Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oatmeal Butterscotch Toffee Chip Cookies

I knew I wanted to bring home some type of baked goods when I took the kids to visit my parents this week. Jake decided he wanted to help me make cookies for "Grandma and Grandpa", so I was all set to make the Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies I saw on "Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi". I just happened to stumble across a similar recipe on Picky Palate, that also included toffee chips and since I had some left from when I made chocolate covered pretzels, I decided to go with that recipe. (I'm anxious to try Heidi's in the near future, though, as they look equally as good!) These cookies were to die for! The butterscotch and toffee were such a good combination--especially paired with the oatmeal!

Oatmeal Butterscotch Toffee Chip Cookies

2 sticks softened butter
¾ Cup sugar
¾ Cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ Cups flour
½ Cup quick oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ Cups butterscotch chips
1 Cup toffee chip pieces


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the butterscotch chips and toffee bits just until combined.

With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing.

Source: Picky Palate

Chicken with Lemon Sauce

This is definitely one of my husband and my favorite recipes! I made it for the first time a few years back and have no idea why I don't make it more often?!? This recipe was initially found on allrecipes.com (and came from Taste of Home), but I've played with it a bit and think I finally came up with the perfect proportions--especially to ensure that there's enough sauce! The sauce has a relatively mild lemon flavor, so if you particularly enjoy lemon, I would suggest adding a bit more lemon juice. The chicken always comes out incredibly moist and reheats really well, if you don't mind leftovers! I've even found that this is a great dinner to bring someone, when they're sick, have a baby, etc, because it tastes nearly as good reheated as it does when you first make it...just make sure you don't overcook the chicken to start!

Chicken with Lemon Sauce

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
2 eggs
5 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups apple juice
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine 3/4 cup flour, Parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, beat the eggs. Dip chicken into eggs; coat with flour mixture.

In a large skillet, cook chicken in 2 tablespoons butter and oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour, salt and pepper; stir in broth until smooth. Add apple juice to the skillet, stirring to loosen any browned bits. Stir broth mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Stir in lemon juice; cook for 1 minute. Add parsley and remaining butter; cook and stir until butter is melted. Serve over chicken.

Source: Taste of Home

Sunday, March 29, 2009

BBQ Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes

My husband always used to ask me why I never made meatballs--I guess it was because I don't really remember my Mom making them growing up. I absolutely love meatloaf, so you would think I would have attempted to make meatballs at some point. I think I already mentioned the cookbook I was given as part of my bridal shower gift...well, included was a recipe for meatballs that were to die for! (I'll have to post that recipe in the near future!) Ever since I tried them, I have been in search of other meatball recipes that sounded appealing. I constantly hear people raving about the "Pioneer Woman" and having tried her spicy shredded pork last week, I figured that I couldn't go wrong with this recipe! They were DELICIOUS!!!!!! The Pioneer Woman suggested serving her BBQ Meatballs with egg noodles or mashed potatoes and I, personally, chose to serve mashed potatoes. I've experimented over the years, adding different ingredients/spices, in an attempt to get mine "just right". There's nothing fancy about this recipe...just a classic take on mashed potatoes!

BBQ Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
plenty of ground black pepper

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4 to 6 tablespoons onion
Dash of Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

Remove from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour.

Brown meatballs in canola oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or crusty french bread.

Source: Pioneer Woman

Mashed Potatoes

8-10 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
3/4 cup warm milk (or more, depending on desired consistency)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (add more if necessary)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper


Place potatoes in a pan and cover with water. Add 2 teaspoons salt to water and bring to a boil; cook for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain well. Add butter and mix with an electric hand mixer (or mash by hand) until blended in. Add warm milk, Kosher salt, garlic powder and pepper. Continue to mix/mash until desired consistency.

