Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scary Halloween Cupcakes

I know its been months since I updated this blog. I have been cooking in that time, but I seem to have lost to motivation to get to the computer, upload pics and write about what I cook. Hopefully sometime I can jump back on the blogging bandwagon.

I did take the time to upload some pics of the cupcakes I made for a Halloween party we are hosting tonight.

Some scary goblins that made using licorice pieces for the eyes, gummy fangs for mouths and candy corns for spiky heads.

And these are the mini eyeball cupcakes I made with gummy life savers, red and black jelly beans and some red frosting for veins.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chicken Stir Fry with Double Pan Fried Noodles

This was a dish I modeled after the Double Pan Fried Noodles at PF Changs. It was pretty good, but my noodles did not stay as crisp as they do at the restaurant. Here is how I made it.

2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts (unsalted)
3/4 cup stir fry sauce
Chuka Soba noodles (Japanese style noodles)

1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
dash of sesame seeds

Marinate the chicken in the marinade for 30 minutes. Cook the chicken on medium high heat in a little oil for a couple minutes, until cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside, keeping warm. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, until al dente. Remove noodles, drain. Heat 2 Tbsp oil the pan you cooked the chicken in and put half of the noodles into the pan and flatten them down. Allow to cook until crispy on the bottom, then flip them over and cook the other side. When both batches of noodles are done, set them aside on paper towels to drain. Now stir fry the veggies until crisp tender. Return the chicken to the pan and add the stir fry sauce. Cook for a minute until heated through. Add the peanuts. Serve over the noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carrot Soup On The High Seas

Recently, I bought Sam a cookbook with recipes for kids. Lately, he doesnt seem interested in eating anything. I figured if I let him pick things out of the book, then have him help me make it, he will be more interested. This soup was really easy to make. It was actually very good too. Ive never thought about having carrot soup before. The kids pretty much played with their boats, ate the goldfish out and were done. I guess even fun carrot soup didnt strike their fancy this time around. Oh well, I will keep searching! If your kids arent as picky as mine, Im sure they would love this. Its a great idea for any creamy soup.

Carrot Soup on the High Seas (from The Geronimo Stilton Cookbook)

3 to 4 medium sized carrots, about 1/2 lb
1 medium sized leek, halved lengthwise
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 small zucchini
2 wooden toothpicks
construction paper
goldfish shaped crackers

1. Clean and peel the carrots. Cut 2 long thing strips from 1 carrot for the sails of the boats. Set aside. Clean the leek in cold running water.

2. Cut the remaining carrots and leek into slices. Place in a saucepan. Add milk, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the veggies. Cook covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

3. While the veggies are cooking, make the boats. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides of both halves. Cut one end of each zucchini half into a sharp point to make the prow (front) of the boats. Push toothpicks through the carrot sails and stick them into each zucchini boat. If you wish, make a flag from construction paper. Stick it on top of the toothpick.

4. Let the pan of cooked veggies cool. Pour the mixture into a blender. Work in 2 or 3 batches to prevent the liquid from spilling. Bleand until creamy. Return blended soup to the pan to reheat. Pour the soup into 2 bowls. Garnish each bowl with a zucchini boat. Add goldfish shaped crackers to the soup. Enjoy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Really Refreshing Iced Tea

I drink just about a pitcher of this iced tea almost every day during the hot months. Its so cool and refreshing when you swallow it. Steeping fresh mint leaves with the tea bags really makes it have a cooling effect. It feels colder than it really is when its going down. So perfect for this 110+ heat we get here in Phoenix. I grew up drinking my tea unsweetened. But as Ive gotten older, Ive started sweetening it a little more. This is a great tea without any sugar at all though.

Rachel's Everyday Iced Tea

2 family size Luzianne tea bags
1/2 quart water
a sprig of peppermint leaves
1/4 cup or a little less of sugar

In a pan, bring the water just to a boil. Add the tea bags and peppermint leaves and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 5 -10 minutes. Remove from heat, fish out the tea bags and mint leaves. Stir in the sugar until its dissolved. Pour the hot tea over a pitcher filled half way up with ice. Stir and enjoy.

