Peppermint Bark

I was in the mood for a festive treat and now that I'm trying to be better about not cheating on my gluten-free diet, I needed an alternative to cookies. I came across a bag of white chocolate chips and thought, "Peppermint Bark!" It was easy and turned out very pretty and tasty (if I do say so myself). I think it will be my new holiday trademark treat :-).

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips
6-8 candy canes (I think I used about 7)


-Enlist the help of some eager hammering hands to smash the candy canes. I unwrapped mine, placed them in a thick Ziploc bag and let the kiddos hammer away.
-Spread a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet (I didn't have any and used aluminum foil which I sprayed lightly with my canola oil spray)
-Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a double broiler (or if you do it the ghetto fabulous way like me, boil some water in a big pot and put the chips in a smaller pot inside the boiling water). Once melted smooth, spread into a thin layer on the cookie sheet (I put about 1/2 t oil in help make the chocolate more smooth). Place in freezer until it is cooled and hard.
-Melt the white chocolate chips the same way. When it is smooth pour in most of the crushed candy canes, saving some for the top. Spread this layer on top of the chocolate layer quickly, before the dark chocolate starts to melt again.
-Sprinkle the top with the remaining candy canes and push lightly into the soft white chocolate.
-Freeze again. Once cooled, break into pieces of the desired size and enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

I saw this recipe awhile back on Real Mom Kitchen and had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make it. With our cold, rainy weather I was excited to try it out. It was a creamier version of my tortilla soup. And of course, crock pot meals are always a nice way to make your day easier. The girls really liked it!

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn (I'll use a can next time, I think the corn stays crunchier)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow, green, or red bell pepper (I used red)
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce (I used mild red)
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup (I used 98% FF)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 cup shredded Pepper jack cheese
2 chicken breasts (I used 1 can chicken and dumped broth in too)

In a slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper.
Place 2 chicken breasts on top of mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.
Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite sized pieces. Add chicken back into soup.
Top with pepper jack cheese and serve. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips.

Almond Stuffed Chicken

This recipe is from an old issue of Cooking Light that I came across. Mine didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the one they pictured :-), but it still tasted great and that's really what counts, right?!

-1/3 c. light garlic and herbs spreadable cheese, such as Boursin light (I used 1/3 less fat garlic and chives cream cheese)
-1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped, and divided
-3 T. chopped fresh parsley, divided
-4 chicken breast halves
-1/2 t. salt
-1/4 t. freshly ground pepper (I used much more)
-1 1/2 t. butter

-Combine spreadable cheese, 3 T almonds, and 2 T parsley in a small bowl. Set aside.
-Cut horizontal slit through thickest portion of chicken to form a pocket. Stuff 1 1/2 T almond mixture into each pocket; secure each with a wooden pick. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
-Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over med heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes each side or until done. Remove from pan; cover and let stand 2 minutes. Top chicken with remaining almonds and parsley.

Cheesy Rice Fritters

These little guys were a surprise hit with everyone in the family! I knew I would like them, but Mike and the girls loved them almost as much as I did! I made a few with breadcrumbs and most of them without and the ones without stayed together and got even crispier on the outside than the ones with! I didn't have any bacon on hand and just sliced up some ham lunch meat and it seemed to work fine, but you could leave the meat out to keep it vegetarian too. The other change I made was adding some finely diced onion when cooking the ham and I thought it was a great addition! I subscribed to Rachael Ray's magazine during some Amazon deal last year and I'm so glad I did - I have come across lots of tasty recipes in them each month and it's much more fun to flip through a magazine than search her site!

* 1 cup arborio rice (I used brown rice)
* 3 slices bacon, chopped (I used sliced ham lunch meat)
***1/2 c. finely chopped onion***
* 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* Salt and pepper
* 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (optional)
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* One 10-ounce bag spinach, coarsely chopped
* 1 pinch crushed red pepper

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, bring the rice and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the rice is still firm but cooked through and the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, add the bacon to the rice, reserving the skillet with the bacon fat. Stir the mozzarella, parmesan and egg into the rice mixture; season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide the rice mixture into 12 mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten into 3-inch patties. Sprinkle on both sides with the breadcrumbs.
4. Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the patties and cook, turning once, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add the spinach to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning, until wilted, about 2 minutes; season with the crushed red pepper. Top with the fritters.

Pepper Jack Potato Soup

Chrissy told me about this yummy potato soup recipe and then actually remembered to email it to me too...thanks :-)! It was SO good...a great new Southwest twist on classic potato soup. It also was super creamy despite the pretty light ingredients I used.

3 strips of bacon (plus extra for garnish, and added tastiness)
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups cubed russet potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized)
1/4 cup butter (I used 3 T)
1/4 cup flour (I used 3 T cornstarch)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk (I used FF)
8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded (I used light pepper jack)
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground thyme

1. fry the bacon, crumble and set aside
2. heat the oil in a soup pot on med heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and the bell peppers; cook and stir just until the onions are soft. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer about 20 minutes, or until carrots are cooked.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a medium saucepan until they are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the soup with bacon. Wipe out the pan if necessary and use if for the next step.
4. Melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and turn the heat up slightly and whisk until the mixture is bubbly. Add the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Add to the soup.
5. Stir in the cheese and continue to cook until the cheese melts. Do not boil. Add the white pepper, salt, and thyme. Ladle into bowls!

Notes from Chrissy:
Mine ALWAYS comes out super thick. I don't know if that's how it is supposed to be, but we like it to be a little soupier... so I just add milk at the very end until its the consistency that I like, plus it cools it down so we can eat it sooner :-) And I always have it with fresh french bread to dip in it.