Source: Rachel Guajardo (Rachel Vs. The Kitchen)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken

Okay, so I'll admit...I'm a sucker for Kentucky Fried Chicken, but we very seldom get it--especially since we've tried eating healthier lately! I've never thought to try making my own fried chicken, let alone a "baked version", but when I saw this on Christy's Kitchen Creations, I knew I just had to try it! (Especially after I casually mentioned to my sister yesterday, that I was thinking about making it and she said it was delicious...that she had already made it!) I bought a whole fryer, cut up, because my husband seems to prefer white meat and I prefer dark meat. I served it with oven roasted potatoes and it was incredibly easy to make and will definitely go into our meal rotation! I had no doubt in my mind that this recipe would be good, but I honestly was surprised to find that the chicken tasted as good, if not better, than any fried chicken I've ever had out!

Oven Fried Chicken

Chicken pieces of your choice
3 Tbs. oil
3 Tbs. butter or margarine


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Salt, pepper and paprika individual pieces of chicken, slightly rubbing in and under skin. Place flour in bag. Toss a few pieces into flour bag and shake generously to coat chicken. Repeat with remaining pieces.

Place oil and margarine in 9 x 13 pan and place in oven for 3-4 minutes to melt butter. Place chicken pieces in pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, turn chicken and bake for another 20 minutes.

Source: Christy's Kitchen Creations

Friday, March 27, 2009

Red Pepper and Parmesan Tilapia

I'm all about "budget friendly meals"! My four year old is rather defiant and refuses to cooperate with the whole potty training thing, so it gets expensive buying diapers for two kids! I try my hardest to cut corners whenever possible and almost exclusively buy things that are on sale. I tend to luck out and find tilapia on sale rather frequently (usually for $3.50/lb) and my husband and I have grown quite fond of it! I don't think I ever bought anything other than salmon or occasionally trout, for the first 6 or 7 years that my husband and I were together, but I've been fortunate enough to come across some really good tilapia recipes...this being one of them! Just as a "heads up", this recipe does have a bit of a "kick", so you may want to reduce the amount of red pepper, if you don't care for too much spice.

Red Pepper and Parmesan Tilapia

1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon pepper
1 lb tilapia


Place egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine the cheese, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes and pepper. Dip fillets in egg substitute, then cheese mixture.

Place in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Note: I would suggest doubling this recipe for a family of four (especially if your kids are older!)

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chocolate Chip Blondies

I have never had much of a "sweet tooth"--the thought of gooey/rich desserts almost makes me sick to my stomach. I will say, however, that I have a weakness for cookies and brownies! I've been following the blog "Tried-and-True cooking with Heidi" and have been anxious to try out some of her recipes. This recipe definitely caught my eye...I love it when I know I don't have to make a special trip out to the store to get ingredients! I also love how she attempts to make recipes that fit anyone's budget. It's definitely expensive raising kids these days, especially when you're relying almost exclusively on one income. My son always has a case of the "gimmies" when we're at the grocery store, particularly when we're heading down the snack aisle, but I can't stand buying all of those fatty/processed foods for him (or for my husband who thinks I don't notice when he sneaks a sweet or two once I go to bed!) These chocolate chip blondies are pretty "rich", but it didn't stop me from eating them! Both of my kids thoroughly enjoyed them, as will my husband when he gets home tonight!

Chocolate Chip Blondies

1-1/2 cups Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla just until blended. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to brown sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

***This was super easy...a recipe you could definitely have your kids help you with!***

Source: Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Minestrone Soup

As mentioned in a previous blog, we recently had family over for my son's 4th birthday. He requested that we take everyone for lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant, but since I knew we'd have family in from out of town, I wanted to make sure that I had a lighter dinner available, in case anyone was hungry later in the evening. I knew we'd be having a big lunch, so I thought that soup, salad and bread would surely be sufficient. I kept going back and forth between soup recipes, because my in-laws (and husband) are all very picky eaters, so I wanted to make sure that I had something that would appeal to everyone. My grandmother included her recipe for Minestrone soup in a cookbook that my Mom and sister put together for me as part of my bridal shower gift years ago and it's always been so well liked by anyone who tries it. A single recipe makes a decent amount, but I would highly suggest doubling it, as the leftovers are just as delicious--and perfect for any of you who take your lunches to work...or for those of you who are at home juggling kids and trying to squeeze in five minutes to grab a bite to eat!