Horshradish Cheddar and Smoked Turkey Quesadillas with Dill Mustard Aoili

This was a midnight snack the other night that turned out SOOO good! Wow. There is really nothing Mexican about this quesadilla at all. The flavors were so different and yummy. I love to get my sliced meats and cheese at Basha's because they have Boar's Head, and I havent found any other meats or cheeses that taste better. The Boar's Head horshraddish cheddar is really good. Its got a kick to it that will clear out your sinuses!! I made up the mustard aioli based on things I like on sandwiches with turkey and cheddar, mustard, mayo and pickles.

2 12-inch flour tortillas
8 slices of horseraddish cheddar cheese
4 slices of turkey lunch meat
1 Tbsp mayo
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp dill pickle relish
chopped fresh dill (just a little)

Place the 2 cheese slices onto each tortilla, on one side. Top with turkey, then remaining cheese slices. Grill on a griddle heated to high heat, until crispy on each side and the cheese is melted inside. While the quesadillas are cooking, make the aioli dip. Mix the mayo, mustard, relish and fresh dill. Split into 2 portions and serve with the quesadillas.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicken Chilaquiles

Ive always wanted to try out a Chilaquiles recipe. I found this one on Martha Stewart's website. I was planning on following it to a tee, but then I accidently licked a bit of the adobo sauce from the chipolte peppers after I had chopped them and my entire mouth was on fire! Since I was expecting my kids to eat this, I decided to replace the chipolte peppers and adobo sauce with a can of diced green chiles. Also, I used Queso Fresco cheese instead of Feta cheese, I cant imagine eating Feta cheese in Mexican food.

This recipe turned out really good. My only complaint is that there wasnt very much. I only used 2 cups of shredded chicken. Even so, I used a larger can of tomatos than the recipe called for and I used a whole can of chicken broth, in place of the 1 cup of water. It was barely enough for 3 people. Next time I will definitely double the recipe. We all liked it.

Chicken Chilaquiles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes in puree
  • 1 can diced green chilis
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 small cooked rotisserie chicken (about 1 3/4 pounds), skinned and shredded (about 4 cups), carcass discarded
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
  • 4 cups (about 3 ounces) tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1.75 ounces Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
  1. Combine oil and garlic in a large (3-to-4-quart) saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and sizzling, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes with their puree (breaking tomatoes up), green chilis, and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer rapidly until lightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro.
  4. Divide chips among four shallow bowls; top with chicken mixture and sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, sour cream, and cheese. Serve.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Queso Fresco Quesadillas

Living in AZ, we eat a lot of Mexican food. I bet at least 3 meals a week are Mexican inspired. I bought some yummy tortillas at Ranch Market here in Mesa, so I decided to make some quesadillas. These are different. Usually I make them with cheddar cheese and green chilies and refried beans if I have them. Tonight I decided to try something a bit lighter. With Queso Fresco cheese and fresh chives and cilantro, this is a fresh change to the normal quesadilla.

Queso Fresco Quesadillas

2 flour tortillas
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 roma tomato, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped cilantro
salsa and sour cream for serving

Preheat a cast iron skillet to Medium heat. Place 1 tortilla on skillet. Sprinkle crumbled queso fresco all about tortilla. Then sprinkle with chives and place tomato slices on top. Season with salt and pepper. Dont be shy with the S&P, queso fresco needs a lot of flavor. Place remaining tortilla on top and cook until cheese is melted. Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until both sides are crisp and the cheese is all melted. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and fresh salsa.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I made a Pork roast in the crock pot today, so I decided to grill up some corn on the cob! My favorite way to eat corn. This is the first time Ive left some of the husks attached to make a nice little handle and it gives it a great presentation as well. I will do this in the future now. This is a very easy simple recipe.

