Friday, November 25, 2011

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

From: This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.


1 stick Butter, Divided
2 pounds (to 3 Pounds) Carrots, Peeled And Cut Into Thick Circles
1/2 cup Jack Daniels Or Other Whiskey
3/4 cups (to 1 Cup) Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

How to: Just click here.

Turkey Gravy

From: I took this recipe of an imitation KFC gravy, omitted the pepper, went for it.  It was scrumptious!


1 cup drippings
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup of chicken stock (or substitute water and chicken bullion)

How to: 

Combine all the ingredients in a small pot or skillet.  Whisk together until smooth.  Turn on medium high heat.  Whisk as it heats up and thickens.  Remove from heat just before it reaches the thickness you desire.  It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Sweet Potato Casserole

From: My great aunt Bobbie Carne (sister to my mother's mother) passed this recipe on and we've been cooking it for Thanksgiving as long as I can remember.  It's just not Thanksgiving without it.

Ingredients:  No amounts; just put in what you feel like, and then taste it. You can always add more of something.

sweet potatoes

brown sugar
a pinch of salt
apple juice
kosher marshmallows

How to: 

First cook the sweet potatoes.  My mom cooks them in the pressure cooker.  You could also boil them.  I poke lots of holes in them with a shish-ka-bob stick, cut off about half an inch of the pointy ends, put them in a microwave safe bowl, cover them, and microwave them.  Yes, I realize this is cheating and probably cooks any shred of healthiness out of them.  But it sure is easy.

Next, peel them.  Use an oven mit you don't mind getting dirty, or wait until they've cooled so you don't burn yourself.  Then add all the ingredients except the marshmallows.  Now mash, mash, mash, until they are as smooth as you desire.

Spread the potatoes into an oven-safe dish.  Sprinkle (or if you're my mom, layer) the marshmallows on top.  Warm thoroughly in the oven (about 350°F) so they melt a bit and get golden brown and crispy on top.  (The ones in this picture are not golden brown, nor are they crispy.  We were too impatient to eat them so I didn't bake them long enough.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apple Jam

From: I put this recipe together using a few things from several online recipes that I found.  It took several tries to get it just right, but it's a great one!


4 cups of FINELY chopped apples (no need to remove the peel)
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tbsp butter
1 box (1 3/4 oz) dry pectin OR 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed

How to:  

Measure apples in a measuring cup.  Now add in the same measuring cup water to fill up to the 4 cup line (with the apples in it).  Pour this into a large pot on high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat some and continue to boil for 5 to 10 minutes until the apples are cooked.  Use a potato masher to mash and stir.

Add lemon juice, spices and butter.  IF you are using pectin, add that at this time too.  If you are using arrowroot powder, do not.  Bring back to a boil (you may have never lost the boil).

Add sugars.  Bring back to a full rolling boil and stir constantly.

IF you are using arrowroot, remove the pot from heat and allow it to COMPLETELY COOL.  It must be cool enough for you to comfortably stick your finger into.  If you do not allow it to cool, the arrowroot will form small hard chunks in your otherwise liquid jam instead of helping the entire thing to gel.  Once it is comfortably cool, add the arrowroot powder and mix WELL.  Now put it back on medium high heat and bring to a boil.  It will start to thicken.

IF you are using pectin, continue boiling for one minute.

Now allow it to cool enough so that you can spoon the jam into jars, allowing 1/4 inch headspace in each jar.  Tightly screw on lids.

If you plan on storing your jam at room temperature, now it's time for the water bath.  If you plan on refrigerating the jam within 24 hours and/or eating it right away, you can skip the water bath.  Place the jars in a clean deep pot.  Add water up to the bottom of the lid of the jars, but so that it does not submerge them.  Place over high heat.  Bring to a high boil.  Boil for 10 to 15 minutes.  Using a jar grabber or thick rubber gloves, remove the jars from the boiling water and allow to cool at room temperature.  Once they've cooled, the jam inside will be even more thick and it's ready to store.

Congratulations!  You've just made home made jam.

Side Notes:  Pectin is more common, but more expensive.  If you are making several dozen jars of jam, this can be pricey, and arrowroot powder is the way to go.  If not, pectin might be your better choice.  Pectin can be found at Walmart near the canning supplies.  Arrowroot powder is a starchy powder and can be found at your local natural foods market (like Sunflower Market or Whole Foods) in the baking section.