Sizzling Beef and Scallions

Oh, how I'm missing having some daylight to take pictures of my food in. I just don't have anywhere great to take them inside and my pictures are certainly not doing the food justice. About the recipe though...this one was in my last issue of Rachael Ray and I LOVED this one. I haven't made anything Asian inspired for awhile and this deluxe fried rice hit the spot! Easy, light, and flavorful.

* 8 ounces London broil, sliced into short, thin strips
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 10 scallions, green parts thinly sliced, white parts cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper (I had an orange one on hand)
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
* 2/3 cup frozen peas, thawed (I used less)
* 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 4 cups cooked white rice, chilled
(I added some garlic salt and crushed red pepper)

1. In a medium bowl, toss the beef with 1 tablespoon soy sauce. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl.
2. In the skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites, bell pepper and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; stir in the peas. Push the vegetables to one side of the skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil and pour in the eggs. Stir the eggs until they begin to set, then stir in the vegetables. Add the egg-vegetable mixture to the beef; stir in the sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rice, breaking up any clumps, then cook, without stirring, until heated through, 2 minutes. Stir in the beef mixture and scallion greens.

Cuban Pork Chops and Sofrito Mashed Potatoes

First, I haven't been getting dinner ready until about 6pm and it is already dark, which is making for some less than stellar pictures. I found this recipe on Favorite Family Recipes while searching for a new pork chop recipe to try. This offered a great change of flavors. I loved the combination of tangy meat and the yummy potatoes. I saved the rest of my rub mix too because I think it would be great on some grilled chicken to throw in a salad. There was a lot of prep work chopping in this one, but your hard work is rewarded :-).

1 cup plus 1/4 cup orange juice, divided
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 cup vinegar
4 (1-inch-thick) pork chops
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp. chicken broth
1 Roma tomato, chopped, for garnish
1/2 avocado, sliced, for garnish

In a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag, combine 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup lime juice, and vinegar. Add pork and let it sit and marinate for about 1 hour in refrigerator.

In a small mixing bowl, combine all dried spices. Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel and rub with the dry spice mixture.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Place the pork chops in the pan and sear on 1 side until brown. Flip over and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue to cook until garlic begins to brown. Pour in the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, and broth. Simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced and begins to thicken. The chops should be cooked through.

Remove the chops from pan and put on a warm plate. Continue to reduce juices in pan by half. Pour over the chops and serve immediately.

Garnish with tomatoes and avocado.

Sofrito Mashed Postates:
2 tablespoons salt
2 pounds potatoes (recommended: Yukon gold)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 ounces tomato sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons salt
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

Fill a large pot with water, salt and potatoes and bring to boil. Cook until fork tender.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. When oil is hot add onions and peppers and saute for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown. Lower the heat and add tomato paste and stir for 3 to 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and let thicken.

Add tomato sauce and bring to simmer for 5 minutes. Then stir in butter and cream and set aside, covered to keep warm.

When potatoes are fork tender, drain water and mash slowly adding the sofrito mixture. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

This recipe was in the March 2009 of Real Simple magazine. We love beans and rice and I was excited to try a new variation. The radishes added a nice crunch to the dish...who would have thought?! I wish we had an avocado to eat with it...would have been heaven :-)!

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 radishes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute.
Add the beans, oregano, and 1 cup water. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and smash some of the beans with the back of a fork to thicken.
Serve the beans over the rice and top with the radishes and cilantro.

Chicken Corn Chowder

YUM!!! I may have eaten this for the last 3 meals in a row :-). Love it...even my lighter version is full of great flavors! I saw this on Holly's blog (it is actually called spicy chicken corn chowder, but it's not spicy at all)...thanks for sharing it!

5 bacon slices, chopped (I used pre-cooked bacon)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1/2" pieces (I used 1 can chicken)
1 large chopped red or orange bell pepper
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 cups russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used red potatoes)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen corn kernels
2 cups half and half or cream (I used 1% milk)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (plus more for garnish)
1-2 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup green onions (plus more for garnish)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)

Cook bacon in large pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and cool; crumble and reserve for garnish. Pour off all but 1/4 cup drippings from pot. (since I used pre-cooked bacon I didn't have bacon drippings, but it was still great!)
Add butter to pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, chicken breasts, and bell peppers; saute until onions are soft and chicken is golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Add flour; stir and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
Whisk in broth, then add potatoes, cumin, and thyme; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered until potatoes are somewhat tender, about 8 minutes.
Add corn, half and half, cheese, green chilies, and Tabasco; simmer until corn is tender, about 8 more minutes.
Add green onions and chopped cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with crumbled bacon, additional shredded cheese, green onions, and cilantro.
(LDS Living)

Mummy Dogs

I see these every Halloween and we finally made our own this year.
I found these cooking instructions from Pillsbury.

1 can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered (I didn't put these in)
10 large hot dogs
Cooking spray
Mustard or ketchup, if desired (or peppercorns - my mom used them for eyes when she made them last year)

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Unroll dough; separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal.
3. With knife or kitchen scissors, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 40 pieces of dough. Slice cheese slices into quarters (1/2 slice cheese, cut in half).
4. Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog and 1/4 slice of cheese to look like "bandages," stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face." On ungreased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down); spray dough lightly with cooking spray.
5. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw features on "face."

Chicken and Spinach Tortilla Bake

This recipe is from my latest issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray and is definitely a new favorite for me! In the magazine they suggest trading out the chicken for your favorite type of beans if you want to make it meatless and I think some black or pinto beans would be just as yummy. I also think a good salsa verde makes the difference for this dish and I used a Goya one that was really good, although a little spicier than I would have preferred (hence all the avocados on my serving to help cool it down...but I'll take any reason to have extra avocados). LOVED it and LOVED it just as much for lunch today :-)!