Grilled Corn on the Cobb

4 ears of sweet corn, in husks
2 Tbsp butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a grill to high heat. Remove the outer husks of the corn, then leave the inner husks attached to make a nice little handle for holding it. Brush the corn with melted butter, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the grill is ready, place on the grill and turn the heat down to medium. Try not to get the husks grilled, because they burn faster than the corn. Turn the corn as it cooks and keep brushing it with more melted butter. Its done when the corn is golden browned, 10-15 minutes.

Quick Yeast Rolls

These dinner rolls were so yummy and they were a snap to make! I had them done in just a little over an hour, with rising time included. Just a couple ingredients too. They were a little sweet and really soft. a great texture. I know they look like muffins, but they are more the texture and taste of a dinner roll. The original recipe says it makes 8 rolls, but I ended up with 10 large ones, and I could have done 12. I felt like my cups were too full, so I didnt get to let them rise enough the 2nd time. Next time, I will take this same recipe and make 12 rolls, and let them rise 10 minutes longer, to make them just a little lighter in texture.

Quick Yeast Rolls (
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease 8 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the shortening, sugar, and hot water. Allow to cool until lukewarm, and mix in the yeast until dissolved. Mix in the egg, salt, and flour. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size.
  3. Divide the dough into the prepared muffin cups, and allow to rise again until doubled in size.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Baked Blueberry and Peach Oatmeal

I saw this recipe in a magazine that my mom gave to me. I cant remember the name of it now. I remember that I really wanted to try it out. I love oatmeal. I only like the old fashioned oats. I hate instant or quick cooking oats. It just gets to mushy. I decided that I wanted to try this recipe out because my mom is hosting a Mother's Day Brunch at her house on Mother's Day this year, and I am supposed to bring a breakfast recipe so I thought Id try this. The verdict? I wont bring this to the brunch. It was good, but just not what I'm looking for in oatmeal. I usually cook my oatmeal in milk because I like it really creamy. My mom cooks hers in water like the directions says, and I always think its too chewy like that. Well, this turned out chewy. I do have to say that the next day leftovers were GREAT! I thought it was so much better the 2nd day. Just pop some into the microwave and then add a bit of cream and you are set. It was creamy and mushy and not too chewy. My kids didn't eat this though, so it probably wont be a keeper.

Baked Blueberry Peach Oatmeal

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 1/4 cup fat free milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can (15ounce) sliced peaches, drained and chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Additional milk, optional

In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the egg whites, egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Let stand 5 minutes then stir in the peaches and blueberries.

Transfer to an 11in x 7in baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and a thermometer reads 160 degrees. Serve with additional milk if desired.

Spinach Quiche

I love quiche. I used to make it quite a bit before I met Carl. He just doesn't like quiche for dinner and that is usually when I end up making it. There are times that he isn't too thrilled with my quiche dinner. Then the next morning we have the leftovers for breakfast and he is saying how great it is. I ask, what is the difference between now and last night? And his reply is that its breakfast now. Hmmm.

The other night I had a craving, so I made it for dinner again. And I have to say that it was yummy. I just love quiche.

Spinach Quiche (from Better Homes and Gardens)

1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 slices of bacon, chopped
8 eggs
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 cup half and half, light cream or milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 cups lightly packed chopped spinach
2/3 cup grated mozzerella cheese
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese

Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of tin foil. Bake in 450 degree oven for 8 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake an additional 4 or 5 minutes, until pastry is set and dry. Remove from oven and reduce oven temp to 325 degrees.

In a large skillet, cook onion and bacon till onion is tender and bacon is crisp. Drain on paper towels.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs slightly with a fork. Stir in sour cream, half and half, salt, pepper. Stir in onion mixture, spinach, mozzerella and swiss cheese.

Pour egg mixture into the hot baked pastry shell. Bake in the 325 oven for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean (it took about 15 minutes extra for me) Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Charlie!