This recipe makes approximately three or four 16-oz jars (depending on your choice of thickening agent) of jam.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Carne Arreglada

From: This is one of my husband's most frequently cooked and most loved meals.  Straight from Costa Rica and delicious!


1 lb of cubed steak (the kind that's pounded flat)
Add the following spices to taste:
   garlic powder
   onion powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
pinch of curry
1 green pepper sliced into strips and seeds removed
1/2 onion cut into thin rings
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

How to: 

Cut the cubed steak into half-inch cubes.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Saute the onions and pepper on medium heat until the onions are clear and the pepper loses its bright color and becomes a little transparent (fully cooked).  Push the pepper and onion to the sides of the pan and put the meat in the middle, spread out so it cooks well.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the top of the meat except for the soy sauce.  Use the soy sauce as liquid to keep everything moist.  Once the meat is cooked, remove from heat and allow to sit for five minutes before serving over Costa Rican white rice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pot Roast

From: My Mom included this recipe in a book of recipes that she made for us growing up.  It's one of my favorites...  It's such a hearty meal and it serves a lot.  And because it takes about 10 minutes to get everything into the crock pot and 12 hours later it's done!


4-6 potatoes, cut for stew
1 quartered onion
carrots, peeled and cut for stew
can of cream of mushroom soup
can of golden mushroom soup
half a can of water
garlic salt

How to: 

Place roast in bottom of glass baking dish or slow cooker.  Arrange potatoes, onions and carrots all around and on top.  Spoon over the top the soups and water.  Sprinkle over everything with garlic salt and pepper.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350°F for 4-5 hours or 250 for 6-8 hours or in the slow cooker on low for 12 hours.  The meat should be falling apart and a gravy forming on the bottom.

Side notes:

You could also delete the quartered potatoes and serve with mashed potatoes.  In the picture, I forgot to buy potatoes - who forgets to buy potatoes?! - so I made it without them.  Before serving, I cut sliced whole wheat bread into squares and spooned the pot roast over the top.  Wow, it was really good that way!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sloppy Joe Casserole

From: This little tabloid recipe magazine was one of the best I've ever picked up!


1 lb ground beef
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 package (7.5 oz) refrigerated biscuits (10 biscuits)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese or non dairy cheese

How to: 

Heat oven 400°F.  Cook the beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until it's browned.  Drain fat.  Stir the soup, water, Worsestershire sauce and black pepper in the skillet and heat to a boil.  Spoon the beef mixture into a 1 1/2 qt casserole.  Arrange biscuits on top.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.  Top with cheese.

Slow cooker option:  I have not tried this, but here's my guess.  Put all ingredients except biscuits and cheese in a slower cooker and mix well.  Turn on high for 4 hours.  When meat is ready, add biscuits and cheese and cook for another half hour.  Serve.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pesto Blue Cheese Ramen Noodles

From: We often have extra pesto sauce and blue cheese in our refrigerator and one day I was trying to figure out what to do with them.  This is what I came up with!


Ramen noodles
2 or 3 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
3 Tbsp pesto

How to:  Boil the noodles until they are cooked.  Drain.  Add pesto and mix well.  Top with blue cheese crumbles to your liking.

Side Notes:  For lactose intolerance, you could substitute non dairy cheese.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dip for Steamed Artichoke

From: I was online searching for something different to serve with steamed artichoke one day and decided to take a few ideas from this site to make my own dip.  Here you go!


1/3 cup of mayonnaise
1 tsp of thyme
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 heaping Tbsp of blue cheese

How to:  

Mix all ingredients well and serve.

Side notes: You can also melt half a stick of butter and dip in both.  Yummmm!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Iced Coffee

From: This is the Pioneer Woman's perfect iced coffee.  It is fantastically delicious.


1 pound ground coffee (make sure it's a good rich roast)
8 quarts cold water
Half-and-half (a healthy splash per serving)
sweetened condensed milk (2-3 Tbsp per serving)

How to:  Just click here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lettuce Wraps

From: I fell in love with Chili's lettuce wraps years ago and was heartbroken when they stopped serving them.  Then when I found this recipe online recently, I jumped for joy and knew I had to try it immediately!  It's definitely one of our favorites.


