe and cooked half at 375 degrees for 20 minutes and then added a scoop of mashed potatoes on the top while they finished cooking (another 15 minutes). So yummy!

With the remaining patties I flashed froze them and then individually wrapped and then put in freezer bag for another night when I am tempted to buy dinner because of a crazy day. Then it says to cook the unwrapped frozen patties for 45 minutes.
I suggest spraying the pan with cooking spray before placing on the rimmed baking sheet! Enjoy!

Here is a batch all wrapped and ready for the freezer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mini Kisses Praline Bars

This is a recipe that Anna wrote down especially for her Aunt Katie. Katie emailed it to me today and I thought it was very fitting for this time of year when everyone loves to bake those fun holiday treats. The recipe and the photo come from Hershey's. Enjoy!

1-3/4 cups (10-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S MINI KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar , divided
1/2 cup (1 stick)plus 2/3 cup butter , divided
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or pecan pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine flour and 1 cup brown sugar in large bowl; with pastry blender or fork, cut in 1/2 cup butter until fine crumbs form. Press mixture into 13x9-inch baking pan; sprinkle with pecans. Combine remaining 2/3 cup butter and remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar in small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, 30 seconds, until sugar dissolves; drizzle evenly over pecans and crust. Bake 18 to 22 minutes until topping is bubbly and golden; remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle chocolates pieces over top. Cool completely in pan on wire rack; cut into bars. Makes 24 to 36 bars.

Homemade Crunchwraps

Don't even be surprised that it's another Mexican dish! They are always a hit at our house. Poor Nate had gone a week or so without Mexican food due to the holiday, he was overdue! This recipe is a copy cat idea from a dish they serve at Taco Bell. I don't know how close this is to the actual crunchwrap, but we both liked this version and will definitely be making these again. I really liked that you can individualize these crunchwraps, that way Nate can make his as spicy as he wants and I can have mine the way I like. Enjoy!

1 lb. ground beef
1 can refried beans (I used fat free)
1 packet + 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
shredded lettuce
hot sauce (Nate's favorites are Tapatio and Sriracha)
queso (we like Tostito's brand salsa con queso)
tostada shells or broken up tortilla chips
large flour tortillas (the largest ones I could find were burrito sized and they worked well)
shredded cheddar cheese
vegetable oil

In a large skillet brown and crumble ground beef. Halfway through cooking, add the diced onion and green pepper. Once browned, add the taco seasoning packet and water and mix thoroughly, reduce heat and finish cooking according to packet directions. Once complete, set aside. Heat the refried beans with 1 Tbsp. of taco seasoning added. I just do it in a small pot over medium heat. Also heat up your queso. The crunchwraps just get grilled for a few minutes, so you want your fillings to go in hot. Now you'll need to assemble your crunchwraps, you can do it in any order you like, this is just how Nate and I made them last night. I microwave my flour tortillas for just 10-15 seconds so they are pliable and easier to work with. Place a tortilla down, then spread a bit of queso in a circle in the center of the tortilla. Remember you're going to be folding up the sides, so don't make too huge of a circle. Then spread some refried beans on top of the queso. Place a tostada shell on next, you can also just break up some tortilla chips instead. You don't want the chips to be powder fine, just broke into large pieces so you still get a good crunch. Next top the chips with some ground beef. Then add some hot sauce or taco sauce or salsa on top of the beef. Sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on next if you like and finally top with some shredded lettuce. Now you'll gently fold up the sides of the flour tortilla. Be careful not to pull too tight or you'll break the tortilla. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. I brushed a tiny bit of vegetable oil over the bottom of the pan. Once hot, place the crunchwrap folded side down into the skillet. Grill for a few minutes or until you get that nice golden brown color. Then flip the crunchwrap over and grill the other side until golden brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!

I shared this over at High Heels and Grills.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Acorn Donut Holes

I saw these online last year and I'm so glad I remembered to make them this year! Definitely just a fun little fall treat. Super easy and would probably be fun for kids.

glazed donut holes
chocolate frosting
chocolate sprinkles
pretzel pieces

Warm the frosting so it's nice and smooth. Dip the top portion of the donut holes into the frosting and then into the sprinkles. Insert a little piece of broken pretzel into the top as a stem. Enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Cream Pie

Nate's pie request for Thanksgiving was chocolate cream. I must have sent him a dozen links to different chocolate cream pie recipes. He chose one from Jamie Cooks It Up, and it totally worked for me, it was by far the easiest recipe too. Nice! If you need another pie recipe for the big day tomorrow, you can't get easier than this!