Minestrone Soup

1/2 pound bulk Italian Sausage (I ordinarily increase it to a full pound!)
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic--finely chopped
8 cups water
(1) 28 oz can Italian style tomatoes, undrained and broken up
5 teaspoons beef bouillon (or 5 cubes)
4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 medium carrots, pared and sliced
(1) 15 1/2 oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
(1) 9 oz package frozen cut green beans, thawed
1/2- 8 oz package spaghetti, broken
grated Parmesan cheese


In a large kettle or dutch oven, brown sausage, onion and garlic. Pour off fat. Add remaining ingredients, except green beans, spaghetti and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for one hour. Stir in beans and spaghetti--bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered ten additional minutes or until spaghetti and green beans are tender. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Source: Grandma Sylvia

Spicy Shredded Pork

As soon as I saw this posted on "Delectable Dining", I knew it was a recipe I would have to try! Not only did it initially come from the Pioneer Woman (who my sister swears by), but I knew my husband would love anything with the words "shredded pork" and "spicy" in the title! My husband so graciously offered to make dinner last night, since he knew I'd be working all day and this was a wonderful meal to come home to! I didn't get home until close to 9pm, well after my son had eaten his dinner, but when he tried a bite of my "taco", he asked for one of his own and INHALED it! My husband said that he followed the recipe exactly as it was written, except he ran into one little problem...we didn't have any white wine vinegar. I was in the middle of discharging a patient at work, when the secretary told me that I had a call, so I politely excused myself (thinking maybe it was a doctor calling me back), only to find that it was my husband on the other end, trying to figure out what to do about not having any white wine vinegar. He said that he had called my sister to see if he could substitute regular white vinegar and she told him that wouldn't be advisable, so I suggested that he do a google search to see what a recommended substitution would be. Come to find out, they said that you can use red wine vinegar--the only reason you wouldn't want to is if the color would affect your dish. Since it was just being mixed with pork, it didn't particularly matter and I thought it tasted delicious! I do want to give credit for the picture to my sister, Sarah--I "borrowed" her picture, because I was EXHAUSTED by the time I got home last night and after trying about five or six times to take a picture of this dish, I gave up. I could not seem to make it look as presentable as she did...thanks Sarah!!!

Spicy Shredded Pork

4-7 pound pork shoulder
1 onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
3-4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons salt
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar


Rinse and pat dry the pork shoulder. Place the pork shoulder in the bottom of a 6 quart crock pot and add about a cup of water in the bottom. Combine oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar and quartered onion in the food processor. Process until well blended. Pour over the pork and rub well into entire surface. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the meat easily shreds using 2 forks. Serve in warm tortilla shells with fresh salsa and sour cream.

Source: Delectable Dining (Picture by Sarah O'Brien)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken and Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Tonight was definitely one of those nights where I was trying to throw together a dinner, using ingredients that were about to expire/go bad. I saw this recipe on my sister's blog (Delectable Dining) and have been dying to try it! I had a package of boneless skinless chicken breasts in the fridge that were marked "sell by March 24th", so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out. My family just loves Chinese food and I think I prefer this recipe to any sweet and sour chicken I've ever had out. I also desperately needed to use a bunch of asparagus, so I resorted to using a recipe I had previously tried and had yet to post. I can't say as I would necessarily serve these two dishes together again, but I did enjoy them independently!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Chicken Ingredients
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil


Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper.
Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.

Sauce Ingredients
¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt


Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stove top. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

Source: Delectable Dining

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Bake asparagus 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the baked asparagus to serve.

Source: Allrecipes

Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Awards!

