Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Appetizers/Finger Food

This time of year usually means parties, family get togethers, church gatherings, and countless other reasons for you to have to come up with a quick, easy, and delicious finger food. My mom always use to fix 2 different dishes and the best part of them was that the sauces were totally interchangable with the meats. You could use which ever you liked best with whatever meat you liked. For me, that's a double win. Neither of these are your normal "finger" foods as you'd need a toothpick to eat them with but that's still a good thing for holiday parties. Just get yourself some super cute seasonal toothpicks and you can create an eye pleasing platter or dish of delicious, warm, yuminess.

First is my mom's meatballs. There's nothing super special about these. She use to spend hours slaving over making her own meatballs and while they were so incredibly delicious, that just doesn't fit into my busy hectic schedule. With that said, I've used frozen bagged meatballs and it's tasted just as good. The difference? The bagged meatballs are smaller and therefore, better for parties. This sauce she simply referred to as a Sweet and Spicy Chili sauce. It's really good and you can honestly use a ton of different meats with it. You can even experiment with using meatballs from meats other than beef. Chicken, turkey, bison, and pork. I've tried the pork and it was SOOOOO good!!! So here's the sauce recipe:

1 jar Chili Sauce (this can be found down the ketchup aisle and it's found in a glass bottle. Usually on the top shelf out of my reach...figures)
1 jar Grape Jelly (now here's the REALLY cool thing...I've experimented and used Blackberry Jelly, Strawberry Jelly, and Black Cherry Jelly and they all worked PERFECTLY and gave a sort of different twist. Be sure you use Jelly though and not preserves)
Chili Powder, Salt, and Pepper to taste

All you have to do is mix up the ingredients together, throw em in a crock pot, add the meatballs, and allow it to simmer on low until the meatballs are heated through. Vuala! Done!

Up next is my mom's Sweet and Sour Sauce. She would usually put Lil Smokies in this sauce (either plain, all beef, or all cheese...the cheese is my fav). Again, the meat can totally be tweaked to your liking. Use sausage slices (go for the oblong cut as it's visually more appealing), try chicken or turkey meatballs, or go for anything really. You can totally experiment. It's what makes cooking fun!!! This is again a SUPER easy recipe. Here's what you need:

Pineapple Juice
Apple Cider Vinegar
Dried Mustard

I usually put the smokies in a pot and then ALMOST cover them with the pineapple juice. Don't fully cover them or you'll have tons of sauce. Then add the vinegar, mustard, and paprika to your taste. I like a bit more vinegar in mine than others as I prefer the sour side over the sweet but not everyone is the same so find the proportions that work best for you!! Then just slowly simmer them on the stove over low heat for roughly an hour and BAM!!! YUMMY!! I like to put them in a dish that is sort of deep. So the sauce stays with the weiners. Then I just set a cup of toothpicks next to them and usually within minutes they're GONE!!!! I've never ever had ANY of these or the meatballs left over. I always have everyone begging for the recipes by the end of the night and I use to stay pretty tight lipped about the how to's on this. With my life getting incredibly hectic with a toddler, my own business, and the military aspect of it all I find these are the best things for all the get togethers we go to. I hope they're as big of a hit at your gatherings as they are at mine and have been!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce/Marinara

I've been asked for a long time for my Spaghetti Sauce recipe. To be entirely honest, I don't have a set written recipe for it. I made it up on my own out of my head. I have nothing more for the recipe than a list of ingredients. These can actually be tweaked to your liking. You can remove them, add others, etc. Here's the following list of ingredients.


Vinegar (can be either balsamic, red wine, or white wine. You can experiment and see which you like best)
EVOO (this is another ingredient that you can experiment with. You can try sweet almond oil, olive oil, peanut oil, apricot kernel oil...any number of vegetable oils)

Whole Pepperocini Peppers (how many you put in will depend on how much you're making, how spicy you want want it, and how much of a vinegar flavor you want)
Bell Pepper
Black Olives

All of the vegetables can be altered to your liking. You can experiment with adding different types of olives, different flavors of olives (marinated etc), and different types of peppers.

These are what I put in mine but are NOT necessary. I just love the taste of my sauce with cheese in it.

Spicy Italian Sausage
Sweet Italian Sausage
Ground Beef
Ground Lamb (especially delicious)
Ground Buffalo

For the base I use canned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce depending on it's use. For example: If I'm using it for spaghetti I use crushed tomatoes to help keep the sauce light and not as heavy/rich. For baked ziti or lasagna I use tomato sauce. If you prefer a thicker sauce across the board always use tomato sauce. You'll also want at least 1 can of petite diced tomatoes or 2-3 large fresh tomatoes diced small.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Drunken Shrimp

This is one of my favorite ways to make shrimp. It's a quick and easy marinade and all you have to do is let them soak for approximately 1-2 hours in the fridge then skewer and grill.

2lbs raw shrimp (I buy them with the shell on but I deshell them and devein them)
1cup tequila
1cup water
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
~1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1tbsp minced garlic
1tbsp chopped cilantro (I couldn't find fresh so I used some dried)

First you want to mix all your marinade ingredients in a tupperware container. It needs to be a container that you can seal up tight. Next, shell the shrimp and devein them. You want the tails off as well so you don't have to get all messy when eating them. After your shrimp are cleaned and prepared put them into the container with the marinade, seal, and shake vigerously. This will help to ensure each shrimp is evenly coated with the cilantro and that they've all settled into the sauce.

Refridgerate for at least 1-2 hours. I typically let them sit for about 2-3. Then skewer and place on a hot grill until pink.

You can serve these anyway you want really. You can put them in tacos, serve them as fajitas with some sauteed peppers and onions, use them in burrito bowls, or eat them as is served with a side of spanish rice and beans.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Momma's Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

These are a favorite of mine any time of the year but my fondest memories of them come from the fall. My mom would always bake these for us constantly between Halloween and Christmas.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margerine, softened (I use salted sweet cream butter out of personal preference but my mom use to use the butter flavored margarine)
1 cup white sugar
1 15oz can of Pumpkin (or equal amount of fresh, cooked, purred pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dates or raisins (this is a personal preference)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

(all spices can be replaced by using 1-1.5 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice but I never buy it because I keep the other spices on hand at all times anyways)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Beat in baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Gradually beat in the flower a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in dates and nuts.

