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!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Teriyaki

I love Chinese food (yes, even the salty, MSG-filled kind at the mall) but Drew doesn't.. so we never order it. I've figured out that he actually DOES like Chinese style dishes if I cook them, though :) This is a new recipe that I tried recently and it's a keeper! I got the original recipe from and tweaked it a little to my liking. I also used her picture because I forgot to take one.. oops!

1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t black pepper
2 T cornstarch
2 T warm water
steamed or fried rice for serving
chopped scallion for garnish (optional)
toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Trim chicken thighs of fat (one of the yuckiest things to do while cooking) and cut into large, bite-sized pieces. Place into crock-pot and set aside. Combine soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ground ginger and pepper and pour over chicken. Stir to combine. Turn crock-pot to low and cook 4-5 hours. I like to stir it every hour or so just to make sure the chicken is well-marinated. About 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken from juices with slotted spoon and keep warm. Increase heat to high and bring juices to boil (if your crock-pot won't do this, pour juices into saucepan). Make a slurry with the cornstarch and warm water and pour into juices, stirring until thickened. Add chicken back into sauce and stir to combine. Serve over steamed rice or fried rice (I'll post that recipe soon), topped with garnish. This recipe makes about 2 servings. Enjoy!

Chicken Spaghetti

There are tons of Chicken Spaghetti recipes online but I never could find one that was exactly the flavor I was looking for.. so I just wrote my own! This is one of our family favorites. I like to use a rotisserie chicken because it's got a lot of flavor and keeps the dish from tasting bland. 

1 rotisserie chicken
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
4-5 fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 T butter
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken 
1 can Rotel (I use mild)
1/2 c chicken broth
1 lb Velveeta, cubed
16oz spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces, cooked al dente and drained
black pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese for topping (optional)

Skin, debone and pull apart chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside. (It's easier to do this if the chicken is chilled. Some grocery stores sell the "cold" chickens at a lower price so look for those in the deli area). Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté mushrooms in 2 T butter and add to chicken pieces. Using the same skillet, sauté onion and green pepper in 2 T butter until tender and add to chicken pieces. In a large mixing bowl, combine soup, Rotel, broth and Velveeta and heat in microwave to melt Velveeta, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, veggies, noodles and black pepper until combined. Pour into a greased 9x13 dish (or two 8x8 pans if you want to eat one and freeze the other) and top with shredded cheddar. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes until bubbly. If you choose to freeze, cover with foil in a double layer BEFORE baking, then thaw in refrigerator overnight before baking. The large pan makes 8 servings. Enjoy!

*The cost to make this dish is approximately $14.00.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Italian Stuffed Zucchini

When we get bored with the same ole' meatloaf dinner I change up the ingredients and toss it all into a zucchini shell. Surprise!

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c onion, diced
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons marinara sauce
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
  • 1/4 cup dried plain bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 4 zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly drizzle the olive oil into a 13x9 baking dish. Whisk the onion, parsley, egg, marinara, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the meat. Cover and refrigerate the mixture.
Using a spoon, carefully scrape out the seeds and inner flesh from the zucchini, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Be careful not to pierce through the skin. Fill the zucchini halves with the meat mixture, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Arrange the stuffed vegetables in the baking dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.
Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 degrees F, about 45 minutes. Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a platter, sprinkle Parmesan and serve. This recipe serves 4 but can be halved. Enjoy!
*The original recipe is from Giada de Laurentiis. I made a few modifications for my taste.

Heavenly Jalapeños

I first saw these little jewels on the website.. that was back before she was so insanely popular that I actually had a chance at winning one of her contests.. sigh.

8 fresh jalapenos (2-3” size)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 slices bacon

Heat oven to 375* and place a wire rack on a cookie sheet or on broiler pan (so the bacon grease can drain while they cook). Cut stems from jalapenos and slice lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out all seeds and membrane (careful not to inhale too much). Spoon cream cheese into each half, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you won’t need all of it. Cut bacon into thirds and wrap around jalapenos, securing with a toothpick.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until bacon is cooked to your liking.

My advice is to make more of these than you think you’ll need.. they are addictive! Drew and I can eat all 16 halves in no time. If you’re really adventurous, leave some of the seeds in to make em’ spicy! Enjoy! 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Who doesn't love Buffalo wings? This dip is so addictive that we affectionately refer to it as "Crack Dip."

1 12oz can chicken breast, drained and flaked
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 c Ranch dressing
1/4 c Buffalo Wing Sauce (I use Buff Wild Wings hot)
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350* and grease 8x8 baking dish. Mix cream cheese, Ranch dressing and Buffalo sauce. Fold in shredded cheddar and chicken. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Get ready.. this stuff is SPICY! If you want to tone it down a little bit use medium or mild sauce.. Enjoy!