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 chicken cutlets, about 1 pound (I used 1 can chicken)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups store-bought salsa verde
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
4 large flour tortillas, cut into wedges (I did half the dish with flour, used 3, and the other half with corn, used 9 and then used a little extra salsa on top to keep it moist)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups baby spinach, about 1/4 pound (I didn't measure, just put an even layer of leaves to cover dish each time)
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (I used plain Monterey jack)

Preheat the oven to 450°.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then shred the meat.
Whisk together the salsa verde and ricotta; season with salt and pepper.
In a greased 9-inch square baking dish (I used 9x13), layer one-third of the salsa mixture, tortillas, chicken, onion, spinach and pepper jack; repeat twice.
Bake until golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Other magazine suggestions:
Swap in 3 cups crushed tortilla chips for the flour tortillas for added crunch.
Try monterey jack instead of pepper jack cheese for a mild, less spicy dish. (I was definitely glad I used plain monterey jack!)
Use a 15-ounce can of your favorite beans in place of the chicken for vegetarians.

Green Chili Curry

I had forgotten about seeing this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe until Jamie posted it on Jamie's Cookbook recently. We decided to give it a try and it came together easily and was pretty good. I did think it needed a little more flavor and we generously sprinkled our helpings with chili powder and pepper. Overall, really good though!

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into 1/2" strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup couscous, cooked according to package directions (we used jasmine rice)
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

Season both sides of chicken with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes per side until golden brown. In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, green chilies, curry powder, garam masala, and cumin. Add mixture to chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce reduces slightly. The sauce will be quite runny. To thicken it up a bit, I mixed one teaspoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water and added it to the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Serve chicken and green curry sauce over couscous and garnish with cilantro.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This yummy recipe comes from Joy The Baker, which I heard about through Sarah. I doubled the recipe, using 1 c mini-chocolate chips and 1 c regular ones. They are DELISH! We shared these and the pumpkin bars with our librarians and they both got rave reviews :-)!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I didn't have this and they still were great!)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips, or any chip you like

Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.

Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. You could also simply use a 1/4-cup measuring cup if you don’t have a scoop. Use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the rounds.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool cimpletely.

Dust the cooled cookies lightly with powdered sugar. (I ran out of powdered sugar making the frosting for the bars, but I want to try them again with the sugar on top!)

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I saw this yummy Paula Dean recipe on The Sisters' Cafe and decided to give it a try for my church recipe swap this week (which had a "pumpkin recipe" theme - check out the other recipes here). I have always loved the combination of pumpkin and cheesecake and these bars were delicious...and you know they were easy to make if I didn't mess them up :-)!
(I followed Mindy's suggestion to split the batter between 2 9x13 pans and thought they turned out perfectly)

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan (I used 9x13). Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing:
Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken

This was really easy, super flavorful and used ingredients that I usually have on hand already! My one complaint would be that the BBQ flavor overpowered the bacon and apple a bit more than I would have liked. My whole family loved it though! (I saw it the recipe in the latest issue of All You)

1/2 c barbecue sauce (I used original)
2 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and grated
juice of 1 lemon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 slices bacon
salt and pepper

-In a small bowl, combine bbq sauce, grated apple and lemon juice.
-Wrap 2 pieces of bacon around each chicken breast half. Place wrapped chicken in slow cooker and top with bbq-sauce mixture.
-Set slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hours.

Skillet Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles

When I was hunting for a beef recipe for our weekly menu I found this one on My Kitchen Cafe and Melanie sold me on it. She does a great job of describing her recipes, something I definitely could use improvement on. It didn't take long to make and it's always nice when you don't have to pre-cook the noodles for a dish (one less pot to clean later). Ella was especially in love with this and even asked for seconds!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, minced
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
8 ounces elbow macaroni (I used gluten free penne)
1 cup frozen corn (I only put 1/4 c in)
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese

Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onion, chili powder, coriander, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat or grease (the amount will depend on how lean your beef is). Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring often and keeping the heat at a steady simmer, until the macaroni is tender, about 12-12 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, frozen corn, green chiles and cilantro and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover and let sit off the heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

Crispy Ranch Chicken

This chicken was easy and my kids loved it! The ranch mix gives it a great flavor while the cereal makes it super crunchy. The recipe says you can also substitute corn flakes if desired and drizzle with melted butter too. I followed it exactly this time around. (recipe from a mailer I received from Great American Recipes awhile back)

-2 c crispy rice cereal
-1/2 c grated Parmesan Cheese
-1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix (1 oz)
-2 egg whites
-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 3 breasts)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cereal, cheese and salad dressing mix in a large bowl.
-Place beaten egg whites in a medium bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in the eggs and then in the cereal mixture to coat evenly.
-Arrange the coated chicken on the baking sheet. Bake until golden and juices run clear, 20-25 minutes.

Jumpin' Jack Chili

This was SOOO good! I am a fan of white chili in general but this one was especially simple to make and still so flavorful. I wish I had more to eat for lunch today! (the recipe was in a little mailer I got from Wisconsin Cheese)

-1 c onion, diced
-1 t olive oil
-1 (4 oz) can green chiles, undrained
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 1/2 t cumin
-2 (15 oz) cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
-3 1/2 c chicken broth
-2 c cooked chicken, chopped, rotisserie chicken can be used (I used 1 can chicken)
-1 c Monterey Jack Cheese, grated and divided (I used all Monterey Jack)
-1 c Colby Cheese, grated and divided
-Toppings: crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped green onions, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro, olives, bacon crackers
(some my suggestions and some theirs)

-Cook onion in hot oil in heavy stock pan over med-high heat, stirring until tender.
-Add green chiles, garlic and cumin; cook 2 min.
-Add beans and chicken broth, stirring well. Bring to boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
-Add chicken, 1/2 c. MJ cheese and 1/2 Colby cheese; simmer over low heat 10 min.
-Serve in bowls topped with remaining cheese and toppings of choice.