What can I say?!? I LOVE making desserts that are super easy and always a big hit! There's something that really seems to draw people to the whole "sweet and salty" concept, so I've been making chocolate covered pretzels lately, for different functions/get-togethers. They are incredibly simple to make and you can be as creative as you want, as far as what you choose to dip them in. I made these for my son's birthday party yesterday and chose to do three different varieties: nuts, miniature M&M's and a Nonpareils Mix (Dessert Sprinkles). This is a perfect thing to make when you're short on time or just want to add a little extra "color" to your table!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

1 bag pretzel rods
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
assortment of toppings


Break pretzel rods in half. Melt chocolate chips over medium heat, until smooth and creamy. Dip broken end of pretzel into chocolate and coat approximately half of the rod. Place pretzel immediately onto wax-covered cookie sheet and sprinkle with desired toppings. Allow pretzels to cool/set in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

***You can substitute white chocolate if you prefer, but I would recommend using the white baking discs--I didn't have very good luck with the white chocolate chips!***

Source: Rachel Guajardo

Last, but not least...a very sweet girl, Heidi, from Tried-and-True cooking with Heidi, passed along three awards to me. The awards given were the "Lemonade and Friends Award", "The Friends Award" and the "E for Excellent Award". I greatly appreciate her thinking enough of my blog to make mention of it and highly suggest that everyone take a look at her blog--she has some WONDERFUL recipes! Along with the awards, it was requested that I pass along this message..."These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated."It also says : "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award." I would now like to share these three awards with 8 blogs that I feel are most deserving and that I have greatly enjoyed reading...

1) Delectable Dining
2) Christy's Kitchen Creations
3) The Sister's Cafe
4) Amber's Delectable Delights
5) Our Best Bites
6) The Pioneer Woman
7) Picky Palate
8) My Tasty Treasures

Pirate's Hidden Treasure Cupcakes

Today is my son's 4th birthday and he decided that he wanted a pirate-themed party this year. We had all of our family over yesterday for a celebration in Jake's honor and I decided that in addition to making a cake, I would make these adorable pirate cupcakes that I found online. I'm not going to lie...they were a bit time consuming, but Jake said they were "very cool", so of course that made it worth the while! The only thing I omitted was the peanut butter cups that were supposed to be hidden inside, out of fear of sending a party guest into anaphylactic shock...several people have severe nut allergies in my family! I also had a difficult time finding black string licorice, so I used black decorator icing. (I'm not a huge fan of licorice, let alone black licorice, so it ended up being a better option in the end!) Also, this is a "Betty Crocker recipe", so they naturally recommend using all Betty Crocker brand ingredients, but you can certainly substitute--I did! Since I omitted the peanut butter cups, I actually just followed the cake mix instructions on the box and then followed the cupcake recipe instructions on how to decorate them. Good luck :)

Pirate's Hidden Treasure Cupcakes

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® chocolate fudge cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
24 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies (from 12-oz bag), unwrapped
1 container (1 lb) Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting
2 rolls (from 4.5-oz box) Betty Crocker® Fruit by the Foot® chewy fruit snack (any red color)
24 pieces Cheerios® cereal or small ring-shaped candies (about 4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons miniature candy-coated semisweet chocolate baking bits
1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips
2 pieces black string licorice (each 34 inches long)


Heat oven to 350°F for shiny metal pans (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.

In large bowl, make cake mix as directed on box—except use 1 cup water, the oil and eggs. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Place 1 candy in top of batter for each cupcake (candies will sink as cupcakes bake).

Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Frost cupcakes with frosting. Cut 12-inch piece from 1 fruit snack roll; set aside. From remaining fruit snack, cut 24 (2-inch) pieces; cut crescent-shaped piece from each. Peel off paper backing; add 1 piece to each cupcake for top of kerchief.