1 graham cracker crust (pre-made or make your own)
1 (8 oz.) tub whipped topping, thawed (I used fat free)
7 (1.5 oz.) Hershey's milk chocolate bars

Break up chocolate bars. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Stir after every 30 seconds and melt until chocolate is smooth, taking care not to burn it. Thoroughly mix together the melted chocolate and thawed whipped topping. Evenly spread chocolate cream mix into pie crust. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours or until set. I had another chocolate bar and just used a peeler to get a few chocolate shavings over the top for garnish. Enjoy!

Simple Pan Roasted Asparagus

I LOVE asparagus! And yes, I am well aware that it is not in season, but I don't care. I love it, it is a wonderful vegetable. When I was little one way my mom could convince me to come home from the park was to promise me asparagus for dinner. I also remember picking fresh asparagus from the canals by my grandma's house when I was young. My grandma would cook it for us right when we got back. Seriously, dirt to dish in less than a half hour, you can't beat that! Anyway, the best asparagus I've ever had is this grilled asparagus. This recipe is the same idea, just made stove-top. It was delicious, even Nate ate some and you know how he feel about veggies!

1 small bundle asparagus
1 Tbsp. butter
kosher salt
steak seasoning, optional (if your steak seasoning has salt and pepper in it, you may not need to add additional salt and pepper)

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. I had it turned to just past medium. Once butter is melted add asparagus and seasonings to taste. Cook for 5-8 minutes, rotating stalks as needed. Cooking time depends on how thick your stalks are and how crisp you like your asparagus, I like mine to still have a nice bite to it so I cooked it for about 6 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Italian Breaded Pork Chops

I was spoiled tonight. I've been a bit stressed lately and Nate told me that he'd like to help me out and cook dinner tonight. He said pork chops sounded good and I told him some ideas for pork chops that I had saved. This idea is from Allrecipes and we just adapted it for the ingredients we had on hand. Nate did a great job and dinner was really good. Thanks Nate!

2 boneless pork chops, thick cut (ours were nearly an inch thick)
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk. In another dish combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and garlic bread seasoning. Dip each pork chop in the egg mixture, coating both sides and then dip in the breadcrumb mixture. In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add the pork chops to the skillet and brown on each side for about 4 minutes per side, you want them to be a nice golden brown. Transfer the pork chops to a baking sheet and finish them in the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oreo Fudge Ice Cream Cake

This is what I made as Nate's birthday cake this year. We went to a game night tonight so it was perfect to share. I don't like chocolate or ice cream, so it was nice to have others to share with so Nate didn't have to eat cake alone! It's a fairly simple dessert to make and Nate really enjoyed it. I saw the idea over at Day to Day with Holly. This would be really nice on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed (Nate likes the Mrs. Richardson's brand)
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed, divided (we used fat free)
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) Jello Chocolate Instant Pudding
8 Oreo Cookies, chopped
12 cookie 'n cream ice cream sandwiches

Pour 1/2 cup fudge topping into medium bowl. Whisk in 1 cup Cool Whip. Add dry pudding mix and stir for about 2 min. Stir in chopped oreo cookies. Arrange 4 ice cream sandwiches, side-by-side, on a foil lined baking sheet. Top with half the pudding mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sandwiches. Frost top and sides with remaining Cool Whip. Bring up foil sides and loosely seal around cake. Freeze for 4 hours. Nate heated up a little bit more of the hot fudge to drizzle over the cake just before serving.

The red stuff is because I used holiday oreos.

Ugh, I wish this picture showed the layers better, but it was starting to melt when we were slicing it.

2 Ingredient Punch

Okay, seriously, this could not be easier. This is a perfect go-to drink when you want something easy and tasty. You also make it any flavor you like.

1 can frozen concentrate, any flavor you like (our two favorites are the Hawaiian's Own brand in strawberry guava and passion lemonade)
1 (2 liter) bottle of lemon-lime soda, chilled (regular or diet, your preference)

Empty frozen concentrate into a pitcher and mash it up a bit. Then slowly add the lemon-lime soda, stirring gently to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy!

This is the passion lemonade flavor, so good!

Chicken Fried Steak Casserole

This is one of the four recipes Nate requested for his birthday. Nate is a big fan of chicken fried steak. It's one of his favorite comfort foods. I originally showed him this recipe online as a joke, but he got all excited to try it. Tonight was the night to try it and Nate really enjoyed it. He said he definitely will be requesting it again. I saw the idea over at Mr. Food and just tweaked a couple of things. So next time your husband's in the mood for a hearty meat and potatoes kind of dish, try this out.