Quesadilla Casserole

Excuse the bad picture, it was getting too dark outside for it to turn out well. Top reasons to make this is easy, it is cheap, it is meatless AND it is tasty. I have been eating it the past couple days for lunch and LOVE it. Thanks Rachael Ray :-).

* 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup chopped onion
* One 29-ounce can black beans, drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
* 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
* 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used cilantro)
* Five 10-inch flour tortillas (I used 8 corn tortillas)
* 8 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded
* 1 cup store-bought green enchilada sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups black beans and mash into a chunky paste. Stir in the reserved liquid.
2. Grease a heavy, ovenproof skillet. In a bowl, combine the corn, parsley and remaining black beans. Place a tortilla in the skillet and spread with 1/3 cup mashed black bean mixture. Top with 2/3 cup corn-bean mixture and 1/2 cup cheese. Press to compress the layers. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, mashed black beans, corn-bean mixture and cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes. Transfer to the broiler and cook for 1 minute. Serve with the enchilada sauce.
**I put a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish instead of greasing it.

Spinach Beef Skillet

I adapted this recipe from one I saw on Recipe Zaar and it turned out really well. I was looking for something using spinach and ground beef. Everyone ate it, even the girls (although they didn't appreciate the tomatoes) and I just ate the leftovers for lunch. It was simple to make, didn't use many ingredients, was healthy and SO good. We'll definitely make this one again!


-1/2 lb. ground beef (you could use more if you wanted, or skip it too)
-1 small onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano, UNdrained
-1 (9 oz) bag spinach
-1 (8 oz) box pasta, cooked (I used Gluten Free Penne, original recipe called for macaroni)
-shredded Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper

- Brown beef garlic, and onion in large sauce pan.
- Drain excess fat then stir in tomatoes, spinach and cooked noodles until heated through.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper before serving.

BBQ Crock Pot Chicken

My mom used to make chicken like this a lot. I don't know exactly what her method was (I think she baked it in the oven), but I do know that we have LOTS of BBQ sauce to use up that I got free with coupons and sales over the summer. This was SUPER easy and really good too! I love it when chicken shreds apart and we love any dish served over rice.

3 chicken breasts
1/2 c chopped onion, optional
1 bottle BBQ sauce (we used Kraft's Spicy Honey this time)

Place chicken in crock pot, sprinkle with sliced onions and pour BBQ over the top.
Cook on low 4-5 hours and serve over rice!

Creamy Pasta and Peppers

When I saw all the pretty peppers on sale while at the grocery store I immediately remembered this pasta dish and bought them. I decided to make my own sauce this time though because I had a little cream left and a whole new tub of Parmesan cheese in the fridge. I looked at a few different recipes and came up with this sauce that we all LOVED...even Mike, who doesn't care for creamy pasta dishes.

1 T. olive oil
2-3 bell peppers, diced (I used 3/4 each of a red, orange and yellow pepper)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium chicken breasts, cut in strips or chunks
salt and pepper
1 T. butter
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. 1% milk
2 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
8 oz penne pasta (I used gluten free)

-Start pasta cooking and prepare sauce...
-In a large saucepan saute peppers, onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender.
-Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to pepper mixture, cook about 5 minutes.
-Make space in center of pan and melt butter. Add lemon juice and cream and simmer until it begins to thicken and chicken is cooked through.
-Add Parmesan and stir until melted and heated through.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Mckell was kind enough to share this delicious salad with me over the weekend. She found the recipe on My Kitchen Cafe and it is SOOO good! I was feeding Preston while she dished it up and she knows me well enough that she even took a picture of it for me before we started eating without me asking :-). Mike had some too and LOVED it. I will definitely make it on my own sometime! Thanks for sharing!!!

1 package (3 ounces) oriental-flavor ramen noodle soup mix (I often use two packages of the noodles to give my kids more crunch to eat)
½ cup pre-sliced almonds
¾ cup bottled red wine vinaigrette (or make your own following the recipe below)
1/2 package (16 ounces) coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw mix
1 package romaine lettuce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
2 scallions, both white and light green parts, chopped

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Break up the ramen noodles with your hands and place them and the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the noodles and almonds turn light brown, 6 to 7 minutes.
-Meanwhile, pour the red wine vinaigrette into a measuring cup (or make your own with the recipe below) and stir in the packet of seasoning from the ramen noodle soup mix. Set the salad dressing aside. Place the slaw mix (I only use 1/2 bag), romaine lettuce, chicken, cilantro and scallions in a large serving bowl.
-Toss to combine the ingredients well. Just before serving, pour the salad dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Scatter the toasted almonds and noodles on top and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main course

Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette
Whisk together:
¾ cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
Ramen noodles seasoning packet

West African Veggie Stew

This dish was beautiful with all the fun colors and I LOVED it! I thought it had a great rich flavor and it is so good for you too! I'm on the lookout for healthy recipes now to get rid of the last of my baby weight :-)!

1 T vegetable oil
2 cups sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4" half-slices
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins (I skipped these)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (about 15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
4 cups coarsely chopped spinach (I put in at least 6)

HEAT oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is tender.
ADD potatoes and tomatoes. Cook 5 min. Add raisins, cinnamon, red pepper, broth and water. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 15 min.
ADD chickpeas and spinach. Heat through. Serve over cooked rice or couscous, if desired.