Cut reserved fruit snack into 12 (1-inch) pieces; peel off paper backing. Cut each piece in half lengthwise. Twist each piece in middle; add to 1 end of crescent-shaped fruit snack on each cupcake, forming tie of kerchief. Add 1 piece of cereal under each tie for earring. Use baking bits, chocolate chips and licorice to make facial features and eye patches.

Source: Betty Crocker

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crockpot Shredded Chicken Tacos

Well, the hubby has been on quite a roll lately! That, or he just got tired of hinting around that he's been wanting to try chicken tacos, so he took matters into his own hands. I had to laugh when I saw the blog he found this recipe on--it's called "Building Camelot" and the blogger's slogan is "Helping men become better husbands and fathers". Hmmmmm.... (Rest assured...I'll be bookmarking this page for him, just in case he ever feels compelled to take some of this guy's advice!)

I'm not going to lie...Mexican food is not exactly my favorite food...kind of ironic since my husband is Hispanic, but I'm always open to trying everything at least once. I'm definitely more of a fan of "Americanized Mexican food" (ie: fajitas, quesdadillas, tacos, etc). My husband said that this was incredibly easy to throw together--another recipe that could be started at the beginning of the day and ready by dinnertime!

Crockpot Shredded Chicken Tacos

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 packet taco seasoning
16 ounces salsa
Flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or taco shells


Place the chopped onion and green pepper in the bottom of the crockpot. Place the chicken on top of the onions and peppers. Mix the taco seasoning with the salsa in a separate bowl and pour mixture over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hrs. Shred chicken in crockpot and serve on tortillas (or taco shells).

***Top with your favorite taco "toppings"...we used lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream. YUM!***

Source: Building Camelot

Olive Garden Style "Chicken con Broccoli"

I have never known my husband to order anything other than Chicken con Broccoli at Olive Garden--it's his absolute favorite! Over the years, we've attempted to duplicate it at home and have tried "copy cat" after "copy cat" versions of recipes, without any luck. My husband decided last night to improvise a bit and it was by far, the BEST "imitation" recipe...it comes very close to tasting just like Olive Garden's! (Of course we didn't get the unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks!) This would be an excellent dish to serve for company!

Chicken con Broccoli (Olive Garden Copy Cat Recipe)

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (pounded to 1/2 inch thickness)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
16 oz dry orecchiette pasta
1 pint heavy whipping cream
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 cups broccoli florets
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

*Spice Mixture*
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb seasoning
1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste


Combine ingredients from spice mixture. Rub onto the chicken breasts. Cook chicken in the olive oil until browned, set aside and keep warm.

Cook orecchiette pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until "almost" done. Drain, and return pasta to pot.

Stir butter or margarine, and garlic into a sauté pan. Cook until garlic caramelizes, then add the cream and the cornstarch on medium heat until it thickens to a sauce. Add broccoli and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes, before adding pasta. Add additional salt, if necessary.

Remove from heat. Place pasta and broccoli on plate and top with a chicken breast.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Marcus Guajardo

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oven Roasted Potato Wedges

By now, you've probably realized that it's not a huge secret that my family LOVES potatoes! It probably seems as if we eat them with every meal--well, actually, we likely do! I figured that I would make these potatoes to accompany the chicken that my husband grilled tonight. These would be delicious with most any beef, chicken, pork or fish dish--they have a relatively "delicate" flavor. I did sprinkle some Rosemary Garlic Seasoning in addition to all of the other spices the recipe called for. If you don't have this seasoning, you MUST purchase it the next time you're at Sam's Club...Costco may sell it, too! (It's one of those giant containers of seasoning, made by "Tones"). You can never have too much garlic :)

Oven Roasted Potato Wedges

4 unpeeled baking potatoes (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil or Canola Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cut potatoes lengthwise into wedges; place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with onion, garlic, rosemary, salt if desired and pepper; stir to coat. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 45-50 minutes or until tender, turning once.

