Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jalapeño Cheese Bites

From: My husband came up with this little delicious snack. Yummm!!


Cracker - wheat thin or saltine (I prefer a wheat thin.)
cheddar cheese slice
a dab of honey
jalapeño slice
homemade cheese or cream cheese

How to:  

Stack each ingredient and pop it in your mouth!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

From: A pregnant women with a craving is not to be contended with and I don't like taking no for an answer, particularly with regards to my stomach.  So when I called and they'd closed 10 wee minutes before, I decided I was GOING to have cajun chicken pasta, if I had to cook it myself.  So I searched for an imitation recipe and found this one. It was even better than the Chili's version!


For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 tsp. cajun seasoning

For the sauce:
4 tbsp. butter or margarine
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning (or you can substitute a Tbsp of lemon or lime juice)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese

8 oz. cooked penne pasta (drained)

For the toppings:
2 roma tomatoes, diced
fresh shredded parmesan, to taste

How to:  

Just click here for's version of how to do it.  I did it almost the same, except that I added 3 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese to the sauce before adding the pasta.  I also substituted lime juice for the lemon pepper.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Italian Pasta Salad

From: I love a traditional Italian pasta salad, and this is my favorite combination of ingredients.


spiral pasta, cooked
beef salami
tomato (roma or cherry tomatoes)
artichoke hearts
sliced or chopped black olives
cubed cheddar and/or mozzarella cheese
Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste
peanuts (optional)

How to:  

Combine ingredients, mix well, and chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Red Orange Salad

From: One evening we were having friends over, and we were missing a key ingredient for a salad we wanted to make, so my husband improvised and threw this one together, inspired by his favorite Italian cook, Lydia. It was so good that it wasn't until I was scraping the last bit out of the bowl and scarfing it down, that it occurred to me to take a picture and post it here.


romaine lettuce
red oranges, diced
craisins (dried cranberries)
blue cheese
red onion
french fried onions
rasberry vinaigrette salad dressing

How to:  

Toss the dry ingredients together and top with the dressing to your liking.

Spoonfuls of Dessert

From: When MckMama posted this, I knew I had to try it!! Her version has much more exotic (and healthy) ingredients than mine.  You can see it here. The great thing about this dessert is how simple it is and how much you can change it, depending on what's in your cupboard. Yummmm!!!


chocolate chips
olive oil
peanut butter, refrigerated
sliced almonds
craisins (dried cranberries)
shredded coconut
plastic spoons

How to:  

Spoon out some peanut butter with the plastic spoon.  Then press craisins, peanuts, and sliced almonds (or whatever you desire) into the peanut butter.  Make several of these and set aside.  But hurry!  The peanut butter melts and gets soft on a hot day.

Put the chocolate chips and a tablespoon of oil into a bowl.  Microwave for 20 seconds and then stir.  Repeat half a dozen times until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Dip the spoons with peanut butter on them into the chocolate so it's completely covered.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut (or whatever you desire).  Place on wax paper or aluminum foil and put it in the freezer for about an hour until it becomes completely hard.  Enjoy!

Side notes: The more oil you add, the thinner the chocolate will be, which is helpful in coating without destroying the spooned creation.  You can experiment with how much oil to add.

Quinoa Soup

From: My friend Tiff shared this recipe with me and it was a big hit!!  It's also phenomenally healthy, which makes it even better!


4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa
1-2 cups frozen corn kernels (to your liking)
1/3 cup chunky salsa, to taste
1 ripe but firm hass avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

How To: 

You know it's good when the picture of the recipe looks like that!  Ha!

Side notes:  You can also get the seasoned packet of quinoa (found with the rice packets in the grocery store) and replace 2 cups of broth and salt with only 2 cups of water.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Colorful Sweet & Salty Chicken

From: One evening, we had planned to make shishkabobs, and realized we didn't have any propane for the grill, so we improvised and came up with this!  It was GREAT and my 3 year old was just as excited about it as we were!


1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cut into half inch cubes
15 oz pineapple chunks
1 red pepper diced into 1 inch squares
1/2 red onion diced into 1 inch squares
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion flakes
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp butter

How to:  

Add oil to a wok or skillet, and dust the chicken with salt, oil, basil, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, onion flakes, pepper. Add 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce.  When the chicken is cooked through and golden brown, remove from skillet.

Add to the same skillet the red pepper and red onion.  Dust with salt, and add 1 Tbsp butter, and 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce.  Cover so liquid releases the brown chicken residue from the bottom of the skillet.  Allow the liquid to bubble up and simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Add pineapple chunks to the skillet and continue simmering for another minute.

Combine with chicken and serve on its own or over rice.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fish Tacos

From: I searched far and wide for a fish taco sauce and jumped for joy when I finally found this one! Then I failed to read the directions and came up with the following variation which I now love to eat in mass quantities.  Yumm!!


fish of your choice, cooked as you prefer
taco-sized flour tortillas

1 tomato , chopped
1 or 2 avocados chopped
1 cup lettuce, shredded

sauce ingredients:

4 tbsp light sour cream
2 tbsp light mayonnaise made with lime
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 onion , finely diced (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 avocado, finely chopped

How to:  

Start by combining the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Then prepare the rest of the ingredients, setting each one in a separate small bowl on the table so everyone can sit down and build their own taco!

