Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers

These were amazing! I couldn't even tell I was eating a pepper because of how this cooked together. My kids didn't eat too much of the pepper, but they LOVED the filling. :)

3 green bell peppers
7 tbsp uncooked long-grain white rice
1-1.5 lbs ground chuck
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1/3 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8-oz can tomato sauce
~1 cup mild chunky salsa
1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove stems and seeds. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Plunge peppers into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain well.

Pour tomato sauce into bottom of pan. Place pepper halves in pan on top of sauce. In a very large bowl, gently combine the rice, ground chuck, cumin, oregano, onion, salt, and pepper. Do not compress meat while mixing. Fill each pepper half with some of the mixture. Spoon some of the salsa over each pepper half. Sprinkle each with some of the cheese. Cover casserole with foil.

To serve immediately: Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until peppers are tender and meat is cooked through.

To freeze: Wrap with saran wrap and foil. To serve, thaw in refrigerator overnight, then remove saran wrap (recover with foil). Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Spinach Lasagna with Pesto and Cheese

I found this recipe on the back of a shredded cheese bag and had to try it (this is my altered version). My whole family loved it, with my 5-year old raving about with every bite! It is delicious with some added shredded chicken and sauteed mushrooms. Yum!

jar chunky spaghetti sauce (~3 cups)
15-oz ricotta cheese
1 large egg
8-oz package prepared basil pesto
10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup parmesan cheese
pkg no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups Italian blend or mozzarella cheese

Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a bit of pasta sauce in bottom of dish. In a bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, egg, pesto, spinach, and parmesan cheese until thoroughly blended. Layer noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta/pesto/spinach mixture, 1/4 of the mozzarella, and some pasta sauce. Repeat layers two more times. Finish with a layer of noodles, pasta sauce, and cheese.

If freezing, cover in press-n-seal and foil. At least partially thaw before baking (you will need to add cooking time).

To cook: Preheat oven to 350 and bake for ~one hour covered. Uncover and bake to brown cheese on top.

Bourbon Chicken

This was a good and simple recipe! It made a nice little stir-fry with some veggies added in, or maybe some steamed broccoli on the side. I served it over some brown rice.

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 garlic clove, minced (~1 tsp)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4-3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

To cook:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cornstarch

Add all ingredients to ziploc bag to marinate or freeze. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight before cooking.

To cook: Heat oil in pan and add mixture. Cook until chicken is browned, then remove chicken. Remove about 1/4 cup of the liquid and mix with the cornstarch until dissolved. (You can also mix the cornstarch with water if you prefer.) Add the chicken back and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 min.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup

This recipe (from Cooking for Real on the Food Network) is very easy to make, but it does take some time. I doubled the recipe, then cooled the leftovers in the fridge. Once cooled, I put it into freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer with a paper towel in between each bag. Now I have homemade tomato soup ready whenever I want! It's super healthy and delicious! The only things I would recommend changing is straining the soup after it is blended, and adding red pepper flakes if you like spice. Enjoy!

* 8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
* 2 red peppers, quartered and seeded
* 1 medium onion, quartered
* 8 cloves garlic
* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
* 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
* 6 cups vegetable stock
* 1/4 cup loosely packed chiffonade basil leaves


Special Equipment: Blender or immersion blender

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a sheet pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, thyme, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes and red peppers, skin side up, and bake until lightly charred, 45 to 50 minutes. In a soup pot, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomato and pepper mixture, including the juices, and combine. Stir in the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender* (or use an immersion blender) and pulse in small batches that reach only about a third to halfway up the side of the jar. Be careful to start slow then increase the speed to blitz the ingredients until smooth. Use a separate bowl to hold the blended soup and then return it all to the pot.

Heat the soup to warm through, then ladle into serving bowls and garnish with basil.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Peanut Butter Pancakes

I got this recipe from Sunny Anderson on the Food Network. It is SO good, and super-easy! I didn't use the syrup recipe, but rather some raspberry syrup I had in the fridge. Unfortunately, my son doesn't like peanut butter so I don't know how often I will fix them. If it were up to me, these would be the only pancakes I would make! I was thinking they would also be delicious topped with bananas and honey, or adding in mini chocolate chips to the batter. Give them a try!

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed to thin
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 4 tablespoons butter
* Blackberry Syrup, recipe follows


Preheat a griddle. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Slowly mix in egg, milk, peanut butter and oil until combined. Add a little extra milk if batter feels too thick. Let mixture sit 5 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter on griddle and move around to coat entire griddle. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake on griddle to form 5-inch pancakes. The batter spreads as it cooks. Fill griddle without crowding pancakes. Flip when air pockets start to pop on the top and a quick peak on the underside reveals a golden pancake. Repeat with remaining butter and batter. Serve pancakes with Blackberry Syrup.