Drop by large spoonfulls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to turn a beautiful golden color. Cool on baking sheet for roughly 2 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Feel free to play with the ingredients a bit. Omit the ginger if you don't like ginger. Use raisins instead of dates. You can even substitute pecans for the walnuts. It's all a personal preference.

Green Chile Chicken

Tonight I threw together something super quick and easy for dinner. This is a must try for anyone who loves mexican flavors!!

1 16oz jar salsa verde (or 16oz of homemade)
1 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2tsp minced garlic
1 tsp capers
1 whole green chile/jalapeno/serrano diced
juice from 1 whole lime
1 cup water
2.5lbs bonless skinless chicken breasts (you can also use 2.5lbs of pork shoulder)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the salsa, tomatoes, minced garlic, capers, lime juice, and diced chile of your choice. You can use whatever suites your taste as long as it's a green pepper. Mix together well.

Place chicken in crock pot (I used them straight out of the freezer but you can defrost them if you like. It will cut the cook time down by half) and cover with mixture. Spread it out evenly over the top of the chicken.

Pour water over top so it just barely covers the chicken (if you're using a larger crock pot you might need more water and vice versa). Allow to cook on high heat for 5-6 hours or low heat for 8-10.

Place breast over top of white rice and cover with a generous helping of the "sauce" and enjoy!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Testing a new marinade

At the store today I was looking for something to help me spice up my routine for my chicken. I use all sorts of different herbs and I'm always mixing and matching but I wanted something new. I picked up this stuff by Lea & Perens. It's specifically for Chicken. Just says "Chicken Marinade" on the front. It's a white wine and herb sauce made to marinade chicken with. (If you don't know who that company is they are a big seller of Wisteshire sauce)

I'm currently cooking my chicken that I marinaded for 30 minutes. I'm so excited. I'll let you all know how it turns out but from a pre-cook finger taste test it's pretty yummy!!! :)

So super excited

So I wanted to start out by apologizing for my absence. I've been doing pretty good with making sure to post at least 1 recipe a week at minimum but I really have slacked this week. My husband has been gone for a week and 2 days today and it's been a rough week for me. This isn't a super long underway...the longest so far this year but nothing massive. But for some reason I'm taking this one the hardest. I think a lot of it has to do with everything that's been going on.

A little background for you the last friday my husband was home for (so 2 weeks ago yesterday) I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth extracted at once. It was awful. I ended up developing dry socket and just in a hot mess of pain. Literally the day I get over the dry socket I had to go back in to have 2 fillings done at once. My dentist was a little rough with it and I have batteled a migraine for 2 days now. So far so good today and I ate my first REAL meal in 2 weeks. Sausages. It was glorious.

I guess that's also a big factor as to why I haven't posted. I have not only not felt like eating but not been able to eat. I've just been in so much pain. But now that I'm feeling better I'm super excited about putting up some new recipes for you all. At the grocery store today I picked up 2 magazines to help give me some inspiration and even possibly give me some new recipes. I grabbed the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest magazine titled "Best Comfort Food". I'm ALLLLLL about some comfort food. I figured this one would be more for inspiring me. Help me have some new brainstorms. Get me hungry and in the mood to cook and experiment.

The second I picked up is by Taste of Home. It's strictly a casseroles magazine. Now I'd like to interject that this is the first time EVER in my life that I've bought magazines to help inspire me. I never use recipes but I have seemed to flat line lately on my creative spark and haven't had the motivation to test new things out. I figured this would give my battery the jump start it needed. The Casseroles one is mostly for my husband. He loves casseroles. I don't make many but I really should start since he doesn't eat many vegetables. This could be a way to incorporate veggies into our meals for me and meat for him without having to fix 10 different things and put them together. I can put them together THEN cook. hehe.

So I plan to flip through the 2 magazines tonight while I veg on the sofa with a glass of my Scuppernog wine (mmmmmmmm). I'll make some notes of the things I notice that look note worthy. I'll come back and let you all know what I've found and what it's helped me to come up with. After that if there are any precise recipes I try out I'll review them for you all and tell you if I added any other things to it and how to do it just right and everything. So keep your eyes peeled for lots of new things coming soon. I'm super excited!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Salmon Crab Cakes

1/3-1/2 cup of Yellow Corn Meal (depends on how much filler you like and you can use italian bread crumbs instead)
1 can of white crab meat
1 can of Bumble Bee boneless skinless pink salmon
pinch each of salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp onion powdery
1/2 tsp of garlic powder (or 1/4 tsp minced garlic)
1 egg

I just combined everything in a bowl, mixed it with a spoon. Then spooned the mixture into my hand.

I cooked the cakes over medium heat in a skillet for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Just long enough to brown them.

Then I popped em into a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes and finished the cooking process. There's not a whole lot of "cooking" persay other than the egg and cornmeal. You can substitue bread crumbs. That's totally acceptable.

I've got pictures of the step by step process that I PROMISE I'll upload tonight. I swear. I really will!!! As well as some pics of other things.

As for sauces. This is GREAT with ketchup. Like that's all I use. But you can use cocktail sauce, tarter sauce, or anything else of the likes. It's also SUPERB drizzled with a garlic bechamel sauce. I like to put them over a bed of lettuce and fresh sliced tomato when I do the bechamel sauce though. Makes it SOOOOO good!!!

Cajun Crab and Shrimp Dip

This has become a favorite of my husbands. I hadn't made it in a very long time and decided to whip some up for our very small Mardis Gras party we threw. It was a hit and my husband even requested I make it for him before he left to spend 3 weeks on his ship in the middle of the ocean. It's super easy and SOOOOOO yummy.

1 container of whipped Cream Cheese
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 6oz can of white crab meat drained completely
1 4oz can of tiny shrimp again drained completely (it says 4oz is the dry weight on the front)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cheyenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of salt
1 handfull of shredded cheddar cheese

So start out by making sure that you're crab meat and shrimp are drained well from the juices of the cans. Otherwise you'll end up with an overpowering fishy flavor. I like to line my collander with paper towels and after I've used the lid of the can to drain most of the liquid off I then put both into the collander to continue draining while I mix the other ingredients.