Source: The Taste of Home Cookbook (New Revised Edition)

Meat Marinade

I'm getting ready to work 4-5 shifts in a row at the hospital, so I was looking for an easy dinner idea. What could possibly be an easier option than taking my husband up on his offer to grill when he got home from work?!? It's been threatening to rain all day, but I figured I'd take my chances and go ahead and marinate my chicken so it was ready to go as soon as he arrived home...assuming we weren't the midst of a downpour! Recently I came across a blog put together by five sisters, called "The Sister's Cafe". Being one of three sisters and adoring my own mother as much as they appear to adore theirs, I immediately became somewhat partial to their blog. The only suggestion I would make is to possibly consider marinating your meat overnight.

Meat Marinade

1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic (I used one small clove)


Mix well. Pour over meat, then let marinate for 6-8 hours in the fridge. (I made it the night before out of convenience, and I didn't think the flavor was too powerful). Good on meat, fish or chicken.

Source: The Sister's Cafe

Monday, March 9, 2009

Homemade Garlic and Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips

Who doesn't love potato chips...especially paired with their favorite sandwich?!? I really have been trying to be as conscientious as possible with my cooking and I'm proud to announce that my husband has lost over 20 lbs in the past 8 weeks...23 lbs to be exact :) I hate to sabotage his diet, so I was thrilled when I found this recipe. It comes from "Picky Palate" and I have been anxious to try some of her recipes. This seemed like the perfect opportunity, because I was wanting something to serve with my barbecue pork sandwiches. The chips were SO good...nice and crispy, just like we like them! We didn't mind the least bit that they didn't come from a bag :) Plus, I was SUPER excited to use my mandolin for the first time...talk about a "must have gadget"!!!

Homemade Garlic and Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips

2 large russet potatoes, washed, not peeled
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
few small pinches Kosher salt
small pinch Lawry’s Garlic Salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. With a mandolin on the thinnest blade or a sharp knife, slice potatoes into thin slices. Place sliced potatoes on paper towels to gently pat dry. With a pastry brush, very lightly brush the potatoes with extra virgin olive oil. Lightly sprinkle one side of the potatoes with kosher salt and garlic salt. Place seasoned side of potatoes down onto 2 large baking sheets that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray then do the same to the unseasoned side. Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and flip each potato. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. If you have one baking sheet on the bottom rack, it will brown a bit faster so watch closely.

Remove chips and place onto a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes to finish crisping, then serve.

(***Watch the chips very carefully when they're in the oven, because they burn pretty easily!***)

Source: Picky Palate

Barbecue Pulled Pork

Oh how I love the taste of BBQ pork! This is another perfect example of an easy recipe that can be thrown in the crock pot early in the day and ready by dinner time--actually, to say it is "easy" is an understatement! I think everyone is trying to be cautious in terms of spending lately and pork shoulder picnic roast is almost routinely on sale for $1-$1.19/lb. (Kroger had it for $.88/lb last week...it doesn't get much better than that!) My sister gave me this recipe several years back and I've yet to find anyone who didn't enjoy it. I have made this (and the Italian beef recipe, featured on my sister's blog: Delectable Dining) for countless family get-togethers and it's always a hit! You can certainly use your favorite BBQ sauce, but we HIGHLY recommend Sweet Baby Rays!

Barbecue Pulled Pork

4-5 lb Pork Shoulder Picnic Roast
1 cup water
Minced Garlic
Minced Onion
Onion Powder
Garlic Salt
1 Bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (we ONLY use Sweet Baby Rays!)

Place pork roast in crock pot (fat side up) with 1 cup of water. Sprinkle generously with minced garlic, minced onion, onion powder and garlic salt. Cook on low for 7 1/2 hrs. Remove excess fat from roast and drain the majority of the liquid. Shred the pork with two forks. Stir in your favorite BBQ sauce and continue cooking on low for 30 minutes...or long enough to warm the BBQ sauce. Serve on your favorite rolls!

