Thursday, August 6, 2015

Greek Potatoes


 I love grilled meat and grilling season. The meat is delicious, it is easy to prepare and there is usually not a lot of clean up. Grilling is an easy and tasty way to get a meal on the table. 

The only dilemma I face with grilling is thinking about what to serve with the delicious seared pork chop, steak or chicken.

These potatoes are a great thing to go along with anything you grill! The onions are sweet and caramelized, the potatoes are garlicky and have tons of flavor. Using the microwave to pre-cook the potatoes also makes them really quick to pull together for a weeknight meal. 

Ingredients

4 potatoes, cleaned
1 Tablespoon oil
1/4 medium onion
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
1 teaspoon salt 
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced


 Place the cleaned potatoes into the microwave and cook them on high for about 3 to 4 minutes. This will help speed up the cooking without cooking the potatoes all the way through. Cut them into large slices.

On a medium sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the potatoes, onions, salt and Greek seasoning. Let this cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. After the onions have softened, add in the garlic and lemon juice. 

Continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a fork.


This is a great side for any meat you grill or bake!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Chicken and White Wine Sauce



One of my very favorite things to do as a kid was to look through all of my mom's cookbooks. I knew each page and picture by heart, but I still loved looking through each recipe carefully. I practiced this silly ritual with all of her cookbooks and outdated cooking magazines even when I would come home from college. 

One picture always stood out to me. It was from a fancy schmancy culinary institute and we never made anything from it except for this chicken. For years my mom and I would discuss how beautiful this chicken was. The peas, the sauce, it just looked so beautiful. 

Years and years went by. 

Then we finally made it and it was amazing. 

This is the quick and easy version of that dish. It still has the delicious sauce and the chicken is so tender, juicy and flavorful. The wine sauce is perfect when soaked up by some white fluffy rice or mashed potatoes. 

The original version includes mushrooms, and I love them in this recipe but my sweet husband does not, so I sometimes leave them out. 


Ingredients

1 3 pound chicken, cut in pieces
2 onions, sliced thinly
1 pound button mushrooms (optional)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
10 ounces frozen peas

Place the first 6 ingredients into a slow cooker that has been greased with cooking spray. Cook this on low for about 6 to 8 hours.
30 minutes before serving, thicken the sauce. While the mixture is still cooking, add the cornstarch to about 1/3 cup of water and combine well. Stir the cornstarch and water into the wine sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. When the sauce is thickened, add in the frozen peas. 
 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mexican Pizzas



 You may be thinking "Is she posting another type of Mexican food? Doesn't she ever get tired of it?" No. I do not ever tire of Mexican food. With its meat, cheese and spice, it just makes me the happiest girl in the world. 

This is a new and fantastic recipe. Everything you love about burritos, nachos and pizza all put together in a hand held package. It is delightfully messy but so, so tasty you won't mind the ingredients dripping down your arm. 

This is also pretty easy to whip up for a large group. These little pizzas are very hearty and would be great for a party or for a move night. I promise, you will love these delicious triangles of yummy cheesy goodness.

Ingredients

1 pound of ground beef
1/3 onion, chopped
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles
 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
12 fajita sized tortillas 
(you may need more, but this serves 4 people)
2 cups grated cheese 
1/2 cup salsa, plus more for serving

 

 The first step to making these pizzas, is to start with the meat filling. Brown the hamburger over medium heat adding the taco seasoning, salt and pepper to your taste. Then add in the chopped onion and cook the whole thing until the onion is just about soft. Add in your can of Rotel tomatoes. If you don't like spicy things, you can just used diced tomatoes instead. Cook this for about five minutes more and add in more salt and pepper if needed.


 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place one tortilla per person on a cookie sheet. 


Smear on about 2 heaping spoonfuls of the refried beans onto the tortilla. Add on a tablespoon or so of salsa. Add a thin layer of the meat mixture over the top of the salsa. Sprinkle on a little cheese over the top.
 

Place another tortilla over the cheese and build the same ingredients up one more time. You should end with two meat and cheese layers with three small tortillas through out. A tip to help keep these all together is don't add too much of the liquid from the meat mixture to your pizzas. 


Once you have completed your second layer of beans, salsa, meat and cheese, plot on your last tortilla. 


Bake these in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the insides are hot and the top is crunchy and crispy. 
 

These are best cut with a pizza cutter to make precise cuts. I love to top my Mexican pizza with more salsa and a few jalapenos.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Delight

 

 Summertime is the best time for fruit desserts. All the fruit is in season and it makes for a quick and easy treat you can whip up. This one I especially love since it combines all the classic flavors of strawberries, fluffy cream and poundcake. 