1.5 - 2 lbs. cubed steak
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
Lawry's seasoned salt
Lawry's seasoned pepper
hamburger or steak seasoning
vegetable oil
prepared mashed potatoes (I used 2 packages of Idahoan butter and herb instant potatoes)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
shredded cheddar cheese (we went really light on the cheese)

First you'll need to prepare your chicken fried steaks. In a shallow dish add flour and season with a bit of salt and pepper. In a second shallow dish whisk together egg and milk, again season with a bit of salt and pepper. Then in a third shallow dish add the breadcrumbs and again season. You don't need to season the breadings heavily, but you do want flavor in each layer. Season the cube steaks themselves with a bit of hamburger or steak seasoning and salt and pepper. Dredge the steaks first in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg/milk mixture, and lastly in the seasoned breadcrumbs, being sure to shake off the excess of each dipping. In a large skillet heat 1/4 cup or so of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the steaks once hot and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until cooked through, turning once. You want a nice crispy golden brown exterior. I set the cooked steaks on a plate lined with paper towels and then blotted off any excess oil. Lay the cooked steaks in a 9x13" glass baking dish that's been sprayed with non-stick spray. Evenly spread your mashed potatoes over the top and then top that with a bit of shredded cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I made my potatoes just beforehand so they were still warm and so I only baked mine for 15 minutes. You just need the potatoes to be hot and the cheese melted. Top cooked casserole with a sprinkling of thinly sliced green onions and serve hot. If you like, you can always make a gravy to serve with the casserole. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken Alfredo Biscuit Bake

So Nate's birthday is on Monday and in celebration I had him choose 4 meals that he'd like me to make him around his birthday. I told him he could have anything he wanted, even things that I didn't necessarily like. Nate chose Baked Tacos, Nate's Super Manly Mexican Dip, this chicken alfredo biscuit bake, and a chicken fried steak casserole I'll be making tomorrow. I'm not at all a fan of alfredo sauce, but this dinner really surprised me. I enjoyed it and will definitely make it again. I saw the idea over at High Heels and Grills. I made the shredded chicken the day before and this meal was so easy to throw together tonight. This casserole is definitely comfort food and smells divine while it bakes. This is one of Nate's new favorite meals. ***Update- I've made this three times since Nate's birthday and he says it's one of his top 5 favorite dinners. Also, Nate did the math, a generous serving of this dish plus a side salad (with croutons, no dressing) is less than 550 calories all together. ***

3-4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into large chunks
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups broccoli
4 cups (32 oz.) alfredo sauce (I used 2 bottles of Classico's light alfredo)
1/2 cup milk
garlic bread seasoning
Lawry's seasoned black pepper
1 can refrigerated biscuits (I used Pillsbury grands layers biscuits)

In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. When hot add diced onions and sautee until soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are done, stir in the alfredo sauce, milk, chicken, 2 tsp. (to taste) of garlic bread seasoning, and some pepper to taste. Cook until hot and bubbly, stirring every so often and adjust seasoning as needed. Add broccoli. I cook the broccoli covered in the microwave for about 2 minutes, not so much that it's mushy, but not quite cooked through completely. Then it can finish cooking in the oven and still have a good texture. Once the broccoli is combined in the sauce, cook for another minute or two and then pour the sauce mixture into a 9x13" glass baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Next you're going to top it with biscuits. Split each biscuit into two (that's why I chose the layered biscuits, really easy to split). Arrange the biscuits on top of the sauce mixture. It is important that your sauce mixture is hot! The biscuits won't cook correctly if you put them on top of cold sauce. We also cut some small biscuit pieces to fill in any gaps. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and brush over top of the biscuits and then sprinkle a small amount of garlic bread seasoning on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through. Make sure the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot and enjoy!

Photos update 01/14/13. When it's just Nate and I, I halve the recipe and just make an 8x8" casserole.

