Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fiesta Lime Chicken

This is my favorite Copycat recipe EVER! I love Applebee's Fiesta Lime Chicken so much I had to search it out on the internet. I've used this recipe for over ten years and it's great. The Mexi-Ranch dressing is the best part.. I like to spoon extra over my rice and dip chips in it too. I could eat this once a week :)

1/3 c teriyaki sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t liquid smoke
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground ginger
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (or 12 tenderloins)
1/3 c mayo (not Miracle Whip)
1/3 c sour cream
2 T chunky salsa
1 t Old Bay Cajun Blackened Seasoning
1/4 t dried parsley
a few dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/4 t dill weed
1/4 t cumin
1 c Colby Jack cheese, shredded
2 c tortilla chips, crumbled

For the marinade, combine first 6 ingredients in a one-cup glass measuring cup. Fill the cup the rest of the way with water. Pour over chicken in a large ziplock baggie and marinate 3-4 hours in refrigerator. 

For the Mexi-Ranch, combine the next 8 ingredients in a small bowl and chill until needed.

Heat grill to high and oil the grates. Remove chicken from marinade, blot with paper towels to dry and discard reserve marinade. Grill chicken until cooked through. If you use tenderloins they only take 2-3 minutes per side. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil. Remove chicken breast to baking pan, top with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce, then cheese. If using tenderloins, place three side by side and top with sauce and cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve over crumbled tortilla chips with a lime wedge and some fresh pico de gallo (recipe follows). I usually serve it with Spanish Rice (Uncle Ben's ready pouches are a huge time-saver). Serves four. Enjoy!

Pico de Gallo:

2-3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 c white onion, minced
1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced (or a few pickled rings, chopped)
sea salt to taste
a squeeze of lime juice

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, cover and chill until ready to use.

*The cost to make this dish is approximately $12

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs have a completely different flavor than Italian meatballs.. the seasonings are warm and nutty. It's a great winter-time meal. While these are not EXACTLY like the Köttbullar (pronounced "shot-bull-ar") I had in Sweden, they're pretty darn good! Don't hesitate to add the raspberry jam to the sauce.. it sweetens it a little and really completes the dish.

1/2 c onion, minced 
1 T butter
2 slices bread
1/4 c milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1 t pepper
1 lb ground beef
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 c beef broth
1/4 c sour cream
1-2 t raspberry jam (lingonberry if you have it)
egg noodles or mashed potatoes for serving

Sauté onion in 1 T butter about 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, tear bread into pieces and process in a small food processor with the milk. Allow it to sit for a few minutes. It will be goopy but that's what makes these meatballs really moist. If you don't have a food processor just make sure the pieces are very small. Add bread and onions to a large bowl. Stir in egg, salt, nutmeg, ginger and pepper to combine and then fold in the ground beef with your hands. Don't over-mix it or the meatballs will be tough. Roll mixture into 1 1/2" balls. I made about 18 meatballs with this amount.

Melt 3 T butter in a large skillet. Brown meatballs on all sides in batches. Be careful not to smash them (or overcrowd them) or they won't brown properly. You don't have to cook them through yet, just brown them and set aside. After all meatballs are browned and set aside add the flour to the skillet and cook over medium heat until the roux is the color of coffee with cream. Gradually whisk in the warm beef broth and stir until it's thickened a little. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in the meatballs and cover. Cook about ten minutes to finish the meatballs. Cook your egg noodles while the meatballs simmer. To finish the sauce, remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon (again) and stir in the sour cream and raspberry jelly. Add meatballs back into the sauce until ready to serve. Serves 2-3. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cornbread Dressing

Cornbread dressing is a family tradition for our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I can remember helping both my mom and dad make it on Christmas morning. These days, I make it the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. It tastes just as good and saves time when you have other dishes to prepare for a big meal! It goes great with turkey, ham or chicken. I'm ready to eat!