I pretty sure this is what angels eat in the clouds. 

This dessert is so easy and doesn't require any baking if you get bakery made pound cake. The juice from the strawberries soaks into the pound cake making it so tender and flavorful. Try this out on a hot day and it will be a big hit!

Ingredients

2 cups cold milk
1 package of instant vanilla pudding
16 ounces of whipped cream or whipped topping
1 pound of strawberries, cleaned, hulled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound cake sliced

In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding and milk. Mix on high until the mixture is thick. Fold in the whipped cream. 

In another bowl combine the strawberries and sugar.  
 
 Now to assemble!

Plop about half of the pudding mixture into a 9 X 13 pan. Sprinkle about half of the strawberries over the top. Then place the pound cake over the strawberries. If you have large gaps, tear the pound cake to fill in naked spots. 


 Evenly spread out the remaining strawberries over the top of the pound cake layer.

 Then spread over the remaining pudding mixture. I like to have a few strawberries poking out to make the whole thing pretty. 


Chill this in the fridge for about 2 hours or more before serving.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Yoshinoya Beef Bowl



"What was the best thing you ate?" That's the question people ask me when I tell them about my recent trip to Japan. 

Let me tell you, we ate a lot. 

A lot of fish, or fish based things that were crazy good and pretty fancy. Yes, the sushi was great, but what I loved the most was a bit simpler. Not only was it delicious, it was the setting that made it pretty great. 

It was our last day in Japan, and we were hurrying around our neighborhood trying to find all our last minutes souvenirs and goodies for our friends and family. We had time for just a quick lunch.

In a small building (they are all small honestly) we squished our way upstairs to a crowded lunch counter. We sat down and looked at a picture menu on the wall just above the kitchen. By kitchen I mean three women, two pots and some ladles. In a separate room only seen through an open window was a small sink.

After making our selection we had just a few moments to watch the culinary furry take place in this little lunch time haven. The two pots percolated quickly with lots of steam coming out. The women yelled orders at one another and bowls came sliding out on the counter from the sink room. The wet bowls were quickly filled with rice and a heavenly mixture made of beef, onions and flavorful broth. A swift woman handed us our bowls of goodness and we ate happily. 

That was my favorite thing I ate. It was very simple, but so delicious.

As soon as we came home I looked up several recipes and decided this combination of a few is the closest to the real thing. I hope you love it! 

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin or Japanese plum wine
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 medium onion sliced
1 pound of beef sirloin sliced thinly
rice for serving

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours. This is best served over some fluffy white rice.  The beef is so tender and delicious while the onions are soft and sweet. You will melt over this tasty beef bowl.


 
 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Banana Pudding



It may sound strange, but until very recently, I had never had banana pudding. To many this is a classic dish they grew up eating, especially in the south. It just always seemed a little icky to me. 

I don;t like banana flavored things and I am not a huge fan of soggy cookies. Thus, I went through life avoiding this jiggly pudding dish. 

Until I ate it on accident. I was a at a potluck and saw a beautiful dish covered in whipped cream. I took a large helping and tried it out.

It was fluffy pudding heaven with bananas inside!

I requested the recipe for it and made it myself. It is truly delicious. Not only does this taste pretty darn good, it also comes together very quickly. It's also great for summer since it doesn't require any baking. 

Ingredients

1 box of instant vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cup cold milk
1 tub of whipped topping, divided
4 bananas, sliced
1 to 1 1/2 boxes of vanilla wafers 

I bought two boxes of vanilla wafers since I knew I would eat some along the way :)



Dump the box of pudding into a large bowl and add the milk. Mix with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes a thick custard.


 
Fold in half of the whipped topping into the pudding mixture. Make sure you mix this gently so it stays nice and fluffy.


In a 9 X 13 dish, make a layer of the vanilla wafers on the bottom. I like to use the broken ones to fill in the small spaces. Place one layer of the bananas on top of the wafers.


Spread about 1/2 of the fluffy pudding mixture over the cookies and bananas. 


On top of the fluffy pudding layer, add more vanilla wafers and bananas. Don;t worry if you mess this up. I was watching a movie and reversed the order of the cookies and bananas. No one would be the wiser.


For the last layer, I add just one more layer of the wafer cookies since they are my favorite part of this whole yummy delight. On top of the 3rd layer of cookies, carefully smooth over the remaining whipped topping. 