We're hoping to adopt, check our profile out at and feel free to pass it along!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Simple Shredded Chicken

I feel like we all have tons of recipes that call for shredded chicken. Whether it's needed for soup, salads, filling for burritos or enchiladas, etc., we all use it. I know that lots of people cook it in the crock pot but some days there isn't always that much time, or we leave dinner to the last minute. I saw this idea over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe, my favorite recipe blog, and it's brilliant. I didn't change a thing It's a great technique for a basic shredded chicken, that can be used in most any dish. Better yet, you've got all these things on hand. So if you're in a bind for shredded chicken, try this out! I'm using this chicken in an Italian dish, I would add some of my favorite Mexican chicken rub if I were using it in a Mexican dish.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 (about 2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper (I used Lawry's seasoned salt and seasoned pepper)
3/4 cup water or low-sodium chicken broth (I used broth)

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken top-side down in the hot skillet and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes until golden brown on top. Flip the chicken, add the water or chicken broth, cover the skillet and let the chicken simmer gently over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (it will register 160 degrees on a thermometer). Don’t overcook or it might be dry. While the chicken is simmering, add additional water 1/4 cup at a time if the liquid evaporates too quickly. Remove the chicken from the skillet. Let it cool slightly before shredding. The cooked chicken will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months. Makes 3-4 cups of cooked, shredded chicken.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets

Hey- this is our 300th post! Woot woo! We hardly ever fry anything in our house. Maybe 4-5 times a year. I'm not a big fan of the mess, the lingering grease smell, or how unhealthy the food is. This recipe is definitely worth the hassle though. Nate is a huge fan of Chick-Fil-A. He has even requested it for his birthday dinner one year. I came across this recipe from My Name Is Snickerdoodle a while ago and it got good reviews and so I figured it was worth a shot. We just tweaked the seasoning a bit for our tastes and both Nate and I enjoyed the final product. They don't taste exactly like the restaurant, but they are pretty close. This definitely makes for a fun dinner and would be a treat for the kids or an at-home date night. Enjoy!

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 1/2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
3 tsp. salt (we used Lawry's seasoning salt)
1 tsp. poultry seasoning (I used McCormick's GrillMates chicken rub)
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
peanut oil (is best) or canola oil

In a medium bowl whisk the egg and stir in the milk. Trim any fat away from chicken. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in milk mixture,and cover. Let it soak for 2-4 hours in the fridge. This will make the chicken very nice and tender. In a gallon size resealable baggie combine flour, powdered sugar, salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Seal and shake to combine. Place about 2 inches of oil in a medium deep pot. I used my big blue dutch oven. Over medium high heat (more towards the high side) heat oil until hot. Using a thermometer, heat the oil to 375°. Adjust your heat if necessary. Using tongs remove cut chicken from milk mixture and place in the flour mixture. Seal and shake until nuggets are completely coated. Place about a 6-8 nuggets into hot oil and let them cook until golden brown, turning half way through once the edge of your chicken starts to turn white. About 1 minute each side. Always double check to see if any chicken you make is cooked through. Also keep an eye on your oil temperature and make adjustments as needed. Repeat until all nuggets are cooked. Serve with your favorite sauce!

I shared this recipe over at Mandy's Recipe Box,Chef In Training, and High Heels and Grills.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Stuffed Peppers

Happy Halloween! Here's an easy dinner idea to celebrate, Halloween stuffed bell peppers. I would have preferred to make these with orange bell peppers to be more fitting, but the green peppers looked best at the store. You could use this same idea but change up the filling. I've seen people fill them with spaghetti and then the jack o'lantern faces have noodles coming out of them. Enjoy, and have a fun and safe Halloween!

1 box prepared Zatarain's dirty rice mix* (you'll need a pound of ground beef and some water to make it)
bell peppers (you'll need as many as you have people to serve)
shredded cheese, optional

While the dirty rice is cooking, prep your peppers. Slice of the tops and scoop out all the seed and membranes from the pepper. Carve a jack o'lantern face into side of the pepper with a paring knife. If you like your peppers nice and crunchy you don't need to boil them. If you like them more tender you're going to want to boil them for just 3-4 minutes. I don't stress about cooking the tops because we don't eat the tops. Fill your prepared peppers with some dirty rice mix. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking add some shredded cheese to the tops and finish baking. Serve warm and enjoy your festive dinner!

*We love Zatarain's mixes in our house. Our two favorites are the dirty rice mix and the yellow rice mix. I always have them on hand. The dirty rice is such a great go-to meal when you have limited time or aren't really in the mood to cook.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicken Alfredo Roll Ups with Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Here is a great comfort food recipe from Sarah!

This is a play on lasagna roll ups... which we love and have often!!! This recipe comes from Mmm Cafe.

