Monday, January 27, 2014

 Pizza Dip

As a child of football fans I learned to love Sunday night "dinner." All the best finger foods you could think of were suddenly on the menu due to what was on the TV. It's a delightful combination. Entertainment and deliciousness all on the sofa. As an adult football fan I love the traditional foodball food, but it is hard to find new dips from time to time. There's always the standard nacho cheese and spinach artichoke dip, but sometimes a new one is needed. 

I found this delightful new recipe on Pinterest one afternoon. The ladies over at Six Sister's Stuff have some amazing creations, including this one.  My brain went into neanderthal mode. "I like pizza. I like dip. I will like this." And it was all true! Not only did I love this, but so did my fellow Bronco fans. I made this for a playoff game this year and the whole bowl was gone before half time. This certainly will be enjoyed during the super bowl this year!


1 8oz block of cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic salt
8 oz marinara sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Italian Seasoning to taste
20 slices of pepperoni

Combine the sour cream, garlic salt and softened cream cheese in a small bowl. Make sure they are all room temperature and are blended well.

Squish this delightful dairy combination in the bottom of a small baking dish.

 Top that layer with the marinara sauce making sure it is even.

Sprinkle over the remaining cheese. I like to add shake or two of Italian Seasoning here.

The final layer is the pepperoni on top. I just like to layer it close together to make it pretty. You can add any pizza topping you like at this point, but make sure it is something that won't burn in the oven too quickly.

Bake this scrumptious dip at 350 degrees for about forty minutes or until the top is golden brown. This is delicious with pita chips, triscuits  or any cracker you like. I served this with some thin sliced magic bread and it was beyond perfect!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

 Beef Strip Stir Fry

I love cheese. Cheese, butter, chocolate, cookies, chips and their good friend bean dip. All of these things are in the "love" category for me. A different and better for you kind of love comes in the form of steamed broccoli. Stay with me for a second, I haven't gone all crazy on you. Broccoli has a way of catching all things delicious and holding onto it in it's tree like branches. What's the most flavorful thing in any food? It's the sauce catching broccoli! This sauce is one you want to catch and get all of for sure.

This meal is super easy and full of veggies. Not only is it good for you, it has a nice balance of sweet, salty and spicy. Even if it doesn't include any dairy products, I would say this meaty stir fry is quite loveable. 


2 lbs of trimmed strip steak
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 medium heads of broccoli, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 Napa cabbage, chopped
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons pineapple juice concentrate
1/4 cup tablespoons water
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce

 First, slice the beef into strips. Then roll the steak pieces in the flour lightly. If there is too much flour on the meat, it tastes more like chicken fried steak than stir fry.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet while you are coating the meat. Once the oil heats up, brown the meat just until the outside is golden and crusty. Then, place these in a bowl off to the side.

Next, add in the carrots and broccoli. Let these cook for about a minute before adding in the cabbage. Add in a little more oil if the pan seems dry.

Add in the cabbage and continue to cook for about another two to three minutes. Don't worry if these are still super crispy, they will get a second dose of cooking in a little bit. Take the veggies out of the pan and place them with the meat.

At the bottom of the pan there will be some yummy cooked bits from all the deliciousness the vessel has experienced. Add in the minced garlic and let this brown for about 30 seconds. Mix in the soy sauce, water, Sriracha, and pineapple juice concentrate. Let this come to a simmer and then return the meat and veggies to the pan.

Allow this all to cook for about another five minutes. I like the broccoli to still have a bit of "snap" to it. You also want to make sure the meat is still tender and juicy.

Serve this along with some rice and maybe even some toasted sesame seeds for some added fanciness.

Make this tonight, and you will LOVE it!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pineapple Cobbler


 "What does that say?" This is a question my precious 7th graders ask pretty frequently when I hand write things. "It says something about cobblers or cobblestones or...I'm not really sure." The boys in the front are always eager to be the reporters. "What's a cobbler?" They asked. I really meant the shoe making kind of cobbler, but it was right before lunch so my brain was hard wired to think of the delicious fruit and cake kind. "It's a fruit dessert with a yummy cake like topping over it." I tell them. They look at me puzzled since desserts really don't belong to the working class of Ancient Rome. "Well, I can't really read it, but it looks like you tried very hard to write it neatly for us." A sweet girl says.

The rest of the day I had tried to think of the last time I had made a cobbler. It had been a long time since the fruits of summer were so deliciously perfect for such a treat. It was a fresh ten degrees outside so most fruits were not on sale. In my mind I went through my produce and came upon a golden idea: pineapple cobbler. All the things that are super tasty about pineapple upside down cake, but super easy and buttery. It was probably the best idea I have had in a long time. It came out with a thick and rich golden syrup and moist topping. It is pretty much perfect.


Fruit Filling
2 to 3 cups of fresh pineapple cut into small chunks
1/2 cup of brown sugar
 juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup of flour

First, place the 1 stick of butter into a small casserole dish and allow this to melt in the over while it is preheating.

Heat all the filling ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. I only added a little sugar, because my pineapple was really fresh and sweet. Cook this for about 10 minutes, just to soften the pineapple for a bit.

Combine all of the remaining cobbler ingredients in order. Do not add the butter, it will just stay in the pan and have the batter layered over it. 

This is where the recipe might seem a little odd. Pour the cobbler batter over the melted butter. Do not stir this, it will all combine.

Then, after the batter, pour over the cooked fruit. It seems a little odd, but the layers should be: butter, batter, and then fruit. There is a magic occurrence that takes place in the oven where everything just finds it's place. The batter on top of the fruit and the butter flavor just seems to be everywhere. 

Bake the cobbler for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. The top does not have to be super browned, but the middle should be set and not wiggly. 