Crock Pot Chops and Gravy

I am really wishing I stocked up on more pork chops when they were on sale. I had never really cooked with them much before but I have found so many great recipes in all different varieties of flavors. This recipe comes from Real Mom Kitchen and definitely satisfied my craving for good ol' home cookin'. The chops tear apart easily after being cooked in the slow cooker so it was like a roast...a tasty delicious roast, with lots of mushrooms on the side for me :-)!

4 lean pork chops
4 T soy sauce
1/2 C sliced mushrooms (I added much more than this, maybe 1 1/2 c. and thought it was a good amount once they cooked down)
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 can cream of mushroom soup (I used 98% FF)
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley (I used fresh and used 2 t)

Place pork chops in crock pot. Lay onion slices over pork chops.
Mix the rest of ingredients in a bowl and pour over pork chops.
Cook on low in crock pot for 5-6 hours
I followed her tip below...
Note: After baking I remove the chops and strain the gravy. This way I have a smooth gravy and I reserve the onions (and mushrooms if you use them) for those who like them to put them on their chops.

Rice Balls (with Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash)

My ward recently started a recipe group that meets once a month. This month's theme was Deceptively Delicious and I picked the Rice Balls to give a try. I believe the recipe comes from the book deceptively delicious, but I was just emailed the recipe, so I'm not sure on that.
They were actually very tasty (crunchy outside and warm, gooey inside) and of course healthy too, but they were messy to make. I probably won't make them again for awhile just because of the work that goes into them, but when Preston is ready to start feeding himself I'll probably bust them out again.

1 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
Nonstick cooking spray
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 lb. chicken cutlets, rinsed and dried (I used 1/4 c. of canned chicken)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 c cup sweet potato puree (I used sweet potato baby food, 1 large jar)
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup lowfat (1%) buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup spinach or broccoli or butternut squash puree (I used baby food again, 2 small jars butternut squash)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat cracker crumbs or breadcrumbs (you could make these gluten-free by using gluten free crackers or bread)

-Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and the pepper, and cook until no longer pink in the center, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Cut the chicken into chunks and place them in a food processor or blender.
(if you use canned chicken you can skip all that)
-Add the sweet potato puree, cheese, salt, and the buttermilk, and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the cooked rice. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on a sheet of waxed paper or aluminum foil.
(I prepared up to this point the night before and stuck the balls in the fridge until the next day when I finished them)
-In a shallow bowl, beat the egg and vegetable puree with a fork. Put the crumbs in the bowl. One at a time, dip the rice balls in the egg mixture, then roll them in the crumbs to make an even coating.
-Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add the rice balls and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally and spraying with cooking spray, until browned and crisp all over. Serve warm.

Chicken with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

I really LOVED this one! And look how pretty it is with all the colors too! Just looking at the picture makes me want to get some leftovers right now! This was a recipe emailed to me by Campbell's and while most of their recipes are more casserole-like, this one had a very elegant taste and look.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
ground black pepper
2 T all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch and just poured some into a shallow bowl, so more than 2 T)
2 T butter
2 c sliced mixed wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster) (I used cremini)
4 green onions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 c Chicken Stock
1/2 c chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 c sour cream
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Season the chicken with the black pepper. Coat with the flour. (I used cornstarch)
Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides.
Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until they're tender.
Stir the stock in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in the peppers and sour cream and cook until the mixture is hot.
Sprinkle with the parsley.

Chili Marinated Steak with Cilantro Cream

This recipe was actually on the package of meat that I bought and sounded pretty good. The only problem was I wasn't sure exactly how to serve it. I ended up serving like fajitas and it was SOOO good! (and I even grilled it myself...started the coals up and everything!)

4 beef eye round steaks, about 4 oz. each (I used 2)
2/3 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 T. chili powder
1/2 cup sour cream

Combine dressing, 2 T. cilantro and chili powder in small bowl.
Combine sour cream, remaining 2 T. cilantro and 1 T. dressing mixture in another bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Place steaks and remaining dressing mixture in plastic bag and allow to marinate for 6 hours.
Remove from marinade and grill, uncovered 15-19 minutes, turning occasionally.
Carve steaks into thin slices and serve with cilantro sour cream mixture.

Smothered Chicken with Brown Rice

This recipe was found in my last issue of Kraft's Food and Family. It was a nice creamy comfort food type meal. I have loved all the new flavors we have been trying out, but sometimes it's nice to just get back to the things you've always cream cheese and bacon :-).

4 slices bacon, chopped
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth, divided
2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel Cheese, cubed (I used a little extra)
3 cups hot cooked brown rice

COOK and stir bacon in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 min. or until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings from skillet.
ADD chicken to skillet; cook 5 to 6 min. on each side or until golden brown on both sides and done. Transfer chicken to plate; cover to keep warm.
Add vegetables and 1/2 cup broth to skillet; cover and simmer 10 min. or until vegetables are tender.
STIR in broth and Neufchatel; cook, uncovered, 2 min. or until Neufchatel is melted and sauce is thickened, stirring frequently.
Return chicken to skillet; cook 2 min. or until heated through.
Spoon rice onto serving plate; top with chicken, sauce and bacon.

Mexican Chicken Lime Soup

I found this recipe in my September Rachael Ray magazine and had to try it...I can't resist a tortilla soup recipe. It was light and had a great flavor to it from the chiles. A great lunch to share :-)!