Chicken Alfredo Roll Ups

9 lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
Garlic salt
3 cups shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of your choice

Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick spray and pour 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce, or just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Boil 8-10 cups water in a large pan, cook lasagna noodles until all dente.
Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. Then lay out each noodle individually and blot dry with a paper towel.
Spread about 2 Tbs. Alfredo sauce over each noodle. Sprinkle oregano and garlic salt on top of sauce. Take 1/9 of the shredded chicken and spread it out evenly over each noodle. Add approx. 3 Tbs. Cheese. To roll up, start at one end and roll the noodle over the toppings. You will need to life the noodle a little to prevent squishing out the inside ingredients while rolling.
Place the roll-ups in the pan, one by one, seam side down so they don't come undone. Once they are all in the pan, pour the remaining Alfredo sauce over the top. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted on top.
Serves 3, 3 roll-ups each.

Homemade Garlic Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup butter
2 oz. Cream cheese
2 cups heavy cream (or substitute half and half)
2 tsp. Garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp.dried oregano
2/3 cup parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add fresh minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the cream and whisk to smooth and melted. Whisk in the heavy cream. Season with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and whisk frequently until sauce thickens, around 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and when melted, remove from heat and serve.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.

This picture comes from Mmm Cafe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

California Chicken Marinade

So I've been feeling a bit under the weather this week, and that always messes up my menu plans. But it's hard to cook when you are super queasy. I wanted a quick, simple chicken dinner one night. I went to one of my favorite blogs, Mel's Kitchen Cafe and looked through her chicken dishes. This one caught my eye because it was easy and I had the ingredients on hand. I cut way down on the amount of sugar in the dish. Nate and I aren't huge fans of sweet meat, and I was using a low-sodium soy sauce, so I wouldn't need as much sugar to balance out the salt. I'm posting our version, which tastes so good, but you can see her original version here. Again, this is a great tasting, super easy chicken dish. Can you really ever have to many of those in your repertoire? Enjoy.

1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and then cooled
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. dry mustard
1-2 lbs. chicken (I used breasts, but tenderloins would be really great)

Combine all the ingredients, whisk so they are well incorporated. You don't want to add hot butter because it will curdle and separate, so make sure it cools for a bit after you melt it. My butter was cool and it still separated a bit, but the taste was still great. Marinate you chicken for 4-8 hours. Then cook it up and dish it up! On Mel's blog, she broils her chicken, but I baked mine and it would also be awesome grilled.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sloppy Joe Jack O'Lanterns

Halloween is so close! Nate is a big fan of Halloween and I love getting to decorate and make festive food. Last night's dinner was no exception. It's a simple idea that makes dinner much more fun, and they tasted great too! I saw the idea over at Plain Chicken but I changed up the filling for our preferences. These would also be fun with a taco meat filling or some simple pizza ingredients (sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni). Try this for a fun dinner before trick-or-treating!

sloppy joe meat (I used this recipe and we used about 2/3 of it)
8 count tube of refrigerated biscuits, the layered kind (I used Pillsbury)
shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Separate each biscuit into two layers. Flatten each layer into a circle. Lay out half the circle onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Spoon sloppy joe filling in the center of the circles on the baking sheet. Also add some shredded cheese if you like. Use a sharp paring knife and cut out jack o'lantern faces on the remaining circles. Using the scraps from the face cut outs make stems for your pumpkins. Place a stem on each sloppy joe circle then top with a jack o'lantern face. Carefully pinch and seal up all the sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with a nice green salad and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2 Ingredient Chicken Marinade

We are always on the lookout for easy weeknight dishes. Especially ones with chicken. We really enjoy these savory chicken wings and I figured I could use the same ingredients for an easy marinade. Seriously, it's so easy and tasted awesome. I also think this would be a great marinade for pork chops. Enjoy!

1 cup Italian dressing (I used Kraft's fat free zesty Italian)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

Whisk together dressing and soy sauce and pour over chicken. I made a pound and a half of chicken and it was the perfect amount of marinade. Let marinate for 4-6 hours in the fridge and then cook! It's that easy!

I always marinate in a gallon sized ziploc bag. I put the bag in a large dish in case there are any leaks. Tons easier!