Now in a small bowl place your whipped cream cheese and stir in the cream. (If you prefer to do it you can whip it yourself. Just a container of cream cheese and slowly add 1-2 tbsps of cream and whip with a wire attachment on a stand mixer or wire attachments for a hand mixer.) After you've mixed in the cream (this helps to think it a tad) slowly start to mix in your spices. I do this 1 at a time so that I can ensure even distribution of all the spices. I use a plastic spatula to mix the spices in.

Once your spices are in you can now mix in the cheese. Once all the cheese is mixed in and distributed evenly add your crab and shrimp. Now with this part you want to fold them into the mixture as to not break down the shrimp too much. You still want that chunky shrimp together.

Once it's all mixed together you're ready to go. It's better the longer you allow it to sit in the fridge but 1 hour is sufficient if you're unable to prepare this up the night before. This mixture is super tasty on top of ritz crackers or even clubs. But try out all sorts of different crackers. You never know which will be your favorite. You can also warm it and serve it as a hot crab dip and place it on top of warm pita points or on crostinies (small round pieces of hard bread) brushed with an oregano garlic oil mixture. It's super delicious and perfect for just about any occasion.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Caramel Apple Topping

This is a favorite of mine to use for a variety of things. The base for this dish is exactly how I make my apple pies. I of course used sliced apples instead of dicing them and I just pour the "sauce" over the apples once they're in the pie shell. I also use the sauce base for my sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. Just add some nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger to the sauce base and pour over diced sweet potatoes and cover with a brown sugar pecan crumble. You can also bake the sweet potatoes and then add an egg and this sauce and mash. Then cover with the same topping and you have a soufle instead. You can also drizzle it over a baked sweet potato for a yummy dinner side instead. It's just versitle and can be used in so many ways.

2.5 cups butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp white sugar

Start by melting your butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it's melted but before it boils add the cinnamon and vanilla. Then slowly whisk in your brown sugar a 1/3 of a cup at a time. Then whisk in your white sugar. Bring to a soft boil over medium heat. You now have your base which can be used as described above.

Now to make it a cinnamon apple topping. You'll need 3 apples diced to bite size pieces. I used Fuji apples but you can use any your heart desires. Once your base reaches a boil add your apples and stir well. It may look like a lot of apples but they cook down so it'll be ok.

Now turn the heat down to a lower setting and allow to return to a soft boil. Once the mixture begins to boil turn the heat all the way down to the lowest setting. Allow it to simmer until the apples cook through and are soft and reduced in size. Then remove it from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool before placing it in a tupperware container. Refrigerate over night to allow the mixture to cool completely and thicken.

Once it's thickened you can use this to top french toast or pancakes. It's also good used on top of ice cream or cheesecake.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


So I know this blog is more a project for me to write down all of my recipes in one place so I can make a cookbook for my daughter but I wanted to let all of my readers (yes all 16 of you) know that you can put in suggestions. If there's a recipe you'd like me to put up of something or you hear me make something and want the recipe here just let me know. You can do so by leaving a comment here and I'll try to start adding the recipes here. The more recipes I can add and do the more I can add to my book for Arianna. So feel free to leave all the suggestions you want for recipes you'd like to see posted up. Also, I wanted to let you know that you are free to leave feedback on my recipes. Negative or positive feel free to leave it. If you try a variation of the recipe or change something don't hesitate to leave that in the comment so others can try it out and see if they like it!! I love hearing people's opinions on my recipes and what variations they do. It makes it interesting.

Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

Gumbo is one of my favorite feel good meals. Kinda like chicken noodle for most people it's my comfort meal. Still recovering from my wisdom teeth I decided to make it for dinner tonight. (Omitting the rice from my bowl because I didn't want to take a chance of it getting into the holes)

1 small white onion diced
1 large bell pepper diced
3 links of andouille sausage sliced
1 cup sliced okra (you can use frozen)
1 can of diced tomatoes drained
4 cups of chicken broth (I use 4 cups of water with 4 bullion cubes dissolved into it)
12oz of 70/90 shrimp frozen pre-cooked
1 bag of instant rice cooked
1/4 tsp of each: salt, paprika, chili powder, chopped bay leaves
1/2 tsp of each: black pepper, basil, and cumin
1/8 tsp Cheyenne pepper

You'll want to start by getting all your ingredients together and ready to go because a few of the beginning steps move quickly. This will help you move quickly and avoid burning anything.

Start by heating a large pot over medium heat. Then toss in your sliced andouille sausage and allow to cook for 3 minutes roughly until they start to brown up. Then stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

Now add your onions and peppers and spices and stir together. Allow this mixture to cook for 5 minutes. Then stir in your tomatoes and allow to simmer for another 4 minutes.

Now you want to turn down your heat to medium low and stir in your okra. Allow it too cook for another 5 minutes then stir in your chicken broth (or water with bullion cubes as I did). Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes.

By this time all the veggies have cooked and absorbed the flavors and your broth has a nice dark color to it. This is why I do it all in 1 pot (you can use a dutch oven and the results are better but alas...I don't own one. YET). Now you can stir in your rice and shrimp at the same time and turn down your heat to low.

Simmer all of this together for 5-8 minutes or until the shrimp are heated well. I use cooked shrimp so it's just a matter of heating the shrimp up. If you prefer to use fresh uncooked shrimp then here's how you'd do it starting after you add your broth.

Stir in your Shrimp ONLY. No rice. Turn your heat to low and allow the mixture to cook until your shrimp are pink. Then stir in your rice and simmer for 4-5 minutes on low heat so your rice can absorb the flavors.

And that's all there is to it. Now just scoop and serve. If you'd like you can make a stickier rice and instead of mixing it into the gumbo you can scoop it with an ice cream scoop and serve it on top of the gumbo. This makes for a pretty presentation if you're trying to wow guests. :)

(special note: this is for a milder version. I toned down the amount of Cheyenne to make the recipe milder for those with a less tolerant tounge. If you prefer spicier food you can use 1/4 tsp or even more but be careful and slowly increase the amount making sure to taste test after each addition.)