4 chicken breasts and 1 Tbsp oil
2 carrots
1/4 cup minced water chestnuts (optional)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
about half of a bunch of romaine lettuce leaves

Stir Fry Sauce
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional - add only 1/8 of a tsp if you don't want the sauce to be spicy)
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

Peanut Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional - add only a pinch if you don't want the sauce to be spicy)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

How to: 

Start by preparing the stirfry sauce. Combine water and cornstarch and stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Add this to the other stir fry sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer till thick. Set aside.

Now prepare the peanut dipping sauce. Combine ingredients in a pan over medium low heat. Heat while whisking until sauce becomes smooth.  Remove from heat when done.

Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook chicken breasts until done, turning every couple of minutes. Keep the pan hot, but on a cutting board, chop into small pieces. Put chicken back in the same pan over medium/high heat and add water chestnuts. Heat for 1 minute. (Water chestnuts are not shown.) Add 5 Tbsp of stir fry sauce to the chicken and heat for 2 minutes, stirring often.  The sauce should be bubbly.  Now the chicken is done.

Shred the carrots.  I use a carrot peeler and peel until I have a whole bowl of carrot peels.

Put it all on the table.

Pile it into a lettuce leaf and roll it to eat it!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pasta with Wine and Mushrooms

From: This recipe came from the Pioneer Woman's cooking website.


24 ounces, weight Thickly Sliced Mushrooms (baby Portobellos Are Best)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt (I used regular salt)
Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Sliced (I used half an onion, chopped)
1 cup Dry White Wine
3/4 cups Whiskey (Jack Daniels Is Good - but I don't keep whiskey in the house, so I used red wine)
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1 cup Heavy Cream
Salt And Pepper, to taste
12 ounces, weight Mostaciolli, Cooked Al Dente

How to:  Just click here.

Side notes: Serve this one with your favorite glass of wine and serve it on date night!  The sauce for my recipe never thickened...  I'm not sure why that is, but it tasted good, just the same.  Next time I might try thickening it in the pan with a little bit of arrow root powder (because it's tasteless).

French Toast

From:  I created this one.  :)


2 or 3 slices of bread
1 egg
2 Tbsp pancake mix (from scratch or store-bought)
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp oil

How to:  In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and pancake mix.  Soak a piece of bread on both sides in the mix.  In a skillet, heat oil on medium high heat and spread over entirety of skillet to prevent sticking.  Place the soaked bread slice in the pan and cook until golden brown.  Turn.  Serve and top with butter and honey (or any combination of typical toppings that you like).

Side Notes:  If you don't have pancake mix in the house, mix together:
1 cup of flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chile Relleno

From: My husband learned this one from his mom and has fond memories of her making them when he was a kid.


2 green peppers
1 lb of ground beef
-spices for ground beef
Costa Rican white rice
1 small sweet potato
cheese (optional)
salsa (optional)
canola oil

How to:  

First prepare the white rice so it can be cooking in the rice cooker while you prepare the sweet potatoe sauce, the peppers and the meat.

Then cut the sweet potatoes into halves or thirds and boil until soft.  Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and place in a blender or food processor.  Add a small amount of water so it makes it into a sauce (much like the consistency of baby food).

While the sweet potatoes are boiling, start on the peppers by carefully carving out the stems of the green peppers and the insides, like a pumpkin.  Coat the outside and inside with canola oil.  Set them in a baking pan and bake at 350°F until soft (about 15 minutes).  The exterior of the peppers will become sticky and paper-like.  Peel this exterior.

While the peppers are baking, the rice is cooking and the sweet potato is boiling, brown the ground beef with the spices listed.  Set aside.

Once all of these parts are ready, place the peppers in a short glass.  (This just makes it easier to fill.)  Fill the pepper with the meat. On a plate, spoon about 1/2 cup of rice. Covering the opening of the pepper with your fingers to keep the meat from coming out, turn the glass over and remove the pepper from the glass. Place the pepper in the the middle of the rice.  Top with cheese if desired.  Pour sweet potato sauce around the outside or over the top as desired.  Add mild salsa to make it pretty.  There you go!!

Side notes: Makes two generous servings.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cookies

From: This was one of my favorite cookie recipes that my Mom used to bake when I was growing up.  The best thing about it? It involves such basic ingredients, almost everyone has them in your kitchen.  I'd be willing to bet you could whip up a batch of these tonight!