Fish can be cooked with lemon and butter or any other of your favorite seasonings.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

taco seasoning mix

From: For the longest time, I was looking for a substitute for the Taco Bell brand taco seasoning that costs an arm and a leg and has all the same spices as the ones that are already in my kitchen.  FINALLY, I found one, with the help of some friends of mine.  This is the one I found.


1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

How to:  

Brown the meat in the skillet, then add seasoning and water and simmer until liquid reduces (approximately 10 minutes).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tres Leches

From: This is a traditional Latin American dessert that my husband made.  It took a couple of phone calls and combining techniques from a few different recipes, but I'd say he nailed it!  It was absolutely divine.


six eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
14 oz milk (skim, 2%, whole, etc - doesn't matter which)
rum (optional)
1 can whipped cream OR whipped cream ingredients:  12 oz heavy whipping cream and additional sugar
peaches, caramel, and/or cherries (optional)

How to:  

Have all the ingredients at arm's reach, as you don't want to delay between any of the steps.

Separate six egg whites from their yokes.  Keep four egg whites and six egg yokes.  Discard two of the egg whites.  Beat the four egg whites until they are as foamy as possible.  Mix in the flour, sugar, four egg yokes and vanilla. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan well.  Coat the greased pan with flour.  Pour in the batter and bake for 25 minutes at 325° F or until it's a light brown or amber color.

While the cake bakes, put the condensed milk, evaporated milk, rum (optional), and regular milk in a medium mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Now comes the whipped cream.  Either use the store-bought version or you can make it.  To make it, put 12 oz of heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl.  Use a mixer to whip it until it becomes whipped cream, adding sugar as you go until it has the sweetness you desire.   Immediately refrigerate.

Once the cake is finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Then, with a toothpick, prick the entire surface of the cake.  Each prick should be about 1/4 inch apart.  Pour the milk mixture over the top and allow it to soak into the cake.  Top the cake with whipped cream and fruit (peaches, cherries, etc.) and/or caramel.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shark, Talapia or Salmon

From: My mom sent me this idea for an easy way to cook fish.


2 T butter, melted
5 T orange juice
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
dash (or more) white pepper

How to: 

Mix ingredients and pour over the top:

Cover caserole dish with plastic wrap, venting one corner. Microwave on HIGH 3-6 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork. Let stand for 4 minutes before serving.

Serve with veggies and rice, or Cheesy Garden Casserole.

Chicken Mushroom Stew

From: My mom passed this recipe on to me a few months ago.  This is the first time I've made it, but I'm gonna be sure and do it again REALLY SOON!  It was delicious!!


1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp oil of your choice

8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
2 diced zuchini
1 green pepper diced
4 garlic gloves, minced (or 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic)

3 medium tomatoes, diced OR an 8 oz can of diced tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
3/4 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp oregano leaves
1 tsp marjoram leaves
1 tsp basil

Parmesan, mozzarrella, or blue cheese (optional)

How to:  

(Using the slower cooker:) Put the mushrooms, onion, zuchini, green pepper and garlic in the bottom of the slower cooker.  Drizzle olive oil over the top and toss to cover.  Place raw chicken (may be frozen or thawed) in the slower cooker on top of the veggies.  Then add the remaining ingredients on top. Don't worry about mixing them. Turn on the slower cooker on high. Once the chicken starts to cook (turns white on one side - about an hour or so into the cooking process), mix the contents of the slower cooker well and push the chicken to the bottom. Cook on high for a total of 3-4 hours. Serve as is (absolutely delicious!) or top with cheese if desired.

(Without a slower cooker:) Brown the chicken in a large pot in oil.  Set aside.  In the same pot, in the remaining oil (or you may add more oil or butter if needed) saute the second group of ingredients (mushrooms, onion, zucchini, green pepper and garlic) until crisp/tender.  I like to add a terrible amount of butter because it tastes GOOD! Then return the chicken to the back into the pot and then add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 15 minutes while mixing well.  Serve as is (absolutely delicious!) or top with cheese if desired.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Breakfast Burritos

From: A friend of mine mentioned the idea of making breakfast burritos ahead of time to freeze and I thought I'd try it.  Here's what I put in mine... It makes 9 burritos.


9 tortillas
1 package of about 8 fully cooked turkey sausage
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup of salsa
8 eggs
2 tbsp oil

How to: 

Start by finely chopping the turkey sausage. Set aside for a moment.  Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat for about a minute.  Then add the eggs and scramble on medium high heat, adding salt and pepper to your liking.  When the eggs are about halfway cooked, add the sausage and finish scrambling the eggs.  Now lay out the tortillas, egg and sausage mix, cheese, and salsa.  Assemble the burritos, wrapping each one in a paper towel.  Use a paper towel, which can be microwaved, not foil, plastic or wax paper.  Make sure to eat one while it's hot!  The rest of the wrapped breakfast burritos go into a freezer bag and into the freezer immediately to be warmed when you're ready to eat them.  I warm mine in the microwave for about a minute.  Now you've got a quick hearty breakfast that only take a minute to prepare!  Yummmm...