4 8-inch skillets of yellow cornbread (I use Martha White)   
1/2 c butter                         
2 c onion, chopped                         
2 c celery, chopped
5 c chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste 
Rubbed sage to taste
4 large eggs, beaten    

Prepare cornbread according to package instructions. You can use any cornbread recipe you like but I like to make four small skillets because there's lots of crusty edge to flavor the dressing. Allow the cornbread to cool, crumble it up and set aside. Sauté onions and celery in butter until tender. Combine sautéed vegetables, cornbread crumbles, broth and seasonings in a large bowl. For sage and pepper, adjust to your taste (I usually start with one teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of pepper and three tablespoons of sage). Add the eggs in after you've achieved the flavor you want. Pour into greased 9x13 pan (it will be soupy, don't worry it will firm up) and bake 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. I like to turn on the broiler at the end to brown the top. Serves 8-10. Enjoy!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chicken Bryan

If you've never had Chicken Bryan from Carrabba's Italian Grill you are missing out! It's my favorite dish on the menu. I searched online for a copycat recipe and found a few to choose from. I've used different combinations of fresh basil, basil paste (tube of Gourmet Garden found in the veggie section), sliced sun-dried tomatoes or jarred (with herbs in olive oil). This is my favorite rendition:

6-8 chicken breast tenderloins
sea salt & pepper 
olive oil
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 c white wine
8 T cold butter, cut into 1 T pats
1/2 jar julienne sun-dried tomatoes (California brand, 8oz jar)
2 T basil paste (only because it's winter and fresh isn't as available) 
sea salt & pepper to taste
3 oz goat cheese, softened to room temp (Capricorn brand, 6oz logs in the cheese case)

Season chicken with salt & pepper and brush lightly with olive oil. Grill over med-high heat about 3 minutes per side. Set aside to rest and keep warm while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, melt 2 T butter in skillet and sauté garlic and onion a couple of minutes. Stir in lemon juice and wine, reduce heat to med-low and simmer to reduce liquid by half. Whisk in one pat of butter at a time until it's all melted and frothy. Stir in the drained sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and salt & pepper.

To serve, top the chicken with a dollop of softened cheese on each piece. Spoon the butter sauce over the chicken. Serves two plus leftovers. Enjoy!

Christmas Wassail

One of my favorite things about going to Silver Dollar City during Christmastime is the Wassail booth. It's the only time of year they offer mugs of the hot, fruity, cinnamon goodness. Wassail SMELLS like Christmas! I serve it at my Christmas parties and love to keep a batch in the fridge to heat up by the mug. 

1 gallon apple cider
3 c orange juice
1 1/2 c pineapple juice
2 T brown sugar
1 t lemon juice
two handfuls cinnamon Redhot candies
a few dashes ground cloves

These are just the basic measurements. You can adjust them according to your taste! Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot and simmer over low for an hour. Serve hot. Makes about 16 servings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I've been on a quest for the perfect broccoli cheese soup.. I think I've found it! The original recipe is from the Pioneer Woman but I modified it a little. It's packed with veggies and uses creamy Velveeta. I've tried it with cheddar cheese but wasn't happy with the texture. I've tried it with fresh veggies and frozen.. both are wonderful. You can leave the veggies chunky, purée all of it, or purée some of it like I do. The possibilities are endless!

1 stick butter
1/2 c onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/2 c carrot, chopped
1/3 c flour
4 c milk
2 c half & half
dash nutmeg
black pepper to taste
sea salt to taste
1 large crown of broccoli, chopped or 1 bag frozen, chopped
16 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into small pieces

Melt butter in a large stockpot. Add onion, celery and carrots and sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook one minute. Slowly stir in milk and half & half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli. Bring to simmer and cook on low 20-30 minutes until thickened slightly. Grab two mixing bowls and scoop about 4 cups of soup into each bowl. This will leave a couple of cups of chunky veggie soup in the pot. Use a blender to puree the smaller portions of soup to desired consistency and add it back to the pot. Stir in the Velveeta cheese until melted. Salt to taste. Serves 6 plus leftovers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

There is no greater comfort food than Chicken and Dumplings. It doesn't have to be an all-day-in-the-kitchen event (unless you just want to spend the day in there.. which I sometimes do). Here's a quick and easy recipe:

1 T canola oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 14oz cans of chicken broth
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken
2 12 oz cans chicken breast with juice
black pepper to taste
parsley to taste
rubbed sage to taste
1/2 package Mary B's frozen dumplings, broken into thirds

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Sauté onion, carrots and celery about 5 minutes to soften. In a small bowl, mix soup with one can of warm water and whisk until smooth. Add to veggies. Add broth and chicken breast with juice. Season with black pepper, parsley and sage. Simmer about 20 minutes. Bring heat up to medium, to a slight boil; add dumplings, a few at a time, stirring so they don't stick together. Reduce heat to low and simmer 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off heat and let them cool for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4 plus leftovers. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Cold weather calls for a big pot of soup at my house :) Whip up a few grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it and you've got a meal.. Yum! Of course, the soup is a meal in itself with the chicken, rice and vegetables. This recipe is a combination of several that I've tried over the years.

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 handfuls baby carrots, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken
1 1/2 cans water
1 14oz can chicken broth
1 12oz can chicken breast with juice
1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice Original
1 c half & half
2 T flour

Sauté carrots, onion and celery in butter and olive oil, about 10 minutes, to soften. Season veggies with salt & pepper. In a medium bowl, combine Cream of Chicken soup with 1 1/2 cans warm water and whisk until smooth. Add to veggies. Stir in broth and chicken breast with juices, breaking chicken into smaller chunks. Bring to a simmer. Stir in Wild Rice and seasoning packet. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the flour into the half & half and set aside. After the 20 minutes, stir the half & half into the soup and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

I met my friend Brooke at Cheddar's today for lunch and seriously eyed the Monte Cristo Sandwich. I decided on something else.. but I thought about that sandwich the rest of the day! If you've never had one, you really should give it a try. The combination of sweet and salty seems odd but it just all melts together so well. They're very rich but VERY tasty. Tonight, I was trying to decide what to cook for dinner and I realized that I had the ingredients to make Monte Cristo Sandwiches at home.. Come to Mama!

There are a ton of Monte Cristo recipes and techniques online but I chose to make them with a "french toast" method to avoid two things: #1 dragging out the deep fryer and #2 uncooked egg in the middle layer of bread. They went together easily and were cooked perfectly.

6 slices bread
6 thin slices of ham
6 thin slices of turkey
2 slices American cheese (I use the kind from the deli instead of Kraft singles)
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 T butter
2 eggs
1/4 c milk (eyeball it like you would for french toast)
powdered sugar (for dusting)
warm raspberry jam (for dipping)

Whisk the eggs with the milk in a shallow dish and set aside. Lay out your meats and cheeses on a cutting board to bring them up to room temp (that way they'll heat up well on the sandwich). I made 4 piles (3 slices ham topped with American cheese ((twice)) and 3 slices turkey topped with Swiss cheese ((twice)) does that make sense?) Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium and butter well. Dip the 6 slices of bread in the egg mixture on both sides and let the excess drip off. (If your griddle isn't large enough you'll have to make one sandwich at a time so don't dip until you're ready to cook). Cook the bread slices a couple of minutes on one side and flip. Once you flip all six slices, place the piles of meat and cheese on four of the slices. Cook a minute or two to make sure the egg is cooked through. Then assemble the sandwich with one layer ham and American, one layer turkey and Swiss and a final piece of french toast on the top! Press down slightly, cut into fourths, sprinkle with powdered sugar and DEVOUR. I like to warm up the raspberry jam a little to make it dippable. Makes two sandwiches. Enjoy!

Brett enjoyed his Monte Cristo too!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shrimp Jambalaya

Shrimp has always been one of my favorite foods. Add it to rice and sauteed vegetables? Heavenly! We love Cajun food and I try to make Jambalaya and/or Gumbo at least once a month.

1 lb large shrimp
Olive oil
1/2 lb andouille sausage (or other smoked sausage), cut into bites
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 c long grain rice
1 bay leaf
1/2 t dried thyme
2-3 scallions, chopped for garnish

First, prep your shrimp by peeling and deveining, reserving the shells. You will use the shells to make shrimp stock. Put shells into a medium saucepan, cover with about 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to boil. Turn off heat and let sit about 30 minutes. Strain the shells and discard, keeping the liquid.

