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.