Spiced French Toast

For breakfast today I decided to make French Toast. I had my wisdom teeth extracted on friday and thanks to a VERY stiff and sore jaw chewing is nearly impossible. I figured french toast would be soft and filling so I went with that. There was still a bit of the strawberry compote I made for Vday left over so I figured I'd top hubby's with that. Since I had to eat mine plain I wanted it to have lots of flavor. So here's the spiced recipe I came up with. This is SOOOOOO delicious.

3 Tbsp. heavy cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

(this makes enough for 5 slices of french toast)

In a bowl combine your eggs and heavy cream and whip them until frothy with a wire whisk (or your whisk attachment for your stand mixer on low speed).

Once your eggs and cream are combined whip in the vanilla extract. Then add all the dry spices to your mixture. Evenly coat your bread slices with the egg mixture. You'll have to whisk the mixture in between slices of bread to keep the spices evenly distributed.

Then simply cook your toast for 2-3 minutes on a griddle or in a skillet heated over medium heat. Vuala!!

The strawberry compote topping was a HUGE hit with my husband! That's seriously one of his favorite breakfast items (french toast with strawberries). You can also top it with a spiced whipped cream (I'll have to post the recipe for this later on but I'll link to it here when it's posted), the mascarpone whipped topping, or just syrup. The fruit compotes are a great topping though as you don't even need syrup when using them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Red Robin's Campfire Sauce

I'll be the first to admit that I'm absolutely ADDICTED to Red Robin's fries. I no lie will eat the whole basket of fries and order a second before I even touch my burger. Not only is their seasoning for the top of them delicious but the campfire sauce is EXTRODINARY to dip them in. So last night at Red Robin I decided to quench my thirst for knowledge and end the great debate. I asked our waitress if it was mayo or ranch that the BBQ sauce was mixed with to make this spectacular sauce. And go's ranch. Well since I had some fries left over from my meal last night I set out to tackle the sauce and replicate it to the best of my ability. So here's the ratios I used.

1 part BBQ sauce to 2 parts Ranch. I used peppercorn ranch for that extra spiciness and kick and I also added about a 1/4 tsp of Texas Pete to really give it that spicyness that Red Robin's has. Be sure to use Hickory BBQ sauce as you want that smokey flavor from the Hickory. You can eat it right away no problem but I suggest letting it sit in the fridge and mellow for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweet Strawberry Compote

Today is Valentines day and I feel that this recipe is keeping with the feel of the holiday. For my husbands big gift I told him that he could pick ANYTHING he wanted and I'd make it for him. Absolutely anything...including desert! Those that know me know I'm not exactly the baking type. I am truely trying to learn but it's definetly not my strong point right now. Well my husband chose steamed fresh asparagus with hollandaise sauce and Lemon Herb Swordfish steaks. For desert he chose a no-bake cheesecake. He wanted the boxed kind so I was happy to oblige him. He saw the strawberry kind and I stopped him before he picked it up. I told him to get the regular and told him I'd make him a nice made from scratch strawberry compote to top it with. So I whipped this little bad boy up (my first time EVER making a compote let alone coming up with a complete recipe of my own without even looking at any recipes online for inspiration). So here it is in all it's delicious glory. I must throw in a warning that this might be bad for health. It's dangerous. Once you have some you'll put it on EVERYTHING and not want to stop eating the spoon. So you might wanna make a double batch just to ensure that there's enough for the intended desert. teehee

2 cup of fresh diced strawberries (please...whatever you do...DON'T use frozen. Just go with it here ok)
1 cup of sweet red wine (I used a sweet red muscadine wine...but I'm from the south and literally have it running through my veins haha)
1/2 cup of sugar
1tbsp concentrated lime juice

In a small sauce pan heat up your wine over medium-low heat. Once it's heated (not boiling...just starting to steam) stir in your sugar and allow it to dissolve.

Once the sugar is fully dissolved mix in the lime juice and the strawberries. Stir it once to mix it all together. Now here's the hard part....walk away. Do it. Stop standing over the pot taste testing it. I know it's yummy...but walk away before you eat it all.

Allow the mixture to simmer over low heat. You want a sort of soft boil to happen. This will reduce the wine and thusly result in a delicious thick syrupy sauce. You can check it every so often and stir it gently but don't hover. Remember...a watched pot never boils and strawberry compote never makes it to the table if you hover. HAHA.

I'd say to let it simmer about 15-20 minutes. Maybe a little less. When it starts to thicken you can remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. The cooling process will allow it to thicken further. Once you have your mixture all cooked you can start topping things with it. It's great over cheescake. I like to put any sort of fruit compote in a bowl and top it with my mascarpone and cream cheese mixture. It's good drizzled over the top of ice cream as well...or even a delicious cupcake or cookie. You can find the Whipped Mascarpone and Cream Cheese topping recipe here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dirty Rice

This is one of my all time favorite side dishes for just about anything. It goes really well with pork and chicken though. Remember that the spicy spices (chili powder and cheyenne pepper) are low. I use a tiny bit more....but I'd start with a pinch of each and then add a pinch more to acquire the temperature you prefer for spiciness.

1 bag of minute rice cooked(yes I'm lazy and use harm)
1 cup of water
1 chicken bullion cube
2 tbsp flour
3 links of Andouille Sausage diced
1/2 large onion diced
1/4 tsp Cheyenne
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
pinch Salt
1tsp pinch Pepper
1tsp dried Basil
Crushed Bay leaves
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp celery seeds

Heat your pot over medium heat. I use 1 pot for this as you want the flavors that are left in the bottom of the pan to properly season your rice. Once the pot is heated up add your sausage.

Cook for 5-6 minutes and then add your onion and spices. Cook until the onions are transparent and soft.

Now in a seperate container (I use my glass measuring cup) add the bullion cub and flour to the water. Make sure it's hot water so it can dissolve the cube and flour. Mix it well with a wire whisk.

Pour your water mixture into the pot where the onions and sausage are. Stir it frequently and allow it to simmer on low heat for about 2-3 minutes. You want it to start to thicken up. The water should instantly turn to a dark color thanks to the yumminess at the bottom of the pot.

Once the water starts to thicken and is heated through add your rice. Make sure the temperature of the eye is turned down really low. I use the lowest setting possible on my stove. And allow it to simmer stirring it frequently (I pretty much stand over it and stir it the whole time) until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. This should only take a few minutes.