Coat the bottom of a large pot or dutch oven with olive oil and saute the sausage over medium high heat about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion to the pan, season with salt & pepper and cook until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with juices) and cayenne pepper then stir in the rice.

Add 2 cups of shrimp stock, bay leaves and thyme. Season with more salt & pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium low for 25 minutes. Fold in the shrimp and cook about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. Garnish with chopped scallions. Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side dish. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cilantro-Garlic Baby Back Ribs

I'm a big fan of smoked meat and was always under the impression that good ribs couldn't be cooked "indoors" until I tried a slow-roasting method. I have several different rubs and marinades that I like to use for pork ribs but this one is quickly becoming a favorite!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 rack pork back ribs, cut into 2 bone portions

In a blender or food processor combine garlic, cilantro, and sugar; blend or process until ingredients form a paste. Add soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and vegetable oil. Pulse until well combined. Pour the mixture over the ribs in a large baggie, turning ribs to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight (I've marinated them for two nights and they tasted great!)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Transfer ribs to a 9×13 baking dish and pour sauce over ribs. Cover tightly with foil and bake 3 hours. Pre-heat grill. Shake excess juices off ribs and grill about 3-4 on both sides to char them a little (carefully, because they should be fall-apart tender at this point). Serves 2. Enjoy!

This recipe was in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Nothing smells more like "Autumn" than roasted vegetables with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg! Sweet potatoes are a healthy alternative to regular potatoes and roasting brings out all of the natural sweetness.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" chunks
1 T olive oil
1 T butter, melted
1 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
dash of ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x9 baking pan with non-stick spray.  Combine all ingredients except potatoes. Toss potatoes with oil and mixture and scatter in baking pan in one layer. Roast 1 hour, tossing every 20 minutes. Serves 2, plus leftovers. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stuffed Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

I found this recipe on Pinterest (thanks to for posting) and knew it would be a quick favorite at our house! There are a few steps in the sauce-making process but don't worry.. it's easy!

Teriyaki Marinade:

**You can completely skip this step if you have a favorite bottled teriyaki sauce. It needs to be thick, not just the Kikkoman liquid stuff. There are several to choose from at most grocery stores. I will probably try a bottled one next time to save a few steps.

1 T cornstarch
1/4 c cold water
1/4 c soy sauce
1 c water
5 T brown sugar
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t garlic powder
2 T honey

Combine cornstarch and 1/4 c cold water to make a slurry and set aside. This will be used to thicken the marinade. Combine soy sauce, 1 c water, ginger, garlic powder, brown sugar and honey and simmer until sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch slurry and simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.. not too thick! Set aside to cool. 

Sriracha Cream Sauce:

1/2 c mayo (not Miracle Whip)
1 T Sriracha (a hot sauce made in Thailand and found at most grocery stores in the Asian section. It has a rooster on the bottle). Use more Sriracha in the sauce if you like it spicy!

Combine mayo and Sriracha and spoon into a baggie. Keep refrigerated. When it's time to drizzle the salmon with sauce you can snip a small corner off the baggie (easy).

Stuffed Salmon:

2 fresh salmon filets (6-8 oz) skin removed (ask the butcher to do this)
teriyaki marinade
2-3 T cream cheese, softened
olive oil
toasted sesame seeds
sliced green onions
Sriracha cream sauce

Marinate salmon filets in teriyaki sauce for several hours in refrigerator. When you're ready to cook, heat oven to 400 degrees and line a 9x9 or similar sized baking pan with foil. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Remove salmon from marinade and cut a small pocket into the side of each filet, careful not to cut all the way through. Stuff filets with cream cheese and secure with toothpicks to help keep the pocket closed. Place stuffed salmon in baking pan and spoon a little marinade over top, along with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. Cover pan with foil and bake 20 minutes. I removed the foil and turned the broiler on for a few minutes to crisp up the top a little. Remove filets to plates and top with Sriracha cream sauce and sliced green onion. I served the salmon with steamed Jasmine rice and roasted asparagus. Serves two. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Yes, it sounds odd.. but just give it a try. A caramelized, garlicky, cheesy alternative to regular steamed broccoli. You could almost make a meal out of it!