Take 10 more cookies and crush them in your hand like Godzilla. Spread these tasty crumbs over the whipped cream for a pretty finish.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cilantro Lime Chicken



As summer starts to heat up, I love to use my slow cooker. While many of the recipes I associate with a slow cooker involve wintery casseroles, there are tons of recipes to make for summer food.

I love to use this method simply because it doesn't heat up the kitchen. I love grilled food, but for every night it gets a bit old. This is a great way to cook a whole meal in one pot and keep your kitchen cool. 

This recipe is so fresh and summery tasting. Lime and cilantro give this dish a bright flavor you will love. The last addition of the cilantro and lime really keep the bright flavors of this meal. This chicken can be served over rice (like I chose to do), wrapped up in a tortilla, or even spread between crunchy corn tortillas for a tasty toastada. However you choose to serve this, it is delicious!

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 14 ounce can of roasted tomatoes and green chilies
1 Tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
juice of 4 limes, divided
1 medium sized bunch of cilantro, chopped and divided


Dump the first five ingredients into a slow cooker sprayed with non stick spray. Add in the juice from three of the limes and about half to three quarters of the cilantro. Cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 5 hours. Shred the meat and return back to the pot to keep warm. Serve with the remaining cilantro sprinkled over top and each person should get a 1/4 lime wedge to squirt over their bowl or tortilla. 



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Honey Ginger Salmon


 

If you are a regular reader of this blog you have probably noticed I haven't posted anything with fish in it. 

It is not my favorite.

 Unless it's raw. Or a crustacean. Or made into a fish stick with a lot of tarter sauce.

Cooked fish is just so...fishlike. I am generally not a fan. My husband on the other hand could eat fish every day of his life.

After a recent trip to Japan (much more on that later) and a large consumption of fish and fish products I figured it was time to try out one of those floppy creatures in my own kitchen.

As a non lover of cooked fish things, this was pretty good. Chances are if you have a family member who is as hesitant about fish as I am, this may be worth a try. 

The sauce is really flavorful. Soy sauce, ginger and honey make a sticky crust on the outside of the salmon. It's really nice and makes the fish really tender. This is also so simple to prepare, it even works in a toaster oven!

Ingredients

1 pound of salmon 
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch of fresh grated ginger (1 teaspoon ground ginger would also work)
4 tablespoons honey


 Combine the sauce ingredients in a large plastic bag. Let the salmon marinate in the bag for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, place the salmon and the sauce into an oven safe dish.


Bake the fish at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the fish  just starts to flake apart.


The fish went really well over a bed of fluffy rice along side some sauteed cabbage. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Almond Cake

 

 A moist piece of cake is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Tender, buttery cake with a hint of almond flavor just makes a gal's day. Not to mention the icing that goes on top just makes it even better. I got this recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I received for my wedding. This butter cake recipe is so yummy already, but the almond flavoring just sends it over the top.

This easy recipe is perfect to bring to any potluck or would be a really good birthday cake. No matter when or where you serve this, people will love it!

 Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 1/4 cup milk

Frosting
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 + cups of powdered sugar

 
First, the most important thing is to make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.  Some would do this by planning ahead and leave everything out for an hour or so, but I typically use a much speedier method. For the eggs, place them in a bowl of hot, but not boiling water for about 5 minutes, this helps make the batter much fluffier.


Beat the butter with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add in the room temperature eggs, and sugar slowly. Beat this for about 2 minutes. Continue mixing and add in the vanilla and almond extracts.


In a small bowl (or large measuring cup) combine the flour, salt and baking powder.


Add about 1/3 of the dry mixture to the bowl of buttery fluffiness. Mix just until this is combined. Add in about 1/3 of the milk ( I warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it is no longer cold) and mix well. Keep alternating these two mixtures, mixing well until you are out of both the dry ingredients and the milk. Make sure to scrape the sides and mix the whole thing for another minute. 


 Grease a 9X13 pan well and pour the batter in. Tap the cake pan on the counter a few times to release any bubbles that could cause holes in the cake. 


 Bake the cake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting. For the frosting recipe, combine all the ingredients with an electric mixture until the mixture is light and fluffy. If the frosting is not stiff enough, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar at a time until you reach the desired consistency. 

 

Frost the cake using the back of a spoon, cut and serve.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chicken Green Chile




Colorado is experiencing some weird, weird weather. Even more so than usual. In fact what is so unusual about it is how consistent it has been. It has rained almost every day for the last month and a half. 

