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.