Source: Sarah O'Brien

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I happen to think that the slow cooker is one of the greatest inventions EVER! It was one of the first appliances I bought when I moved out on my own and it's always been quite the lifesaver! Back when I was in nursing school, spending a great deal of time in the kitchen was in no way an option and now that I have two little ones, I'm finding it more and more difficult to find the time to cook big, elaborate meals. It's pretty darn convenient to throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot in the morning, only to have a savory meal at the end of the day! Today is one of those "lazy days"--my husband, the kids and I are all home together and while it would have been a good opportunity for me to have my husband watch the kids so I could cook, I thought it would be nice to spend the day together and not have to worry about taking time away to prepare dinner. We're all still battling this nasty virus, so I thought a nice "comfort food" like pot roast would taste good!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

5-6 medium potatoes (cut into cubes)
4 carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 large onion (cut into wedges)
(1) 4-5 lb roast (I typically go with chuck roast!)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 beef bouillon cubes
garlic salt
garlic powder
ground black pepper
2 bay leaves


Place potatoes and carrots in bottom of slow cooker; sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Place meat on top of potatoes and carrots. Sprinkle generously, garlic salt, garlic powder and pepper over meat and place onion wedges and bay leaves on top. Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and pour over meat. Cook on low for 8 hrs.

Source: Rachel vs. "The Kitchen" (Rachel Guajardo)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"The Smoked Sausage Dish"

It seems like everyone in our "neck of the woods" has been sick the past few weeks! My husband started with it last week and sure enough, so kindly passed it on to the kids and I---yeah...not fun! I'm kind of used to being the "caregiver" (both at home and with my occupation), but my husband has taken over this weekend and "babied" me a bit. (I hate to admit it, but it's kind of refreshing for a change!) Earlier today, I had the most bizarre craving--especially seeing as how NOTHING has sounded good the past couple of days! I nonchalantly mentioned to my husband that the "smoked sausage dish" sounded kind of good and to my surprise, he picked up all of the ingredients while he was out with my son this afternoon. (Can you say "brownie points?!?) All kidding aside...this is a dish that my Mom used to make when we were growing up and it was never really given an "official" name--we refer to it as "the smoked sausage dish" and everyone in my family knows exactly what we're talking about :) I remember growing up, my Mom used to saute all of the ingredients in a pan, which probably wasn't the most healthy, but more recently, she and my Dad began grilling it and personally, I LOVE it that way! I think I've made it pretty clear, just how picky my husband is, but he would honestly eat this once a week, if I made it--I think it's safe to say that it's one of his top three favorite recipes that I make! While I wish I could take credit for the delicious dinner we had tonight, it was all my husband's doing! I couldn't resist sharing the recipe, though, as it's a family favorite!

"The Smoked Sausage Dish"

2 packages smoked sausage (we prefer beef!)
2 large green peppers
2 large onions
2-3 tablespoons minced garlic


Cut smoked sausage into 2-3 inch chunks and place into lightly greased outdoor grill pan. Cut peppers and onions into bite-sized pieces/chunks and add to pan. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons minced garlic on mixture and toss to coat. Grill on medium fire until vegetables are tender.

***We recommend serving over mashed potatoes!!!***

Source: Adele Fine

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rosemary Asparagus

Asparagus is probably one of my favorite vegetables and I was really excited when my husband picked some up the other night. Yet again, I came across this recipe in my new cookbook--you can expect to see quite a few more to come, as I marked COUNTLESS recipes as I was flipping through it! I served the asparagus with my Teriyaki Chicken and it paired quite well with it. This is a very quick/easy recipe!

Rosemary Asparagus

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 to 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
1 garlic clove, halved
1 bay leaf
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


In a large skillet, combine the broth, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf. Add asparagus and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Discard bay leaf. Garnish with parsley.