Vuala....delicious dirty rice. You can substitute regular southern style breakfast sausage if you prefer. (DO NOT...I repeat do NOT use maple flavored sausage. It's just gross. A mild or spicy southern style works best. Remember that if you use spicy and you aren't accustomed to spicy may want to adjust the amount of pepper spices you use.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fried White Hominy

Hominy is one of my all time favorites. It's probably the southern woman in me that loves this dish. Pan fried is by far my FAVORITE way to eat it.

1 can White hominy
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp Adobo
1 tsp Pepper

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and allow to melt.

Add in the spices to the butter as it's melting. This will flavor the butter which will then flavor your hominy. :)

Add the hominy once your butter is hot and allow to cook on medium-low heat until popping. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally or else you'll end up with it popping back in your face.

Cornish Hen

I would have to say that Cornish Hen is one of my all time favorite meats. Then again...I pretty much love poultry all together. I could live off of just poultry and seafood as my only sources of meat. If only my husband wasn't such a red meat lover. HAHA. So I picked up a cornish hen to fix myself and it turned out AMAZINGLY well. Here's the recipe for your culinary pleasures.

1 hen (I use to make 1 per person but I couldn't even eat half of one myself last night)
Celery Seed
Butter (REAL butter...not country crook imitation or any of that kinda "fake" butter)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Now take your hen and rinse it in the sink. I like to do this just to get the "juices" off and to make the surface moist to allow the herbs to stick.

Place the hen in a shallow roasting pan. Take your spices and combine in a bowl. I'd say a generous pinch of each (about 1/4-1/2 tsp). Sprinkle the mixture all over the top of the hen. Covering the entire breast, outside of the wings, and tops of the drumsticks.

Now you want to fill the cavity of the Hen. Absolutely fill it. I used roughly 3-4 tbsp of butter. But don't worry about measurments....just fill it. Trust me on this one. It'll keep the meat moist from the inside out. Then place about 3 tbsp's around the outside of the hen in the dish.

Once the oven is heated place the roasting pan with hen inside the oven WITHOUT a cover. This is CRUCIAL to crisping the skin. Just do it!

Now you want to take a small bowl while the hen is in the oven and melt a ton of butter in it. About 1- 1 1/2 cups of butter. This you'll use for basting the hen.

Roast the bird for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes. Checking it every 20-30 minutes and basting it. Roast it until the internal temperature is 180 degrees at the thickest part (the breast is generally the thickest).

After it's reached the required temperature remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes. Then slice and serve!! Your taste buds will thank you. teehee

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Basic French Toast

This has to be one of my ALLLL time favorite Breakfast items. I could eat it for just about any meal at least once a week and never tire of it. It's one of those dishes that you can do sooooooo much with and change it for your likings. You can make it sweet or savory, stuff it with things, top it with just about anything, and even just eat it plain (which is my personal favorite).

2 Eggs
3 slices of STALE bread (the stale is important ;))
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp heavy cream

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat with just a small amount of butter (you can skip the butter if you have a nonstick surface).

In a large bowl you want to combine all of your ingredients except the bread. Using a whisk (or a stand mixer - my personal fav) whip all of your ingredients minus the bread of course. Whip it until it's combined well and foams just a little. This will make for a light fluffy mixture and make a better texture for the bread.

Now I typically transfer the egg mixture to a shallow tupperware container the size of a piece of bread. If you have a deep plate or small baking dish those will work as well. Now take your bread and lay it into the egg mixture. Give it about 5-10 seconds to soak up the egg mixture. Flip and repeat.

Transfer the bread to your warm griddle or frying pan. Now let it sit and cook without touching it for roughly 5 minutes. Now let me explain that using a medium heated surface allows the bread to really cook and keeps the middle from being soggy but it doesn't burn the outside surface. After letting the 1 side cook until it's golden brown flip to the other side and repeat. I use a skillet large enough to cook 3 pieces of bread at a time. But if you don't have one large enough then you can cook them 1 at a time.

Some things I like to use for my french toast are as follows:
Fruit compotes
my whipped topping recipe that's posted
nutella (put it between 2 slices SOOOOOO good)
Drizzled with hot fudge
cinnamon sugar
Bannanas (not a personal favorite cause I can't eat them but I hear it's good)
Fried Plantains

Whipped Mascarpone and Cream Cheese topping

This topping is absolutely superb!! It goes well with a long list of things. Fresh fruit is what I put it on top of but you can also top your French Toast with it, top cobblers and pies with it, and even use it to top a yummy sundae.

4oz Mascarpone Cheese
4oz Whipped Cream Cheese (I just buy the container of pre whipped stuff)
2 tbsp Heavy Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2-4 Tbsp Sugar

First you want to whip the 2 cheeses together. I like to do this before adding the spices and sugar because it makes it easier to mix them in. So I use a small mixing bowl and a wire whisk. You can also use a whisk attachment and a stand mixer or if you have a wire whisk attachment for your hand mixer that will work as well. Place your heavy cream, mascarpone, and cream cheese into a bowl and whisk vigerously with the wire whisk. Once you have whipped the items you can then whip in the vanilla extract.

*Note* If you're using a stand mixer you can use the 2-3 speed setting (I have a kitchenaid and this is the setting I'd use)

Now you can mix in your dry spices. Using a spatula I like to fold the cinnamon and nutmeg into the mixture. It ensures that you're not over mixing the ingredients.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cajun Seared Sirloin Tip Steaks

My husband is home for the weekend so I figured I'd make steaks tonight for dinner since he LOOOOOVES a good steak. So I opted for some Cajun Seared steaks with some dirty rice. Here's the recipe for the spice rub I use. Remember to make the measurments your own. These are only starting grounds!!

A pinch of each of these spices:
Black pepper
crushed Bay leaves

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place a cookie sheet (light works best) into the oven and allow it to slowly heat up with the oven. This is cruical for finishing your steak. You'll want to heat your skillet over medium heat.

Take your steak and lay it out on a flat surface. A cutting board works nicely for this. Take a little liquid smoke and shake a tiny bit onto the outside of the one side of the steak. A couple of drops will work. It's easy to overdo it so be gentle with it. After the liquid smoke is on it take your spices and put a pinch of each of the spices generously over the top of the steak. Be generous with your pinches.