My little one turned 2 this week. Today we had a little pool party here at the house and it was a lot of fun. I made this cute cake and cupcakes for the party. My friend Laurel did this last year for her son's bday and I had to steal the idea! It was super easy. I cheated and used boxed yellow cake mix and pre-made icing. I dyed the blue with Wilton royal blue. The "dog food" is Coco Puffs cereal. For the cupcakes, the ears are made of Tootsie Rolls (microwaved for 10 seconds to make pliable). The big eye is a Junior Mint candy, the noses are Recees Pieces. I used brown decorator gel for the rest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grilled Steak Rolls

I recently blogged about my Pan Seared Steak Rolls that I made. They were so good. Carl said that he didn't like the consistency of the meat because it was poached in the sauce pretty much. Tonight we decided to see if we could improve on the recipe a bit. I followed the recipe exactly the same as last time except this time, I grilled the steak rolls on my grill on low heat and prepared the sauce on the side. It was really good and I think it looked better with the yummy grill marks on each one. Definitely a pretty dinner.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars

We decided to bake this afternoon, to pass some time. Sam and I are often looking for things to keep us busy when Charlie naps in the afternoons. Today, I let him pick out a cookie to make from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. This is what he picked and Ive made them before, so I knew they would be good. They get a nice crunchy crust.

1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
2-3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (about 10 ounces)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
a dash of ground cloves

Make the crust by mixing flour, oats, brown sugar and baking soda. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture for later use. Press into the bottom of a 9x9 brownie pan. To make the filling, put the apples into a sauce pan with the water, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil and cover and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Remove from heat and pour over the prepared crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

The other day I was hanging out with my friend Elisabeth and she had chicken tortilla soup in her crockpot. I got the craving for it right away and made it the very next day. The recipe she had was from our friend Kristen. I didn't have everything that hers called for, so I kind of winged it and it turned out just the way I like it. This is so versatile. You could put beans in it or anything you have on hand really.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 chicken breasts
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1(10 ounce) can enchilada sauce (I used a green sauce and it was so good)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chili peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans of chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn

tortilla strips, sliced avocado, green onions, shredded cheese for serving.

Put everything into the crock pot and cook on low for 6 hrs. Remove chicken breasts and let cool. Shred them with a fork and return them to the crock pot and simmer another hour or as long as you need to until dinner. Put the tortilla crisps, avocado, green onions into a bowl and pour the soup over it. Top with cheese.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pan Seared Steak Rolls

When I saw this recipe at Steamy Kitchen, I knew I had to try it and bookmarked it right away. Well, today was the day. This recipe was so easy and quick, perfect for a week night. The flavor was amazing! So much flavor. The meat was tender and tasted wonderful with the veggie mix. The original recipe called for Enoki mushrooms, and I couldn't find them, so I ended up using bean sprouts instead and it really worked well. Also, I didn't have chicken broth, so I subbed white wine. I served it over steamed rice and topped with crispy chow mein noodles. It was phenomenal!!! I cant wait to make this again. I told Carl it is definitely company worthy, and a snap to throw together...cant beat that!

Pan Seared Steak Rolls (from

8 ounces flank steak (4 inch x 6 inch piece) or 8 thin sliced sirloin (found at Publix)

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup canned chicken broth (I subbed white wine)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 carrot, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
½ red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch matchsticks ( I used a green one)
2 ribs celery, sliced thin on diagonal
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
12 chives, cut into 3 inches long
4 ounces enoki mushrooms
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter
¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

Freeze steak for 30 minutes until partially frozen. Slice steak against the grain, on the diagonal, into 8 equally thin pieces. Use a meat mallet to pound each piece of meat to 1/8 inch thick. If using thin sliced sirloin, skip this step.

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and add meat slices. Let stand 15 minutes to 2 hours.

In a separate bowl, combine sauce ingredients.

To prepare filling, heat a wok or skillet over high heat. When hot, add vegetable oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add garlic and ginger and fry for 20 seconds. Add carrot, bell pepper, celery and stir fry for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and stir. Transfer to bowl and let cool.