Side notes: Do you need a lactose or dairy-free option?  Use dairy-free cheese (click here for recipe) instead.  Do you have little ones in the house?  You can leave out the salsa and cut the burritos in half before wrapping in a paper towel.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pesto-Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts

From: This recipe came from one of those recipe cards that Safeway distributes in their store.


2 chicken breasts
1/2 red pepper
olive oil
mozzarella cheese (shredded)
pesto sauce

How to:  

Cut a slit in the two chicken breasts so that you can stuff ingredients inside.  Cut the red pepper into strips and caramelize them (cook 'em) in olive oil in a skillet. Then stuff the inside of the chicken with pesto, mozzarella cheese, and red pepper.

Secure it closed at an angle with a couple of tooth picks, being sure the tooth picks are flush with the meat (so they don't keep the meat from being cooked well on all sides. Spread pesto on the outside of the chicken breasts. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Cook the chicken breasts on medium heat (slowly so they cook all the way through).  You can grill them too.

You can also microwave them for three minutes after cooking to be sure they are fully cooked inside, if you desire.  Be sure to remove toothpicks and top with more mozzarella if desired, before serving.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chicken Craisin Salad

From: This recipe is from my Aunt Carol.  It's more filling than you'd think!  We love it for dinner!


mostly white chicken pieces cut from small roasted chicken, about 3 c.
1 cup dried craisins (dried cranberries)
1 cup walnuts
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced vertically, then chopped
pineapple slices, cut in wedges, two 15-oz cans
Marie’s (brand) cole slaw dressing (or 1000 Island or Honey Mustard) - we like honey mustard
Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

How to:  Combine all the ingredients except the dressing and cheese in a large bowl. Serve.  Top with dressing and cheese as desired.

Chicken Quesadillas

From: My husband whipped this up one evening and surprised me by setting this plate full of the best chicken quesadillas I've ever had right on my desk as I was working.


flour tortillas
cheddar cheese
sour cream
olive oil

How to:  Start by tossing some olive oil in a pan.  Heat it up and spread it around.  Then tossed in the chicken and the spices (to your liking).  Cook it through, allowing it to get nice and golden brown on the outside.  Then shred or dice it up.

Now load up a tortilla with cheddar cheese.  Add chicken, avocado and sour cream.  Close the tortilla and butter the outside.  Heat a clean pan.  Saute the quesadilla until the outside is golden brown and the cheddar cheese is melted.  Then flip it over and do the other side.

Now serve it up and eat it!


From: This is the Pioneer Woman's Bruschetta recipe.  Holy heaven, this woman has done it again.  This is to die for.


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5 fresh cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 pint Red Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
1 pint Yellow Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
16 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade)
Salt And Pepper To Taste (don't Oversalt!)
1 loaf of French bread
8 Tablespoons Butter

How to: 

Follow the Pioneer Woman's instructions.  The only deviation I suggest is that you only toast the top side of the bread.  That way, you get the crispy buttery goodness of toast and the soft fresh french bread at the same time.  It's fantastic.

Italian Chicken Soup

From: I started with this recipe from the Pioneer Woman and then tweaked it a bit to suit what I had in the kitchen and to make it a bit easier.


1/2 box Rigatoni Pasta
About 1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 whole Medium Onion, diced
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 can (15-ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
1 cups Heavy Cream (optional)
2 Tsp Oregano
Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
Parmesan Cheese Shavings, For Serving
1 Tbsp butter

How to: 

Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

Cook the chicken in a skillet. I added salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and basil to season. Then dice it up.

Place chicken in a large pot and cover in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, while chopping and preparing the veggies.

In the same skillet you cooked the chicken, saute onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos, and oregano, salt and pepper in olive oil and butter over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add to the pot of chicken and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta, diced tomatoes and cream. Stir to combine. Turn off heat. Serve with lots of Parmesan sprinkled on the top--the more the better!

Side notes: For lactose intolerant guests, hold the cream and Parmesan cheese and serve on the side for those who want it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Caprese Salad

From: I have always loved caprese salad.  But this post from the Pioneer Woman inspired me to master our own homemade version.


3 whole ripe red tomatoes
a handful of fresh basil leaves
mozzarella cheese or homemade fresh cheese
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar

How to:  

Slice tomatoes thinly.  Then layer:  tomato, cheese slice, basil leaf, tomato, cheese slice, basil leaf.  Salt and pepper the entire plate lightly.  Then you can either drizzle balsamic vinegar over the whole thing, or you can make balsamic reduction and drizzle that over the whole thing.  To make balsamic reduction, follow the Pioneer Woman's instructions:

She says, "In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes, or until balsamic has reduced to a thicker glaze. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or cruet. Allow to cool."