I shared this over at Work It Wednesday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Nate's Super Manly Mexican Dip

Okay, so I promise I cook more than Mexican food. For some reason all my posts so far this month have been Mexican food! I've got several new recipes that I'm trying this week, so I hope to have a little variety coming! We decided to have an at-home date night last night. If Nate had his way we'd have Mexican food every date night. I decided to indulge him and try a new style of Mexican shredded beef, Chile Colorado. I used the beef in a dip and it was total calorie filled comfort food. Nate could not have been happier, which makes me super happy. This is a really hearty and filling dip, we ate it as our main course. So if you're looking for a man-pleasing, perfect for football season dip, this is it!

about a pound of shredded beef, I used chile colorado , but you could also make this shredded Mexican beef, or you could always just do some seasoned ground beef
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
Optional- sliced olives, diced green onions, pico de gallo, etc. (I think these would be awesome on top, but I left it plain for Nate)

Lightly spray a glass 8x8" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl mix together the refried beans and taco seasoning. Spread the bean mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Top the beans with the beef. The chile colorado is super good in this dish because it is nice and saucy. Then top with shredded cheese. Cover and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake another ten or until cheese is nice and melty. Serve hot with your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy!

Chile Colorado (Slow Cooker)

Nate went crazy for this beef! He was in heaven last night. This beef is so easy too. Ten minutes of prep work and then you let the crock pot do the rest, oh and your house will smell amazing all day. I saw this idea over at Plain Chicken. She used the beef in smothered burritos which look super tasty. Enjoy!

2 lbs. beef stew meat
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. Knorr's Caldo de Tomate* (the kind I found came in cubes, so I used one cube)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth

Make the enchilada sauce. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together tomato sauce, Caldo de Tomate, garlic powder, chili powder, flour and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Place stew meat in 6-quart slow cooker. Cover with enchilada sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. Then shred your meat and return to the crock pot. Use the meat for your favorite dish. It would be perfect in burritos or enchiladas. You can also use the sauce over the top with some shredded cheese and have an awesome smothered burrito.

*This is a chicken/tomato base. I found it at Winco in the Latin section.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Taco Roll Ups

Okay, I've got another simple and fun variation on taco night for you. I've been meaning to make these forever! I wish I hadn't taken so long to make these. Nate was super excited to have these, so he totally volunteered to cook the whole recipe with me. I love cooking together, I love cooking and it makes me feel so valued and loved when Nate wants to share in that hobby with me. Nate is a really good cook too, he pretends he can't cook, but he knows more than he lets on! So back to the recipe, I saw this idea over at Kaitlin in the Kitchen. It's so easy and I love the nice crispness the outside of the tortillas get and the warm gooey inside. Try this next time it's taco night.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 packet taco seasoning plus the water it requires
(okay, the above ingredients are how I always make my taco meat, you don't have to do it this way, you just need a pound of your favorite taco meat)
soft taco sized flour tortillas (I believe we used 9 or 10)
shredded cheese (there's no set amount, just make it however cheesy you want)
butter or vegetable oil

Prepare your taco meat. I start browning and crumbling my ground beef, and halfway through cooking I toss in the diced green pepper and onion. Just as it finishes browning add the taco seasoning packet and the water it requires (I usually add a little less water than the packet says). Now it's time to assemble the roll ups. I made mine on a giant cutting board so I had room for all my roll ups and so that the mess was easy to clean up, or you could throw a sheet of tinfoil or parchment paper down. First, lay a tortilla down and then sprinkle some cheese right down the middle of the tortilla. Then scoop some of the taco meat on top of the cheese. Next sprinkle some more cheese on top of the meat. You need cheese on top and bottom so that the meat has something to stick to and won't fall out when you're done. Fold up the tortilla, fold one side in and then the other, then place seam side down so it stays together. Repeat this with all your tortillas and filling. Warm a large saute pan or griddle pan (I cooked at a heat just a bit warmer than medium) with a small amount of butter or vegetable oil so your roll ups brown nicely and don't stick. Once the pan is warm, place roll ups in the pan seam side down (as many as will fit) and grill for a few minutes or until the tortillas get to be a nice golden brown color. Then flip and do the same thing for the other side. I wish I had a nice big electric pancake griddle, then I could have cooked them all at once! Serve hot with your favorite taco toppings! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

Okay, this is another recipe is a twist on one from my Grandma Olson. I liked her idea, but not necessarily the ingredients, so I made it the way I liked it. This is one of Nate's favorite dinners. It's so easy to make and I like that he gets some vegetables in him!

1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning and the water it requires(Nate likes the Taco Bell brand)
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
flour tortillas (you could absolutely use corn tortillas, Nate prefers flour)
1 cup enchilada sauce or taco sauce
1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Brown ground beef and season with taco seasoning as per seasoning packet directions. Halfway through cooking the beef, add diced green pepper and onion. Once beef is finished cooking, add the black beans and corn. You don't need to thaw or cook the corn first, it'll cook in the oven.