To make the beef rolls, lay beef slices out with short side facing you. Equally divide chives, enoki mushrooms and vegetable mixture among the pieces of meat. Roll the beef up, over the filling and secure with toothpick.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and butter, swirling to coat bottom. When hot, add beef rolls, seam side down, not touching and pan fry for 1 minute, turn roll. Add sauce to the pan. Cover and simmer over medium heat until beef is just cooked through, 1-2 minutes. Remove toothpick, sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

Yields 4 servings

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Wow its been over a month since I made an entry. I have just been so busy since we moved. My cooking has taken a back seat to other things in life. I am starting to do the books for my husbands business, so that has been taking up a lot of time I used to have. I also still havent got another digi camera, so that is a bummer and Ive not been taking many photos. My mom lent me hers though, so tonight I actually made something we'd never tried before and I could take a picture.

My mom came over last night and dropped off 2 big bags of food from her fridge since she left today to go out of town for a couple weeks. She gave me a whole head of cauliflower and I really dont ever eat it unless its in some frozen veggie mix. Well, that may change because this recipe was so easy, and turned out sooo good. Carl even said that he liked it. The kids were not fans, but that can be expected with cauliflower.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

1 medium head of cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
course salt
fresh ground pepper
2 cloves of pureed garlic, or pressed

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets. Put them into a large ziplock bag. Add the oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss around in the bag until all the cauliflower is covered nicely. Pour onto a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for 10-25 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked and blackened in places.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I got an interesting email today, from someone that saw my blog post on the Dixie Pie that I made, trying to imitate the pie from Tippins restaurant where I worked in high school. I was so thrilled that this person took the time to email me and tell me some history about the Dixie Pie. I will be changing my recipe in the fall to include Walnut halves, instead of pecans. Here is the email:

I had some spare time on my hand today and thought I would see what Tippins was up to. (funny what we do when we have the time!!)

I saw your blog about Dixie pie and wanted to let you know what I know ... I started working at Tippins as a waitress in 1982 and left when they couldn't get out of their bankruptcy situation. By then I was running our production facility with over 150 employees and 6 supervisors under me.

Long story short ... Dixie pie was made with walnut halves. (Not that I would not eat one made with pecans). It was called Derby Pie when we first opened but because of the copyright laws, someone else already had that name ... thus Dixie Pie came about. We also used to use bourbon in the formula but our 3rd restaurant was in Independence, MO and our 4th in Tulsa, OK so religious concerns and a "family environment" forced us to take out the bourbon.
The only pie we continued to produce with a liquor content was the mincement and the chocolate cherry rum cake over the holidays.

I spent many years working for Tippins and it's nice to come across someone else who enjoys and remembers the product we used to put out. I have all of those formulas etched in my memory forever!

Have a good day

Getting that email just made me smile a big smile, and remember some great times at my first waitressing job ever, in Kansas City...a city that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ina's Shrimp Scampi

I had some shrimp I wanted to use, so I went onto my favorite cooking board on The Nest and asked for recipes. I got a few responses that I had to try Ina Garten's recipe. Well, I found a couple different ones, but this one I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand, so I went for it. Let me tell you, looking at the pic, it doesn't look like there is much sauce or flavor on those noodles, but there is. It was really yummy and flavorful. It had a very lemony taste. I changed a couple things with the recipe so it would be saucier, I added white wine and a bit more butter. I also forgot all about the lemon slices, so that was omitted. I had this meal prepped, and when I went to go make it it took me less than 15 minutes total. So easy and quick! I will definitely have to make this one more often.

Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti (adapted from Ina Garten)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite white wine
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the white wine and let it cook a couple more minutes. Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chalupa and taco seasoning

Before I got married, my sisters gave me a really nice bridal shower. In the invitation was a card to bring a recipe for the bride. So, this is the recipe that my Mother in Law, Pat wrote out for me. It was Carl's favorite meal that his mom made when he was growing up. Ive had it a couple times when Pat made it, but I had no idea how EASY this is. And its so tasty! Pretty much anything served over Fritos chips would be yummy, but this is a really great, hearty, satisfying meal. You could probably sub beef or chicken in this and it would turn out really good. Pat's recipe calls for taco seasoning and since I didnt have any in the pantry that day, I got a recipe for it off of and made my own! It was tasty and could easily be used in place of the taco seasoning envelopes you buy in the spice aisle in your store. Also, this recipe says to cook in a pan on the stove, but I threw everything into the crockpot and it came out wonderfully.

Chalupa (Pat Cunningham)

2-3lb boneless pork loin roast
1 lb pinto beans (soak overnight or bring to a boil, cover and turn off heat and let set 1 hr, drain and rinse beans)
2 packets of taco seasoning (or your could easily make your own)
1 can diced green chiles
salt to taste
1 bag of Fritos chips
grated cheddar cheese
sliced green onions
sour cream

In a large pot, add roast and beans. Cover with water and add taco seasoning mix and green chiles. Cook all day, take the meat out and let it cool, then shred it and return it to the pot. Simmer with top off to thicken it a bit. Serve over Fritos chips and garnish with cheese, green onions and sour cream.

Taco Seasoning (from
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twice Baked Potatoes

This is such an easy versatile side dish. Its a great way to dress up the boring old baked potato. This is the first time I have cut the potatoes in half and made 2 servings out of each one. I used to just have each potato be whole and it was always such a huge side that would fill you right up. I filled these will fresh rosemary, bacon, sour cream and cheese. You could put anything you have into them and they would be yummy. Be sure to be generous with your salt and pepper, potatoes need a lot of seasoning.

Twice Baked Potatoes

3 baking potatoes cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup grated cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs
1/4 cup crumbled bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub each potato with with little bit of olive oil. Bake for 1 hr. Take out of the oven and cool 10-15 minutes, then scoop out the insides, leaving nice little potato skin shells. Now mash up the scooped out potato with the rest of the ingredients. Mash until smooth and well blended. Stuff back into potato shells and sprinkle with a dash of paprika. Bake another 15 minutes until browned nicely on top. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Waffle Style French Toast

Yesterday was Sam's Birthday and I wanted to make him something special for breakfast. This is a recipe I saw on The Nest. Its from a book called French Toast, by Donna Kelly. This was really yummy. Cutting the bread extra thick, then cooking it in a waffle iron instead of on a griddle was a cool twist! It gave the crusty sides, more surface area and lots of places for butter and syrup to stay hidden. Everyone loved theirs, so I will probably be making this again soon.

Waffle Style French Toast

4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 (1-inch-thick) slices day-old Challah or French bread

Preheat a waffle iron and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray. In a pie pan or other shallow pan, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and salt. Dip bread slices in egg mixture until well soaked. Cook slices in the waffle iron one at a time until lightly brown. Serve with warm syrup, powdered sugar and/or fresh fruit as a garnish.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Green Rice

Here is a yummy side dish, and a great way to sneak some spinach into the meal! I threw this together after reading a bunch of recipes on I served this with some swordfish steaks and it was so yummy with lemon juice squeezed over the top. Be sure not to be shy with the salt, rice and spinach needs lots of salt.

3 cups cooked rice (I used 1/2 brown rice and 1/2 white)
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of garlic, smashed then chopped
1 package of baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup french fried onions
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chopped spinach and cook a minute, until wilted. Add the rice and stir until well combined. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir the rice for a few minutes. Then turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and basil. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with french fried onions. bake 375 degrees for 2o minutes

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ina's Coconut Cake

Today is my Grandma's Birthday. My mom had us over for dinner and to celebrate and she asked me to make the cake. Now I know that my Grandma loves cakes made from scratch so I set out to find a yummy one that she would love. I also know that she loves Hawaii and the flavors of the Islands, so I decided to go with coconut. When I found Ina Garten's recipe, I had to try it out since every recipe Ive ever tried of hers has been awesome. Well, I was not disappointed. This makes a great, buttery, moist cake with a pretty light texture.