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

How to:  Mix the first four ingredients in one bowl. Mix the second four ingredients in another bowl.  Blend the dry ingredients into the wet ones gradually.  Refrigerate dough at least one hour.  Can be overnight.  Scoop out small spoonfuls of dough into your hands and round them into balls (about 1 inch in diameter).  Roll the balls into a mixture of sugar and cinnamon (last 2 ingredients) until they are fully coated.  Places 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes (or closer to 20 minutes in high altitude).  Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dairy Free Mac 'n Cheese

From: Once I figured out how to make dairy free cheese, the very first thing I did was make my kiddo some good ol' macaroni and cheese!  Because EVERY kiddo should be able to enjoy mac 'n cheese.


macaroni noodles
dairy free soft cheese
soy milk

How to:  

Cook the macaroni noodles and drain.  While still hot, add desired amount of cheese (I added about 1/2 cup) and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of soy milk so the mixture is creamy and moist, not sticky.  Enjoy!

Dairy Free Soft Cheese

From: A great friend of mine who also has a son who is lactose intolerant shared this recipe with me.  Thanks, Kendahl!


2 1/4 cups water
1 cup raw cashews
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp keltic sea salt
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp l seasoning: Mexican, Italian, pizza, etc (I used Italian seasoning.)
1/3 cups Arrow Root Powder

I found nutritional yeast and arrow root powder difficult to find.  Nutritional yeast is different from regular yeast and can be found at stores like Whole Foods. Arrow root powder can also be found at Whole Foods.  Remember the cashews must be raw, not roasted.

How to:  In a blender, put 1 cup of water and the cashews.  Process nuts until completely dissolved.  Add  the rest of the water and all other ingredients except the arrow root powder. Blend until smooth.  Pour entire mixture into a cooking pot.  Add arrow root powder and mix with a spoon until smooth while heating over medium heat.  Stir continuously as mixture thickens.  Once it is quite thick, transfer to a Pyrex and refrigerate.  After setting for several hours, cheese will be similar to the consistency of cream cheese.

Side notes: For hard cheese, replace arrow root powder with 3 Tbsp agar.  I have not tried making hard cheese yet, but I'll update once I've tried it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spinach Phyllo Pie

From: My Mom (who also provided the picture) found this recipe and found inspiration for it on


2 pounds fresh spinach 

1 package fresh mushrooms

1 large onion
5 egg whites

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated 

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1 teaspoon pepper 

1 box phyllo dough

How to:  

Thaw phyllo sheets as directed on box.
Prepare filler; leaving phyllo sheets wrapped until everything else is ready:
Remove stems from spinach, wash and drain.
Cut onions and sauté in water until tender.
Wash and slice mushrooms and add to the onions (cook until all water evaporates), remove onions & mushrooms from heat and put in a large bowl.
Sauté spinach in water (largest saucepan, in two batches) tossing frequently until all liquid evaporates – or until lightly cooked, then drain spinach and squeeze out remaining water.
Mix onions/mushrooms & spinach together in bowl & make sure onions and mushrooms are evenly distributed throughout the spinach.
Beat egg whites lightly, add grated cheese to egg mixture and mix thoroughly.
Add spinach mixture to egg and cheese mixture and stir until well mixed.

Quickly (It’s not a race. But phyllo dough may stick together and become hard to handle if you let it sit opened too long.) layer 5-7 sheets on the bottom of an 8x12 baking pan (like for lasagne) spraying each layer lightly with Pam. Then put on half of your spinach mixture.
Put another 5-7 sheets of phyllo in the pan, spraying again with Pam. Add and spread the last of your spinach mixture. Top with 10 to 15 sheets of phyllo, sprayed lightly with Pam between each layer.
Trim any excess dough around the edge, then moisten your fingertips and seal around the edges like a normal pie crust. (I just shoved the corners and edges down into the pan.) Brush top with butter or PAM. Use a sharp knife to cut through the entire top layer in the pattern you will cut after baking. Bake in 400°-425° oven for 30 minutes.

Side notes: I haven't tried this one yet, but I sure plan to do so soon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ensalada de Palmito

From: Hearts of Palm (or palmito) is one of our favorite common things to eat in Costa Rica.  I had a can of them in my cupboard and was looking for a salad to put them in.  I started with this recipe and then changed it to my liking.


