Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chicken Quesadillas

I believe I've made mention of the fact that I'm not a huge "Mexican food" fan, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE quesadillas! When I was pregnant with my son, my husband made the mistake of bringing home Don Pablo's Club Quesadillas---that quickly became a CONSTANT craving! The bacon complimented the chicken so well, especially with the red onion and tomato...YUM! One would think that I, alone, ordered these particular quesadillas often enough to clue them in that it was a popular menu item, but sadly, they stopped making them. My husband has tried several times to recreate the recipe at home and he finally has come up with a pretty close version!

Chicken Quesadillas

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (pounded out to 1/4 inch thickness)
6-8 slices of bacon
1/2 cup chopped red onions
1 cup roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups shredded Mexican or mild cheddar cheese
4 flour tortillas
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons barbecue sauce (We used Sweet Baby Rays)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bacon onto foil-lined cookie sheet and bake until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, season chicken with desired seasoning (we like the "Chicken and Rib Rub" from Sam's Club!) and grill in a greased grill pan. Cut chicken into small chunks and set aside.

Butter one side of each tortilla and place two of the tortillas, buttered side down in a nonstick skillet. Place 1/2 cup of shredded cheese evenly spread over each tortilla. Divide red onions, tomatoes, chicken and bacon evenly between the two tortillas. Top each tortilla with remaining cheese and drizzle with BBQ sauce. Place remaining two tortillas, butter side up, on top of mixture. Carefully flip quesadilla over and allow to brown on the other side. (Tip: Use a salad plate to flip more easily--place it over the top of the quesadilla and use a spatula underneath to steady it!) Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Source: Marcus Guajardo

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Premio Meme Award...

Kathy from Three on Food passed along this award to me this morning...what a nice surprise on such a gloomy day! (Thank you SO much, Kathy!) Along with this award, I'm supposed to share seven things about my personality and then pass along the award and meme on to seven other bloggers for them to do the same. I've really enjoyed "meeting" new people from all over the country and am excited to learn even more about some of my fellow bloggers!

1. Family-Oriented--I LOVE my family more than life itself!

2. Determined--I set goals and can't stand when I am unable to achieve them. I swear by my "lists"--I write lists for everything and nothing makes me happier than being able to cross items off as I accomplish different tasks!

3. Patient--I think I've developed a great deal of patience since having my children. Having a rambunctious four year old little boy can be rather challenging at times!

4. Honest--I pride myself on being a very honest individual and expect nothing less from others! Lying is one thing I absolutely despise!

5. Forgiving--I feel as if I've been "tested" plenty over the years, yet I always tend to have a forgiving heart.

6. Concerned--I worry about everything/everyone! This tends to pose a challenge in my line of work, because I find myself getting very emotionally involved with patients and their families.

7. Reserved/Easy-Going--I'm very laid back and tend to come across as being more on the shy side until I get to know people. I typically find that I get along with everyone...well, most everyone! (Do in-laws count?!?!)

I am passing this meme along to the following bloggers:

Sarah from Delectable Dining
Christy from Christy's Kitchen Creations
Amanda from Amanda's Cookin'
Donna from My Tasty Treasures
"Nana" from Nana's Kitchen
Joyce from JustJoycee
Jaime and Jennifer from Jamie and Jen Dish

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pasta for Breath Only a Mother Could Love

Holy carbs!!! I feel like I've been eating pasta left and right lately--I don't think I mentioned that my husband made baked ziti the other night when I worked?!?! I can't help it...pasta is one of those things that I CONSTANTLY crave! As mentioned in a previous post, I've been trying to find recipes that will reheat well, so I have lunches for the week. Both of my kids have been sick, so they've been especially "needy/clingy", which has made it even more difficult to find time to grab a bite to eat. This is another recipe that I found in one of my Mom's cookbooks. The cookbook was called "Behind Every Great Chef, There's a Mom" and it featured signature recipes of many famous chefs' Moms--a pretty neat concept! This particular recipe is from Rocco DiSpirito's Mom. Within the description, she refers to this dish as "a perfect dish to serve when friends stop by unannounced--even when it seemed as if there was nothing in the house to cook!". It was incredibly easy (it took all of maybe 10 minutes) and all of the ingredients are those which most people would have on hand. The only suggestion I would make is to sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the pasta before serving--I felt like it needed just a little "something".

