Powered by Blogger.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mexican Casserole

Sometimes you feel like making something that takes all day to make. There's something about being in the kitchen for a few hours that's fun...this is not one of those recipes. This is a recipe you use when you want to clean out your pantry and fridge and use up leftover chicken. It's also a recipe you use when you are starving, want a home cooked meal and want it fast. I can't say I totally made this recipe up. I got the general idea from a Nacho Casserole my friend Trevor made once. I didn't have the ingredients for the Nacho casserole so I used what I had. Let me tell you, I am going to now be making this on a regular basis. It turned out sooo good. So good, in fact, that I went back for seconds, which I rarely do with my own cooking. Easy, fast, cheap, delicious.

1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained with a couple tablespoons of the liquid reserved
1 small (11 oz.-ish) can of sweet corn drained (reserving a tablespoon or so of the liquid)
1/2-i cup of your favorite salsa
1/2 packet of taco seasoning
3/4 lb. diced or shredded chicken (I used about half the meat from a rotisserie chicken from costco)
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 cup of shredded mexican style cheese

In a large skillet or wok, melt butter over med-high heat and sautee the onion for a few minutes until it becomes transparent. Add the bean liquid (that sounds gross) and the beans, corn liquid (ew, again) and corn, salsa, taco seasoning and chicken. Heat until it starts to bubble, put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes so the meat absorbs all that goodness.

While simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When done simmering, pour the mixture into a 9X13 inch casserole dish. Top with half the cheese and the tortilla chips. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Top with the rest of the cheese and bake another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is bubbly.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce, no really.

This, also from www.ourbestbites.com is going to blow your mind. Why? Because, with God as my witness, it does not taste light. It tastes every bit as good as any alfredo sauce you've had AND it is done in 15 minutes. Seriously. Oh, and did I mention a 1/4 cup serving is 100 calories? Yes. We ate it last night with pasta and chicken and my amazing breadsticks, see below. Just take my word for it, you won't be sorry.

2 Cups low fat milk (I used 2%)
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese (Yes, the low fat cream cheese is called neufantchel. Don't get confused, it is the same thing)
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Cup grated parmesan cheese

What to do:
Put the milk, cream cheese, flour and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Melt and heat the butter in a deep skillet over medium high heat and add garlic. Let it sizzle for 30 seconds to a minute. You don't want it to burn! Then add the milk mixture. Heat that, stirring constantly for 3 minutes or so until it's warm and smooth. Remove from the heat then add the parmesan cheese and stir until it's all melted. Done!

I guarantee you will not know it's light. I hate when people say that because you always do but no, you won't. Evidence of this is that Mike ate 2 helpings and gave me a high five...I'll never tell him.

The Best Breadsticks You Will Ever Eat.

So I've found my new favorite blog site, ourbestbites.com. They have sooo many good recipes and this is one of them. This is actually a recipe for Pizza Dough but you can make breadsticks too and let me tell you. They are amazing. They do take some planning and time but are so worth it. Even Mike, who is not a bread eater, could not get enough of them. According to him they, "are the best breadsticks I've ever eaten in my life." Since I don't have the forethought to take pictures of anything, you can go to ourbestbites and see the pictures which may be helpful. Look under recipes, bread, then Breadsticks (Pizza Dough). Otherwise, here's the description below:

1 1/2 cups very warm water (115-130 degrees)
1 Tbsp. yeast (I use the kind specifically made for pizza dough, i seem to have greater success with it)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 Cups flour

What To Do:
In a large bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. I have a hard time knowing how hot the water needs to be. If you make it too hot, it will kill the yeast, too cool, it won't activate the yeast. Ugh. I don't have a thermometer so I just dip my finger in it and if it's hot enough to wear I wouldn't want to leave my finger in it, that's good. wow, that probably isn't helpful at all. Anyway, let it sit for about 10 minutes until the yeast starts to bubble.

Add the salt and mix well. Next, add 1 1/2 cups of flour. This is where it gets messy. Once that's mixed in real well, add more flour 1/4-1/2 cups at a time until the dough stops sticking to the bowl and your hands. I tried using my dough hook on my kitchenaid, don't bother, just mix it by hand. Messy but easier.

Transfer the dough to a plastic or glass bowl sprayed with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. My trick here is to heat your oven to 300 degrees or so and just set the bowl on top of it. It helps it rise faster :)

Once risen, take the dough out and roll it out on a floured surfact into a rectangle. I'm bad at this so mine turns into a blob. It's okay. Then cut the dough into 12 strips the short way. yes, I'm dumb and have cut it the long way, it just makes super LONG and skinny breadsticks. Then take two of the strips at a time and twist them together. I mash one end of the strips together and twist.

Lay the twists on a greased cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 more minutes. While they rise, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. This won't take long if you are using my trick because your oven will already be 300 degrees.

Here's my own twist that's different from the other recipe:
make a breadstick topping with the powdery parmesan, garlic salt (I use Lowery's. If you don't own Lowery's garlic salt with parsley go buy some because you will use it on everything. Just do it.) and italian herb seasoning. I don't have a recipe for this because I made it up. Just mix it together with equal parts or whatever you think would taste good. Once the breadsticks have risen, (I feel like this should be an Easter recipe with all the times I've used the word "risen" in this post). Brush with melted butter and your garlic topping. Ourbestbites tells you do it after but I like it baked in.

Then bake for 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Oh my gosh. So good. My new favorite food.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Easiest and Best Pork Chops Ever

I hated pork chops growing up. There was no reason for it as my mom never really made them. I think I just had in my mind that they were gross. Since becoming a "grown up" I have to come to really like them. They are CHEAP and very versatile. A friend of mine, Becky, who gave you Becky's Fried Rice, mentioned this recipe and it sounded so simple, I thought I'd give it a try. As it turns out I LOVE this recipe and Michael couldn't stop talking about them. You don't even need a knife, these babies literally fall apart on their own. If you have a guy that eats a lot, take my word for it and double this recipe. You'll be glad you did.