1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained & sliced (if not already)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper (use fresh ground pepper if possible)
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 cup finely chopped iceberg lettuce (optional)

How to: 

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Serve.

Side notes:

Serves two.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Turkey Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

From: My mom sent me this recipe.  She got it from a slow cooker recipe book she has had for 30 years.


Turkey ham, cut into bite sized pieces
3-5 medium potatoes cut but not peeled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
sprinkle with paprika
green chilies (optional)

How to: 

Put all the ingredients in the slower cooker and cook it on high for 3 hour or low for 6-8 hours.

Side notes:

For lactose intolerance, hold the cheese and add it on the side when serving.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Taco Salad

From: This one is an original.  :)


romaine lettuce
crushed tortilla chips
ground beef
olive oil
barbecue sauce
salad dressing (my favorite is Ranch flavor)
other options:  raisins, craisins, anything else you think you might want to add

How to: 

Start by browning meat withe same spices from my hamburger recipe. The only difference is that you add about a Tbsp per pound of ground beef of olive oil to help break it up and add more ketchup and barbecue sauce so it's juicier.  Then add all the ingredients together in a salad.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011


From: My across-the-street neighbors growing up were our best friends.  Elizabeth and Danielle were like our other sisters and we spent more time during the summer in their back yard than our own, I think.  Their dad, Carl, was known for his hamburgers.  Man, he could make a mean hamburger!  Finally one time I paid attention to what he put in it.  You won't believe how good these are!


1 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp your favorite barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp of ketchup
a generous pinch of salt
a generous pinch of sugar
two generous pinches of cinnamon
(all the measurements are general estimations... I just add it until it looks about right)

How to: 

Add all the ingredients in a bowl and knead well so that the seasonings are well mixed into the meat.  Form it into patties and grill it!  Yummmmmm.

Side Notes: 

I use this combination of spices for ground beef in all sorts of recipes like Stromboli.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tuna Bites

From: This one's an original!


tuna mixed with your favorite ingredients
cheese crackers

How to: 

Put one on top of the other and munch!  It makes a great snack or a side for a meal.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tuna Quesadillas

From: I came up with this one on my own!  :)


tuna (not mixed with any other ingredients)

How to: 

Put cheese and drained tuna inside a tortilla and fold in half.  Butter the outside.  Sauté in a pan on medium heat on both sides.

Side notes:

Tastes best to little boys when served outside on the front porch with rocks to play with.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicken, Asparagus & Mushroom Bake

From: This is another recipe I found in a recipe magazine next to the tabloids at the grocery store.  I might end up cooking through this entire casserole magazine.  It's seriously GOOD.  As soon as I can figure out how to link to the proper place, I'll give credit where credit is definitely due!  I almost didn't try this one because there were so many steps, but don't be intimidated.  It's really easy and worth it!  SO YUMMY!


1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups sliced asparagus
black pepper
1 package (about 6 oz.) corn bread stuffing mix (although in the picture above I used regular corn bread mix)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 can (about 14 oz) chicken broth
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of asparagus or cream of chicken soup undiluted (I used cream of chicken soup)

How to: 

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet or wok.
Add chicken and garlic.  Cook and stir for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat until the chicken is no longer pink.
Add mushrooms.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Add asparagus.  Cook and stir for about 5 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp-tender.
Season with pepper.

Transfer the mixture to six small casseroles.  Top with stuffing or cornbread mix.  I only had one large casserole dish and that worked just fine.

Add wine to the skillet and cook and stir for one minute over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add broth and soup; cook and stir until well blended.  Pour broth mixture over stuffing mix.

Bake, uncovered at 350°F, for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and heated through

Side notes:

Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PB & J Pocket

From:  Costco sells pre-made peanut butter and jelly pockets.  Essentially it's two pieces of bread sealed at the edges with PB&J in the middle.  My son ate one  up like it was candy and I thought, "I can make that!"  Plus it cuts down on the mess that usually happens when jelly squeezes out the sides of the sandwich.


peanut butter

How to: 

Make a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Then take a mug and use it to gently squish the sandwich down, cutting off the sides and sealing the edges.

Use a knife to finish cutting off the sides and serve!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coddled Eggs

From: I learned how to make coddled eggs from my grandmother.


cooking spray

How to: 

First, you need an egg coddler, or several.  They look like this.

