Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

I got this recipe last week from The Sisters' Cafe -- if you've been there recently, you'll see that it was just put up -- anyway, I tried it the other night and it was fantastic! It was so easy to just throw together and let it cook all day. I think next time I'll drain at least one, if not two cans of tomatoes (I tripled it because it's SO easy to freeze!), it was just a little too runny for us, but the taste was amazing! If you don't have little kids around (or kids who like heat), bump the spice up! Serve it over tortilla chips (or in tortillas!) with black beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce -- whatever!

Sweet and Spicy Chicken
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (14-ounce) can petite or regular diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
--Place the chicken (frozen or thawed) in the crockpot.
--Mix the other ingredients up and pour over.
--Cook on high for 4 hours or until done. Shred and return to crockpot for just a little bit.

I was thinking that I could probably do this in the oven, drain the tomatoes, and serve the breasts whole with a fun side...I'd be interested to hear if someone tries that! :)


Oh. My. Goodness. I am never buying another brownie mix again. Never. These bad boys are rich, fudgy, dense, chocolaty goodness. And they're made with stuff you probably have right now in your pantry! If you like cakey brownies, don't even read any farther. But, if you like your brownies the way I like my brownies, moist and chewy, then go ahead, turn your oven on and get mixin'!

  • 1 stick butter - melted
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 3 eggs
--mix well in large bowl
--in a separate bowl mix:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you want them)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t salt
--add dry to wet and mix only til all wet
--spread in greased 8x8 and bake 30 mins @350

Don't over bake! Get a glass of milk and enjoy!

Evan had a blast helping make them and licking the spatula after all was said and done.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gazpacho I

I love a good grilled cheese sandwich and bowl of tomato soup. In reality, I could eat this meal about once a week the entire year round, the only problem is that other people would probably have a hard time with the hot aspect of the soup. So instead, in the summer, I do grilled cheese and Gazpacho. It's so easy it's almost laughable. It's healthy and great when it's hot out and you just want something refreshing.

  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 onion - chunked
  • 1 large cucumber - peeled and chunked
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove - minced (here is where I would change things -- I used the garlic raw, and while I love garlic, it was a little much. So next time I'll use less raw garlic or saute it before hand)
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t dried tarragon
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 t white sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
-- Put the onion, cucumber, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar in the food processor and chop until desired texture.
-- Combine the rest and mix well. Chill a couple hours and enjoy.

This is a great base recipe to just run with! Add more cucumbers, celery, hot sauce, whatever!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I never got the name of this recipe. I was thinking about changing it, but then I couldn't come up with a better name. The thing of it is, I don't always use strawberries, and to me, this is total dessert, not salad at all. I have tweaked the original recipe a bit (no jello if you notice it's not here!) to make it easier and less time-consuming, but still just as good. Enjoy!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 4 T sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine - melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 (8oz) pks cream cheese (I use light)
  • 1 (8oz) container of frozen cool whip - thawed (again, I use light)
  • Fresh fruit cut up** -- I've used all sorts of combination! Peaches, Blueberries, Blackberries, Strawberries...really, whatever!! I have found that bananas and mandarin oranges don't do as well.
--Mix pretzels, sugar(4 T), and melted butter together. Press into bottom of a 9x13 pan (i use a cup to flatten it out)
--Bake for 10 minutes at 350 and let cool completely. (DO NOT go over 10 minutes or else you'll be eating your dessert with a pick axe -- believe me, I speak from experience!)
--In a bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth.
--Fold in the whipped topping
--Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Set in fridge for 15-20 minutes to set (**this is a good time to cut your fruit)
--Arrange the fruit on top and get ready for the oohs and ahhs to erupt from people's mouths as they bite into this!

I recently took this to a church function and it was almost all gone by the time Scot got through the line -- it was completely licked clean when I went to get the dish to go home. And that's the way it happens every time.

Mom's 3-bean Salad

You know those church or company picnics you go to and you go through the line trying to find something to put on your plate that will fit into the salad category so you don't feel like you're eating complete junk? You know the feeling when you spot something green, and by green I'm not talking about food coloring, and you are so excited?! This is the salad you see. This summery, slightly sweet salad will do just the trick at the next picnic (or BBQ) and make someone very happy that there is in fact something 'healthy' on the table.

Mom's 3-bean Salad
  • 2 can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cans green beans
  • 2 cans wax beans (if you can't find wax beans, up the garbanzos to 2 cans, and add a can of great northern)
  • 1 can garbanzo
  • Scallions (or red onion) to taste (in my opinion, it's just not the same without the onion in there!)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
--Rinse and drain all beans and put in a large bowl
--Add the onion
--Mix the vinegar, oil, and sugar and pour over the beans.
--Cover and chill until ready to serve

This is one of those great make-ahead recipes as it's really better the next day!

Simple Quiche

We ate quiche all the time growing up for dinner, so it never occurred to me that this was odd. And really, it's not, it's just something people typically associate with breakfast. This quiche, however, has dinner all over it. Chunks of tomatoes, spinach, and cheese. Sausage or olives if you have it on hand. I love quiche -- it's like the catch-all leftover type meal. It's also a great planned meal. Serve it with a veggie and rice or potatoes and you're set to go!

Serves 6-8

Active time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Serving Suggestions:  Serve with roasted red potatoes and a green salad

What you'll need:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, pre-made or home made
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, any kind
  • 4 large eggs OR 2 large eggs and 3 egg whites
  • 1 scant cup of milk
  • 3 TBLS flour
  • 1 tsp dry mustard OR 1 TBLS regular Dijon mustard
  • 2 - 3 cups of "fillers".  Ideas: sliced mushrooms, spinach, drained can of Italian diced tomatoes, olives.
  • 1 TBLS Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)

What you'll do:

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Place pie crust in deep dish 9-in pie plate.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese on the bottom.
  • In a small bowl, mix the milk, egg, flour and mustard (and spices if using) together.  Slowly pour on top of the cheese.
  • Take whatever you're using as a filler and gently place in the egg mixture, making sure things are spread out evenly.
  • Cover the crust edges.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. (uncover crust after 30 minutes)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bolognese Sauce

This is a very traditional Bolognese sauce -- very little tomato in it and slightly 'dry' to our saucy American taste -- but oh so good. It takes a little time, but let me tell you, the house never smelled so good! I found these fun 'track' noodles at this local discount food store (we live near Little Italy and this specific store gets a lot of very unique pastas, it's great) and they were really fun to use with this sauce. Enjoy!

Bolognese Sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used ground Turkey -- it's healthier)
  • 1 garlic clove - chopped
  • 1 onion - chopped fine
  • 3 stalks celery - sliced
  • 3 large carrots (or one small bag of baby carrots) - chopped fine. I wouldn't even touch this recipe unless you have a food processor! This whole chopping fine thing took a total of 15 seconds in the food processor! Saved my hands, and my sanity!
  • 1 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine (I used mostly wine and a little white wine vinegar - superb!)
  • 1 T Italian herbs (I used a combination of Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary, and Tarragon)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • S & P to taste
-- Brown beef(lean) with the onion and garlic.
--Add the carrots and celery and let cook for about 5 minutes until slightly tender
--Add everything else, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for one hour, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat just a little and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. (I didn't read these directions too well when making it and improvised by just boiling for 30 minutes so we could eat at a decent time -- it turned out great but probably would have been even better with all that simmering.)

Also, for you parents out there who need to 'sneak' veggies into your kids, this is great. Evan's not particularly fussy about his greens, but he loved this sauce and ate as much as we did!