In an 8x8" baking dish spread some of the sauce into the bottom and then layer a tortilla on top. The tortillas we like fit perfectly into the 8x8" pan. Then spread a thin layer of sauce on top of the tortilla. Layer on some meat mixture and some cheese. Reserve a little cheese for the end of baking. Place a tortilla on next, followed by a thin layer of sauce,then repeat. You can make as many layers as you'd like. I usually just do two layers. I also don't use all the meat mixture. You should end up with a tortilla on top covered with some sauce. Cover with parchment paper and then with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is all melted. Let stand for 5 minutes and then dig in! This is a super hearty dinner, so I just serve it with a simple green salad. Enjoy!

*Okay, don't feel pressured to use all the meat mixture! With all the veggies added to the meat, it goes really far. I generally use about 2/3 of the meat mixture. Leftovers of the meat mixture are really good with some tortilla chips or in a tortilla, or for taco salad. Also, I think this would be really good if you used shredded chicken instead of beef.

I had originally posted this recipe back in late 2010. Nate and I have tweaked it a bit over the years and I finally took a picture of it, so I felt it warranted a re-post.

I shared this recipe over at Mandy's Recipe Box and Chef In Training.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Anything caramel related is a hit in our house. Nate could just eat caramel by the spoonful. I saw the idea for these brownies over at Let's Dish, but I just simplified it by using a box brownie mix. This recipe is super simple and makes your kitchen smell divine. Fall is officially here and I feel like I should be baking almost daily! Now we just need some crisp cold weather!

your favorite brownie box mix (plus the eggs, oil, water it requires) or you could use your favorite homemade brownie recipe
1 cup dulce de leche (usually found in the Latin aisle of the store)

Line an 8x8" baking dish with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour in half of your brownie mixture, and spread out evenly. Dollop half the dulce de leche on top of the brownie mixture in several small drops. Take a knife and swirl the dulce de leche. Pour on the other half of the brownie mix and smooth with a spatula. Put on the remaining dulce de leche in small dollops, and swirl again. Bake according to brownie mix directions. Mine called for a 350 degree oven and it took a little over 40 minutes to bake. Allow to cool a bit, slice and serve!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stuffed Garlic Bread

This was such a hit! This may be the only way Nate wants garlic bread anymore. It is seriously so good. Total comfort food. You could totally add some diced pepperoni, green peppers, onions, or olives and make it a meal and just serve a green salad with it. I know we'll be making this time and time again.

1 loaf of french bread
butter, melted
garlic bread seasoning
freshly shredded mozzarella cheese

Using a sharp bread knife cut diagonal slices into the bread. Don't cut all the way through. Once you've finished going one direction, cut diagonally the other direction. Again, don't cut all the way through the bread. Wrap bottom of the bread with tin foil and place on a baking dish. Use a pastry brush and brush butter in all the crevices of the bread. Then sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning, and finally with some cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted. Enjoy warm!

Picture Updated 01/03/13

I shared this recipe over at Six Sisters' Stuff, Weekend Potluck, and Farm Girl Friday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Amazing Potato Rolls/Spudnuts

Here's a dough recipe from Katie that can be made either into rolls or into donuts. It's definitely a keeper recipe, she's been making it since Zak was a baby. Katie says the potatoes in the roll keep the rolls soft and moist so that left overs are nearly as yummy as hot out of the oven! I know bread is such comfort food and so I don't think there can ever be enough bread and roll recipes in your repertoire.

Dissolve in 1/2 c. lukewarm water... 3 pkg. yeast
In a separate bowl, mix 2 min..........1 c. hot water
1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 c. mashed potatoes (or instant reconstituted)
1 T. salt
Add....................................3 c. water (potato water is good)
yeast from above
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. dry milk
If you are making donuts then add....1 t. nutmeg
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. lemon rind
And finally add................................14 cups of flour (or enough flour until it cleans the sides of the bowl)

Knead 5 minutes until smooth. Place in lightly greased/oiled bowl and turn to grease top. Allow to raise until double in bulk. (About an hour)
Make sure to cover with damp towel. Punch dough down and roll out into desired shape. Bake at 350 for approx 10 minutes until golden brown.

If you are making spudnuts: Roll out to 1/2" thickness on lightly floured surface and cut with lightly floured doughnut cutter. Place on lightly
greased pan until double in bulk (approx. 30 minutes). Fry in 375 degree oil about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towel. Glaze while still
warm. Drain on cooling racks with wax paper beneath. Makes approx. 120 spudnuts.