Spray the inside of each coddler with cooking spray.  Then dust it with salt and pepper.  Next drop in one egg and screw on the top.

Lower into a pot of boiling water.  The water should reach the edge of the coddler tops like this.

Boil until egg is cooked through (about 7-9 minutes).  To lift out of the pot, use a hook or a fork twine.  Unscrew the tops using a dish towel or oven mit and scoop out the coddled eggs.

Side notes:

Coddled eggs make great toppings for toasted English muffins, which is how I like to eat them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saffron Chicken & Vegetables

From: This recipe came straight from one of the recipe magazines you find next to the tabloids in the grocery store.

I was impressed with how good and how easy it was!


2 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
1 bag (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables (such as broccoli, red bell peppers, mushrooms and onions) (I used the peas, carrots, green beans and corn mix in the picture and it was delicious!)
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup undiluted
1 can (10.75 oz)condensed cream of mushroom soup undiluted
1 package (8 oz) saffron yellow rice mix
1/2 cup water
1 tsp paprika

How to: 

Spray a 3 quart (9x13 inch) casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Brown chicken on both sides; drain fat.  Meanwhile, combine vegetables, broth, soups, rice mix and water in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Place mixture in prepared casserole.  Top with chicken.  Sprinkle with paprika.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is cooked through (165°F) and the rice is fully cooked.  Makes six large servings.

Apricot Chicken

From: This recipe has been passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, to me.  It's tried, true, and yummy!


1.5 to 2 lbs of chicken - any cut will do, bone in or boneless and skinless...  makes no difference so pick your favorite or whatever's on sale
1 package of onion soup or onion dip mix
4 oz French dressing
4 oz apricot preserves

How to: 

Clean and trim the chicken if necessary.  Lay the raw pieces in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.  In a 2 cup measuring cup put 4 oz of French dressing.  Add apricot preserves until you have 8 oz of total marinade.  Add the packet of onion soup/dip mix.  Mix well with a small spatula.  Pour over the chicken.  I like to then move the chicken around so it's completely coated.Then bake it at 350° F for an hour.

(With a slower cooker:) Clean and trim the chicken if necessary.  Lay the raw pieces in the bottom of the cooker.  Mix 4 oz of French dressing, 4 oz of apricot preserves and a packet of onion soup/dip mix.  Mix well with a small spatula.  Pour over the chicken.  Add enough water to the pot so that about 1/4 of an inch covers the bottom..Then cook on high for 3 or 4 hours.

Side notes:

I like to serve it over Costa Rican rice, as shown in the picture.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Costa Rican White Rice

From: I learned how to make Costa Rican rice when I lived there for a year.  Now, my husband and I make rice for our meals a couple times per week.


2 cup white rice
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
3 cups of water

How to:  

Put all the ingredients except the water in a rice cooker or pot.  Mix well so that the rice is well coated with the oil.  Add the water.  Cook the rice.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spaghetti Sauce Homemade

From: My Mom used to make the most killer lasagna when we were growing up.  She got it from a family friend.  One day I realized that the meat sauce in that lasagna would also make an amazing spaghetti sauce and it just happened that it was really easy too.  I never did find another meat sauce that compares to this one!


1 lb of ground beef
1/2 onion chopped finely
16 oz can tomato sauce
12 oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp basil
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp pepper

How to: 

Brown the meat and onions in a skillet.  Then add the tomato sauce and tomato paste and water. Mix well and then lower heat to a simmer.  Add the spices and continue to simmer on low eat until you're ready to eat. Makes enough for a 1 to 1.5 lbs pasta.

Side Notes:  

The original recipe calls for two cups of water but I like my sauce super thick and chunky, so I omitted a lot of the water.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chicken Parisienne

From: This is another great recipe from my friend, Annie!


1 1/2 lbs cubed chicken breast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
10 3/4 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cans sliced mushrooms (4 oz each)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup sour cream
6 cups hot cooked egg noodles

How to: 

Throw everything in the crock pot, except for the sour cream and egg noodles.  Mix well.  Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. 

Then add the sour cream for the last 30 minutes of cooking. 

Serve over egg noodles.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

From: My good friend, Melissa.