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used 1 can chicken)
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (I took the seeds out to make it less spicy and it was just right for me!)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper
1 hass avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
Crushed tortilla chips

1.In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, lower the heat to medium and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Increase the heat to high, push the vegetables to the side of the pan, add the chicken and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chipotles and adobo sauce, then stir in the chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming any foam. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.
2.Place 2 avocado slices in each of 6 soup bowls and pour in the soup. Top with the tortilla chips.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This recipe was found on My Kitchen Cafe and was SOOO good!!! I thought I may have done something wrong when I first browned the chicken because they seemed very "eggy" but they turned out wonderfully. They had a great flavor and a great consistency. I served it over rice with broccoli sauteed in olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper on the side. DELISH!

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.

¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

Sesame Flank Steak

This is another recipe from The Sisters' Cafe. The marinade had a great flavor. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful at my attempt at heating coals for my BBQ (Mike was gone and I was just trying to do what I remember seeing him do) so I had to bust out the George Foreman. I bet it's even better when actually barbequed though.

¼ c. chopped green onions
3 Tb soy sauce
2 Tb sesame oil
1 Tb vinegar
1 Tb brown sugar
1 Tb chopped fresh ginger
1 Tb chopped garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ c. toasted, crushed sesame seeds

Combine above ingredients. Marinate steak 4 hours and barbecue.

Feta Pork Chop Skillet

Trying all these new recipes out has me getting brave enough to buy meat other than chicken and ground beef. I saw this recipe on The Sister's Cafe and thought it looked really good. I love adding new flavors to our menus and this one was a huge hit. Ella ate all her meat and even asked for more!

1 t crushed dried rosemary
1 t dried basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pinch black pepper
1 T olive oil
4 pork chops (I used 3)
¼ c fresh lemon juice
2 oz (or more) crumbled feta cheese with basil and sun-dried tomatoes (I used 4 oz)
1-2 yellow summer squash or zucchini, remove seeds and slice (I have never removed seeds from them so I didn't...I used 3 zucchini and 2 squash because I love them, but I did have to take the meat out at the end so I had more room for them all to finish cooking)

In a small bowl, stir together rosemary, basil, garlic, and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip pork chops in lemon juice, and spread both sides with herb mixture.
Place pork chops in skillet, drizzle with some of remaining lemon juice, and sear both sides, about 7 minutes per side.
After a few minutes, add sliced squash to edges of pan. Reduce heat to low.
Sprinkle feta on top of chops; cover skillet, and cook until cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes.
(We served over rice)

Chicken Tikka Masala

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this! I saw the recipe on The Sister's Cafe blog, but she got it from The Pioneer Woman. I thought it looked and sounded good, but must admit I was getting a little nervous while I was making it. It used large quantities of spices I wasn't very familiar with so I wasn't quite sure how it would taste in the end, but it was a hit!

3-4 chicken breasts (I used 3 small ones)
1/2 c plain yogurt (I used FF sour cream)
6 Tb butter (divided)
kosher salt

1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 in. chunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 T. salt
3 T. Garam Masala
1 T. sugar
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c heavy cream

2 c Basmati rice, uncooked
1 T ground turmeric
4 c. water

fresh cilantro
chili peppers (I used ground red pepper to give it some spice)
frozen peas

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with Kosher salt. Next sprinkle them on both sides with coriander and cumin. Then coat the chicken with the plain yogurt. Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined cookie sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes on each side. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.

To a rice cooker add 2 cups Basmati rice, 4 Tb butter, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tb ground turmeric and 4 c water. Cover, turn on your rice cooker and walk away.

Next dice the onion and saute with 2 Tb butter over med-high heat until slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince your garlic and ginger. Add to onions with 1 Tb salt.
At this point add 3 Tb Garam Masala spice. If you like it hot, add a chili pepper or two. (I just used some ground red pepper) Add the tomatoes and continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Add about 1 Tb sugar and allow this mixture to simmer on medium for 5 minutes.

After the Tikka Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a bit, add in the 1 1/2 c heavy cream. Now chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and add them into the sauce.
A handful of chopped cilantro is a nice addition if you like cilantro. You can also throw some frozen peas into the cooked rice, give them a stir and allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas. (We aren't fans of peas around here but I did put in the cilantro and the added green made the dish prettier...and tastier of course)

Spinach and Feta Rice

I found a great deal on Feta cheese last week so I bought it and then began a search for a new recipe to use it. pulled through for me again and I found this one. I ended up making it for lunch and it was SO good! It completely hit the spot and was easy and healthy as well. I definitely will be making this again soon!!!

•3 Tablespoons olive oil
•1 large onion, chopped finely
•2 large garlic cloves, minced
•1-1/4 cups uncooked long-grain rice
•2 cups chicken broth
•1/4 cup dry white wine
•1-1/2 (10-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach leaves (remove any large stems), very coarsely chopped
•2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
•1 cup crumbled feta cheese (or bleu cheese)
•Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the rice and stir about 2 minutes or until the rice is translucent.
Carefully add the chicken broth and wine. Stir to mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook about 15 minutes or until the rice is almost tender.
Stir in the spinach, cover and cook another 8 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Mix in the tomatoes and Feta cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Triple Layer Rice Krispie Treats

I have been meaning to try out this recipe from The Sister's Cafe for awhile and now that I have a huge supply of Rice Krispies (thanks to Kroger's sale!) I couldn't wait! I found my chocolate layer a little hard to spread so I added some extra marshmallows to the plain layer and next time will do that for the chocolate layer as well. We topped ours with chocolate and they were delicious (and messy)!


Peanut butter layer:
1.5 Tb butter
20 large marshmallows
1/3 c peanut butter
3 c rice krispies cereal

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Stir in peanut butter and remove from heat. Add rice krispies and stir until well coated. With buttered fingers, press into buttered 9x13 pan.