After 1 side is coated with your spices place it into a skillet that's been heated over medium high heat. Repeat the process for the other side and DO NOT touch the steak. Absolutely don't touch it. This is cruical to the browning process and the locking in of the juices.

After 5-6 minutes turn your steak. Let it cook for another 5-6 minutes on the other side. For a more well done steak and a more browned steak you can leave it for 6-7 minutes.

Now take your steak and place it onto the cookie sheet that's in the oven. Here's where you'll finish the cooking process. I personally have to have a very well done steak for medical reasons. If you like a more rare steak you can totally skip this step all together. Taking it straight from the pan will give you a Medium-Rare steak. I let mine cook for about 20 - 30 minutes in the oven.

Now let it rest for 5 minutes before serving it. Remember that it will cook more during the resting process :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was at the commissary yesterday wandering around trying to get inspired on what to cook and I came across marscarpone cheese. I've never worked with it before but I've had it a couple of times. I got super excited and decided I wanted to try it out and do a dish with it. I picked up all sorts of fresh fruits and some cream cheese and decided I want to make a whipped marscarpone and cream cheese topping for the fruit. I'm so super excited about it.

After doing some searching for some good recipes to inspire me I found an interesting fact that I never new before. Mascarpone is actually used in making Tiramisu. I never knew that before today. Mostly because I'm not a tiramisu person...I just don't typically eat sweets and it's a little sweet for me. I've never tried to make it before either since my husband is the only one who would eat the stuff. It's interesting how you can learn new things everyday. Especially when it comes to cooking.

The fruits I picked up include raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, some peaches, and a couple of GORGEOUS pears. I'm going to put the peaches and pears together and the berries together. Maybe throw some pears in with the berries? Not too sure yet but I'm super excited about this. I'll let you all know how it goes and post the recipe when I'm done. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cucumber and Dill sour cream dressing

So the husband isn't home right now so that means my culinary skills get to run wild. I am a HUGE fan of wraps. I think it's a delicious meal and a great dinner. Tonight I made turkey wraps with arugula and goat cheese. The dressing I made was a delicious cucumber and dill sauce. It's much like the greek sauce you find on Gyro's except instead of yogurt I used sour cream. Here's the basic recipe:

1/4 of a cucumber peeled and cubbed
Small container of Sour Cream (I use the smallest and light as a healthy alternative)
3 sprigs of fresh Dill
pinch of salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. The longer it sets the better the flavor though.

For alternatives try celery instead of cucumber, celery seeds, paprika, garlic powder, and/or fennel seeds crushed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lime Cilantro Chicken

So I'm at home for dinner tonight. I really didn't want to make a huge dinner tonight so I thought about something I could make for just me. So I came up with Lime Cilantro chicken for 1. This recipe is for just 1 chicken breast so remember that when you make it.

1/2 tsp Adobo
1 large pinch fresh cilatnro
pinch salt & pepper
1 tsp concentrated lime juice or juice from half a fresh lime

I placed the chicken breast in a frying pan with roughly a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. I then drizzled the chicken breast on both sides with the lime juice and then sprinkled the dry seasonings on top. I placed the cilantro under the chicken breast (between the pan and chicken breast). I then cooked each side for about 8 minutes. The breast was small that I cooked so remember that for a thicker breast you'll need more time. After the 1 side is cooked I then threw the charred cilantro out and let the other side cook. I let it rest for a minute before plating it as well. :)

For sides I pared it with some steamed squash with a garlic herb butter and some pasta salad (my trusty fall back side dish).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Spice Rack

So since a bunch of my friends are following this blog as a way to learn how to cook I figured I'd make a post about spices. This is my biggest thing when cooking. I rely a lot on spices and love to play with flavors. My foods typically have complex flavors and are big and bold. My moto is kinda Go big or Go Home when it comes to flavors. But you also have to remember that there IS such a thing as too much when it comes to spices.

One rule I learned early on with spices is to always start small. Start with a 1/2 to 1/4 teaspoon of any spice you use. Mix it in. Taste the food. If it isn't enough add a little more by the same incriments. I always do this when making dishes. A lot of the times my food won't taste the same. I can make the exact same dish 2 different times and it'll be just a tiny bit different every time. Mostly because my mood is different. Maybe one day I want a spicier dish. The next I may want a milder flavor. It really is all a personal preference.

Every cook has what they consider to be the basics when it comes to spices. These are the spices that you love the most and you have to purchase the most often. Here is my list of my basic necessities when it comes to spices. Remember that these are my personal preference and you can always omit one if you don't like or add others but I like to think that these are some of the more basic spices that are used the most. I'll first list my basics that I think every cook should have in the cupboard. Then I'll list the more specific ones that I tend to use more of.


Chili Powder
Turmeric (big in Indian and Spanish foods)
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

That's pretty much the spices I try to never run out of. There are of course fresh herbs that I like to use and never run out of as well. Those include chives and sage. Parsley and Cilantro are ones that I prefer to use fresh but dried always works good if you don't use them quite as often. I have found that a good trick for my fresh herbs is that when I buy a bushel of them I chop them up straight away. I then put them in a small air tight tupperware container and freeze them. This locks in the flavor and keeps them fresher longer. I learned this trick early on and it has helped me a great deal to keep my herbs fresh.

Gluten Free Diet

So my daughter had to go to the ER about a week and a half ago because of a rash. We couldn't figure out why she had a rash and she wasn't acting any different. We sat down and thought about all the foods she had eaten and the frequency of it as well as how it effected the rash. The rash slowly got worse over a 3 day period and the only common thing in her diet over those 3 days was pasta. So the ER doctor thought that maybe it was a gluten allergy and had us stop all gluten.

After 2 days of a completely gluten free diet the rash was completely gone. I then introduced just a small amount by way of 2 bites of a cookie. The rash came back. Confirming until she can see an allergist that we think it's a mild gluten allergy. So being the good mommy I am I set out to conquer the gluten free diet.

After doing research on what all things contain gluten and what to avoid I was shocked. You wouldn't believe all the things that contain gluten. First there are the obvious...cookies, cake, pasta, bread, pie, and oatmeal. Then there are the things you don't think about. Malt contains gluten so things like malts and malted milk balls are out of the question. Most oats and what you would consider the typical "starches" contain gluten.