As it happens with all good recipes, they get tweaked as they are passed around.  Here are the ingredients Melissa uses.  And here are the ones that I use:

to be cooked together first: 

1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb of chicken diced

then add: 

1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth (15 oz)
1 1/4 cups water
1 can corn, drained
2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup of diced flame roasted green chile OR jalapeños


1/4 cup fresh finely chopped cilantro
crushed tortilla chips
diced avocado
shredded cheese

How to:  Well, here you can read Melissa's excellent post on how she does it, complete with all the way cool pictures.

What I do:  I put the 1st three ingredients in the bottom of a large pot and sear until the chicken is cooked through.  Then I throw in the rest of the ingredients (not including the toppings) and simmer until it's hot and all the flavor has mixed together nicely or until we're ready to eat, whichever takes longer.  Last I serve the toppings at the table for all to use as desired.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Romaine Lettuce Salad

From: This one's an original...  I love salads and adding new things to them.  This is my most recent salad combination favorite.


fresh (not packaged) romaine lettuce
grape or cherry tomatoes
craisins (That's not a typo. They're dried cranberries and they can be found near the raisins in most grocery stores.)
blue cheese crumbles
french fried onions
your favorite dressing

fresh (not packaged) romaine lettuce
grape or cherry tomatoes
craisins (That's not a typo. They're dried cranberries and they can be found near the raisins in most grocery stores.)
french fried onions
grilled chicken strips 
your favorite dressing

How to:  It's a salad so, you know, throw it all together.  Make it big.  You're gonna like it.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup - The Simple Way

From: I found this recipe over on  I was looking for a simple home-made chicken noodle soup and I was REALLY pleased with this one.


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

How to: Just click here.

Side notes:

By accident, I confused the amounts for the chicken broth and the vegetable broth.  I added four cans of vegetable broth before realizing my mistake and then for the life of me couldn't find the massive can of chicken broth in the cupboard (despite the fact it was right in front of my face).  So to compensate I added a cup of water and half a packet of chicken flavoring from a Ramen noodles pack.  I actually love how it came out and I might do it that way next time too!

Banana Bread

From:  This one came straight from Simply Recipes.


3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

How to:  Just click here.

Pancakes From Scratch

From: Well, I started with this recipe.  Then I tweaked it and made it SO much better!!


1 cup of flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup of vanilla flavored soy milk or regular milk
2 Tbsp oil
handful of blueberries
1 banana peeled

How to: 

Put everything except for the fruit in a large mixing bowl.  Blend, until it's smooth.  Then add the fruit and mash the fruit using a wire whisk.  I like it when the fruit isn't completely blended smoothly into the batter, but you can taste chunks of banana and blueberry in the pancake.

Be sure to put about a teaspoon of butter (or butter substitute) in ahead of the batter when cooking it in the griddle or hot skillet.  It makes the edges crispy and buttery.

Serve and eat immediately.  They won't last long!  Yummm!!!

Side notes:

The vanilla flavored soy milk is the key ingredient here.  It just gives the entire pancake the most amazing slightly sweet flavor that is just to die for!  Scrumptious.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Picadillo de Papa

From: This recipe came straight from my mother-in-law's mother-in-love's kitchen.  I still remember sitting on the stool at her kitchen counter, when my husband and I were dating, jotting down measurements and ingredients as she tossed them into the pot.  In fact...

I still pull out that battered piece of paper and unfold it to follow her recipe.  It gives me warm Costa Rican fuzzies.


5 potatoes peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/3 of a red pepper, finely chopped
1/4 of an onion finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 celery sticks finely sliced
1 lb of ground beef
1/4 tsp of achiote paste (optional)
1/2 tsp oregano
2 cups of water
vegetable or olive oil

How to:  

Start by chopping the potatoes and set aside.  Next chop the red pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro and celery and place in a large pot with about a tablespoon of oil.  Turn the stove on high heat and sear for about two minutes before adding the ground beef.  Lower the heat to medium and brown the meat.  While browning the meat, add the achiote, the oregano and about a teaspoon of salt.  Once the meat is cooked, add the potatoes and water.  Leave the heat on medium or high until it returns to boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Liberally add salt to taste.

Side notes:

 Serves 4 - 6.  This recipe is great topped with a little bit of jalapeño pepper or the juice from the jalapeño pepper jar.