Thursday, April 3, 2014



 Mexican Stuffed Peppers


Stuffed peppers was a dish I only knew from the freezer section as a kid, but I loved it! I still think the traditional kind with the green peppers and tomato sauce reigns supreme, but this is a great alternative. This has spicy and cheesy flavors all stuffed into a pepper. This is something that looks fancy but it is pretty simple. Try these peppers out with some guests and they will think you went through a mountain of trouble. It can be just our secret that it's just as easy as making rice and browning ground beef.

Ingredients

4 red or green bell peppers
1 pound of ground beef
 1/ 2 onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups of cooked rice
1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
1 large can of red enchilada sauce, divided
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, divided


Cut the tops off of the peppers. I like to make a shallow cut and then dig everything out of the pepper.
 

Make sure the seeds and the membranes are out of the pepper as they can be a bit bitter.  Then rinse this out to make sure it's nice and clean for the filling.


Cook the ground beef over medium heat with the onion until the beef is browned and the onion is tender. Add in the cooked rice, the salt, pepper and about 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. I like to let this sit over very low heat for a few minutes to let the rice soak up the tasty sauce. Then add in about 1 cup of cheese and turn off the heat completely. 
 

If you want, let the filling cool before stuffing the peppers. I like to burn my hands in the process to make me feel like I have worked for it. You can cram quite a bit into the peppers, too.  Once the peppers are stuffed, place them into an oven safe dish.


Getting the peppers to stand upright is not completely necessary.  If it happens, it happens. These two stood up nicely until I put them in the oven. What's the worst that could happen? They soak up the sauce and get blistery on one side. Oh no! After you have placed your peppers in the pan, pour the remaining enchilada sauce into the bottom of your baking dish. Then, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops of each pepper.


Bake the peppers at 350 degrees for about thirty to forty five minutes or until the peppers are a bit tender.  I like to spoon over the enchilada sauce about half way through the baking time to make sure the top is nice and saucy.


This is great with just a salad, but some beans would go with this nicely as well!

Monday, March 31, 2014



 Lemon Roasted Asparagus



 Spring is officially upon us! This is such a beautiful time of year. I love the way it smells with all the plants starting to grow again. I also love the way it tastes with all the spring fruits and veggies that come into season. On of my favorite Spring vegetables is asparagus. These super nutritious stalks are an easy vegetable to love. This is especially true when it is accompanied by the zesty freshness of lemon.


Ingredients

1 pound of  fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil
1 lemon, zest removed and juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper


Start with the asparagus cleaned and dry. Then, drizzle over the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss lightly so that the salt and pepper will stick evenly. Once all the pieces are coated, add the salt and pepper.


Throw the asparagus onto a cookie sheet. Cook this in the oven or toaster oven  for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. I like the stalks to still be a bit crunchy. If you want a more tender result, roast them a few minutes longer. 


Enjoy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

 

Cheesy Green Onion Pasta



Do you ever have those times when you just get the need for one food or another? This sauce has been on my mind for quite some time now. My grandma would make these crazy delicious enchiladas with a super rich cheese sauce to go over them. The thought of making all of that sounds like a lot of work, but I still needed that cheese sauce.

Then I though " What else would you do with that sauce?" Pasta was the first thing to enter my mind. It seemed a bit odd, but with all that cheesy goodness how could it be bad? I tried it out and made a few adjustments. Let me tell you, this pasta dish is rich, creamy and delicious. 

The green onion flavor is very mild and so are the green chilies. All the flavors together make a great meatless dish. If you wanted to add some protein, cubed chicken, ground beef, or even canned tuna would dress this up in no time. Not only is this really good, it is easy and quick to pull together. I made the sauce in about 10 minutes, the same time it takes to cook the pasta. 

Ingredients

1 can of evaporated milk
1 can of cream of celery
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
1 packet of green onion dip mix (regular onion dip works well, too)
1 small can of diced green chilies
3/4 lb pasta, cooked  and drained
cheddar cheese for sprinkling over the top


First, throw all the ingredients (except the pasta) into a large sauce pan and turn the heat on to low. Stir this pretty often or it will burn on the bottom.
 

Once the sauce has melted and cooked together, add in the cooked pasta. If it seems a little too gloppy, add a splash of milk. If it is too runny for your taste, add in some of the cheese for the garnish. No matter what you do, this will be a favorite in no time!
 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


 Extra Special Chicken Salad



"I had a pocket burger for lunch today and it was good. What did you have for lunch today?" A sweet student asked me. Anyone who comes into the beginning of my last class of the day may think we are not learning, but education is indeed occurring. I have many students who are refugees from around the world and practicing language is something we must do. It is no surprise that my students know lots of names for food since it is one of my favorite things to talk about. 

"I had chicken salad for lunch today and it was good." This little boy is from Thailand and has never experienced chicken salad. His adorable little head cocked to the side in confusion as  explained what was in it.