1 large head of fresh broccoli, cut into large florets
2-3 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with non-stick spray or olive oil. Toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange in pan. Bake 20 minutes, tossing broccoli once halfway through. Parts will turn dark and caramelize during baking. Remove from oven and top with cheese, lemon zest and juice. Serves 2, with leftovers. Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

This recipe came from my Uncle Larry. He made this for dinner one night while my mom, sister and I were visiting him and Aunt Janie in Washington D.C. for my tenth birthday. It is my favorite way to prepare Shrimp Scampi and the smell always reminds me of that fun visit.

1/4 c onion, finely chopped                        
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped                        
1 t dried parsley or 2 sprigs fresh
1 stick unsalted butter
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 c white wine
2 T fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium low heat. Saute onion, garlic and parsley in butter until tender. Add shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until shrimp are pink. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice to butter mixture and simmer 2 minutes. Pour sauce over shrimp. Serve with prepared white rice. Serves 2 amply. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

With the cooler weather moving in it's definitely "soup time" at our house. I've tried many Chicken Enchilada Soup recipes over the years (Chili's copycat recipe is good, but time consuming) so this one is a combination of several.. plus you make it in the crockpot.. EASY!  

6-7 chicken breast tenderloins (frozen is fine)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel tomatoes with juice (I used mild)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (any color)
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken 
1 can Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce (mild or medium)
1/4 cup sour cream (more for garnish)
shredded cheddar cheese
crumbled tortilla chips

Add beans, Rotel, onion and pepper to crockpot. Place chicken on top. Combine soup and enchilada sauce and whisk until smooth. Pour over chicken and veggies. Cook low 5-6 hours. Prior to serving, remove chicken and shred with a fork, return to soup mixture and stir in 1/4 coup sour cream. Serve with shredded cheddar (or any other cheese you prefer), crushed tortilla chips, hot sauce, etc. Maybe even a little pico de gallo or avocado? Whatever you've got! Makes 4 main dish servings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

There are several Vietnamese restaurants in my hometown that I love. I always order spring rolls because they're so fresh and light. Of course, when you eat four at a time you still get full :) I decided to try my hand at making them after a trip to the local Asian market. The ingredients are inexpensive. Don't be afraid to tackle these.. there are several steps, and it takes a little practice, but you'll be a pro in no time!

See the little, pink shrimp? There's a trick to rolling them in..

8 spring roll wrappers (found at Asian market)
1 bundle rice vermicelli noodles (found at Asian market)
2 boneless pork loin chops
16 shrimp
shredded lettuce
green onions, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
shredded carrot
fresh mint leaves
fresh basil leaves
hoisin sauce (for dipping)
peanut butter (to add to hoisin)

First, prepare your meats. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil and season moderately with salt. Leaving shells and tails on shrimp, boil about 3-4 minutes or until pink. Remove from water with slotted spoon and set aside to cool.  Add about 2 T sugar to water (or more to taste, you want it to be a little sweet and salty to season the pork) and bring to simmer. Add pork chops and cook about 5-6 minutes until cooked through. Set aside to cool.  Peel shrimp and slice in half along the “spine” to devein and make each shrimp into “two.” Slice pork across the grain into thin slices.