Chocolate layer:
1.5 Tb butter
20 large marshmallows
1/2 c milk chocolate chips
3 c rice krispies cereal

Follow instructions under pb layer - substituting peanut butter with chocolate chips! Press chocolate layer evenly on top of pb layer.

Original layer:
1.5 Tb butter
20 large marshmallows
3 c rice krispies cereal

Follow same instructions, skipping adding anything at end. Press original layer on top of chocolate layer.
Top with melted chocolate chips if desired!

Ella and Addie loved helping count the marshmallows out and then melting them!

Maria's Italian Meatballs

I found this recipe on when I did a search for recipes using ground beef. I ended up using ground turkey instead and they were great. Simple ingredients, easy preparation and lots of flavor. The recipe makes lots of meatballs too so I froze half of mine to save for later.

•1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
•1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
•1/3 cup water (more or less)
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•1 medium onion

Mix all ingredients together. Don't add all of the water at one time. Mixture should be moist but not so that the meatballs fall apart.
Shape meatballs to desired size and place on a broiler pan (I wet my hands before shaping each meatball and it helps make a nice meatball.) Broil until outside is slightly brown on one side and then turn and broil the other side. When finished, add to spaghetti sauce and simmer at least 20 minutes.

Southwestern Enchiladas

A big thank you to Kathy from the blog Three on Food for suggesting I give these babies a try! I am in love with them and can't wait to make them the next time we have people over for dinner. They were SOOO delicious and she is right...don't get weirded out by the pecans!

1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used extra)
1 Tbs. margarine or butter
1 (3-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used 4 oz.)
1 Tbs. milk
1/4 tsp. ground cumin (I used 1/2 t.)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used a can of chicken)
6 8-inch flour tortillas (I used 9 corn tortillas)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used 98%FF)
1 (8-oz.) carton sour cream (I used FF)
1 cup milk (I used 1/2 heavy cream I had left over and 1/2 1% milk)
5 or 6 chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (I was worried about them making the enchiladas too spicy, but I cleaned the seeds out and the spicy-ness was just right!)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 Tbs. chopped pecans

In a medium skillet cook the 1/4 cup pecans and onion in butter till onion is tender and pecans are lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
In a bowl combine the softened cream cheese, the 1 Tbs. milk, and cumin. Add nut mixture and chicken. Stir together till well combined.
Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixtures onto each tortilla near one edge; roll up.
Place filled tortillas, seam side down, in a greased 2-quart square baking dish.
In a bowl combine soup, sour cream, the 1 cup of milk, and the pickled jalapeno peppers. Pour the soup mixture evenly over the tortillas in the baking dish.
Cover with foil; bake in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes or till heated through.
Remove foil. Sprinkle enchiladas with cheese and the 2 Tbs. pecans. Bake for 4-5 minutes more or till cheese is melted. (I even like to turn on my broiler to get the cheese a little golden).

Makes 6 servings.

Rustic Lemon-Onion Chicken

This is the other recipe from The Next Food Network Star, Melissa d'Arabian, that I served with the mini-potato gratins. We LOVED the combination of flavors...definitely something new compared to our usual fare. I also loved that it looked so fancy, but was still easy to make.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced in half crossways (butterflied, cut all the way through)
1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus 1 small bunch fresh thyme, leaves chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (could skip this to make it gluten free)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1 cup chicken broth
3 lemons, juiced
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
Spinach "bed", recipe follows

Season chicken with dried thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, add to the hot oil and saute until cooked through. Set chicken aside to rest on plate tented with foil.
In same saute pan, over low heat, add onions and fresh thyme and cook until aromatic.
In a measuring cup, measure out wine, if using, and broth, and add the lemon juice. Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with the broth mixture until starting to reduce.
Remove the pan from the heat and finish the sauce by whisking in butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place a bed of cooked spinach on a serving platter, top with the chicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Spinach "bed":
1 bag pre-washed fresh spinach
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Microwave spinach in a microwave-proof dish with a few tablespoons of water on high for 5 to 6 minutes, or until hot. Drain, and toss with butter, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Individual Potato Gratins

I made extra of these because I just knew I would love them and I did!!! They were SOOO good and SOOO easy to make! Thank you to the new winner of the The Next Food Network Star, Melissa d'Arabian, for the fabulous recipe! (and thanks to Mckell for telling me about it!) I made her Rustic Lemon Onion Chicken to go with them and they were both fabulous!

Vegetable spray
2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 green onions, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray 8 muffin tins with vegetable spray. Layer potato slices, cheese, and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through cooking time. Invert gratins onto plate and serve.

Beef and Snow Pea Stir Fry

This recipe is from the blog Favorite Family Recipes. I wasn't sure how good it would be with only the snow peas and no other veggies, but it was great! The meat had a great flavor from the marinade and I loved the crunchiness of the snow peas with it. Mike and Ella really liked this one too and they're not big on stir fry.

1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 1/8 inch strips
1 tsp cornstarch
2 cups fresh snow peas
4 tsp canola oil, divided

-In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, broth, and garlic. Reserve 1/4 cup of mixture for later.
-Place beef in a resealable plastic bag. Add the larger part of the soy sauce mixture; seal and mix. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
-Place cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir in the reserved 1/4 c. soy sauce mixture until smooth; set aside.
-In a nonstick skillet, stir-fry snow peas in 2 tsp hot oil for 3-4 minutes or until snow peas are crisp-tender and bright green. Remove and keep warm.
-Drain and discard marinade from beef.
-In same skillet, stir-fry beef in remaining oil for 2 minutes. Stir cornstarch mixture; add to skillet.
-Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Combine with snow peas.
-Serve over rice.