Pasta for Breath Only a Mother Could Love

1 pound spaghettini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a 6 quart pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden brown, taking care not to let the garlic get too dark, about 2 minutes. When the garlic is light brown, add the parsley and red pepper flakes.

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss, season with salt and pepper and serve right away in warm bowls.

Source: Behind Every Great Chef, There's a Mom! (Nicolina DiSpirito)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Olive Garden Chicken Scampi

If I could eat at Olive Garden every night, I would in a heartbeat! Unfortunately, having two little ones has made it a bit more challenging to eat out--both from a financial standpoint and based on the fact that it's not overly enjoyable to dine out when dealing with kids who don't want to sit still for more than five minutes! While I was home visiting my parents last month, I took advantage of looking through some of the HUNDREDS of cookbooks that my Mom owns. I came across this "Top Secret Restaurant Recipe" cookbook and sat drooling as I imagined just how wonderful it would be to recreate some of my restaurant favorites at home! (Especially for a fraction of what I'd pay to eat the dishes out!) While I've never had Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi and therefore, have no basis of comparison, I can tell you that this dish was as good as any I had ever eaten at Olive Garden! It was a bit time consuming, but well worth it! Just a couple of suggestions: You may want to 1 1/2 the sauce and consider adding fresh mushrooms--my husband would never agree to the mushrooms, but if your family likes them, I think they'd be a nice addition.

Olive Garden Chicken Scampi

Scampi Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced white onion
1/3 cup minced garlic (8 to 12 cloves)
1 1/2 cups Chablis wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 cup heavy cream

5 to 6 quarts water
16 ounces angel hair pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil
12 chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips
1 chopped red onion
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

*Optional Garnish: Parmesan cheese*


Make scampi sauce by melting butter in a preheated pan over medium/low heat. Add 2 tablespoons minced white onion and saute for 2 to 4 minutes or until the onion begins to brown. If the butter begins to burn, turn down the heat. When the onion is beginning to brown, add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Don't let the garlic burn. After about 30 seconds, add the wine, salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and black pepper and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 15 to 18 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half. Add parsley and heavy cream and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Do not let mixture reach a boil.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the angel hair pasta and cook for about 4 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander when done, then hit it with some cold water to prevent sticking and to keep it from cooking further.

Preheat oil in 2 large skillets over medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken tenderloins, then coat each one in the flour that has been measured into a large bowl. Arrange all of the coated tenderloins on a plate before sauteing 6 tenderloins in each pan. Cook the tenderloins for 3 to 5 minutes on one side or until golden brown. When the chicken is brown on one side, flip each of the pieces and move them to the side of the pans. Add an even amount of sliced peppers and chopped red onion to the center of each skillet. Continue cooking the chicken and vegetables for 4 to 6 minutes or until the chicken is browned and the veggies are beginning to brown on the edges.

Divide the scampi sauce in half and pour it over the chicken and other ingredients in each pan. Add 2 portions of pasta to each pan, then toss everything a bit and continue to cook for a couple of minutes or until the pasta is heated through. Prepare each dish by serving equal amounts of pasta onto each of four plates. Use a spoon or tongs to add the peppers and onion on top of each pile of pasta. Arrange three chicken tenderloins in the center of the pasta. Sprinkle each plate with about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh parsley and serve it up with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, by Todd Wilbur

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My husband and son have absolutely no self-control when it comes to "sweets"! I've been picking up more and more shifts at the hospital and I think it's a pretty safe assumption that they indulge plenty when I'm away! I've kind of given up with my husband--he's obviously going to do what he wants to do, but I'm concerned about my son's eating habits and try my hardest to encourage him to eat healthier foods when I'm home. By no means do I want to cut sweets out of his diet entirely, so I thought this would be a nice/"fair" alternative. Yes, I know they're still cookies and have shortening, sugar, etc, but they contain oatmeal and raisins, both of which are good for him :) These cookies were the best oatmeal raisin cookies I've EVER made and got a "thumbs up" from my little guy!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored Crisco)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins


Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat all ingredients except oats, flour and raisins in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in oats, flour and raisins.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown and centers are light in color. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

*Makes about 3 dozen cookies*

Source: Betty Crocker Cookies and Bars

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce

Okay, so I'm really starting to feel old! It about did me in to get a minivan a couple of years ago and now, I'm officially a "soccer Mom"! My 4 year old had his first soccer practice tonight. Don't get me was SO cute to watch him and see how much he seemed to enjoy it, but I feel like before I know it, he'll be starting school, driving, going to prom, dating, etc! It's amazing how quickly the time flies by! Since our schedules are getting busier and busier, between my husband and my work schedules and now throwing Jake's soccer practices/games into the mix, I've realized that my crockpot is going to become my new best friend :) I've had this recipe bookmarked for a while now and have been waiting for one of those "busy days" when I knew I didn't have time to fuss in the kitchen. I knew we'd be rushing off to Jake's soccer practice as soon as my husband got home from work and then wouldn't get home until at least 7:30-7:45, so this seemed like a perfect dinner idea! As soon as we got home, I made the pasta and some garlic bread and dinner was ready in 15 minutes! The only thing I want to mention is that you may want to watch your sauce carefully, as mine started to burn a bit--then again, it could have just been my crockpot!

Thanks, Heidi, for the recipe! We'll definitely be making it again soon!

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound ground beef or bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Hot cooked spaghetti (we used penne, just because that's my husband's preference)


In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Add the next 10 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until heated through. Discard bay leaf. Serve with spaghetti. 6-8 servings

Source: Tried-and-True cooking with Heidi

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Prime Rib Roast

This is the second time in my entire life that I have made a prime rib roast. My Dad first introduced me to prime rib YEARS ago and it quickly became my "meat of choice" to order while dining out. The first time my husband tried prime rib was actually the night we got engaged...November 2, 2001. We went to a steakhouse in Bloomington (the town we initially met) and he seemed to quite enjoy it, other than being a nervous wreck about proposing! When I was home recently, my parents made a rib roast and it was SO good...this is the recipe my Mom used!!! It definitely is a cut of meat that ordinarily isn't in my budget, but being Easter time, I found it on sale for $4.99/lb. (Certainly better than $10-$12/lb!) I did end up taking the meat out a bit too soon...I think I must have had the thermometer up against a bone or fat, because it registered higher than it was. It wasn't until I went to slice it, that I realized it was a bit on the "raw" side for our liking! (Nothing that placing it back in the oven for 10 minutes couldn't fix, though!)

Prime Rib Roast

Prime Rib Roast
Kosher Salt
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Use a paper towel to pat the roast dry. Rub butter on the cut ends of the roast. Create a seasoning rub with the above spices. Make a series of 1/4 inch deep slits all over the top of the roast, as well as the sides. Rub seasonings all over the roast, covering all exposed meat.

Place the roast in a heavy metal roasting pan, bone side down. Regardless of the size of your roast, you will start it in a 450 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees for the balance of cooking time.

Every half hour or so, baste the ends of the roast with the drippings. Use your meat thermometer about a half hour before the expected end of the roasting time. Make sure to insert it in the thickest part of the meat, not touching the fat or bone. When the internal temperature reaches 120°, pull it out of the oven and cover with foil. Let the roast sit for twenty to thirty minutes. It will continue to cook during this time, reaching a temperature of about 125° to 130°. This resting period allows the juices and flavors to permeate the roast.

Note: We prefer to eat our meat medium rare. Below, is a list of temperatures according to how well done you prefer your meat.

Rare: 120-125 degrees
Medium Rare: 130-135 degrees
Medium: 140-145 degrees
Medium Well: 150-155 degrees
Well: 160 degrees

***Just as an estimate for cooking time, if you are wanting your meat rare and you have a 7-8 pound roast (3 ribs), you can expect to cook for 15 minutes at 450 degrees and 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees.