In a separate pan, boil rice vermicelli noodles according to package directions. (Sorry, I don't have a picture). Drain and set aside. Use clean kitchen scissors to cut cooked noodles into 1-2” pieces for easier assembly. Have the lettuce, green onion, carrot and fresh herbs ready to go!

the wrappers (any brand will do)

For spring roll assembly, fill a large bowl or with warm water.  Make sure it is large enough to submerge the wrapper at least halfway. You can rotate the wrapper through the water, making sure to wet the whole thing. Gently squeeze the wet wrapper between you index and middle finger to wipe off excess water. Lay damp wrapper on a dinner plate.  Place a small handful of lettuce in the middle of the wrapper, top with about the same amount of noodles, a few slices of pork, onions, carrots, and fresh herbs. (You can really use any fresh ingredients you like! My friend Brooke uses cabbage instead of lettuce). Fill them according to your taste, just be careful not to overfill.  Fold the edge closest to you over the filling, tuck under the filling and pull into a “roll.” The wrapper will be soft and sticky so be careful not to tear it. Fold sides in and place 4 shrimp halves (I know, the picture only shows two.. I've upped the ante since then), pink side out, up against the edge of the roll. When you continue to roll the wrapper over the shrimp will be visible through the rice paper.  Basically, like rolling a burrito. Practice will help your technique and they'll look better as you go. There’s no “wrong” way to do it. Cover rolls with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to eat. I serve 4 rolls as an entrée or 2 as an appetizer.

the hoisin (any brand will do)

To make the dipping sauce, stir 1 T of peanut butter into 1/4 c hoisin sauce. Add a little water to thin it if you like. 

You can also use the other sauces as dipping sauce and/or combine them. I LOVE the Asian market.. so many options. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fluffy Fruit Salad

My mom makes this fruit salad for every special occasion and it’s a family favorite! The fruit adds just the right amount of sweetness to the whipped cream.  You can vary the amount of marshmallows according to your taste but ALWAYS use white, NEVER colored, right Mom? ;)

1 c heavy whipping cream                        
1 medium sized can mandarin oranges, drained                        
1 medium sized can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 c miniature white marshmallows
1/4 c chopped pecans                                                      
Whip the cream with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (careful not to whip too long or it will get to butter stage). Fold in mandarin oranges, pineapple, marshmallows and pecans. Chill before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beef Enchiritos

Taco Bell was one of my favorite places to eat as a child.. we all went through that phase, right?! When my parents were generous enough to take me there (bless them, now I understand their sacrifice) I always ordered an "enchirito." It's basically a cross between a burrito and an enchilada (duh). I noticed a few years ago that the classic dish is back on the menu after a long hiatus. These homemade enchiritos are much, much better than the Taco Bell version:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 envelope taco seasoning
1/2 can refried beans
flour tortillas (I use fajita size)
shredded cheddar (grate your own, it melts better!)
1/4 c chopped onion
1 small can El Pato tomato sauce (pictured below, found in the mexican section)
sour cream for garnish

Brown ground beef, drain and add seasoning and water according to package directions. I only use half of the envelope and half the amount of water because a whole envelope overpowers the flavor of the beef. Keep warm. Warm refried beans. In a separate skillet, warm flour tortillas over medium high heat, one at a time, about 15 seconds per side. I like to do this because it gives them a toasty flavor. Assemble burritos by spreading a large spoonful of beans on tortilla, top with a large spoonful of beef, a sprinkle of onions and a pinch of cheese. Roll into burrito and place seam side down on a plate. Top with a small pour of El Pato and another sprinkle of cheese. Microwave for 15 seconds to melt cheese and serve topped with sour cream. You can add any garnish you like.. chopped scallions, black olives (like Taco Bell did once upon a time), etc. Serves 2, amply, with leftovers. Enjoy!

I like this sauce because it has a much fresher taste than canned enchilada sauce. It is a little bit spicy so feel free to substitute mild enchilada sauce if you prefer.

Easy Fudge

This fudge is way too simple to be so good! The baking chocolate makes it extra rich so don’t leave it out. Make sure it’s really cold when you slice it and it’ll make perfect little cubes. 

12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 c chopped walnuts
1 t vanilla
butter for greasing pan

Line 8x8 baking dish with aluminum foil and grease inside of foil with butter. Mix both types of chocolate and condensed milk in microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until melted. Stir in chopped walnuts and vanilla, mix well. Spread into well-buttered pan and refrigerate 2 hours, until firm. To cut, pull foil and fudge out of pan and pull down edges of foil. Slice into 64 one inch squares. Enjoy!