Blackberry Syrup:
* 2 pints fresh blackberries
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 cup water
* 1 lemon, zested

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break up blackberries as they cook. Strain syrup to remove seeds and serve warm.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Inside-Out Beef Wellington

This is my take on a recipe I saw on the Food Network. It turned out SO good. My husband doesn't even like mushrooms, and he loved this. It's a little more time-consuming, but worth it!

* 1 sirloin steak (about 2-inches thick)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
* 1/2 cup dijon mustard
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* Sauteed Wild Mushroom Sauce, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and preheat grill to medium-high.

Season beef with salt and pepper and set aside.

Unfold puff pastry and evenly brush 1 sheet with mustard, covering entire surface. Unfold second puff pastry and place on top of the first, then cut into 4 equal pieces. Press the pastry edges with tines of a fork to seal and cut 3 small slits halfway deep in the center of each pastry rectangle to allow steam to escape when it cooks. Set pastry rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment. In a small bowl whisk egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush pastry rectangles with egg wash and bake 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

Brush beef with oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill until it's medium-rare. Remove beef from the grill and place on a cutting board. Let meat rest 10 minutes before slicing. To serve, place a puff pastry rectangle on each serving plate. Top with beef slices and drizzle with Sauteed Mushroom Sauce.

Sauteed Wild Mushroom Sauce:

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves chopped (or about 1/4 t. dried)
* 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 4 teaspoons dijon mustard

Heat a saute pan to medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. Add garlic and thyme leaves and saute for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper, saute until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Cook in batches, if necessary, so that the mushrooms don't steam. Return all mushrooms to pan, if working in batches. Add heavy cream and mustard and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tortilla Soup Mix

Place in gallon storage bag:
2-1/2 cups slightly crushed tortilla chips

Place in a quart storage bag:
1 cup long grain rice

Mix the following and place in quart storage bag:
2 tbsp chicken bouillon granules
2 tsp lemon flavored sugar
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dried minced onion

Needed for cooking:
1 (5-oz) can chicken
1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies

Remove seasoning packet and rice from the large bag. In a one gallon soup pot, add the rice and 10 cups of water. Add can diced tomatoes and green chilies, plus the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tortilla chips, replace the cover and simmer 5 more minutes. (Makes 3 quarts soup.)

Brownie Mix & Recipe

Brownie Mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 cups sugar
4-oz (1 c) unsweetened cocoa powder

Stir in bowl with wire whisk. Store in airtight container (or gallon storage bag) in a cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks.

(Will make about three batches of brownies)

Our Best Brownies
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cup BROWNIE MIX
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8-in square pan. Combine the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and brownie mix. Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until edges separate from pan.

** The batter is really thick, but bakes up just fine!

Buttermilk Pancake Mix

In each of four quart-size bags place the following:
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

When ready to make, put mix in bowl and add the following:
1 c. buttermilk
1 large egg
2 T. vegetable oil

Optional add-ins: 1/4 t. vanilla, mini chocolate chips, 1/2 c. fruit, trail mix, etc.

Heat griddle to 375. Grease with margarine, butter, or cooking spray. Pour slightly less than 1/4 c. batter onto hot griddle. Cook pancake until puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other side until golden brown.

(Each bag of mix makes about 9 (4-in) pancakes)

Pizza Dough Mix

Makes 2 -- 12 inch crusts

2- 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast (or one packet)
2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Place mix in an airtight container.

Place dough mix in a large bowl and add 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 cup warm water. Beat with a wooden spoon or dough hook until mixture forms a ball. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a greased bowl and let the dough rise for 90 minutes. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 12-inch circles. For thin crust, fill and bake the pizzas now. For thicker crust, let pizzas rise 30-45 minutes. Top the pizza dough with tomato sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chicken Curry

This was simple and fast -- and delicious! I think it's one of my new fave dinners!

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 can (12-14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups packed fresh baby spinach

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

2. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the chicken (I seasoned with salt & pepper first), stir well, and cook 5-6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until wilted, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt. Serve over rice.

(I got this recipe from Family Fun Magazine. Says it makes 4 servings, but there was plenty leftover when my family was done!)

Slow Berry Cobbler

This is SO easy to make, and delicious! My family cobbled it up, alongside some vanilla bean ice cream. Yum! I got the recipe from Paula Deen. :)

1 (10-oz) bag frozen raspberries
1 (10-oz) bag frozen blueberries
1 (10-oz) bag frozen blackberries*
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking mix (like Bisquick)

2-1/4 cup baking mix
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Spray the insert of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together all the frozen fruit, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup baking mix. Transfer the fruit to the slow cooker. In another large mixing bowl, stir together 2-1/4 cups baking mix, 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, and milk with a wooden spoon. With your hands, drop bits of dough on top of the fruit in the slow cooker. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the dough and place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, until the topping has puffed and the fruit is bubbling.

* Recipe originally called for strawberries rather than blackberries, but I used the latter.