A splash of olive oil
Half cup flour, or enough to coat the chops.
4-6 pork chops, I like the thin cut kind but any work and if you use the thin cut kind, you'll probably need 8-10 chops because they cook down pretty small.
1 can Campbell's condensed Chicken and Wild Rice soup, undiluted
Water, optional

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it just starts to smoke. While it's heating, put the flour in a ziploc bag and add the chops a couple at a time and shake to coat them in flour.

When your oil is hot, brown the chops a few at a time in the skillet, just a couple minutes on each side. You don't want to cook them, just slightly brown them on the outside.

Once browned, put the chops in a slow cooker and pour the can of soup over the top. When I make this again, I think I'll add about a half cup of water or so only because I found we didn't have as much "sauce" as we would have liked. You could also just add another can of soup.

Cook on low in your slow cooker for 4-6 hours (I cooked mine for 8 while I was at work and it was lovely). Serve over rice (see my rice how-to below) or egg noodles. Have you ever had pork chops that you can't even get out of the pot because they fall apart? I have :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How-To: Cook Rice

So...maybe I am the only person who has issues with rice cooking. I know I've mentioned it before. We don't eat rice enough to justify a rice cooker taking up space in our *TINY* kitchen so I have to do it the old fashioned way which can easily yield gummy, gooey rice paste....until now. A friend of mine used to work at an Asian restaurant and one of the chefs shared this secret with her and it has yet to fail me. So far I've used it with several different types of white rice and always had great success. Here are a few tips on how to get perfect, fluffy, non-sticky rice every time:

1. Cooked rice is double what uncooked rice is. So, 1 cup of uncooked rice will turn into 2 cups cooked.

2. It's generally safe to plan on a 1/2 cup of rice per person if the rice is a side dish or something is being served over it.

3. Some people rinse their rice, others don't. Rinsing removes some of the starch and lessens the chance of it becoming gummy but it also rinses out some of the nutrients. My method of rice cooking doesn't require that your rinse it, so I don't.

4. NOW FOR THE TRICK. Stick your pinky finger out in front of you. Do it now. I'll wait. Okay. See where your first joint is from the tip of your pinky? That's your measuring device. Measure your desired amount of rice in a sauce pan then fill the pan with water until you can stick your pinky in and touch the top of the rice and the water reaches the first joint. To ensure non-sticky rice you can put a splash of vinegar in.

5. Put on the stove top and heat on high until the water starts to boil. Then, and this is important! Stir the rice just once or twice. Not stirring it will cause a layer of rice to stick to the pan's bottom and scorch. Stirring too much will cause gummy rice. Once or twice. Done.

6. Cover, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. DO NOT TOUCH. After 15 minutes, check on it, if there is still water in the rice, let it sit covered for 5 more minutes. Fluff with fork and voila! Perfect!

7. Variations, depending on what I'm making, I substitute water for coconut milk, or chicken broth and add butter, herbs, or whatever else I feel like depending on the recipe. Happy cooking!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Easy Crunchy Chicken Fingers

Here's a recipe for easy and FAST chicken fingers. I had dinner on the table from start to finish in 30 minutes. Great recipe for picky kids because it uses Goldfish crackers as the chicken coating!!!

1.5-2 lbs. Chicken tenderloins
5-7 cups crushed up cheddar Goldfish crackers or pretzels
1.5 cups Buttermilk ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line 2 baking dishes (I used a 13 X10 and a 9X9 and it was perfect) with tinfoil and lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a Ziploc bag, crush up 5-7 cups of Goldfish crackers and pour into a shallow dish. The recipe calls for cheddar but it might be interesting to try other varieties.
Pour ranch dressing into a bowl and dip the tenderloins in it, letting the excess drip off for a second. Then roll them in the crackers and put them in the baking dishes.
Bake 15-20 minutes, turning over half way through. Serve with ranch dressing or BBQ sauce for dipping!

This made a lot and I brought some with me today to cut up and eat on my salad!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I got this gem out of my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Mike and I were both skeptical of the ingredients but it turns out to be delicious! It's a combination of flavors you wouldn't expect to go together but they do!

Olive Oil (just enough to coat a cookie sheet)
flour (also just enough to sprinkle on the cookie sheet)
13.8 oz. store-bought pizza crust
1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used more than a cup)
4-6 slices of deli ham
4-6 slices of deli turkey
1/4 cup olives (any kind you like - I used black)
1/3 cup chopped sweet bell pepper, any color
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Coat a cookie sheet with the olive oil and sprinkle flour or cornmeal on it, set aside
On a floured and clean (Mike insisted I put the clean part in) surface, carefully roll out the pizza dough to a 13 X 10 inch rectangle. I think it comes out of the package like this but if you are me, you mess it up and end up having to roll it out with a rolling pin.
Sprinkle half the cheese on the dough
Layer the ham on top of the cheese, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edge of the dough
Layer other half of the cheese on the ham
Next, layer the turkey on,
Then sprkinkle the olives, bell pepper and spinach on top of all of that.
Starting on one of the long ends of the dough, carefully roll it up into a big roll. Pinch the seams and edges together and place on prepared cookie sheet. Brush with the beaten egg and bake 30 minutes.
The directions suggest cutting it in to 2-3 inch pieces but....Mike just cut in half and took half...then came back for more. We ate it with a salad made with the leftover peppers, spinach and cheese with Italian dressing. Yum!