Source: Adele Fine

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan

Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan

2 bunches (1 1/2 pounds) asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Trim the tough ends from the asparagus. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Roast until the asparagus is tender and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

BLT Pasta Salad

Since having my daughter, I have found it next to impossible to make time to grab a bite to eat during the day--I usually just eat a pretty hearty dinner! My four year old son is a wild man and is constantly demanding my attention. Now that my daughter is crawling (and two seconds away from walking), I have to watch the two little rugrats like a hawk! My energy level has been at an all-time low and it dawned on me that it's likely because I'm not taking the time to eat breakfast or lunch on a regular basis. I made up my mind the other day that I was going to start making things in bulk, that I can eat on during the week. I, personally, could eat the same thing everyday and it wouldn't phase me--I'm pretty easy-going :) I decided to make this BLT pasta salad, because it is fairly hearty and incorporates several different food groups. This is another recipe that I was given, shortly before I was married and while my husband won't go near it with a ten foot pole (strictly because it has mayonnaise in it), I quite enjoy it! I hope you do, as well!

BLT Pasta Salad

16 oz elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 lb bacon, fried and diced (I make my bacon in the oven...a bit healthier!)
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
Mayonnaise (enough to moisten all ingredients)


Mix first five ingredients together and coat with mayonnaise until creamy.

Source: Adapted from recipe by Risa Kennedy

Italian Sausage Dip

One of my closest girlfriends made this dip for our annual Christmas get-together a few years ago. As soon as I tried it, I knew it would be a hit with my husband--it's now his request for all of his work pitch-ins! We've made it for several family functions and everyone seems to enjoy it. It's very rich and creamy and not particularly difficult to make. The best part is that you finish making it in the crockpot, so it stays nice and warm the entire time. The other thing about this recipe is that you have the option to make it more on the mild side or spicier, depending on your personal preference--or that of your guests. My family can't handle too much spice, but my husband's family seems to like things especially spicy. The recipe calls for (2) 14 1/2 oz cans of diced tomatoes and I ordinarily use one can of plain, diced tomatoes and the other can with green chilies mixed in. I'd encourage you to experiment with the recipe to determine just how much spice you can handle!

Italian Sausage Dip

1 pound Italian Sausage
(2) 8 ounce packages cream cheese
(2) 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes (I suggest one with green chilies and the other plain!)


Brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Drain excess fat. Place cream cheese in crockpot, on high, until melted--watch carefully so it doesn't burn! Add both cans of tomatoes to melted cream cheese. Stir in sausage and turn crockpot down to low to keep warm. Serve with tortilla chips.

NOTE: If cans of tomatoes seem to have an excessive amount of liquid, I would suggest draining a bit off so the dip isn't too "runny". Also, this dip can be made ahead of time and heated up in the crockpot before serving.

Source: Haley Campbell

Double Tomato Bruschetta

I'm fairly certain that this is the recipe my husband made a couple of years ago for a Valentine's dinner he made for me. That was the first time I ever tried Bruschetta--it was one of those things I assumed my husband would never even consider ordering when out to dinner! I LOVED it when he made it and I enjoyed it as much this time around! It's very easy to make and would be a great appetizer to accompany an Italian meal--or any meal, for that matter! This particular recipe is for 6 servings, allowing approximately 2 pieces a person.

Double Tomato Bruschetta

3 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1-1/2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, stems removed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 French baguette
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven on broiler setting. In a large bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.

Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.

Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices. Top the slices with mozzarella cheese. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Source: Allrecipes

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Talk about a sandwich with all of my favorite ingredients!!! Not too long ago, I posted a recipe for a "doctored up version" of a grilled cheese sandwich, but I honestly must admit...I prefer this version, hands down! The other one was definitely "good", but this is the "mother of all grilled cheese sandwiches"! It would be a great sandwich to serve with a cup/bowl of soup when you have company over for lunch...I selfishly ate it by myself :)

Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwich

8 ounces mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
8 slices white or whole wheat bread
1 small onion, diced (I used red onion)
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked and drained
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
Margarine or butter, softened


Place half of the cheese on 4 slices bread. Top with onion, bacon, tomato, avocado, remaining cheese and remaining bread. Spread top slices of bread with margarine.

Place sandwiches, margarine sides down, in a skillet. Spread tops of bread with margarine. Cook uncovered over medium heat about 5 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until other sides are golden brown and cheese is melted.

Source: Betty Crocker 20-Minute Recipes