Source: The Taste of Home Cookbook (New Revised Edition)

Teriyaki Chicken

By now, you've probably realized that my blog is not the blog to follow if you're looking for "presentation"! (Sorry again about the picture!) This was another recipe I found in my new Taste of Home cookbook and was it ever delicious! It reminded me alot of a dish served at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants (in terms of flavor). This would be a great easy weeknight meal--I would suggest allowing the chicken to marinate overnight and then you would just have to place it in a foil-lined pan and bake it the following evening. The flavor was outstanding and the chicken itself was very moist. The recipe called for drumsticks, but I tend to prefer thighs--the marinade would taste great with either one. Just make sure you allow a little extra cooking time for the thighs--I think it ended up taking a good 45-50 minutes.

Teriyaki Chicken

3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sherry, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
12 chicken drumsticks (4 ounces each)


In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, oil, brown sugar, sherry if desired, ginger and garlic powder;add drumsticks. Seal bag and turn to coat; cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight, turning occasionally.

Drain and discard marinade. Place chicken in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 35 to 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180° and juices run clear.

Source: The Taste of Home Cookbook (New Revised Edition)

Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese

First and foremost, please excuse my picture...it doesn't begin to do this sandwich justice! It was a bit messier than expected and began to fall apart! I recently ordered the newest Taste of Home cookbook from Amazon.com and was flipping through it last night when I came across this recipe. As soon as I saw it, I knew that the next day's lunch was a no-brainer! This is a wonderful spin on a classic grilled cheese sandwich, although it's quite a bit richer! I realized that I only had sliced swiss cheese, so I chose to use shredded cheddar as my second cheese, which accounts for why my sandwich was especially messy and difficult to photograph...although it tasted delicious! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese

2 slices wheat, rye or sourdough bread
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 slices white cheese (brick, Monterey Jack or Swiss)
2 slices yellow cheese (cheddar, pepper or taco)
1 red onion slice
1 tomato slice


For each slice of bread, spread cream cheese on one side and butter on the other. On one side of bread, with cream cheese side up, layer white cheese, yellow cheese, onion and tomato. Top with other slice of bread, cream cheese side down.

Toast sandwich for 2-3 minutes on each side or until bread is lightly browned. Remove from the heat; cover until cheese melts.

UPDATE (3/4/09): I made this sandwich again for lunch today, tweaking it a bit this time and enjoyed it even more! I had some leftover french bread, which I used instead of the types of bread suggested and I omitted the cream cheese. Even though the slices of french bread were smaller than a "normal" slice of bread, I found that the size was plenty large enough, seeing as how it is very rich!

Source: The Taste of Home Cookbook (New Revised Edition)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Buttercream Icing (Happy 1st Birthday Maddie!)

We celebrated my daughter, Madeline's 1st birthday this past Saturday and I had decided that I wanted to make cupcakes (in princess colors, of course!) and her own little "smash cake". I prefer the taste of buttercream frosting to the "whipped" frosting, but have never made it from scratch. I called my sister, Sarah, in a panic on Friday, desperately seeking a recipe and her dear friend, Christy, was so kind as to share her recipe with me. It was absolutely delicious--I received countless compliments! (Thanks, Christy!!!) My sister suggested that I use butter-flavored Crisco, which I was glad that I did, but just as an "FYI"...make sure you use regular Crisco if you are wanting a white base for your cake/cupcakes, as the butter Crisco definitely has a yellow hue! It also calls for butter-flavored extract, which I had never used, but it can either be found with all of the other spices or in the cake decorating section at most any store. (I found that the Wilton brand is a bit cheaper). I hope you enjoy the recipe! Happy Birthday to my dear little Maddie!!!

Buttercream Icing

1 cup Crisco
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon butter-flavored extract
2-3 Tablespoons water

Combine first four ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well. (I used my Kitchen Aid with the wire whisk, per Christy's advice and it worked really well!) Gradually add water until frosting is to desired consistency.

***I used the gel food coloring to tint my frosting!**

Source: Christy Ooley