I did make some changes to the recipe based off other's reviews. Instead of using 3 sticks of butter, I used 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce in place of one of the sticks. I cut the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2. I also used buttermilk instead of regular milk and coconut extract instead of almond (in the cake and the frosting). Also, mine was done after 35 minutes, I think the original 45-50 minutes would have been way too long. This turned out perfect with just enough coconut flavor. I will be making this many more times.

Coconut Cake (inspired by Ina Garten)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure coconut extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce until well mixed. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the butter milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Mexican Pizza

Here is another great recipe from I always find good ones on that site. This Mexican Pizza is a nice change from the same old tacos and tostadas we usually have for Mexican night. It is a lot like the Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell. The only thing I changed was that I used green chili enchilada sauce for the red sauce, since it was all I had on hand. I also didnt think that pizza sauce sounded very good on this. Also, I added taco seasoning to the ground beef, instead of just seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Mexican Pizza (from Allrecipes.)

  • 8 (6 inch) Mission® Fajita Flour Tortillas, cooked into crispy tortillas
  • 1 cup refried beans, prepared
  • 1 pound ground beef, chuck, raw (with taco seasoning)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons pizza sauce, prepared (I used green chile sauce)
  • 1 cup Mexican Cheese Blend, grated, prepared
  • 1/2 cup Roma tomato, fresh, small chop
  • 4 teaspoons cilantro, fresh, rough chopped
  1. To make the Mission® Crispy Tortillas: Place all 8 tortillas directly on the oven rack of a 350 degrees F oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve on your work surface.
  2. Heat the 1 cup of refried beans for 1 minute in the microwave to get hot and reserve for the recipe build.
  3. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and saute for 8 minutes in a non-stick pan, drain and reserve hot for the recipe build.
  4. To build 1 Mexican Pizza: Place 1 crisp Mission® tortilla on work surface.
  5. Evenly spread tortilla with 1/4 cup hot refried beans.
  6. Evenly top refried beans with 1/4 (approximately 4 ounces) of the cooked ground beef.
  7. Top ground beef with second crisp tortilla and evenly spread 1 heaping tablespoon of pizza sauce over the tortilla.
  8. Evenly top the pizza sauce with 1/4 cup grated Mexican cheese blend and 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes.
  9. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for remaining 3 servings.
  10. Place all 4 pizzas, at one time, in 350 degrees F oven on a cookie pan/flat pan, and bake for 2 minutes to melt the cheese. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro evenly over the top of each pizza. Serve each pizza whole.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Rich Hot Cocoa

I had such a sweet tooth tonight. After going through the pantry a million times and finding nothing that suited my fancy, I finally decided to make hot cocoa from scratch. So, I found this recipe at and boy oh boy is it GOOD. Sooo rich and creamy. I served this to my parents and Carl and Sam and everyone loved it. We only had big marshmallows to put in it, but it was so yummy. I will definitely be making this in the future. Its so quick and easy.

Rich Hot Cocoa (from

  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups hot water
  • Mini marshmallows (optional)
In large saucepan over medium heat, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Slowly stir in water. Heat through, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Top with marshmallows, (optional). Store covered in refrigerator.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Beans and Ham

I had a big ham bone left over from a Honey Baked Ham that we had on Christmas Eve. I decided that I was going to make some beans. This is such a simple, easy, filling recipe. Pinto beans are so good for us, I want to get my family to eat more and more of them, and not just in the re fried fattening way we love. Serve it up with some corn muffins.

Beans and Ham

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 ham bone or other leftover meaty piece
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste.

Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with 1 inch of water. Soak overnight. Or instead of soaking overnight, bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover and let set for 1 hr. Discard soaking liquid. Now add 7-10 cups water and bring to another boil. Add onions and garlic and let simmer for 1 hr 30 minutes. Season with lots of salt and pepper.