Frankly, I have never made these into doughnuts because the rolls are so delicious! I use this recipe for my ham and cheese roll ups. That is because the left overs are also very tasty the next day! It is also very excellent for cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Asian Marinated Steak

I love Asian food and my husband Nate loves steak and so this was a hit with both of us! It is definitely still warm enough to grill and we're taking full advantage! Everything tastes better on the grill. This marinade recipe is a combination of a lot of our favorite Asian flavors. We marinated the steaks for an hour and the flavor was just right. I also think this would taste great on some nice thick cut pork chops.

1 1/2 lbs. steak
1/2 cup low-sodium soy
1/2 cup pear juice (I just simply buy one little 4 oz. bottle from the baby section of the store)
1 heaping tsp. sriracha hot sauce (more if you like lots of heat, you can find this in the Asian section of most any grocery store)
1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. granulated ginger
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. pepper (we love Lawry's seasoned pepper)
1/2 tsp. dried onion
2 cloves minced garlic

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients, making sure they are well combined. Pour over steaks. I like to use a gallon sized ziploc bag for my marinades. Fill 'em up and then set them in a dish or bowl in case of leaks, and you're set! Let marinate in the fridge for 1 hour and then grill to your desired doneness. Let steaks rest for 5 minutes then serve and enjoy! These would be great served with some fried rice and spicy broccoli, or sliced and serve over a salad. Enjoy!

This was recipe was part of a guest post I did over at Lovely Little Snippets.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guest Posting

Hey, just wanted to let everyone know that we will be guest posting over at Lovely Little Snippets tomorrow. I'm sharing a super tasty recipe that you'll really enjoy. So be sure and stop by!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pizza Bread

Sooo amazing! This was absolutely divine. I'm so glad I have another batch of pizza dough in the freezer. I'm definitely going to have to make this again soon. It's so easy to make too. I'll probably have this be one of the meals Nate makes for me after my foot surgery next week. You can use whatever fillings you'd like, and the dough get's this nice crust on the outside and is soft on the inside, so good! I tried grating my own whole milk mozzarella, and it was so good, I don't know if I can use the pre-shredded stuff again. Make this asap, you'll love it!

1 ball amazing pizza dough
melted butter
garlic bread seasoning
freshly shredded whole milk mozzarella
pizza toppings of your choice (I added green pepper, onion, Hormel's turkey pepperoni our favorite!, and Canadian bacon)

Roll pizza dough out into a rectangle. You don't want it to be too thick or you'll have trouble getting the middle cooked. Brush a really light coat of melted butter over the dough and then sprinkle garlic bread seasoning over the top. Add your mozzarella cheese, then your pizza toppings. Carefully roll up the dough lengthwise, making sure your toppings stay inside. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray. Transfer your pizza bread onto the middle of the cookie sheet. I find it's easiest to make the pizza bread on a cutting board and then I can easily roll it onto the cookie sheet. Brush a small amount of butter over the top of the bread and sprinkle with some garlic bread seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Slice and serve hot with our favorite pizza sauce for dipping!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

I'm sure you're all aware by now of my husband's love for all things cinnamon-sugar. Well, Nate also loves breakfast cereal. So this recipe was a fun combination of those two. I saw the idea over at Mormon Mavens in the Kitchen. These were easy to make and they made my kitchen smell heavenly while they cooked! Enjoy!

3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 box vanilla cake mix (not white cake mix)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I highly recommend McCormick's Saigon cinnamon)
1/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, crushed

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, crushed into a fine powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with liners. In a large bowl, gently combine eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix in sour cream. Add cake mix and cinnamon and mix until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup crushed cereal. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with cupcake batter and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges are a light golden brown or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Adjust the consistency using milk if it is too thick. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch square.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hot Ham Dips

Nate says this is one of his new favorite sandwiches. I'd say it's a keeper recipe then! They were warm and comforting, and enjoyed while he watched the Green Bay vs. Bears game. I do think these make good football food. I saw this idea over at Plain Chicken, and I served them on homemade pretzel buns. You could easily serve these on some nice rolls or slider buns. Try these for your next football party. Enjoy!

melted butter
pretzel buns, split (or you could use rolls)
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced ham
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef broth
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Place rolls on a baking sheet and brush cut sides with butter. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is thoroughly melted.
In a large saucepan, combine beef broth and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Place ham into broth. Heat ham for 30-60 seconds, until warm. Using tongs, place ham on rolls. Serve immediately with remaining broth for dipping.