The only "grains" she can eat are rice and corn. After thinking about it I'm glad to announce that I am no longer scared of a gluten free diet. We're going to tackle this bad boy head on and I'm going to expand my culinary skills to include a gluten free diet. My daughter will be 1 in March and knowing that cake contains wheat flour I thought it'd be a bit of a tackle finding a baker that would do a gluten free cake for her. After searching for local bakers I sent out a slew of emails. I was pleased to find that the first baker I contacted indeed did gluten free cakes. So we ordered her birthday cake and a smash cake from her. The smash cake will be the only gluten free one but I figured I'd go ahead and order the regular cake as well. I'm so excited about her cake.

Being the curious person I am though I thought to myself "I wonder if I can make a gluten free cake". I figured it can't be any different from making a regular cake right? The tackle for me however is that I am not a baker. I love to cook. I can stand in the kitchen all day long and enjoy every bit of hit. However baking isn't my forte. But with a daughter who may have a gluten allergy I'm going to have to get use to it and learn how to bake. And not just regular baking at that....gluten free baking. I want my daughter to be able to experience all the yummy foods that are out there. Including things like pancakes, waffles, cookies, cake, bread, muffins, and all the other kid friendly baked goods. What kid doesn't love a mom who bakes them fresh cookies right? So that is my new goal for the year.

I'm going to search high and low until I find a gluten free flour and then I'm going to start baking up a storm. I'm going to learn to make homemade muffins. How to make a cake from scratch. Cookies that are gluten free. Because of this I'd like to issue an apology and forewarning to the men who work with my husband. Watch out cause I'm gonna be baking up a storm and guess where I'm sending all these cookies, muffins, and cakes when I'm done? YOUR WAY!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad to me is one of those SUPER easy and quick sides you can make that go with just about ANY meal. I personally love pasta salad so much that I'll even eat it as a light lunch or a dinner. HAHA. It's no lie one of my favorite foods but I really don't like any that you find premade at the stores or restaurants. I like to make my own. It's taken me many years to perfect the dressing and lots of experimenting to figure out what were the best additives. But after all that experimenting I now know the exact perfect mixture for my own pasta salad.

For the dressing remember that it's basically a vinegrette dressing. A good rule of thumb for making vinegrette is a 2:1 ration of oil:vinegar. That's how most vinegrettes are. I personally prefer a more "sour" dressing so I make my 2:1 vinegar:oil instead. You can experiment with the ratio and find your own perfect balance but I do suggest starting with a 2:1 ratio. As far as the type of oil I suggest only ever using EVOO. For the vinegar though this is a personal prefernce. I like to use 1.5 parts White Distilled and .5 parts apple cider. Other good vinegars are Balsamic Vinegar, Raspberry Vinegar, Red Whine Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, and just about any sort of "flavored" vinegar out there. Ones that might not make a very good vinegar would include Malt Vinegar and Rice Vinegar. Rice Wine Vinegar would be a personal preference sort of thing.

Once you have your base for your dressing figured out you then get to start playing with spices and herbs. Here's a list of the spices that I find are good:
Onion Powder

Once you figure out the type of herbs you like in yours then comes the fun part!! Figuring out your "veggie" additives. Here's a list of all the veggies I have found that are great in pasta salad:
Pepperocini peppers
Banana peppers
Green olives
Black olives
Kalamata olives
sweet peppers

Next is your cheese. I have found that Feta and Parm are the 2 best cheeses. I like to mix in the Feta cheese and then sprinkle the top with parm. Romano is another good one but I don't usually use it for mine. Just like everything else that I post in the way of recipes play with it. It may not come out perfect the first time or even the second. But don't give up. Keep playing with it and eventually you'll find your perfect pasta salad. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Easy Glazed Ham

So my friend had asked me how I glaze/season my hams back around new years and I was going to post it up here but had totally forgot about it until just now. So I figured I'd go ahead and post it up here for ya'll. My mom use to do this EVERY year for Thanksgiving AND Christmas AND New Years. It quickly became both of my brothers favorite thing. It's SOOOO delicious and the technique is easy. I'll warn you that it's a bit time consuming but it's worth it I promise.

1 large bottle of Clover Honey (if you can find the honey that has the comb in it then I HIGHLY recommend that over ANY other type. But if you can't Clover Honey works just fine)
1 large spiral cut SMOKED ham (this is CRUCIAL!! It MUST be a smoked ham otherwise it won't work. No honey glazed flavoring.....SMOKED!!!)
1/2-1 cup of WHOLE cloves (I'm not EXACTLY sure how much I use but I do use quite a bit)

1. Take your ham out of the packaging and wash it. Place it in your roasting pan and make sure you preheat the oven to the time the packaging says (I think we usually do 350?!....ish maybe?).
2. Once your ham is washed and in the pan you can begin the tedious part. Take your whole cloves and stick them stem side into the skin of the ham (if it's got a sliced open side and not 2 "end" sides then do NOT stick them into the meat part....just the skin). You don't have to make a patter because they will be removed after it's cooked. Just randomly stick them all over. If you like a bold flavor use more. If you like a milder flavor use less.
3. Once the skin is covered in cloves slowly drizzle the bottle of honey all over the entire ham. Covering every inch of it. Cover the pan loosely with Aluminum foil (I always do this even if I have a lid....the aluminum foil loosely allows steam to escape but not dry out the ham)
4. Be sure to bast the ham once every hour until the last hour of cook time. Then be sure to bast the ham twice...3 times if you want. This step is crucial in keeping your ham moist and flavorful. It recoats the meat with the honey and allows it to soak up more of the flavor. (cook the ham according to the package directions as it's different for every ham)

Now I want to explain why I say to follow the package directions. Because I didn't specify whether you have to use a bone in or boneless (which it REALLY doesn't matter which you use....i prefer bone in for more flavor but it's not necessary). Whether it has a bone or is boneless will effect the cook time and temperature. So be sure to cook it according to the directions on the wrapper. :)

Cheesy Chicken and Rice with Broccoli Bake

This was requested by my good friend Heather and I feel awful for it taking me a couple days to post but I just now found it. :) This is always a favorite of mine but I haven't made it in a while.