The rain and clouds have chased away what is usually a sunny and hot time of year. Personally, I am ok with it.

If it's chilly and raining, you can make green chile. I love a good bowl of spicy, roasty tasting green chile. I usually make it with pork, but I recently tried it with chicken and it was just delicious. 

Green chile is great just on it's own in a bowl with a sprinkle of cheese and a few chips. It is also a great addition to beans and rice, burritos, tacos, nachos or even mixed with velveeta to make a delicious queso. It may even be good on a car bumper. It's just so tasty, almost anything goes with it. 

Not only is this beyond delicious, it is super easy to make. You can do this in the slow cooker, on the stove top or in the oven the way my mom does it. 

Ingredients 

2 - 3 medium sized chicken thighs (bone and skin included)
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 27 ounce can of whole green chilies
1 14 ounce can of diced green chilies
1 14 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes and peppers
1 14 ounce can of Mexican style diced tomatoes
1 to 3 jalapenos, diced depending on taste
2 teaspoons of chicken base

There's not really a lot of instructions to go along with this. Just add some salt and pepper to you chicken thighs. Dump everything into a large, oven safe pot with the lid on. I like my green chile a little watery, so I fill up the cans about 1/4 of the way with water and add it to the pot. It also helps to  get every bit of the goodness out.  Cook for about 4 to 6 hours at 350 degrees. Shred the chicken and remove the bones. If it tastes flat to you, just add a little more chicken base. 


Yum.
 
That's it. This recipe makes a lot, but it does freeze really well for any time you need it.

If you are using a slow cooker, cook on low for about 8 hours and it should be perfect. For the stove top, simmer the whole mixture for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally.



Monday, June 15, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies



 Every once in a while, a girl just needs a cookie. Cookies are probably my favorite group of desserts for so many reasons. 

They are somewhat small, portable and come in so many great flavors. The outside is just slightly crispy while the inside is soft and chewy. Peanut butter cookies are some of the tastiest and the easiest to whip up when cookie cravings call for you.

This is a recipe I have been making for the last decade. I have tried others, but they are just not as good as these tender and butter cookies. This tried and true recipe comes from my all time favorite cookbook from Martha Stewart. I got the Favorite Comfort Food cookbook for my 13th birthday. Yes, I was a terribly cool child.

I have made this recipe so many times, I can make it from memory. If you or cook for someone who has a peanut allergy, almond butter works really well with this as well. 

Ingredients 

 

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter (I use smooth, but chunky is also great)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour, plus more for optional decorating

Cream the butter and peanut butter together with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and blend well. Crack in the egg and  pour in the vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour and mix just until the dough comes together. 

Collect 2 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until you have about 12 on the sheet. Dip a fork in a touch of flour and press it into the cookie dough making one pass vertically and one horizontally. Repeat this for all of the cookies. 

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes. When the cookies are firm around the edges, take them out of the oven and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Moving these little beauties will cause them to fall apart. 

Once the cookies are cool enough to move, place them into an airtight container. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Fire up the Grill


Man Crates

What makes a great cookout? That is the question that has been posed to me by the company Mancrates. 

Never heard of Mancrates? They are a company that makes really cool gifts for men. They fill a crate with products that just ooze manliness and then ship it to you with a crowbar for your fella to open up. 

In celebration of the start of BBQ season they have asked me to include some of my favorite things that really make a cookout special. 

Clearly, the food is super important. First, I love to have guests bring a side with them so everyone gets to have something they like regardless of food allergies and tastes. Not to mention everyone has the opportunity to try out new things. It doesn't hurt that this creates a little less work for the host or hostess! 

Some of my favorite sides I like to add to any BBQ get together include:



 







All of these have great flavor and go well with whatever the host is making for the main dish.

As far as logistics go, the outdoors need to be considered. I am not sure if citronella candles actually help keep bugs away, but they at least give you the illusion they might combat those nasty biting critters.  I am also a big fan of things that provide some shade. Whether it be an awning, a tarp or umbrella, it is needed for us ginger folk to enjoy the out of doors.

As far as providing refreshments, iced tea and lemonade are always a safe bet. People can drink them as is, mix them together for an Arnold Palmer or mix them with whatever libation they bring with them.

As with most meals, my favorite part is the dessert. I love a good fruit dessert after a great BBQ. Fruit desserts a sweet, but not too heavy and hit the spot after a great meal.



 





Any of these or even some grilled pineapple with ice cream is a delicious way to end your cookout or BBQ. I hope you make some of these as you fire up your grill this Memorial Day!