Leftover 'Dillas

We eat quesadillas at least twice a week and throw whatever we have around in them. The girls' favorite is ham and cheese which we eat instead of ham sandwiches. I've been enjoying THE most yummy 'dillas (this is how Ella used to say quesadilla and it stuck) with my book club leftovers though and had to share.

The layers...
Corn tortilla
Spread cream cheese (leftover from our pepper jelly/cream cheese & cracker plate)
Spoon Black Bean Salsa (a leftover too)
Place some thin Avocado slices on top
Cover with 2% Mexi-blend shredded cheese to hold together
Corn tortilla

I just used the last of our black bean salsa and I'm so sad! These were SOOO good!

Greek Potatoes

Another recipe emailed to me from my friend Camille. I'm holding Preston and typing with one hand so this is the exact recipe she sent w/o my commentary. YUM!!!

8 large potatoes, peeled, cut into large wedges (about 6-7 wedges per potato)
4 garlic cloves, minced (more garlic is a good thing, less garlic is a no-no for this recipe)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oregano (get the Mediterranean, it's the best!)
1-1 1/2 lemon, juice of
sea salt
fresh coarse ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 440°F A reviewer has suggested spraying the baking pan with Pam - that sounds like a great idea!
Put all the ingredients into a baking pan large enough to hold them.
Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.
Make sure your hands are very clean and put them in the pan and give everything a toss to distribute.
The garlic will drop into the water/oil solution but its flavour will permeate the potatoes, and this way, it won't burn.
Bake for 40 minutes.
When a nice golden-brown crust has formed on the potatoes, give them a stir to bring the white underside up, season lightly with a bit more sea salt and pepper and just a light sprinkling of oregano.
Add 1/2 cup more water if pan appears to be getting dry, and pop back into oven to brown other side of potatoes.
This will take about another 40 minutes.
Do not be afraid of overcooking the potatoes- they will be delicious.
Note: I often melt a bouillon cube in the water; if you do, make sure to cut back some on the salt.

Festive Chicken Asparagus

Asparagus is one of my new favorite things so I was excited to try this recipe. I thought the bleu cheese gave this sauce a great, yet different flavor. LOVED it! How can you go wrong with the word "festive" in the name :-)?!
(this is the last recipe I'm trying from the Lone Star cookbook for now)

-1 package (10 oz) frozen asparagus (I was going to use frozen asparagus since I didn't see fresh on sale anywhere, but then I never found frozen so used fresh anyway and they worked great)
-2 chicken breasts, halved
-2 T. flour/cornstarch
-3 T. oil (I used 1 1/2)
-1/4 c. dry white wine (I used white cooking wine)
-1/4 c. bleu cheese
-1 can cream of chicken soup (I used 98%FF)
-1/2 t. salt
-1/4 t. pepper

-Thaw asparagus. Coat chicken with flour and brown lightly on all sides in oil.
-Meanwhile, in shallow casserole, combine wine, bleu cheese, soup, salt and pepper.
-Place chicken in soup mixture and spoon sauce over chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
-Separate asparagus into individual stalks. Remove casserole from oven and arrange asparagus between chicken pieces.
-Spoon some sauce over the chicken and asparagus. Cover tightly and bake an additional 30 minutes.
*We served over rice.

Zucchini Tomato Bake

I'm making the last of my marked recipes from the Lone Star Legacy cookbook this week, so I can finally return it to my mom :-). I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this dish!!! I could have just eaten the whole thing for my meal...and nearly did. Zucchini, mushrooms, cheese, can't go wrong! A delicious summertime side!

1 onion, chopped
4 T. butter (I used 2)
4 zucchini, sliced in rings
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced (I used some extra!)
1/2 t. basil
3 T. parsley, chopped
Garlic salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1/4 lb. Cheddar cheese, grated

-Saute onion in butter until soft. Add zucchini and saute until tender.
-Add tomatoes and mushrooms. Saute briefly, then add seasonings.
-Put in 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Toss with Parmesan; top with Cheddar cheese.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
(A good option for summer: saute everything longer, approx. 10 minutes. Right before serving add cheese and stir to melt.)

Sesame Chicken

This is another recipe emailed to me from Camille and it was great! My mom and sister came to babysit for us last night and they agreed :-)! Thank you for sharing some of your favorites with me!!! It's fun to have some new suggestions to try out!

3 chicken breasts
1/4 c flour
2 T peanut or sesame oil
salt and pepper
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c green onions chopped

(I toasted my sesame seeds in the pan oil, just with heat)
Cut chicken into pieces and add flour and salt and pepper in a bag to coat.
Brown in of oil.
Mix the soy sauce, sugar and green onions and pour the mixture over the chicken.
Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
Top with sesame seeds and serve over steamed rice.

Beef Tips

I saw this recipe on Melissa's Bargain Blog and thought it sounded good. We eat so much chicken around here that it's nice to throw in some beef every once in awhile. This had a great tasted like a yummy roast but in bite size pieces. The recipe calls for egg noodles, we served it over rice, and I think next time I'll serve it on mashed potatoes! Our leftover Parmesan Breadsticks were a perfect match!
(and as I'm posting the recipe I'm realizing I didn't follow it very well...I threw the cornstarch and water in at the beginning of the day too...woops. It turned out fine, but may have been thicker had I done it correctly)

1 lb. beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 to 3 medium carrots, chopped
1 to 1-1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 to 1 cup white wine or beef broth (I used white cooking wine)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Hot cooked egg noodles (we ate it on rice)

In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine the beef, carrots, celery, onion, soup and wine or broth. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until meat is tender.
Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; gradually stir into cooking juices. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve with noodles.