This recipe is loosely based on the kind of chicken salad my grandma made. The secret ingredient is the chicken base. It adds a really concentrated salty and chicken flavor I love. The fruit and nuts give it a great crunch and make it an extra special lunch.

Ingredients

Salad
2 cups of cubed or shredded chicken (I like white meat, but what you have will work)
1/2 crisp apple, chopped
1/4 almonds, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
8 spears of asparagus, trimmed and chopped

Dressing
1 teaspoon chicken base
2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup miracle whip or mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon pepper



With a fork or a small whisk, combine the chicken base, Italian salad dressing and water together. The water makes it easy to break up the chicken base. I like to use the paste textured chicken base, but the powdered is also great. After the chicken base is well blended, add in the remaining ingredients making sure it is well combined.


Mix all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure everything is chopped to be about the same size.


Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and mix this really well. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator to chill. I love to serve this over a bed of mixed greens with some crackers as a delicious lunch. Try this out soon, you will love it!

Monday, March 17, 2014



 Hot Marinara Dip


I will not dispute it, the picute above is not great. What is great is this dip! When I lived in New Mexico a few girlfriends and I would go to a little bistro for a snack and some gabbing. They had this crazy good dip with ooey gooey cheese in the middle and piping hot marinara  all around it. This was served with some crusty bread and a smile. It was so cheesy and delicious!

This is so easy to make as well. I tried my version for a few lady friends the other night and they loved it! In a few minutes the whole thing was gone. Trust me, you will love this too. It is perfect for an appetizer, potluck or even a small dinner.

Ingredients

1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of mozzarella cheese (any Italian melting cheese will work)
1 teaspoon of your favorite Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce 
Serve this with baked magic bread, French bread or even some toasted pita


 
 First, combine the cream cheese and mozzarella with the Italian seasoning. The Italian seasoning I used has tons of garlic in it. If you like a more garlicky flavor, add in some garlic powder or garlic salt.


 Pour over the marinara sauce. Bake this at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until it is hot and bubbly in the center.


This is so easy! I even baked the dip in my toaster oven to save some time on the preheating of the oven. I hope you try this soon, and love it!

Monday, March 3, 2014


 Chocolate Almond Granola Bars

 I have been on a rice krispy treat kick as of late. In college I worked at a restaurant that gave away all the rice krispy treats at the end of the day. I ate many of them on my walk home from work. So many in fact that I really never wanted to eat one agan. After a period of time away from them I tried one the other day and it was so tasty! Gooey and crispy all over. 

Since then I have been wanting to make everything into a rice krispy like bar. After a week or so of this I realized it may not be the healiest of habits so I went on a hunt for a better alternative. After combining a tride and true granola bar recipe with some new ingredients, I came up with a deliciously sweet and salty bar. It's crunchy from the almonds, sweet from the chocolate chips and crispy from the cereal in it. This is perfect for afternoon snack or breakfast. 

Ingredients

2 cups of quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cup plain cheerios
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped finely
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla


First, combine the first four ingredients in a very large bowl. Mix them well and set them off to the side. I like to use semi sweet chocolate chips, but mini chips work really well, too.


Heat the remaining ingredients over low heat until they are warmed through. This is the part of the recipe that will hold all the oats and cereal together.


While the wet ingredients are heating, take out some aggression on those cheerios. I like to use the end of a rolling pin to squish some of the cereal. This should not be a fine powder, you just need some of it to be smaller pieces to make it easier to eat.


Once the wet ingredients are heated through and gooey, add them to the dry ingredients. Make sure all of the dry stuff is coated with the mixture. If it looks a little dry, heat another tablespoon each of peanut butter and maple syrup.  Once all the cereal and goodness is coated, press the whole thing into a 9 X 13 pan. Use the rolling pin from earlier to really press all the ingredients firmly.


Once the granola has been pressed really firmly into the pan, chill this for 30 minutes in the fridge. 
 

Once the bars have cooled, cut them into squares or rectangles and keep them stored in an airtight container.
 

Sweet and salty bars of goodness, yay!

Monday, February 24, 2014


 Ranch Egg Bake



 I love to cook, but sometimes the clean up afterwords is obnoxious. I was looking at a brunch recipe the other day and it used so many different bowls my eyes didn't even make it to the end of the directions. Any recipe that gets you in and out of the kitchen quickly has my attention. It's an extra bonus when there are very few dirty dishes. This one is perfect! It is spicy with tons of flavor and takes very little time to make. Try this out on a Saturday morning and you will love it!

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 cup salsa
6 eggs



Clean the potatoes very well. Then, chop them into bite sized pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet that can go into the oven. Also, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
 

Place the potatoes in the heated pan and sprinkle over the taco seasoning. Let this cook over medium heat for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once the potatoes are a bit crisp on the outside, add in the salsa. I do this at around ten minutes.


Turn off the heat on the stove. I take a large spoon or spatula and make small valleys in the geography of the potatoes. Then, crack in the eggs. I like to do this in a nice pattern, but it is not important.


Bake the eggs for about ten to fifteen minutes or until the eggs are set to your liking.