Serve this delightful treat with some vanilla ice cream and you will be delighted!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

 Homemade Refried Beans

Refried beans have gotten a rather boring wrap in the way we eat them. Just plopped next to some tacos or layered in a dip, they are usually seen as an innocent bystander to something awesome. That is understandable, unless you make them yourself. Making them with cheese and bacon will certainly change your ideas on poor old beans There are certain things that are worth taking the time to make yourself. Puff Pastry? No. Refried beans? Yes! These are so delicious and easy to make you will never go back to the can again.


2 slices of bacon
3 cups of cooked pinto beans
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup of shredded cheese

 First, cut the bacon into small pieces with kitchen shears. I got this tip from Linda at My Kind of Cooking. It's one of my favorite cooking tips ever! Cook the bacon over low heat in a large pot for about two minutes. The bacon doesn't need to be cooked, the beans just need a little fat to work in.

Place the beans into the pot with the bacon. I cook my own beans from dry, but you can use canned if you want. Cooking your own beans is super easy. Just place 1/2 pound of beans into a slow cooker and cover them with water. Cook the beans on low for about six hours or until the beans are tender. Then add in one packet of onion soup mix. I reserve the bean cooking liquid when I make refried beans to help smooth it out.

Cook the beans in the bacon for about fifteen minutes. They should have a nice bacon flavor after this.

Add in about 1/2 cup of either bean cooking liquid or chicken broth. This will help in the puree process. You could add in a bit more liquid if you need it.

Puree the beans using an immersion blender, blender or even a potato masher until it just has a few partially whole beans in it. You don't want to to be completely smooth, just a bit lumpy.Then add in the extra spices. Continue to cook this over low heat for about ten more minutes. Add in more liquid if it starts to get too thick.

After about ten minutes, turn off the heat and add the cheese. I never said these beans were good for you.

I like to serve this in a casserole dish as a side, or even as a dip with some tortilla chips. Regardless of what you serve these with, they will be the star!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Salted Pecan Chocolate Squares

One of my favorite things in the whole world is a chocolate covered salted pecan. It's sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy. I came to know this level of deliciousness while I was teaching in Las Cruces. There was a sweet family who would buy the whole staff chocolate covered salted pecans. You have never seen a group of teachers so excited. These sweet and salty gems were amazing. So amazing that I had to hide them in the bottom drawer of my desk so I might forget about them for a minute or two. It didn't work. 

Heaven knows I do not have the patience to take a pecan half, dip it in chocolate and allow it to dry. It's doubtful it would even make it to the semi solid stage before I ate it. This being the case I have come up with an alternative plan with the same delicious flavor. Not only is this crazy addicting, it is very easy to make. 


3 cups of pecan pieces or chips
1 tablespoon of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of salt
24 ounces of milk chocolate chips

Nuts purchased in the baking section of the grocery store are not toasted or salted. You could buy the nuts roasted and  salted, but I like to do this myself since the nuts can get rancid or be overly salty. This is a very easy process. Place the butter and nuts into a small pan and cook them for about ten minutes over medium low heat. Make sure you stir them every few minutes so they do not burn. After this has toasted for a few minutes, add in the salt. Make sure you mix this in very well. If you are not careful, the candy will have pockets of super saltiness. Eww!

After the nuts have been toasted, set them off to the side. Place the chocolate chips into a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate chips for thirty seconds. Stir the chips. Keep doing this process until the chips are mostly melted. Be very careful you do not overheat the chocolate. If the chocolate is overheated it will become gloppy and grey. You want the chocolate to be swimable and smooth!

 Dump the salty pecans into the melted chocolate. Mix this very well to make sure the chocolate and nuts are well combined. Try not to eat it all in this phase, it will be terribly difficult. At least be sure to wipe your mouth so no one knows you tested the product.

After the chocolate and nuts are combined, pour it all out on a big piece of wax or parchment paper. Smooth this out until all of it is about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure it's even so no one feels cheated. Let this cool and solidify. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour. If you are in a hurry, throw it in the fridge to cool. Cut the candy into sensibly portioned squares and enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

 Baked Potato Soup

 Soup is one my of  favorite winter foods! It's the meal equivalent to a sweater and cozy slippers. This soup has quickly become one I make all the time since it is so easy and delicious. Some soup recipes have tons of ingredients and take hours to prepare. Not this one! This super creamy potato soup can be made in about 30 minutes and only uses 6 ingredients. Not to mention is has much less fat than other potato soup recipes since it uses evaporated milk.


6 slices of bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
 4 medium potatoes also cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 12 oz cans of evaporated milk
3 cups of chicken stock
cheese for topping (optional)

 Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a medium sized pot until it is just slightly crispy. Take all of the bacon out of the pan leaving a few tablespoons of the fat. Drain the bacon and set it off to the side. Don't worry, it will come back into the soup later!

Put all the potatoes into the pan and cook them for about ten minutes in the bacon fat. This helps the potatoes develop a bit more flavor than just boiling them right away. You don't need much color on them, just let them absorb some of the bacon goodness. I also add a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Be careful not to add too much salt, as the chicken stock is already fairly salty.

After the potatoes have cooked for about ten minutes, add in the evaporated milk and chicken stock or broth. Bring this to a high simmer and cook for about ten minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Once the potatoes are tender, blend the soup with an immersion blender until almost smooth. I like to leave in quite a few potato  chunks. You can also use a traditional blender. Place half of the soup in the blender and puree it. Then add it back to the pot with the rest of the soup. Once you have blended the soup, add back a bit more than half of the previously crisped bacon. I like to let this simmer for a few minutes, but you can easily serve this right away.

Use the other half of the bacon to garnish the soup as well as some cheese sprinkled over the top of each bowl.