1 bag of frozen broccoli
3 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup of rice
3 cups of chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Garlic & onion powder
1 jar Cheese Wiz cheese sauce
2 bags shreaded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the rice in the chicken broth with butter until soft. Fluff with fork.
2. While the rice is cooking, in a skillet heat the Olive oil over medium high heat. Cook chicken breasts until golden on the outside, roughly 5-6 minutes each side. Once cooked dice the chicken into bite sizes pieces.
3. Place broccoli in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 6-8 minutes until soft. Drain and chop pieces into bite size pieces if there are some that are too big.
4. In a microwave safe dish place the cheese wiz. Place in microwave and slowly melt. (I heat it for 1 minute intervals as to not burn it). Once the Cheese sauce is melted mix in the spices and 1 bag of cheddar cheese.
5. Once the rice is done mix the chicken, broccoli, rice, and cheese sauce in a large bowl. Pour into a casserole dish. Cover with the last bag of cheddar cheese and place into a preheated 375 degree oven. Allow to bake until cheese is melted and bubbling. The chicken will finish cooking while it's in the oven so don't worry if it's a tad pink in the middle.

Some great varieties to this are to add bread crumbs to the top. To accomplish this I like to take a bag of savory herbs Stove Top and beat with a rolling pin until they're fine. Then sprinkle on top of the cheese once melted and allow to bake for another few minutes. You can also add diced onions and green peppers to this dish or cauliflower and carrots as well. :) If you like your dish really really cheesy you can use 2 jars of cheese wiz and it'll make it SUPER cheesy. I also like to use a Cheddar and Monterey Jack blend for the top of mine. :)


So I finally made my homemade Jambalaya last night and it was SPECTACULAR. An absolutely amazingly delicious dish!! :) I can't remember the last time I've had such a delicious Jambalaya. hehe. Here's my recipe:

3 cups Chicken broth
3 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 links of red hot sausage (or andouille if you can find it but I can't here)
1 lbs Shrimp
1 1/2 cup white rice
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp Cheyenne
1 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 half onion diced
1 green pepper diced
1 large tomato diced

1. First prepare your sausage by slicing it and dicing up your vegetables. This way you can quickly add everything.
2. In a large deep skillet (or dutch oven if you have one) heat 1 tbsp olive oil over Medium High heat. Cook chicken breast until golden on each side (roughly 5-6 minutes per side). Once all your chicken is cooked transfer to cutting board and dice your chicken. Don't worry if it's a little pink inside because the chicken will finish cooking.
3. In the same dish add your chicken broth and allow to heat up for roughly 3 minutes scrapping the yummy drippings from the chicken off the bottom. This will help season the dish so don't drain and be sure to cook the chicken in the same dish you're going to make your meal in.
4. Add the diced chicken, tomato, onion, green pepper, all spices, and rice to the chicken broth. Stir and cover. Cook for 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes add your sausage to the dish and re-cover. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add Shrimp (I use fully cooked and cleaned shrimp so I add it for the last few minutes to keep them from getting tough and too chewy). Re-cover and allow to simmer for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Don't worry if the sauce seems thin as it'll thicken as it cools.

Now remember that I scaled down the amount of spices for a basic recipe. Please feel free to increase the amount of cheyenne, chili powder, and black pepper as you see fit. Salt to taste when adding the seasonings. :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pizza Pasta Bake

This is one of those quick and easy meals from my childhood that I decided to whip out tonight. It's oh so delicious and so simple. It's a great dish for kids as they always love pizza and spaghetti. Here's the recipe:

1/2 pound Ziti pasta
1 lbs ground italian sausage
1 bag of mini pepperoni
3 jars of pizza sauce
1 bag of mozzerella cheese (or italian blend)

1. In a large pot bring some water and salt to a boil and add pasta. Cook until al-dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking and you're waiting on the water to come to a boil brown your italian sauasage in a skillet.
3. When the sausage is done layer in a long baking dish. Scatter the pepperonis on top of it.
4. When the pasta is done cooking toss with sauce and then pour pasta and sauce over the top of your meat layer. Top with cheese
5. Place into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Here are some great variations and additives for this dish:

For a healthy alternative use Italian turkey sausage and turkey pepperoni. You can also use Marinara sauce (2 jars) instead of pizza sauce for a healthier alternative as Marinara has less salt. You can use low fat cheese as well and whole wheat pasta for a really healthy dish that tastes great.

I topped my meat mixture with sliced olives and canned sliced mushrooms. You can also use just about any vegetable you like on your pizza and you can also add canadian bacon to it as well. Remember that this is like a pizza without crust so play with the toppings. Use what you like on YOUR pizza. You can add some garlic to the sauce if you like your sauce a little more garlicy. This is just a basic recipe for the dish so remember to play with it and make it your own.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Burrito Bowls

So I decided to do Burrito Bowls for dinner tonight. When I made it in FL I made cilantro lime rice, garlic black beans, taco beef, and Baja Citrus Chicken. Tonight I'm switching it up a bit. I've made Saffron Rice, Lime Garlic Black Beans, Mojo Chicken (a spicy lime marinade flavor), and of course pico de gallo. Here are the recipes for the rice and beans.

Lime Garlic Rice
1 clove Garlic
1 can black beans
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (1/8 cup concentrate works fine)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Drain beans and place into a sauce pot with all ingredients. Put on low heat and slowly heat for roughly 8 minutes. (the longer you simmer it on a lower heat the better the beans capture the flavor)

Easy Saffron Rice
1 bag of boil in bag rice
2-3tbsp Adobo Seasoning
1 tsp Saffron

Cook rice in water according to package adding 1 tbsp butter and 1/4 cup of chicken broth to the water as well as the spices to season the rice. When done place in a bowl and fluff with fork. You can add diced pimentos and black olives for flavor if you like (I always do but didn't tonight)

For the chicken I just simply cooked 3 chicken breasts in a frying pan until they were golden on the outside (still raw on the inside slightly). I then diced the chicken and then used a packet of seasoning I got from the store. I mixed the packet of seasoning with the oil and water and vinegar the packet calls for. Then I toss the chicken with the seasoning and place back into the skillet and allowed it to simmer on Medium Low heat for 10 minutes to finish cooking the chicken.